I almost titled this blog, “I Gained a Heart for the Nations Over a Heater Vent.” Wasn’t sure that title would grab as much attention. Not everyone has the heart for the nations. But, here is my story:
It was nine o’clock. Mom thought I was in bed. She always seemed to be in a rush to push our bedtime when we had guests ministers staying with us. Our family was the ‘bed and breakfast’ for visiting ministers. We had four children in our family, so, there were plenty of beds to share.
Suppertime was always a treat. While the food was great, it was the conversation around the table that I chewed on and enjoyed for days after. There were stories of other lands and people. Acts of courage and tales of miracles to savor and digest. Still, the intimate stories were often shared, ‘after I put the kids to bed.’
I was the oldest and had a greater curiosity about what way going on ‘after bedtime’ than my siblings. What I discovered was that there was a way for me to be in on the conversations from a hidden place.
Our heating system in the house provided grated registers on the floor for the heat to come through. They also provided a perfect megaphone for conversations from one room to the next. So, as soon as my brother and sisters settled into peaceful sleep, I tiptoed down the hall to the floor register. I lay down beside it listening and praying no one would need to use the bathroom and come walking down the hallway.
One night I a missionary to Germany told how underground meetings were planned weeks in advance. Without social media, flyers, church announcements or P.R. of any kind, people came together at the designated location. Holy Spirit led, some walked or rode their bicycles for miles to get there. Others came in need of healing. All of them came at a risk of their lives.
There were stories of only a handful of Bibles available for large numbers of people. They tore the Bibles apart and handed out pieces to each one. “Memorize your piece and then destroy the text,” were the instructions. When the next meeting occurred, each one recited their part. In this way, everyone was able to feast on God’s word through the inner memorized record.
My heart turned as I heard these stories of complete trust and surrender to God and His work. The passion for God’s presence and His word challenged the apathy I saw and sometimes felt in my life and the lives of those around me. Their passion drew me to the deeper commitment.
There was one story that remains forever in my memory. I must have been eight or nine years old when I heard it. A missionary to South America visited our congregation. He spent several nights in our home. As usual, Mom sent us kids to bed and was serving dessert to the missionary in the living room. Over Mom’s cheesecake, the missionary told the story of a trip to one of the mountain villages.
“When I packed to go on this trip,” he said, “I thought I’d only be speaking in churches. I brought a suit, dress shirts, and my good shoes. This would be appropriate dress for a minister. Yet, the week after preaching to the churches, the leader there asked me to go to one of the mountain villages. People wanted prayer for healing, and there were others who had never heard the gospel. I didn’t know what to wear. The mountain trails were steep and treacherous. Because of our location on the equator, it was also hot and steamy. I decided not to wear my suit coat, but didn’t have any shoes to wear except my church shoes.”
“We loaded some backpacks with canteens and Bibles,” he continued, “and we started up the trail. There were many stops along the way. I was not used to climbing, especially in the heat. Plus, my feet started hurting. I could feel blisters forming, and the backs of my shoes were cutting into my heels leaving them raw. ”
“We almost reached the village, when I couldn’t take anymore. I sat down on a rock and removed my shoes. My socks were a bloody mess. ‘Jesus, help,’ I cried out from my heart. ‘I can’t go on without Your help.'”
“Moments later a woman came dressed in simple peasant clothing. A mottled bandana wrapped around her head. She was carrying a bucket of water. She knelt down in front of me and started removing my socks with such gentleness. Then she took my feet one at a time and eased them into her bucket of cold water. There are not enough words to express to you the relief that water gave my hurting feet,” he said.
“Then the woman looked up into my face. What I saw was not the face of the woman, but the face of Jesus. There He knelt with my feet cradled in His hands and pure love pouring from His eyes. He smiled as if to say, ‘I am here to help you.’ All I could do was weep.”
The missionary went on to tell the rest of the story, but I don’t remember the details. What stirred my heart, was to see Jesus’ face. To have such an encounter of love had to be life-changing. This missionary was willing to go where God opened a door. His obedience stirred my heart as never before.
From that day to this, God has continued to nurture my heart for the nations. He’s drawn me to encounters with Him in the hidden places of humble service. I never left America to visit a foreign country until I was fifty-six years old. In 2000, I went to Guatemala, the Netherlands, Israel, and Egypt. Since then I returned to Israel two more times. I’ve also visited precious saints in Baja.
Part of me would love to live from one short-term missions trip to another, but it is not God’ plan. Instead, He opened a ‘heater vent’ for me to interact with the nations. My open door is the internet and blogging.
Now, through blogging, I can connect with amazing people from many cultures and places. I can share God’s love from my keyboard and receive it back the same way. I am connecting with people from nations I’ll likely never have the opportunity to see or visit. My bloggets and I share our lives and our hearts with one another. God is moving with power, and we are all blessed.
The Internet, Facebook, YouTube and other sites are often criticized for their negative messages. But it blesses beyond measure to have this open door. These sites make my dream come true. It’s a joy to read stories from other lands. I love to share the daily lives of people from other cultures. I love their music, and even sharing their recipes is priceless. God threw open a door for me I never dreamed I’d have, as I lay on that hallway floor listening.
Romans 11:33 says, “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!”
God answers our hearts desires in ways we can never imagine. Has He surprised you with unusual answers? I’d love to hear about them. Please post a comment.