New to Refiner’s Fire? I encourage you to read the FORWARD.
Let’s go back to when the terror began. When this picture was taken I had no idea where God was going to take me in the coming year.
1978 was one of the most exciting years of my life.
Joe was challenged by the men in his bible study group to step out in faith. They challenged him to leave his job, live on whatever God provided and serve para-church organizations in town … without pay.
Oh, yes – they committed enough for us to live on for the first three months.
Joe and I prayed over our decision, then prayed over it some more, deciding this was what God wanted us to do.
After twelve years, Joe left the Boy’s Clubs movement, and received our first donation. All was looking good. That first month Joe contacted ministries and started helping them with their organizational and fund-raising needs.
Then it happened –every man who committed funds for our initial steps into ministry found themselves in financial difficulty, their commitments cancelled.
The next months were interesting, to say the least. By then we had a family of six living with us. Both families were without enough income to purchase food – though we never went without a meal.
I will never forget the day a semi pulled up in front of our house. The driver announced, “I’ve been told to bring you a crate of okra.” I don’t remember how they got the crate into the garage, but they did.
The wife of the friends living with us was from Oklahoma. She actually knew every way there was to cook okra and make it enjoyable.
What were the chances of that happening?
At the time, we were supporting Open Doors with Brother Andrew. One afternoon Joe pointed to a specific page in the Open Doors monthly magazine. “Hiring Field Representatives. Send resume’s to …”
“Wanda, I really believe God is going to give me this job. I’ve mailed my resume.”
I was flabbergasted.
I had no words. But a sense of excitement began in the tip of my big toe and enveloped my whole body. Even though it seemed out of the realm of possibility for two ragamuffin young people to be used in such an amazing ministry, I believed God had moved Joe to send his resume.
A couple of years before, I had read, “God’s Smuggler,” and thought I could never be a Bible smuggler. The thought of doing so terrified me – but as I read I kept telling myself not to worry because God didn’t have me walking on that kind of path.
Now Joe was telling me that he believed we were being called to join this ministry.
The next few days were filled with a tentative anticipation. Could this really happen? No, it can’t be possible – we are “nobodies.”
Then the phone rang – “Joe, come to Los Angeles for an interview. Bring your wife too.”
I don’t remember a lot about the interview. It was beyond anything I ever thought I could be a part of.
I recall being taken to a Mexican restaurant close to the Open Doors’ office. We sat in an outside patio, deep in conversation when the waitress came to take our orders. The three men joked back and forth with her when she suddenly asked, “What do you gentlemen do?”
“We are smugglers,” one man said.
We all laughed and that was it. Little did the waitress know she was hearing the truth.
“Wanda, how would you feel about moving to Portland, Oregon?”
“Uhhhhh, yeah, that would be good.” How should I respond? Is it happening? Are they saying they are going to hire Joe?
The next thing I remember was flying to Portland to find a house for our family of five. At the time, our children were age ten, nine and seven.
Returning home, I told a friend we would live in Boring, Oregon. “Wanda, Oregon isn’t boring.”
“No, “Boring,” Oregon – that’s the name of the town.” We laughed.
It was time to move – again!
Bakersfield had been a time of great spiritual growth for both Joe and me. We had been challenged to step out in faith in many ways during those years. Now we were blessed with the friends we had made while there gathering to say goodbye.
“I thank my God in all my remembrance of you” Philippians 1:3 (ESV)
As I sit here, 39 years later, I recall those days. I feel excitement, and the wonder God chose us to serve Him in such an amazing ministry.
Little did I know what God had planned for me in the days ahead. As we drove north the “terror” that still ravages my body today made its first appearance.
My CHALLENGE to you —
Grab a cup of coffee … imagining you and I are chatting.
As I struggle with the path of suffering that God has put me on I am helped when I focus on those who suffer much more than I. Buy or borrow “God’s Smuggler”
I wonder how Christians who live with persecution, for their faith, deal with internal turmoil? I have suffered with internal turmoil for years; but I have NOT had to deal with persecution.
This week, if you don’t already do so, spend time in prayer for Christians living under persecution.
For more information, and to follow what is happening with Christians worldwide, go to the Open Doors website. You may subscribe to their weekly email, stay aware of what Christians experience in other parts of the world.
Next page of “book” Terror! The First Taste