“to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me” -Acts 26:18
For those who have never visited us here, a little background information. Our church is an open-air church. Kinda like a pole building. A roof, and knee walls almost the whole way around. With the exception of the very back of the church, which is enclosed for storage.
It is truly a lovely place to meet and have fellowship.
When our oldest daughter got married last year, the venue was our church facility. I will treasure every memory from that day. One of the most amusing memories, was when, at one point during the service, we could see some of the curious neighbor children; who had climbed high up into one of their trees; so they could see what was going on. They solemnly and quietly observed all the festivities from their unique vantage point.
I had to stifle my snickering when I peeped them up in that tree. I am pretty sure they were shushing each other, so as not to disturb the service.
Then there was that time when we got to church to discover a giant rhinocerous beetle in our sanctuary. That thing had to be the size of a kitten!
Often, at our Wednesday evening services in the summer, fruit bats will dart in and out of the building. Flapping wildly, maybe wondering why there are people, and their bright lights and loud singing; taking over the little bats’ usual evening hangout.
Wednesday evening services are also often punctuated by (*SMACK!*) the sound of (*SMACK!*) congregants slapping offending (*SMACK!) assorted biting flies, mosquitoes and other creepy crawly, flying, biting critters.
Or, in the rainy season (which is soon coming upon us again); the rain pours so hard on the zinc roof, that all other sounds are drowned out. We have to wait until the rain passes or lightens before we can proceed with service.
The loveliness of the birds’ songs on Sunday morning, before the heat of the day sets in. So many voices to the Lord’s choir of feathered creatures. If you stop and listen. I mean, really, stop. Stop talking. Stop fidgeting. Just listen to the layers of praise.
Our church is somewhat of a “pass-through” for the village folk. A short-cut, if you will. From the back, deeper bush, to the main road; where folks must stand to catch their buses. Sometimes; we will see families as they walk through the church property on their way out to the main road.
Words fail me to describe the lovely simplicity of worship at our church.
I am going to share something embarrassing. Something silly (those that know me well, know that I am not a stranger to either of those traits…!)
It was a Wednesday evening service a few weeks ago. Pastor Gideon is taking us through the book of Proverbs on Wednesday nights. And it has been a blessing.
As I sat one evening taking notes, Shiloh touched my shoulder. Without looking, I shook my finger at her. I still felt a finger on my shoulder, so I thought maybe that one of little girls from another family in attendance was trying to get my attention. So, I turned around to look. And before I could turn my head fully around, I caught sight of what was really touching my shoulder.
(for those who have never had the “pleasure” of meeting a gecko, here is a photo of one. This is not the gecko that joined me at Wednesday night Bible study, but rather, my little friend who jumped onto my guitar capo; as I practiced on our back porch one night)
It had dropped off of the open rafters of the roof. Straight onto my shoulder! What are the chances of that??
(PSA…a gecko will not hurt you. I have never heard any tales of anyone being mauled by a gecko…)
He was just sitting there. His little beady eyes just taking in the sights from my shoulder. It was like he was my little pet for a moment.
OK, dream over.
So… what was my reaction to this kind of cute little critter perched on my shoulder?
Well, of course I screamed!
I screamed and used my note-taking pen to fling said creature off of my shoulder.
In doing so, however; he went toward the little family sitting behind us. Who promptly started laughing at the gecko that dropped on the floor in front of them, and then scurried away. Away from those crazy and loud humans.
(Pastor Gideon never missed a beat. Through all of my antics, I did not hear him stop teaching.)
As far as I know, geckos are harmless.
I read somewhere that large geckos could bite if they are distressed, but that their bite could not pierce the skin.
This scenario reminded me of how I often react in my Christian walk.
That thing scared me bad!
It distracted me.
Then, my distraction distracted others.
But, could that gecko have actually hurt me? No.
“Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, ore persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, ‘For your sake we are being put to death all day long; we were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’ But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.” –Romans 8:35-37
I am often distracted. By various things. I have said this before, but if I was a horse; I would need an extra-large set of blinders on my bridle, because I am so overly prone to distraction.
This world tempts me to look around.
And the moment I do, like Peter; I start sinking.
When the Lord called us to Belize, we did not know what our path would look like. We did know that, through the Lord’s strength and provision, we would be sharing the Gospel. The true Gospel. The Biblical Gospel.
Through our time here, we have had much distraction.
Sadnesses. Sometimes, grief so deep, it was barely understandable. Unfathomable pain. Emotional and physical.
Friends abandoning. Ones who promised to stick through the good and bad and ugly.
They don’t look back. Or don’t seem to.
Being slandered and maligned.
All for His sake.
So, we are blessed.
“Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.” – Matthew 5:11
Sometimes, I guess you could say blessings feel bitter.
These and many other things have been distractions.
But, that’s all. Just distractions.
God’s purposes stand.
“The counsel of the LORD stands forever, the plans of His heart from generation to generation.” –Psalm 33:11
For over a year now, we have been seeking the Lord for a true revival, here in Belize.
“What is a revival? Strictly speaking, it is the restoration of life that has been lost; and in this sense, it applies only to the Church of God. But, used in the more common acceptation, it is the turning of multitudes to God. As conversion is the turning of a soul to God so a revival is a repetition of this same spiritual process in the case of thousands.” –Horatius Bonar
We have recently seen the Lord raise up a Pastor in one of the northern-most districts here in Belize. A Pastor who has a heart for the Word of God; and His truth to move forward. This Pastor is already being persecuted for his stand on Truth.
Also, a dear brother that we know well; feels the Lord calling him to study to be a Pastor.
Praise the Lord!
From time to time, there are conversations with folks out on the streets who are truly seeking the Lord, and His salvation. There are no wild celebrations at these humble whisperings of seeking hearts. No fanfare announcing their inquiry. Just the Lord, by His Spirit; doing a work in a heart. That this side of heaven, we may never get to see the fruition of.
“I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.” – Luke 15:7
I love getting up early. To clarify, I am not a morning person. Not. A. morning. Person.
Not that I don’t long for my pillow, it’s simply that; I know if I sleep to long…my window of “quiet house” will be closed. And any praying, reading, studying or thinking…will have to be done at the next “quiet house” window of opportunity.
Even after all our children were out of the night-waking phase; the Lord has been faithful to wake me up so that I can pursue Him in the wee hours of the morning.
In the darkness. In the stillness. The palpable darkness. It’s not silent. There are crickets outside. Crickets singing their carols of praise in the darkness.
“It is always darkest just before the Day dawneth” -Thomas Fuller, Puritan (1608-1661)
Almost suddenly, yet with a slow certainty; the sound of a single bird can be heard. The crisp sound of a songbird praising his Creator. Piercing the sometimes-eerie darkness.
In the darkness, soon there are more feathered voices. The sky brightens lightly as the sun travels its established path. The crickets fade more now. Voices of the night-time creatures are replaced by creatures of the day.
As we pray and seek God for true revival in the hearts of men, women and children; we trust that God is good. And what He does is good.
“You are good and do good; teach me Your statutues.”- Psalm 119:68
Distractions come. Pain comes. Sorrow comes. Insults, mocking, attacks will come. He says it will.
“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation.” -1 Peter 4:12-13
So, night-time has a fixed duration. And so does this world.
God is in control, and He always has been.
“Remember the former things long past, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God and there is no one like Me, Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, ‘My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish al My good pleasure’;” –Isaiah 46:9-10
Geckos may drop unexpectedly on your shoulder. And that’s ok. Just look at their cute li’l face and scream in surprise, before you send them on their way.
Night comes. Night ends.
“The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore, let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.” –Romans 13:12
Be about His business.
For His Glory ALONE,