December 2018: Christmas Update
I was in Egypt many years ago to meet with the underground church. It was before the founding of Far Reaching Ministries, and yet, it would be one of the most significant foundations in ministry that the Lord would use to prepare me.
When I flew into Egypt, I had brought several hundred dollars with me to give as the Lord directed. I would only be in Cairo for four days, before I flew to South Sudan. I felt the Lord had told me to set aside a few hundred dollars and give the whole amount of money to one individual of whom He would show me. For four days, I met many people who had needs, but the Lord kept telling me that this was not where the money was supposed to go. So, it wasn’t until the last day, when I was left wondering if I was going to meet this person.
I had a strange itinerary where I was scheduled to fly from Cairo at two in the morning. Before my flight, I was invited to an Egyptian family’s home for dinner at seven that evening. As we ate and fellowshipped, a couple of hours later at about nine o’clock, there came a knock at the door. Before the door opened, I felt that the Holy Spirit spoke to me and said that the one you are to give the money to is on the other side of the door. When the door opened, a tall, dark Nigerian man stood there, and you could see the love of Christ in his eyes.
After he sat down, I was curious as to why he was the one that I was to give the money to, so I began to ask him about his life. I asked where he was from and about his profession. He replied that he was from Nigeria, and a missionary to Egypt. I asked him what missions’ organization he was with and he said that he did not have one. So, I asked him how he supported himself. He said that when I have a need, I go into my prayer closet and pray. Sometimes, I am in for a short time, and other times, I am in for hours but there is a point, when I am praying, that I have secured what I need, and the Holy Spirit speaks to me, and then I go about my ministry. I then asked, “I am curious, if you do not have a missions’ organization that supports you, and the only way you get your money is through prayer, then how did you get from Nigeria to Cairo?” He said, “Wes, God put it on my heart and called me to come and reach Muslims with the love of Christ, so I walked from Nigeria to Cairo.” This made me think, if you were able to fly straight through it would be 2,100 miles, but walking is probably over 2,500 miles at least.
What struck me about this man was that he was not an Arab, but a black man, which in Egypt, he would be considered a second-class citizen by many. He was not a Muslim, but he was a Christian which would take him down another notch. He was leading Muslims to Christ, which would place him at the bottom of the barrel in their society, and he would be persecuted—yet, he had great joy! He was in the Master’s hands and he knew his calling.
I went on to travel to South Sudan, and eventually back to the U.S. When I arrived home, there was a letter waiting for me from this brother. He explained that his rent was due that day, and he owed for four months. When he arose that morning, he went into his prayer closet at seven and prayed until seven that night, when the Lord told him to go to the Egyptian family’s house where we would meet. It was when I left the house that I shook his hand and I gave him the $300, which was exactly the amount he needed.
This brother’s life and commitment impressed me, so I contacted the Egyptian family because I wanted to support this brother, but they said, “Wes, he came to us one day and told us that he had completed the work in Cairo and at the Lord’s direction, he was going to a new city in Egypt. He left no forwarding address because he did not have any place to stay yet.” I have never heard from this brother again.
In Psalms 84:5 it says, Blessed are those whose strength is in you, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage. What this refers to is those who have hearts that are set on the highways of God. I could not help but wonder how many pairs of shoes this man would wear out on the highways of God in his life. For some people, they get saved on their deathbed and take one step. Yet, another gets saved, and by choice will only travel a few steps, but for others, they will walk across a continent wearing out many shoes on their pilgrimage. This brother has never contacted me again because he was not looking to man for provision, but was traveling the highways of God, knowing that He will supply his every need.
Over the years, God has used individuals like this Nigerian man to prepare me for what was to lay ahead for ministry and to trust God with the ministry needs. The last year has been a year of tremendous change for the ministry, and truthfully, most of it has been good. The Chaplain Corp has brought many to Christ, and right now, we seem to be winning on all fronts against the enemy. But, it has come at a great cost. In the last three years, 41 of our men have made the journey to the other side, and they are now, home with the Lord. In all, we have lost 54.
Recently, my secretary, Emily, came to me and said, “Wes, you need a new passport. You only have two pages available.” I was surprised because my passport was just a little over two years old—I am now on my eighth passport. When the new one arrived, I was looking at the photo, then compared it to the old one that was taken two years earlier. I could see strain and fatigue in my face. The lives of 41 men being lost, and the wives and families they leave behind, has brought a tremendous responsibility to me.
Paul talked about this in II Corinthians, when he said that daily, I face the pressure and concern for all the churches who are weak, and I do not feel weak. The sight of the passport photo did not make me think I was out of God’s will, but that we do not always get to choose the battles we fight, but the battles are chosen for us by God. For many, it would seem that the hardship is a sign that they are out of God’s will because it was taking a toll on them personally. But what it should signify is more likely we are right in the center of His will.
This Christmas, I want to encourage you to seize those opportunities to travel the highways of God. While Christmas is a time for family and giving, we need to remember that God sent His Son as a great gift and sacrifice for everyone. This is a time to put those in true need at the forefront of minds and bless the lonely, hungry, destitute and hurting by showing Christ’s love.