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In the presence of my enemy (gastroenteritis)

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Every summer, young adults aged 17 and up take 6 weeks out of their summer to serve and learn alongside long-term workers in international locations through MB Mission’s ACTION. Teams went out from Winnipeg to the Philippines, Japan, Brazil, Mexico, and Asia. Their program wraps up in Grenta, Man., Aug. 17.

Here is a dispatch from Team Philippine, dated Jul 29, 2013.

I woke up from a brief sleep Sunday night feeling nauseous and knew that my body was trying to deal with something uninvited. Soon, my stomach couldn’t handle it any longer, and I began an awful series of vomiting and diarrhea. By 3 a.m., my entire team was suffering from symptoms that were only getting worse. Something needed to be done.

I went downstairs to let our host Pastor Sam know that we needed to get to a hospital. During the ride over, I shook and groaned, hardly able to move my arms, and prayed, “Jesus, please save me.”

The next 36 hours were difficult. Pumped full of medication, we lay in hospital beds fighting bacterial infections called gastritis and gastroenteritis. We were far away from home; away from the comforts and foods we’re used to in a time of sickness. We could only look to God to carry us through.

We questioned why we were feeling so horrible. After all, hadn’t we come overseas for the sake of serving God? Why weren’t our prayers for healing being heard? Wouldn’t our healing be for his benefit and his glory? Shouldn’t we be out doing ministry instead of lying in a hospital bed?

Gradually, I was reminded that God sees angles I don’t, develops intertwining paths that may not intersect yet, and witnesses the big picture. I still don’t know the reason we got sick. However, God answered my questions about where he was in our situation by granting me a different perspective.

“I am the Good Shepherd”: I heard Jesus speak these words from John 10:14–15. “I know my own sheep, and they know me, just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. So I sacrifice my life for the sheep” (NLT).

I was reminded that Jesus was fully invested in us while we lay in our beds feeling awful. He was there in the midst of our confusion and sickness. He could see where he was directing us even though we didn’t. I’m learning that Jesus will walk with us in relationship through every circumstance – whether difficult or awesome. I belong to a shepherd who sacrifices his life for his sheep.

Just after those assurances in John 10:14–15, Jesus speaks a challenge – one that described the ending of our week: “I have other sheep, too, that are not in this sheepfold. I must bring them also. They will listen to my voice, and there will be one flock with one shepherd” (v 16).

The following Saturday, we gave 400 students an opportunity to listen to the shepherd’s voice. We put on a concert that consisted of musical numbers and testimonies. At the end, 96 students responded to the invitation to receive Jesus. We were amazed! These students had heard the voice of a God who loves them and desperately wants to be in relationship with him.

My heart is at peace.

—Cullen Klassen participated on the 2013 MB Mission ACTION team to the Philippines. This reflection appeared on the team blog (www.philippinesaction2013.blog.com). Cullen is a member at The Meeting Place, Winnipeg, and a musician in the SOAR Heartland worship team.

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