This has been an incredibly busy week around NWHCM. We have a surgery team in that has been seeing dozens of patients and preforming surgeries every day. It is so great to see this team of professionals use their time, talents and resources to serve the people we love. I know that some of you on this e-mail are medical professionals. If you would like to join a team and come in, there is plenty of room, especially for nurses. I know there is a surgery team scheduled for June and another for October of this year.
The last time the surgery team was in back in October, a young boy named Woodsy showed up with an infection in his leg that was eating away the bone. We had an orthopedic doctor in on that trip who was able to remove the bone and clean out the infection. This week Woodsy and his family came in from eight hours away to have a check-up. The doctors said he is doing great. The above picture is of my friend, Dave Wickstrom and Woodsy and his family. Dave comes in with the surgery teams and serves as a scrub tech in the O.R.
Dave fell in love with Woodsy and his family in October. He spent a lot of time talking with and playing with Woodsy. They were excited to see each other this week.
As Dave talked with Woodsy’s mom, he asked her if she had a job. She replied no and Dave asked her how she was going to survive. Her response was simply, “God will provide.” Dave talked to me about it later and said, “I can’t imagine waking up with no idea of how I would feed my kid. It would make me insane.”
The truth is, that is not an uncommon story where we serve. So many people are in extreme poverty, meaning they live on less than $1.00 U.S. per day. But God is faithful and he does provide.
One aspect that Dave could not understand is the joy with which Woodsy and his family experience life. We see it daily in the people of Haiti. They are joyful in the midst of suffering and strong in the face of adversity. It makes me ashamed at how often I doubt God and trust in my own strength to provide.
I want to thank you so much for allowing God to use you to provide for my family and our ministry. Without your support, we would not be able to be part of serving families and the people of Haiti. You are a vital part of our ministry. May God give you joy and blessing as you daily remember his provision for your life.
One of my favorite bible verses is the encouragement God gives to Joshua as he is about to take over from Moses as leader of the nation of Israel:
“Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. 8 Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” Joshua 1:7-8
I love this passage because you can only imagine what Joshua was thinking, “God, you want me to do what? Did you see how these people rebelled against Moses? Did you see the stress he lived with?” But God was already answering Joshua’s questions before he ever asked.
The secret to strength and courage is not a secret; it is a deep dependence on God and his word. It is a faith that walks daily in foreign lands because our God is the God of the universe. It is not our strength, our power, or our word that changes the conversation. It is the power of God.
When you begin to doubt, when you begin to lose heart, and you begin to sink, get back to the source of our courage. Get back to the word and be obedient to commands of God. Then, we will be successful.
I have been on a spiritual journey lately studying two aspects of my relationship with God. At first they seem like two different parts of my life. But the more I study, read, pray and think, the more I realize they are incredibly interconnected. The first area is the authority of God. The second is serving. I have been learning lately that understanding one gives you a desire to practice the other.
Understanding the authority of God helps me see how small I really am as a human being. This is a concept not well received in our larger-than-life, American culture. We love big, powerful, dynamic and authoritative personalities. But compared to God, how can any of us see ourselves as powerful? How can any of us actually believe we have the “right” to act on our own accord?
The more I have understood authority, the more I have seen our call to serve. We live in a world fascinated by leadership. When was the last time you heard someone say of a senior pastor, staff member or board member. “They sure are a great follower?” We have conference after conference on leading and almost no one speaks on following.
A few years ago, a man took over as pastor at a church in our city. He had never pastored before, had never been to seminary and had very little connection with most of the pastors in town. Within his first month of ministry he called a few of us and asked if we would be willing to join him in hosting a “leadership conference” for local pastors where he could share about leadership. He wanted to share his views of leadership after one month as a pastor. A friend of mine had the courage to say, “I will host a leadership conference with you if you will first help me host a conference on following.” Needless to say, there were no conferences.
As I have lived out my faith, journeyed towards a life that hopefully propels me closer to Christ, I have found, far to often, Christians enamored of their own authority and satisfied with someone else’s service. Over and over again I hear people want to “exercise my authority” without acknowledging their lack of serving. I never see in scripture where Jesus tells his disciples to exercise their authority. He always told them to trust in His authority. Even when they had power to heal, cast out demons, and raise people from the dead, they only possessed it because Jesus gave it to them.
Jesus said, “the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve.” (Matthew 20:28). How do Christians miss the concept that we are made for anything other than service under the authority of Jesus? It seems that service has been lost, as the desire to lead has grown.
I guess my challenge for everyone is simply this: serve as a signature of Jesus. Serve under his authority. Serve with his kingdom in mind. Serve to make his name famous. And in so doing, we demonstrate powerfully our full reliance and submission to the authority of Christ in our lives.