As my wife and I were preparing for our trip to the Haitian border this morning, as we began to share our thoughts, we found ourselves both still affected by and thinking about our visit with the young man who was very near death with his mother at his side yesterday. Those of you who follow us on facebook probably read our post. As usual, we went to Piedra Gorda in the afternoon to hold church service. Before we left, two sisters there asked if we would go with them and pray for a friend of theirs in Guatapanal (the next town over). When we arrived we quickly realized this young man was very ill and dying. His mother said he was not eating or drinking and he was very thin. It reminded me of another very similar vist 4 or 5 years back. It was Pastor Shawn Cutshall, his son Caleb and I, and we were asked by a neighbor if we were missionaries, and then if we would go and pray for a man who was dying. We shared the Gospel with him and his family and prayed with him. He died hours later. I have no doubt that was one of those divine appointments arranged by God. That was on a short term trip. But now we live here, ministering to these people, and now I find myself in a similar situation, with another grieving mother about to lose a son in the prime of his life in the same town. I have seen death first hand. I have seen disease wither somenone to practically nothing. I have been at that bedside begging God to have mercy on a particular individual. I have seen someone take their last breath and then die. For me it does not seem to get any easier. Although there is that hope we have in Christ, and we have the confidence when someone seems to be a genuine, born again, blood bought, child of God,…..but there are the others. The ones we do not know and we enter the situation to intercede in the final moments of a persons life before they take that step into eternity. Those are the hard ones.
The Lord has made His presence very real to me at times. He has also made the reality of heaven and hell very real to me as well. It is at times like these that I am reminded of what our Lord said and my heart breaks, “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.-Mattew 7:13-14
But I also know I have a job to do. I know, as a soldier of our Lord and King Jesus Christ, I have a command, I have orders to follow. “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”- Matthew 28 19:20.
Today, as my wife and I stood on the bridge over the river that separates the Haiti from the Dominican Republic, we were told the story of the the massacre of thosands of Haitians whose bodies were thrown into that river in 1937. Then, as I looked up at the hundreds of Dominicans and Haitians walking all around us I thought that most, although seemingly alive, were in fact spiritually dead. Death is all around us. I must admit, when I begin to ponder such things as the eternal souls of men, the wages of sin, and the Justice and Holiness of God, and heaven and hell, sometimes I just about about have a panic attack because of the grief on my heart, the compassion the Lord gives me to feel for people at these moments, and the driving sense of urgency.
It is in these moments that I am very grateful for the Word and how God tells me who He is. I know that we serve an Almighty and Sovereign LORD. I know we cannot do everything but we can do something. We must commit ourselves to spend ourselves for the sake of Christ, His Gospel, and the glory of God. But, I know one person can only do so much, and I rest in the Sovereignty of my God when times get hard and know that He is with me, He loves me, and ultimately has everything under control. Everything. And if you find that you are in a place in you life, where you do almost nothing for Kingdom, I just want to ask you to examine yourself. If you have grown cold, if you do not desire righteousness, if you do not desire holiness, or if you do not desire to know Christ more intimately and ultimately find your satisfaction in Him, pray. Pray and ask God to reveal to you where you stand. And I will be praying for you. Although I may not know you personally, God knows you and everything about you. Your sin, your struggles, your pain. Cry ouy to Him. Pray.
Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!- Psalm 139:23-24 ESV
Antonio and Christen Salgado, missionaries ministering to Dominicans and Haitians who live in Esperanza (Hope), Dominican Republic
American soldiers helping the Dominican and Haitian forces keep peace at the border