Missions is Being Angry for the Right Reasons

Ephesians 4:26 “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:”

People in Barrouallie don’t see me angry a lot, because it takes a lot to make me angry. But they saw me angry Friday.

And thats okay….

Because it was something worth getting angry over.

Occasionally I bring some balls from America for children in the community to play with. It gives them something constructive to do, and helps build relationships.

Friday afternoon a little boy was happily playing with a ball when a teenager playing soccer nearby decided to take ball from him.

Seeing the little boy in tears because a teenager took his ball is something worth getting angry over

After we got the ball back, he went back to waiting for his soccer game. When he saw me approaching and calling his name, he immediately jumped up and ran a safe distance away.

There was not yelling or vulgar language

But I made very clear to him that taking a ball from a little boy didn’t make him a man. I went as far as to challenge him to take the ball out of my hand if he was man enough (he wasn’t).

Anger should not be a constant characteristic of our lives. But on ocassion, anger explained in calm terms and a controlled spirit is necessary to confront sin.

The reason this boy habitually took balls from little children is nobody did anything about it. A lady shouted at him to give the ball back, but never actually got up to make him do so. She then told me it was my fault because I shouldn’t have brought the balls anyways! Because nobody stood up and called it wrong, he just kept doing it.

The Lord reminded me Friday that I could have given the boy a break (he was a teenager after all!) but sometimes somebody needs to stand up and say “this is wrong.”

Missions is Taking Care of Yourself So You Can Care for Others

Since returning from the medical furlough, I’ve tried to make “self-care” a part of my daily ministry.

Self-care is basically what it sounds like, taking care of yourself! For me, it means making my own physical fitness a priority.

My self-care habits include things like

  1. One or two (usually two) brief naps a day
  2. Constantly wearing sunglasses to protect my eyes
  3. Eating healthy meals
  4. And setting aside time each day for relaxation

These and other habits are important because I’ve learned ministry cannot be done at 100% if I am not at 100%

The months leading up to my medical furlough was a painful reminder of this. The lack of proper eyesight affected my energy greatly since lots of my bodies strength went into helping me see. I had a desire to do the work, but lacked the energy to accomplish it.

It is possible to minister when you’re at about 75% or 80% physically, but it simply isn’t effective.

More than that….

Lack fo self-care damages ministry

I came back to the States beat up not only physically, but mentally, and emotionally because of my cataracts. Looking back, I can see this issue came because I didn’t take care of myself (my eyes particularly).

During my time home I re-committed myself not only to spiritual health, but personal health. Which means eating right, wearing my sunglasses, and making sure I get enough rest.

Because in order to help others, sometimes I need to take care of John first.

Missions is an Open Bible

Backpacks are a pretty common part of daily life in Barrouallie since you do lots of walking, and have to carry things with you.

Mine usually has the following items

  1. A book
  2. A notebook for journaling Scripture
  3. My Kindle
  4. And my carrying around bible

The carrying around Bible is a smaller one (the one above is my study bible) used in ministry during the day. Using a Bible on your phone is more convenient, but I’ve found a physical copy is much better when ministering to people. I like to turn the passage so it faces them directly, then they can read along with me.

My carrying around Bible has proved very useful in not only sharing the Gospel, but sharing devotional thoughts, and answering questions. Some people have begun asking me questions about Scripture as I pass by because they know that I carry a Bible in my bag.

The true reason why I carry a Bible however is because thats what God uses to transform lives….

And Satan hates it.

Monday I sat down in front of church with a man and we read through Psalms 91 together. A gentleman was sitting on some steps nearby, and asked me to speak louder so that he could hear. As we read and discussed, he nodded his head in agreement with what we were saying.

The same man stopped me the next day and after some small talk, started asking me questions about the Bible. It soon became clear that instead of agreeing with Scripture, he felt the Bible was a useless book.

During our conversation he told me

  1. The Bible had no facts in it
  2. The people in it never existed
  3. It was actually written by King James
  4. And the white man (his words) took the black mans story, then wrote the Bible so that they could control the blacks

Many times as we talked for about an hour he told me “I don’t want to talk about that (my open bible), I want to talk about facts.”

Now I have no animosity towards him, and the truth is, he wasn’t angry with me. But throughout the hour-long conversation, his goal was to get me to stop using the Bible.

And each time I refused….

Because if the Bible isn’t my foundation, then my own opinion is

Satan hates the Bible with a passion because it’s the Word of God. So he wants to draw us away from it. This isn’t normally done through false doctrine or complete rejection of Scripture, but using our own ideas and opinions instead of Scripture.

This is why ministry of every kind in my humble opinion must be done with an open Bible.

Though he didn’t say it this way, the man in our conversation was constantly telling me to “close the Bible” and give him “facts” (my opinion). But I reused because he wasn’t the one who wanted a closed Bible, it was Satan.

