I have been down a lot lately. I think it has to do with a number of things. Spring is here and the heat is already rising and sapping my limited energy. We have begun several projects, which means that we have planned them but they are not up and running yet. And, my daughter Goldberry is struggling in Algebra and may not survive. We are far away as she is in boarding school and we can not help her. This makes us frustrated and sad. It is at times like this that we focus on our problems, on our shortcomings, on the difficulties. It is during times like this that I need to tell another Balin story!
Balin is my very evangelistic friend who has been working with our prison work. Now, he is sent off by his local church to Mordor for two months. Mordor is unfriendly to very evangelistic types and any of our workers will tell you that Balin will not be welcome there. They should be right- but they are not. Balin went to Mordor last year too. The man has less fear than he has sense. Fredegar went with him last year and I have a short video clip of Balin hanging off the back of a motorbike taxi shouting out to the surrounding Muslim crowds, "Jesus is Lord, Halleluia!" He went to a local prison and met the officials. He passed out hygene kits in the main prison in northern Mordor and asked the warden if he could speak to the whole prison population. The warden gathered everyone together- about 300 men- and Balin gave a straight-forward Gospel presentation and then prayed for them all. Honestly, if you or I tried this we would be killed on the spot. One of the prisoners called out, "So, what are you saying? Is Jesus greater than the Prophet?" The warden replied, "Who gave you the hygene kits?" That's just nuts.
Later he went to the women's prison and met all the women there. Again, you don't do this in Mordor! But this is Balin. He prayed for all the women. A guard was very ill and they took him to his house and he prayed for his healing. When they saw his boldness they told him about a man who had been deaf for years. He could only make out some sounds with an old hearing aid that some humanitarian aid agency had provided years before. Fredegar taped the encounter. Balin went in and prayed for the man. He then took the hearing aid away from him and shared Christ with him. His hearing came back slowly at first but by the end of the short tape the man could hear fine. The first thing he heard was Balin's testimony to the power of Jesus Christ.
Later that same afternoon Balin went around the bazaar in town and witnessed to all the shop keepers and several of the customers who would stop to listen. It is amazing how many were willing to listen in this very represive society. Balin exudes hope and joy.
When he came back last year I showed the tape and the pictures of him laying hands on the guards in prison to all our workers. It was very moving to me. Paul and Silas broke out of prison, Balin broke in by the same power. He is fearless and he is faithful. He is a maniac and I want us all to be like him. We all have different gifts and styles but I pray we will all have the same faith. A faith that moves mountains, prison walls, people's prejudices, and hard hopeless hearts. Jesus told us that all authority in heaven and earth belonged to him and then He commanded us to go. I need Balin to remind me that ALL authority in Heaven and earth is A LOT of authority. Maybe even enough to see me through the circumstances of this day. I pray it is for you as well.