Yesterday I received a letter from a friend that challenged me in a big way. He told me that God was not finished with me in Ambato, and that even though we are nearing the end of our time here, I should press in now more than ever before. I smiled, set the letter aside, and went about my day. Little did I know that today this word would touch me in a profound way.
Today we went to a park and through martial arts we presented the Gospel. Do I know anything about martial arts? No. Do I enjoy talking to people I don’t know? Not at all. To say that I was out of my comfort zone was a total understatement. I was honestly scared and wanted to come up with an excuse to not be there. However, I thank GOD that I was there, because He transformed my life this afternoon.
We held pieces of wood and called for people walking through the park to consider learning how to break that piece of wood with their fist. When they came close we explained that we wanted to do a demonstration with them that signified God’s power to break every chain of addiction and sin in their lives. When they brought their fists down to smash the wood, it symbolized the faith they had in God to bring freedom and salvation in their lives. We shared how each one of us had experienced that same freedom when God broke those things in our lives, and how He would do the same for them.
As I explained to the many people passing by with curious eyes what we were doing, I was overcome with the knowledge of the grace that I had experienced in my own life. 13 years ago God literally saved my life, and I would not be alive today if it weren’t for His intervention in my life. I looked into the eyes of the people gathered around, hungry for hope and love. God said to me, “That was you. I saw you and I found you. These people need to know that I see them and I have found them too.”
I was called over to talk to an elderly lady sitting on a nearby bench, and little did I know that this conversation would revolutionize so much in me. She told me that her husband is dying of stomach cancer, and all she can do to support him financially is collect plastic bottles and sell them for a small price. We prayed for healing for her husband, for a testimony of God’s faithfulness, and for strength to face these difficult days. As I pressed some money into her hands, tears burst forth and she nearly collapsed in my arms. God spoke so clearly to my heart, “I love her so much! She needs to hear from you how much I love her!” So I took my time and poured into her life, and she listened with open ears and a breaking heart. I could have sat there with her all day because I had such a keen awareness of the greatness of God’s love for her. Oh how much He loves her!
Then I realized that God loves every single person passing by with just as much passion and pursuit. I focused in on each person individually, praying for them and speaking truth over their lives. I kept looking over at our pile of boards, and the number consistently stayed at 4. More boards were broken, and there were still 4 boards in the pile. It’s like God didn’t want us to leave quite yet either. More people needed to hear of His love. So many more desperately needed His hope. Even after the boards were gone, we had a hard time leaving the park because so many people kept coming up on their own for prayer. It dawned on me just how much pain there is all around me and how ripe the fields are for harvest here in Ambato. People are hungry and open…and they are ready.
At the end of the day I realized how I had not even considered once my fear and how uncomfortable I had been with it all at the beginning. The only thing on my heart was passion and an all-consuming love for the one in front of me. I flowed with supernatural energy and kindness, and people were visibly touched and transformed by the love of God flowing through me. Suddenly this shy and introverted girl wanted to talk to every person in Ambato and somehow make them understand how desperately and profoundly Jesus loves them.
I now have a new prayer to pray every day: Lord, give me Your love and passion for every person I see. Give me courage to step into the opportunities You bring my way. Help me to see those that others overlook and to stop for the one, regardless of my schedule and my to-do list for the day. Give me the wisdom I need to speak into every life the love that You so desperately desire to communicate. Help me to see people like You do; to love people like You do. And may it begin with the one in front of me.