THIRTY FEET BELOW PART II Kay Keith Peebles

Kay K. Peebles

I was so nauseated I did not know whether to get on my next flight or go home.  It was my first mission trip.  A few months earlier my cousin from Texas had called and invited me to join their family and church group on a mission trip to Honduras.  My heart leapt inside me as I thought about going with them.  I was not sure my husband would approve of my going out of the country, and there was the cost of the trip.  I laid those issues before the Lord and the answer was yes!  (Please read Thirty Feet Below Part I in the archives if you have not already done so, to understand the reference to it in this writing.)

Packing the last articles in my bags, I felt an excitement inside me.  It seemed as if I was on the edge of destiny.  The apprehension of traveling overseas, to an unknown country, was swallowed up in the joy I felt about participating in the Lord’s Great commission, in Mark Chapter 16.  The first leg of my trip originated in Tampa with a change of planes in Miami.  I was to continue from Miami to Houston where I would meet with the team.  We would then fly on to San Pedro Sula, Honduras.

Soon after my flight to Miami took off, I began to feel very nauseated and sickly.  The flight attendant gave me a cloth napkin with some ice to cool my forehead.  I started to pray.  I knew it could not be fear or anxiety because I was thrilled to go.  I wondered if the symptoms were from a virus and I was concerned about the possibility of infecting the team.  The plane finally landed and I had to decide whether to go home or continue on.  I felt the Lord was compelling me to go so in faith, I stepped onto the plane to Houston, found my seat and continued icing my forehead.  The moment that plane took off, the nausea instantly left!  I realized it was the enemy (devil) trying to keep me from my destiny.  It was then I understood he could put false symptoms on people to prevent them from fulfilling God’s will in their lives.  I then felt a strong sense of God’s blessing and protection which stayed with me the entire trip.

The week in Honduras was filled with many memorable events, but the most impactful for me personally, was going to a Honduran prison.  The prison ministry excursion was voluntary.  Nine from our team of fifteen chose to go.  The group included five women and four men.  Our leader drove us an hour and forty-five minutes out of San Pedro Sula.  We travelled from the busy city to outlying highways, then onto dirt roads, passing farmlands with acres of pineapple plantations.  The air was pleasant as the sweet aroma of fresh pineapple enticed our sense of smell.  

We created a dust cloud behind our bus as we journeyed down a road that appeared to go nowhere.  The road finally ended at the base of a small mountain, next to a dated one-story cement block building in need of paint.  It was surrounded by a tall metal fence which was wrapped in razor wire at the top.  A large rusty wrought iron gate stood to deter visitors from going forward.  The scene was menacing and foreboding.  Several guards standing by the fence held long rifles as if they were prepared to use them. They stared at us with serious and intimidating facial expressions.  Their shirts were unbuttoned because of the oppressive heat adding to our discomfort, and planting a seed of doubt in our reason for coming.  The climate was thick, having a temperature in the mid 90’s and the humidity was extremely high due to its coastal location.  The mountain blocked any breeze from cooling the prison complex and the lack of shade trees emphasized the unrelenting heat.  My mind momentarily recalled an old western movie I had seen years before, which made me chuckle at the similarity of this scenario.  I quickly returned to a sobering thought which caused me to question my judgement in coming, but it only lasted for a brief moment.

The local missionary Paul, who sponsored our team, handed one of the officers at the gate a piece of paper which confirmed our invitation to enter the prison and do a worship service.  The head prison guard was summoned for final approval.  He quickly nodded and ordered the gate to be opened.  We entered the building which housed a few small offices and quickly passed through the entrance to the prison yard.  Grey unpainted cinder block cubicles were surrounded by a latrine which ran through the entire property, wafting a pungent odor that was as oppressive as the heat.  Sidewalks led us to the rooms that were no more than 8X10 feet in size.  Each room had a set of metal bunk beds with a thin mattress and a sink.  There were no doors or bars on the rooms.  The prisoners congregated all over the grounds as we walked through but we had an armed escort, and armed guards were stationed throughout the complex. 

