Bear with me a moment as I explain the adrenergic system. The body has signaling pathways that regulate the blood vessels, lungs, heart, etc. Basically, this system is responsible for the function of the vital organs during the fight or flight response. There are receptors that, when triggered, cause the blood vessels to squeeze down and deliver blood more quickly to the muscles. Other receptors lead to the lungs to open wider, allowing more air flow and oxygen uptake. Finally, some receptors make the heart to beat harder and faster. At all times, an intricate dance of transmitters released into the bloodstream determine which of these receptors are turned on, depending on the needs of the body.
Hopefully this makes sense (there will be a quiz at the mission report meeting).
Tonight we had the privilege of attending the weekly ZOE prayer meeting. The entire ZOE family attends this event: administrators, staff, ministry school students, the beautiful children with their house parents, and long and short term missionaries. Tonight, they formed a small walkway through the mass of humanity to give us visitors a celebrity's welcome. The room has a concrete floor (very common here, due to the high humidity), but the floor is covered with woven straw mats to allow people to assume whatever posture of prayer they wish. It is packed with more people than you can count (they keep moving around and the lights are low). The music starts (English praise and worship music to accommodate us guests), at a high enough level that people can pray without being heard if they so wish, or they can shout above if they feel so led.
And these giants in the faith I was telling you about are milling around, like transmitters waiting to trigger a jolt of life into the body of Christ. Seemingly at random (but actually by divine appointment), when two people made eye contact, they would cling to each other in tight embrace and start praying. Praying for each other's edification, praying against human trafficking, praying for the glory of God to be revealed in this world. There were Wit and Yaw (whom I introduced you to yesterday), like epinephrine ready to stir the Church's heart out of slumber with their intercessions. There was Three (yes, Three), a children's home parent: one of the only men to accept the job, a former Thai soldier, now helping out at ZOE's on-campus pig farm and agriculture fields, when he's not serving as a care taker and role model to the orphaned boys of ZOE. He reminded me of norepinephrine, stirring the lifeblood of the Church through his humble servanthood to God's beloved and once-forgotten children. There were countless others, breathing life into the church simply by living out their mission with passion and conviction. In a country where under 1% of the population knows Christ, lukewarm Christianity simply isn't an option.
And there I was. I am like dopamine. You see, dopamine isn't really part of the adrenergic system. It usually exists only in the brain (there's a whole sidebar about head vs heart knowledge here I'm not going to delve into right now). But somewhere along the line, someone discovered that if you synthesize dopamine and flood the bloodstream with a whole lot of it, it can cause similar reactions to epinephrine and norepinephrine. But it takes much higher doses, and sometimes the signals get confused since dopamine is crashing the party.
What was I doing amongst people who live and breathe every moment to serve the Cause of Christ? How was I not going to mess this beautiful dance up? What was I supposed to do when Yaw grabbed me and started thanking God for my presence in his life, and then all of a sudden it was my turn to pray? Well, if the Holy Spirit told me I was dopamine, then He also told me that dopamine makes up for its awkwardness by showing up big. So I prayed. Loudly. I didn't stop to think about the words I was praying (a nice bonus when the person accepting prayer from you doesn't speak your language), and didn't care that I was crying. Then I prayed again with someone else. And someone else. Dear little children I haven't met yet placed their hands on me and prayed for me in Thai. One child was praying in what I thought were Thai words I never learned, but turns out he was praying in the Karen language. At some point, the lights went up and it was over. They say it was an hour, and I accept that statement by faith.
There I was, an adoptive parent who was not able under my own power to provide my daughter, Hannah, with what she needed to thrive. I was surrounded by people who minister to children with much darker stories than Hannah, and others who run into the darkness to seek them out to save and restore them. Let's be honest, these are people who are wildly succeeding where I have failed (on a much smaller scale). These are people who think about planning their next outreach to empower poor families and spread the gospel while I sit in my comfortable home worried about the next Avengers movie.
But thankfully God and prayer in the largest possible sense don't work that way. An answer for physical healing, for empowerment to fight evil, or for restoration of a broken heart doesn't depend on the power of the person praying. These things strengthen the body of Christ, and as such are dear to God's heart. The answer to such prayers is dependent on the God of Angel Armies. I am not enough, and God knows that, and He loves me in that. My failure on a human scale only sets God up to reveal His glory in my weakness, and gives me an appreciation for the many different ways he can tell His redemption story: a story that is playing out on a stage broader and deeper than I can see. Like dopamine, I'm not sure what my presence at that meeting did, but I will trust that God knows, and that He will work by His immeasurable might.
My encouragement to you, dear friends, is even when you feel like you're out of your element, even when you feel like you're unqualified, even when you know you don't have what it takes, step forward in faith, and let God work His victory through you. The battle is the Lord's, and the Lord never has, never does, and never will lose a battle.
In and for Him,
Jason (on behalf of the Evergreen ZOE team)
PS. Tomorrow we are spending the whole day with the children of ZOE! They naturally place the children's safety as a top priority, so I will share what I can, even though names and specific situations will not be included. Please pray for energy and efficiency! We have a lot of children and staff to provide health assessments to!