Wednesday, January 20, 2010

PRAYER... Essential

This story is long overdue... it's been sitting on my heart and challenging me in my priorities.

You may remember that, on this journey to provide air service to and from
the Bongolo Hospital, we had to have the airstrip at the hospital certified by the government. This happened in early December. Readers of this blog will remember those pictures (the "Iwo Jima" re-enactment?) and journal entries that led up to that moment. Well, I have, until now, left out an important sub-story surrounding those events.

It started the day of the
government inspection of the airstrip when I decided I wanted to drive out to the airstrip early in the morning to guard against any last minute issue that might have popped up. As I drove to one end of the runway and turned around, something caught my eye on the ground. It was two bills of the local currency, Central African Francs, that equaled about $15. I looked around for signs of anyone who had recently passed, but I saw no one and judging by the dampness of the bills, they had been there all night, at least. So, I put them beside my on the seat of the SUV and got the clear impression that this money was meant for someone that God would put in my path that day.

Fast forward about 3 hours, after the inspection, when I'm sitting at my friend's (Tim & Amanda) dining room table checking email back at the hospital compound. A Gabonese man approached the house and asked if he could wash my car that obviously needed washed after the 10 hour road trip from Libreville the day before. I recognized this man as "Fidele" ("Faithful")- a man that had once worked as a lawn mower on the compound. Fidele had been relieved of those duties when he developed a heart problem and almost died a couple months before. I was there the weekend that he was in the hospital and amazed everyone by surviving the procedure. He is not at full health, but can do some simple labor tasks as he would still like to do what he can to provide for his family.

Immediately, when Fidele asked, the $15 dollars came to my mind. I felt the Lord
was telling me that here was the person who that money was meant for. So, I said, that he was welcome to wash my car- normally a $1 to $2 payment in the local economy. I couldn't wait to see the look on his face when I gave him the $15! A great smile would follow... Probably some cool story too... like... how his power or water service had been turned off because he owed $14.95 and now this was the answer to his prayer. Certainly, the Lord had put this all together to impact Fidele's life and cause him to walk away smiling and singing "Go Tell it on the Mountain" and retelling the story for days! The anticipation was almost too much to bear. I kept a close eye out the window on his progress, waiting for the moment to come.

Was I in for a surprise...

As Fidele finished, I was out the door, one hand in my pocket on the cash. I had it planned out. I'd tell him my story, give him the money, and then listen with excitement as he recounted his woes and how this was the answer. Well, I did my part, but, Fidele had other ideas. As I handed him the money, he took it and simply put it in his pocket with nothing more than a smile. WHAT!?! Are you kidding me!?! Apparently Fidele had not gotten the script on this. Maybe he needed a little reminder of the $14.95 need in his life.

Before I could properly conjugate a french verb in my mind and get it out of my mouth, Fidele was ready to move on to more important things. He said to me, "Pastor, can you pray for me?" What occurred to Fidele was that the most important thing... the most valuable thing... the thing that could have greatest eternal impact... the one thing that was the "life-changer" for him in that moment was prayer. Communicating with the God of the universe is, for Fidele, priceless.

Think for a moment about a task that you can preform for a client, a boss, etc. Now think about being paid 15 times more than you expected. Would you not be captured by that? Or would you, like Fidele, keep perspective, slip the cash in your pocket like it was your car keys, and stay focused on more spiritual matters? I'm not going to lie and tell you I could. However, after what Fidele demonstrated to me, I'm challenged to do just that.

Jesus spoke the sermon on the mount hundreds of years ago, but Fidele was living it out right in front of me. It was that part where Jesus had just gotten done teaching on how to pray (The Lord's Prayer) and fast, when he said...

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth,
Where moth and rust destroy,
and where thieves break in and steal,
But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven,
where moth and rust do not destroy,
and where thieves do not break in and steal.
For where your treasure is,
there your heart will be also."

If you ask me, Fidele doesn't have a heart issue. I think his heart is just fine- treasuring the things of eternity.

I, of course, told Fidele that I would love to pray with him. In the best French I could muster up, I prayed a simple prayer. As I started, Fidele fell to his knees and lifted his hands up as an outward expression of the attitude of his heart. Humbly approaching the throne of His loving Father. I was moved to tears and humbly reminded how quickly I get captured by the things of this earth... the things that I invest in that will have zero eternal dividends.

Thank you, Fidele, for pointing Jesus-Followers, like myself, back to the things that really matter.

With this in mind, we ask that you join us in conversation with our Heavenly Father.
There is so much to be thankful for as things literally get off the ground, here in Gabon!

Please pray for the following:
- growth of a charity fund to assist in paying for flights for emergency evacuations
- growth of discipling relationships among the expat community
- plans for our trip home to build our prayer support team
- 2 upcoming "lift-off" ceremonies where church and government leaders will be invited- one in the captial city of Libreville and one at the hospital's airstrip.
- We are still trusting the Lord for a project coordinator for the construction of a new home for at risk children- Hope House.

Join us in praising God for the following:
- We found aviation fuel for $5 cheaper a gallon! That reduces the aircraft's hourly operating cost by $75!
- A new air compressor and generator were recently donated to assist in making the hangar at the hospital's airstrip outfitted properly for the various aircraft maintenance.
- Praise the Lord for the 5 privately owned helicopters in the Dominican Republic that were loaned to Air Calvary short term pilots to start relief flights in Haiti. Today, our small organization had aircraft airborne simultaneously in 2 different continents, expressing the compassion of Jesus through the tool of aviation.
- Praise the Lord for the wave of support and activity surrounding our first wave of flights. Patients, medical workers, supplies, medications, and more are now moving efficiently and expiditiously to and from the Bongolo Hospital and, soon, people in life threatening situations will be impacted by this move of the Body of Christ to have the hands and feet of Jesus come to them.

We can't tell you how we appreciate your prayers! This is the key to any and all work that is done with eternal impact!

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