Missions is truly helping the poor

In April shortly after the La Soufrière volcano erupted, I was cleaning in front of the church one day, and heard a woman begin walking up the street shouting very loudly. At first I couldn’t make out what she was saying, but as she came closer I recognised the same words were being repeated over and over again.

“I’m hungry!”

She was an evacuee staying in a nearby resource centre who got in trouble for leaving without permission, and going to get a bag of bread. Her words actually haunted me because I knew many of the people in Barrouallie were saying the same thing.


They may not be shouting it in the middle of the road…

But they were still hungry

Lack of consistent day to day jobs means parents (usually the father) try to do enough odd jobs in order to buy food for that day. Vincentians aren’t malnourished, but getting money for the food can be a struggle.

The initial response to this problem is feeding everyone we possibly can, but that actually creates more problems .

In 2014, Steven Corbett and Brian Fikkert wrote a book called “When helping hurts.” It is without a doubt the best book I’ve read on the subject of poverty. Their main point is that relief should equip the poor to do work, instead of building dependence.

Relief can easily become a vicious cycle were individuals come for help whenever there is a need. Obviously in a time of great need we should help, but this can become a habit so when a financial need arises instead of trying to meet it themselves, they come to us. In extreme cases, this creates a sense of entitlement where individuals feel the deserve relief, and are upset if they don’t receive it.

Instead of creating a cycle that makes us their “saviour”, relief should be a reward for their effort.

This morning I met with an older man who asks for money every time he sees me. Because he spends all of his money on rum, I refuse to do so. Friday I made a deal with him, if he sat down and read through a psalm with me, I would give him a bag of rice (enough for one meal).

He was standing at my gate early this morning ready for his bag of rice! But after I reminded him of our deal, we went down to the church, and spent some time reading through Psalm 91 which describes Gods as our refuge, and stronghold. At the end I explained how God would meet his needs if he gave the Lord control of his life.

He left very happy (with a bag of rice) and promised to be back next Monday to study another Psalm (and get more rice)

Later this morning I gave some money to three men at a local shop so they could buy chicken to enjoy for supper later that day. In return they promised to help me burn a huge pile of brush in my backyard (we cut back some bushes recently).

In this way the relief encourages and builds them up. Because this isn’t simply charity, but recognising hard work that they are doing for me.

It is true that in times of extreme need we give relief……

But most of the time what people truly need is a reward after a job well done

Sometimes God Makes You Wait

Last Saturday I returned from the States to Saint Vincent at the conclusion of my medical furlough. The trip itself was actually incredibly easy! The only time I waited was for thirty-minutes before my flight left Miami for SVG.

The easy trip also reminded me how hard it used to be to travel from home to SVG!

Today American Airlines does all of the flights. In past years however, no US airlines went into SVG. So instead American Airlines would bring me to another island, and from there I would catch an island airline for the trip to SVG.

Being at the other island didn’t bother me, but other issues at that airport made things frustrating.

  1. They would not let you inside The air-conditioned airport till the afternoon, so you spend hours outside in the sun
  2. You had to get all your luggage (both checked bags and carry ons) then keep them till the airline allowed you to re-check them
  3. The airlines at this particular island had an incredibly strict policy about baggage weight. Not only did the checked bags have to be under 50 pounds (extra bags were not allowed) but our carry on couldn’t be more than 20 pounds!

The most frustrating thing about that airport though was the planes never being on time.

I can remember the first time flying with the island airline to SVG. My flight was boarding in about half an hour, and over the intercom they gave an announcement that another flight had been delayed. Passengers on that flight were told that they would get more information at 8:30

A lady on the delayed flight started getting very upset and shouting. The louder she got, the more passengers on it started agreeing with her. Around a half-hour later, they announced a flight for HER DESTINATION was now boarding!

About ten minutes after that an announcement came to say MY FLIGHT had been delayed, and more information would come at 8:30. I leaned over to a friend who was flying over with with me, and whispered, “they gave her our plane!”

Though I can laugh about that experience now, it was pretty frustrating in the moment. Yet the Lord used this experience especially to teach me patience.

One of the greatest blessings of life today is we live in an “instant society” where almost anything can be obtained in a few minutes. This is an incredible blessing, but at the same time it’s a curse. When we DO have to wait, it often feels like the end of the world.

A huge issue with the instant society is we expect God to work “instantly”, or on our schedule. And when He doesn’t we become bitter.

This is why the Lord often makes us wait…..

These waiting experiences teach us patience, and remind us that Gods the one truly in control. They also often reveal the sinful attitudes of our hearts that need to be dealt with.

And more than anything, they remind us that God doesn’t work according to our schedule.

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