Last Saturday my 16-year-old daughter Anna and I attended Bruce Cockburn’s concert in Seattle. Bruce’s music inspired and sustained Gracie and I during our years in Central America in the 1980s—when poverty, death squads and wars weighed heavy… and has continued to greatly bless us. Bruce’s song “Waiting for a miracle” inspires hope and active waiting for God’s intervention, which we often get to witness and continue to long for in greater and greater measure.
“…You rub your palm
On the grimy pane
In the hope that you can see
You stand up proud
You pretend you’re strong
In the hope that you can be
Like the ones who’ve cried
Like the ones who’ve died
Trying to set the angel in us free
While they’re waiting for a miracle
Struggle for a dollar, scuffle for a dime
Step out from the past and try to hold the line
So how come history takes such a long, long time
When you’re waiting for a miracle…”
View here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=cgdIjvBMwoA
The other night as Bruce sang and played this song, my thoughts hovered over two immediate situations, one already being accomplished, another awaiting resolution.
Three weeks ago I came into the jail on a Thursday night to lead four back-to-back Bible studies. John, a guy in his late forties bounded into the multipurpose room, eager to attend the first gathering, scraggly goatee surrounding his crooked smile. He had good news to tell.
“Hey, remember when you prayed for my back two weeks ago?” he asked excitedly. “Well, I woke up that next morning and pain was gone, and it hasn’t come back.”
“Wow, really? That’s great news! Tell me more,” I said. “So how did you hurt your back and how long has it hurt?” I asked.
John told how when he was twelve years old (he’s now almost 50) he and a buddy were pushing a mini-bike along a road at night when suddenly they were hit head on by a man on a motorcycle. His friend was instantly killed, and he was thrown critically injured into someone’s front yard. 42 bones were broken, including a disk in his back. After four years of hospitalization where he was regularly put on morphine and meth, an addiction started that led to a life-long drug problem and four prison terms.
“I’ve been in nearly every prison in Washington State,” he said. On top of that he saw his dad lose his leg in a boating accident and his uncle die of a heart attack as he witnessed the horrific loss.
“I’ve seen lots of terrible things,” he recounted, “including my brother die beside me on a couch after a 13-year-old shot him in the back of the head with a 22.”
“All these memories replay in my head all the time” he continued, “and I’ve been mentally tormented as a result. My back has hurt continuously all these years… until two weeks ago when you prayed,” he recounted, with joy on his face.
We give thanks to Jesus for this miracle, and pray for God to lift off trauma and cleanse his memories. I look forward to seeing him again tomorrow night to find out how he’s doing, and if he’s experiencing any relief from his tormenting memories.
In contrast to the “already” of this long-awaited breakthrough, conflict brews in a dusty village in central Honduras. I’m told the story of a man who migrated to the USA over ten years ago, putting his brother in charge of his land. He sent money down and his brother managed it with great care, avoided common pitfalls of drinking and trouble, and flourished. Siblings became jealous of his success, and spread lies against their brother that stirred up a bitter family feud, including conflict between the brothers. The brother who managed the farm was brutally murdered in February, and a cycle of vengeance is now underway that has led to the recent murder of the brother recently deported from the US, followed by the assassination of his nephew. More killings are expected, and law-enforcement are absent from the scene in Honduras’ current governmental chaos and resulting power vacuum.
Tierra Nueva’s main Honduran leader is deeply involved in peacemaking efforts and is in need of our prayers at this time. This coming Saturday at 2:00pm he and Tierra Nueva’s house church members are conducting a prayer walk around the village, interceding for an end to the violence. He has succeeded in engaging the participation of the Catholic and Pentecostal leaders, who will be joining the procession. Please pray for God to protect our leader, giving him great wisdom and success in his peacemaking efforts. We are praying and waiting for miracles— conversion and true repentance of those now caught up in the cycle of retributive violence, and an end to the death campaign and resulting terror in the region. Pray too for TNs growing house church movement, ‘hogares en transformacion’ (households in transformation). I’ll keep you posted.