We deal with multitudes of suffering people. Many of them have mental illness. Oftentimes people do not appear as mentally ill but quite the contrary, ‘together’. The other night a woman came out of the crowd carrying a dead pigeon to show us. She then disappeared. A little while later she came out of the crowd and just put her arms around me with a big smile. Middle aged, blonde hair, looked American but Peruvian, somewhat pretty and not badly dressed. She positioned herself on the ground right in front of our equipment and she proceeded to move to the music. As the night progressed she deteriorated into bizarre behavior. She pleaded to come with us, then went on about being a Christian going in and out of Spanish and English. So far not that bad.
Then she started to just move from one side of the area to another. She’d start half crying then laughing. You could see her inner torment. Just walking quickly and stopping, grabbing something then coming up and spitting in my face from her over talking. It would be only natural for any person to get angry, tell her to go away or laugh at the absurdity of it all. After dealing with so many people we have learned the importance of realizing that God tests us at any unexpected moment. Oftentimes it is when we are the most into our own thing. We were surrounded by hundreds of people and in the middle of doing various songs, etc.
Yet all I could see was THE LORD. There was a similar situation back in Bogotá with a blind homeless beggar who was playing his guitar just down from where we were performing. As we were “setting up” all I could see was him sitting on the cement with people ignoring him. It was as if the Lord asked me how we could dare play for a large crowd while he was sitting there absolutely desperate. I had to stop and ponder the terribly horrible conscious world of this poor woman. She obviously had no control over her actions. I force myself to imagine if I were her. Every day, every moment imagine if you were aware that you had no control over your own behavior. And you found yourself doing things that scared you but you could not stop. This was your life!
It just broke my heart. As much as I wanted to get away from her and tell her to stop it and shut up I had to control my own human reactions….and I could control myself. I could stop doing what I didn’t want to do. She could not. We must stop and see, not only that so many of our natural reactions are so typical with the masses, but that we CAN stop and change them, unlike so many who can not. What caused her to become like this? At one time she may have been quite normal and together but life is so easily able to put together the right formula of destruction for even the strongest of souls. We MUST see things as God sees them as soon as we find ourselves in a test. He will test you. May you then maintain the learned posture of a learned maturity. There is no big moral of the story here just that we might break our outer shell (our so typical natural reactions) so that divine fruit might come forth (Jn.12:24). Reach deeper than you ever have and become someone who you would otherwise never become. This IS repentance. The next evening when she came back out the crowd started to laugh at her and I was provoked to anger and walked over and put my hand on her and told them she was our friend. It shut them up and distilled in me a deeper reality of “our performance”.
Oh that we could be like Jesus. Oh that He would touch us and we would touch Him. And then the privilege oh so divine would follow that we would touch others with how He has touched us. This is probably THEE most motivating thing in me of traveling as we are and being constantly challenged around every corner. That it is not stuff, things, people, places or sights and sounds of foreign lands. It is the actual personal encounter with the living Christ. There are really two dimensions to my walk in Him. One is that of Jesus as an Individual; the living Christ Who once walked this earth in a thing called history and relates to me as my Brother and teaches me how to deal with life and people every day. The other is of Him as Almighty God; of One Who is everywhere at once while able to be completely with us at any given time; as the One Who created the universe and can at any time create something out of nothing.
This actually leads in to what I wanted to share here and that is about what happened yesterday. Job says “For what I fear comes upon me and what I dread befalls me…” (Job 3:25). Driving down the Pan-Am highway in the middle of intense heat and absolutely barren landscape of desert sand dunes and mountains the words Abraham spoke hit me like a rock “Something is wrong with the van. We are losing all our battery power.” Soon the van goes into a “limp mode” down to about 35 miles an hour. We are barely, barely making it up the mountain climbs. No a living soul in sight and no buildings or shade anywhere. If we stop now we are going to be deserted for hours if not days.
Needless to say we are all praying. Abraham is about to pull over but I tell him just keep going as far as we can. He is afraid we are causing further damage. We have to go on. We think the van dies several times but it is still barely moving. On and on for probably fifteen miles. Then it does shut way down and is just inching forward. By now I’m driving afraid of some unforeseen emergency from other trucks or vehicles swerving around us. All at once the van just dies. We are smack dead in the desert. But we were able to make it just to the edge of a town that is just waking up as it is quite early. We split up and try to find some contacts. Abraham removes the battery with the idea to find a place to get it recharged. We determine that the Alternator has gone out. Our van requires no ordinary replacement as we had it custom built for 200 amps (most are 70 amps) so we know it can’t be found.
They have these little things that look like a Japanese rickshaw that they use as taxi’s. So he gets one and goes into town. Lo and behold he finds one place in town (out in the middle of nowhere) that has one battery that is big enough for our van (again most require 400 amps while ours requires 900 amps because of all the junk it has to pull). It is a 1000 amp. We can’t replace the alternator but can run on the battery until we can get into a bigger town for repairs or replacement.
Amazing. The Lord is so faithful. So good. Gives us both the grace and the provision. As we go deeper into Peru so do we go into their poverty. It is far worse than we saw before. There is a touch of India in the air. The sense of madness and absolute despair and self-pity is overwhelming. We are praying and brain storming about how to pierce this sort of culture with the hope of Christ. The other day we sensed that we were not getting through because of just this very attitude. So I stopped everything and just spoke to it. I said that I realized that they looked at us as prosperous Americans without any idea of their problems no matter how much we said we understood. As talked with the crowd as though it were one person, asking them specifics about their struggles. Explaining some of our suffering and struggles. We do not have the “American dream”. Our dream is to be here with them. We have no home or do we find our comfort in materialist provisions.
Besides all of this and how things relate to us is the fact that the gospel is not a promise for things and stuff. It is not a magic wand or magic potion for happy times. It is the revelation of God come to earth to promise eternal life to those who believe in His work through Christ. It is about Jesus. Regardless of who tells the message. It is about following and believing Jesus and being transformed by Him which will ultimately give you an entirely different perspective. Anyways it broke through to many while others simply wanted to be entertained not convicted. At this point we see our warfare against Satan and must stand in the truth of sin, repentance, heaven, hell and the deception of the false gospel. If they walk away so be it. A few did but most stayed. Had some great shadings. Especially with some young people. Sometimes we wonder if they are not those who have the most hope because they have not been so tainted by Christianity and the delusion of self-pity. Their ears are still up and their hearts open.
On our way through a toll booth we were approached by some sellers of water and pop and home-made stuff. As thirsty as we all were the Lord alerted us to the fact that the bottles were all reused. They make the bottles appear new but are not. They have been opened drank at least once and refilled with……?