Our escort led us to a large rectangular room that was walled on three sides, with a large opening on one of the long walls.  The walls inside the room were a dingy grey and there was the obvious absence of pictures or decorations.  It was filled with at least fifty men, young and old, making it difficult to navigate to the other side.  A handful were Americans; all were imprisoned for various reasons.  It was clear they were paying an exorbitant price for their crimes.  The heat was almost unbearable and their sunken eyes were filled with hopelessness.  It felt as if we had stepped into the bowels of hell.  We had to weave our way through the crowd and it was then I sensed fear and vulnerability.  The Lord quickly gave me a peace that we would be alright.  Our team of nine lined up at the back wall and all 50 prisoners were standing between us and the exit.  That day I personally experienced God’s peace surpassing all understanding. 

I had been asked to share something that morning.   I wondered what I, a middle aged American white woman, would share that could possibly relate to their situation.  The Lord quickly told me they needed hope and I had several testimonies of the Lord intervening in hopeless situations in my life.  My sharing was brief but as I looked into their eyes, I felt my testimony had made a connection with many of the men.  The Gospel transcends time and space, gender and culture.  Others shared and then our leader began to preach a powerful word from the Lord.  He gave several altar calls that morning, one for salvation, another for backsliders and a third to receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.  The power of God came into that room and most of those hopeless, forgotten men had encountered their forgiving, gracious and loving Lord.  Many were speaking in their new heavenly language with hands raised and we were urged to wander through the crowd praying and laying hands on them as we left the room.  It was an honor to pray for those men, forgotten and seemingly lost, but remembered by our loving Lord.

God moved in that place of darkness and hopelessness.  He protected all of us in a dangerous setting so that we could bring hope and encouragement to them.  We were honored and respected by them for coming, and God honored our faith and obedience by touching those men.  It is a memory forever carved on my heart.

Since that incredible mission trip I have discovered that fear is the greatest enemy of our destiny.  Fear can manifest in many ways.  Insecurity, fear of the unknown, concerns for safety, and inadequacy are several fears that can squelch the call of God in our lives.  When the voice of fear is greater than our faith in God’s protection, we can be stopped in our tracks, unable to move forward.  I was afraid to talk about the Lord with people and had a fear of flying for many years.  I felt so insecure and inadequate that I did not believe the Lord would use me to touch others.  Over the years, He has delivered me from those fears and proven Himself to me.  The Lord specifically chooses us because we are inadequate so that He will be all sufficient!  He doesn’t use those who are secure in their own abilities; He picks those who depend upon Him.  It doesn’t matter when we are called to do something, or go somewhere that is unknown to us, because He has already gone before us to make the way.

It is not about us having our own faith or strength, it is totally about our having faith in Him and trusting in His power to flow through us.  We don’t have to speak eloquently, we only need to deliver the word He gives us.  When we realize we are simply a conduit through which His Spirit flows, then we remove ourselves from the consideration and merely let Him work through us to touch others.  Our works become simply hearing and obeying.

How do we get to the place of simply hearing and obeying?  We make knowing Him our priority, and pursuing Him our reality.  He reveals Himself through His Word:  both the Old and New Testaments.  He also reveals Himself through His Holy Spirit, who is our paraclete-the one who walks beside us teaching us about Him and His ways.  Learning to flow in the Holy Spirit is as easy as prayer.  The Bible says we can pray in the natural and pray by the Holy Spirit of God.  Ephesians 6:18 instructs us, “With all prayer and petition pray [with specific requests] at all times [on every occasion and in every season] in the Spirit, and with this in view, stay alert with all perseverance and petition [interceding in prayer] for all God’s people.”

The Holy Spirit’s role in everything we do is critical.  The promises of God are centered on our motivations and actions being in agreement with the Lord’s will.  If we are not Spirit-led, then we are not led by God at all.  He sent us His Holy Spirit to teach us, guide us and to pray through us.  Everything we do for His Kingdom is based upon the Holy Spirit’s direction and guidance.  Our success is based solely upon how surrendered we become to the leading of the Holy Spirit.  The Lord speaks to all His children, but only those who hear His voice are able to walk in obedience.  His voice can be as subtle as a gentle breeze but those who are attentive to His quietness will hear His instruction and obey even without questioning.  When we live and move in Him, and when we have our being in Him, He becomes such a part of us there is no longer a separation.  We become infused or enmeshed in what He is doing and flow effortlessly with His leading.

