Monday, November 10, 2014

Buckets and Bowls



Nicaragua is a tough place.  Nothing is easy.  Communication and planning are especially difficult and in the early days of our ministry almost impossible.  We had left early that day headed to an area near what is known as the “Triangle of Death”, a community hidden away in the outskirts of the city of Chinandega far away from the other barrios and communities. Hidden, forgotten and distant from the areas that people see.  

It had been from the beginning and still is today the ambition of our ministry to go places other people would not go or had not been. We really didn’t know much about what we would encounter or what we would experience, but we prepared for what we knew.  By this time in our ministry we had been serving in Nicaragua for 9 years.  We had seen a lot and had learned to expect the unexpected.  With the knowledge we had, we set out to reach a group of forgotten people.  We had a short term mission team, we had a plan, we had a program, and we had a ministry. The problem, no one knew we were coming.

We had decided to find a church that we heard had just started in this new area and work with them for the day to evangelize the surrounding area.  We would be going door to door doing “old time door knocking evangelism” and invite people to the church.  We would then have a service and a feeding center. Our hope was to connect people to the church and its pastor.

The trip would be typical, no good roads, lots of waiting, lots of “redirecting”.  As we traveled, we saw the familiar sights.  A horse in the middle of the road that wouldn’t move for us to pass, small children with few if any clothes on playing in the muddy streets, hopeless adults just buying their time waiting for something to change. Finally after an hour or so of travel, we turned onto the “imaginary road” that led to the church.  By now it had started to rain and I was concerned about how much we could get accomplished.

 As we made the turn I saw something that I had not seen before.  In the distance, in the middle of the road I saw what looked like a blockade blocking the road. It wasn’t unusual for us to come across things that had been placed in the road to prevent people from passing through, but this was unusual because I didn’t really know what I was seeing. The colors of the blockade were bright and the items used to block us were in a nice line.  Usually it would be tree limbs, garbage, and giant rocks piled in a hap hazard way.  My translator and driver were busy finding our way so I kept quiet and figured I would learn about what I was seeing soon enough.  

As we got closer to the blockade we stopped and I realized that it was made up of buckets and bowls. Not only was it made of buckets and bowls, but it led directly into the entrance to the church that we were looking for.  As we got out of the vehicle, the streets began to fill with small children and mothers, elderly men and handicapped people.  With bright faces and beautiful smiles they began to form a line.  Old and young alike began to find their place in line.  I went to the front of the line of buckets and bowls and took this picture. 

I was totally blown away.  I had no idea what was happening.  How did these people know we were coming?  This place was a total Gilligan’s Island, “no phone, no lights, no motor car, not a single luxury” and yet here people were, totally prepared for a feeding program.  By this point I had to know what was going on and so I pulled my translator aside and began to question them.  

The Pastor of the church was there too and he began to explain. The church was doing all that it could with all that it had to meet the needs of its people.  Most of the families there had little to no food.  Some small children and those who were sick had died. The situation was hopeless.  But their faith in God had not been moved. Earlier that week during one of their nightly services they began to pray and seek God for His intervention. As they sought Him in prayer and fasting the Lord told them that He would meet their needs.  He called on them to prepare themselves for His provision. And so daily they came to the church to wait on the Lord for provision.  Each individual came daily.  They got in line and held their buckets and bowls and waited on the Lord.  The Pastor and His wife built a fire daily and waited for The Lord to move.  In spite of what others would call reality, they prepared themselves for the vision that God had given them for His provision in their lives.  The Pastor went on to explain that as the rain fell and the weather grew increasingly dangerous that the people of the church placed their buckets and their bowls down in line to save their place while they sought shelter from the rain. I was blown away. Their faith in God had moved them beyond their needs and moved them to action.  They were prepared for his provision. 

God spoke to me that day.  It changed my life.  The fact is that we are all seeking Him for something, provision, opportunity.  We all have needs.  One of the great needs for many Christians is the need to find their place in the Kingdom.  Why am I here? What is my purpose? We seek Him with diligence to understand and discover the answer to the questions of purpose and destiny.  

We most often neglect the next step. In addition to our seeking we must begin to prepare ourselves for the answer. You have to prepare for the opportunity.  We do the natural, He does the supernatural.  I meet many Christians who have a desire to serve Him in some relevant way.  They spend countless hours in prayer and petition with God asking Him these questions, but rarely do I meet the individual who has taken that next step.  Preparation.  

The Institute for World Ministry is for many people the needed next step.  Whether your ministry future includes missions in a foreign field or not, the great commission is the same for everyone.  And it starts and ends with “GO”.  

IWM will prepare you for the greatest part of the great commission.  Without the “GO” there will be nothing more done. “Go” doesn’t just mean foreign missions, it includes the going that we are all engaged in on a daily basis. 
So whether you are a new believer still needing answers to these questions, or a leader in a local church needing resources to help launch your mission’s ministry at your local church, IWM is for you. If you are interested please visit our website at www.igoiwm.org, or give me a call at 251-645-2117.Contact us at The Institute for World Ministry