EchoAfrica Trip 2.0 - Delayed
We should have arrived in Africa a few days ago. Understanding the reasons why are sometimes quite challenging. There are many layers to this story and I will do my best to explain them. Was Satan coming against us? 1 Thessalonians 2:18 NKJV “therefore we wanted to come to you even I, Paul, time and again, but Satan hindered us.” God has taken every tactic that He has employed and counted it for His glory. You will find some of these details unbelievable. The realization is setting in: God is up to something remarkable. A few days prior to our departure, one of my dear brothers in Christ met with me. He had an unsettled spirit in regards to our trip.
He met with me one-on-one to discuss his concerns. The following day was our scheduled meeting day. Our home church group is diligently seeking God’s direction for all we do. I believe they are all to have some sort of role in whatever God has in store for Echo. Whenever something is brought up I take it very seriously. Doug is the gentleman that I spoke with. One of the things that he spoke about is the need for me to have an extremely high accountability. I could not agree with him more, and I have asked everyone in our group to do that. The amazing thing about that is that a few years ago, I never would have tolerated such an incursion on my life. When you are all-in and fully-surrendered, you seek out every opportunity for God to use any method He chooses to shape you into what He wants.
The freedom that comes from a group of people that you can love and trust with anything in your lives is incredible. The following night we deeply discussed the situation concerning Echo and the trip to Africa. There was over three hours of conversation. Not one time was there a judgmental spirit or unkind action displayed. I wish I could convey the words to how powerful this is. When we set ourselves aside and want only Jesus to receive the glory, seemingly impossible things can happen. The need to have successful communication is obvious. This responsibility rests on my shoulders, as I have failed to communicate key things as clearly as needed in such a critical time of development.
After talking over many aspects, a sense of purpose and direction was better understood. The reality is that we are leaving everything up to God, but continuing to move forward, always looking up for steps on the path that we are on. Proverbs 16:9 NKJV “A man’s heart plans his ways, but the Lord directs his steps.” The only way this works, and I mean only way, is if we have a heart of flesh completely surrendered to God under His direction. On top of that, staying in The Word continually and praying. If any of you are planning on undertaking something, ask God to bless you with sincere servants that will journey on that path with you.
Chad, a young man in our group, is gripped tightly in the hand of Jesus. His desire to serve the King fully occupies everything that he is. He straight up asked me in the group if I had any hidden sin or unforgiveness in my heart, even though he is less than half my age. I am so thankful he had the courage to ask those tough questions. Those are exactly the kinds of questions and people I want to be surrounded by. A few days later, I got to spend an hour or so talking to Chad. I can hardly wait to see how God reveals His will more completely in his life. He and his wife Brittany are, and will be used in mighty ways. I could write several pages on other interesting insights that have been gleaned out of our conversations.
My closest group of spiritual soul mates had concern about moving forward with God’s authority. This gave us all the opportunity to get closer in our relationships. The reason why I go into a little bit of detail is because this evening, we will be making our third attempt to go to Africa. Attempt number one was thwarted by a quick and heavy snowstorm. The first leg of our flight to Frankfurt, Germany was cancelled. There were three other flights to follow, had we made it to Germany. This set into motion nearly nine hours of phone calls the following day! Everyone was blaming everyone else due to the fact there were several airlines involved with connecting flights. I demonstrated near complete composure the entire time. I must admit, there were a couple of sentences that I spoke regarding launching a social media campaign against a particular airline.
The thing is, we never have an excuse to not act like Christ, even if it is 20 or 30 seconds out of nine hours. This was a great exercise in patience building, but unfortunately, I cannot report that I would have had a perfect score. My biggest concerns came true when we arrived at the airport on attempt number two. I had in hand printed confirmation from two different airlines. I witnessed agents from both companies duking it out about who was going to take responsibility. Ultimately, the two pieces of paper I had were useless, and after nearly 3 hours of effort, we were sent home once again, but before that happened, an airport angel intervened. She gave us hope for the next day. She was on her way home, but stayed two more hours, and helped us rebook for the following day.
Now I would like to interject some of the events that occurred during the time we stayed around longer. First, I must tell you about my lack of concentration, bad roads and the hand of God. On the way home from the airport on attempt number one, the roads were still a bit treacherous. I could easily blame Pastor Rick because he kept distracting me from the back seat, just to get him back for all the ribbing he gives me, haha. Ultimately, a few inches of slush has a great ability to pull a 5,000-pound truck into the medium. With the looming impact of guard rails quickly approaching us, enough of a deviation was made to avoid them. At 60 miles per hour, we entered between the two guardrails of East and Westbound I-94. Miraculously, we came to rest on a service drive, and when traffic cleared, we reentered the highway. The only indication that the event even occurred was a few pounds of wet grass and snow on the floorboards. Thank you Lord for taking my poor driving and using it for Your glory.
The following day, we were at the mall and found a 96-year-old man wandering around in the parking lot. He did not know where his vehicle was. His wife was in the mall somewhere. After around 45 minutes, we were able to reunite him, his wife and the car. There were a few other people we talked to at lunch time and invited them to the EchoCenter. We returned home just in time to see our daughter head off to a Pegboard Nerds concert. She is 17 years old, and we trust her as her actions have matched up with her words. The environment she was going into however was quite secular. A friend of hers who is married to a youth pastor attended with her. I was not aware of the fact that alcohol and smoking of several various things was permitted. Responsibility for this error in judgment lies squarely on my shoulders. I am so thankful that she did not partake in anything that was available there.
The knowledge concerning her departure to college in the fall has led me to empower her even more deeply. In just a few short months, she will be able to do whatever she wants without the watchful eyes of her parents. Giving her the responsibility now to make those choices at least affords us a window of opportunity to continue to influence her. I rarely comment on her choices, but simply that she would always listen to the Holy Spirit. She has a commitment level to God that is very rare for someone her age. My goal as spiritual leader is to help lead her in a direction to fortify the defenses she has against the enemy. So, with that said, my discussion with her revolved around listening to that still small voice. Here was what happened on the second failed attempt and our return home for the evening:
There was a praise and worship gathering at my daughter’s Christian school. She witnessed two healings and the presence of the Holy Spirit, even to the extent of allowing her to sing at levels far beyond what she thought she was capable of. There was no coincidence that this happened back to back with the secular concert. Had our second flight departed as scheduled, we would not have been home to share this marvelous moment of excitement for our daughter. I was moved to tears when she was explaining what happened. I later went up to her bedroom, and prayed for her. After returning downstairs, I continue to be moved to tears, and I felt the Holy Spirit prompted me to go upstairs once again.
I held out my two hands side-by-side. I asked her: “Do you realize what just happened? Satan showed you things of this world and how easy he can draw you into it. God showed you a much better path and how you can bring glory to His name. Please do not make the mistake that I did, and spend 25 years serving the wrong master.” I do not believe I have ever witnessed two events of such polar opposites existing in consecutive days. The age of 17 is a terrifically difficult time of life to navigate. Satan will throw everything he has into the mix to get you hooked on entertainment of some form. Most of the population is already in this trap. I pray that my daughter resists the endless reasons of justification that Satan will give to slowly lead somebody down the wrong path.
I can point back to a time in my life where I had chosen to partake in secular activities. Praise God for the two flight delays, because I was able to witness an important time in my daughter’s life. Even if the enemy caused the airport difficulties, God intervened and made supernatural events take place that we were able to see His mighty hand guide. There has also been struggles in Malawi, and everyone has sensed it as an attack. Now, we have a fortified resolve to keep pushing forward. Lord willing, we will depart this evening, and the story will continue to unfold to the glory of God.