Pained eyes narrowed in disappointment as he spat out the maleficent prophecy. “You just wait until you have interns and see the ungrateful way they treat you,” he said. Hot tears filled his wife’s eyes as she nodded agreement.
We sat opposite our superiors at his desk. Our two years in Santa Cruz working with this organization had come to a frazzled end. (Read more about it here: Banished from Bolivia) The grace to forgive the hurtful words and deeds of many people during that season of our lives came slow but sure by miraculous intervention. (Read about that here: Birds, Lightening Bolts, and Hot Air Balloons) I yearn for the divine ability to forget that which I forgive. As a human, my mental faculties allow me to stare at scars and remember. (Read a series about ‘scars’ starting here: Scars – Introduction)
Words can brandish seething wounds. Take care the words you let slip from your tongue and type.
“It’s your heart, not the dictionary, that gives meaning to your words. A good person produces good deeds and words season after season. An evil person is a blight on the orchard. Let me tell you something: Every one of these careless words is going to come back to haunt you. There will be a time of Reckoning. Words are powerful; take them seriously. Words can be your salvation. Words can also be your damnation.” (Matthew 12 in the Message)
We hobbled away from Santa Cruz and began a new life in the city of Cochabamba. Those words about the interns we deserved stayed in the back of my mind and ate at me. Even years after we had established ourselves and the ministry here I could hear those words.
With a high recommendation from a couple who taught some of our mission school classes, a young man contacted us about coming to work with us in Bolivia. We corresponded by email for a few months. It was decided that the timing wasn’t right.
I thought to myself, “Whew, we must’ve dodged a bullet with that one.” I dreaded getting what we deserved. Those words convinced me we had it coming.
Time passed. The young man got married. Then the email conversation was resurrected, and came back in double force. He and his wife told us that they couldn’t get Bolivia out of their minds. Missions burned in their hearts. I felt their passion in every message.
I scrambled for direction. My dread increased. Our punishment drew nigh.
We contacted a few missionaries with experience with interns. One group sent us all their operational documents and told us we could change the names and info to suit our situation. The framework looked perfect. DaRonn and I tweaked a few things and then presented it to this couple. Many provisions in the plans protected both parties from possible abuses. The structure allowed for frequent and clear conversation to span the full length of the intern-mentor relationship. This security snuffed out some of the flames of fear.
- Can y’all turn in all the paperwork for the extensive application process? They did.
- Can y’all raise the funds to come on the scouting trip? They did.
- Can y’all serve and learn during a three month period here in Bolivia? They did.
Three months of intensive companionship and cooperation is long enough for both groups to decide if this could work long term. It’s also short enough that both have the freedom to back away if it looks like things are not clicking. The mutual agreement was that they would return for a three year commitment of service as interns after a time of fund raising.
They served in Christ Nation Ministries here in Bolivia for a little more than three years. If this couple was sent as a form of punishment for our ministerial crimes during our internship in Santa Cruz then the celestial courts got their sentencing mixed up. Retribution felt like being beat with a feather. I have no complaints about the three years working alongside Melinda and Romon Gore. If they are prophetic hellfire and brimstone falling on our pathetic heads then let it rain!
I now know that they are part of God’s long con of redemption.
During their three years working here every once in a while I wondered if it would all go sour. I constantly assessed and analyzed my interactions with them. I worried that we were being set up for a fiasco of tremendous proportions.
To the last day when we said our bittersweet goodbyes at the airport, along with the dozens of people who had come to love them dearly just as we had, I imagined a fight or a disagreement or some other ugliness. Only hope reigned. Only words of goodwill and kindness were spoken. As they disappeared through the security checkpoint the security of grace and mercy’s complete work extinguished the last smoldering embers of the lie.
With humble gratitude I say with full assurance that the intern-mentor relationship of the Gores and Washingtons demonstrates the unfathomable fullness of God’s grace. To God be all the glory for this precious gift.
Thank you Jesus for redeeming us! Thank you Holy Spirit for never abandoning us! Thank you Heavenly Father for working all things for the good! Thank you God! Thank you God! Thank you God!
Though my brain has the power to rehearse hurts, it could never have devised this beautiful scheme of redemption that spanned a course of years to be accomplished. If you find yourself in a place of fear or dread, I want you to be encouraged. I want you to know that God is not looking for a way to smash you to pieces so that you learn a lesson. God is good. God is great. God is gracious. God is kind. God is long suffering. God is love. Trust His eternal character.