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- Story Listed as: Fiction For Teens
- Theme: Inspirational stories
- Subject: Adventure
- Published: 02/14/2020
Inspirational storiesF, from Navi Mumbai, India
This is a collection of true accounts of inspirational events from my own life and walk with God as I have travelled around the world. It is my prayer that these experiences will inspire and convict you to seek God in your own life and to share God’s love with the people around you. The Lord is wonderful.
There are many other stories that I would love to tell – some of which I cannot tell because those stories would infringe upon the privacy of other people.
Random Acts of Kindness
South Melbourne, Australia
April 1983: I was driving along Clarendon Street in South Melbourne on my way to Castlemaine to visit my parents. As I stopped at a traffic light I noticed a man lying on a bench seat on the footpath beside the road. It was early evening and by his rough appearance and the fact that he was holding a bottle wrapped in newspaper confirmed my immediate suspicions — he was a drunk.
As soon as I saw him I felt a twinge of compassion towards him. But like so many other people, I had other places to be and other things to do. As I watched I saw two policemen approach and instantly I felt relieved. After all, it was their responsibility to clean up the streets and make sure men like him got a chance to be somewhere safe for the night. As I sat waiting for the traffic lights to turn green I couldn’t believe what I saw. The two police strolled up and when they reached the man, both of them turned their heads the other way, as if not to see, and walked right past. I felt a sudden stab of conviction in my heart and a verse from the Bible streamed through my mind: “If anyone has
material possessions and sees his brother in need, but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?”
Right then I looked up and the traffic lights turned green —and I had a decision to make. I knew that if I drove off I would have no peace, so I turned left, drove around the block, parked the car and walked back to the man. As I approached him I felt completely inadequate... and a little foolish. What was I going to say? What was I going to do? At the very least I could drive him home — if he had a home. I found him sleeping solidly and at first he didn’t respond to me at all, so I reached out and gently shook him awake. He awoke with a start, swearing and cursing at me for disturbing him. The smell of alcohol on his breath was overwhelming and I recoiled a little. I can’t remember exactly what I said to him — probably something no more profound than, “Mate, are you OK?” But what happened next amazed me. Still lying on the bench seat, the man went quiet, looked up and fixed his eyes on mine. Then his eyes filled with tears and he said to me, “J.C. sent you didn’t he?”
I suspected that I knew what he meant but I couldn’t quite believe what I was hearing. I asked him to clarify, “J.C? What do you mean?”
“You know, Jesus Christ, He sent you didn’t he?” he said.
A little taken aback, the only reply I could think of was,
“Well... yes, I guess He did”.
As I helped the man back to my car (and tried to ignore my fear that he might throw-up in it) he wept and poured out the sorrows of his heart. This was a man who through years of pain had turned to the only source comfort he had known: the bottle. But this random act of kindness from a stranger was all it took to break him and lead him through tears of repentance to ask God for mercy and forgiveness.
From that experience I learned some valuable lessons:
Charitable acts are not just the obligation and duty of all believers — they are at the very core of God’s heart of mercy and are inseparably linked to the whole message of the gospel of Christ. A gospel preached without accompanying acts of love and mercy will lack the imperative urgency which flows from the heart of God towards lost humanity. Ultimately a message without practical mercy will have no power or lasting credibility in the world at all. What on Earth is Eritrea?
Asmara, Eritrea, 1996: Well, it wasn’t quite the picture I expected to see in this war-torn east African city. As I looked
around I couldn’t help marvelling at just how industrious and resilient these people were, given all that they had endured, and how they were managing to rebuild their nation with such scarce resources. This place was much more modern than I expected. Shops were filled with consumer goods... What a strange experience it was for me to be actually standing there after all I had been through. Who would really believe my remarkable story if I told them? But this is the truth. This is what actually happened to me.
