South Africa Chronicles, Part 4 - February 14, 2007 Print E-mail
Mike and Aidan - Fishing Buddies
 OBSTACLES can be your OPPORTUNITIES. This was a message I gave at a  church conference in South Africa, and a message a dear lady named Cara reminded me off a few days latter when I went to visit her in Hospital.
Mike Budler, who is a missionary in Cape Town South Africa with his wife Laura and family, and responsible for bringing me to South Africa for a number of speaking engagements was going to visit a dear sister in the Lord at a local hospital, and asked if I'd Like to come along.  Let me put it this way, I don't like hospitals!!! My prayer life improves when I walk down the hall, I keep my eyes to the floor so I don't look into peoples rooms and see people with tubes hanging out of them. No- hospital visitation is not high on my "wish" list. But that evening I went, and my prayer life improved as I walked through the doors.
We eventually got to the room where this dear sister was in bed, and began to speak to her and she shared  with us. Across from her in another bed was a dear German lady who had been to Germany for the World cup soccer tournament this past summer, and was  very excited to speak to someone about soccer. So I wandered over to chat with her and ask how she was. She asked "I heard you say,"All things work together for good" what do you mean?"  "No Mam," I replied, "all things work together for good to those who LOVE HIM." I then began to speak of the Lord Jesus  to her, we had a wonderful time, I spoke to her of a love relationship with a Person rather than religion and shared with her some stories and she hung on every word it seemed. We had a wonderful time around Him. When I had finished I went back to  the first bed and Mike came over to share with this dear German lady about the words of Jesus " Come to Me all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest, take My yoke upon you and you will find rest for your soul." She seemed encouraged and as we left that night both Mike and I were thankful for the opportunities, Cara's Obstacle being in hospital turned out to be an opportunity for us to share the Gospel with this dear German lady. And How gracious He is, He used a former soccer player to speak to her of that which she loved to speak of - soccer!! How He orders our steps even when we are unaware... and leads us into places we would rather not go- so great is His Love for the lost!
SEVERAL DAYS LATER, ONE MORNING MIKE was again off to Hospital to visit Cara.- "Good for him!" Until he asked me If I wanted to come-!!! "I DON'T DO HOSPITALS!!!" But what could I do?- so I went and again my prayer life improved as we walked through the hospital doors.
We headed to the ward where Cara was and we met an orderly , in the back ground a bell was ringing, I asked him what that was for. He explained it was the head matron calling a meeting of all the nurses. He told us we could not go and visit as there were specific visiting hours and now was not time. Mike explained he was a pastor. The orderly told him he had to go and see the head nurse... and see what she would say... so as we began to head to the end of the hall where the head nurse sat, I took a turn to the left and went into Cara's ROOM., and left Mike to face the head matron by himself !!. I figured if we were going to get kicked out I might as well get a chance to get in and share a quick word with the ladies!  Cara was there but not the German lady, but across from Cara was another dear lady, who was a sister in the Lord who had lost her eight month old baby.
 Mike came and said we had special permission to visit because we were "spiritual advisors"- -whatever that means- Thank You Lord! . I had thought the German lady may have been discharged, she eventually came into the room and got back into her  bed- she had been to see a Dr. Cara told us how the three of them earlier that morning had been crying, and she had tried to share as best she could about the Lord  and was trying to use her circumstances as an opportunity for the Gospel. She then said she prayed "Lord please send Mike and Aidan!".... and not long after we walked in, His Ambassadors- given favor by the head nurse. The new lady began to open up her heart and great great hurt. As I LISTENED I wondered what could I say, how easy it is to use cliches like a band aid  over a deep wound. "But God", a verse came to mind and I began to share with her and she listened, she had told me how angry she had been with God over what had happened. As I explained as best I could she began to relax and listen and it seemed His Word was making sense. I took a turn to go and speak at the bedside of the dear German lady while Mike moved from one person to another. Eventually it was time to go. And as I smiled and bid them farewell, I prayed and told them I hoped I did not  see them again in the hospital. We had a lovely time  But here is what is so good about the Lord. Please Consider in the circumstances Cara found herself in she was applying one of the messages she had heard a few days earlier.Our Obstacalesles may be Gods Opportunities for us evangelize and Edify.-Phi 1:12-13
1. God used a message Cara had heard- He Had "APPOINTED" her to be His representative in that hospital and as best she knew how she shared and she prayed. Well done dear precious sister! You looked beyond your own pain to those around you for Jesus Sake.
2. God answered and gave both Mike and I opportunities, to come and be part of her opportunities and to show her His eye is upon the righteous and His ear is ATTENTIVE to her PRAYERS- 1 Peter 3:12. He heard her prayers and moved upon our hearts to go. God is in charge!!!
3. Praise God that your circumstances as one of my favorite verses says in Phil 1:12 says "My circumstances have worked our for the Greater PROGRES of the Gospel."  Cara's presence was but Gods appointment to advance His Gospel. And she took it with both hands and used those circumstances not to complain but in her own pain to pray and proclaim Jesus Christ. That is what you call a "DOER OF THE WORD!"
