FREE TO ROAM

The Holy Spirit desires that the daughters and sons of God be free to roam wherever He might lead. The enemy, challenging circumstances, and even personal fears may conspire to keep disciples of Jesus Christ boxed in and unable to move freely at the prompting of the Spirit. Jesus said, GO! We must be free to GO!

“And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.” (Mark 16:15, ESV)

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19, ESV)

For Joanne and I, one of our prayer assignments over the years has been to pray for legal travel and residency documentation for those with whom we co-labor in Kingdom leadership. That legal documentation is necessary in this world for these leaders to legally fulfill Jesus’s GO commission, to increase their spheres of influence, and to contribute to the continued expansion of Jesus’ Kingdom.

God has been faithfully and gradually answering those petitions over the years. We are ecstatic to see our Hispanic compadres set free to travel freely across national borders. Recently, I have seen Facebook posts from leadership colleagues and friends who are touring Europe. My heart skipped a beat! This freedom was a dream two decades ago when we first began to pursue a relationship with them. God is faithful!! The salt, light, and leaven of the Kingdom are being shed abroad as our friends travel the globe!!! Our friends will return home as enriched human beings and more well-rounded leaders.

Roaming to distant global geographies, and experiencing other cultures expands one’s vision and contributes to personal growth. This summer, humanity celebrated the 50th anniversary of its first steps on the moon. The photo of the earth taken from the moon on that occasion has become iconic. One’s home looks different from a distance. In my travels abroad, I have appreciated the expanded vision and insights I have garnered from a refreshed perspective as I looked home from a distance.

We have also enjoyed the privilege of hosting leaders with whom we network who are from other nations, such as Kenya and Mexico. Many times we have written letters of reference and support addressed to US embassy staff for friends who are seeking a visa to travel to our country. Early on the embassy staff often rejected these visa applications. This rejection was disheartening. Over the years, the approval rate has gone up significantly. Our colleagues are not just visiting us here in Lakeview. Their geographic area of ministry and influence has been increasing here in the US. One individual for whom we recommended the embassy staff grant a visa has yet to visit us here in Lakeview. He is currently enjoying his second visit to the US. We met him many years ago when he was a teenager. He was working with the African Inland Church radio station in Nairobi. He gave us a tour of the station and then recorded me giving a 15-minute sermon. The sermon was broadcast later to its estimated 2 million listeners. We were led to provide some financial support as he completed high school and entered the university. For many years now he has resided in southern Sudan and is working with a Christian radio station. The ministry he is with recently distributed 10,000 solar-powered radios in the region. These radios receive the broadcasts from our friend’s Christian radio station. That station faithfully broadcasts the good news of Jesus Christ in one of the more dangerous regions of our world.

Another issue related to our prayer assignment has to do with family connections and reconciliation. At the core of healthy societies are healthy, extended families. One of the hallmarks of a healthy extended family is the enjoyment of time spent together. We have come to know and love many Mexican families on both sides of the border. That border sometimes divides extended families that lack the legal ability to enjoy face to face interaction. I remember one particular service at our church, Fuente de Vida, in Yurecuaro, Mexico. I invited those who were working on documentation with US immigration to come forward for prayer. To my surprise, almost the entire congregation, including our pastors, came forward. In the back of my mind, I was wondering if there would be any congregation remaining if God answered this prayer. All of those for whom we prayed soon received their papers except our Pastors. These brothers and sisters for whom we prayed now have the legal right to crisscross the border to nurture their extended family relationships. Praise God; four healthy congregations remain in the Yurecuaro region. Finally, this year, pastor Mabe was granted a US resident visa. The paperwork is still in process for husband Arturo. Soon they both will be free to roam at the discretion of the Holy Spirit!

Whether we are called to roam to our next-door neighbor’s door or halfway across the globe, it’s essential to keep ourselves from being boxed-in. We can never be sure where God, aka Jehovah Surprise, may lead us tomorrow in our quest to fulfill Jesus’ GO commission.

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{Pictured above: Gary was honored to officiate at Pastors Pime and Josefina’s 25th-anniversary celebration and vow renewal in Cedarville, California. They are pictured with their extended family. (Pime and Josefina are 4th and 5th from the left in the photo) It is a joy for Joanne and me to be considered part of this awesome family.}


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