Joseph Herrin (06-11-2013)
I was prompted to begin writing this series after the Father sent a couple of visitors my way who exemplify the life of the Christian expatriate. These are truly saints who are aliens and strangers on this earth, having no permanent place. They have chosen to surrender their lives to follow Yahshua wherever He would lead. The Spirit of Christ has taken them far from the homes and family they have known, and they are passing through many valuable experiences as a result.
You may remember my mentioning a young woman from the United Kingdom coming to visit me back in March. Eliana was born to a mother from Chile who gave her up for adoption as a baby. Eliana’s adoptive parents took her back to their home in England where she was raised (Eliana’s adoptive mother is actually from Mexico). About five years ago Eliana met Christ and was born again of the Holy Spirit. She has made much progress since that time. I anticipate that she will continue to mature spiritually at a good pace for she has yielded her life to follow Yahshua wherever He would guide her.
Surrendering the direction and control of one’s life to Yahshua is a key to spiritual growth. A great many Christians advance very little in knowledge of, and conformity to, Christ for they retain control of the direction of their lives. Only by accepting Yahshua’s invitation to “Come, take up your cross, and follow Me,” can any man or woman be assured of arriving at the fulness of the stature that belongs to Christ.
Eliana was 28 years old when she visited a few months ago. In many ways her life reminds me of Hannah Hurnard, the author of Hinds’ Feet on High Places (a book I highly recommend). Yahweh has used this allegorical writing profoundly in my own life, to encourage me, and to give me understanding of the path He will lead every saint down who surrenders to His call. Like Eliana, Miss Hurnard was a resident of England. She was somewhat frail physically, and was beset with many fears. Yet, she discerned and accepted the call of God on her life to travel to Israel to be a missionary.
Hannah had no qualifications to recommend her to such a course. This led to her being rejected by various mission organizations. Nevertheless, she pressed forward, willing to do anything she was asked to do in order to fulfill the will of God for her life. Hannah did not speak the language of the people who resided in Israel. At the time she went (the early 1940s) the land of Palestine was not yet called Israel, for the Jewish state would not come into existence until 1948. Yahweh led this frail, timid woman to this foreign land where she knew no one, at a time when the land was going through great upheaval. During her years there, Israel was proclaimed a nation and the Arabs rose up seeking to drive all the Jewish inhabitants into the sea. It was a very dangerous and volatile time, yet Yahweh protected Hannah and directed her to go places where the boldest male missionaries feared to travel.
If you have been blessed by the famous Christian allegory penned by Hannah Hurnard, I believe you will also find the autobiographical account of her years in Israel to be a blessing as well. The book Hinds’ Feet on High Places was born out of this Christian woman’s experiences in following Yahshua into the land of Israel. Her actual experiences are recounted in the book Wayfarer in the Land.
Eliana is Seated Next to Me. My Daughter Kristin is Across From Us.
(Click on any image to view larger.)
Eliana’s experiences thus far have been similar to those of Hannah Hurnard in many ways. Eliana has also experienced physical frailty. She fell ill and almost died while on a family trip to Mexico with her mother in 2006. Neither is she a naturally bold person. There are many of God’s sons and daughters who fit well the name of the main character in the allegory Hinds’ Feet on High Places. The character’s name is Much Afraid, and she is a member of the Fearing Clan.
I am very much impressed with Eliana’s willingness to follow the Spirit of Christ to the lawless land of Mexico. Those who dwell in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, or many Western European nations may find it difficult to imagine the lawless condition of Mexico. For decades drug gangs have been expanding their influence and control over vast regions of Mexico. The police are afraid of the gangs, and pretty much leave them alone. More often than not, the police are on the payroll of the drug cartels. Things are at such a poor state that the citizens of Mexico rarely call the police when they have a problem. It is like inviting criminals to your home, and often results in more harm than good.
There are certain parts of Mexico that are more dangerous than others. Border crossings are particularly perilous as there are many gangs, corrupt officials, and individuals who prey on those who travel through these regions. Eliana was well aware of the perils of the country. Her adoptive mother’s family is from Mexico. Eliana’s mother and other relatives frequently told her how dangerous it would be for a single woman to travel alone in the country. They characterized Eliana’s intent to follow God to Mexico as akin to committing suicide. (Perhaps that is not a bad analogy in a spiritual sense, for we are invited to “take up our cross and follow Christ.”)