His heart becomes our heart.  What is on His mind is on ours.  Those for whom He is concerned, become our concern.  We are no longer pulled by the world and its many distractions.  Instead, our focus becomes what He is directing us to do.  Our comfort is not the center of His will.  Our willingness to go beyond our place of comfort, to stretch beyond our safety and convenience is what He is calling us to do.  One of my favorite songs is Oceans by Hillsong United.  It cries out to the Lord to take the believer into the deep waters where their safety is only in Him.  It beckons the Lord to stretch one’s faith to walk on unknown paths and to trust in Him in unsafe waters.

 “You call me out upon the waters, the great unknown, where feet may fail, and there I find you in the mystery, in oceans deep, my faith will stand.  I will call upon Your name and keep my eyes above the waves.  When oceans rise my soul will rest in Your embrace for I am Yours and You are mine.  Spirit lead me where my faith is without borders, let me walk upon the waters, wherever you may call me.  Take me deeper than my feet have ever wandered, and my faith will be made stronger in the presence of my Savior.”

Those who are willing to dive in the oceans of the Lord to go “Thirty Feet Below” to reach those whom the Lord desires to touch and heal, will find complete satisfaction and fulfillment.  We will never experience the thrill of truly entering into our Father’s joy without taking risks and reaching beyond what we know, to delve into the unknown with Him.  The Bible proclaims, “Greater love hath no man that this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”  If you want to know what the Lord is doing in the earth today, allow Him to take you thirty feet below!

 

Thoughts on Leadership, Part 5 Larry W Peebles

Thoughts on Leadership, Part 5   by   Larry W Peebles   July 14, 2017   17.26

We did not know what to think.  We were very interested in the home, but the seller did not bother to respond to our offer.  I felt insulted.  Our local housing market had begun to warm.  Sales activity was increasing, and prices had started to rise.  My wife and I had prayed about moving out of our existing home of 16 years into something a little larger.  This was a desire to move out of a declining neighborhood into one with a fresh appeal and less crime, although there would be a God-purpose in this move we would not understand until years later.  I had just gotten a promotion and a raise at work, so the timing seemed right.  One day as I was praying about how to begin the search, I felt the Lord said to start by looking in the local newspaper.  It was there we found what seemed to be the ideal home.  When we actually visited the home for the first time, it had everything we had put on our wish list, and a few things extra.  The price was on the high end of our range, but was manageable.

The listing realtor did not return our call, so we enlisted the services of our own realtor to represent us.  He made arrangements to show us the home.  There was no doubt on our part when we saw it.  This was the home we wanted.  The home was priced at the leading edge of a new wave of increase, which made me want to test the price against the resolve of the seller.  Our initial offer was so low the seller did not bother to respond with a counter offer.  As a career builder and real estate developer, I had negotiated countless contracts to purchase properties.  I considered myself a skilled businessman in the art of making the deal.  I had never made a written offer that was totally ignored.  I did not know my next move, except to go back to the prayer closet.

It was in prayer that I received the answer.  I learned that I had shown no respect for the seller with my low offer.  I came to clearly understand that I would need to offer something much closer to his asking price to elicit a response.  The Lord asked me if the other man had to lose in order for me to win the negotiation.  God asked if I believed that He had enough to make it possible for both sides to win.  Was it possible that the price could represent a win for the seller and the buyer?  Did the Creator of the universe have enough to go around so that both sides could walk away satisfied?

