If you have been following my stories from the beginning you will note that I often bring up subjects or experiences that for the most part are kind of embarrassing for me. I don’t do this because I have a negative self image, it is just that some of the things I have actually gotten to experience are so amazing, so cool… so out there that it could be erroneously construed that I must do everything right in life, and that I deserve these wonderful experiences. Well, I don’t do everything right in life, but it is pretty awesome to get to see God glorify Himself while I just happen to be around.
One such experience took place when my wife, Karen, Dwayne, DeAnne, and Mark went with me to Kazakhstan, and we set up three different dental clinics in two orphanages, and one village. To give a little background to my story I need to go back to my childhood. One of the reasons I think I sometimes have been surprised to see how God works is that I grew up in a very conservative home. We read our Bibles, and prayed everyday, and we went to church twice on Sundays and again on Wednesday night. We believed in the power of prayer, and in the truth of God’s Word. We knew God was sovereign, and that He had a wonderful plan for our lives, but there was almost no charismatic presence in my up-bringing. What I mean by this is that unlike some Christian groups who believe and follow these practices, for us there was no emphasis on special words, waters, or oils for bringing about blessing or special formulas for invoking God’s power. Karen was raised in much the same way. So when a friend gave Karen a small vial of special oil to use for blessing our clinics in Kazakhstan we didn’t really know what to do with it. We weren’t against it—we just were not familiar with how to use it.
We arrived in Almaty, the former capitol of Kazakhstan, and set up our first clinic in a compound of facilities that housed our living quarters, dinning hall, business offices, class rooms, and the room we would later convert into a clinic. This is the same room that I wrote about in Nakedness Causes Creativity. It actually took a couple of days to get all of our luggage and equipment from the airlines, but once we did we assembled all of the equipment, and laid out all of the supplies in such a way as to be as efficient as possible with the anticipation that we were going to have a great many patients coming through the clinic that day.
We had joined Dr. Igor, Luba, Timor, and Olga who were part of the organization that invited us to come. We spent a good part of our first day getting to know them, and explain to them the function and uses of our equipment and supplies. At some point during that morning before the first patients arrived, Karen had gone around the room and prayed for God’s will to be done for His glory, and that all of the equipment would work, and that Dr. Igor and I would be able to treat everyone who came to the clinic. I didn’t actually realize she had done this until lunch when she told me of her little prayer walk, and that she had used up all of the small vial of oil in that one room.
Since we only had equipment for one dentist we divided into two teams. One team worked with me and the other team worked with Dr. Igor. We switched back and forth periodically just to break up the tension of having so many people wanting to be seen in our clinic. It worked well. As one team was working with the patient the other team was getting everything ready for the next patient, and then were able to spend some time talking about Jesus with the people who were waiting. The clinic was open to anyone who wanted to come free of charge, and we only talked about Jesus to those who were willing to listen which ended up being just about everyone. We didn’t expect everyone to agree with us, but we were encouraged by how many listened politely, and then asked for more information.
We had gone to Kazakhstan in early December, so the sun set very early in the evening. After seeing patients all afternoon we took a quick supper break, and then started in again seeing those who were waiting. We were so busy that we never left that room. Child after child, adult after adult streamed into the room in what seemed to us was becoming a never ending line. I don’t have to tell you we were starting to get really, really tired.
At about 8 o’clock one of the Kazkh men came into the room and asked us how it was that we still had electricity. We had no idea what he was talking about, but the people standing in line affirmed that there was no electricity anywhere except in this room. Dr. Igor was seeing a patient so Mark and I went outside the room to find a long line of people standing in a line that wound its way from the hall illuminated only by the light of our room, down the dark stairway, and out the first floor door. As we went outside we were surprised to find that the electricity in the entire compound was out. We walked through the gate into the neighborhood and found that there was not a street light, or house light that could be seen in any direction. The sky was overcast and so the landscape of houses and trees were just an eery collage of black silhouettes for as far as we good see.
When we turned back to the compound the only light in the entire area shown like a beacon from the window of our little second floor room. We met the man who was the compound’s maintenance engineer coming out of the building with a confused look on his face. He said that all the electricity was off in the building except for that one room. I was familiar with power outages in other parts of the world so I was not surprised when he said that the neighborhood was on a grid and occasionally looses power, but he couldn’t explain why our room was the only one in the neighborhood to have power. I asked him about fuses, and phases—things that I really didn’t know a whole lot about—but he assured us that the room was on the same phase as the rest of the building.
As Mark and I stood there a number of neighborhood people came through the gate drawn to the light and curious as to how we had light and they didn’t. At that moment we knew that God had answered Karen’s prayer for His glory. What is it when something unexplainable, improbable, and spectacular happens? Well, most people would call it a miracle, which is how we interpreted it. We went back inside the room and informed our team of what was going on outside. Luba simply and without doubt said, “It is because of Karen’s prayer and her oil. God wants us to keep working.”
We did keep working that night. We finally finished with the last person standing in line at midnight. The light never dimmed in our room that night, and the lights never came back on in the neighborhood until the next morning. It was amazing to see God working in the lives of our team and how He drew people to Himself because of that event. The neighborhood people spread the word about that light, and many people were more willing to listen to our stories about Jesus because of it. I personally put more stock in God answering Karen’s prayer than I do in the oil that she smeared in various places around the room… but then again…
May God Bless you until next time!