The missionary fills the roles of preacher, teacher, evangelist, and prayer warrior. He travels in adverse conditions, adjusts to culture shock, and gets ill. The greater the adversity, the greater glory Christ receives.
In a refugee camp, Brian Baker and I found a prostitute with a baby sick of AIDS. Brian prayed for the mother to repent and the child to be healed. Medicine was given. Six months later I found the child alert and healthy. Though the mother remained a prostitute, she had given her child to the Five Loaves orphanage (CoG7) in Grafton (Psalm 42:11).
With five others, Jacob and Deena Rao and I called on homes in Vijayawada. After one visit, a pastor’s wife dropped out, leaving seven of us to go on. In the next home, I gave a sermonette. As we were ready to leave, the lady of the house told of a dream she had a year earlier. Feeling isolated, she had asked God to send other believers to her home. She dreamed that seven Sabbathkeepers would visit: one American and six natives. Because the wife had left our group, we were the exact number and ethnic composition to match this woman’s dream (Habakkuk 2:3).
Leonard Koech and I looked, without success, for transport to the next church on our agenda. As darkness fell, it began to rain. Suddenly a fellow walked up to Leonard and shook his hand. This young man had cars and drivers, one of whom would take us directly to our destination. God had sent an angel, it seemed.
That ride to church became an adventure. The rains descended and roads turned to muddy pools. Once, our car lost control and slid backward down a hill, stopping against an embankment. The driver maneuvered the vehicle downhill, gunned the engine, and propelled us over the hill. We were happy to arrive at church that night, feeling like Paul: in perils of darkness, of muddy hilly roads, of worn out tires on old vehicles . . . not really shipwrecked, but nevertheless tested in our faith(2 Corinthians 11:26).
Our trip to Kenya’s Transmara region was even more nightmarish. Alexander Chepkwony and I rode behind our motorcycle drivers in a cold, pouring rain and trekked through mud the last miles to a small village church, arriving late at night, soaked and chilled. The next day, several locals met us at church. The widows needed help starting a sisal rope-making project, and the men wanted to plant cornfields. The weather was closing in again, so I had only a few minutes to exhort them to corporately pray to God about these projects before taking action.
The trip back from Transmara was a blur: navigating flooded roads, wading through filthy water, getting cold and wet again. I became ill soon after and was admitted to a hospital for possible malaria. I returned home a week earlier than planned.
What seemed like a failure to me, God turned to victory. The Transmara widows started their sisal rope project, and the men obtained bean seed (rather than corn) to plant in the field they’d prepared. All the adversities were endured for the greater glory of Jesus, our Master (Philippians 4:13).