The next time you find yourself in a difficult circumstance - think on that verse- Paul did two things in that passage he Evangelized the lost and Encouraged the brothers so that they spoke the Word of God more boldly.-Phil 1:12-13
Thank God for Mike going and God getting a reluctant participant like me in the place where I could share of Him to three ladies whose tears had fallen un noticed by many that morning but not by Him.
 I told the ladies that there are mementoes each of us have, some are considered junk perhaps to others but because of sentimental value- to us they mean a lot- SO Precious and valuable are our tears that God bottles them. Cara asked where it was in the Scriptures I told her I did not know but that she could find it in the psalms.... I figured it would give the three of them  the chance to read the Bibles they each  had. Later that afternoon Mike got a text message-  They had found the Scriptural reference!
I cannot tell you the joy I had in South Africa, the amounts of times daily to share of the precious Lord Jesus, someone asked me what it was like. I described it this way" Its the best three weeks I have had in 10 years."  
I did not go to South Africa with the intention of preaching- though that is what I was invited for . I had a two fold prayer.
One, that the Lord would draw John-Keith my 16 year old an I closer. When I think of him I think of Paul's commendation of Timothy in Philippians chapter 2, where he wrote "now you know of his proven worth, how he served me like a child his father in the Gospel." After I would speak he would come un noticed by those around and take my Bible and notes out of my hands as he knew I tire after standing and  even such light weights can tire my muscles due to my muscle disease. I awoke one night to see him place  a blanket over me as I had fallen asleep.
* I remember his desire and delight to scrub a deep pan to feed hungry people and his stooping low to hand out food to little children.
* I remember his lack of complaining but help. And the  night he was "ambushed" by dear Francois " the radio announcer who had him in the radio studio and grilled him about the Lord Jesus and where he stood with the Lord. Poor old John-Keith had just went into the studio to look around. Well done Francois!.
John-Keith and Francois - In the Radio Studio at Radio Station in South Africa
* I remember John-Keith giving of his finances to others. And lastly I remember as he slept on the long 19 hour return flight from Johannesburg to Atlanta at times he would awake look over me and give me the biggest smile and all as I can say is - Thank You Lord for such a son and a friend.
 And in the words of my dads  before he died, from his hospital bed  he looked at me and said "You are not only a son but a FRIEND"- And I thank God for John-Keith, not only a son but a friend who went the extra mile to take care of me. As one missionary said, she had never seen a 16 year old serve like he did. He would die if he knew I was writing these words, but perhaps some day he will read them and know - just how proud I was of him. Lastly I remember his carrying two bags around his neck so I would not have to lift  bags on the plane and his delight in handing out presents to his brothers and sister when he came home and mom too- and knowing there was nothing for him- but that did not bother him.... But Mike had helped and orchestrated  that we were able to get him some things he wanted. The way we knew was if he lingered long looking at something, for even when we offered to buy him something, he would always respond "No thanks I'm Fine" so what a blessing to be able to give him something. At one stage I had asked Mike to divert him while I went to get him what he had been eying- only for him to show up looking for me to make sure I was OK....!!! Son, I remember" But more important- the time could come when I forget but Hebrews 6:10 says "God is not unjust to FORGET how you ministered in love to the saints and are still ministering in Love"- HE REMEMBERS John Keith your love shown to me and others- Be encouraged son- be encouraged- You were and are a blessing to me and so many others. His eye is upon you and His ear attentive to your prayers- just as you had prayed before we left for South Africa for a spcific sum of money and how the following day in an envelope addressed to you it arrived- God is Undertaking for you- Hold fast that He is Faithful.
Secondly that  the Lord would allow us both to know Him more,
AND THIRDLY I knew He would take care of His WORD and He opened door after door on a daily basis to share of Him on a daily basis as well as many opportunities teaching and on radio..... One day I said to Him, "Lord there ought to be a law against having this much fun!" And fun indeed it was to team up with Mike and go "Fishing together" for the souls of men to both Evangelize and attempt to Encourage them- I am grateful.
I had many opportunities through recognizing people in soccer shirts or caps to start conversations about their favorite teams and then turn it around using soccer phrases to explain repentance so they could understand. The problem I find now is I feel ""lost" after such a gift from Him to allow us to spend tree weeks with John-Keith and Mike and his family and opportunities that were not forced but natural conversations. I had prayed for boldness and God gave me joy in the midst and physical strength.. And to have people who wanted to hear Gods Word- what a blessing. Some of the  text messages into the radio station were heart breaking after I shared the first two weeks on "Gods purpose in your pain."PLEASE PRAY for these dear ones. PLEASE PRAY FIOR US AS A FAMILY AND MINISTRY THAT GOD WOULD COMPEL US INTO HIS HARVEST FOR HIS SAKE..... 
 The next time you face an Obstacle remember behind it could be Gods OPPORTUNITY for you to advance His Gospel in your circumstances.
 To God be the Glory!