“Joseph is a fruitful vine, a fruitful vine near a spring, whose branches climb over a wall. With bitterness archers attacked him; they shot at him with hostility. But his bow remained steady, his strong arms stayed limber, because of the hand of the Mighty One of Jacob, because of the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel, because of your father’s God, who helps you, because of the Almighty who blesses you…” Genesis 49:22-25 (NIV)
CAUTION: The story you are about to read now, is very accurate, and is vividly being relayed to my memory right this moment by the Holy Spirit (Even down to the clothes I was wearing on the day of departure.) I do not keep notes or diaries: they are cumbersome and unnecessarily incriminating. Besides if I needed notes or a journal for this story, I would have none because every thing that was in the mentioned Upper-East side apartment is gone. Everything from custom-made furnitures to pictures, to awards are gone (That could also be credited to Jezebel’s account). Therefore, I am eternally grateful to God the Creator for my notoriously and impeccably ‘Photographic Memory’. Enjoy and be blessed…
I did one last walk through my Upper-East Side apartment; as I gave my guest a list of ’emergency’ phone numbers. They had just come in from Africa, so it was wise to make sure they had back-up should a situation arise that they did not understand or know what to do with. My building Superintendent was already waiting at the lobby downstairs, beaming with a smile and the utmost respect as he reached out to help us with the luggage. He had already called a cab he quickly informed me. There was no need to be late for anything this beautiful Sunday morning he had quipped. Ever since he found out I was preparing for a church-led mission trip to the ‘former Soviet Union’, he had been besides himself. Having originally hailed from the Eastern European country of Sarajevo himself, he felt it was noble for one to leave the comfort of the United States and pay their way to go that far off to help out. He even came with me to church one time, as he claimed I was a peculiar but great tenant. “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people;…” 1 Peter 2:9 (KJV). “Who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself, a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” Titus 2:14 (KJV). “For thou art a holy people unto the Lord thy God, and the Lord hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto Himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth.” Deuteronomy 14:2 (KJV) Need I say more? Most times, just let them call you weird; it means you are doing right by God.
The weeks and months preceding this day had been very rigorous and stressful. It was not the trip itself that caused the stress, but the ultra-preparation and the attack of the mind that often accompanied a decision like this. Then there was the human element to deal with, the walls of suspicion barricading those of us who were not part of the ‘church click’ and the judgements of those myopic natives that ‘labeled different as bad.’ All these nuances, had to be pulled down among team members to create a necessary bond. One weekly meeting after the other, we learned about each other, skits, language phrases (This was already one of my fluent languages), songs, the culture and the people of the intended destination. This was the biggest trip so far that the church had embarked on. The year was 1998 (approximately 13 long years ago).
It behooves me to note that one of the main reasons I quickly applied for this trip; was to help with what I perceived to be much-needed communications. The Russian language was not a ‘walk in the park’ and the alphabets were symbols that were in no way similar to English language alphabets. I mentioned this helpful skill, but it was so easily dismissed by the higher-ups (with no intent to investigate or prove the claim). So I made a decision to keep that and future skills to myself, since that was not the first time I volunteered to help with something which they insecurely brushed aside as I watched them struggle to meet the same need shortly after. I knew it was personal; no one unaccepted in the click could be productive for Jesus (as if they themselves were doing anything lucrative). So I let them cut their losses (which was unfortunately not really theirs, but the Lord’s house) and shut my ears. I did eventually help out my innocent team mates with their ‘language phrases’ and songs, since it was so hard to see them struggle. I knew the leaders that clicked with (you know who) were always watching me… for what, I don’t know. I find it interesting that people with very twisted and shady pasts, whom God has saved from a lot of incriminating and devious situations, can deliberately and baselessy pore over another person’s otherwise open and obvious life.
So fifteen minutes later and a woozy taxi ride to show for it, I was in the church premises. A group of people had already gathered and were filling out tags for their luggage. We were to fill a tag for each luggage and then load it together with those of our team members. Each team would travel in their van, bus or car together and check-in together at the airport. the reason being that when we arrived in Russia the same sequence would be necessary to cart everyone away to their already assigned camps, with luggage et al. I complied accordingly. I saw my other team members, we all hugged and expressed our excitement on finally being on our way to this much-anticipated trip. The people traveling that morning were asked to seat at the front row, so that they would be prayed for. I already sat in the front row anyhow (I never wanted to miss any word out of my Pastor David’s sermon) much to some people’s chagrin. The service commenced as the trip and the trippers were prayed for.
