One of the highlights of the trip ended up being our guards. Whenever people from the US see or hear about them, they usually get rather alarmed and think of how dangerous it must have been for us to have needed guards. Well, yes. But we saw a lot more. We saw the governor taking care of us.–she is a friend of the ministry (in spite of being communist, go figure), and when she heard about the attack on SOS in Nigeria, she said, “not on my watch” and sent us four guards.
I must admit, at first it was rather startling to see guys with M16s hanging around. Not exactly something I’m used to. We were all a bit uneasy about it, since we had no idea what sort of men they were. But we also saw an opportunity: to share the gospel and to love them. So we were very nice to them–thanking them, giving them plenty of good food (And snacks. Their pockets were full of snacks by the end, haha.), praying for them, talking to them about life and Christ, getting them to join in on our fun, taking them with us when we ministered in the villages (partly for our safety, but I think it really was more for their benefit.) and so on.
Oh, and we also saw an opportunity to take pictures with them. 😛 This was the last day… on the left is Jose A. and on the right is Sgt. Jose. (we had three Joses)
And I’ll put this one in here just because it’s a great picture.
On the last morning, Shelly and Paul had a really good opportunity to talk to the guards and have a Bible study with them. Several of us had been talking to them all week, but that morning was very special. I went over closer to pray, and ended up joining the group… I pulled over a chair for Sgt. Jose and myself. I mainly just listened and prayed. I was really excited, not only because of what was happening, but also because I actually understood most of it even though it was nearly entirely in Spanish. It was a very neat experience. The best part was that several of them indicated that they were ready to accept Christ. I am not sure exactly what happened with them, but they are certainly very close and there is at least one of them that I believe got it. We have been in touch with him via facebook and there is some evidence of life change. Please be in prayer for them.
During our group devotion time, we had been talking a lot about being watchful and on guard in our prayers… I thought it was a nice idea, but wasn’t exactly sure what it meant in real life–Until the the night before we left, when I sensed something wrong spiritually. Three times in a row I either heard or heard of someone being criticized. I prayed some, but then as I was sitting and thinking about it, I saw one of the guards over on the side, watching. And I realized that it’s just like their job, only they are looking for physical trouble and we are looking for spiritual trouble. Most of the time it seems like everything’s fine–until it’s not. And if you aren’t watching, you won’t see it until it is too late.
In the experience that I had that night, had I not been paying attention, I would not have realized that it was a spiritual attack, and I would have been swept right into it. In fact I almost was, which was part of what raised my suspicions that something was actually wrong spiritually.
After I realized that about being on guard, I went and talked to a lady on the team that I had become close to, and we prayed together. It turned out she had been criticized as well. Shortly after we prayed, I was talked to. If I hadn’t been praying and seeing the trouble, I likely would have responded differently and it could’ve become a real issue. Instead we ended up all praying against that spirit of criticism together, and we were more united instead of less so. It was not a very nice experience on the whole, but I learned a lot.
Since coming back to the US, I realized how few of us are on guard spiritually here. I know my guard went way down when I got here. If it wasn’t for my experience there, it might have stayed down. However, I was watching, and I saw what was happening… the more I think about it, the more disturbed become.
Something is wrong, really wrong, here in the US. We don’t even realize that there IS a battle half the time… It seems to me that the enemy has quite the deception going on here. There, people know there’s a real spiritual battle. Here, we’re “too smart” to believe in all that. Oh, our prideful, intelligent ignorance. How blind we are! And how much power we have given to the enemy. There is so much evil here that we just don’t see because we aren’t looking. We aren’t on guard. And so the enemy infiltrates with little to no resistance… and too often, by the time someone sounds the alarm, it is too late and much damage is done. We are not even defending ourselves in prayer and in the word… much less actually attacking and doing damage to our enemy.
I am pleading with God that He will open the eyes of the US church… that she will stop being deceived by her riches and see what is happening. There is so much we are missing… both of the very real spiritual battle and of the riches of Christ. It deeply saddens me… how much more must it sadden our dear Savior. We have become like those who…
…have healed the hurt of the daughter of My people slightly,
Saying, ‘Peace, peace!’
When there is no peace.
12 Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination?
No! They were not at all ashamed,
Nor did they know how to blush.
Therefore they shall fall among those who fall;
In the time of their punishment
They shall be cast down,” says the Lord.
Let us fall on our faces before God and ask for His forgiveness and healing. Let us watch and pray.