As we traveled along, the trip was going smoothly, and the boat was performing well. As we came close to going back into the ocean from lagoon number two to get to Langnaar, the captain suggested we take a shortcut. He was confident that we could save time, and the tide was right. As we approached the shortcut, we noticed the water was low but coming up. After an hour or so, we decided to go for it. We unfortunately did not consider the weight of the boat. Soon, we were in low water scrapping against the bottom. We could not turn around. We were committed to the path we had chosen.
We knew that if we went back, we could not get into Langnaar before dark. We decided to push forward, literally. So we got out of the boat and began to push it along the reef. For five hours we worked the boat across the reef. Our feet cut up and enduring the coral from the reef, to get to a pass into Langnaar. The sun began to set, and darkness was coming fast. A storm was brewing. The waves were beginning to smash into the boat, but as a team, we kept moving forward. Just at the edge of dark, we spotted the entrance into Langnaar. Praise the Lord! We were tired, a little battered, but morale was good. Trust me, many times during this effort the thought crossed my mind to go back. Even when we reached the entrance, my flesh said, “Deliver the supplies and go back in the morning.” My spirit on the on other hand said, “ Press on!”
When we arrived at Langnaar, it was dark. We could see the lights of the church from a distance. It was a refreshing sight! As we got closer to the shore, we heard the sound of singing. As we unloaded the supplies in the dark, the singing grew louder. They were praising God with all their heart. The sound of their praises was music to our ears.
We then made our way to the church where we were greeted by the church. They were singing and rejoicing , and had prepared food for us. They had been waiting there all day for us to arrive. It was a humbling experience to see because we knew of their need. After the singing and welcome, I sat down with Pastor Norton and we began to talk. With tears in his eyes, he began to tell me that he had begun to think that no one remembered him. That he and his family were alone on this far atoll. There had been no supplies come in for over six weeks. He and his family had been eating bread fruit and coconut only for over a month. There were no staples or rice to be had anywhere on this little atoll in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. For one month they had lived on that and what fish they could catch. My heart was touched even more by the offering of food the people prepared for us.
He told me that he was tempted to quit. In that dark time, when he felt alone, he knew what to do. He decided to stand in faith and believe God. He and his wife got on their knees and prayed. God heard their prayer. Two days later, he got the message by radio that CTC and I were coming to minister and bring supplies. He said he began to rejoice and praise God. My heart was overwhelmed hearing this! All of the hours of pushing a boat, meant nothing now. I was stirred, and truly humbled, sitting with a servant of God who was living by faith every day.
The next day we preached, ministered to the children and youth, and baptized people. That evening, we had a great service. After the service, the wind began to rise and rain began to fall. The winds were now 25 to 35 miles per hour and getting stronger. We were in a major storm. Our boat was tied up well, but we kept checking on it. The storm continued to get worse, and about nine o’clock PM it broke free from the lines. We all ran out into the driving rain to save the boat. We caught it, and for the next three hours we battled the storm to secure the boat. We were pushing and holding on to the boat, battling the waves and storm until we could secure it safely back to the buoy. Once it was secure the five of us made our way back to the church. I began thinking to myself, I am tired, cold, and wet how can I preach tomorrow?
I then began to think about the pastor and his church. We were on a mission, and we were going to complete what God had sent us to do. The next morning, we got up and preached a Holy Ghost message. God moved, people were touched, and healed by the power of God. Pastor Norton and his wife were encouraged and strengthened by the Spirit! Praise the Lord! In the middle of nowhere, in a church made of palm fronds, the Spirit of God is moving! It is faith that moves the hand of God, not what you have.
Our trip back that afternoon was smooth with no problems. On the way back, I determined in my heart never to let them go without supplies again. Shawn and I have decided that once a month we will go to Langnaar. We are believing for the provisions by faith, but we are determined to support our outer island pastors. Please keep Pastor Norton, his wife Emeko, son Carlton and daughter Marrisa in your prayers.
One more thought, there are men and women of God around the world who think that they have been forgotten. They are living faith, believing God everyday for food and provision. God is providing for them in so many ways. Sometimes, they just need to hear that someone cares and is praying for them. Some of you now, are thinking that I am getting ready to ask for support. No I am not! What I am asking you to do is to go to your pastor, the church staff, and those in ministry. Take time to tell them that you are with them and are praying for them. Sometimes, the one who needs to hear from you the most is the one in your pulpit. Be blessed today and thank you for all of your faithful prayers and support.
Running with the Vision,
Steve, Shawn, Travis, Stephen and Richard