After I shared this with my wife, we took a more humble approach, and signed a higher, and much more respectable offer.  At that point the seller met us half-way, and a deal was made.  The Lord blessed us with the home of our dreams.  He also blessed us with a quick sale of our existing home for considerably more money than we had anticipated, so we were able to close and move in rather quickly.  Years later, when the national economy was hit with the Great Recession, a family member lost their job and home, and had to move in with us.  At that point we knew why God had directed us to the larger home.  What might have been considered excess space when we bought the home became very necessary space.  If I held any reservation about the price we paid for the home, it was washed away with gratitude for the space in the home God had given us.  There was room to come together for meals and family time, yet space to be apart for private time and thought, a necessity in a two-family arrangement that lasted for 14 months.

The word “respect” (noun) means “a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements.”  Synonyms are esteem, regard, admiration, reverence, deference, and honor.  The lesson I learned about respect would serve me well during the time of the housing market expansion.  As the leader of a local division of a national home building company, I had to strike while the iron was hot in order to rapidly take advantage of the growing market opportunity.  Success would come to the builder best able to meet the growing demand for homes.  Over the next three to four years I would need to buy more land and developed lots on which to build homes than I had ever bought in my career.

Land owners and developers were to be viewed as partners, not as adversaries.  It was not necessary to beat them on the issue of price in order to win.  A fair price meant both could win.  I would pray, and the Lord would lead me to another successful deal.  We were able to not only grow our business to meet the increasing demand, but we were able to double our share of the available market.

A fair deal is defined as one where both sides are in favor of the terms.  Neither side has an advantage over the other side which forces one party to accept the terms.  Each side has a certain respect for the other, a duty if you will, to be sure the agreement works for both.  If the deal is so one-sided one party simply cannot perform, neither side wins, and there will be no future dealings.

God is most interested in how we treat others, and that our dealings are fair and honest.  As leaders, we must convey that interest.  We are all His children, and He is clear on how we are to respect and relate to one another in our dealings.  Consider these Scriptures on fair dealings and respect for others:

  1. Matthew 22:37-39- “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like it, Love your neighbor as yourself.  On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”  We are not only to respect others, we are to love them.
  2. Matthew 7:12- “So in everything, do unto others what you would have them do unto you, for this sums up [is the essence of] the Law and the Prophets.” [Insert mine.] The so-called Golden Rule says that if we want respect, we must treat others with respect.
  3. Galatians 6:7- “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap.” Planting respect yields a harvest of respect.
  4. Romans 12:10- “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.”  Rather than compete with one another to gain an unfair advantage, compete in showing the most honor toward the other.
  5. Romans 13:7- “Give to everyone what you owe them: if you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.”
  6. Deuteronomy 25:15- “You must have accurate and honest weights and measures, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” Honest and fair dealings are a key to a long and prosperous life.
  7. Leviticus 19:15- “Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly.” Both the poor and the great deserve the respect that comes with just and fair treatment.
  8. Philippians 2:3- “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”
  9. Titus 2:7- “Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity.”
  10. Leviticus 19:32- “You shall stand up before the gray head and honor the face of an old man, and you shall fear your God: I am the Lord.” Our Western society would do well to focus on regaining its respect for the elderly.
  11. Luke 14:10- “But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you ‘Friend, move up higher.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at the table with you.”  Out of respect for others, do not promote yourself.  Let God promote you.
  12. 1 Peter 5:5- “Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’”

There are many more such Scriptures, to be sure, but these provide a definite conclusion.  We are to treat and respect others above ourselves.  We are to deal fairly and honestly with others, out of respect for their situation, experience, and wisdom.  God will repay our integrity; we do not need to take unfair advantage of others.  God will reward and promote our honesty; He puts all leaders and authority into their position.  Whatever we gain does not have to come at the expense of another, as God can and will provide the increase.  These are true traits of a leader.

THIRTY FEET BELOW Kay Keith Peebles

Kay K. Peebles

They were eating, drinking and partying, totally oblivious to what was thirty feet below them.  We were in San Salvador helping a ministry that feeds the homeless.  It houses drug addicted teens, nursing them to wholeness, and rescues victims of sex trafficking.  The ignored and forgotten are healed by the love of God.  The hopeless are liberated and restored to life in Jesus’ name.

