I Am with You Always
by Jibrael Parahedje, Febuary, 2002
“I am with you always.” This is a promise that no one except the Almighty God can give. Nobody, no matter how committed they are to us, is able to give us this assurance - “I will be with you always.” I took this in faith as I launched out to do His will for me - to share the love of Christ with others. I want to share with you how this phrase has become alive to me through the experiences that I have had since I started to go out in His name. He is with me not always in a dramatic way, but He is there to offer me encouragement and comfort when I need it, to protect me from bodily harm and to empower me to overcome many weaknesses in me.
I remember the first time we went to the mission field on a small island near our training base. We arrived at this village, home to one of our friends, and we were told that we were not welcome. We came with good intention and goodwill, but they rejected us outright without giving us a chance. Some of us were very disappointed with God and started to ask God why we received such a nasty treatment when we came to do good and not evil. Feeling hurt and disappointed, one of the girls in our group started to cry and suggested that we take the next ship home. However, after discussing and praying about it, we decided to hang on and see how the Lord will open the way.
Every night for about 10 days, we would sit around the balcony of the house we were staying at and start to play the guitar and sing. Through our singing, slowly we were able to draw the young people in the surrounding houses to join us for some light-hearted singing and sharing. During the day, we went out to the fields and mingled with the villagers. Through these means, slowly we were being accepted into the community. After about two weeks, we were requested to share our testimonies and later the Word with them. Being poor, many of the villagers could not afford to go to the city for medical treatment and we received many invitations to pray for the sick. During the last week of our stay, there were so many requests that we had to divide the team into handling different ministries: sharing the Word, dealing with the youth, casting out spirits and praying for the sick. Praying for the sick and casting out demons were quite challenging for most of us, so we left it to the most experienced guy in our team. (As for me, I specialized in cooking and taking care of the team’s meals!)
One night, we were asked to go and pray for a man who had been sick for quite sometime. The whole team went and after a short sharing of the Word and helping him to deal with his sins, we laid hands on him and boldly prayed for healing. To our dismay, the very next day he died! When the news got to us, we were devastated and very much discouraged. We were wondering how the villagers, especially the family of the deceased, would look at us. Would they be very disappointed and angry? Would they still welcome us?
After the “fiasco”, we were at home when the mourning family came. We did not know what to expect and were at a loss for words. Imagine our feelings of failure and helplessness. It is in times like this that I really, really need the wisdom and power of God. Ever dependable, God does not disappoint. In His mercy and graciousness, He touched the hearts of the family to come to us, not to make us feel bad, but to ask for further guidance and comfort. Though we were unworthy, the Lord still opened a way for us to minister. Even through an incident like this, I experienced the Lord - not His mighty power enabling me to perform signs and wonders, but I know only the Almighty God can touch and work in that family’s heart that in their grief, they still came to us for comfort and sharing.
Now I am in my second mission trip with my co-worker, David. Since we came to Kalimantan 6 months ago, I have been working - delivering rice and mineral water to customers. The job helps to finance our stay here and enables me to meet new people. My job is to assist the driver to deliver goods to customers. On the job, I spend a lot of time with the driver, a man much older than me. The job I can handle, but the driver is the source of my many trials. I am put to the test every moment I am with this guy. When I first started, he was always scolding me and saying that I was lazy, even though I worked 5 times harder than him. I would lift 10 gallons of mineral water and he would only lift 2. Not that I want to be unkind, but to me he is a real irritant. Every working moment when I am with him, I have to die to myself - telling myself that I am dead and I have no feeling, and so not to react.
Once he called me stupid and a fool. I could feel my anger rising, my fist clenching and I was ready to strike. Yet in that crucial moment, I held back because I was reminded that I have to show love to him and not hatred. (Humanly speaking I want to swallow him alive!) I could have easily struck and overcome him, being much younger and stronger. In my entire life, I have never been scolded nor been “humiliated” to this extent. A war was being waged in my heart but I was determined to win. In my heart I kept telling the Lord that I wanted to overcome evil with good. And now after about 4 months of working with him every weekday, by the grace of God, I have won this battle! He is now very good and nice to me. At the same time I have also learned to understand him. I now know why he is the way he is - a very unhappy and frustrated old man.
On the 3rd of September 2001, we were out the whole day trying to do some direct selling and we managed to sell quite a few boxes of packaged drinking water. As a result we were a bit delayed in going back to the shop. Upon reaching the shop, our boss asked us, in a not too gentle tone, why we were so late. This proved to be the beginning of a tragedy for the driver and me. The driver was boiling mad with the boss for questioning us but he kept it in his heart. Later our boss asked us to go and collect some new stock, so we left the shop. On the way the driver was non-stop cursing and complaining about the boss. The whole afternoon, from the moment we left the shop, he was complaining. I kept quiet throughout for I do not want to incite him further. In the end, since he did not stop after several hours, I finally said in a casual tone, “You have been complaining non-stop from the moment we left the shop.” This proved to be a disaster for he stepped on his gas pedal and sped at about 80 km/hour on a very busy and crowded street. He started to overtake all the cars in front, and finally, there was a car in our path, about 1 meter away. I knew no amount of maneuvering on his part would prevent a collision. He couldn’t just jam the brake since we were traveling at high speed, so he swerved to avoid the car. However, due to the high speed of the car, we lost control and started to swirl. We hit the divider, flew over it and overturned 3 times. It finally landed on its split top with the four tires facing upward. Throughout all this, I was tossed around. I could only cry out to the Lord. When the car finally landed and stopped, I crawled out of the car - unscratched. I knelt down right there on the asphalt road, not caring that people were crowding around me. With both my arms lifted up, I gave thanks to God. He had heard my cry for help and delivered me! The onlookers thought I had gone cuckoo! They were totally amazed and couldn’t believe that we were both without any broken bones or serious bleeding. They witnessed what they called a scene right out of an action movie except this was real. They kept shaking their heads in disbelief as they looked at us and reviewed the wrecked condition of the pick-up. The whole vehicle was folded into two with the top split open and the wheels totally bent out of shape, with broken glass everywhere. When I was sent to the hospital, the doctor casually checked me out and sent me home after cleaning some minor cuts.
“I am with you always.” Now you know how the truth of Matthew 28:19,20, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, ... and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” has become very real to me.
Scripture quotation is from the New American Standard Bible
(c) 2012 Christian Disciples Church