“As it turned out, GOD was with Joseph and things went very well with him. ” Genesis 39:2 MSG
The day started a little dreamily. It was warm but I had slept unusually well considering the number of mozzies who thought my body as ample source for their food supply. It was Sunday 1st November and Steve and I were celebrating our 18th wedding anniversary on mission to Sabah, Malaysia. The hot steamy tropical heat was a daily introduction to whatever the day may bring and this particular day was a Sunday… A day ofinidtry and serving alongside our Hills Church team at Word of Life Church in Tagaroh, just outside Kota Marudu.
On the Saturday, my gorgeous friends Christi and Beatrice appeared in my room with a thick velvet traditional Dusun costume (note to future designers : velvet is just mean in equatorial heat). I was asked to wear this to church the following day.
As I was getting ready to go to breaky the following morning, there was a knock on the door and Steve appeared with a sweet note and pretty box purchased at the local Reject shop in Kota Marudu and to my delight I sifted through the contents (that only a reject shop in a distant country could kindly produce) …a can of high calorie milo, some pens and pencils, kids stickers, yummy chocolate and some whitening facial cleaners.
After our regular breaky-feast of all things Malaysian and my morning coffee (thanks to Robert Timms coffee bags and Nestle condensed milk), we were in the middle of our team devotions when one of the delightful local ladies came and stole me away. Next minute I am being pampered, treated to hair make up and dressed in traditional Dusun costume as if I was a Malaysian bride. Grace became my fill in bridesmaid and had to ‘endure’ the same precious treatment and I felt the love and laughter and joy of these precious women as they squealed with delight. While I stood to have the beads around my waste woven on, I couldn’t help wanting to get married in Malaysia just to experience the comradery and joy of these women and their ability to make us feel valued and loved.
An Encounter With Evil
We had an amazing morning in church. One thing that this nation does well is praise and worship!!! At the end of the service I had the opportunity to pray for a woman who we believe was demon possessed. She was petrified and unable to even look at me. It was an encounter I was prepared for and I felt the Holy Spirit wanted her to feel the love of God. One of our Malaysian team members asked me to go back and pray for her again, and I found myself at the altar with this woman gathered in my arms, as if she were a young child being held by her mother. I felt her fear but also her desperation for freedom. ‘Perfect love casts out fear’ became real as I held her, patting her on the back as I would my own daughter. As she relaxed in my arms and I quietly calmed her down I began to sing words of comfort and love over her and I felt her fear reside and she began to cry like a small child. Although, I felt God pour his love over her, I do not believe that the spirit of torment left her and I felt deep compassion for a soul that was willing to receive God’s love but battling to surrender to Jesus’ rule and authority. After the service I spoke at length to our Malaysian team members expressing my concerns for this desperate woman. (I believe that someone who is living in torment and deep distress and yet can still find herself in church, has just something to teach me.)
The service ended with Steve and I being celebrated by the church with dancing and eating cake and being spoilt by this incredible community of people we have come to call family. I felt the needs of this woman heavy on my heart despite the joy I was having throughout the day.
Grace and I had a lovely afternoon which started with washing and massaging the women’s feet and painting their toe nails. Even the little girls had their toes done. As we were finishing, a massive thunderstorm broke out and what better way to end than by running out into the down pour and dancing with the kids in the rain. As only a true ‘misso’ kid would do I grabbed my shampoo and conditioner and washed my hair under the rain pouring from the gutters above.
As it turns out...
Our day ended with a massive feast with the locals late into the night. As I was heading to bed, I headed off to the toilet. Nearly everyone was upstairs getting ready for ‘bed’ and as I headed down the stairs of the toilet block, I completely misjudged my footing on the bottom step and found myself in a crumpled heap at the bottom of the stairs. In my favour, was the fact that no one had seen me lose my dignity. Although I knew I had done something to my foot (the three centremetre welt on my ankle was a hint) more importantly I needed to pee…so I managed to get that sorted, climb the stairs and who should be standing on the grass brushing his teeth but my handsome husband of 18 years. You have no idea how ‘excited‘ I was to see him. He was able to carry me inside and go get help. I had a lump on the side of my leg the size of two golf balls and was concerned I had snapped the bone.
