"We could use a sharp fellow like you at the Mission."
"Are you kidding?"
"Why don't you pray about it? See where the Lord leads."
Three sharp dressed Ministers had approached us at the Christian Convention and asked that we consider going overseas to Zimbabwe Africa; to serve as Christian Missionaries. Besides being ordained myself, I had the skills to over-see rebuilding the hospital that had been destroyed from all the fighting there. And the Chidamoya Christian Mission needed repairs too.
My primary assignment would be to win converts among the Shona people and select from them; men to train as Pastors for the village churches we would plant. My wife could use her medical training to help inject inoculations, and distribute relief packages to the natives.
"You guys are a perfect fit!" They said.
"But our youngest son is in high-school. And what would we do with our house? We'd have to sell it. And with my angina, I don't think I should be taking all of the shots that would be necessary."
There were several other valid obstacles as well. But God is much sharper than me, and He would outwit my excuses with His omnipotence.
"Okay Lord, if we are supposed to go to Africa, our house should sell with no problem, for such and such amount."
The amount was about $10,000 above market value. Wouldn't you know it; the first couple to look at it had no problem paying our asking price. And God knew before hand how much we would need that extra money.
"Lord, Craig is still in high-school, and we've paid a lot so he could attend that Christian School. We can't leave him here, so what's your answer for that problem?"
It just so happened that the school Craig attended was using the exact same curriculum that had been developed for Missionary children over-seas. It is called Accelerated Christian Education (ACE) and could easily be transferred, so he could finish his schooling via correspondence from Africa.
"Lord Jesus, you know we love you; we will do whatever you ask, but will my heart be able to take all the shots and travel? There's no telling what might happen."
Doc Henson, for the first time gave me a clean bill of health.
"Your heart is stronger than it has been in years. I don't understand how it could have opened up those arteries so much. It has to be a miracle. You'll have no problem travelling or getting your inoculations to go to Africa."
These and other excuses were obliterated by our awesome Lord Jesus. The doors to go were opened and the doors to stay were closed.
Later, my wife and I spoke, knowing that God was indeed leading us to give up everything we'd ever known here in America, and head off into the unknown, to serve in the mission field way over there, in of all places; Africa.
"Honey, there's no getting around it. God is calling us to do this. And it just might be the most exciting of all our many travels."
We prayed. "Heavenly Father, we thank you for the privilege of serving you in this way. We will go wherever you lead. Please keep our family safe; help us to be wise in all that we do and to have a sharp wit about us."
At the time, I didn't know why I prayed those words; "Have a sharp wit about us". But later it would become evident that while visiting some African nations, we would need to be "As wise as serpents, and harmless as doves."
We faced many trials and dangers. Gaboon vipers, black mambas and cobras were prolific. The bush held many dangerous denizens; wild animals; none so crafty as the two legged kind in the cities we traversed. We used the sharp minds He gave us, but it was God who protected and delivered us. Nothing takes the Almighty by surprise, and He has the keenest, sharpest mind of all.
After nine years in Africa, God had sharpened our contrast between two different worlds; U.S. and Africa, resulting in a deeper appreciation for being an American and enjoying our freedoms. It was good to be home. God uses experiences like that to sharpen His children to a razors edge of trust and obedience. We learned gratitude while against the Lord's grinding wheel, as He shaped us to look a bit more like His Son, Jesus.
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