Thursday morning several of us painted two rooms at the ministry while others in our group installed a clean water filtration system in their kitchen.  Local volunteers made beautiful greeting cards with bright colored paper strips they coiled and formed into flowers, leaves, stems, hearts and many other decorative shapes.  After lunch three of us prepped vegetables to accompany the evening meal while others of our team received the fifty clients that would be served that evening.  Showers were available as well as free haircuts.  Games like dominoes, checkers, puzzles and cards were scattered among the tables for visitors to entertain themselves while waiting for the devotional and hot meal.  Our team played games with them, prayed for them or simply conversed with them.  The mission statement of Mission to El Salvador is to treat all with Respect, Honor and Dignity.

The clients were fed by 4:30 p.m. and we had cleaned up by 5 p.m. and headed to our quarters to have our own dinner.  We were again picked up at 8 p.m. to return back to the inner city ministry to pack meals for the homeless living on the streets.  Unaware of what was to come, our team piled into the bed of a truck which was lined with benches for seating.  There was a thick metal railing attached above the edge of the truck bed that gave us something to grip to steady the ride.  Cases of orange and grape beverages were placed beneath the benches behind our legs for easy access.  The center of the truck bed held a large white cooler.  It was filled with three hundred and fifty foil packages each containing three pieces of Canadian bacon or pepperoni pizza which had been donated by a local restaurant.  It would probably be the only meal those people would have that day unless they found a trash receptacle behind a restaurant in which they could scavenge.

We had packed meals until the sunlight faded into darkness, which veiled a lonely subculture that was almost invisible.   We could not have found the people of the streets in the daytime.  They only come out in the dark of night because it obscures their existence.  Our leader gave a shout as the truck came to a stop.  The lights of the truck, which makes its rounds every Thursday night, summoned them to come out.  It also illuminated those otherwise hidden.  Men, women, children and even babies slept concealed in crevices between buildings, in delivery docking areas or underneath overhangs which protect the cement sidewalks from rain.  Some had blankets worn thin by long nights exposed to rough cement beds and evening storms.  Others had confiscated cardboard boxes to pad the unforgiving surfaces where they slept.  We drove by parks, stadiums, beautiful public buildings and churches to find them.  Every few blocks the truck would stop, the call came forth alerting them food had come, and clusters of people would step into the light and line up behind the truck so that we could hand them their only meal that day.

The ministry leader called many of them by name, asked them how they were doing and invited them to come to the ministry for help.  It was only six blocks away.  The streets of the city looked like nothing we had seen in the states.  Walls were trashed with gang graffiti, sidewalks filled with trash and temporary barricades lined the streets.  Worn paint exposed the depressed and hopeless culture while majestic public buildings stood like citadels contrasting the devastation of everyday life.  It looked like a war zone and it was.  Good and evil, haves and have nots, rich and poor were separated by only a few feet.

We rounded a corner and the sound of music grabbed my attention.  It was emanating from the roof of a three-story building.  I saw a large restaurant on the top floor, with open air tables.  It was decorated with strings of bright lights and the tables were filled with people eating, drinking and partying.  The music was up-beat and the atmosphere was filled with laughter.  They seemed totally oblivious to what existed thirty feet below them.  The truck stopped directly beneath them on the right side of the road and children were the first to line up behind the truck.  Boys 8, 10 and 12 years old stretched out their arms, smiled as they received their meal and thanked us for coming.  Women with young children, fathers, laborers and drunks came forward and then recessed back into their dark world.  Some had matted hair and stared with glazed eyes delirious from drug abuse.  Still others seemed even joyful that someone cared and acknowledged their need.  At one stop, three or four women in stiletto heels and thick make-up approached the truck for food.  Their living was made on the streets but they were not condemned or judged, they were told “God bless you”.  Two men hurried to pick up an old man unable to walk by himself.  They carried him to the back of the truck so that he could also eat that night.

