We just got back from 5 glorious days on the Ecuador Pacific coast. Our annual house church camp was held at the Baptist Camp in Manglaralto. How does one begin to describe the wonderful work God did in each of our hearts? I can't begin to share all the testimonies and victories that the Lord gave us this past weekend. Suffice it to say God did a mighty work and we stand in awe and praise of Him and his dealings with us.
Several lessons personally learned were:
1) putting the "prevenience" concepts into practice (see below). This is hard to explain without being carried away with too many details and examples, but essentially, "Prevenience is the conviction that God has been working diligently, redemptively, and strategically before I appeared on the scene, before I was aware there was something here for me to do." The entire weekend was an exercise in "letting go, and letting God..."
Yes, we had a program, but the Holy Spirit was in charge of the program. Nearly everything ended up changed, adapted, modified all weekend long as we sensed God leading us to follow his lead in accomplishing what HE was wanting to do in our midst. About the only thing NOT changed were the meal times!
2) I was amazed at the way people were able to "hear God" and respond to Him and deal with the issues He brought to light in their lives. I was reminded afresh that God is much more concerned about these people than I could ever begin to imagine.
3) The importance of affirmation and valuing of people, versus telling them what we think they should know and do. Once people are "energized spiritually" by the Holy Spirit, there are no limits as to what God can do through them.
One other issue that made a huge impact on me were the coconut palm trees growing all over the camp. For this one, I have to give a bit of background...In 1997 the camp was almost completely destroyed by "El Nino." The camp suffered terribly and was left looking like she had been hit by not only a hurricane but an earthquake on top of that! My wife Linda, was camp manager back then, and it was her responsibility to decide what to do with what looked like a hopeless situation. In the midst of the overwhelming devastation, one of the first projects she did was to buy a couple of dozen tiny palm trees and plant them. I personally thought it was a needless gesture, but plant them she did.
Over the following year and with much patient work and some special help from our our Cooperative Program and the Lottie Moon Christmas offering friends, the camp was slowly put back together. Today, nearly ten years later, the camp is in great shape and looking better than ever before, serving thousands of people every year. There IS life after "El Nino" (or Katrina, Tsunami, etc.) Yes, it sometimes takes years, but the end result, in our case, is something better than what was there originally. Those coconut palm trees planted back in 1997 are today tall, shade-providing beautiful trees, loaded with coconuts. Something the Lord spoke to me was the role of time in the working of his will in our lives. It takes time for tender young trees to become fruit producing coconut palms. In His dealings with us, it is no less true. I tend to be quite impatient with how slow God seems to work in not only my own life but in those He has called me to work with. Seeing those majestic coconut palms was humbling and spoke clearly to me of the Father's ways.