Be Strong & Do Not Fear

     

 Traveling on the Ticabus (Tee Ka Boos) from Costa Rica is already slightly daunting. You must watch your bags closely, watch your children, your passports, and constantly check to make sure they are all still with you. Our family of 5, just a few years before we would make Costa Rica our home, traveled by bus across the border to Nicaragua to meet friends, and explore. Every adventure contains the unexpected and we were about to encounter ours.

         While traveling one day by bus from Costa Rica headed back through a town called, Rivas, we were met by a North American already living in Central America. It’s unusual to see North Americans on the bus. Initially, he takes the seat across the aisle from our daughter, Libby who was 9 at the time. As we were approaching the border from Costa Rica where we all file out, get our passports stamped, and wait in the hot sun, I overheard a conversation in Spanish from this man on his phone.  We were not yet fluent, and I understood only enough to know he was speaking of children and money.   Children and money.  I thought to myself, “Not that, God.”   I just kept listening and praying in my seat.  I couldn’t be sure, but I felt a sense of danger.  If you’re like me, you might try to minimize things, and talk yourself out of any actual danger.  This is typically my default.  Could I have imagined what he said, or am I over-reacting? Did I misunderstand what I thought I heard?  

         The process at the border for reloading is normal for most but a bit unsettling if you’re unclear about your surroundings. One by one, bus operators call your name as they pull your passports out of a giant trash bag. They call my son’s name, and he is told to enter the bus, then my daughter’s, then this suspicious man’s name. Immediately, I catch myself. What did they say? What was his name? I grew more uncomfortable with my children boarding a bus with strangers without me on it and after what seemed like an eternity, they called my name.          My husband, sitting behind our daughters with me in the seat in front of them, I told him, “Watch that man.” We began heading toward Rivas, and almost immediately, my earlier concerns were validated.  My heart started beating, and this man started talking to the man behind him in English this time. As he spoke, I immediately turned to my husband and said “headphones now.”  We instructed the kids to put on headphones, turn up the music and look out the window.   He spoke unusually loud, and with clarity about his coming to Central America to take advantage.  “They’ll sue you in the U.S.” he stated.  He started speaking explicitly about the things for his movies and photos for the internet and how he’d persuade young women and girls.  It was as if he wanted our children to hear.   My heart was beating, and my heart was filled with anger and disgust for this man as they discussed a series of illegal and life-wrecking things he did for a living.  The proximity he had to my daughter made me feel extremely uneasy.  I must have turned around 50 times making sure the girls were occupied and listening to music.

         I sat in my seat and started praying Psalm 91, and for God’s protection, and as I did, my 7 year old son, Beck, curled up next to me, completely innocent, unaware and asked, “Mom, if you could put dragon wings on any animal, which one would it be?  I would put them on a Lion.” At this moment, I’m caught off guard a bit, but I kiss him and am thankful for the picture of innocence and its complete contrast to everything that surrounded us. Goodness exists in the presence of darkness just as darkness exists in places of light.

Isaiah 35:3-4 Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way; say to those with fearful hearts, be strong, do not fear; your God will come, He will come with a vengeance; with divine retribution He will come to save you.”

I went back to praying, and battling my own anger and fear. Eyes closed, praying for anything that could make this situation something less than completely terrifying. Then an odd thing happened.  I went from fear, anger bordering rage, to compassion… my prayers shifted from begging for protection, moved to an odd confidence, to actual prayers for an intersection of faith for this guy.   How far and deep under the authority of evil this guy was.  If we don’t pray for his deliverance, who will? It was as if armies of Angels arrived and the entire atmosphere changed.

2 Kings 6:16  “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” 

I felt deep in my spirit to face this man, make eye contact, to keep praying for God to rescue this lost man. How quickly the acts of just one man can spread out and poison so many, and the disturbing reality of the percentage of US Citizens, and their role of consuming what he sells.  “Wake us all up, Lord” was my prayer.

My heart was so thankful when our stop approached, and my heart ached as we got up to leave and I looked him in the eyes. “God, you’ve got to rescue him. Bring justice for him but change his heart”

“The Holy Spirit does regenerate men.  He has power to raise the dead.  He has power to impart life to those who are morally dead or decaying.  He has power to impart an entirely new nature to those whose nature now is so corrupt that to men they appear to be beyond hope.”  – Jim Cymbala

I am still praying for this man, and that was my only contribution. I regret to tell you how my name searches came up empty, and my calls to IJM (International Justice Mission), as well as talks with new Nicaragua friends were the best I could do at the time. For months I searched news in the region, hoping for any picture of justice.  Until that day, join me in praying for this man. God can change the heart of anyone, and I suspect he sat next to us that day for a reason.  One that might spur us to action in prayer on his behalf and I pray he runs right into Jesus along his road that’s headed for death, and that when confronted, he’ll choose life. We’re all on a rescue mission wherever we go.  For more information https://www.ijm.org/

Psalm 107:14-16 “He brought them out of darkness and the deepest gloom and broke away their chains. Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men, for he breaks down gates of bronze and cuts through bars of iron.”

 

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