As soon as the travel restriction I had inhibited from the Army expired, I was itching to go overseas. Though I loved the fruit I was seeing at the shelters in Los Angeles, I longed to share the Gospel with people who had never heard it before. By that time, I had been certified as a medic and had also taken a tropical medicine course offered through YWAM. When the director of the course announced that YWAM was opening a clinic in the Philippines, I jumped at the chance to go. I sold my Honda and guitar, bought a one-way ticket to Manila and arrived with about two cents in my pocket.
Moving to the Philippines was an all-or-nothing venture for me. Though clearly I did not worry too much about being financially or culturally prepared, I did prepare myself for the big thing - death. I had heard all about the "ugly Americans" who were hated overseas. I naively thought that as soon as we got off the plane and the Filipinos realized we were Americans, they might kill us, so my plan was to lead as many people to the Lord in the airport as I could before I entered the country. I know that sounds silly now, but that is what I thought back then. It was a wonderful surprise to learn that the Filipinos loved Americans. But it was also good that I had prepared my heart and mind for difficulties from the beginning, because in such impoverished unstable countries, death tends to camp at one's doorstep.
This season of my life reminds me of a poem written by Christopher Logue:
Come to the edge.
We might fall.
Come to the edge.
It's too high!
COME TO THE EDGE!
And they came
And he pushed
And they flew!
In the six years I lived in the Philippines, "I came to the edge" again and again as I confronted death, disease, pain and loss as I never had before. And yet over and over, I found that the edge was exactly the point where Christ would begin to show His strength and love to me in unprecedented ways and lead me into the realm of the impossible. Along the way, I was forced to shed many of my ideas about Christianity, realizing that they were largely a mixture of spiritual philosophies, theories and religious American culture. But in their place, I began to discover the active, incarnate Gospel that transcends time, space, culture, economic status, gender and age, and the One at the center of that Gospel, who leads us out of theory into reality itself.
Excerpt from Outrageous Courage
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