Tomorrow, we pack up and head back to Aqaba, Jordan.
Kara and I have both tried to think of a word that could communicate to you what we've seen, heard, and experienced here. But none of them really do justice to it.
So allow me to blabber blog.
On Thursday morning, we started our first corporate worship time together. I was so nervous. Not because I thought I might play the wrong chord, but because I didn't know if I'd be able to handle the outpouring of voices crying out to God in a way that they haven't done in 365 days.
I was right. I couldn't handle it.
The sound of worshippers was such that I've never heard passion like that before. I've heard voices, yes. But the pure desire and affection for God that filled that room will never leave my memory. Tears. Broken voices. Arms outstretched not only to reach for Almighty God, but also to welcome the worship time like a prodigal son returning home.
One of the things Kara and I have debriefed about is that we will never sing some of these songs the same way again. We have forever been ruined.
Ruined by the bridge of "Mighty to Save":
Shine your light and let the whole world see
We're singing for the glory of the risen King Jesus
...and the verse
Everyone needs forgiveness
the kindness of a Savior
THE HOPE OF NATIONS
Ruined by the verse of "Hosanna":
Hear the sound of hearts returning to you
We turn to You
Ruined by "Jesus Messiah". The Israel Lands workers especially contributed to the new meaning of this song for me. These people are spreading the news of the Messiah to people who are still waiting for him to come.
We have not just been impacted by our times of worship together. Conversations around the table reveal people who have taken their commitment to Matthew 28:19-20 seriously. These people are amazing. They have chosen to follow God's leading into places where (as one couple told us) they've been told that they will be killed if they step foot again into a certain village. Can you imagine?
We've met workers that have come from their home in Holland to tell the Middle East about Christ. They speak Dutch, have added English, and are tackling the most difficult language to learn - Arabic. Another couple is from China. Another from Chile. It's not just Americans.
That blew my mind! God is at work everywhere...he's sending out missionaries...from everywhere. We realized that our vision and perspective of God's work around the world was EXTREMELY small.
We came to serve.
But we have been served.
We came to be a part of changing lives.
Our lives are the ones changed.
1. On the first day during a prayer meeting, security came and asked us to leave the room we were in so they could check for bombs. I was told it was "standard procedure". I'm gonna disagree with that.
2. We took communion together today and had a healing prayer time.
3. Kara found great joy in training for the Hood to Coast relay by running along the shore of the Red Sea (yeah, the same one that was parted down the middle for the Israelites...oh yeah baby).
4. Snorkeling near the corral reef on the Egyptian side of the Red Sea.
5. The speaker, Sunder Krishnan, has been speaking on spiritual formation all week and he...is...good. Look up his sermons.
We'll talk to ya soon.
Kara looked at me yesterday and said “I can’t believe we’re in Egypt!”
All those stories and flannel graphs in Sunday School that told us about the Israelites
being freed from slavery and crossing the Red Sea on dry ground…
those “stories” have become quite real to us.
We took a boat across that same sea.
We’ve touched the sand where a million people
walked out of bondage and into freedom.
We stood on top of Mt. Nebo where Moses was shown the Promised Land.
We looked from the plains of Moab and saw what the spies saw
as they were sent to scout out the land God was giving them.
We bent down and scooped up water from the Jordan River…
at the alleged site where Jesus was baptized.
We put our hands in the Dead Sea.
Imagine reading Deuteronomy 34 out loud and as you read the names of places,
you look up and actually see these places in front of you.
The Bible has come to life.
We made it to Amman safely.
Almost didn’t find one of our suitcases until I saw it in a pile of luggage
that was being carted off by someone else.
Immediately we realized that we weren’t in Kansas anymore.
You immediately sense a change of pace in this culture.
Cars don’t stop for pedestrians.
There are no lines on the road. It’s eat or be eaten…
and once you’ve eaten the other driver – don’t make eye contact with them.
“Sounds like driving in New York City.”
I’ve driven in New York City and this makes NY look like the Disneyland car track.
I could go on and on about Jordanian culture.
And that was just about the driving conditions.
I am so proud of our overseas workers in the CMA.
Especially the ones who work in places like Jordan where the spiritual darkness
and oppression is IN YOUR FACE every day.
Would you stop right now, before you continue reading, and offer up a prayer for them?
We don’t have free internet connection here
so there won’t be updates as frequent as we would like…
but we will tell you that we are so excited to worship with these people.
They are hungry. They are thirsty.
“Come to me all you who are weary and heavy burdened…and I will give you rest”.
God is going to meet these people in a very special way.
And we get to see it up close and personal.
The sessions start tomorrow.
Pray for REST for our workers.
Pray for OPEN EARS as we worship.
Pray for an OUTPOURING of the SPIRIT as we seek Him.
Talk to you in a couple days.