Immediately, I was gripped by the contrast of those reveling above and these destitute, hungry and hopeless below.  It was an “in your face” moment exposing the clash of classes that exists.  They were partying and seemed unaware and unconcerned of what lay thirty feet below.  A scripture came to mind and haunted me the rest of the night.  Matthew 24:37-44 “As were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.  For just as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, [men] marrying and [women] being given in marriage, until the [very] day when Noah went into the ark, and they did not know or understand until the flood came and swept them all away—so will be the coming of the Son of Man…Watch therefore [give strict attention, be cautious and active], for you do not know in what kind of a day [whether a near or remote one] your Lord is coming…You also must be ready therefore, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not expect Him.”

Suddenly, much too quickly, hands reached into the cooler and came up empty.  They reached down again swiping the insides of the cooler hoping to find another meal or two but there was nothing left in the cooler.  Three hundred and fifty meals had been handed out but there were still people in line and more around the next corner.  A sadness gripped each of us as we realized the need was greater than the food we had at the time.  Stunned, tearful and silent we drove back to the ministry and then home to our quarters to contemplate what we had experienced.

It didn’t have to be San Salvador.  It could have been Calcutta or Nairobi, Buenos Aires or Cape Town, Tokyo or Jakarta or any major city in the U.S.  Injustice can be found in every nation and every city.  The most vulnerable are the least safe.  Whether it’s threatening young boys with death if they don’t join the gangs or abducting the young girls as sex slaves or drug kingpin wives, the innocent live in constant danger.  There is no amount of money that will solve the problem and no laws will prevent it from happening.  Governments are totally ineffective and simply meeting the needs of hunger and shelter are not the full answer.  It is the Gospel of Jesus Christ that saves, heals and delivers.  It is a change of direction, a shift of mindset, an eternal hope in the intervention of God Almighty that transforms lives.

Jesus commissioned His disciples to go into all the world and preach the Gospel of the Kingdom.  The Kingdom of God is not poverty and lack, it is abundance.  The Kingdom of God is not sickness and disease, it is health and healing.  The Kingdom of God is not addiction and fear, it is deliverance and freedom.  The Kingdom of God is not immorality and perversion, it is wholeness and hope.  Jesus commanded His disciples to begin preaching the Gospel in Jerusalem, then Judea and the uttermost parts of the earth.  One might say, “But I can’t preach”.  We can all be witnesses to what the Lord has done in our lives.  We may not be able to go overseas but we can send someone who can.  We may not have the strength to serve those in need but we can pray!  What we cannot do is sit back and expect others to do for us what God has called us to do.  We cannot be those people eating, drinking and partying above the problem, oblivious to the needs in their own neighborhood.  We cannot say because we do not see what’s happening it is not our responsibility to get involved.  We cannot continue to let the innocent be victimized and destroyed by our inaction.  Everyone can do something.

James, the half-brother of Jesus made it very clear when he wrote, faith without works is dead.  James 2:17-20 declares, “So also faith, if it does not have works (deeds and actions of obedience to back it up), by itself is destitute of power (inoperative, dead).  But someone will say [to you then], You [say you] have [good] works.  Now you show me your [alleged] faith apart from any [good] works [if you can], and I by [good works of obedience] will show your my faith…faith apart from [good] works is inactive and ineffective and worthless.”

We have a friend who is an Apostle that goes to the nations and raises up churches.  He planted his family in Costa Rica and preached there until the church was established and the people continued the work.  He then moved on to the Amazon region, Cuba and so on.  He once said to me, “Find a need and meet it.  That is the ministry of Christ.”  The world is in desperate need of the Gospel of the Kingdom.  People everywhere need hope, consolation, forgiveness of sins and eternal life.

My challenge in this word is to encourage all to discover their mission field.  We must pray for the Holy Spirit to show us where we can be effective in changing people’s lives eternally.  Simply giving donations of clothing or money to ministries does not involve risk or personal involvement.  The Lord is calling us to get personally involved in the lives of others.  There are opportunities right now in our “Jerusalem”.  There are needs on the streets of our city.  There are hopeless people crying out for help in neighborhoods around us all.  The question is, will we help those who are meeting those needs?  Will we pray regularly for those living in darkness that they might see the light?  Are we willing to love the unlovable, help the needy, and get involved by going down where the people are, thirty feet below?