In 2009 I took a group of young people to the United States to do a serve the poor area of the Red Hook District in New York City. That week we will be spreading God’s love to marginalized people in the poorest neighbourhood of Brooklyn, New York City. This neighborhood was famed for prostitution, crime, drugs and gangs. It was not going to be easy. We knew there would be several tests ahead, but little did we realize that our greatest test would happen even before we got to Brooklyn.
See one of our missionaries had forgotten to apply for a U.S Visa and being non Canadian she would be denied entry. When I challenged her about this, a couple days prior to the trip, she said she had prayed and knew God wanted her in New York City. So we proceeded to the border, and as we were being processed, they officer realized she didn’t have a Visa, and thus he sent everyone to the bus to wait, while, me (being the driver) and the young woman had to remain in the immigration area for further questioning.
And that’s when the miracle happened. The officer, and his supervisor made it clear that we were in violation of entrance requirements by law and would need to either turn around or leave this young woman at the border. This young woman however resisted and claimed God told her she would be in NYC. As you can imagine the officers thought she was crazy. We were kept waiting, again, for what seemed like forever. It seemed like they had forgotten about us. But this young woman began to cry out to God. That’s right, crying with tears, and also praying to God. I was feeling a bit embarrassed as she was making quite a scene. But she went further, she got on her knees, in the middle of Immigration and began to sing worship songs to God out loud. As she did, I realized that I had to be courageous as well, and so I joined her and together we prayed, praised and called upon the name of the Lord. Forty five minutes or an hour went by, when we were suddenly recalled, and the supervisor, said that he will radio a higher office to talk to his supervisor. He was certain nothing could be done for us.
During this time while we waiting, the officer we had first seen, said “Keep praying, I am not a religious person, but I have never seen it get this far before.” That’s when we got the news, she had been granted an emergency “One time Non Visa Waiver”, which meant once in a lifetime, under extreme conditions, the U.S. government at its discretion can grant any unqualified person access to their country. This kind of visa was meant for life and death situations, etc, but they were granting it to us. The Cost a mere $6 processing fee. As you can imagine, all of us left on our way rejoicing, for we realized that nothing can stand in God’s way, or halt his purposes.
When we read the book of Daniel, we see a few rabble rousers, challenging government, in a variety of ways, sometimes in subtle ways, and other times in extreme defiance. We may wonder what gave Daniel and his friends such courage to go the distance. I believe the key to these young men was their understanding of God’s purpose, and their desire to persevere in prayer.
When I think of my friend who stubbornly refused to back down from the New York City trip, I realized she believed that was her purpose. Likewise Daniel and his friends knew their purpose. Which was to be completely committed to Yahweh, the one true God, and in this commitment to be uncompromised. Thus we see them turning down worldly pleasures at every turn, as an indication of their focus to this purpose.
Knowing your purpose is paramount to achieving God’s plan in your life. What is that purpose then? It begins with a passionate and deep pursuit of God. See, I can broadly tell you that your purpose is to glorify God, but in actuality what does that mean for you? You will only truly know that by getting to know God. I believe that’s why Daniel indicated, that “those who know their God, will be strong and do great exploits”. Daniel 11:32.
As you continue to pursue him, regularly in devotions, spiritual disciplines, corporate worship, accountability and contribution to a church body, I believe he will reveal his plans and purposes for you.
The other key to Daniel and his friends, was their persistence in prayer. Prayer for them seemed more than just a devotional thing, it seems like it was the air they breathed. Daniel particularly is seen to pray for weeks on end. Indeed he seems to be the forerunner figure exemplifying the PUSH movement. (You remember the Prayer Until Something Happen bracelets, etc a few years ago). That’s right, Daniel just seemed to pray and pray and pray and pray, until things changed.
See if we are truly displeased with unjust laws that the government is placing over us as believers, then we can do something about it, but it begins with prayer. Laws, ordinances, regulations and decrees that limit God’s people or go against God’s purposes can be repealed, changed, or in the case of my friend exempted. If God has decreed it, then who can stand against it.
Be encouraged, God has called us to be Salt and light
- at work
- in the marketplace
- in the community
Don’t be afraid to stand for Jesus, and even if it means you may be disregarded, or rejected, trust God and his purposes for you, and you will see the hand of God move the impossible.
- Pastor Olu Jegede