From the beginning of the planning for this recent trip to an actual P village, there was a special joy in my heart when I heard that David Witt and Rick Arellanes would also be joining us. It just seemed right. Rick has not joined me on a trip since we finished the NT back in 2021.
The P’s greatly look forward to the word of God being taught at these events and they especially look forward to it being in their own language. I was anticipating the blessing this trip could be for them, but I did not anticipate the blessing that David, Rick and the P’s were going to be to me. During the three day conference, I was scheduled to speak each day and Russell, David and Rick were also given a speaking engagement each. Russell spoke first, then David the second day and Rick the third. I didn’t get to hear Russell’s message, but when David and Rick spoke, I was scheduled to translate for them, so I had to be there. I was looking forward to it.
When David stood up to speak, it was so interesting to me to feel his dynamic, joyful and loving energy so different than the typical P speaker. This was also different than my way of teaching. I could see their glowing faces, so interested in what he may say. Even if you couldn’t understand the language, you could just see and feel the love and humility emitting off of David’s face and through his voice.
The Holy Spirit was filling the room and as I translated, He took me by surprise. David spoke a powerful message about God’s heart for ALL people. He challenged the P’s to consider going themselves to spread the gospel to other people who hadn’t heard it. He gave some examples of the power and love of God in some specific men. One of them was Richard Wurmbrand who was so in love with Jesus he was willing to suffer for His name sake 14 years in prison, 3 of which were solitary confinement. He shared Richard’s testimony that it was Jesus Himself that sustained him in prison, nothing else, not even the Bible, but rather the very Person the Bible talks about. As the Holy Spirit spoke through David, and I was sitting there translating each word, the Lord began to speak to me. All of a sudden, in my mind, it was no longer only a message to the P’s but rather a message also to me. David’s message broke my heart. I began to weep and struggled to get the words out for the P’s. At the end of his message, he gave a challenge. He said, “if you are willing to be sent by the Lord wherever He may send you, stand up right now”. Hundreds of P’s stood to their feet. It seemed like the entire crowd of 1,200 people stood to their feet cheering with a joyful heart, offering their lives to serve God wherever He would send them.
The next day, it was Rick’s turn to preach and it was more of the same. Though he had independently prepared his message without consulting David, his too was a strong emphasis on world evangelism. Rick too was humble and lowly in heart, full of love and many powerful words from the scriptures came pouring out of his mouth through his heart.
His message was a strong but loving challenge to take the good news to others who have not heard as he referenced several scriptures on the topic. As he would cite one, I would look it up in the P Bible and read it. Rick said later how good that worked because as I was reading from the P Bible, I (unknowingly) was using my finger to guide my eyes and he knew what verse I was on. Rick’s message, like David’s, touched MY heart. The room again seemed filled with the Holy Spirit. I’m sure the P’s were touched and challenged just as I was. I had gone to the conference thinking that “I” would have a message to share with the P’s, but it’s likely that those two messages spoke more than any. How good God is. He does things that we can’t plan.
Then there were Rick’s songs. I had forgotten that years ago Rick had learned some songs in P. He loves to learn songs in other people’s languages. Years ago he got me to translate 5 choruses and to teach him how to sing them in P. He practiced and recorded them. For whatever reason, those choruses hadn’t really grabbed my attention, so I had forgotten about them. But Rick had shared them with the P’s. During the conference, the P’s asked him if he wanted to sing. What an opportunity for him! I was happy to see Rick get to sing his P songs live. He got out his Kindle, borrowed a guitar and up he went on stage. As he began to sing these simple choruses, to my surprise, all of a sudden the P’s began to sing along with him. Their voices started quiet but soon, the whole congregation was singing along with him in full voices and right on time with each word. I was astounded! I thought, “When did they learn these songs?!” As the entire congregation sang from their hearts along with Rick, the Holy Spirit again moved my heart. I thought, “Wow, has the culture dramatically changed over the years. They would have never done this back in the early years”. I was awe struck and blessed. I was sitting in the front row and I could hear hundreds of female voices behind me in beautiful P pronunciation. To me, as the Holy Spirit ministered their song to my heart, it sounded like a thousand angels, “be exalted, be exalted, be exalted oh my LORD“. Maybe it wouldn’t have sounded like that to others, but it did to me. I was touched. Rick too was taken by surprise and touched by the Spirit through their singing, so much so that he stopped strumming the guitar as he repeated the chorus of “We Exalt Thee” so he could just listen and enjoy their hearts as they sang along with him in the Lord. As I heard these voices falling on my shoulders, it felt as though they were washing over me. I bowed my head and began to weep.
I was blessed with the simplicity of the songs and the power of music in the hand of the Spirit. Is this what Paul meant when he talked about singing “spiritual songs?” “…be filled with the Spirit… speaking to one another… … in spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:18-19). What makes a song “spiritual” other than the Holy Spirit? I was blessed and motivated to give more attention to others like Rick when their hearts are moved to contribute.
Robin has been expressing of late how our modern, North American church has lost touch with the arts! It hit me vividly. Robin has such a gift to see things that I don’t notice and then when she says a simple statement, it becomes so obvious. I thought, “You’re SO right!” God is SO much an artist! So many things in the scriptures come to mind where God is the source and Author of art. As you look at the world, the creation, the heavens, human beings, He is the GREAT ARTIST! Jesus Himself was SO poetic and creative in the way He taught truths through stories and parables. How dry we’ve become! The church needs art… true art, in all it’s forms, in the hand of the Spirit! Just because the devil has hijacked art in the world doesn’t mean that we should think ART is evil and just give it over to him. God is not a flavorless god of mere information, sitting in a colorless boring cloud. The church needs creativity. The church needs to behold and express the beauty of the LORD. We need to open our hearts and express the divine nature, truth, joy and love in the glory and splendor of divine artistic expression. David’s humble, free and loving heart blessed me. Rick’s simple but powerful and loving message blessed me. The music which the P’s sang together with Rick blessed me and motivated me. I hope to spend some time in the months ahead working on more P music.