As many of you know, I was in the Philippines for about a month doing missions. Our goal was the gospel - getting it into the hearts of as many people as would listen.
Few people know how sick I was.
Oh, I wasn't dangerously sick. Just dizzy, on the verge of passing out quite frequently, very sick to my stomach (I'll spare details), and covered in a itchy, crawly rash over my entire body. Basically, I was miserable. We went in the Philippine summer and the heat was very, very intense. I was sticky with the bug spray I had to cover myself in (which didn't work) and was just pretty weak.
Basically, I started to wonder why God wanted me there.
Samuel was preaching every night - sometimes twice a day. I was going with him and the other pastors in visitation, but they were doing all the talking. It was just a culture thing (women not being as involved in the ministry), but I wasn't used to it. So I started to wonder if God had a purpose for me. Being so sick and missing my family so badly had a lot to do with my discouragement, I am sure. But I really did begin to wonder why I was in the Philippines and if I would be able to do anything for Christ.
I was literally begging God to show me His purpose for me.
I am pretty sure I was crying in the car on our way to visitation.
We started walking and went door to door. Samuel and the other pastor presented the gospel at each house, as usual. I smiled, looked on, and tried to hold it together and not pass out in the heat. And, boy, was discouragement growing.
We walked by one house and three individuals were playing cards outside. We waved and stopped to give them tracts. The one woman was super excited to see us. Chattering, she informed us that she did not live in the Philippines. Though she was born there, she lived in Canada and was only there for a visit.
She invited us in. With typical Filipino hospitality, she served us juice and crackers, chattering all the while. I sat down next to her. And that's when she turned her attention to me. For a moment, I didn't know what to do. Someone talking to me instead of the pastors?! But, even though I tried to give Samuel or the other pastor an opportunity to cut in, she seemed to want to talk to me. It was about then that I felt the Holy Spirit telling me to take over - that she needed to talk to me.
We really started connecting. She talked about her childhood and how she was raised in poverty. She talked about how she eventually made a lot of money and how she gives it away in memory of the hard life she lived as a child. She talked about her deceased husband and her wonderful children still living.
We just chatted.
Eventually, the topic changed to breast cancer. She told me she was a survivor. And I told her about my Aunt Lydia, who passed away from breast cancer. We really, really related after that. We bonded. It felt like just us - though Samuel and the other pastor were looking on. We were friends in just a few minutes. I understood where she had come from and what she had gone through - and she appreciated it.
I told her that God had a reason for saving her life from cancer. And I asked her where she would go if she died.
She said she would go to heaven - she hoped - because of all the good she had done. She was a Catholic and told me good works would land her a place in heaven.
Using what I'd learned from the Way of the Master course (praise the Lord I've been through it three times!), I carefully turned the conversation to the eternal. Rather than confront her on her sin, however (she was already tenderhearted and didn't need firmness to convict her of sin), I made a point of talking about my own. I told her that I wasn't a good person even though I was there in the Philippines - that no one was good. I used the law to point out my sin and show her that doing good could never outweigh our sins.
As we talked, she started crying. I've led many people to the Lord, but there was something special about her. You could see conviction written all over her. She understood that she had broken God's law. She understood that her good works couldn't outweigh her sins. When I finished talking, she said almost word-for-word what the Philippian jailer said:
"What do I need to do to be saved?"
I told her what the Bible says. I told her that anyone who calls on the name of the Lord can be saved. I told her that it wasn't in a prayer, but that she repented and trusted in Jesus. And she did. She really did. She wasn't praying a prayer - she wasn't saying words to make me happy or anyone else. She knew she was lost and wanted salvation.
We prayed, held hands, hugged - it was amazing. She kept crying. I know that Magdalena genuinely accepted the Lord as Savior that day and I will see her in heaven one day.
It was one of those divine appointments. She was from Canada. I was from the USA. And we met in the Philippines so that I could show her how to know Jesus. Also, the pastor we were with just "so happened" to know of a good, solid church in her area back in Canada!
I say all that because you never know how you can use circumstances to point someone to Jesus. I miss my aunt, but I know that being able to relate to Magdalena through the death of Aunt Lydia made all the difference. We related. We bonded. It took a few minutes to make us friends and for her heart to be ready for the Gospel.
I also know how weak I was and that it was all God - that He alone gave me the strength and gave me the opportunity. Sometimes, it is when we are at our weakest that He gives us the work He wants us to do. My theme verse for #MissionPhilippines was 2 Corinthians 12:8-19.