Today’s post is written by Thom McMurray, a CAMA staff member serving in Latin America.
UNDERSTANDING OUR BROKENNESS
One of the blessings of serving with CAMA Services in Latin America is that we get to work with established, mature churches who are faithfully sharing the gospel in “word” as many take their first steps toward also serving in “deed.” As I frequently share with local church networks, it’s not enough to just simply create social-minded projects. We must first take the time to understand the roots of poverty. We must incorporate theology that connects the introduction of brokenness found within Genesis 3 to the restorative mission of Jesus Christ found within Luke 4 to do meaningful work that will have a lasting impact in our communities.
NEEDING HIS HEALING
I was recently blessed with the opportunity to travel to Guatemala and work with the national Alliance church there to help develop this holistic understanding of the gospel within their ministry. We had an intense week planned with me leading seminars in each of the five districts and preaching to a group of Guatemalan evangelists on Saturday as well as to the church of Merari Rodriguez, the Alliance president of Guatemala, on Sunday.
Monday through Wednesday went accordingly, and each of the seminars was well attended with participants being responsive to the lessons and examples of church-based community development. However, that Friday, after a day of rest, I began to feel bad on the way to the next seminar. Bad became worse as my throat began to get more and more sore. By the time we arrived at the church, I wasn’t sure how I was going to be able to lead. However, the elders gathered around me to pray, and in that moment, I regained my ability to speak clearly and was able to participate in the worship. Thanks to their prayers, I was able to go up, teach, and share examples of churches living out holistic ministry.
The next morning, my health took another turn for the worse, and I woke up feeling weak. While getting ready for the day, I passed out on the floor. I awoke 30 minutes later, right before needing to be at the church to preach. Although extremely weak, I was able to finish getting dressed and rushed to the church. When I got there, I told the pastor I didn’t know how I’d be able to stand on the stage. His response was to pray for me. Again, the Lord provided me with the healing that I needed, and I was able to share the Word with the evangelists—a message on God’s faithfulness to us even when we have trouble seeing His presence.
Although I had regained my strength, that night I didn’t sleep well. I became sick to my stomach, and I was unable to rest. Once more, I wasn’t sure how I was going to be able to preach. Once more, I went to the pastor for prayer before the service, and after he prayed, my issue resolved. Because of his petition to the Lord, I was empowered to give a sermon on the final section of Acts 15, which talks about strife in the missionary community. At the end of the service, we invited people to come up to the altar for prayer and reconciliation. Over 20 people came forward!
RECOGNIZING OUR NEED FOR CHRIST’S REDEMPTION
Three days, three ailments, three prayers, and three healings. This sequence of events is more than just coincidence. What I need to share is that on Thursday, the day before this string of events occurred, something happened that wounded me. I emerged from an incident harboring negative feelings and a bitterness in my soul. I didn’t realize how much it affected me at the time, but looking back, I believe that I gave the enemy open ground to attack through the hardness of my heart.
I’m thankful for my Guatemalan brothers who prayed over me, responding to the call in James 5 to have the sick come to the elders for prayers and healing. I’m especially grateful to the Lord for humbling me with these trials and for demonstrating His power. As I look back at these events, I’m reminded of our need to emulate 2 Timothy 2:20-22. I desire to be a holy vessel—prepared for good works and holding on to righteousness, faith, love, and peace—and not be one who stores up dishonorable things. Despite my own weakness and failings, it’s encouraging to know that the Lord can and is using these opportunities to share about the holistic, restorative mission of Christ as the answer to the inherent brokenness of man.
Despite the many ways we fall short, if we are willing, He is still able to use us to share the good news and grow His Church in Guatemala, Latin America, and beyond.