It was a great first day here in West Africa. I’m in Ghana (Accra to be specific) until next Wednesday. While here I’ll be ministering and training and reconnecting with the ministers who I am blessed to serve as the leader of the On The Mark International Pastoral Fellowship (OHM) for short. Here are some reflections on the trip so far:
The trip here was blessed thank God. I made some observations as I traveled. I noted to my Ghanaians sons that I have never seen any people board airplanes like Liberians and Ghanaians. Usually in the States we’re used to being patient while waiting for our zone to be called. That has never been the case for any of my trips to West Africa (all the way back to my first one in 2003). As soon as the boarding process starts there is a mad dash to the front line. The agents can say until they are blue in the face that you don’t need to get in line until your zone is called, the people are ready and that’s all there is to it. The only thing even more dramatic, is when we get off the plane. People may have placed their carry-ons all over the plane but that does not stop them from literally walking all over you trying to get to the luggage even if it is against the flow of traffic. For the most part, though, everyone takes it in stride and everyone manages to get on/off the plane or in short order.
Though the flight over was blessed, there was actually more turbulence then I remember ever experiencing before. I also don’t recall the plane being so cramped, oh my goodness! I literally don’t understand how the space between rows can be as small as it is. 10 hours in such uncomfortable quarters may certainly contribute to people behaving badly from time to time. Fortunately that did not happen on my flight to my knowledge.
One of the highlights for me of the flight over, perhaps, was when a little girl (she looked like she was maybe four years old) had gotten away from her seat and was walking the aisle. She stopped, looked me in the eye and waved. I waved back and she kept walking. Though alone among what I guess was 200+ strangers, that act made me feel like things were OK.
ok, the clock is ticking, so let me get to the point with respect to the service tonight. I was blessed to be asked to minister at a worship celebration at a church I’ve never been to before. the name of the church is the voice of victory and the pastor is Apostle Paul and his wife Theodora Azalekor. The drive to the church was harrowing to say the least. One of my least favorite things to do in West Africa is travel by car—especially at night when there are no traffic signs, nothing that looks like a road and no rules of the road!
we arrived at the church after about an hour long drive. The building was lovely and the people were filled with the joy of worship. I did have an interpreter as always when I am in, it seems, but she was just great! the word was well received and I believe we were all impacted positively. my text was taken from Acts chapter 9 the entire chapter. when it comes to a divine encounter, the Apostle Paul Shirley had one it’s something to note how you can be on your way to do one thing, have an encounter, and wined up doing the complete opposite for the rest of your life. In Paul’s case he went from being a persecutor to being persecuted but was a former persecutor with power!
First: When you have a divine encounter, no one will have to tell you who it is that you encountered. In Paul’s case he knew he was in the presence of the Lord!
Second: When you have a divine encounter, your whole agenda will change! Once Paul recognized that he was in the presence of the Lord he had one question: Lord, what do you want me to do? Hallelujsh!!! When there has been a divine encounter, the thing that matters most, indeed the only thing on your mind will be God what do you want from me.
Third: God can use the divine encounter of someone else to change the course of your divine encounter. While Paul was in the midst of his conversion, the Lord spoke to Ananias and gave him instructions concerning Paul. The Lord spoke to him in a vision and told him that Paul had also had a vision. when you and I have had a divine encounter God will speak to us in a way that connects us across cultures across language of cross experience across those things that normally would separate us.
Lastly: A divine encounter can make your enemy your ally! Once Paul was the persecuted rather than the persecutor, the church had rest, the church had revival, the church had increase. All God has to do is meet your enemy in a divine encounter for a whole lotta stuff to change for a while lotta people!
I challenge you, instead of praying that the Lord just removes your enemy, to consider praying that he change your enemy through a divine encounter.
Well, the journey continues…tomorrow!