Hi praying friends,
God has been doing some wonderful things. Keep praying!
First of all, Mom was able to go to the persecuted church conference in Cottonwood last Saturday. Her ankle had been very painful and somewhat swollen for the previous two weeks, but on the morning of the conference when she woke up it was much better. She took that as a sign she should at least try to go. She figured that if the fragrances inside the church building made her sick, she could at least stay out in the car and pray for the conference. However, she was able to stay inside and listen to all of the speakers. It was not because there were no fragrances in the building—I could smell them, the normal combination of perfume, laundry detergent, hand lotion, etc. that most people live in and carry in their clothes all the time, and which seem to be particularly noticeable in church buildings (perhaps because people “dress up” when they come to church?). A friend of hers who is a member of that church and who has the same sort of allergies as Mom gets sick whenever she goes there. I thought perhaps the adrenaline of the moment – the excitement of her being able to be inside a church building, worshipping and listening with other believers for the first time in 10 years -- was simply causing Mom to ignore the symptoms of sickness which normally occur when she is exposed to fragrances. However, she experienced no repercussions from her long exposure to fragrances.
We’re not sure whether this was just a temporary miracle for that one great Saturday, or whether He’s opening the door for her to be physically present with the body of Christ on a more regular basis. But as a sort of test, she’s decided to try going to our own church tomorrow. Pray, OK?
The conference last Saturday was a great blessing in other ways. Over 700 people showed up. I met a local man who shared an interesting testimony with me. As a youth, he went to a Christian college and majored in accounting. He entered the workforce with the specific intention of sharing Jesus on the job, of being an “accounting missionary” if you will. And the Lord did give him many opportunities to evangelize in many different offices. However, over the years he began to lose his boldness. He began to hold his tongue. In retrospect, he says he’d become dependent on his salary and didn’t want to risk losing it. Ironically, God then allowed him to lose his job. Now, the only work he’s been able to find is as a janitor in a public school. He’s still looking. But meanwhile, he is back to sharing the gospel at work without fear. He figures he has nothing to lose now, he’s only a janitor!
One of the speakers was “Fred”, a man from a restricted nation. Apparently Fred’s first language is Arabic and his second language is Spanish. They had a Spanish-speaking woman lined up as an interpreter. But one of the attendees “happened” to be the pastor of an Arabic church. It had not been advertised that Fred would be present at the conference. When the pastor arrived and found out about Fred on the morning of the conference, he offered to translate from Arabic, which would be easier for Fred since that is his heart language. The conference organizer didn’t know the pastor from Adam so he didn’t know how it would work out, but he decided to go ahead and give him a try. He proved to be a fantastic translator, matching Fred’s personality and passion like a twin brother. It was like they were two mouths with one heart.
What's the common element in all these stories? I think it is that God is the one who opens and closes doors. This should drive us to seek God's favor more, and men's favor less.
"...[P]raying...for us as well, that God may open up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ" -- Colossians 4:3 (NASB)
The Courageous Living Conference was evidence that this is one prayer God loves to answer!