Mysterious things happen all around the world — despite what the sceptics say. Anyone who has spent a long time in Africa will know this. Mystical experiences are part of life there. But in my own home in Melbourne all those years ago, a strange occurrence happened to me — and it sparked a chain of events that eventually led me on this very unusual safari to east Africa. To tell the full story I need to take you back to 1988 when I was spending an otherwise uneventful day at home.
As someone who had been involved in Christian work for years I had heard of many people testify that God “spoke” to them. But it had never really happened to me. Apart from a few strong feelings, general impressions or convictions about things, I couldn’t categorically say, God “spoke” to me. But this time it was a definite word, not audible, but strongly impressed on my mind in a way that I couldn’t ignore. If you’re reading this perhaps you don’t even believe in God, much less in the idea that he speaks to people. And to be honest, this time I was having a hard time believing it myself — particularly since it was a word that I had never heard before. After all, what on earth was “Eritrea”? I pushed the notion to the back of my mind — along with the idea that I might be going crazy. But there it was again — “Eritrea” — persistently resounding in my head. Finally I said, “OK Lord, if you are speaking to me, what is Eritrea?” Immediately the reply shot into my head — “Ethiopia”
Now I was really going crazy! Even though I had never travelled or taken an interest in Africa, I had heard of Ethiopia.
So I went to my bookshelf and pulled out the atlas and turn the page to east Africa. It is hard to describe the feeling I had when I looked down at that page and saw that word running clearly along the coastline of the red sea in north eastern Ethiopia: E R I T R E A. Shivers went up and down my spine. God was speaking to me! It’s kind of a party joke among church people — and almost every Christian’s nightmare — to hear the booming words come from above “GO TO AFRICA!” But I had read books where things like this had happened to other people... Livingstone for example... and I was inspired by their stories. So if this was God and not just my imagination, what did he want from me? Why was he drawing my attention to this place? Since I surrendered my life to him I had always said that I would go wherever he wanted... Was this the call? I needed more information.
At the time I had a friend who worked for World Vision, so I rang her to see if I could get some background info on that part of the world. She explained to me that the country had been embroiled in a 30 year civil war soon after 1950, when the UN ignored Eritrean calls for independence and federated it with Ethiopia. I also learned of the Ethiopian violations of human rights against Eritrea; the oppressive Soviet-backed communist regime, and the resilient and resourceful spirit of the Eritrean people who fought on in the face of terrible opposition. When I researched further I was even more amazed to find that Eritrea, despite their cruel treatment, had maintained a good human rights record and had treated their prisoners well. They also displayed amazing ingenuity by building hospitals and pharmaceutical factories into underground mountain hideaways. From what I could learn, I concluded that the Eritreans must be “the good guys”, although I’m sure in the complex arena of human conflict, things are never really that simple. But I was moved with a new compassion for these people and I couldn’t help identifying with them in their suffering. As I began to pray, I was surprised again by the certain conviction that God himself was taking a strong and active interest in these people — and even had definite plans for their future.
I found myself uncharacteristically moved to pray quite boldly for three specific things: 1. That Eritrea would win their struggle for independence and that their oppressors would be overthrown; 2. That Eritrea would be established as a separate independent nation, and; 3. That the nation would be moved to accept the gospel of Jesus Christ. Occasionally I wondered if I was letting my imagination run away from me, but duringthe months that followed, I heard of other Christians who had been similarly moved to pray in this way. I also began to hear more about Eritrea on TV news reports. Professor Fred Hollows was busy creating a good name for Australia through the establishment of much needed eye clinics in Eritrea.
