April 2020: We Do Not Need To Be Afraid
I know that a lot of believers are afraid right now, if not terrified, because of the coronavirus. But if we understood the hand of our Lord, and His ability to protect us, we would be at peace. The Word says that he whose heart is set upon Him is at perfect peace. Over the next ten minutes, as you read this newsletter, I want to give you the ability to trust the Lord. It was October 1989, and my life was at its darkest moment. The stress of my life was killing me, and I was afraid. I was in Savannah, Georgia, and I had just moved there a couple weeks earlier. I have always loved the rain; it is relaxing and peaceful to me. I like nothing better than to sit on a porch, on a rainy day, and be alone with the Lord. That year, the Lord seemed to know that I needed to be quiet before Him, and it seemed to rain all the time.
I would sit outside on a small porch, with a cup of coffee and my Bible, and spend many hours with the Lord. I went walking in a new housing project that was just being built. Believe it or not, a new two-bedroom house was $55,000, and a three bedroom—the nicest model— was $65,000. But I was a man that did not even have $10. The stress was affecting me so much that after I woke up in the morning, after just an hour, the top of my head felt badly sun burned, and that was just one of many physical problems I was having. That particular day, the sky was overcast, and a cool wind was blowing. I think it was a Sunday and knowing that no one was around, as I walked, I prayed and said, “Lord, I am afraid. I am scared that I am going to die.” I was worried that if I died, who would take care of my children. I had come home a few days earlier, from working a job that was commission only, where days would pass with only one or two customers a day and 10 salespeople. When I arrived home, my first wife told me that she did not love me and was leaving me. I can remember her getting in the car, with my five year old daughter and two year old son that very night; looking at them looking through the window wondering what was happening, and them driving away as I looked at my children looking back at me. My heart had never hurt more. My thoughts were, if I die, will they ever remember how much their father loved them, or who would be a witness into their lives for Christ.
As I walked, it started to rain softly. I had a Gideon Bible in my pocket. Then, I heard the voice of the Lord whisper to my heart Psalm 91:7. I had no idea what the verse was, but I reached into my pocket and pulled out the small Bible and the wind began to blow through the pages, but I found the verse. It read, “A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.” This verse is referring to one being in battle, with death all around, but the Lord is protecting. At that moment, I knew that I was going to be okay.The Lord told me to obey and everything would work out. For the next nine years I waited. I would not push the hand of the Lord, but I was determined to trust. I had a brother that said something that really stuck with me. He said, “Wes, most men, when their wives leave them, will go out and get into another relationship.” Then, he went on to say that there are a few, a very few, who will run after the Lord with all their heart, mind and soul. At that moment I said, “Lord, I am going to run after You with everything in my heart.” And I did. For nine years I did not date. In looking back, it was one of the greatest times of my life. It was me and Christ.
I traveled all across Russia, sharing Christ in all the prisons. I cannot tell you how many days and nights that I was on buses or trains looking out of the window in blizzard conditions, but I was not alone, it was me and Jesus and it was wonderful. As I walked my way back out of the new housing project, to the place where I was staying, I could not see the light at the end of the tunnel, but I knew the Lord was with me. I had applied for a job at Sears, in the appliance department, but the manager said, “Wes, I would love to hire you, but I have not had anyone leave for 14 years.” Not long after, he called to say that I cannot believe it, but one of our longest serving employees just took another job. This was the Lord’s way of giving me provision. Over the next several years, I began to see a small light at the end of the tunnel. One day, after nine years, I was sitting in my car and praying. I was thinking about the fact that nine years had passed, and I had not seen any change of heart in my wife. At that moment,I prayed and said, “Lord, if I have to stay single the rest of my life to honor your name then I will do it.” Fifteen minutes later my cell phone rang. When I answered it, my wife (at the time) said that I am going to divorce you. Now, she had done this many times before, but at that moment the Lord spoke to my heart and said that I have released you. Without me ever signing any paperwork, the divorce papers came to my house and it was done.
Had I been free years earlier, there were several nice Christian women who wanted to be in a relationship with me. I might have married, but I was not free. By waiting I met Vicky, who would become God’s greatest gift to me besides His son. Right after Vicky and I married, I was given full custody of my children and we are very close. I was supposed to be at the U.S. Embassy in Kenya when a bomb was detonated, but at the last moment, I had been called away. I was at the World Trade Center with my children exactly one week before it was hit. I had been given the choice of going to a speaking engagement a week later, but I had chosen the week earlier. I had taken my children, exactly one week earlier, to go to the top of the World Trade Center but it was overcast, and we did not go up because you could only see 10 miles. But the day the towers were hit the skies were clear. Both Vicky and I have had days where we were supposed to travel roads, and the Lord told us to go one day early or later and people were ambushed and killed. Both Vicky and I have been bombed multiple times, with bombs landing as close as 20 yards away, but they did not touch us. I have run into a full-grown male lion, in the bush, but it did not attack. Much like Daniel, God closed its mouth or blinded it. I have run in to a 16-foot crocodile while crossing a river, and it just looked at me and went away. I have had malaria 35 to 40 times, typhoid fever five times, where three of those times I have been in critical condition in the ICU, yet walked away.
The scripture tells us in Psalm 91: 9-11 that if you have made the Lord, who is my refuge, even the Most High your dwelling place, no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent. For He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. The key is, is the Lord your refuge? If He is not, this is a good day to say, “Lord, I am going to make a decision today to run after you with all my heart, all my mind, and all my soul.” Psalm 22:5, “To you they cried out and were delivered; in You they trusted and were not disappointed.” The key is, in You they trusted. The great things about trials is that they can cause you to draw close to the Lord. And, when you are close to the Lord, it is the best place you can be. The Lord tells us that our time is in His hand. He knows the day that each one of us are scheduled to meet Him. If it is our day, nothing can change that. Most importantly, Jesus said that I will never leave you nor forsake you. We have to remember that Jesus Christ is the author and finisher of our faith. It is 3:30 in the morning in South Sudan. Vicky is asleep and it just started raining. I have just made a cup of coffee, and I am going to sit on my porch and spend time with the Lord. With Christ I have as much peace in my bed as I do at the war’s front.
Far Reaching Ministries