As a traveling preacher, I always take time to go around to see places and enjoy God’s creation. So far I have visited more than 70 nations. I know preachers who go from airport to hotel, to church and back without seeing anything of the country or the state they go to, but that is not my story. Taking time off, meeting new people inside and outside the church and keeping my program for adventure keeps me original and fresh, on fire but not burned out. I have been doing this since I started fulltime ministry in 1996.
This year I have been two times in the Amazon Jungle in Ecuador to preach the gospel. First time I went with a group of pastors, and as I checked into my hotel, I decided to go fishing. It turned out that the owner of the hotel had a brother who was an expert in jungle trips. We spent the afternoon fishing, and his wife cooked the fish for us in the evening. This was before the crusade, and I was overwhelmed with joy when I saw the tour guide at the meeting, standing in front of the platform, giving his life to Christ later at the crusade!
The second time, I went with my youngest son, a Danish pastor and a ministry friend from Texas. We came two days before the meetings so we could have time for adventure. The tour guide picked us up in the airport, and we spend the first day in the jungle with him, visiting remote villages, fishing, eating fresh fish, swimming in waterfalls and river rafting on the Postaza River. While we were doing this, another tour guide ended up giving his life to Christ! This was priceless, such a blessing, both for me and for the team.
The next day, a lawyer whom I had met on my first trip came to see us. He was flying in a little two-seater ultralight plane together with another new missionary friend of mine. They flew us into the deep jungle to visit and to preach to the villagers. I used to fly my own plane years ago, so they allowed me to fly on the way back and land the plane. How cool was that! I felt so rich, knowing that we could not have paid that day with money, this was the blessings of God!
The crusade in Puyo was powerful. We had heavy rain because of the season, but still, 3-500 people showed up during the evening meetings. I was interviewed by radio and television, we ran a Facebook campaign to advertise for the event, and many people got saved, healed, filled with the Holy Spirit and set free. For me this is the ultimate adventure, nothing thrills me more than witnessing God touching peoples lives.
After the meetings I went with my son and the lawyer across the Andes, which are the biggest chain of mountains in South America. We were riding motorcycles, and the lawyer followed in his pickup truck as a backup in case something should happen. At one point I could not see the car in front of me because we were driving so high in the mountains, actually, we were driving through the clouds, through heavy rain showers, for 10 hours till we finally made it to a hotel surrounded by natural hot volcanic baths. We were frozen to the bone so we stayed in those hot baths for a long time!
Next day we started the descend to Esmeraldas on Ecuador’s Pacific Coast, I found out that the lawyers family own an apartment there right next to the beach. It was dark when we arrived, we were so tired, but waking up early the next morning was worth the drive. The ocean with its big waves was speaking to us about Gods greatness. “Let’s go fishing”, I said, and right there at the table in the breakfast restaurant, we found a young guy who knew a fisherman who would take us out on the ocean. Within a few minutes, we were sitting in his boat, miles off the coast with lines and hooks and bait catching lots of fish. God must have been smiling to us because the fish kept biting and biting.
On the way back I asked the fisherman if he knew how to grill the fish. We made a fire on the beach, and I invited him and his whole family to come and join the party. He had seven children and no wife, was poor and sweet and hardworking and that night was again priceless around the fire with the wonderful man and his children and friends. As we were eating, my lawyer friend started telling his testimony of how Jesus had grabbed him when he was at his lowest. We were all touched, and late that night around the fire the fishermen and their children gave their lives to Christ. Some of them got baptized in the Holy Spirit right there on the beach and spoke in new tongues.
That night we walked back to the apartment on the beach with the big waves rolling in, thanking God for his goodness and kindness. Tired and satisfied we returned to the airport the next day, meeting up with the rest of the team who had been preaching in different churches. We boarded the plane at midnight, and landed at 5 o’clock in the morning, picking up a rental car that brought us back home, just in time for my son’s wedding the following day.
Some people think that Christians are boring and that all they do is pray and go to church. I must say that is such a wrong presumption. My life is never boring. Life with Christ is a blast.