After leaving our American brothers we headed towards the north. We wanted to go to Amman, but we made a stop at the ruins of Petra. It was a nice opportunity for us to do some tourism, and try to reach out to the Bedouins and Muslims there.
So there we were, finally at Petra… or so we thought. There was still a six kilometer walk to get there, they told us. It was very hot, so I went to a shop to buy one of those traditional Arab head scarfs in order to keep my head fresh. Torben and Lebo got also enthusiastic about it, and they bought one for themselves too. Lars was wearing a cowboy hat, and Marius just got his brains cooked with the heat.
We rented horses to do the journey. It was interesting, with a couple of typical inconveniences for inexperienced foreigners. The horses were turning quite irritated with our slow pace, but we wouldn’t dare to ride at top speed on those steep rocky mountains. Fortunately, some young horse riders came walking along and helped as tour guides while pulling the horses into the right direction every time they wanted to act crazy.
On the way, we held nice conversations with one of the guides that spoke good English. He was quite young and very friendly. Let’s call him Samir. After reaching the highest point of the mountains the horses were taken back, ridden by the guys who walked next to us, and we had to walk down about 800 steps on a craved stairway built by that ancient culture. Samir decided to join us down for an extra tip.
Torben started showing Samir some videos of what we do, and explained the Gospel to him, but he didn’t get what we were trying to say. So at some point we asked him if he was ill, and he showed us his broken left shoulder. He had fallen off a horse some time ago, and his shoulder was dislocated and couldn’t lift anything. So I gave him a stone, and when it reached the height of his ribs, his arm started shaking and couldn’t get any higher. Torben prayed one time, no improvement. A second time, and it got as high as his shoulder. A third time, and to his amazement, it got all the way up above his head, with no sign of weakness or trembling. His reaction was asking the following question: “Is this your God?”.
After that I could explain him the Gospel, and since the way was kind of lonely, we prayed that the Holy Spirit would touch him. He then lost balance, almost falling down, and stayed in a sort of trance, with his eyes closed, for at least a couple of minutes. We stopped praying, but he was totally gone. After a while we saw a couple coming upstairs, with an Arabic outfit, so we decided to wake him up before we would get into trouble. When Samir opened his eyes he came back to himself, and tears began to flow down his cheeks, though he wasn’t actually crying. He said “I saw a light coming into me”, and was absolutely astonished and feeling great peace and joy.
We then went together with him to the archaeological site of the temple, but after such an experience I couldn’t care less about the site. We just wanted more! So once at the ruins, we found some Bedouins and again the action began. We prayed for one and another, and the Holy Spirit healed so many there. Again, as in Bethlehem, they called their families and friends to be healed in the name of Isa.
After about half an hour of miracles and laughs (those people had a great sense of humor), some Arabs got irritated because we didn’t want to rent their horse carriages, and in combination with Christian preaching, it got dangerous again… so off we went, back to the gates, a couple of kilometers away through a sort of rocky canyon.
There we bumped into that couple that was going up the stairway when we were praying for Samir. Though they looked Arabic, they were Mexican-Americans that had, just like us, bought the head coverings to protect themselves from the heat. We ended up praying for them to receive the Holy Spirit, and the man started speaking in tongues and crying… Incredible how our prejudice can stop us sometimes to be a blessing to others!
Jesus said “go to all the nations”, not only to the nations we like. We need to go to all people, not the ones we think could be more open. We should never put our logic and reasoning on the way of the Holy Spirit. He has proven to me, time and time again, that the ones He has chosen and that He is calling are many times the ones I was expecting the least. That day, we approached many people, tourists and locals, but were many times rejected, until we found the people I have mentioned here. In order to find good soil, sometimes you need to throw a lot of seeds.
After that we went to the parking lot, still together with Samir, and gave him an Arabic copy of the Injil (New Testament), since he wanted to know more about Isa (Jesus). A colleague of his followed us, and was not very amused with what he saw. We gave him a New Testament too, but let’s pray for Samir, that the seed will not be stolen and that he won’t be persecuted.
That night we stayed at the house of an American missionary, a young man and his wife, who treated us like kings and were extremely friendly and showed us great hospitality. I will call him Patrick. We would go with him to a church of Iraqi refugees and teach there.
So after good food, warm showers, and a delicious bed, we got up. The night was a bit scary because there were strange noises and the dogs wouldn’t stop barking, so we didn’t feel very safe, but it was just unfounded fear. Nothing happened. Once at the church, teaching went as usual, and we prayed for Holy Spirit baptisms, healing and deliverance. It didn’t always go very well because of the language barrier and very mixed cultural backgrounds: some were very superstitious, others had not really repented and decided to follow Jesus, while the whole group was quite desperate to get prayer and it was a bit chaotic. There were Orthodox, Evangelical, and Catholic believers who had fled their nation due to persecution. In Iraq religion is usually more of a cultural thing, rather than a real relationship with God. Nevertheless we could help many, and from the 10 people we baptized, 5 were filled with the Holy Spirit and most of them confessed their sins with true repentance.
After sharing very good food with them (that actually reminded me of my own typical food in Peru, where I grew up), we left back to Patrick’s house. That night we would have to leave at 2am to catch our plane on time, so we went to bed early thankful for taking part in such an unbelievable experience, preaching the good news about Jesus in Israel and Jordan.
After waiting for the camera crew to be thoroughly inspected by security at the airport gate again, and saying good-bye to the team, I took off to Istanbul, where I would make a stop over to go back to Spain. On the last flight I sat next to a Turkish man that lives in Chile, and that spoke perfect Spanish. We said hi, and when they served us the food God started speaking to me about him.
I got a vision of a young teenager, tall and with dark hair, that was in trouble. I suddenly knew details about his family, so I asked him: “Excuse me, you have 3 children, right?” He said yes. “And one of them is 13, a boy, with dark short hair, right?” He said he had just turned 14, indeed. I asked, “Is he having serious problems of any kind?” And he said yes again, and told me his story. I could share the gospel with him, and we prayed together for his family.
Every thing is possible for everyone of us. It is one Spirit, that lives in all of us, and that exercises all the gifts in us. Remember what Paul said on 1 Corinthians 12:27-31:
Now ye are the body of Christ, and severally members thereof. And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondly prophets, thirdly teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, divers kinds of tongues.
Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles? have all gifts of healings? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret? But desire earnestly the greater gifts. And moreover a most excellent way show I unto you.
There are many gifts, but we don’t have them all. Nevertheless, we can choose which one we want to develop as we work in love for God and our neighbors (1 Cor 13), trying to serve and preach the full Gospel, the truth.
On my next post I would like to share with you what were the lessons I learned after this journey. And if this in any way inspires you to do the same, share it, or even better, get trained to do the same. I am more than willing to help you or to connect you with disciple makers near you.