Dear Internet Family and Friends,
God bless you! We pray that you are full of the grace, peace, and rest of God!
Glory to God!! Madagascar and the Islands of the Indian Ocean In October, by the grace and mercy of God, my friends Shawn Small and Jay Davidson went with me, as I carried the cross in the islands of the southern Indian Ocean. These islands include Madagascar and the surrounding African island nations of Seychelles, Mauritius, Reunion, and Comoros! This cross walk was extremely hot, but absolutely glorious!
Our journey began in the paradise-like island nation of Seychelles. We started walking with the cross from the airport and after only a few hours we were in the capital, Victoria. The response to the cross was wonderful! As we carried the cross through the downtown area crowds of eager and curious people soon surrounded us. I would speak, and then invite people to pray with me to give their lives to Jesus. It was just awesome! Then … I was arrested! Though this is supposedly a Christian nation, I was taken back to the police station. My feeling when this happens is that God is giving me a whole new crowd that I normally wouldn’t have the opportunity to speak with. I was taken into a room where I stood before the Commander, the Chief of Police, many Lieutenants, and many officers and asked to explain how I got into the country and why I was carrying the cross. Little did I know that while I was inside, that Shawn and a group of people had gathered outside the police station and were praying for my release. I was finally released, but not before being able to speak clearly and simply about how to follow Jesus, and even extend an invitation and pray with some of the men in the room. They gave their permission for me to go on with the cross. They were all very kind and said they would help us with our cross walk in every way possible! How much higher are God’s ways than ours’!!
Another highlight took place on the last day of our walk. After speaking with a man who practiced Rastafarianism, he told me he wanted to give his life to love and follow Jesus. After praying, he gave me his hat and asked me to take his picture with his “dreadlocks” on the cross. He said this symbolized him laying his life down on the cross.
From the Seychelles, we went on to Mauritius. Though Mauritius is primarily a Hindu and Islamic country, the cross was welcomed with only love, and incredible kindness from all people. After Mauritius, Jay returned to the States, and Shawn and I traveled on to Reunion for a short time of ministry, then on to Madagascar. In Madagascar, sometimes, so many people would gather around to ask about the cross and have us pray that walking would be nearly impossible! At times, I was literally mobbed for gospel tracts and Jesus stickers! God gave me the beautiful honor of sharing with them about how Jesus died on the cross, rose again, and is alive today, then how we can follow Him, love Him, and live in with Him now and forever. Oh, I wish you could have seen their faces! Their tears and smiles as they would come to the cross were so precious and beautiful!
The needs were almost unbearable. My heart would break daily over the sickness and disease, the hunger, and the lostness of the people. The streets were literally full of the hungry, the homeless, children, the disabled and disfigured, the unloved, the abandoned, and those considered outcasts.
While there, I thought, “Back home, in the United States, so many are seeking purpose and meaning in life. For most people here in Africa, and so many places of our world, though, there is no purpose –beyond daily survival. To find food. To walk four miles to get to a ‘freshwater source’. To carry the heavy water jugs four miles back home. To find firewood. To avoid malaria, hepatitis, dysentery, tuberculosis, or countless common diseases. To live one more day. Yet, in the midst of all this need, I often find such contentment and joy. The children have no toys – only bottle caps or a ball made of twine and trash. The homes have no air condition, carpet or beds. Most people have no cars. Most people have no more than two changes of clothes. There are no retirement plans. Still, there is contentment and joy. Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and Life.” That’s enough for Africa. It’s enough for the USA. It’s enough for the rest of the world. I believe that if we could only grasp this truth, then our life in Him wherever we are can be peaceful, secure and content.”
Finally, we traveled to Comoros, an Islamic Republic just off the coast of Tanzania. When we landed only three of us got off the plane – one reporter, and Shawn and I. We were rushed through customs and quickly delivered to a hotel of their choice. When I was finally able to ask what was going on, we were told not to worry, but that an uprising had begun just hours before our arrival. God graciously led us to and gave us favor with a leading official who helped arrange transportation AND interpreters! Oh, if only I had the time and space to tell you the whole story! We were able to openly carry the cross and preach and share with the people, and even pray with some to commit their lives to Christ! It was totally miraculous! In the midst of all the circumstances, God truly went ahead of us and prepared the way!!
On trips like this, I often wonder…”Where are the doctors? Where are the ministers? What keeps so many of God’s people away from places like this? Where are those who will truly touch people? Where are those who will pray or wipe away the tears? Is it the dirt that we fear? Maybe it’s the diseases we are afraid of? Is it possible to truly minister without touching? To touch without loving? To love and not hurt? Maybe it’s fear. But doesn’t perfect love cast out all fear? Maybe it’s ignorance. But if God loved the world, shouldn’t we at least know about it? Maybe it’s busyness. Maybe we have just forgotten. I’m so thankful that Jesus loved. And got involved. And touched. And hurt.
I believe with all my heart these were surely some of the places where Jesus would be – with the hurting, the broken, and the lost. This is where the cross needs to be today, in the crossroads of life – life at it’s best and life at it’s worst. It truly is at the cross where the worst of man has met the best of God. What an incredible honor and privilege to follow Jesus, to live life on the road, and to live in the shadow of the cross.
God Bless You!!