Don Goulding - Blog

In His Shoes

I have become all things to all people, so that by all means I may save some. (1 Corinthians 9:22)

“What right had we to tell them that we knew a better way… We knew we must earn that right. We must live with them, love them, try to understand them, and above all, demonstrate to them what we meant by eternal life: a new kind of life, not simply a longer one.” (Elliot, The Savage My Kinsman). 

Elizabeth Elliot lived with the Ecuadorian Indians that murdered her husband, and her words stuck in my heart. I was moved to get out of our mission station, and stay with the natives of Zimbabwe. The Lord soon opened an opportunity to visit Pastor Ringo Pio and his family in the bush.

Ringo’s wife, Spiwe, cooked our cornmeal mush and beans. In mid reach for a pot, she flicked a stick further into the fire as deftly as any American homemaker might tweak the knob on her stove. We ate outdoors and talked above the cricket song.

My hosts asked me to join them for evening prayers, then pointed me toward a roofless hut with straw on the floor. They retired to their thatched hut, and I fell asleep to snatches of drum music carried on the breeze.

At first light, Spiwe heated a bucket of water and left me in an open aired enclosure made of grass fence. Like a giraffe, my head poked above the wall as I washed with a chunk of blue soap. It was as refreshing as the shower at a five-star hotel.

On Sunday I preached while Ringo interpreted to a congregation sitting on the flattened savannah grass. God was there. Thirty-four repented and were baptized.

The Lord showed me there is great ministry success through incarnational love. After all, isn’t that what Jesus did for me? He came down, walked in my shoes, then said, “Follow me home.”

Prayer: Sweet Savior, draw my heart into the lives of those who need your love.

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Stretched

Not only this, but we also rejoice in sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance, character, and character, hope. (Romans 5:3, 4)

The Christian life stretches me to the breaking point. It’s a clothesline on pulleys. The wheel of Christ reels me toward the window, while the world pulls me into the raw elements. Back and forth I travel, sometimes near heaven’s music, other times flapping in temptation.

With my right hand, I clamp onto heaven’s promises. On the left, desires and fears yank my body, mind, and spirit. The strain between godliness and seduction increases. I feel wrenched, torn, even crucified.

While I’m splayed on the clothesline, something wonderful happens. Endurance, character, and hope form in me. We acquire these holy qualities on earth, and celebrate them in eternity. In heaven, these treasures will be like Roman coins—all the more valuable because they’re no longer minted in the new economy. Now is when I have access to the forge of hardship. Now is when I must cast the coinage of character.

All too soon, I’ll be unpinned and hauled through the window. For now, the tensions are necessary. They permit me to learn godliness amidst corruption. This present earth is the only place where I can experience the difference between the place for which I was bound and the place to which Jesus pulls me.

Prayer: Strengthen me, Lord Jesus, to be patient between the tensions.

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Refuse to be Swallowed

Be sober and alert. Your enemy the devil, like a roaring lion, is on the prowl looking for someone to devour. Resist him, strong in your faith… (1 Peter 5:8, 9)

In noisy Zimbabwean colors, the crowd rambled to the grassy lakeshore for baptisms. My wife served as a lookout for hippos and crocodiles, while a fellow missionary held his video camera at the ready. African brothers assisted me to lower souls back into the water, and up into new life.

As we pulled a dear woman out of the watery grave, she stiffened, and, with supernatural strength, twisted to get free of our grasp. A demon refused to release its hold on the terrorized lady. We fought to keep her out of deep water where the spirit tried to drown her.

“You no longer have rights on this woman. Come out in Jesus’s name,” I said.

After a longish struggle, the freed woman melted in limp relief.

Five additional encounters in three weeks made me launch an investigation for the Lord’s wisdom. I prayed, searched Scripture, read books, and asked the advice of longtime pastors and missionaries. I reviewed the baptism fight videos many times. 

I discovered that demons hate humans today as much as ever. In their efforts to steal, kill, and destroy, they adapt themselves to the culture in which they work. Like the Apostle Paul (2 Cor. 12:7), I suffer spiritual attacks as heinous as any African. My demons manifest stealthily, as materialism, bitterness, and apathy.

I need the same weapons a foreign national must use— (1) Search my heart for demonic strongholds such as addictions, spiritism, fear, abandonment, and generational sins. (2) In the authority of Jesus, renounce every specific evil and command it away. (3) Most importantly, prevent reinfestation by living according to the Bible and meeting future attacks with on the spot worship of Jesus.

The memory of that poor woman thrashing about haunts me into remaining vigilant with the weapons of truth. I can’t let my heart be ensnared by demonic talons.

Prayer: Father of Lights, lay a holy might on my soul to resist the devil.

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