Wednesday, May 31, 2023

April - May 2023 Benaiah…went down also and slew a lion in the midst of a pit in time of snow… II Samuel 23:20 

 What? Benaiah, the valiant son of Jehoiada and doer of great deeds, killed a lion down in a pit on a snowy day!? That sounds ridiculously impossible, first, that it even happened, and more importantly, that this historical narration is included in the verbal plenary God-breathed Word. It must be tremendously important. 

It is tremendously important to recognize that the seemingly impossible tasks God has designed for us don’t always make sense and may not seem possible, and His timing for their outcome is positively His own. These days have been filled with “chasing lions into pits on snowy days,” and standing back in awe to exclaim with Jeremiah: “Ah, Lord God! …Nothing is too hard for you.” 
The tenth annual Huichol youth camp is history along with the nine previous camps. We expected about 200 people this year, and what a surprise when on Day 1 the total came to 290. Coming up with last-minute additional food, camp logo t-shirts, blankets, supplies, etc., is tantamount to chasing a lion into a pit on a snowy day! Pastor Martín and Erén did an excellent job of caring, ministering, and administrating, and lots of helpers joined in to help. Jeremiah is right: “Ah, Lord God…Nothing is too hard for you!” 

This year’s theme, Who Am I? is perfect for the needy hearts of young people, world over, and especially in the Huichol villages of the Sierra Madre. At least 27 kids recognized their need for the Savior Who has known, chosen, desired, loved, accepted, redeemed, sanctified, created, forgiven, adopted, preserved, heard, and called them. After camp was over and the kids returned to their villages, the new believers chose to proclaim their identity with their Savior and be baptized on that Easter weekend. In honor of the tenth anniversary of Huichol camps, Jonatán García produced a video showing clips from each camp and God’s amazing outreach during the past decade. 
Last Saturday was the IBBM-Tepic OANSA Awards Ceremony Day. You can see Jonatán’s OANSA video here. Next Saturday is the OANSA fair where the budding young Approved Workers will be spending the OANSApesos they have been accumulating all year and enjoying the fruits of their labor. My favorite award is one we invented, not officially OANSA-endorsed, but the most meaningful of all. We call it the annual NOBEL prize. It goes to one single person who stands out for faithfully and consistently loving Jesus and conforming to His image, working hard to hide His word in their hearts, putting the learning into practice, joyfully following directions, loving his or her classmates, and a long list of other qualities. This year, Yancy received the unanimous vote of the OANSA leaders. Her life has been far from easy. She has seen, lived, and suffered more than any little girl ever should. Yancy rides the OANSAmobile that crosses town for her and a bus full of other children. Despite her extreme timidity, she stands in line every week to share with the whole congregation of children the verses she has learned with great effort. I’ve never seen a child more deserving or more surprised to hear her name called for the highly-valued Nobel Prize. She smiled through tears as she made her way to the front of the auditorium for her award. 

I was sitting near her little sister, Daniela, who also started crying when Yancy received her award. I thought Daniela might have been disappointed because she wasn’t chosen for the Nobel. No, Daniela’s voice quivered through her tears to say how happy she was for Yancy! I could only imagine how ecstatic Yancy will be when she finds herself before her Savior when her name is called from the Book of Life; and how grateful we leaders, the “Danielas,” will be that she will be there with us and the rest of the great cloud of witnesses who generously participated in making it possible for Yancy to hear the Gospel message in OANSA-Tepic. 

These are just a few of many reasons God calls us, along with Benaiah, whose name aptly means, “Built by God,” to chase lions into pits on snowy days. Benaiah was trusted with some humanly impossible tasks as well as the supernatural power to do them. It wasn’t easy, and the environment was not supportive, but ultimately, he was honored with a valued place in the service of the king.