Why we, as rough, sinful men, are permitted to enter into His work… feebly proclaim His Word and observe His Holy Spirit break tough men’s hearts with His Word and bring them into His Kingdom…astounds me.
To say God worked innumerable miracles is to minimize what occurred this week.
Answered prayer met us upon our arrival, as the soil of the commando’s hearts was softened by the Holy Spirit.
Last Sunday afternoon, after we arrived at the GOE Commando Base, in Guano, Ecuador (10,000 ft elevation), we met with the commandos to introduce the course and the spiritual emphasis…three TACTICA instructors shared God’s grace story in their lives. Each instructor was assigned four commandos for the week…and we handed out TACTICA Bibles to our respective commandos. Immediately they began memorizing scripture as Ryan shared the compilation of verses they needed to memorize during the week in order to acquire all the tactical gear each instructor brought with him. Wasting no time each commando began in earnest.
As we wrapped up that first “meet and greet” one of our instructors from Florida, Raul, observed a commando named Pablo alone in an adjacent parking lot, pacing back and forth with his TACTICA Bible pressed tightly against his chest…looking up into the sky. At first, Raul thought he might be memorizing verses, but as he got closer he saw the distinctive look of conviction on Pablo’s face. When Raul questioned Pablo, he crumbled and stated, “One week ago, my wife picked up a Bible for the first time and started reading it. We don’t go to church. Now I come to this tactical training and I’m given a Bible and told of Jesus. I want this Jesus!” Pablo then yielded his heart and bent his knee to the Savior.
Monday morning began with all 40 commandos reciting memorized scripture…while they look at it as a means to an end (acquiring new tactical gear), we know God’s Word does not return empty but accomplishes His purpose (Isaiah 55:11).
Commandos started “dropping like flies” to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
A young commando recruit, Jefferson, (one of my four), expressed his interest and wanted to talk…and we did. By Tuesday night he said, “Dave, tonight I want this Jesus as my own”. We had opportunity to show him from the scripture, and he, according to the three translators that assisted me, prayed the most beautiful prayer of repentance and trust in Jesus.
Each day, in addition to hiding God’s Word in their hearts, we shared God’s grace in our individual breakout sessions and in multiple personal testimonies each day. Spanish versions of Grace Card, Fireproof, and Courageous movies were shown in the evenings with Q&A afterwards. Commandos were leaving the auditorium each night broken and in tears.
COLD HEARTS WERE WARMED, STEELY RESISTANCE WAS SHATTERED. EACH DAY WE WOULD WITNESS A COMMANDO YIELD HIS HEART AND LIFE TO JESUS.
On the final day before the graduation ceremonies Ryan presented the Gospel clearly and powerfully using Captain Michele Morales’ salvation at last year’s TACTICA course and ‘untimely’ murder less than two months later. Hearts were pricked.
The men who received Jesus as their Savior throughout the week rose and stood before their peers to declare their allegiance to Christ. Several more left their seats to join them, desiring to trust Jesus.
We made a hasty wardrobe change into our class A uniforms for the graduation ceremonies. Little did we know it would be televised. When Ryan was asked to speak, he shared the Gospel clearly and our dual purpose of training commandos and making disciples of Jesus.
Many dignitaries were present and we were whisked away for a meet and greet with them around refreshments. The Minister of the Interior approached Ryan and she praised TACTICA’s mission…stating she would like TACTICA to bring this same message to all 43,000+ national police officers. We marvel as God opens doors of opportunity for His message of salvation and hope!
In addition to other commandos, there were about 30 new recruits that had our course integrated into their 8-month commando academy. It was exciting to reach these fresh, young commandos with the Gospel, yet because they hadn’t graduated yet, their day was very regimented during and after our courses and we didn’t get the time we desired to speak into their lives.
We later found out that the supervisory ranked commandos made a pact not to yield to the Gospel message. Ultimately, it did not hold as three Sergeants made decisions to follow Jesus Christ.
At the end of graduation, the Lieutenant over the GOE Commando base, Luis, entered the auditorium where just the TACTICA team remained. He stood staring at the banner commemorating Captain Morales sacrifice. Shakily fumbled with his iPhone to take a picture of the banner. As we talked with him we learned Morales was a close personal friend of his and beside him during the mission when he was shot and killed. He spoke of Captain Morales’ return after last year’s TACTICA training, “Each morning he’d have his Bible out reading, studying, writing and speaking of Jesus.” The gospel was presented clearly. With tears streaming down his face, he declared he wanted the same Jesus that Morales had…and bent his knee and bowed his heart to the Savior. While most of us don’t understand Spanish, the beauty and expressed sentiment of his prayer transcended language and brought us all to tears of joy with him.
Simultaneously, three TACTICA instructors were outside the gate desiring to share Jesus one last time with four Panamanian commandos that went through the course. The instructors called out as they were leaving and they all stopped. Their tough, hardened exteriors shattered as their Lieutenant turned with tears streaming down his cheeks…the others started began to weep and all four made personal decisions to trust Jesus as their Savior before they left the base. Raul and Steve related that it was almost as if they expected us to pursue them with the Gospel…right out to the taxi’s.
Not that we count scalps, but eleven commandos trusted Jesus this week and will meet with missionary Jeff Davol, Steve Wright and others in Guayaquil, Quito and other cities for discipleship follow-up. Fortunately, four live in Quito and have arranged to meet together to encourage each other in their walk with Jesus.
The instantaneous spiritual transformation from death to life, the expressed burdens lifted, the joy written across their faces, the craving for knowledge of the Holy One and how to live practically to please Him is amazing to behold!
A fantastic adventure for God! Thank you for your prayers and support Summit family! We could not and dare not do God’s bidding without your support!
Please remember these that trusted Jesus Christ this past week…pray that Jesus will be glorified in their lives…the enemy of our soul will be chained…the Holy Spirit will open their eyes that they might behold wondrous things from God’s Word…that a cultivated desire to walk closer with Jesus will occur each day!