A hurricane had recently devastated the island and a crew of about 50 from the church I attended were going to help rebuild several Assembly of God churches. In the weeks prior to our trip, I spent a lot of time praying and reading. We had several reading assignments, one of which was the book of Acts from God's Word and the second a book by Elisabeth Elliot entitled, Through Gates of Splendor, the true account of her husband's death at the hands of the Waorani tribe in Equador. If you have not had the opportunity to read this book, may I highly recommend it. It's a tale of a missionary who befriended and then was martyred by a people who previously were known for attacking all strangers. All for the sake of spreading the Gospel. Reading this book will change your life. It did mine.
Although we were not going to be venturing into a land of hostile natives, we were about to be transported to a place way out of our comfort zone. Nothing could have prepared me for what we encountered in The Dominican Republic. These people lived in homes we would not find worthy in which to house our lawn mowers. Sometimes ten or twelve people from an extended family living under one corragated metal roof. Some were fortunate enough to have cinderblock walls, but most were fabricated from flimsy materials, warped plywood or metal sheeting. The floors were dirt. Despite the obvious lack of material possessions, I have not ever met a people who were more gracious and generous and eager to share their hearts and what little they did have with us.
Over the two weeks that we were there, I was on the "painting team." It was my job to paint metal roof trusses with weatherproof paint. I also painted interior walls of the small Christian school that was near one church. And I painted "Abuelas" (Girls) and "Caballeros" (Boys) on the outhouse doors. I was given one paintbrush with bristles all askew which was much too big to paint the letters. The teachers marvelled at how neatly and staight I was able to paint them and I smiled as I recounted to them that the Lord had given me an artistic talent which I had given back to the Lord to be used by Him and it was an honor to be painting those letters on the doors of those outhouses...and I was going to do my best to see that they had the neatest words on their doors.
One day, while taking a break from painting some of us were at our hotel which was near the beach. I walked down to the water and sat on a fallen log where I had fun watching all these little fiddler crabs being washed up on the beach. They would scurry as fast as they could to bury themselves in the sand thereby avoiding the scorching heat of the sun. (The temperature never fell below 110 degrees fahrenheit during the daylight hours while we were there.) Soon along came this little boy who was about eight years old. He was so intent on catching one of these little crabs and tried several times without success before he finally was able to scoop one up in his hands. He brought it over to show me and we started a conversation - he, who spoke no English and me, who spoke very little Spanish. I asked him his name. "Manuel," he replied. He asked why I was there and I attempted to tell him that I was there to help build churches. I asked him if He was a Christian. He kind of hung his head and replied, "No, pero mis amigos son los Cristianos." (No, but my friends are Christians." He asked if I was a Christian. "Jesús está en mi corazón y es mismo, muy bien." (Jesus is in my heart and it's very, very good.)
Soon it was time to return to the hotel to meet the rest of my team for dinner. Manuel wasn't permitted to be on the property of the hotel due to hotel regulations, but he followed me all the way up the beach, across the road and up to the gates. As quickly as I could, I went through the courtyard and up to my room where I knew I had Christian Gospel tracts for kids - printed in Spanish. I was hurrying because I knew that the hotel staff would shoo him away if they saw him by the gates. When I returned, he was there. I gave him the tract and asked him to read it. He promised that he would. He tried to give me the little crab he was carrying and made a flying motion indicating that he wanted me to take it home on the plane. I laughed and said that I couldn't take the crab, but said that it was so wonderful to share some time with him and that I would remember him always.
To this day...every time I see a little crab with it's little eyes protruding from its body, I think of Manuel and pray that the Lord will protect him, keep him healthy and draw him close to His side. I believe that one day, I will meet him again in heaven.
It's really neat how the Lord works. Just yesterday at work, I noticed a jellyfish printed on the fabric of a coworker's scrub shirt. I asked her what was on her shirt and she opened her lab coat to reveal a scrub top printed with many colorful sea creatures, one of which was a little crab with googly eyes protruding from a shell. I laughed and said, "There's my crab."...as I prayed for Manuel. A young man, who is now at least 18 years old, somewhere in The Dominican Republic...whom I believe is serving Jesus all from a chance encounter on a beach with a lady and a crab.
So, I ask you, dear reader, do you know this Jesus? Jesus is in my heart and it's very, very good. There will never be a more important decision for you to make in this lifetime. Mind you, choosing Christ doesn't guarantee you a life filled with sunshine and roses. But what it does guarantee is that you will never walk through anything in this life alone. He will be with you and never leave you. He will become your closest Friend, your Confidant, your Father, your Brother, your Husband. When you choose to make Him Lord of your life, He will reward you with eternal life with Him. A life in heaven in a home that He's preparing for you even now. You can't go wrong. It's a simple thing to do. A free gift that He offers. All you have to do is admit that you're a sinner and ask Him to forgive you and come into your heart. That's it. A done deal. After that, He will do the rest. You just bring yourself, and a willing heart. Then you too will know that when Jesus is in your heart it's very, very good.
believing, you will receive.