Friday, November 14, 2008

There was a Crooked Man who Walked a Crooked Road

As many of you know my time and energy have been taken up by the wonderful folks at the Gondor Ministry of Injustice. They came into our office in Minas Tirith and claimed we were breaking the law and threatened to throw us out of the country- a threat we took seriously since they had just thrown out another aid agency. My first thought was, 'Oh no Briar Bear, don't throw me in the briar patch!' Hey, do I want to spend another miserable cold winter in Gondor? Do I want to continue to beat my head against the wall that is Middle Earth? My wife and Legolas' wife began thinking of other places we could serve. Nice places. Places that had relatively clean running water and perhaps an actual economy. Of course, I also thought of the many folks who depend on us. We have three teams outside of Minas Tirith accessing the lost villages of Gondor for the first time. I was torn.

The news got worse. The Minister needed lots of money and we were going to pay it. We refused. Now, don't get me wrong. I have paid extortion before. It is the way of things, but there is a difference between understanding how a strange system works and being bullied by a thug. You can't do business with a thug and the Minister was looking quite thugish. We counter offered. We said we would do a good project for poor people in a village of his choosing. He thought that was a great idea. Yes, we could do that in addition to giving him $10,000. We said no. We began to think seriously about leaving Gondor. We began to make contingencies for the other team members. How could they stay? Could they switch to other agencies? Could they register seperately? We began looking into this. Then the Minister came down to $5000. We said no. I didn't trust this guy and I don't like being bullied.

Finaly, I had the conversation that I should have had from the beginning. I talked to the Boss.
Me- What do you want me to do?
Boss- You can go somewhere else if you want to.
Me- Yeah, but what do you want me to do?
Boss- There are lots of places you can go. Needy places.
Me- Yeah, but what do YOU want me to do.
Boss- I gave you the authority to reach the villages of Gondor.
Me- Ahh... right. So, I should stay?
Me- I take it that you want me in Gondor? Right, well you keep me here and I will stay here. I don't quit.

So, here I am. On Monday I got a call. They came down to $3000. I pushed the button and said, 'Yes, Howie I am taking the deal.' Two scriptures came to me right then. The first was Matthew 6 where Jesus says if someone takes your coat give him your cloak as well. The second where Peter asked Jesus about the Temple tax. Jesus tells Peter to pay the unjust tax by going fishing and giving the coin found in the fish's mouth. Very strange. The point I suppose is that Jesus wants us to go and make disciples. He will deal with corrupt Governments, that is not our job. We pay the authorities what they ask and we move on knowing that God Himself will provide. Really- and this is the hard thing for me- it is just pride that cries out against us losing our stuff. It's just stuff. He's got more and better. Today I went fishing and a guy gave me $3000. He told me he would be happy to be a fish. I am quite certain we underestimate how good and gracious and loving our God is. I will just say it this way, whatever you think He is, He's more. I will leave for Gondor on December 1st with my family and we look forward to seeing what our God has in store for the people of Gondor.


Anonymous said...

Wow Strider. This is why we should be on our knees praying for our missionaries and leaving other less important things on the back burner. This is a post of pure faith. Thank you.

Strider said...

Thanks Debbie, Prayer is where the battle is won. I don't know what 'pure' faith is but I am sure I need a lot more of it.

GuyMuse said...

I can fully identify with the "pride side" of these kinds of issues in not wanting to give in to corruption for the sake of the Gospel.

I remember one time years ago of having to pay out a large sum of money to a corrupt government official. Before doing so I asked for a private audience with him, shared with him how much God loved him, and that it was God who had placed him in his position of authority for doing what is right and good to help make his country a better place for the people he was serving, etc. I then presented him with a nice leather Bible, and prayed for him and his family. He was visibly moved by all the sincerity, thanked me, but still made us "pay up" the money he wanted. The amount paid out was more than the total LMCO goals I have seen posted in three different Baptist churches the past couple of weeks. Yes, it makes me angry, it is simply not right to use monies given to us for the Lord's work in such corrupt ways, but what can you do after trying everything else and all a sinful man wants is money? Ugh!

BKC said...

Hey this is good news! But it still stinks. Anyway, glad your going back to Middle Earth, some folks there miss you, I'm sure.

Anonymous said...

Good news for sure. We will continue praying for you and yours and a safe trip back.

John Alexander said...

Glad you're returning. We're still praying for you and your family.

From the Middle East said...

Totally identify brother. Keep going!