Create your Blog on TradTalk Traditional Archery bowhunting longbows selfbows 3D field archery | HOME
The next two weeks were and still are to a large extent a big blur. Things began happening in supersonic speed. Those two weeks were probably the shortest I have ever experienced. I don't remember a lot, and my journal reflects no entries. The night before we were to depart, the team met at church to pack our bags. We were allowed to take two peices of luggage and one carry one or one laptop. For the most part, the men were able to get by with one bag, which was a good thing because we had food, tools and supplies that had to be taken. Those of us who had not used all the storage room that was allocated divied up the stash and packed it in to get there. Afterwards, my wife, son, and I, along with a couple who were team members went to dinner. I distinctly remember thinking that I hoped that it wasn't my last meal with my family.
Bright and early the following morning the team met at church, loaded and boarded the bus and struck off for the Memphis International Airport. As I looked out the window and waved to my son and wife as we were leaving, I couldn't stop the tears from flowing no matter how hard I tried. The longest I had ever been away from my wife in 8 years of marriage was 4 days. I had never been away from my son for more than 2. That 8 mile trip to the airport was one of the longest I have ever made.
Once at the airport, it was time for the usual screenings. Remember, I had never flown before, so I didn't really know what to expect with the security. All in all, it wasn't bad actually. I was expecting a horrible, long, confusing experience. It was pretty much hassle free, even though out of the group I was the only one to get detained and searched. I remember thinking, that pretty much 75% of the people I saw in line looked like genuine bonafied terrorists, and I was the one getting searched.
Once we boarded the plane, those same 75% that looked like terrorist, were on our flight. To say I was nervous is an understatement.
I don't really know what I was expecting with the flight, or why I was fearful of flying, but it really was no big deal. The take-off was really cool, and the flight was enjoyable. Why had I been so terrified of flying before?
After about a three and a half hour flight, we touched down in Montego Bay Jamaica and headed to the customs line.
Right at two weeks before the departure, things went bad.
The best way I can describe it, is that I became full of negative energy. I had no desire to read the Bible. No desire to pray. I was very moody and easily agitated. Even though things were coming together seemingly on their own, I only saw the negative. Nothing was positive in my minds eye. I was on the verge of backing out of the trip altogether when God intervened. I had an occasion to be at a school function that my pastor was also attending. After the meeting, he casually asked me how things were going. I asked him to pray for me and explained what I had been feeling. He sat me down and explained what was going on. You see satan doesn't like to see warriors coming for him. Satan knows that when somone puts on the armor of God, they never really fully expect to take any hits. People assume that when they set themselves to do the will of the Lord, that God will create a hedge around them and protect them. Well, this is true, but the protection is not the kind of protection that most people have in mind. Our ways are not God's ways. For several months I had been in the reserves..... preparing...... waiting. I was about to step up to the front lines and satan didn't like it. That's when I remembered my earlier revelation. The armor will protect you, it will not prevent you from taking any hits. I had been hit and it was a good blow. Almost immediately after talking to my pastor and praying with him, the negative energy left. I was once again energetic and full of positive energy.
That sunday, during the weekly meeting, I discovered that I was not the only team member who had been under attack. Nearly half of the team members had suffered some form of affliction. Illness, injuries, financial troubles, and the like had run rampant through the group. Several team members vowed to pray earnestly and vigorously for the group as a whole. It was too close to departure for things to start falling apart.
To prepare for spiritual warfare, it is important to put on the spiritual armor. First, I had to discover exactly what spiritual armor was. My quest for it led me to Ephesians chapter 6, vs. 14-18.
"14Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints."
Every night I prayed for each of the spiritual gifts. The belt of truth. The breastplate of rightneousness. The shoes of peace. The shield of faith. The helmet of salvation. The sword of the Spirit, the Word of God. Several times a day, I prayed for the spiritual gifts. I knew of combat and hostile situations. I had trained for several years as a SWAT team member and knew the importance of protective armor. I knew the importance of proper preperation. I knew how important is was to trust your protective gear. I KNEW how important it was to trust your leader. And I was fully prepared to trust God.
Journal entry February 7th, 2005
"414 a.m. Cant sleep, restless, heartburn and indigestion. Lord, comfort me and give me rest."
Because I did't record all the sleepness nights I can't honestly say how often, or how severe, they were. I do know that after I began preparing for spiritual warfare, and as the departure date drew closer and closer, I seemed to have more and more restless nights. Was it the beginning of the battle? Was it merely anxiety? I don't know. Could have been either or. I had never been out of the United States before. I had never flown before, and had a fear of doing so. I had never been out of the south before, and could almost count the number of states I had been in on one hand. I can tell you one thing---I was feeling closer to God than I ever had before. When reading scripture, the Holy Spirit was opening my eyes and I was developing new understanding of God's word that was intoxicating. Meditating on the spiritual armor one evening I was overcome with a sudden understanding of the spiritual armor. God never promised that when the spiritual armor was put on that we wouldn't be struck by one or several of Satan's fiery darts. The promise was that fiery dart would be extinguished. I knew right then that the hits would be coming, and I knew that the shield of faith would protect me.
