I Stand Amazed
By Marty Norman –
And you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)
At the kind invitation of the Bishop of Mpwapwa, SOMA (Sharing Our Ministries Abroad) www.somausa.org sent a team to Tanzania in early June to lead a teaching conference for pastors and their wives on the Holy Spirit. I was invited to be team leader. After much prayer, confirmed by intercessors and a powerful dream I had regarding Tanzania, I determined that God was indeed calling me, and I said yes. Hesitant and challenged, I was much concerned, since I had never been on a teaching mission nor had I ever been a team leader before. But I am a living testimony that God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things!
By early May we had a team of five—two priests from Uganda and three American ladies, two from Texas and one from California. We did not know each other. The plan was to meet up with the two priests in Dar Es Salaam where we would take a small plane to Dodoma, the capital of Tanzania. Following would be a two hour bus ride to St. Phillips Seminary where we would then have 36 hours to train as a team and plan the conference.
But God’s way is not our way. Our first challenge came when we were given a 15 pound luggage limit because of the small plane to Dodoma. Taking nothing but a tunic and small Bible I felt as if I were stripped down to nothing. As leader, I could not even take my Bible with its notes nor did I have room for extra paper or outlines. The Bible I ended up taking was tiny, the pages so new they stuck together. I could barely fit in a few post-it notes and highlighters. Later I discovered that the Bible was not even the translation that I was familiar with. I was comforted by the thought that the priests would probably do all the teachings.
Once again I did not know the mind of God.
Due to a glitch in scheduling, the Ugandans missed their plane in Dar, thus missing the connection to Dodoma. After much prayer, the three women continued on. Due to limited technology we did not know where they were or if they would ever come. The possibility existed that we might be doing the conference alone. Due to the prayers of the intercessors the Lord under girded us with a spirit of peace and we moved forward unafraid.
The priests did arrive the next day following an eight hour bus ride, but we had lost so much training and planning time. Instead of 36 hours we had six. This also was part of God’s plan. It was here that I discovered that the new translation in my Bible allowed me to view familiar scriptures with new eyes, a powerful witness to me as team leader. I have led Bible studies and taught seminars before, but never have I experienced leadership like this. Truly it was the Holy Spirit who guided and led, bringing all wisdom and knowledge to the team as we submitted to one another.
Because we had no set outlines and a shortage of time, the Holy Spirit planned the conference by unfolding the next day’s outline the night before. Each of us had an important role in the teachings. I have led Bible studies and taught seminars before, but never have I experienced leadership like this. Our own testimonies, life experiences, the prayers of the saints and Scripture laid the groundwork. Truly it was the Holy Spirit who guided and led, bringing all wisdom and knowledge to the team as we submitted to one another.
Amazingly this team of five plus the Bishop worked as the body of Christ with each person bringing his gift to the table. Just like with the loaves and fish, the Lord took these offerings, blessed, broke, multiplied and passed them out to feed the people. It was amazing. I can’t explain these things. Truly it is the power of the Holy Spirit. But I can testify that I saw with my own eyes that the Lord took nothing and from it created an amazing tapestry.
During one of the breaks one of the participants asked the Bishop how we could plan such powerful things. But we know that we did not plan them. A power greater than ourselves was responsible. We were just broken vessels waiting to be filled. The Lord himself knitted and wove our offerings into the picture he had created, customized for such a time as this. He filled these broken vessels with the living water of the Holy Spirit which was poured out on all who were hungry and thirsty for righteousness.
What I saw with my own eyes and heard with my own ears was amazing. Many reported reconciliation and forgiveness in their marriages. Others reported renewal of their faith, healing of wounds and hurts, forgiveness of long-held transgressions. Many came to Christ. There was order. Something important was planted. As the Bishop said, “Power has gone into the people’s hearts.” There is no doubt in my mind that much fruit will result.
Many ask me, why go on a mission trip. For me it’s simple. We all live in a spiritual box of our own making. Only when we get out of our comfort zone are we able to let the Lord do his work. As a result we find is that he is even bigger and greater than we could ever dream or imagine.
A huge harvest occurred in Tanzania. I am blessed and eternally grateful that I was allowed to be a part of spreading the good news of the gospel and the promise of redemption and reconciliation to the ends of the earth. I stand amazed.