Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: TRAVELER (01/28/16)
- TITLE: Conviction
By Gary Ritter
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He found his seat by the window and located his mother and four siblings behind the nearby fence, their eyes shining in anticipation of the great things Mugaba would accomplish. The plane taxied to the runway and he leaned back to pray for success in shining the light of Christ.
The challenge Mugaba had accepted in Bible school was to change the paradigm. Missionaries had come from the United States for decades to his country and led many to the Lord. Now was the time for payback – the good kind. News of the decline in American churches had sorrowed Mugaba. What could he do to help this great nation that had sacrificed for him and his countrymen? He became the first of his tribe to be sent as a missionary. The American church in his denomination had fallen into heresy. Mugaba would do everything possible to lift them out of darkness.
After much chaos in the massive international terminal and a long wait at customs, the welcoming committee waved him down as he entered the airport. Their affectionate greetings warmed him. He’d been warned there might be trouble with his message. Perhaps all would go better than anticipated.
On the third day his hosts brought him to his first American service. Jet lag had fled and he knew God was with him. Reverend Margie shook his hand with a tight smile on her lips. Her high starched collar gave her a strained look. He’d heard their denomination had to provide extra encouragement to some pastors to allow him access to their churches. The reverend turned to another woman and introduced her to Mugaba as her husband.
This was the warning given to him. It had all seemed so strange and impossible back home. The shepherd of a flock leading her sheep from a position of sin? Nonsense! Yet here it was.
He mumbled a few forgettable words. Other members of the church came up to ask questions and greet him in the name of Christ. The confusion he felt caused his stomach to churn.
In the course of the service Reverend Margie introduced him, with the congregation applauding as he made his way to the dais. He stood behind the high wooden altar examining the white faces staring up at him. How out of place he was. Surely he’d made a mistake coming here. He had nothing he could say to these people.
His silence grew longer. People shifted in their seats. He was about to give up when the power of God fell upon him. He knew things were different in Africa than here. Because of the darkness of evil spirits the Holy Spirit often worked in great power. Only once before had he known the Spirit’s fullness as it came upon him now. It filled him with great conviction.
He opened his mouth and the words of Isaiah came out: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me.” He spoke of God’s love that was long forbearing; merciful patience beyond our understanding. “Yet God will not be mocked.” Mugaba spoke of willful sin and God’s wrath upon those who persisted in it.
His next words surprised him. “The Lord says: ‘It is inevitable that stumbling blocks come, but woe to him through whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea, than that he would cause one of these little ones to stumble.’ He pointed at Reverend Margie holding hands with the woman beside her. “You will answer to the Righteous Judge unless you repent.”
Her nostrils flared and she stood. “Throw that man out of here!”
Two deacons appeared and hustled Mugaba up the aisle and out of the church. People hissed and booed as he went by.
They left him on the street with a warning: “Don’t come back.”
A cold wind blew. He shivered against it in his light suit coat. Mugaba would go to the next church through obedience to Christ who saved him. He was a missionary on a mission.
No, it wouldn’t be easy. Jesus had promised hardship. This was the beginning.
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