This isn’t going to be a post with pretty pictures of the countryside or local folks in colorful clothes or any of the amazing food I’ve encountered here in Xela and the southern part of Guatemala. Today, I went to places where cameras cannot go and where mere words can’t adequately describe…so don’t expect much eloquence.
This evening, I went with a missionary named Debby (an amazing woman with the gift of evangelism) to a shelter near the hospital to minister to people staying there. Hotels are expensive, so many times people who have procedures, emergencies, or checkups stay in a shelter near the hospital (or their families stay there while their loved ones are in the hospital). This shelter was a room probably twice the size of a typical American’s living room. It had a shower and a bathroom, a few lockers, and about two dozen meager mattresses strewn around the room. Probably fifty people stayed in this shelter, some for weeks on end. It was cold, bleak, and filled with the smells that come when people travel for sometimes an entire day on a bus to another city for treatment. And it was filled with beautiful faces and stories unique to each individual.
Debby, two local missions students, and I went to share the Gospel and pray with the people in the shelter. Before we went in, Debbie stressed the importance of not only praying for people’s healing but also sharing the Gospel with them and giving them a chance to receive Christ. What good is it if a man is healed of cancer and still goes to hell when he dies? But a man who knows Jesus can live even in sickness knowing where he will spend eternity. I needed that nudge because I, like so many, often move to try to meet the physical need and neglect the most important thing: the soul.
We were met at the door by one gentleman asking for prayer, and as we prayed for him, I felt a tug on my sleeve. A little old lady next to me asked me to pray for her for some terrible ulcers she’d had on her body. We prayed for her and then split up to meet with the people there. To be honest, I struggled with doubt and with how to adequately share Jesus. I was grateful that He would allow me to go there, but I wasn’t sure what to do or how to do it. One thing I did know was that it wasn’t about me and that I absolutely couldn’t do it on my own. I had no idea what would happen next.
Debby asked me to pray with a young man who’d come back and forth for months for physical therapy. We prayed together, and I went on to talk with the next person. I found out later that one of the other team members was able to lead him to Christ tonight. Meanwhile, I went to a gentleman sitting all alone on his cot, looking broken in a way I haven’t seen often. I started asking him his name and where he was from, why he was at the hospital, etc, and God had me look at his eyes. God showed me that he had vision problems (often connected with diabetes, which he had). I told him what God told me and he confirmed it, and as we prayed, he began to sob. My deepest prayer for him was not just for his healing, but that he would understand how much God sees him and knows him.
There was a man whose wife has a growth on her spinal column that has paralyzed her and given her intense, burning pain for two months. A beautiful indigenous woman whose Spanish was poor and whose daughter didn’t understand a word I said…I tried my best to share the Gospel with signs and simple Spanish, but only God knows where that will go. There were several others Debby, the girls, and I got to pray with. But then I met the guard.
He figured I spoke English, so he came up to me to practice. He’d lived in the US for several years and was hoping to return. As I talked with him, God made it clear that this kid had walked away from Him. So I started asking him questions about his life and his relationship with God. He gave the typical story of being young and wanting to enjoy his youth while he can. Jesus must have taken over because He had me say some pretty direct, bold things to this kid who is standing on a precipice and needing to make a decision between life and death. He didn’t pray with me tonight, but he did hear how to make the decision for himself and was told he had a serious choice to make. This guy is battling, and if you’re reading this, I ask you to please pray for his salvation and that he would not wait any longer to turn back to Christ.
After we finished talking, Debby signaled that it was time to go. When we all got together to talk about the night, we learned that 4 people accepted Christ for the first time and 1 renewed his relationship with Christ. HALLELUJAH!
I’m not writing this for any reason except to tell the story and maybe to get someone’s attention – that maybe God wants to use YOU to step out of your bubble and share Jesus in a new way. That maybe He wants to tell you things about people so they will look to Him and know He sees. I didn’t expect this tonight. To be brutally honest, my faith was small, and I didn’t have super high hopes for what would happen. But these people matter to Him, and when I asked Him to speak to them, He did. And if you’re willing, He can use you for the same thing and more.
Jesus, take these jumbled words and use them somehow. It’s all I’ve got tonight, but I know You don’t even need this to move.