He Knows Best
I awoke late one Sabbath morning to a phone call asking if I was going to the Ipeyu Church, a 30-minute drive from Brooke’s Point. “Yes,” I responded, “but I overslept, so I’m going to be quite late.” The caller informed me that my good friends Silin and Rinal wanted to go to church if I could pick them up.
We had planned to be back in Kemantian this Sabbath, but getting back late Friday afternoon from close to two weeks in Manila made that impractical for me. However, Kent had been able to leave quite early and hike into Kemantian and then over to Kensuli in the afternoon to encourage our workers in those areas. But I sensed the Lord had other plans for me. I tried to be content with how things had worked out. Then I overslept significantly.
As I got ready for church, prepared breakfast for my family and visitors and put together food for potluck, I prayed for the Lord to change my heart. The days I had spent in Manila working on a legal issue for the project had left me exhausted. The city was a constant bustle of activity and noise every day and night, and even with earplugs I hadn’t slept well. Now I wished I could just spend some time by myself reading and praying and not have to interact with people for a few hours. But I knew that God was calling me to go and encourage our lay workers in Ipeyu. “Lord,” I prayed, “give me Your Spirit so that I can be a channel of Your blessing to those attending today.”
Arriving at the Ipeyu church, I was startled to see the meager attendance. I saw almost none of the new members who had been baptized after an evangelistic program run by the nearest Adventist church. Some longstanding members were missing as well. This saddened me, and I prayed that the Lord would rouse the hearts of the faithful to intercede for their brethren.
When the lay worker asked me to give one of the sermons, I of course agreed, but I was uncertain what I should share. There were four earliteen boys and girls there besides the usual handful of adults and flock of young children. I wanted very much to open their hearts and minds to God. Also, Silin and Rinal were there. Their relationship with God had been struggling for some time. I knew that Arlin and Mad, whom I had brought along with Silin and Rinal, needed words of encouragement as well. Arlin is baptized and considers Kemantian home. But since marrying Mad, she has been living in Silin’s home village, which is a fair distance from Brooke’s Point and from the Ipeyu church. Mad had recently expressed interest in Bible studies but had put them on hold to tend his farm in the lowlands.
The Lord blessed my sermon, challenging us all to lives of more committed and intentional prayer coupled with obedience. During the testimony and prayer time, I was grateful to God as person after person commented about how convicted they had felt by the message.
At the close of church, Silin and I started chatting. Silin is a beautiful young woman who has had many struggles in her life. When she married Rinal she was not a Christian. She had many misconceptions about love and didn’t have a Christian’s perspective on the sanctity of marriage. Over the course of several years, she had shared with me about her temptations. In the years since she and Rinal had moved away from Kemantian, they had struggled in their marriage and in their walk with God.
Silin opened up to me, sharing her recent story and the marvelous work God has done in her heart, giving her love for Rinal and a new sense of commitment to him. She talked about what a blessing their adopted daughter had been to them and how the Lord had used her role as a mother to stabilize her and keep her focused on the important things. Then she shared about the pain of rejection from her own mother and siblings, the betrayal of a friendship, the attempted manipulations of immoral men, and the list went on. She told how difficult and painful a time it had been, and how she had felt that there was no one to help her. Tears rolled down her cheeks. “I said to myself, ‘I miss Auntie Londi,’” she sobbed. “‘I know she would listen to me. She would try to understand even though my own mother won’t. I know that she would help me. I wish I could go to her.’”
As I drew Silin into a motherly hug, I marveled at the Lord’s orchestration of events and thanked Him for giving me the privilege of serving Him. He had taken my wayward, self-focused heart and brought me to a place and circumstance where I could bring words of encouragement and comfort to a hurting soul. He always knows what is best.