Monday, April 17, 2023
Recently I returned from an 18-day trip to the Philippines to spend time in ministry with ECOFII (Evangelical Christian Outreach Foundation International Incorporated), a network of over 300 churches and two Bible colleges on the Islands of Mindanao and Balut. I have been involved in that ministry for over 40 years and have travelled there on five different occasions. Every time I go, I leave a little more of my heart with the people.
Over the next few days, I want to share some lessons I learned from the Lord on this recent trip. Lesson number one was taught to me on the first day of my arrival in Manila. My plane arrived late, and by the time I cleared customs and headed to the doors to catch a taxi to the hotel it was after midnight, and I was exhausted. I told the taxi driver my destination as he loaded my bags into the trunk of the car, and I got in the front seat of the car.
When the driver entered the car, I was physically energized by the Holy Spirit. I felt it. I knew I was supposed to talk to him as he drove and watch the Holy Spirit open a door for the Gospel. And that’s exactly what happened.
He told me about his family, who lived four hours away. He saw them only one weekend a month so that he could stay in Manila and support them by driving a taxi. He immediately opened his heart and shared the personal struggles of that schedule. Then he asked me what I was in the Philippines to do. I told him I was a pastor there to do ministry. A tear came to his eye. He asked if I had any advice for him.
I said no. NOT!!! I immediately asked him what he knew about Jesus. He told me that he believed in Jesus but for the past seven years he had not worshipped Him. I clarified that by asking if he meant he had not been to church. He said he hadn’t, but that’s not what he meant. He meant he was not seeking Jesus and didn’t worship Him. I asked what he did worship, and I saw more tears. I was praying that he was still able to see the road. He said he couldn’t describe it in English, but the concern for making money for his family and yet being separated from them was so emotionally demanding on him that he could only think about himself and how to survive.
WOW. What transparency. The cares of life are so emotionally demanding that we begin to think only about ourselves and fail to worship God. He was describing idolatry, and he knew it.
Does that describe you? What are you worshiping? What idols do you have that have so taken over the demands of life that you have sacrificed your worship of Jesus Christ?
We arrived at the hotel moments later. As he unloaded my bags from the trunk, I reached out my hand to pay him and asked if I could pray for Him. He said yes. There, in front of the security guards at the hotel entrance, I prayed for this young man to be overwhelmed with the love of Jesus who died for him. I requoted the Bible verses I had shared with him in the cab. I spoke God’s truth into His life – the truth of a loving and forgiving God who stands with His arms open to welcome him home if He will choose to worship Jesus again. When I said Amen, he hugged me and said thank-you, I needed this. God blessed me with you as my rider tonight.
Every day God puts people in our path that have been prepared by the Holy Spirit to hear the Gospel. No matter how tired you are, or emotionally drained, or distracted by the demands of life, you can have the energy of the Holy Spirit to accomplish the commission of Christ to share the Gospel. It all depends on what or Who you love the most.