Joy is Returning: Thoughts from Mike

imageThe past few years a dear friend and ministry partner of the POI family has traveled to Tegucigalpa to share with our staff, words of encouragement, challenges, and truth. This past week during our annual staff retreat weekend, souls were fed, hearts were uplifted, and the name of God was lifted up.

I encourage you to read this guest post from Mike Curry and allow it to seep deep into your heart. You will be challenged, no doubt.

I spent the day Wednesday in the tropical breeze, shaded by my beautiful veranda. My ministry assignment here in Honduras with Point of Impact Ministries didn’t begin until Thursday. But, the airport in Teguc is one of the most dangerous in the world. There is one flight on my carrier here each day, and if there are weather issues, you just can’t land.

In over 35 years of preaching, I have missed two assignments. One was here because we could not land. Now, I come a day early to make sure I have a buffer to avoid that problem.

I hate days off when I am traveling and ministering. Especially when Teresa is not with me. Loneliness is a haunting companion for me. But, the Father knew I needed Wednesday. I love sharing ministry with Point of Impact. Their ministry is very similar to what we are trying to do in Africa. I feel welcome and at home when I preach and teach with the staff here.

But my love for this ministry, even my love of preaching could not drown out the nagging drips of loneliness and disappointment that Teresa could not accompany me.

Teresa brings everything to the ministry table that I lack. Warmth, hospitality, personal concern for individuals and their particular hurts and needs in ministry. She is a relationship magnet. And those needing love, consolation and encouragement are drawn to her most quickly. She is at home, trying to regain her health.

These wonderful Honduran servants of God, bruised and battered by yet another year of difficult ministry in gang-infested slums will have to settle for the meager offering of sermons and teachings God has entrusted to me.

I took all day reading, studying, and praying to shake off the “funk” that clouded my mind and heart. Finally….it li”ed.

The “hen-scratching” on my legal pads that would be hard for any other eyes to interpret came into focus. Not in focus for my eyesight, in focus for my heart. And then it came. As sure as the tropical breeze was breathing new life into my winter-weary body, the wind of the Spirit and the washing of the Word were renewing my heart and mind.

Thursday dawned a crystal clear day in this tropical paradise. The drive that afternoon to the retreat center seemed to clear my mind of every distraction. With each mile, I knew I was closer to fulfilling my assignment in the Kingdom. God’s delivery boy. That’s what I am. I simply go to heaven’s kitchen, find what the Holy Spirit has prepared for the Father’s guests, and try to take it to their “table” in as close to the original prepared condition as possible.

Handling the Word of God is like walking a mountain trail carrying nitroglycerin. When applied and used properly, it can open the hardest crevasses of stone. If misused……what was meant to clear obstructions becomes the biggest boulder of blockage known to man….religion.

I preached Thursday night. There was freedom and power. Sin is a hard thing. You can’t just blow it all up at once. You have to chip away at it like the boulder it is. Friday was a day filled with preaching, teaching and counseling. By the time I finished preaching Friday night it seemed obvious that God had cleared most of the obstructions of denial and was accessing hearts at His pleasure. The gift of confession was chased closely by the healing of repentance.

This morning, after bringing the weighty message of our lostness, neediness and dependency for almost two days, I opened the “grace spigot of heaven”.….and we all drank.

Everyone in ministry goes through seasons. There are seasons when ministry is done from all kinds of screwy, self-centered motives. Minister from that posture long enough and you will wake one day going to “work” and dreading the drudgery of ministry. The joy has gone. The only medicine I know of for the restoration of joy is the grace of God.

It was applied in liberal quantities this morning. Like the salve it is, it is seeping into bruised, wounded hearts, minds and feelings. It is bringing what grace brings……life! Joy is returning….for these servants……and, for me.

As I look around the hotel lobby at the faces of the American college students, I have two impulses: First, I pray—protection, mercy and healing. We are headed to the city dump to distribute food, water, gospel pamphlets and to preach the Gospel to the lowest economic group in Honduras….the dump dwellers. These people spend their day(s) digging through the freshly dumped garbage from the city, by hand. The “treasure” they seek is the recyclable bottles they can sift from the filth. If they have a really good day….they will still not make enough to buy a good meal or sleep in a safe bed tonight.

The dump is where hopelessness and helplessness meet to try to find survival. NOT life….just, survival.

I am praying for protection for the students because the dump is dangerous. Any one of our group would bring a ransom (if kidnapped) that would be more than a lifetime income for these people. The greater risk is the violent drug gangs who pray off of these helpless ones in an effort to find yet another avenue to launder their endless stream of drug money.

I pray for mercy for those we will minister to. I know no other prayer to pray. Their conditions are beyond repair (by human means). Only the mercy of God can sustain this existence they call life. I pray for mercy for the students. They are going to see, smell and feel the fruit of the fallenness of this world. When I reference hell in my preaching, my thoughts and senses always go back to this dump and the slums I walk in Africa. The stench is sickening. The sights are mind numbing.

And, I pray for healing. Healing of the myriad of diseases that are entering the bodies of these dump dwellers with each thrust of their skin into the raw garbage. Healing for minds who never have a thought of hope or deliverance from this hell of a life. Healing for hearts that are undoubtedly convinced, no one….not even God…loves them. They are lost in the truest sense of the word. Forgotten completely by society.

FullSizeRender-1I pray for healing for the students (and myself). You don’t experience this depth of poverty and need and ever return to your former perspective of what is the “norm” for life in this world.

The unanswerable questions of why……will remain unanswerable.

And then, after I pray I spend the ride to the dump asking God to strengthen me. To give me courage. To use me to help protect our students and to minister to the dump dwellers.

I find it easier each time I visit this dump or one of our African slum ministries. That bothers me at one level and encourages me at another.

It bothers me that I could ever “accept” these conditions as acceptable for humans. My American “fix-it” mentality has been overridden by the years of experience that teaches “the poor you will have with you always.” I don’t like that verse! I believe it….but, I don’t like it. It’s just so….unAmerican!

I am encouraged though as I watch the courage of college students as they wade into the unwelcome stench of humanity that is grabbing and clawing for a small serving of rice and a plastic bag of water. The fact that they (the students) are here will change their world-view forever!

The food POI gave away today did not cure the hunger problem in Honduras. The tiny bags of water that were distributed will not quench the unending thirst of these equatorial garbage diggers in this hot sun.

What did happen today, was the Body of Christ…..Jesus with skin on….did just what Jesus did and told His Church to do. GO! Just…..GO!!

Photo by Craig Thompson

[Photo by Craig Thompson]

The Gospel was preached with clarity today. The dump dwellers waited patiently until the Honduran pastor finished his message. They bowed in the heat of the sun and the stench of the garbage and prayed. Did God give new life to anyone today? Only the Holy Spirit knows. But I do know that today at this dump, these poor people saw and heard the Gospel.They know they were not forgotten today. They know they were loved, just a little bit, today. Maybe it was God’s way of saying I see, I know and I love you.I’ll wash the dump off in my hot shower in a moment. The A/C has already removed the memory of the hot sun. But the stench….it is still here. On my clothes. On my arms from where I hugged some of the dump dwellers. I almost hate to wash it off. Because I know as the dirt circles down the drain, so will the fresh awareness of how needy this world is……and….how blessed I am.I must remember. Lord…..help me to remember today and these needy people.


 Who’s Blogging?

mike-hr

Mike Curry is a preacher/teacher and “missionary-at-large” serving as president and founder of Light Ministries. With over 30 years of student and family focused ministry, Mike has spoken face to face to over 2 million people in 42 states and 12 foreign countries on 4 continents. To read more, click here.

 

 

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