In the Old Testament, there is an exciting story about Samaria suffering from famine because of a siege by the Syrian army. The situation had reached a hopeless stage. However, there were four lepers outside the city walls. They were living under the sentence of death from disease and famine. They decided to get up and go to the enemy camp and plead for mercy. As they walked toward the enemy camp, God made their steps sound like a mighty army, so the Syrians fled in a panic 2 Kings 7:6).
What the lepers did that day was incredibly bold. Most people would not have done what they did. Not one member of the Israelite army had ventured out to the enemy camp. They were all paralyzed with fear behind the walls of the city. Even though the army and the people behind the wall were doomed to die the horrible death of starvation, they did not reach the audacious conclusion the lepers had arrived at by themselves.
It’s that decision to try that I applaud. Did the lepers know they would be successful? Did they have certainty of not being harmed? Did they have the assurance they would be better off? Absolutely not! They did, however, know they had to try—yes, and that is what they did.
The lepers found food, gold, clothes, and everything else they shared with the starving city. God did a fantastic thing, but it involved that step of faith by the lepers.
A few years ago, I returned to revisit the city of Corrientes, Argentina, where we spent four years. I was reminded of a beautiful testimony to God’s power and mercy while I was there. During our last year in that city, we began a tent crusade on a piece of property that belonged to the province. We had permission to use the property for three months, but I asked for another three months’ extension, the answer was an emphatic “No.” I kept returning, hoping that in the end, persistence would pay off. However, I was finally told not to return anymore and that the tent must come down on the expiring date.
The newly formed group of believers began to pray with us that God would open up a way to keep the tent up. Not long after that, I received a call from the United States Embassy in Buenos Aires. They informed me that an 82-member orchestra from Long Island, New York, would tour several South American countries. They had a cancelation in Brazil and would like to come to Corrientes, so they asked me if I would help. They informed me that they would set a meeting up with the governor, and he, in turn, would assign the minister of culture to work with me. I accepted the offer, and soon I was appearing with the minister of culture on the radio and doing promos for TV.
At times I wondered what this orchestra had to do with my work, but somehow I felt it was connected. It took a few weeks to arrange everything. The minister of culture told me he appreciated everything I had done to help make this event possible for the people of Corrientes. He was excited about the orchestra. He also mentioned that if there was ever anything he could do to help me in my work, just let him know. So I took advantage of the opportunity to tell him that my lease for the tent campaign would expire in a few days, and I had not been able to renew it. He said, “Isn’t it ironic that I am going fishing tomorrow with the chief executive of the provincial housing department. He is my friend. I am on my way there now. Please come with me, and I will introduce you to him.” We went to the same building that I knew so well. However, this time we went to the top floor. We were shown into the spacious office of the president of this agency. The minister introduced me and explained my situation, and asked if there was anything that could be done to alleviate the problem? Without consulting anyone else, he said: “Of course we can help. I will give you an extension for as long as you like.” He signed the papers, and I was on my way. As I was getting off the elevator, I met the man who had informed me not to return. My appearance irritated him, so he demanded to know why I had returned. I chose not to speak to him; I decided to show him the signature. His reaction was priceless! God had arranged every detail right down to this last encounter.
We kept the tent up, and many more people came to know Jesus during the crusade. The orchestra arrived on schedule, and I even had the opportunity to share my testimony with them before they left. We moved from the tent to a piece of property where we constructed a building for this congregation to call its home. God made our steps be heard thousands of miles away in New York and he arranged everything so we could stay on that spot.