I walked up a narrow stairwell to a small two room office which was formerly a bordello and now housed a ministry giving light to an area full of darkness. As I entered the room, my eyes were immediately drawn to a very ill woman sitting under the sink wearing a surgical mask. Her eyes told her story – she was dying of aids. It was all I could do to hold my emotions together after all we had seen and experienced over the last couple of hours – ritualistic prostitution, enslavement, human trafficking, children abused, neglected and orphaned because of AIDS. Yet, in this small two room office you could see how the Lord was providing a way – a light through one faithful physician who was serving and loving unconditionally in the most difficult of circumstances.
We sat down with the director and I explained that we had prayed as we traveled on our first trip to four countries that the Lord would guide us to the ministries and the people with whom He would want us to work. I told her it was not by accident that we were here in her office talking to her, and as I finished that sentence she began to cry. Through her tears she explained how difficult the ministry had been and that she had been praying the last couple of months for the Lord to send someone to walk with her in this work. Steve and I sat amazed – it was a story that was familiar – a constant reminder of God’s faithfulness, provision and love for orphans.
Ephesians 2:8-10 has always been a wonderful verse to me.
“For it is by grace you have been saved through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
I will never forget the day I accepted Christ and felt the freedom and joy of this verse - finally understanding that salvation was a free gift of God, not of works. In Dallas Theological Seminary, I viewed these verses as the primary apologetic for the theological concept of salvation by grace through faith - but on this, our first ministry trip, the Lord in His grace and faithfulness demonstrated the richness of verse 10. We had prayed on this trip that the Lord would guide us to where He wanted Orphan Outreach to minister. We prayed that He would direct us to the geographic area, the children and the ministry partners with which He desired us to work. Little did we know to what extent the Lord had prepared our way.
On our first day on the trip, several weeks prior to our experience in India, we rose at 5 a.m. to head into central Guatemala. All of us were tired and hungry. So about two hours into the trip, we saw a restaurant where we could get some breakfast. Here we were about 7 a.m. in the middle of nowhere at a small café when one of our party turns to me and says, “I cannot believe it – the first lady just walked in the door.” I turned and sure enough there she was — Wendy Berger with an entourage of ladies walking into the restaurant. I had become friends with the First Lady over the years of ministry in Guatemala and had thought of setting up an appointment to talk about Orphan Outreach but had decided to wait until we had more definition of what we were going to do – but the Lord had other plans. When she saw me, she got up from her chair with surprise and excitement and hugged me. We had the opportunity to discuss the new ministry and she offered her assistance to set up appointments to assist us in anyway she could to develop ministries in Guatemala.
After our discussion with the First Lady, we sat down in our booth and all looked at each other in amazement. What were the chances that we would meet the first lady in the middle of central Guatemala at 7 a.m. in the morning? We all felt it – confirmation that the Lord was preparing our way. He was confirming – “You are where I want you – when I want you to be there.” He gave us confirmation on the first day of our three and a half week journey that this was His trip and He was going to answer our prayers.
This guidance happened time after time on our trip. In Honduras we were connected to a missionary couple through a good friend of mine. When she found out what the nature of our ministry was, she called another potential ministry partner. In astonishment the director of this ministry told her she and her colleagues had been praying that morning that the Lord would bring a ministry who could partner with them and help them start a group home for children who are HIV positive.
In Delhi we had lunch with a pastor and his family after the worship services. We had a wonderful time, and I asked the pastor if he knew of anyone we could interview as a potential director coordinating our ministries in India. He said he had two or three people who may be good possibilites but, that there was one person, a successful businessman, who he thought would be great. His only reservation was that he did not think the businessman could afford to do it. The pastor said he would call us the next day. We received a call the next morning, and the pastor said that the businessman had told us about had agreed to meet with us for coffee.
We arrived at the coffee shop and we gave him an overview of our ministry and explained that we would need someone to manage our programs in India. He listened intently and then told us that he had been feeling for the last couple of months that the Lord was leading him to be involved in full time ministry. He had been praying with his wife that very morning about it and they both felt the Lord was telling him to leave his job in faith and to trust Him to direct him where He wanted him to serve. They both made the decision that morning to take that step of faith. An hour later the pastor called him and told him that there were two Americans who were looking for a director to coordinate a new ministry in India. He said when he told his wife, they just looked at each other in amazement.
God’s grace is overwhelming! His love for orphans is uncompromising, and His faithfulness to those who walk in faith to serve those He desires to reach with His love is unbending. As I sat in that small office in India — in a city I had never heard of — in a red light district that was as dark as any place I had ever been — talking to one, who with faith and courage was providing light in the darkness — the profound truth of Ephesians 2:10 became my experience. This faithful physician was an answer to the prayers of the men, women and children in this horrible place, and she saw us as the answer to her prayers to continue her work. The Lord had led us to this obscure place to walk in the works He had prepared for us in advance. There is no place on earth that the Lord cannot reach with the depth of His love and grace.
All I can do is echo the words of Paul in Romans 11:33-36. He just finished his description of the vastness of God’s plan and finally being overwhelmed, he breaks out in a doxology,