The two men stood there on the hill by their living quarters in the city. The one seemed a lot more confident than the other. This other man seemed to simply be doing everything he could to keep his legs from giving out while the first man – though smaller in stature – stood straight and tall. Before them lay an army that spread all the way to the horizon – in all directions. The confident man’s eyes spoke of war against this vast army, yet he had no army with him. After all, this was a surprise attack. The other man’s frightened demeanor spoke of the fear that anyone would have had when being attacked by such a powerful force.
Suddenly, the confident man’s eyes closed. He spoke something – seemingly to himself. Yet for some reason, as soon as he was done speaking, the other man jumped in shock and let out a small sound of frightened surprise as he gazed all around him. The way his head began snapping back and forth, looking all around, one would have thought flies were attacking him at all sides. And yet he didn’t swat them away.
In fact, as the scared man looked about, his motions slowly became less shock-filled and more awe-inspired. And his once-fearful countenance took on a mirror image of his confident companion.
Elisha’s servant’s eyes were open. He could see the LORD’s unseen work as thousands of invisible angels, dressed for battle, faced the evil army before them – ready to fight in his defense.
Okay. Let’s get one thing clear. This story is a dramatization of the true story. I would be hard-pressed to put this story in 2 Kings 6 in a Bible and still call it a Bible of any Version or Translation. Even The Message does a better job.
However, the events of 2 Kings 6 could have occurred in some sort of way like this. And the point of the matter is this – God granted Elisha’s servant the ability to see something that few men have ever been able or will ever be able to see in this life. God’s work in the spiritual realm. Although it is background work, the work that God is always doing is the most important work going on in our world. Very few men get to see that work, but it is always a privilege (and sometimes overwhelming) when they do.
Two Closer-To-Home Applications
When I first arrived in Niakaramadougou this past January, I was extremely grateful just to not be in Kong anymore. It was so nice to hear French everywhere I went. I thoroughly enjoyed having a “living room” and a mosquito net and fan in my bedroom. Not to say that Kong is an awful place because it didn’t have these things; but these were amenities that I took for granted (or didn’t need) in the United States, but have come to treasure here in Côte d’Ivoire.
Because of my gratefulness to be in Niakara, those first few days I was there, I was full of happiness that just spilled over into everything that I did. Yes, I know how superficial that is, but that’s the way it happened.
I enjoyed meeting everyone to whom I was introduced and I even talked with some of them, since they spoke French. I found myself greeting everyone on the road as I passed by them – even engaging a few of them in random conversation. This is how I met one guy who lives just a few houses down from the church courtyard.
After talking with him a few times, I learned his name was Jacques; and although my French still wasn’t great, I could carry on a simple conversation with him, and I did so every few days. After a while, I began to become a bit discouraged, though, because the conversations always seemed to steer in the wrong direction – the man wanted me to help him physically in ways that I couldn’t, and he wasn’t interested in how I wanted to help him spiritually. But I would still greet him as I passed by and have short conversations with him.
One day, though, Stephan and I were passing by his house on our way to the church courtyard. We spotted him and went over to sit down. And for the next two and a half hours, we witnessed to him (Stephan spoke and I gave him ideas of things to say). At the end of the conversation, we agreed to come back at a later date with the pastor of our church – my host father. So about a week later, we came back and sat down with the pastor and Jacques and listened as the pastor talked with him for another 3 hours. When it was dark, we finally left and walked back to our own houses. The meeting wasn’t very productive, because it was obvious that Jacques was more interested in monetary assistance than in spiritual discussion. This was again frustrating, but I quickly realized that Stephan and I had been the arbiters in the creation of a potentially important relationship.
In a nation where relationships are the most important part of society, the pastor of our church and this man Jacques now knew each other and could have future conversations without us needing to be there. Although I don’t know if anything will come of this relationship, I now see the possibility of Jacques coming to know Christ years down the road because of this relationship connection that Stephan and I have made.
Then on another day not so long ago, Stephan and I were working out in a courtyard, mixing cement, making bricks, carrying them, and getting sunburnt and cut up. As we were shovelling sand into a wheelbarrow, the man who was driving the wheelbarrow began talking with us. We learned his name was Adama, first. Then after explaining to him that we were not getting paid and were just volunteering to help Stephan’s dad (a mason), he became really interested in our being here.We explained to Adama our program and what church we were apart of, and he told us that he would come by and visit our church. We weren’t certain what to think about that, because many people in Côte d’Ivoire say things that they don’t actually do. It’s not too big of a deal. But come the following Sunday, Adama was right there at the entrance of the church; and although he did not come inside, Stephan (who thankfully happened to see him) talked with him for a full hour and shared the gospel with him.
A few days later, he stopped by the church courtyard again and talked with me for an hour while I shared with him the steps and purposes of salvation. His French isn’t the best, so sometimes we have to repeat things a few times before he understands what we are saying; but having talked with him multiple times now, I am hopeful that we will see him on the church steps again, and perhaps see him go inside.
As always, I have a practical application for what I have shared today. The previous month (January/February), I was struggling with the feeling of ineffectiveness – I felt like I wasn’t working very hard for the kingdom of God, while God was working really hard in me. It felt like a one-way trade route – God was giving me all kinds of improvement while I seemed to be improving the world very little for Him. It is still a frustration for me sometimes, but not as much now.
I have no idea where the lives of Jacques and Adama will go next or if we will even be involved in their lives any more. Regardless, I thank God for giving me the chance to see how some of the most simple actions I am doing in Niakara (greeting people, doing simple labor) can have a huge effect on others’ lives, even if I don’t see it.
God is always at work in the background; and many times, He does not let us in on what He is doing because we do not need to know. But we do need to trust in what He is doing, because He is always doing something, and it is always good.
Well, it’s time for me to head back to Niakara. You guys are in my prayers every day. Thank you so much for having me in yours. I pray that God will show you someone whose life you can change this month.