Many people who come to Christ in this part of Taiwan do so in response to experiencing dramatic answers to prayer, miracles, or a power encounter of some sort or other. As a Taiwanese seminary student wrote in a paper I read a few years ago after he interviewed pastors in this area: "spiritual warfare is more pronounced in the rural setting" (translation mine). So I've been praying for opportunities to take steps of faith to prayer for people, especially if God gives me chances to pray for healing.
Well, it wasn't exactly Elijah versus the prophets of Baal material, but today God gave me a chance to call upon the name of Jesus. And,yes, He answered!
Two acquaintances whose kids I teach on Saturday, sometimes drop by to hand off snacks, tomato soup to lower my cholesterol level (don't know if its working!), or for tea. Two weeks ago they invited me to go to a musical concert with their family. The husband freely talks to me about the Lord when he comes over but always in a joking tone of voice and not in a serious context (I asked for prayer for this some weeks ago).
This afternoon his wife made what was intended to be a 30 second drop-off with a piece of mother's day cake, but she got locked out of her car with the engine still idling. She and her husband scrambled to find an extra set of keys, but an hour later they had still not had any luck. So he came back over with a friend and a coat-hanger to try to pick the lock.
They labored in vain for about 10 or 15 minutes and then I gave it a quick swipe, also without having any luck. Then the Holy Spirit led me to spontaneously pray out loud in the name of Jesus Christ that God would open their car door for them. You guessed it: my very next swipe the door lock came right up! God's timing was impeccable, as both the man and his friendly yet gangster-looking Betel-nut-chewing buddy were quick to observe. As they soon as they got back home my friend told his wife, who then gave me a quick call to ask me to thank God for them. I told them they could do it themselves (she had said my doing so would be more efficacious).... and could take this as an opportunity to begin to know Jesus. Don't know if they will.....
Whether you believe the episode described above was a mini-act of God or merely coincidence, it collaborates nicely with what I believe God may have been telling me this morning in the portion of scripture I reflected on in Numbers 21. As I read about the people of Israel eliminating the kingdom of Arad in Canaan and also Sihon of the Amorites and taking over their territories while they were still out wandering in the wilderness, the thought occurred to me: How could the people always be complaining about the lack of good food, meat, supplies, etc when they had the resources of both of these kingdoms at their disposal? Sure seems like a blatant contradiction.
Upon reading from a companion commentary I've been following along in, I realized these events didn't come to pass until almost at the end of the 40 years of wandering, even though they were just spaced by a few chapters from the events years before. The thought that I think the Holy Spirit gave as I went off to church this morning was this: the period of wandering here is about to come to an end. Jesus is going to establish His church. God's Holy Spirit is on the verge of guiding people here into his Promised Land. All we have to do here is sit tight and be ready to go along for the ride.
As I write these final sentences, an idol procession complete with drums and lots of very loud firecrackers parades loudly in the street behind me... by far the loudest that has ever passed by since I have been here. The battle belongs to the Lord.