How shall I make this incredibly long and tiresome story short and engaging? If you've ever wrestled with our glorious government bureaucracy you know the unique frustration produced by this endeavor. It is that very experience which forms the kernel of this miracle.
We have been preparing for several months to take a team to Guatemala to work directly with our brothers and sisters there. They are in the process of planting two new churches in a community of over 50,000 people in which there is no identifiable evangelical witness. We are excited about the opportunity and look forward to watching God unfold His plan for us in this endeavor. A part of preparing any team to go overseas is to secure passports. We made application in a timely manner and waited...enter the miracle.
After waiting for 12 weeks for Steve's passport to arrive we began the process of communicating with the government. Frustrating doesn't begin to describe the experience. We talked with machine after machine and well meaning congressional interns without number. Both equally helpful (grrr!) but the interns were much more polite. After exhausting every known avenue we had all but given up hope on securing the Steve's passport for the trip.
Forgive me for doubting, after all we had numerous people praying. Add to those prayers a clear conviction that Steve was supposed to go and it seemed only logical that Monday morning the passport would be on it's way. Alas, it was not to be. What ensued was what Dr. Henry Blackaby aptly describes as a "Crisis of Faith."
Monday's final phone calls to congressional offices and passport agencies left us with what seemed to be a dead end. Had we prayed in vain? Had we somehow missed God's clear call for Steve to go? Was there some unknown and unseen reason for him to stay in the states rather than accompany us? As I hung up the phone and looked across my desk at Steve all my pastoral skills were for naught. I had nothing to say. No words of comfort or wisdom to share. I don't even recall having the presence of mind to pray for him as he left my office. My emotional and spiritual energies were at an all time low.
Shortly after lunch I received an unbelievable phone call from Steve. He had gotten an appointment at the passport office in New Orleans for the next morning! I still don't know how and he's not completely sure how. It involved a 20 minute wait on hold that was summarily disconnected followed by another 20 minute wait on hold that somehow led to a real person that amazingly found an appointment slot open on a Tuesday when the passport office is publicly closed on Tuesday!
The end of this amazing odyssey is that we secured the passport on Tuesday afternoon and departed for Guatemala on Thursday filled with the knowledge that God was opening doors for us. The fact that God moved the wheels of government after we had exhausted all of our strength is further evidence of His greatness.
(Here's a picture of Steve showing off his miraculous passport!)
This was not the last hurdle we would face on this journey. Check back for the next installment of this missions story. Until then, grace and peace to you.