We the ‘trippers’ had been instructed to head straight to the alley way right next to/behind the sanctuary right after the ten o’clock morning service. During the service, I had danced, jumped, hollered and rejoiced in the Lord for this opportunity to serve in one of my favorite places on planet earth. I was also rejoicing due to the deliverance and relief from months of mental, emotional and financial anguish. I guess the ‘archers’ having seen me praising my faithful God; assumed that I was having too much of a good time. Therefore, as soon as the service was over; the leader from another team came over to me to tell me that I had been switched to her team. My former leader did not even have the decency to tell me, that my training with them was quite futile. I now know better, because I had observed them to be of the same cloth as their mistress. After four months of grueling adjustments to achieve fellowship and bonding (which is why the missions department stressed our need to be in the weekly meetings) I was being bumped to another team, moments before heading to the airport. And guess what? I was the only one that they dared to do that to. I later found out in Russia, that ‘her evil highness’ intended to work and stay in the same camp as with my original team: therefore my very presence was repugnant to her! So away with her she commanded. I found that hard to believe then, because I really believed she was of God. I even went as far as defending her, as I had always done for her and her husband for seventeen years! Now look how stupid I am presumed to be; even people wondered if I had any discernment at all… Today I stand regretful, they were right indeed. All her commands or conniving requests were aimed at my detriment. I had most often been told by certain leaders, to tone down my exuberance for the things of God (meanwhile my founding Pastor preached: “give your all to Jesus”), I know it bothered her a lot. Remember the ‘spirit of Jezebel’ hates true worshipers with a passion. If they cannot kill them dead, they will frustrate their lives. I am the more blessed for not paying them any mind: (1) Because they did not save and sanctify me; and (2) I am seldom affected or swayed by peer pressure or mass rejection. I have long since learnt as a little girl, that eagles have to fly alone most times.
Of course when we finally got to Russia, after two and a half days of traveling. I was told with great aplomb, that my luggage was nowhere to be found. Once again, all the other three hundred travelers had all their stuff intact and available. (I dare anyone to deny this fact!!!). It had been left behind they said. They always believed they were dealing with a buffoon when it came to me; what they did not know is that I have been travelling since I was six months old, and had practically covered the globe by the age of eighteen. So if anyone knew about travel dynamics, it was definitely me. That luggage had been thrown aside on purpose, in order to throw me off and disorient me during the trip. It is finished, and another ‘fatal file’ hits the dust. I am free.
I shall stop now. This is not the prelude to a man-hunt, but the awareness of what we are dealing with. There were more terrible incidents that happened, and left me flabbergasted and bewildered. I will leave the personal ones in God’s capable hand; as He will give me back everything that was stolen from me. “I will restore/repay you for the years the locust have eaten…” Joel 2:25 (NIV). These that I have shared, were picked because the attacks became a distraction and a major hindrance to producing and promoting the work of God. They were deeply orchestrated to stop the work of God in me and through me. I feel the Holy Spirit saying that I am not the only one that was a target, but I have been given a unique forum to cry out with and warn. Can anyone with such an unprovoked, wicked, deceitful and devilish motive be of God. Every truly godly, person was greatly affected; some just don’t know it yet.
Epilogue: We see how God allowed the enemy to show his true colors, and then sovereignly thwarted the effects and damage it was meant to cause. Every morning in my humble unassuming and dilapidated room in the Russian camp, the kids would come to my window and call out my name. They did not call the group, they called my name! God figured: if they would gang-up, single me out to abuse me, then he would single me out for unmerited and uncommon favor. The kids would steal away grapes and bring to me. If they heard any gossip among the counselors, they would share it with me :). They loved on me like I was their flesh and blood. When that news spread all over the camp, the enemies backed-off howbeit for a season and to re-group. Thus did my Heavenly Father, turn their evil for my good and preserve my very life.
Let him who has ears hear what the Spirit is saying to the church… Thank you for taking this journey with me; you have been God’s specially appointed Therapist. May His grace and peace always be yours now and forever. Amen.