There were two things that stood out to me in the process of everyone giving me a hand and assisting me: I found the whole thing did not shake me up or cause me to lose my joy for one second. This surprised me. I am as emotional as the next person and not once did I panic or fret or get distressed or even feel any sense of worry or concern. I felt that it was going to be fine and I found the whole thing quite comical and still do. I still laugh at the spectical I would have made and am so glad there was no go-pro to record the event. I had been telling Grace all week that we didn’t want her falling over and here I was ..needing to be carried to and from the loo, to breaks, to my bed… The other thing I felt was the genuine love of the local people. One mum did a special massage that she promised would ensure my foot would have no long term damage. Ps Peter (the pastor of the church) bought a poultice of local leaves that they had prepared over the fire to place on my foot and wrap for the night. Their love and care for me was incredible and so so caring. As I was unable to stay in my room upstairs (think 1000 steps), they prepared beds and space for Steve and I to sleep on the stage, closed all the curtains for privacy and went out of the way to make sure I was comfortable.
As we lay in our beds on the stage of the church we smiled about our 18 years and despite the dramatic way it had ended, we gave thanks for God’s faithfulness over our lives , our marriage and our precious kids back home.
As It Turned Out pt 2
I slept well but things took a dramatic shift in the early hours of the morning and I discovered that something did have the power to rob me of my joy and had the potential to drive me towards fear. Steve had to carry me to the toilet and down the same stairs I had fallen, then carry me up these same stairs. By the time I got back up the stairs I could not feel my toes and my legs and fingers were numb. Within five minutes my arms and hands were cramped and I could no longer feel my lips or my feet and was struggling to get oxygen and my hands had become completely imobile and were cramping and I had no control over their movement. Although I remained calm, I could feel my hands and arms twisting as the cramping became tighter. Steve was able to carry me to my bed and we began to pray as we had nothing else we could do. I did not become emotional at all but I was deeply concerned about what was going on and felt it was something spiritual manifesting in something physical. I kept my breathing even but felt the fear begin to rise as I began to lose control of my limbs and could feel my body reacting to something that I had no power over. Beads of swept were pouring from my face. Straight away I felt that it was linked to what had happened with the demon possessed woman that morning and I began to declare the lordship of Jesus over my life and body. The enemy had come for me but he was not going to win…this girl has fight….
That morning one of the guys on my team had preached a section of his message on the reality of the scripture: ‘He that dwells in the secret place of the Most High, shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty’ . He had made the point that the most high means nothing has power or authority above Him..He is higher than everything and anything…and this is what I began to declare. I then asked Steve to bend my arms fingers back and hold my hands flat to the floor and although this was painful I felt this deliberate act was a fight to do something opposite to what I felt was happening. I was determined to stretch out my hands towards heaven despite not being able to stretch at all. I prayed that the Almighty’s shadow would overshadow me and the enemy was trying his hardest to pull me out of that protective shadow. I stretched my cramping hands towards heaven and began to speak in tongues and cry out to Jesus. All of a sudden a peace came over me and I fell asleep almost straight away. I woke up the next morning feeling fine and my massive bump on my leg almost completely gone. The foot was still badly sprained and the locals replaced the poultice with a new one.
The Monday and the next few days became a lesson in humility as the rest of the team packed up my things and carried me wherever I needed to go, including the toilet. I was incredibly grateful for a team who gathered around me and prayed over me as a response to my experience in the night. Over the next few days as I navigated the transport issues of heading home and navigating airports with a bad leg, I felt that this experience could easily have robbed me of the joy I have had in ministering and serving all week..but it didn’t. (You should have seen Grace and her driving skills as she wheeled me through the airport). I have come home overwhelmed by the sense of God’s peace and protection, a deep gratitude for the many opportunities to love people and serve and minister to them and the exchange of love they showed us everywhere we went. My encounter with the demonic has made me smile as the Devil ‘cos he really doesn’t know me well enough….he is messing with the wrong girl!
I am committed to praying for that beautiful girl and believing that as she goes on her way she will encounter Jesus and experience true freedom. (I have since found out that she has run away from her Muslim family in Indonesia because they were trying to kill her because she wanted to become a Christian). The enemy is not going to let this one go easily but I am beliving for a story that defies his intentions.
I love the words in the Message in Genesis 39:2 where it says. ‘As it turned out, God was with Joseph’…. Those words have resonated with me over the past two weeks. As it turned out God was with Jenny... As it turns out…he has been with me for the last 18 years of my married life and the 43 years of this life on earth and oh that I would be constantly aware of it…’As it turns out God is with me‘ is my story…and this encounter with evil is simply more proof…as it turn out regardless of what the enemy may throw at me or what I go through..as it turns it…God is with me.
NB On November 6th, I was given the all clear after X-rays and ultra sounds revealed no breaks , no ligament damage and I have sustained no permanent damage to my foot: #SoGrateful!