60 Minutes also did a report on Eritrea describing it as “the most inhospitable place on earth”. And so I, along with my church (and the Eritrean people themselves), was encouraged to continue to pray for the liberation of the country. As we watched the unfolding events on television, we marvelled as we heard of the progress of the EPLF, the overthrowing of the communist regime in Ethiopia, and the eventual liberation of Eritrea in May 1991. We rejoiced with the Eritrean people when finally, in 1993, they were recognised by the United Nations as a separate, independent nation. Now I was really stirred up to go to Africa. I had no plans of becoming a “missionary” as such. In fact I had some serious misgivings about methods I had seen employed by some organisations. I had always felt the gospel was a vital message for all people, regardless of race or colour, but I felt that taking that message across cultural boundaries required a great deal of wisdom and sensitivity so that western cultural values are not transplanted in the place of spiritual truth. Finally the day came when I concluded, “I think I’m supposed to go to Africa”. But there was nothing more that I could do — after all, the whole thing seemed pretty sketchy to me as well! A few days later, however, I got some confirmation that was hard to ignore.
Unexpectedly I received a letter from a young lady who had been reading an article I had written in a small religious publication. Although the article mentioned nothing of Africa, or my conviction to go there, she was moved to write to meand report an extraordinary occurrence. She said that whilst reading my article, she had a vision of me in a place “like Somalia”, and was compelled to write and tell me. I was amazed.
It was some time before the door finally open for me to travel to Africa. After another unexpected letter, I was invited to Africa to do some itinerant ministry with a Ugandan evangelist from Kampala. After a brief visit to Zimbabwe on my way to Uganda, and spending most of my time ministering in remote regions of that beautiful country, I felt it would be unbearable to be so close to Eritrea without going to have a look. As providence had its way, I had only been in Asmara for a couple of hours when I was introduced to a leader from one of the largest churches in Eritrea. In the following days was able to travel with him as he visited many newly planted indigenous churches throughout the country. I was amazed by the many stories of the faith and endurance of Christians
under communist oppression and how their zeal was not extinguished by their suffering. I was also impressed by how the church was thriving and seemed free of dependence to western missionary organisations and how they were successfully communicating their love and faith in Christ in the language and style of their own culture.
As I sat with these delightful people and exchanged views, I heard reports of many remarkable turning points in the war that eventually led to the Eritrean victory. Many Eritreans will openly confess to you that God must have had a hand in it. They were up against impossible odds. The powerful Soviet-backed Ethiopian forces had superiority both in the air and on the ground. One amazing story is particularly worth mentioning and points to divine deliverance of biblical proportions. I was told that there were approximately 100,000 Ethiopian soldiers in one place surrounding some key Eritrean cities that were held by EPLF forces. Whilst the EPLF forces were vastly outnumbered, and could have been captured with relative ease, the Ethiopian forces somehow received a report that they were outnumbered and fled in confusion. Even during my visit the road heading towards Sudan was still littered with Soviet tanks, trucks, and other military hardware which was abandoned in their hasty retreat. Unfortunately
for those retreating Ethiopian soldiers who were attempting to make it across the desert to Sudan, the elements proved too much for many of them. 50,000 of them were reported to have perished in the attempt. The EPLF, greatly encouraged by this victory found new strength, and the rest is history — 30 years of Ethiopian oppression came to an abrupt end. Many of us in the developed world see Africa as a place of continual strife and conflict. Attempts to help by western aid agencies have been clumsy and have, unfortunately served to cultivate a passive dependence on foreign aid. Recognising this problem, Eritrea has limited the activities of foreign aid agencies and are determined to rebuild their nation without dependence upon foreign powers.
But whilst the years of strife and conflict has been the crucible for refining a strong and resolute Eritrean people,
that very self-sufficiency and suspicion of outsiders today presents a whole new threat to Eritrea’s internal peace. The challenge for Eritrea is now to find a way to transition from a warfaring nation to a nation of peace — and achieve prosperity and freedom for all of it’s people. Unfortunately the current government appears intent upon making war against it’s own people. Eritrean Christians are currently facing severe persecution and harsh imprisonment from a government that treats them as if they are enemies of the State. Today unlessChristians are members of government approved churches — Orthodox, Catholic or Lutheran — they cannot even gather
together without the possibility of arrest and imprisonment. But regardless of the current situation, we should never underestimate the power of God to change the course of nations. If there is anything that Eritrea’s recent history has taught us, it is that it is God who sets up kings and God who removes them. Despite the plans and schemes of men, God has His own plan for the nations and when God’s time for change arrives no man can stand in His way. What God shuts no man can open, and what God opens no man can shut. For those who are seeking to fulfil the Lord’s purposes in Eritrea there are many open doors for ministry that no man can shut.
