Andy Hollifield 6-8-18
2 Samuel 23:16 And the three mighty men brake through the host of the Philistines, and drew water out of the well of Bethlehem, that was by the gate, and took it, and brought it to David: nevertheless he would not drink thereof, but poured it out before the Lord.
There are times in all of our lives when we want something that nothing else will do. I remember a time back in 1989 when I spent a week in Arizona that I found myself in that predicament. I wasn’t in a battle against enemies with my life on the line, but I was spending a week visiting a missionary.
I had met this particular missionary in a church in Madison county that I preached at occasionally. He gave a presentation of his work and mentioned that he would love to have anyone that wanted to, to come and visit. I was 24 and single and had vacation time coming so I thought “why not?” I figured it would be a good learning experience and a chance to add another state to the ones I had been in. Also, it was going to be my first time flying so I was pretty excited about the thoughts of that. As time went by before my trip, I prayed continually that the Lord would have his way in my life and show me without a doubt whether or not he wanted me to go there as a missionary. I even prayed and asked God how I should be praying. After all, Paul tells us in Romans 8:26 that “…We know not what we should pray for as we ought.” I was serious about doing the will of the Lord in my life whatever it might have been.
I arrived in Yuma that Saturday afternoon to about 71 degrees. Considering it was December and 32 degrees when I got on the plane in Charlotte, I was one happy camper. I called the missionary I was there to visit and he met me later that day wearing a windbreaker and apologized that I had come during a cold snap. He had me scheduled to preach four times between Sunday and Tuesday. I preached Sunday morning at his church and I believe Sunday night. On Monday I preached in someone’s home and on Tuesday I spoke to a group of kids at a community bible study. That was all of the church I had until I got back home the next week. I don’t remember even having Wednesday night service because a lot of the folks in that area were seasonal bean, date, or citrus pickers and were working the groves and ranches till dark.
The room I was in had no TV and the radio was my clock radio I had brought from home. The only time it had any reception was at night and it still wasn’t good. I was staying in a place called Dateland, Arizona. There was a gas station, the little rental rooms where I was staying, a greyhound bus stop, and a diner that operated mostly around the bus schedule. About three miles up the road on the right was a supermarket. That was what they called it. It was what we would have called a convenience store. Up the road about two more miles on the left was an elementary school. A couple miles past the school, the road made a 90 degree right turn and went straight for several miles. I know what it is to be on the backside of the desert.
I spent most of my time alone reading my bible and for entertainment I walked on the railroad tracks and watched the road runners. From Tuesday night through Saturday morning was one of the longest periods of my life. I would have gladly paid to change my ticket but it wasn’t possible. It was tempting to hitch hike and catch a ride with a trucker heading east. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the people I met but I had seen table tops that weren’t that flat. I am sorry for all the detail but I wanted to set the scene for you.
I was right about thinking it would be a learning experience. While on the way to one of the evening meetings, the missionary told me that if I ever got into prison ministry that I needed to use an NIV. He said a lot of prisoners couldn’t read very well and that was easier for them. I told him that I didn’t believe in using anything except KJV. That was one of the lessons that I probably couldn’t have learned any other way. When I had heard him giving his presentation, he read from a KJV. I accepted the fact that we weren’t going to agree on versions and neither of us had any animosity toward the other. I hadn’t even consider that he might use something else when he was at home. That was a real eye-opener to the ways of the world. Another thing I learned was that missionaries often have very little support. I made up my mind because of that trip, that if I ever pastored a church and we took on a missionary, we would try our best to give him plenty of support . This man and his wife were an elderly couple and were precious people and lived very modestly in a mobile home while putting a lot of their support into the ministry.
As I spent that week of solitude, I would have given almost anything to have been able to come on home. I called my pastor and it was like good news from a far country. I had spent months praying and asking God if he wanted me there to break my heart as I looked out the plane’s window as we lifted off. As we lifted and circled, I knew I had to look out the window. As I did, I waited for the tears but they never came so I leaned back in the seat, breathed a sigh of relief, and focused on thoughts of home. I couldn’t hardly wait to touch down in Charlotte that Sunday night. My brother and sister-in-law picked me up at the airport and I was never so glad to be cold in my life. I had spent most of a week just waiting for this moment when I would finally be heading home. I also couldn’t wait for Wednesday night prayer meeting to sing from the old red hymnal and hear my pastor cut loose under the anointing of the Holy Ghost one more time. There’s just nothing like it. There were a couple more things I learned from the whole experience. For one, I learned just how blessed I truly am. Secondly, just like David hiding in the cave longing to drink water from home, when home is on your mind; nothing else will do. Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!