When we sense the Spirit stirring in our lives to step out in faith and fully surrender to His will, we are often tested by many fears. Yahweh permits this, for He wants us to learn to trust Him with our lives. Eliana sensed the Spirit’s direction on her life to serve as a missionary, yet she hesitated to accept that she must go to Mexico thousands of miles away where she had no Christian connections.
As an alternative, Eliana began considering going to Spain or France as a missionary. She reasoned that there were opportunities there, and she felt more comfortable in traveling to a less threatening locale not so far from home. Eliana began making plans to quit her job. Her plan was to travel to Spain and France and look for an open door to minister. As part of her preparation she purchased a Land Rover.
Eliana shared this photo with me of her sitting on the Land Rover she purchased. As I reflected on it, I considered how often we are tempted to find security in the material things we possess and surround ourselves with. A young woman with fears about traveling to a strange land may find some comfort in sitting inside a Land Rover which is built much like a military vehicle. A person might feel that they are ready for a safari if they can only have the proper equipment and provision.
This is the error that many fall into. They want to follow God only after they are fully provisioned and prepared for any foreseeable emergency. It takes a special faith to surrender to follow Yahweh to dangerous lands where we will encounter unknown circumstances, while possessing nothing but our confidence that when Yahweh sends a man or woman, He will also care for them.
Eliana traveled to France to look at a small cottage, and to Spain to view a parcel of land, but the witness of the Spirit was not present at either location. Having sensed that she had erred, she returned home to England and was able to get her job back. Eliana also was led to sell her Land Rover. She began to entertain the idea that Yahweh would send her across the ocean to Mexico to fulfill a desire He had set in her heart from before the time she was a Christian. This desire was to minister to the indigenous native population of the nation.
Eliana began corresponding with me about the time she was led to quit her employer for good. She sensed the Spirit calling her to a life of faith. She had been bolstered by reading of men like George Mueller who had raised up the great orphanages in England in the late 19th century. She was challenged to embrace a similar abandonment to God, and to walk by faith as the Spirit directed her steps.
I recommended to Eliana a number of other excellent books that recount the life of faith of a number of sons and daughters of God. I had found such writings to be a great encouragement in my own walk as I surrendered to follow Yahweh wherever He would lead. Books on the lives of Hudson Taylor of the China Inland Mission, Rees Howells, Amy Carmichael, Brother Yun, Gladys Aylward, Bill Britton and others, greatly comforted me as I read of the many unusual and trying circumstances they were led to by the Spirit of God, and read how Yahweh helped them.
Eliana yielded to the Spirit one step at a time. The next step is often all that He will reveal to us. Yahweh directed Eliana to serve notice with her employer. After she had done so, the Spirit told her to purchase a ticket to fly to Atlanta. He told her she was to stop and visit with me on her way to Mexico. Yahweh had much more in store for Eliana while she was here than she had anticipated.
The day Eliana arrived I received an e-mail from an older missionary brother in Mexico who extended an invitation for Eliana to begin her stay in Mexico by visiting his mission work there. He promised her a place to stay, and any assistance she needed in getting to the next step of her journey.
I observed at the time that this was a great act of grace by our heavenly Father. He was putting Eliana’s mind at rest by showing her clearly what her next step would be after she visited with us in Georgia. It also revealed the pattern by which Yahweh works. When He finds an obedient son or daughter, He will show them what He requires of them. When they take a step of obedience, not knowing what lies beyond, He will then disclose to them the next step. Faith must ever function in this manner.
Yahweh taught me this principle back in the late 1990s when He began leading me to a walk of faith. He affirmed this pattern through His dealings with the children of Israel recorded in the book of Joshua. The Father required that they demonstrate faith BEFORE He would show them His provision. When the people came to the banks of the Jordan River He instructed the priests who bore the Ark to step into the water. When their feet were in the water, then God would demonstrate His power by rolling back the water and making a path before them on dry land.
And it shall come about when the soles of the feet of the priests who carry the ark of Yahweh, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan shall be cut off, and the waters which are flowing down from above shall stand in one heap.
Yahweh began proving Himself in this same manner to Eliana as she surrendered to follow one step at a time.
