The first time I met Fanghorn he was sitting in the shade of a tractor playing a two stringed instrument and singing longingly about the mountains they had left behind. He was a very friendly musician but he was also a bit of a sad sack. He always had something to complain about. One day as I was trying to get him to look on the bright side he said, 'Look at my neighbor. His wife has lost three babies in the last four years. He only has one child and I have six. Six mouths to feed. I wish I was lucky like my neighbor.' I pointed out that the neighbor's wife did not see things that way but I don't think he got it. How bent and broken do you have to be to get like that? The team liked him and tried to teach him about the truth but he could not hear us at all. Frodo said he was one of those that had an iron veil across his face. He never spoke about God or thankfulness or hope. Frodo and Sam decided we should all pray and fast especially for Fanghorn. After ten days of special directed prayer and sporadic fasting (I don't want to give you the idea that we fasted for ten whole days- we didn't) I drove down to Anfalas to check out the project. Two kilometers out from the village I saw Fanghorn walking along the road. I stopped and invited him to join me in the truck. He smiled huge, climbed in and exclaimed, 'Praise God! You saved me two kilometers of walking in this heat.' I turned to see who I just let in. Yes, it was Fanghorn but I had never heard the word 'God' out of his mouth much less a thankful attitude. The team were invited to study the Word at his house with his wife and children. A month later- and in the middle of all the fear sickness- he made a decision to follow Jesus and he and his wife and all six children prayed to receive Jesus as Lord.
Miracles continued to happen in the village. A boy fell down one of the wells and was completely unharmed. Fifty six feet to the bottom in a three foot in diameter hole with less than three feet of water in the bottom. The team said, 'Wow, God saved that boy.' I said, 'No, God saved us. It would have been our hides had he died in 'our' well.' Several people were healed of various illnesses as our team prayed and ministered to these people.
Something to consider: What is God up to in this world? Have you thought about where he is trying to go with this grand plan of His? I think we got a small snapshot of what He is about in Anfalas. The angels circle His throne singing praises to His name non-stop. They can see His glory and are over awed by it. 'Holy, holy, holy the whole earth is filled with His glory.' Isn't that what they sing? But what do you see? Glory? Or do you see violence, injustice, greed, suffering, hunger, people using each other and being used with no knowledge that what they consume like candy is the workmanship of God's own hands- the apple of His eye. We live in a dark, horrible world. We seldem see His glory at all much less are over-awed by it. This is what He is after. If we choose to love Him now, if we can hear Him calling us now, if we can be turned to put our faith in Him now when there is little or no sign of His majesty then this brings him glory indeed. Who will reign with Him forever in glory but those who have laid down everything in the midst of darkness and despair? Yes, it is for the overcomers to rejoice before the throne and the angels will marvel that men with so little light would give up all for a glimpse of a chance to know it better. Do not mistake what I say. This does not demonstrate innate wisdom on the part of those who follow but it speaks to the mighty hand of God in the lives of those who live in such darkness. It is about His glory. The glory He deserves for being powerful enough to rescue us from the depths of darkness and despair.
Anfalas is such a place where His glory will appear brightest of all. Anyone who is able to stand there in all that blackness and injustice, in all that hunger and sickness, these will gain thrones nearest to our Saviour when the judgment comes. These, not those who build great buildings or organizations, these will be closest to the Father's heart because they reached out in faith and sacrificed all for the mere glimmer of a dream of a hope.
The day after Fanghorn committed his life to Christ he told Denethor that he would no longer play his music in their religious ceremonies. The community held its breath. What would they do? Now that this family has betrayed their religion and turned their backs on Islam what would happen. One month later Fanghorn got a job teaching in another village. Two months later the village was gathered together to hear from our team and a local Minas Tirith Church that went down to speak with them. The team spoke passionately of all that had happened and about Jesus who was responsible for every good thing that had happend to them.
The village thanked everyone for all their hard work and help and then said, 'No.' They would not change their religion. Many believed what the team said about Jesus but it did not matter. They would not change their faith.
The team was devestated. Six months of hard work. All the miracles, the lessons God had taught. The prayers and battles fought and won. No. How could that be their answer?
We had another lesson to learn however. Harvesting does not follow sowing. Waiting follows sowing. Patience and the tireless work of the Holy Spirit would reveal that the story in Anfalas was not over yet. It had not really started yet.