By Jim Bennett
Daily Review Atlas
Posted Jul 21, 2010 @ 07:24 PM
Not unlike the titular protagonist in Terry McMillan’s “How Stella Got Her Groove Back,” I recently hit the reset button on my life by traveling to the Caribbean and falling in love. Unlike Stella, however, my heart was lost to the people, the churches and the beauty of Grenada, West Indies.
You remember Grenada, right? Back in 1983, the U.S. invaded “The Island of Spice” after a violent Communist coup jeopardized the safety of 800 American medical students studying there. The U.S. Marines and Army landed and subdued surprisingly robust ground resistance and antiaircraft fire by Cuban forces. It ended up being the only successful “rollback” in the Cold War until the glorious Revolutions of Eastern Europe would begin in 1989. For the first time, a Marxist regime was deposed to make way for a constitutional Capitalist Democracy. And it was the first major military operation for U.S. forces since Vietnam. Not bad for two days work.
Memories of news reports from that time prepared me for the combat ahead as I and the other eight members of the Rozetta Baptist Church Short-Term Mission Team made our way to this tiny isle just 90 miles from the coast of Venezuela. (I was so close that Hugo Chavez started to complain about the aroma of sulfur again.)
The combat to which I refer, of course, is making it through airport security.
I guess I have nothing to complain about because most of the abuse was heaped on only one member of our team, the shy and unassuming Rachael Allaman. While the rest of us breezed right on through the checkpoint, this courageous 17-year-old farm girl took several hits for the team at the Moline airport. Rachael was the only one who had to drink some of her shampoo to prove to the TSA that it wasn’t actually nitroglycerin. It was Rachael who was forced to lie down on the carry-on conveyor belt so they could x-ray her head. And Rachael alone had to wait in a holding cell while the E.O.D. technicians defused her flip-flops.
Clearly the Department of Homeland Security had suspended its prohibition of Rachael profiling.
The poor child’s suffering was not in vain, however. In Grenada we found a veritable paradise of needs we could help to meet. The evangelical churches there are thriving, but understaffed and underfunded. Thanks to the generosity of our church and others believers, the team came equipped with the materials and curriculum needed to carry out a five-day Vacation Bible School complete with games, skits, lessons, music, crafts and prizes. More than 70 children registered on the first day, and each one of them was a gift from God. By Friday, enrollment had reached 93, and over the course of that week, 21 of those kids had expressed their desire to repent and trust in Jesus Christ.
Ever spend an entire week with a lump in your throat?
Along with the Vacation Bible School, I had the privilege of preaching at a Sunday morning service and then for five consecutive nights at a revival/evangelical event hosted by another church. All the members of the team took their turns testifying about how they had come to know the Lord Jesus as their personal savior.
But since the title of this article is “How Jimmy Got his Groove Back,” I should probably get to that. The place to start, naturally, is to explain how I lost my groove in the first place. The details are complicated, so let’s just say that the last year or so has had me second-guessing myself personally, professionally and even spiritually. Though my faith has not wavered, I confess that I have allowed some disappointments and disillusionment to get a toehold and, as a result, I ended up sustaining something of a confidence deficit.
In Grenada, however, I giggled with children who are joyous despite their poverty. I was able to savor the rich sweetness of fellowship with my fellow believers there who, though they have very little, were extravagantly hospitable and warm. And I had opportunities to serve them, and to do so while laboring alongside some of the finest people I’ve ever known. Frankly, it was just what the doctor ordered.
In short, if you’re a born again believer in Jesus and you think you may have misplaced your own groove, I commend to you, as step No. 1 in the recovery process, this simple suggestion:
Get over yourself. Ditch the self-pity and second-guessing and just start serving your King and His children.
It’s like Zoloft for the soul. Good for what ails ye.
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