After she had been in Georgia a few days, Eliana revealed to me that she was in need of some spiritual deliverance. Before she had come to Christ she had been involved in the occult. This had opened her up to many unclean spirits. These spirits did not leave when she was born again. They continued to trouble her. It was not a coincidence that Yahweh had begun using my daughter Kristin in spiritual deliverance just a few months prior to Eliana’s visit. Kristin had seen the Father deliver some young people from demonic influences as she participated in deliverance ministry.
One of the young women Kristin had seen set free was Ruthie. Ruthie was gloriously delivered from tormenting spirits, and was walking closely with the Lord. The Lord arranged it so that Kristin and Ruthie could minister this same deliverance to Eliana.
Kristin, Eliana, Ruthie
People of God, demonization is a very real issue faced by many in the church. Through generational influences, involvement in the occult, the use of drugs, sexual immorality, and a host of other means, men and women open themselves up for unclean spirits to gain a foothold in their lives. I strongly recommend the book Spiritual Warfare: Christians, Demonization and Deliverance by Karl Payne. I prayed for Yahweh’s guidance and instruction in this subject and shortly after doing so I was put in contact with a man I had never met. He recommended this book to me. I have since read numerous other books on the subject, and it is my judgment that this book by Karl Payne is the most Biblically sound and helpful of all of them.
Kristin and Ruthie spent an entire week ministering to Eliana. There were numerous manifestations of unclean spirits. At times the spirits would cause Eliana to fall asleep when she was being spoken to. At other times the spirits would cause her to break out in mocking laughter. By fasting, prayer, and perseverance, the ground was taken away from these spirits and they were cast out. Only then did the Father release Eliana to go forward on the next step of her journey. She booked a flight for Mexico. Having spent two weeks with us in Georgia, she was off to the next step of her journey.
In the past couple months the Father has continued to guide this daughter of His. Her passage into Mexico was an eye-opener. Eliana’s flight was in the evening. The missionary who had invited Eliana to stay with his family, met her at the airport along with his wife and son. Normally they do not travel after dark, for the drug cartels become very active at night. The drive from the airport to the mission would take several hours, and it was already dark. As they drove through Chihuahua they saw cartel roadblocks in front of them. They were forced to take alternate routes. The missionary was pointing out to Eliana the trailers filled with drugs, and the buses and other vehicles carrying the cartel’s soldiers with their weapons. He regaled her with tales of people being ambushed, even slain, which did little to comfort her.
The missionary brother was forced to take a way he had not intended. He told Eliana it would require they drive through some of the most dangerous places in that area. Nevertheless, Yahweh delivered them all safe to the mission.
Eliana’s adventures have been too numerous to recite. She has had trials, faced difficulties among brethren, been in places where it is dangerous to walk alone, and has sought to follow the Lord wherever He would direct. For one who is accustomed to living at home, and having one’s own place, it is a very different experience to stay in the homes of strangers. This was the experience of the disciples Yahshua sent forth 2,000 years ago.
“Carry neither money bag, knapsack, nor sandals; and greet no one along the road. But whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest on it; if not, it will return to you. And remain in the same house, eating and drinking such things as they give, for the laborer is worthy of his wages.”
I have known seasons when the Father has ordained that I stay in the homes of other people, often for months at a time. Depending on the individual, this can either be a great blessing and an experience of much peace and hospitality, or it can be a trial to be endured. Yahweh gives us grace for all things. As we yield our lives to follow Him, and to accept the experiences appointed to us, we are given opportunity to grow in grace and spiritual maturity.
I am blessed to observe in Eliana a willingness to embrace this experience of wayfaring. Those who will stay the course, and not shrink back, will attain to a spiritual maturity that can be acquired by no other means. Their reward at the end of the journey will be great.
If this young, petite, timid, single woman can follow the Spirit of Christ across the world to places unknown and people unmet, will He not care for you as well when you yield your life to follow Him?
Eliana is now in a remote area of Mexico where she does not have daily access to the Internet. She has created a blog site where she posts updates of her experiences. Her e-mail address is also posted on her site. I am certain she would be encouraged to hear from other saints who would speak words of faith and love to her. Her website is as follows:
Eliana – Wayfarer in the Land
Heart4God Website: http://www.heart4god.ws
Parables Blog: www.parablesblog.blogspot.com
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Montezuma, GA 31063