Maybe it was the beauty of it all. Maybe it was the way God moved so mightily, I really love Him and His ways. Or, perhaps, it was the fact that I didn't hear a single helicopter zooming just a little too close to my head the whole week. I also only saw one gun and it was in the hands of an extremely polite police officer.Maybe those things were it. The refreshing few days away from a violently war torn mainland to an island where the king himself stayed to us "has never known war". Either way as I sat sipping my hot tea Friday morning overlooking a beautiful lake, waiting for a boat to show up that may or may not show up around 9:30, that we may or may not be able to get on and it might or might not cost the same price it cost to come. As I soaked it all in I wasn't so sure I was ready to leave. Idjwi, we came to bless you, but you blessed me.
War wasn't the struggle for our new friends, but starvation was. As a disease had been ravaging their crops they welcomed us with open arms. Even as we arrived to greet our beloved pigmes, who haven't always been known for their peaceful nature, we were greeted with shouts of joy and love. That in itself was a major answer to prayer.
Our first day on the island and we were invited to go and spend time with the king. What a concept God says we'd be set before kings and yet He invites us to feast with the poor. Life with Jesus is a wild adventure that will throw your mind for a loop. I love life with Him.
Our first few moments with the pigme tribe was an assuring blessing. We began to worship together and the presence of God overtook the room. It was so real and so tangible I'm certain the goats outside were bleating praises as well. When we finished one by one people began to stand up and say that pain had left their bodies as we worshipped. We didn't pray for anyone, we didn't even ask for testimonies, they just began to express joy at the miracles they were receiving.
Amidst the time of heaven on earth I was moved to aching compassion by the oppression of this people. They aren't on the war torn mainland, but they have been ostracized and left to fend for themselves battling poverty and persecution.
"Jesus said, when you give a dinner or a supper, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or your wealthy neighbors...but when you give a banquet or a reception, INVITE THE POOR, THE DISABLED, THE BLIND, and THE LAME" (Luke 14:12-13)
Jesus make us like you. May we see the persecuted, the poor, the hurting, the injured, and may we have the courage to invite them to our table, in our homes, in our churches, into our lives.
When we went to visit the next village of pigmes I became overwhelmed. This one particular woman caught my attention. Quite old in age, adorned in dirt covered fabric, young child on her back, earrings in her ears, and yet as I looked at her I saw the beauty of heaven. I don't know her name, I don't know her past, but as I looked in her eyes I saw my Jesus there. His presence surrounded me as I sat to take my place and wait my turn to speak. I was last to wrap up our ministry and all I could do was go sit before her and tell her she was beautiful. Tell her she was prized. Tell her our Father knew her by name. He cares for her. He sees her every need. To be honest I felt so lowly, so humbled, that all I wanted to do was lie face down in the dirt and cry. I wanted to let this woman teach me about life as the wrinkles on her face spoke of the years of wisdom that must be hidden in this gem.
We gave the alter call and more than half gave their lives to our Savior. If my heart wasn't full enough as we began to leave a woman ran up to me and handed me her worn and used pot. Tears escaped from my eyes at this gift given not out of someone's abundance, but out of their lack. Jesus knows how to melt my heart.
There were more healings as we prayed through the wards of the hospital, deliverance as the demonic actually thought it could stop what God was doing, and more divine encounters as Holy Spirit led us each moment of each day.
We serve a good God. We serve a mighty God. A God whom I'm madly in love with. What a privilege to serve Him everyday, to know Him, and be loved by Him. It filled my heart with joy to feed a hungry people naturally and spiritually, to climb in the dirt and find the beauty of heaven, to hold a turkey and have new experiences, to gaze at the majestic wonder of Gods incredible creation.
Be Blessed, J. Tate