What a year! As I look back at 2012, I realize how many opportunities Alabama Baptists have had to share the love of Christ around the world. I am reminded, too, of the opportunities afforded me to see how God is at work. In each place I have been with teams, I stop to ask myself “What am I doing here?” I am a country boy from central Mississippi—how did I get here?” I think our Heavenly Father is choosing to answer that question the same way each time just through different avenues.
As I prepared to go to Haiti this summer, I got a call on a Monday that a storm had come through and had blown the roof off one of our most active partnering churches. When we went to see the damage on Wednesday, we realized that it would cost several thousand dollars to replace the roof. I was not sure where we would find the money to do the repairs. When we got in that evening, I had an email that our office had received a donation to be used in Haiti “wherever we had a need.” The check was almost a third more than the cost of the roof. One interesting detail—the check was written on Sunday before the storm hit on Monday. God knew where the storm would hit and provided the funds for the repairs before there was even a cloud in the area. It all belongs to Him anyway, right?
On a recent Vision Journey into South Asia, a friend and I accompanied the field personnel into a remote village. There were 15 to 20 small shacks that were built in a cluster that housed eight to ten people each. In the narrow walkways between the shacks, there were shallow ditches that carried waste water and sewage away from the shacks. I am sure this system was high class to the villagers, but the sights and smells inside this little cluster of shacks were quite overwhelming. The local leader gathered about 20 children together in a room about eight feet square. We sang with them, and my friend told a Bible story. Afterward, a young teenage girl came forward to say she was sick and asked us to pray for her. After that prayer, a young woman who was a new believer came forward to ask for prayer that her husband’s heart would be softened so that he would not beat her again because of her beliefs. At the end of that prayer, two preschool boys were standing before us. One of them had been in the Bible story time and had left to go find his friend who had been sick. He wanted us to pray for his sick friend. Maybe it is because I have a love for children (I taught Kindergarten before seminary!) that this touched my heart. Maybe it was because when I touched this sick boy and felt the fever in his body that I was touched. Or maybe it was because of the faith of the friend that brought the little boy for prayer. Whatever the reason, this was a moving moment for me. I asked again, “Why me? Why did God allow me to be here?”
A group from the Colbert-Lauderdale Association had an interest in partnering with field personnel in western Ukraine. I accompanied them on a Vision Journey into the Carpathian Mountains to explore possibilities of working among an unreached people group. As we drove village to village meeting people, we heard of a particular village where there was a woman who was a believer. Once we located her home, a small part of our group went inside to talk with her. When she realized who we were, she invited the entire group into her small living room. Due to an accident several years ago, she was paralyzed from the waist down and in a wheelchair. While recovering from the accident, she remembered a Bible that had been given to her family years before. She asked that it be brought to her, and she began to read. As the Word of God spoke to her, she accepted Jesus as her Savior. In the days to follow, she prayed that God would show her someone else who believed like she did. Instead of finding other believers, she found people who turned their back on her and shunned her because of her beliefs. However, one day a van load of people from Alabama came to her home and asked her to share her story. As we were leaving, she told us of her prayers of finding other believers. In her words, we were “the answer to her prayers.”
It was at that moment that I knew the answer to my question, “What am I doing here?” Through God’s mercy and grace, He has allowed me to be a part of the answer to someone else’s prayers. Through being a channel of guiding funds to where they are needed, through praying for a little boy, and through a ministry of presence, God allowed me to be a part of the answer to someone else’s prayers.
May that be a challenge for every Alabama Baptist in 2013—to allow God to use YOU to answer someone else’s prayers!