Monday, December 03, 2012
At our church, LifeTree Fellowship, we have a branch of ministry called Our World Missions. My wife Juli and I recently went on a mission trip to Liberia, connecting with Samaritan's Purse. Our team was lead by missionary Gary Ham. Below is a narrative written by Gary about the 2 week trip:
On every mission trip there is something new that you learn about God, about yourself, and about the call to service in global missions. During this recent trip to Liberia, occurring over the first two weeks in November 2012, I learned a deeper meaning of and application for what the Apostle Paul meant when he told the believers in Ephesus to “stand.”
“Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place… Ephesians 6:13-14
The Greek word from which we derive the word stand is “Stete,” pronounced in English “stay-tay.” It is very likely that the Apostle Paul used this word because it was broadly recognized during that time as the battle cry of the elite Roman soldiers who in battle stood their ground, refusing to surrender or give up ground. Paul’s use of the word intended to convey to Christians this radical call to persevere in their faith, and to stand fast and firm when engaged in spiritual warfare.
Traveling often to the mission field, I am fairly accustomed to spiritual warfare. What I mean by spiritual warfare is the believer’s struggle against obstacles and hindrances that are experienced in ministry which are above and beyond the norm, and which have their source and origins in the demonic realm.
Our U.S. team had a very exciting and productive trip to Liberia for the first eight days of our work there. Collectively, we had ministered in about 6 different towns and communities, preached and taught on various subjects to 400 church leaders and ministers, in forty 40 different settings. God had called our team to Liberia to help equip pastors, leaders, and missionaries in the work of the ministry, mainly in rural and remote areas of the country. But in the opening night of an evangelistic festival where we were serving, in a community known to be a stronghold of devil worship, there were signs that we were not going to be unopposed in our work; a hornet’s nest of spiritual activity had been stirred up.
As we sat together on the platform, enjoying the opening of the program, the flood lights went partially inoperative. Soon after, problems with the sound system developed. The program continued, being led by the host ministry team, showing no signs of discouragement or concern. But then, the worst came. A major rainstorm quickly gathered itself and moved upon the area with torrential rain and winds. The great majority of people who were in attendance scattered for protection from this assault. I for one was contemplating doing the same. After all, serving as the guest evangelist, I wondered if I should be putting myself at risk of catching cold or something else that would hinder my ability to minister effectively. But the word of the Lord came to mind, “Stand,” don’t leave the platform, persevere—“Stete.”
The Festival Director, a man of great faith, Pastor Gentry, gallantly took the microphone and began to lead everyone in intercessory prayer and a series of shouts of praise and worship unto the Lord. Worship and praise became mighty weapons of warfare against the enemy who was attempting to disrupt the festival and discourage the people. This was a call to action, not for the faint of heart, a call to stand up to any and every challenge that could hinder the salvation of hundreds of lost souls, many who had walked for hours in hope of hearing a life-changing message!
What a wonderful moment to also see the U.S. ministry team worship God in the midst of driving rain and winds, taking a bold stand of faith with Liberian brothers and sisters to overcome their common foe.
The people who had come to receive from the festival began to rally and praise God, sensing that a more powerful Presence was at work to triumph over the stormy weather. Suddenly, the winds and rain subsided. In less than 20 minutes, the weather changed from torrential rains, to a drizzle, and then to a complete stop; when God’s people took a stand, the Lord answered with a miracle!
A young girl in the audience reported to the ushers that earlier she had seen what appeared to be “a large dark woman” with outstretched arms who was literally pulling rain down from the skies! But as the shouts of praises and intercessory prayer began, the little girl said that this ominous person, who apparently was an emissary from the domain of darkness, mysteriously disappeared. The apostle Paul said that, “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6:12).”
The people returned to the field, a much larger number than before the rains began. Additionally, the lights and the sound system began to work properly. Expressions of thanksgiving, joy, and praise took the service to a higher level of faith and expectancy. As the altar call was given at the end of the service, 260 people walked to the platform to receive Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. To God be the Glory!
All over the world God is calling His people to preach and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ for the advancement of His Kingdom in the earth. But evil forces and powers which are in the spiritual realm will oppose this calling and Christians are exhorted to be ready to war against them. The saints of God are assured of obtaining the victory if they would persevere in the face of trials and adversity and always stand up for the honor and glory of God’s great name. This too will be the battle cry of an end-time generation of believers in Jesus Christ, “STETE!”
Gary E Ham, Executive Director