Literally, right before Christ ascended into heaven, he shared instruction with His team, the team He appointed to start the church and spread the gospel to the ends of the earth. His words were clear in Acts 1:4-8
Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them:”It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.
The apostles were to wait for the Holy Spirit to come, for they would be immersed in power. They were not to set their hearts on times, timing, dates, but, to know that when empowered by the promised Holy Spirit, they would be witnesses of God’s Kingdom, locally, nationally, and to the ends of the earth. Angelic messengers assured that they were not to simply gaze into the heavens, for Christ would return. With that word of promise, the apostles gathered together with a small group of Jesus’ family and friends, and devoted themselves to prayer.
Imagine that time … imagine yourself as one of those left after the death of Christ. You have witnessed His death, you have seen the resurrected Christ as He appeared over 40 days, and now, He calls you to wait. “You will be my witnesses” when empowered, and you will take that witness to the ends of the earth… and that witness will change the world. To be a witness, the apostles had to speak, had to demonstrate with their changed lives, with their actions and attitudes, who Christ was and is. That became possible as the Holy Spirit would come and indwell them. It was quite a challenge, and the key was waiting for the promised Holy Spirit who would come on the 50th day, on Pentecost, to fill, to indwell, and to empower them for the task of being witnesses to the ends of the earth.
Terri and I have just returned from Cusco, Peru, having travelled with Marguery Martina (wife of MMI board president Louie Martina) and Lisa Epps (R.N., wife of Mike, former MMI warehouse manager) on a reconnaissance mission to visit hospitals and make connections with local churches. Our primary mission was to connect with Clinica San Juan de Dios, a 5 story children’s hospital under construction in the heart of the city. Run by the Catholic Church, the hospital has two functioning floors, a third with mostly empty rooms and 2 floors that are just a shell. Currently there are about 20 severely disabled children of various ages whose parents are unable to care for them living as in patients. They also do some outpatient care in the community. The vision is amazing, and we spent several hours with the staff, talking, praying for the children, and then praying with the staff, administrators and director for God’s direction in our potential partnership in this city of nearly half a million… “and you will be my witnesses…”
Important in the work of MMI in Peru is connecting with the local church, with people living year round in the community who have been called to be witnesses of Christ. We met twice with Pastor Scott Doherty of the Iglesia Cristiana de Gracia, visiting his church on Sunday and again during the week. His heart is training pastors and, in addition to building the church in Cusco, he has also been working with some indigenous groups in the Amazon basin. Scott was very excited about the possibility of MMI conducting medical clinics and we are beginning to make plans for 2016. We also met with a couple of American doctors working at Clinica La Fuente, whose vision is to use their clinic to not only share Christ with patients, but to train Peruvian doctors who can intern in the clinic and then go out and … “be my witnesses.”
Most amazing was our visit to Hospital Diospi Suyana in Curahuasi, Peru, about 2.5 hours from Cusco. The hospital was built about 8 years ago in one of the poorest areas of Peru. The visionary is Klaus-Dieter John, who wrote the book, “I Have Seen God”, about his call to Peru and the work of building the hospital on faith. Every morning, they conduct worship and prayer in a large hall in the hospital for the patients who want to be seen that day. They are an amazing witness of Christ in the community, providing jobs, caring for people, having a school for staff and locals. On the grounds of the church is a large amphitheater which can seat over 3,000 people – all built by faith, serviced by empowered doctors who receive no salary from the hospital, with equipment donated from organizations around the world. Our team, from the moment we arrived, saw the witness of Christ in the work and feel strongly there is a role for MMI there.
Terri and I head off to India in early November to meet with our partners in West Bengal and to meet with other potential partners in southern India. Key in that is a meeting with the minister of health to discuss the easing of restrictions on supplies entering the country, which was arranged by Pastor Doddy of Northpointe India. It is a key link in the work of MMI in India and a tremendous opportunity for us.
As we look ahead to our annual fundraising event on September 12, we have decided to devote ourselves to prayer and to wait upon the Lord for direction as we evaluate projects in the Philippines, Papau New Guinea, Haiti, Peru, India, the Sudan and the Congo. Beginning August 3, many of the board and staff will begin 40 days of prayer, utilizing the 40 Day prayer challenge, “Draw the Circle” by Mark Batterson, concluding the day of the gala. The book can be purchased on Amazon or through ibooks – and we are excited about praying and waiting on the Lord – believing His words of “being witnesses to the ends of the earth” apply to everyone of us – as long as he gives us breath. Our vehicle is MMI, medical aid supplying hope, and we are hoping you will join us on this great adventure. Contact Terri or I if you want to be a part of the 40 day prayer challenge, want to attend the gala, or just want to know more about the work and ministry of MMI. And let us remember the words of Christ and prayerfully consider how we can an “be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”