Journal entry dated January 11th, 2005
"God is an amazing, awesome, powerful God. I have witnessed God's hand enough the past week to KNOW that the Jamaican Mission is going to be a life changing event for me. 30 calenders sold in 3 days? Simply awesome! I asked for God to show me His will and He did! As if this wasnt obvious enough, today I went to the Post Office to apply for my passport. The trip is 9 weeks away and according to the website, it takes about 2-3 months to be approved unless you pay the hefty fee for expedited service. I fully intended to pay the expedition fee, but I was assured by the postmaster the passport would be here in 6 weeks or less, there was no need to pay extra. To top it off, mom loaned me more than enough to meet the first installment. If you can't see God's hand moving, you are blind!"
By now, the team is meeting every couple of weeks, getting instructions on what to expect, supplies that are needed, paperwork that is mandated to be completed and such. One of the instructions was to prepare for spiritual warfare. Spiritually, Jamaica is a very dark place. A lot of alcohol and drug abuse, voodoo, and rastafarism. Ive never engaged in longterm spiritual warfare before. Am I up to it? Will I stand strong? Will I cave? All these fears and thoughts occur over and over again.
During the informational meeting, we discovered that the mission shares could be sold for $25.00. Basically a $25 donantion entitled the donar to 2 invitations to a meal to be hosted by the team members. During the meal, a highlight video of the trip would be shown and team members would give their testimony of events that were encountered. A personal copy of the video was also provided at no additional charge. Team members took turns selling the shares at the churche's welcome center sundays and wednesdays. The money raised by selling shares was not allowed to go to an individual, but rather towards the general fund. A second fundraising option was selling Chik-fila coupon calenders for $5.00 each. Of that, team members recieved $2.50 for each calender sold, and was applied towards individual accounts. The third option for fundraising was donations placed on ones behalf. Basically, if someone wanted to sponsor a team member, a donation was made to the church office, specifying what team member the funds were designated for. Individual team members were never told who made the donations, how much was donated, or when a donation came in.
I have always been a prideful person---to the point that it will someday cause me much grief. I have never asked for money. I have never asked for much help. If I can't get it done, it doesn't get done. I didn't have the money to afford this trip. I didn't know what to do, but I was convinced that it was God's will that I join this mission team. To save you the calculations, I will tell you that in order to come up with a $650 deposit, one needed to sell 260 chik-fila calendars to have the first installment. Each team member was given an initial 10 calenders, with the option of getting more if needed. Other team members had been attempting to sell calenders for about two weeks before I tried selling my first. They were not great sellers. On a thursday, I swallowed my pride, took my 10 calenders to work with the intentions of selling a couple and chickened out. Once home from work, I felt very burdened. The overwhelming thought was that I had failed to trust God, and somehow He was dissapointed in me. I was determined to sell at least 2 calenders Friday, and hoped to sell 5 before Sunday. Friday morning, all 10 calenders sold before lunch. After work, I went to the Church office to turn in the money. All the way there, the thought kept coming back to me, "See, I told you so. Trust Me." After turning in the money, the team leader told me as an afterthought, "I have 20 calenders left. Do you want them?" I said sure, I'll take them, not really believing that I could sell any more. 10 more calenders sold themselves before sunday morning. I say sold themselves, because I never tried to sell them. People were coming to me asking for them. On sunday morning, during sunday school I was sharing how God had been working, and how convinced I was that this was His will. After sunday school, a fellow class member bought the remaining 10 calenders as gifts for family and friends. I hadnt even told anyone I had any left.
On or about January 3rd this year, we had an informational meeting of all those who expressed interest in joining the mission team. Specific skills were requested, but the only requirement was the willingness to work hard, and share your faith. I could do that. This is also when I found out that the cost would be $1300. There were fundraising opportunities, and some some of the financial obligation would be provided for, but we were responsible for about three fourths of the amount due to the rather large group that would be attending. Further more, I discovered that the first installment of $650 was due January 12th, just 9 days away. I had a total of about $100 set aside for the trip.
My journal records the following.."I honestly have no idea where the funding will come from. God, if it is in your will, I trust that You will provide. If it is not Your will, so be it."
My journey began on July 4th, 2004 when I joined Trinity Baptist Church. I had been saved for quite some time, and had attended Trinity regularly since 1997. I never really felt like I was being called to join Trinity before then---due to some issues that were internal within the organization and the deeply rooted ties I still felt to my church "back home"--never mind the fact that I hadn't seen a sunday in that church in years. Irregardless, it was time, and I knew it.
On August 18th, 2004 I was mandated to attend the new member orientation at Trinity. Funny thing was since I had already been going there so long, I knew more about the church than all the other new members combined. During this meeting I discovered that a mission team would be heading to Jamaica over spring break 2005 to rebuild after hurricane Ivan. The thought intrigued me, but i had never flown before and was terrified to do so, had no money to afford the trip, and no real skills that I thought I could offer. My journal entry records that that night I prayed, "God, I ask for wisdom and discernment concerning the mission trip. I don't know what I have to offer, but if I can be of service, use me Lord--not for my glory, but for Yours."
On August the 22nd, my journal records the following thought, "Ive been thinking really hard about the mission trip to Jamaica. God, if it is not Your will, then close the doors that need closing, and open the ones that do. I am Your servant Lord, use me as You see fit."
There were no further journal entries concerning the mission trip until January 3rd, 2005. I know there were some there at one time, but I dont know what happend to them. I can tell that they were ripped from my journal, but I don't remember removing them, and don't know who would have. I can tell you that at this point I was feeling very called to join the team, but knew that I couldn't afford the $1500 fee it would require.