Phano has had three corneal transplants that his body rejected due to Graves’ disease. Already in poverty and poor health, now he is completely blind. Bo and Kristen Hutchison fed him three meals a day from their own table to make sure he was getting proper nutrition. Carly and Eric Tirado have taken him to specialists four hours away nearly every week for months. There is nothing more we can do.
We recently put walls on his house because he and his 80-year-old mother were suffering in the rain. He walked around the house and ran his fingers over each corrugated panel. Then on his hands and knees he felt the wood. He opened the shutters of the first window his house has ever had. He and his mother will be dry. He doesn’t even notice that the floor is still dirt. The whole church has prayed and prayed for a miracle for Phano. We don’t understand why it hasn’t happened, but we like to encourage him by talking about heaven.
Mission evangelism is walking into a whole country of blind people and begging them to look at Jesus. Every breakthrough is a miracle of God. Our little home church group is growing. And despite all our worrying and strategizing, God is doing it His own way.
When Eric and Carly moved to the village, Eric met Azim at the motorcycle mechanic’s shop. Azim has a talent for languages and remembers quite a bit of his high-school English, which helped them communicate. Eric hired Azim to teach him Khmer a few hours a day using the Bible. Azim is hungry and soaks it in. He has accepted the Bible as the word of God, and he believes that Jesus is God, too. He is from the far side of our village and could have gone years without meeting Eric. We could have wasted time with someone blind to the Spirit, but God knew whom to send. Every breakthrough is a miracle.
Pu (uncle) Pbaw owns the general store across the street from the Tirado’s rented home where the church meets. We made friends by listening to him talk about his garden and by treating boils on his arm. His daughter was an English student of Greg and Molly Timmins. One day we invited him to church. And he came! His wife never comes, but she says she would come if it didn’t mean closing the store. She told us she has two Christian sisters in another province whom she really admires. This family is already prepared ground. Every breakthrough is a miracle.
Muy only comes to church every other Sabbath because of his truck-driving schedule. He has helped me with repairs on my truck, pulling me out of the mud and going the extra mile in neighborly service. He is one of few at church who can read. He doesn’t come to church early, and leaves right when we are done, but I can tell he is pondering. He has told me of several Christian friends he has had through the years including a Christian roommate who took him to church every week when he was single and living in Phnom Penh. He was missing going to church, and then we moved in and started a home church a few doors down from him. Every breakthrough is a miracle.
The lady who harvests our rubber trees told me of how Korean missionaries took care of her for two years when she was sick. She has fond memories of Christmas programs, candles, worships and friends. She wants to be a Christian, but it would be hard being the only one in her large family. God has been working in her life for years. Every breakthrough is a miracle.
Pu Amrong is an Imam who lives across the street and a few stilted huts down. He used to be very defensive about Islam. He came to church but asked questions to build up Islam, not because he was open to anything new. Our church service is at 2 in the afternoon. If we are still going close to the 3:30 call to prayer, Pu Amrong checks his watch and excuses himself. Five minutes later we hear his voice giving the call to prayer over the loudspeaker at the mosque. As the months have gone by, he has softened. He wants to understand what the Bible says and participates in discussions without hostility. I can tell he is pondering. Every breakthrough takes a miracle.
When Scripture talks about those who live without Jesus, it uses words like deaf and blind. It even uses words like dead. If God told you to go into the local cemetery and raise someone back to life, who would you take with you? A gifted communicator? A band of musicians? No, to get that job done, you would want to take the Holy Spirit with you. John 6:63 says, “It is the spirit who gives life. The flesh is of no help at all” (ESV). Every breakthrough takes a miracle.
Do we think of evangelism in those terms? Or do we look for something we can do to help it along? What is my role as a missionary? What is yours? In Jesus’ last speech to His disciples He said those who abide have fruit. Apart from Me you aren’t going to do anything. Attached to the vine you will bear fruit. The problem is that all of our effort and working can crowd out the one thing that is going to produce fruit—abiding in Him.
Do our lives give others the sense that we know Jesus or really want to know Him? Unity was on Jesus’ mind when He prayed, “May they become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me.” Philippians 1:27 and 28 says something similar. When we with one mind are striving side by side for the faith of the Gospel, it is a clear sign to the world that we have found salvation. What is going to reach those who are spiritually far from God? When you are united, says Jesus, something happens, and they believe. Next time you go to your church, have everyone hold hands and pray for immediate spiritual unity. Say, “We are family right now. We are going to be one as Jesus and the Father are one. Nothing is stronger than my love for you in the body of Christ.”
At the very beginning of Jesus’ ministry, Nicodemus heard a clear presentation of the plan of salvation. He spent the next three years pondering Jesus’ teachings and watching His life before he publicly acknowledged Him. Then he was willing to endure even the severest persecution. I know Pu Pbaw, Muy, Phano and the others are pondering. They are watching my life. And that is where I need the miracle to happen. I need to rest my efforts and hear His voice. I need to work reasonable hours so I have time to fill myself with His word and be one with Him. I need to be so helpless that I fall on my face before Him.
There is an old missionary saying that goes, Movements starts when the founder really knows Jesus. Movements die when the followers only know the founder.
God, I am so desperate for You right now. Pu Amrong needs a miracle, and I need one, too. Help me abide in You. Help me be united with my wife. Every breakthrough here, God, takes a miracle from You.