It was eight years ago today that I was facing some of the most burdensome days in my life.

After responding to the plight of Haitian children following the 2010 earthquake, I had no idea that I would eventually be in jail for a total of nineteen days and falsely charged of kidnapping, trafficking and criminal association. Feb. 3, 2010, was day five of the nineteen.

The backstory of what I share today is too long for a newspaper column, but what I learned and was learning in those God-ordained days still have a profound impact on me today. When we are in heavy burdensome days, we must discipline ourselves to look to Christ and not at the circumstances of the day.

Christian, let me encourage you. Sometimes we are brought so low that we don’t think we can move on. We feel, at times, like our heads are under water. This is not a day to panic; this is a day to look to our help. Where does your help come from? if it doesn’t come or originate with Christ, then you are hoping in hopelessness. Lean in to Christ now. Don’t delay.

I share this journal entry to encourage you today:

“Yesterday afternoon the women finished with their interviews; they reported a softened spirit of the judge. The guys are scheduled for today so we wait. We pray for water and ask God about what may be in front of us.

While we are praying, Alex arrives with fresh fruit and clothes for all. Clean shirts, underwear and food. Alex has told us that it is possible that the court will have the children ready to leave with us when we are released soon. This is encouraging.

This was a blessing, God! How do I hold back the tears of joy? You knew my need before I even asked. This was a great encouragement. Far beyond comprehension. Thank you Lord.

The call for the men comes in the afternoon. We were suppose to go at 10 a.m. The interviews take a long time due to translational issues — meaning we will most likely spend yet another night. Disappointing, but God is preparing us to stay the course and not to give up, 2 Cor. 4:7-18.

The ups and downs are huge. God encourages, then allows the enemy to defuse. I need God’s strength to lift my head and then ask God to hold my head.

While in Drew’s interview, a man arrived claiming to be our lawyer. There is a need to know what this means and who hired him on our behalf. This information will come.

After we return from the interview, our lawyer brings cold water — a treat that I bless God for, but I plead with him that I not forget the sacrificial gifts from Alex and the church. The lawyer brings pizza and sandwiches for all of us; it is in abundance that we are able to share with all the inmates. They are thankful. We enjoy the smiles on their faces as we share.

Worship tonight was exceptional, as the inmates anticipate our leaving on Thursday. They have told us that they have heard we are sure to go home on Thursday. We read Scripture, pray, and the singing tonight is only in Creole. I’m obviously not sure of all the words or songs but the spirit is in harmony. Some of the tunes are familiar, as we recall the words we are able to sing together — ‘Amazing Grace,’ ‘How Great Thou Art’ and a few other songs of our faith.

We received a message today from home: ‘The church calls you home, please follow her counsel.’ This word, as I hear and understand, has dropped my countenance immediately. I’ve been seeking God’s word about what to do and how to further process what to do about our current situation and praying for God’s glory to prove to the nations his way of doing things is radically different than all methods of this world. God, how do I follow and submit myself to the wise counsel of your church if I don’t know what they know and they don’t know what we know?

This discouragement, that was meant to encourage, has left me doing what I always want discouragement to do — drive me quickly to God.”

Paul Thompson is the pastor of the Eastside Southern Baptist Church, 204 Eastland Drive N., Twin Falls.

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