Friday, December 22, 2017
Psalms 119:145 – 152 (NIV) I call with all my heart; answer me, O LORD, and I will obey your decrees. I call out to you; save me and I will keep your statutes. I rise before dawn and cry for help; I have put my hope in your word. My eyes stay open through the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promises. Hear my voice in accordance with your love; preserve my life, O LORD, according to your laws. Those who devise wicked schemes are near, but they are far from your law. Yet you are near, O LORD, and all your commands are true. Long ago I learned from your statutes that you established them to last forever.
It was a two-hour trip by boat across the Philippine Straits. We stood on the shore of the main island of Mindanao waiting for our boat to arrive. We had hired a local fisherman who had several boats to take us across to the island of Balut, where we would dedicate the land where a new church would be built. It would be the first evangelical outreach on that island, and to our knowledge there were only a handful of Christians amongst the entire population.
As we stood on the beach we began to notice the boats being used by the fisherman of that village. They were all outriggers, and there were three basic sizes. One was quite small – maybe 12 feet long – and the outrigger extended on only one side of the boat. It had no motor and no seats. We were assured we would not be using a boat that size for the trip. The six of us breathed a sigh of relief.
The second type of boat was maybe 16 feet long, and had the outrigger on both sides of the boat, and it was motorized. It was a narrow boat, only wide enough for single seating on top of the outrigger frame. When we tried to imagine all six of us in there along with the boat owner it seemed very small.
The third type of boat we saw was much nicer. It was probably 20 – 24 feet long, with a wheel house at the back for the captain. It was wide enough for double seating on the outrigger frame. It had a bigger diesel inboard engine.
We asked our Filipino friend who had made the trip arrangements which of the two larger boats we would be using. He said he didn’t know, because the man they had hired had not arrived yet, and none of the boats we could see were his. We would be taking whatever boat he showed up in. We immediately held a prayer meeting and cried out to God for the bigger boat. The longer we waited, the more we prayed.
Finally, a boat approached, and it was a big one. We made the trip to the island with no problem. But the next day, the return trip was terrible. A strong wind blew from the south through the straits causing 14 foot swells on the ocean. Even in the big boat that trip was the scariest thing I have ever done. But God knew which boat we would need. He heard our cries and He answered us.
While we were on the island, we took an afternoon excursion on the boat to a tiny atoll just a few hundred yards off the island. As we walked down the dock to the boat we were stopped by a woman sitting with a sick child on her lap. The 3-year old boy was lethargic and unresponsive. He had a high temperature. There were no medical facilities on the island. She had heard that the Americans were there and that they were connected to this new church that was to be built. My dear Filipino friend Victorino heard her ask for help for her son. He immediately grabbed my hand and said, “Brother John, you pray for her.” Right there on the dock we laid hands on that boy and the mother and we cried out to God for His healing power. We proclaimed the Name of Jesus and asked Him to reveal Himself to this woman by healing her son.
When we had finished praying we went to the boat and took our little trip. When we returned two hours later we were met at the end of the dock by the mother. She thanked us for what we had done. As we looked beyond her on the dock we saw the boy – running and playing with a friend – completely healed. We told her it was Jesus who had done it, and that she should come to the meeting we were having in the town square that night.
I don’t know if she came or not, but I do know that at the meeting that night dozens of people came forward to receive Christ as their Lord and Savior, and the church was born.
Call on the Lord with all your heart. Cry out to Him in your time of need. Put your hope in His word. He will hear you. He will answer you. He will save you.