How God Counts

When I was a very small child, our family lived for several years in a tribal village nestled in the Amazon jungles of Venezuela. We were not the first western missionaries to call that tiny village home. Others had come before us, spreading the seed of the gospel with precious little fruit. As we arrived, literacy among these people was still very low, violent cultural practices that took the lives of their fellow villagers as well as rival tribesman were rampant, and interest in the gospel was minimal. My parents spent three years learning the language, teaching literacy, offering treatment for health issues, and loving the people. But not much changed. Only two young men in the village professed to believe the gospel.  It was a shock not only to the village, but especially to my little family, when one of those young men, Bernie, was struck down with tetanus. Although my dad was a fairly competent medic, there was nothing he could do against this deadly disease, and with breaking hearts we watched and waited as Bernie’s muscles locked up and he died.

My family struggled through several years of isolation, frustrating ministry, limited supplies for daily living, and severe health problems (malaria was rampant in that part of the jungle). For what? Many would consider those years a failure. What did they have to show for all their sacrifice? There was no miraculous story of God’s Word changing an entire culture, eradicating the hatred and killing, and bringing countless souls into His kingdom. Instead there was a funeral for one of the only two believers who had spread any light at all in the village!

Today I am thankful for how God counts success! I am thankful that His light shown through my parents in that remote village to those forgotten people. I am thankful that even one soul is now rejoicing in heaven because the message of the gospel penetrated the darkness of his world. And I am forever thankful that the light of His Gospel was revealed to me at such a young age through my parents’ testimony to the bigger picture of God’s grace and glory!

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