August 8, 2012 – Fort Yates, North Dakota
“When they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God courageously.”
On August 23rd, we will observe the anniversary of the magnitude 5.8 earthquake that shook the entire East Coast from Georgia to Canada. It’s epicenter was in Louisa County, and most notably just 5 miles from the town of Mineral. Damage was extensive in Mineral and other areas of Louisa County, there were a few injuries of note, and life for the residents of Louisa was altered for a long time to come. Betsy Young from Oakland Baptist in Gum Springs recalled in her devotional this morning how she experienced the earthquake during a revival week. She recalled thinking to herself that the Earth would open any second, and she said, “Lord, I’m ready. Take me.”
Being my first real, away-from-home mission trip, I have to admit I was anxious at what I might be asked to do and am still as I am challenged to do things outside my comfort zone. Last night, 19 women from our mission team hosted a ladies spa night for the women of Cannon Ball. By all accounts it was a huge success with 28 women being pampered, receiving nursing care, laughing (a luxury many do not enjoy at home) and being loved. Several of the team members had previous experience caring for other adult women in this way, but this was a first experience for many as well. The women, who were the recipients of this care, have had or continue to experience difficult lives with children or parents killed, emotional, physical or sexual abuse suffered at home, and what many of us would consider a bleak existence. And yet, for that brief interval of time from 7:30 to 11:30, the ground shook, the Spirit moved among them and the ladies, mission team and local residents alike, spoke courageously – and when required, with words.
Today, even more children than yesterday came to Vacation Bible School, and the team enjoyed great success reaching some of the teen girls, who were guarded and defensive just yesterday. The earth shook, and they spoke courageously. Several older grade school boys came today as well, and I was called from my comfortable place tending the garden to work with them. I survived, and they did as well. We actually had a great deal of fun, and God showed this father of girls that he could handle little boys with a masculine, but loving touch – a small tremor felt below my feet.
The men from Louisa Baptist continued to march with steady intensity, finishing the framing and roofing for the covered walkway. There hasn’t been much chatting or laughing heard from afar over the din of circular saw, drills and hammers, but you know they’re having a great time working as a single body in common cause to get the job done by Friday. The low banter, wise-cracks, and one-liners overheard at short range as well as the collaborative spirit by which they work are also give-aways to the eventual success of their enterprise. And, Laura Lee continues her labor of love, organizing and cleaning Pastor Boot’s study.
In among us in nearly constant motion, is what seems at times to be an ever-present Pastor Boots Marsh, coming and going, offering a simple thank you, a humorous comment, an encouraging word or a listening ear. And, likewise, Jackie Marsh brightens any space with her bright, vivacious and life-loving spirit. They are the rock upon which this body of Christ called Tipi Wakan is built, and much of what we do benefits them so they may turn their attention on the year-round ministry to the people of Cannon Ball. The ground shakes, and filled with the Holy Spirit, they continue to speak courageously.
As I listened to Betsy Young’s testimony this morning, I wondered if I would have the same faith and courage to ask God to take me at a moments notice. For me at least, this journey to Tipi Wakan is God’s way of shaking the earth below my feet. I pray that I too can be filled with the Holy Spirit and speak the word of God courageously.