The locals captured me and tortured me; they made a sport of it. I just wanted them to know about Jesus. They had their own ideas about life and death, and heaven and hell, the in-between. I had mine. That’s the problem, I guess. We weren’t supposed to mix in this tangled world of straightened lines.
But they were perishing. You see, my God cries when one person is lost. When one sparkling gem falls into the abyss, it breaks His heart. And on the other hand, my God celebrates wildly, lets out a cracking whooping yell and dances His crazy beautiful jig, when one person is found. This is why I went.
Some called it pointless, God-forsaken, but I don’t know the sort. As my plane touched down on the dry parched ground, a tear ran down my face. Mercy is better than judgment, God says. Shuffling past the crowds, I made my way to the dwelling I had rented. It was modest, but it would be home for however long I would stay.
For the first couple of weeks, I didn’t interact much with anyone. My activities consisted mainly of buying supplies at the market, reading paperback books I had brought with me, and watching the kids play ball. But one day this all changed when the ball rolled and stopped at my feet. I kicked it back to the closest boy, who kicked it back to me. I glanced questioningly at a man who was nearby, my eyes asking if this was alright. He nodded, so I kicked the ball back. This led to a long game with the kids, which was a real breakthrough.
As the game ended, the man was still there, so I walked over to introduce myself. I reached out to shake his hand—something I’d done countless times at home—when all of a sudden he grabbed my wrist, lifted it aloft, and began shouting a native word, repeating it over and over again. Suddenly a swarm of men surrounded me as he brought down my arm and stretched it out for them to see.
There on the underside of my wrist was my cross tattoo, an act of devotion to take the Gospel to the uttermost parts of the earth. The cross is offensive, God says, and they were offended. They punched and kicked me, each blow rattling my body. They came from all sides; I had no defense. I must have passed out because next I was in a different place, on a barren hillside. My body ached all over and I could barely see out of my bulging, swollen eyes. Then someone offered me a cookie to eat, so I took it—I was so hungry—but as I drew it to my mouth, I smelled its contents, excrement, and I pulled away. But they made me eat it. My Word is like honey to your lips, God says.
Then a man grabbed my head and held it tightly as he squeezed my mouth open. The man I tried to befriend, the whistleblower, stepped forward with an iron fire poker, red hot with heat and hate, and plunged it into my mouth. They won’t hear unless someone preaches to them, God says. I passed out again. When I regained consciousness, I could see they had taken my shoes off, and then they pounded my feet with a hammer, pulverizing the bones into little pieces. How beautiful are the feet that bring good news, God says. I passed out a third time, the same number of days our LORD was dead. I awoke in a hospital bed, marked forever by the cross.
I can’t preach anymore; my mouth is far too damaged. I can’t travel anymore; my feet are far too gone. But I still have my hands, and should they be taken from me, I’ll still find a way. I will write His Answer.