Growing up I would occasionally think about what would be my worst handicap nightmare. Blindness or some sort of paralysis would inevitably end up on the top of the list. What if I couldn’t see, or be able to walk? I thought this would be the ultimate disability. Years later I learned otherwise.
Throughout my life I have admired people who overcame difficult circumstances. They had the courage, strength, perseverance, and sheer grit that it took to do the seemingly impossible. A number of years ago I heard the story of Nick Vujicic. Here is a man who was born without arms or legs. The story of how he overcame all odds and lives a life of purpose and meaning is an inspiration to millions. He is one of so many who have accepted what life gave them and made something worthwhile.
For those individuals who have overcome and live life to the fullest, it is what they could do, not what they could not, that defined them. They do not allow what they can not do to keep them from what they can. Our greatest handicap lies squarely in our own minds and the focus on what we can’t do, rather than on what we can.
This past spring we were faced with the monumental task of going to Cuba, giving five concerts in one weekend, presenting six separate evangelistic campaigns with children’s programs, special musics, and health talks. This presented us the opportunity to shift our focus from what we can do and fasten it on what God can do. Scripture tells us that “Nothing is impossible with God.” This newsletter is dedicated to what God did in and through us in Cuba, starting with how He worked in my life.
Cuban people have very few possessions, so we were encouraged to take things with us that we could leave with them: clothes, first aid kits, mattress covers, mosquito nets, condiments for the food, and potato peelers are examples. Leading up to this trip, God had been working on the giving section of my heart. It started with reading the book Counsels on Stewardship by Ellen White. I was looking for advice and principles on institutional finance, but found some personal serious heart challenges - generosity, liberality, and self-denial, all to be done with “cheerful alacrity.”
I live on a limited income. (Please don’t misunderstand me. I am not complaining). If I give something away, it can be challenging to replace it. As I looked through my closet I found myself having a hard time finding things that I was willing to leave in Cuba. Finally, I settled on a few items of clothing that I hadn’t worn in a while. It was easy to pick out some things to take from the many donated items, but from my stuff?
People donated suitcases that we could take and leave. One item that was given to me was a nearly brand new computer/carry-on case with wheels. I really liked it and wanted to keep it. As our time at the evangelistic site came to a close, I felt like I should give that case away to the translator. Wrestling with myself I decided to ask him if he had a computer bag. If he already had one I would keep it. He didn’t have one.
Don’t get me wrong. In some ways I had tried to be quite generous, but at the same time, I noticed that giving certain things (which I really could do without) was difficult for me.
Since this trip was also our Spring Music Tour, we spent the weekend before the evangelistic meetings by giving five concerts. Everywhere we went, the people fell in love with the bell choir. “Such beautiful music,” they would say. They wanted to see the bells, touch them, and ring them. I began to see what an attraction they were, and how they could be a very useful tool in the spreading of the gospel there in Cuba. As we were giving the concert for church I had the thought “What if we were to leave the bell choir in Cuba for them to use in music ministry?”
Right after that concert I began pursuing the idea. Where and with whom would we leave them? It was suggested that the Adventist Seminary School of Music would be the organization most likely to use them in gospel ministry. It turned out, that unbeknownst to us, they were developing their School of Music for the specific purpose of spreading the gospel. After consulting with my bell ringers, and thinking about the implications of the gift – we may not have a new set in time for graduation – we may never get a new set – we decided to leave them to enhance God’s work in Cuba.
Nothing may be impossible for God, but changing the selfish disability of the human heart is His greatest miracle - taking our selfishness and replacing it with His generosity, liberality, and self-denial.
My heart is still a work in progress. I pray that yours is too.