He began with a mysterious tale of dread turned belief. How can anyone be expected to understand the justice of the universe when faced with a child that has cancer? But this story quickly turned with a fairy tale twist as the boy was taken to a wise old woman who was known as The Faith Healer. Gnarled knuckled hands trembled as they descended on his head and his chest. A smile slowly straightened the lines of her face as words rose deep from her chest, "Take the boy home. He will be fine." The days passed until he was returned to the hospital for a final examination before a desperate surgical measure. The doctor hastily called in a more experienced surgeon who then saw the boy before they spoke words that would change the course of multitudes, "His cancer is gone." The boy grew in strength and faith until his fame spread throughout the land. He became an evangelist. His name was Clifford Hutchinson.
These are the stories that define us. We hear them and they feel familiar because they are at the heart of us all. The fear of dread and the hope of salvation hide in tandem just beneath the surface of our skin. We are not so different, you and I. We want the same things in the end.
I was repeatedly taken back to memories of my great-grandmother as I sat on a wooden bench in a surreal sort of haze that was partially due to language but really was a deep spiritually longing for something lost. And yet... there were moments when all divides were crossed as the singular voice of the speaker began to sing a heritage hymn of the Reformation movement in English, just as my great-grandmother sang, and then some fifty voices answered by singing that same song in Spanish. Oh no, we are not so different.
I listened with trembling as pastors here in Guatemala spoke first hand of torture during the civil war that ravaged this nation for forty-six years. I will never forget the tension in the room as the one who told the story of Clifford stood among the four small statured, Guatemalan giants of faith who spoke from deep within their souls of those they knew who had been martyred for the cause of Jesus Christ, and many others who had simply disappeared without explanation.
Tears streamed down my face as these pastors expressed a desire to team up with our movement: to worship, to embrace, to walk together in holiness and unity, and to learn from one another. I remember feeling awe as I realized that our stories converged in this moment due to a little boy named Clifford.
The speaker at this convention was my friend Gary. Like me, Gary came from the area of Middletown, Ohio. Gary's mom and dad gave their hearts to Jesus Christ under the preaching of Clifford. This same Clifford was the man who led my great-grandmother to Christ. Gary and I are both being used by God here in Guatemala, and both of our lives and ministries are a testament to that little boy whose tale went from dread to belief because of faith.
Gary is now the historian of the Church of God, Anderson, Indiana, the pastor of Beechwood Church of God, just a few miles from where I grew up, my professor at Anderson University School of Theology, and I have no doubt he was sent here by God for this time.
Gary spoke to the women and men pastors about all of us being part of the blood washed ones, a reference to Naylor's Church of Jubilee, and Ezekiel 34:12. He knocked the breath out of me when he began to describe the setting of the United States of America at the dawn of the Reformation Movement: civil war had just ended, the nation was trying desperately to rebuilt, men were in short supply because many had died in combat, great divides separated the people based on wealth, poverty, and social status... these attributes describe the state of Guatemala today. Today! These similarities were not lost on the pastors. Shouts of "Amen!" filled the expanse as they stood to their feet in support with applause.
He began with a tale of mysterious dread turned belief. This was his story. It was the story of a little boy named Clifford. It was the story of the United States of America as it limped away from the decimation of a civil war. It was the story of men and women in Guatemala who survived their own nation's civil war. This was my story. This is the story that runs through us all, every blood washed one whose heart pulses with the story of God.
The Church's Jubilee | Charles W. Naylor
The light of eventide now shines the darkness to dispel,
The glories of fair Zion’s state ten thousand voices tell;
For out of Babel God doth call His scattered saints in one,
Together all one church compose, the body of His Son.
O church of God, the day of jubilee
Has dawned so bright and glorious for thee;
Rejoice, be glad! Thy Shepherd has begun
His long-divided flock again to gather into one.
The Bible is our rule of faith, and Christ alone is Lord,
All we are equal in His sight when we obey His word;
No earthly master do we know, to man-rule will not bow,
But to each other and to God eternal trueness vow.
The day of sects and creeds for us forevermore is past,
Our brotherhood are all the saints upon the world so vast;
We reach our hands in fellowship to every blood-washed one,
While love entwines about each heart in which God’s will is done.
Oh, blessed truth that broke our bands! In it we now rejoice,
While in the holy church of God we hear our Savior’s voice;
And gladly to His blessed will submissive we shall be,
And from the yokes of Babel’s lords from henceforth we are free.
Ezekiel 34:12 NIV
As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them,
so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places
where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness.
|Edgar Ramos: Catalyst Resources International|
Host and Pastor Link
|Photo bottom left: Fontaine Greene,|
Founder and Director of Catalyst Resources International
listens to Brother Gil
|Rev. Dr. Gary Agee touches the heart of all present.|
The Historian makes history as a new era of
holinessand unity is born.