I pushed with reckless abandon against that gate with every pound of my considerable weight, and every ounce of my inconsequential muscle, sweat running off me and fear running through me. My mind was a blur. This could just not be happening to me! This sort of thing does not happen any more, not since the 1800's. But then, I had not been in this remote corner of the world before. No telling how many angry Quechua Indians outside pushed back, screaming at me, trying to force their way in---
Only a few days before, I was in my comfortable home in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, spending hours on end, praying that God would put the correct words in my mouth as I witnessed to the Quechua Indians of Peru, high in the remote Andes Mountains. Well, I should have spent some time praying that none of my fellow mission trip members, even with the very best of intentions, would trigger an Indian uprising.
I had heard about the trip at a community group meeting of our church. It was planned as a backpacking trip, out of Cusco, Peru, pushing into the wilds of the Andes Mountains, hoping to reach previously unreached Indian villages for Christ. It was organized and carried out by Outdoor Discipleship Ministries, involving mostly Ouachita Baptist University students. The time was around 1999, and, I must confess, I was not really the strongest of Christians at the time. My motives for my sudden decision to go were suspect. It was spurred on more by the thought of joining a great adventure into one of the remaining truly wild places of the world than about the thought of fulfilling the Great Commission. But, I must confess, I came back a changed person. The most noticeable outward change was, I am more emotional, unable to tell even a slightly stirring story without choking up. I had never been that way, but the change appears to have been permanent. The upside of it is, I now can write with true sensitivity and emotion, and I know when my writing is good, and when it's not. I didn't even think to pray about God giving me the ability to preach, or do Dedication ceremonies, or anything like that. I had no idea how far my gray hair would take me, what kind of tights it would put me in, Here in a land where few people ever reach the age of gray hair.
Anyway, when I heard about this trip, and that a spot remained unfilled, I just said “I'm going.” Maybe I should have thought it over a little bit. But I didn't. I was the only older person. (In 1999, I was “older.” Now, I'm just old.) My little group consisted of several girls and a few boys. As I say, this was billed as a backpacking trip, and when I started hearing some of those little girls saying things like, “I've never slept on the GROUND before” I began having doubts about the whole thing. But those “little Girls” soon proved it was myself I should have been worrying about, not them. Their oft-stated motto was, “I could have stayed at home and been comfortable. Or, I could come to these unsaved Indians and do God's work. NO COMPLAINING.” And they didn't. Not one time.
As I said, I spent a lot of time in my room praying for the right words to come to me. At the very least, “words.” I have never quite gotten over the time in college, in church one night, (This is another “First time ever told” story) the preacher asked me to pray. Well, I searched and searched for the words, but they just would never come. Finally I stuttered out an “Amen.” As I glanced up at my girlfriend Marty's face, I saw it was red as a beet. That always seems to hang in the back of my mind when I start to pray in public, or when I start to witness. Also, I dearly loathe hypocrites, and I often just feel unqualified to witness, feeling like I'm saying, “I sure do wish you guys could just be as perfect as me.” It took many years for me to fully realize, witnessing is just one sinner talking to another. But it finally came, although witnessing ability is coming along somewhat slower.
I read Jeremiah a lot, concentrating on the part about “If you go, God will put the words in your mouth.” Well, I went, and God did, mostly, to small groups. But he seemed to have some reservations about my preaching ability, and the like. (For some reason, I am learning, I can make confessions to this computer, and God, that I can never make to another person.)
Things were kinda tight for us then, having just sold our business and traveled for a solid year in our RV, and I began to feel guilty about going at all when I thought of that final payment I owed, $1500. A day or so later, I had to look about something in our old statements from our rental property manager. The statements are sent to me, the money sent to our bank. I pulled a two year old statement out, and guess what just fell out of it! A check! Well, guess the amount. Yes, you got it. $1500. Here was proof. God was in my corner in this adventure. Continued Thanks for reading!I will be speaking at the Pope County Writer's meeting, Dec. 1 at 5:00. If any of you live in that area, and can come, I would love to meet you! Pope County Library, Russellville.