I was 18 years old and in a country halfway across the world. I had just experienced a six hour bus ride up and around a mountain on a pothole-ridden dirt road. We had a live chicken, tied up in a bag, slide back and forth under our feet, squawking and fussing the whole time. And to top it off, I had the privilege of visiting a “public restroom” that was door-less and contained open-hole squatties that emptied down a long shoot into a pig trough.
The town we arrived in was small and at the top of a mountain. Our hotel had a stunning view and was complete with a small bowl and bar of soap to wash our clothes. Dirt roads lined the town as small concrete buildings acted as homes and business. It was one of the nicer towns we had visited during our summer there and it was one of the most unique as well. We had been told that the only churches allowed, unless they were secret house churches, were all controlled by the government. As we met local believers in this town, we realized that somehow this church was meeting but the government in the town didn’t regulate their worship or doctrine. They were meeting twice a week and were able to teach the WHOLE TRUTH!
The next day we were invited to visit the church and they gathered many of the members together. Our translators relayed the amazing story as we stood in a circle in a dimly lit stone building. There were no men in the congregation and the oldest lady there acted as the pastor. She said they had prayed and prayed for a man to be the leader of the church but no men would step up. Then she prayed that God would send them someone who could read so that they could do more than just sing hymns and pray, but also learn what God’s commands said. When no one came, she and the congregation prayed fervently that the Holy Spirit would supernaturally open her eyes to be able to read the words of scripture.
As she opened up the only bible in the church, with a faith bigger than she could muster on her own, the words leaped off of the page! She had never been able to read a day in her life and all of a sudden, God answered the prayers of this hungry congregation. She wasn’t able to read anything else, only God’s Word! How incredible!
As we all stood in a circle, holding hands, tears streaming down our faces, we experienced the power of the Holy Spirit. The local believers began singing a familiar hymn in their language and we joined in English. We worshiped. With a people distant and different but suddenly as close as kin. Sisters. Daughters of the powerful King I served.
I left that meeting overwhelmed. My faith was so weak; my concept of God, so small. I had never had to depend on God like that, much less experience such a tangible miracle as these women had just relayed. I remember asking God to increase my faith; to teach me to believe and expect the unimaginable.
I sit here 17 years later recalling this amazing memory that changed my whole understanding of the power of the Holy Spirit and I still pray that God would increase my faith. But then these questions keep resounding again and again: What or who am I investing in that would require this kind of faith? Is my life too safe? What holy risks do I need to take? What faith-filled prayers do I need to take the chance of praying so that others will come to know Jesus? Am I…Are we living a faith-filled walk with Jesus?
Maybe it’s time we take the chance…