Everywhere we went the local people asked us to pray for them, especially for healing.
By Dave Smith
I was 18. I had just left everything I’d known and left my home to do a Discipleship Training School with the international organization Youth With A Mission. As part of the school we had a two-month-long cross-cultural outreach in the Pacific Islands. My team of eleven young women and three guys went to the small island nation of Vanuatu. Although it was a beautiful, picturesque group of islands, it was mired in poverty.
Everywhere we went the local people asked us to pray for them, especially for healing. This was a problem for me. I’d grown up in a conservative denomination, and while I believed healing existed, I was sure I couldn’t do it. One night in a small, palm frond–covered church the locals once again asked us to pray for healing. The women on the team were super enthusiastic. They began to pray, and witnessed God start to bring healing. What was my response? I hid behind the young women, trying not to make contact with anyone. However, a man with a severe arm deformity found me and through the interpreter asked me to pray for him. Full of anxiety, I did the only thing I could think of. I thought of all the televangelists I had seen and shouted, “In the name of Jesus, be healed!” I opened my eyes to see that nothing had changed with this man’s arm. Feeling defeated and weak, I went back to the village where we were staying and had a restless night.
The following morning we learned that the same church wanted us to visit again. Everything inside me was praying, “Please don’t let that man come back again! I’ll be humiliated.” Of course, he came! He saw me right away. With a huge smile on his face, he made a beeline for me. He was speaking frantically in the Bislama language, shaking my hand vigorously. Then he turned away and left. I was dumbfounded. Our interpreter then came over and excitedly said, “Did he tell you?”
“I think so, but I don’t speak Bislama,” I answered.
Responding to my confusion, she began to tell me a story that would shape the rest of my life. That man that I had prayed for went back to his house that night. During his sleep he had a dream that I was praying for him again, but this time God was there as well. When he woke up, his arm was completely healed. He could once again hug his family properly. He could work to provide for his family again. He could lift both arms in adoration of his Father.
In my weakness and unbelief I had completely missed the fact that the hand he had used to shake mine was the one that previously had been deformed. God in his goodness and graciousness healed this man’s arm and etched in my heart the beauty of my weakness.
God knows we don’t have what it takes. What he asks is for a heart after His own and a raised hand that’s willing to go. Since that time, I’ve seen God heal others through me, but I’ve known that it’s not about me having what it takes to do a miracle. It’s about being willing to go to those who need one.
This article is from the book Evolving Missions: 24 Voices Reflecting on Missions Today. This book is a collection of 31 articles which show the diversity of modern missions and ways in which we can all be involved today. For more information or to purchase a copy, click here.
About Dave Smith
Dave has served as a missionary in the South Pacific and Asia for nearly 10 years. During this time he’s shared the love of Jesus in Australia, New Zealand, Vanuatu, Fiji, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, South Korea, Japan, Germany, and Mexico. David’s passion is to lead intimate worship like his biblical namesake and to teach others about the love God has for each one of us. He lives with his wife, Alissa, and their three children in Tauranga, New Zealand. More about the Smith family here.