The Power of Faith and Hope
When we found Nakato in the village near Jinja in Eastern Uganda, she was in advanced stages of sickness due to HIV/AIDS. Nakato was a Muslim and married to a Muslim man when she contracted the disease. Unable to care for herself, her husband or her children, Nakato returned home to her mother where she could be cared for, and to get help caring for her children. As the AIDS related symptoms increased, Nakato realised that death was approaching. In desperation she surrender her life to Christ, fully expecting to die. When the our team arrived in her village, we had intentions of sharing words of encouragement and praying for the sick. But Nakato was already in the advanced stages of the illness. She was immobilised, lying on a mat in the shade outside the mud hut, extremely weak, unable to move and dehydrated, unable to drink or keep anything down. She had lost her ability to hear. In hushed tones, between forced breaths she told us that she was dying. Having seen death like this before, her family believed
her. So did we.We had come to the village with the intention of bringing hope and encouragement, but what do you do when faced with situations like this? What hope is there? How could we even encourage her faith when she couldn’t even hear what we were saying? But since God had sent us, and since we were there, we refused to believe that God would not want us to speak to her, so we laid hands on her and prayed that God would at least restore her hearing so that we could at least leave her with a message of eternal hope.
After we prayed we began to converse with the other family members and about 5 minutes later Nakato spoke and declared that her hearing had returned! As she lay there on the mat, the team gathered around her again and began to pray. I felt strongly that this should not be her time to die, although she was obviously in a terrible state
of health. As we prayed we asked God to heal her and I felt the Lord impress on my spirit something like this: “This girl needs to have something to hope for. She believes that she is dying and is unable to imagine or believe that the future holds anything for her other than death... give her something to look forward to!”
As we prayed and looked at her we all felt terribly helpless, but I wanted to leave her with something to look forward to, but what could I tell her that would not be a false hope? I called my friend Liz over and asked her to translate for me. I told Nakato that if I came back to that village and found her in good health then I would buy her a new dress. It was a clumsy and awkward attempt at encouragement, but it was the best that I could do.
Later on David, the local project co-ordinator, told me that it was likely that the Lord himself would give her a new dress in heaven before I saw her again. We continued to pray. It took weeks for the news to filter back to us in Australia that there had been a remarkable change in Nakato’s state of health.
On the evening of the day that we had visited her, Nakato gained the strength to get up and bathe herself — something that she had not been able to do for some time. Four days later her strength began to return and she started to put on weight. In fact, her recovery was so remarkable that Nakato resumed her daily chores and returned to her hairdressing business. Despite her remarkable recovery she remains with her mother because her Muslim husband doesn’t want a Christian wife. After hearing of Nakato’s amazing return from the brink of death and knowing that I was scheduled to return to Uganda, I knew that I had a promise to keep. On February 7 I returned to Nakato’s village to keep my promise — to take her into town and buy her that new dress. The act of actually buying the dress I entrusted to an African female friend (women’s clothing and African fashion are not my area of expertise). I left the girls to shop and took Asman, Nakato’s son, to a small local restaurant in Jinja — Ossies — which is run by Judy, a fellow Australian with a big heart and a huge love for the Ugandan people. Two hours later Nakato and my friend returned from their shopping safari with a new dress, matching shoes and oil for her hair. From my perspective it wasn’t the most fashionable choice of dress, but one well suited to the local culture — and possibly the most extravagant gift that Nakato had ever received. As we sat in the restaurant we talked about God’s
extravagant grace and how necessary it is for all those who come to God to believe that He exists and that He is the
rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. Nakato has also been blessed with a Bible and a pair of breeding pigs as part of the project work in the area.