This week we got a phone call we've been waiting on and praying for - a phone call from the government. John dropped everything he was doing, packed up his enormous file stuffed full of our paperwork, and headed to town. When he arrived, a man began to grill him on why we were here, what we were doing, our future intentions, our ministry.
It was the first time John has ever had to go through anything quite like this.
After a bit of time, the officer in charge began to ask him about our buildings, our properties, our employees.
"We don't have any," was his entire answer. Nothing. In the eyes of this government, we were pretty much worthless.
You see, the path the Lord has given us to follow doesn't look very impressive. We are striving to build completely indigineous churches here. That doesn't look the same in every place or the same for every missionary. For us, that means that we give, and our people learn to give, and God makes something out of nothing.
"Where do your three Bible studies meet?" was his next question. Now John got to tell him that we meet in a school in one place, under a canopy in another, and in a chop bar (a wooden food stand) near the wood mills.
At this point, I think the director was looking at John as if he had three heads. In his mind, what John was saying made no sense. Where's the glory in that? What about what people think? You are a white man, for goodness' sakes!
After a few more questions, the officer told him that they would be coming to inspect our works. They wanted to know if we were lying or not. They informed John that he would have to take him to meet our people and see our places so they could check our story. They would have to see John's office...our house.
When John told me all this, I was afraid. Nobody anywhere wants government officials inspecting their life. Who wants a big stamp of approval (or disapproval) on their ministry from the government? As missionaries, we have no choice. This is part of what God has given us to do. So we do it.
As I sat at our Wednesday night Bible study in the chop bar, the Lord helped me a bit with my perspective. I was struggling with what these inspectors would think, but as I looked around, I was able to look at things through God's eyes. I saw a group of people singing "How Great Thou Art" at that moment in their own language; our first convert from a Bible study we've been holding for eight months; people hearing the true gospel preached to them for the first time; children hearing stories of the Bible they've never heard before; two faithful helpers that were brought to Christ through our work here.
At that moment, I wouldn't have traded places with anyone anywhere in the world. And oh, how I wished that these government inspectors could see things the way God had let me see them. I simply wished they could see it all through my eyes.