The dark places are my favorite places.
The light shines brightest there. In the darkness and in the hopelessness.
A few weeks ago, I experienced what may have been one of my favorite times of ministry ever. We were in one of the darkest places in our city – at the local government hospital. Health care in this facility is overcrowded and underfunded. Old and broken-down facilities. People line the hallways in beds. The unconditioned air is heavy with the smell of sickness and the atmosphere dripping with fear.
It was night and we were on a mission. A group of young people gathered outside the hospital. In a circle, we began to worship. His presence was so real in that place of darkness. As the sound wafted through the night air and into the windows of the hospital, groups broke away to go to minister to people. They carried with them thermoses of hot milo and siopao (steamed pork bun) to give away. In this hospital, every patient must have someone with them 24/7. Called ‘watchers” they tend to the care of the patient. They too are in the overcrowded wards with a small plastic chair for the night if they are lucky. We wanted to minister to them as well as the sick.
The worship continued and atmosphere was changing. People began coming towards the sound of worship. Like moths drawn to the light. I looked around and saw little clumps of our youth ministering with people in different ways. Some approaching people with food. Some praying. Some just talking. Some worshipping.
Back under a tree in the shadows stood a man. He was staring as our young people worshipped. Carrying a hot bowl of champorado (chocolate rice porridge) I smiled and asked him how his day was. Immediately, he replied. “It’s not a good day”. Looking perplexed he nevertheless took the champorado from my hands. “My son has cancer. It’s been three weeks we have been here now. I heard the music and I came to see what it was.” He was in despair. His son only 18 years old and with little money for his treatment. We prayed with Him, encouraging Him with the faithfulness of God. His eyes filled with tears he said “Will you be here tomorrow night?” Oh my goodness, I wish. There is so much opportunity and such wide open doors. The harvest is so ripe. Jesus send labourers!
So many people were touched with His love that night. Many of our youth entered the hospital and prayed for patients. I managed to get past a guard also. Someone from our team had already given him a steaming bowl of champorado so maybe that helped! After being inside one of the wards and walking back outside, I was struck with an overwhelming joy that we get to bring His hope. The worship was playing. Our young people were shining in the darkness. Jesus was being glorified in that place! And we are going back!