17 Jul Our First Day of Assemblies – Day Four
We woke early and met for breakfast at 7am: scrambled eggs, fried plantains, refried beans, sour cream, and toast. It was great! We needed to depart the hotel at 7:30am for our first assembly. We arrived at the school and quickly set up the sound equipment and began to interact with the students. There were around 300 students between 1st-6th grade at this school. They were all in attendance at the assembly. Alfredo plays a great clown named Chief Loberto. The team helped by performing many of the songs they learned yesterday. They also performed a puppet skit that was learned at camp. At the end of the assembly, the local children’s pastor gave an altar call. Approximately 150 students responded to accept Christ as their savior. Following the first assembly, we quickly disassembled and headed out to the next school. This school had 213 students enrolled, and was notably more impoverished than the first school. 125 responded to the call for salvation. Some of the students chose Bibles off our prize table at the end of the assembly. When the teachers saw this, they were thrilled. They currently have one book for each classroom that they teach out of, but the students do not have books. The teachers said, “Now we do not have to try to find more books, we can use these Bibles as text books in our classrooms.”
After our second morning assembly we headed to the host church for lunch. We made ham and cheese sandwiches and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. We were able to rest for approximately 45 minutes before heading to the next school. The final assembly of the day was quite a contrast from the other two. The audience was older, as this was a school for teenagers. We also planned to change the program quite a bit. First of all, no puppets! Instead of going in clown attire, Alfredo went in normal attire. He planned to lead a song, with the team participating. The team would perform the “Liberame” human video, and a student from our team would give a testimony. When we arrived at the school and began setting up, we weren’t sure if we would have an assembly at all. All of our assemblies are outdoor, so they are weather dependent. There was a dark storm bearing down on us coming over the mountains. The clouds were black and we could see the torrents of rain in the distance. We were certain that the rain was imminent and began to pray that God would hold off the storm.
As we continued to set up, we realized that the sky was not all that was dark at this school. In front of us, as we were setting up, a dance team from the school was practicing for a competition. We were interested to see their presentation, but our excitement quickly turned to consternation when we heard the song they were dancing to. The song was in English, and the lyrics were very dark—it was directly satanic. The song was narrated by the devil and stated that if the hearers worshipped him, he would give them sex, drugs, and “house”. House, in this case, is referring to a type of music, so essentially the song was saying that if you worship the devil, he will give you sex, drugs, and rock n’roll. It sounds laughable as I write this, but it was extremely dark. You could feel the oppression in the air.
Our missionaries, Dave & Debbie Amsler, shared some of their most recent trials and testimonies with the team. Less than one year ago they were involved in a traumatic car accident. A truck crossed a line and hit them head on with such force their car was sent up into the air in the opposite direction of their travel. Both of Debbie’s legs were broken, and one of Dave’s. Their list of injuries is too lengthy to detail here, but they were both in wheelchairs for many months and underwent several surgeries. As Debbie sat bleeding heavily in the car, believing her husband to be dead, she heard an audible voice from the backseat. However, there was no one in the back seat; she and Dave were traveling alone. The voice was dark and it said, “I am going to kill you!” That dark voice she heard months ago was the same dark voice on the track playing before us now. We were entering a serious spiritual battle.
As our assembly began the students were not interested. Thunder was booming over our heads and lightning was flashing in the surrounding mountains. The first song had very limited participation from the audience, as most students laughed and mocked what was happening. We continued to pray for breakthrough. One of our students, Zach, gave his testimony. The team performed the “Liberame” human video. The tide was beginning to turn. Alfredo preached as a sky-cracking boom of thunder sounded overhead. Then, at the precise moment an invitation for salvation was given, the sun broke through the clouds and shone upon us. The heavy black clouds that were so imminent had suddenly dissipated into harmless and blunted gray clouds, and the sun was shining down through a hole that opened in the sky. Still, only a few students responded to the call of salvation.
We began to work our way through the crowd, praying for all the students, whether they had raised their hands or not. Many of the boys were laughing was we prayed for them. Alfredo continued to preach. As our team refused to give up and continued to pray, hearts began to break and many of the young girls in the crowd began to weep. Alfredo persevered and continued to preach, and as we confronted the audience through prayer, boys who were mocking became quite sober. At the conclusion of the service, the local church gave out information to anyone interested on becoming a part of a small group at the church. Many students raised their hands to receive the invitation. The principal agreed to have our assembly on the condition that we give a Bible to every student. We distributed the Bibles, and in spite of all the opposition that was seen and felt, no student refused a Bible. It was a powerful time of spiritual breakthrough.