Two days ago I returned home from my most recent training trip to the Philippines. It was a trip filled with twists and turns, new and familiar storylines. I was so impressed again with the followers of Jesus I met along the way. I was reminded, the Lord has His people scattered in many places and those encounters are delightful. But one of the most striking thoughts were those who inadvertently serve the glory of God. What I mean by that has to do with the people who do not know the Lord, but work hard to do their job and by that serve the purposes of God. I met several on this trip and now I am including them in my prayers that they might come to know the God who gives meaning and ultimate purpose to life.
It won’t surprise anyone that I was so encouraged by the precious people who shared in our training. Their delight in the Word of God and devotion to honor Him served to encourage and challenge me. I was so impressed to hear the story of New Tribes Mission of the Philippines. How the gospel was brought to the Philippines and to hear of the good work being done by Philipinos in reaching new areas with the gospel. I had some very bright church leaders in my group. One of the men repeated a comment I have heard in almost all of the training sites I have been involved in. He said, “I need to repent of much of my preaching. I have taken passages out of context and preached things that are not true.” So have I. Those moments are opportunities to celebrate the sovereign power of a faithful God to cover our weakness and commit to honor Him with a new devotion to be faithful stewards of the Word.
But, I would like to recount a few other encounters on this trip. I was pleasantly surprised as I checked in for the first leg of the trip that I had been bumped up to first class between Minneapolis and Seattle. My Delta status does have some perks. But, things took a turn when a message popped on my phone. “Delays in your connecting flights have caused us to reroute your upcoming flights.” When I landed in Seattle I discovered storms around Tokyo had caused a reroute to South Korea and the flight from there to our destination in Manila were sold out. I connected with a couple of our team members in Seattle. They learned of the reroute earlier and were able to get seats on the flight to Manila. I was speaking with a Delta agent in Seattle who was working to find a way to get me to Manila. I was so impressed with her efforts. We had some brief conversations between calls to various desks, her supervisor, other airlines. There were comments made that made it clear to me, she is not a Christian but she was working hard. She was serving the glory of God even if she was not serving FOR the glory of God. By serving me she was inadvertently serving to advance the gospel. And, I appreciated her hard work and pray for her. She could get me to South Korea but it looked like I would have to fly from there to another location in the Philippines, but I should check with an agent when I land in South Korea.
When we landed in South Korea I checked with another agent who went to work again only to confirm I could not get a ticket to the flight to Manila where the rest of the team was scheduled to land. I could get a ticket to Clark, a former U.S. military base airport. Get this… Clark is the airport our teams would prefer to fly into. The landing at Clark allowed me to skip the 4 hour bus ride the rest of the team would have to take. Clark is normally significantly more expensive. Instead I landed alone at Clark. Our national partner agreed to pick me up and take me to the hotel our team had reservations for the following several days (but not the night I landed), which he did. We arrived at the hotel at about 2:00 a.m. to learn every room was booked.
There was a major event taking place in the area. As we stood at the desk in this hotel I asked the young lady if she had any idea what hotel in the area might have a vacant room. That’s when she went to work. She began calling other hotels looking for a room for me. One after the other repeated the same story. Full. After eight calls (yes, I counted) she found a room less than a mile away. Her response to my leading questions told me she is a non-practicing Roman Catholic. Still, she served the glory of God by serving me. I was moved to realize God could accomplish his purposes in ways beyond my imagining.
I was aware of Uber drivers, cooks, custodians, and so many others who in one way or another served the glory of God. And I worship the King of Glory recognizing the amazing power of our God to accomplish His purposes. I am grateful for those who know Him by grace. Those who not only serve the glory of God, but have the privilege to serve FOR the glory of God. He is worthy of praise.
This trip wraps up a busy travel schedule for me. This year I have spent time in Uganda (twice), England, Romania, Moldova, India, and the Philippines. I plan to trim my travel schedule a bit next year. January 2020 I will return to Uganda, Lord willing. But now we prepare for Thanksgiving with family we love. I will be giving thanks for the privilege the Lord has given me this past year, for each of you who prays and gives to make this season of training leaders for the kingdom of Jesus possible. I am constantly humbled and challenged by His goodness to me. I pray you serve the glory of God by serving FOR the glory of God.