“And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.”- Mark 16:15,
Yesterday was another day touring visitors at the Trail of Faith, and as almost always is the case, another day of receiving more blessings than those that could have possibly been given. Students from a summer camp program had come to tour the Trail. Their home church was in Puerto Rico, so they were bilingual, speaking Spanish primarily amongst themselves. They had been studying Waldensian history and using it as an inspiration to go forth into communities evangelizing the Word of God. This was the first group that I had ever known to have been actively recreating the actual acts of those ancient Waldensian peoples, so already, from the get-go, they had my attention and utmost respect.
As we made our way from one exhibit to the next, there grew a growing sense of camaraderie. From the beginning to the very end, I kept purposely reminding them that our goal for the day was not to lift up these ancient peoples, nor ancestry, nor any of this history, but that the primary and most important thing for them to take away was that God should be the center of their lives and that the Word of God was to be revered and protected with all our hearts. But, in a sense, I kept telling myself, you’re preaching to the choir. These kids, yes to me, they were still children being ages high school to college, were already walking the walk that sometimes takes many of us a lifetime to reach.
When we took time in the cave to sing, they chose, entirely on their own without an adult leader, to sing Amazing Grace in English. As they sang, their youthful spirit filled the darkest crevices of that earthen sanctuary. The echoes of distant voices reverberated through my being, and we could all feel the Holy Spirit indwell at that moment. One can never fully convey that feeling when it happens, but you can only be thankful for those brief moments of its presence.
As we entered into the Ciabas Church, we slowly entered after discussing the inscription above the front door and how well they had read it, unlike most classes of their age. Making our way up the gray, slate floor to the front, they began looking for the clue that I had asked them before entering to find what was missing. Their curious voices filled the air, as one by one, they asked a multitude of answers but had obviously noticed the solution. I confirmed that yes, they had answered correctly, that there was no cross. As they found their seats, one of the young men asked if he could play the piano. Another student piped in, “He’s very good.” Gladly, I shook my head, yes, and he sat down and began to play the piece that had been left on the stand before him. “Great is Thy Faithfulness.” The beautiful strains of the old piano, slightly out of tune, began to fill those empty passages of the recreated church. The sound echoed off the walls masterfully. Once more, feeling the Spirit, I found myself walking around to the back of the church and circling back up from behind as if I were in a distant dream, far away in another time. Again, I cannot convey to you how mesmerizing and inspiring this group made me feel. Blessings kept flowing like waters from the mountainside.
We continued on through history and the stories of unimaginable massacres, imprisonments, and forced marches into exile through the harshest, most deadly weather. As we made our way, their attention never wavered, their respect for the story never faltered. Having led many groups of students in the past, an adult was usually present, and by the later stages of the tour, were having to remind some of their students to pay attention. That was never the case with these young people. The more I shared, the more my heart went out to them and how respectful they were of what was being told.
Later on in the tour, while most of the group was inside one of the last exhibits looking around, a young man came up to me, and with tear-brimmed eyes, said, “You really have a heart for this, don’t you?” As he said this, he motioned to the Trail. I knew what he meant, as we both understood the connection to God through the story that had been shared that day. You see, when your life becomes a mirror to the history of a people that gave their lives to share God’s word in a place that was as formidable, harsh, and unforgiven to live as it was in their time and then to survived persecution from enemies against what you did, it was no matter that we had connected beyond the story.
As Jesus became one with his disciples, there should be the same sense with us today with our brethren in our own church communities. Our love of brother and sister should emanate like a beacon of light, as does God’s love for us. Giving our heart through the story of the gospels, no matter if it is being told through the history of the church or through the words in the Gospels, we must seek him with all our heart. It is then, and only then, when we know God and put Him first and foremost in our lives, that all else will fall into place.
Yes, it never fails that when we seek to share the Word of God with others, we often receive more of a blessing than we conceive of those to whom we share. “Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”- Mt. 5:15-16
Seek Him first, share His Word, and plant the seeds of salvation for all to receive.
From seeing these young people, and knowing that their passion for evangelizing has already began at such a young age, one can’t help to be comforted by knowing that the future of God’s great commission is in good hands.
Thanks be to God.
Mt. 28:19-20, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”
Acts 13:47, “For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth.”