Author’s Note: As I was going through my stuff trying to reduce the clutter, I came across something I wrote many years ago. It made my heart laugh not once but twice. So I thought I would share it again.
We slept in mosquito net-covered hammocks, cooked our meals in a big iron pot over three logs that had been pushed together and walked from village to village presenting the Gospel.
If you’ve never been to Panama, let me tell you that country’s two outstanding characteristics. It is hot with a capital H, and it is humid, which should also be spelled with a capital H. Spring, winter, fall or summer, Panama is always H & H. It is one of the few places in the world where your sweat sweats.
You sweat in the shower; you sweat lying down; you sweat standing up, and you sweat sleeping. Because of the H & H, it’s easy to get a heat rash. I was encouraging our students to apply some baby powder to help with that problem.
Students don’t listen much to what anyone, even a seasoned missionary, tells them. But I’ve been at this long enough that I know how to get them to do as I say without blinking an eye. Call the powder by a fancy name, and they’ll fall over one another wanting to use it. Don’t believe me? Starbucks learned this long ago with their la-di-da crema, mocha, Frappuccino, chinchilla drinks.
So while I was in the jungle, I renamed the powder “Anti-Evil-Spirit Powder” with the slogan, “Don’t go into the jungle without it.” Next thing I knew, every student wanted some of that Anti-Evil-Spirit Powder. And never once was it called baby powder again. Anytime someone got tired, another student would ask, “Did you put on your Anti-Evil-Spirit Powder?”
I applied the name game to hammock life, too. If you’ve spent many nights in a hammock, you know it can be somewhat stifling—especially in a place like Panama where, as you know, the H & H are intense.
You can lie there forever waiting for a breeze, but if you’re smart, you’ll get a string and tie it to the side of the hut. With a gentle tug of your wrist, your hammock will swing back and forth, sending a slight breeze across your body. I do this every time I go to the jungles of Panama.
Instead of calling it a string, I have renamed my apparatus the “Walker Rocker: Patent Pending.” I go into a whole spiel with the students about how it can be used for the whole family and comes in all colors, sizes and shapes. I tell them, “If you pick up your phone and call within the next 10 minutes, you will receive not one but two ‘Walker Rockers: Patent Pending.’ Operators are standing by, and if you give them the secret code, ‘H & H,’ we’ll include a bottle of Anti-Evil-Spirit Powder absolutely free!” I add in a whisper, “Shipping and handling not included.”
For the next four days, the students will keep talking to me about the “Walker Rocker: Patent Pending.” (We are currently in development, testing the next generation of Walker Rockers.) My friends, it is just a string, but which would you rather have: a string, or the brand-new and improved “Walker Rocker: Patent Pending”?
All this explains why I lead students to do “Jesus ministry.” Every day, without fail, some student will come up and ask me, “What are we doing today?”
I have only one answer: “Jesus ministry.” We are not doing mission work, First Church of something work or Baptist work; we are simply doing Jesus ministry. Most of us have to go somewhere to do mission work or be a part of a program for First Church work. And even though I am proud to be a Baptist, I am not sure what Baptist work is.
All I know is that one day I read in the Scriptures, “Then He said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow Me” (Luke 9:23). If Jesus is doing ministry, then I am doing it alongside Him. I can do His ministry any time, any place, anywhere, whether it be in the jungles of Panama or in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
You only need three things, let’s make that four, to do Jesus ministry: An obedient heart, a Bible, Anti-Evil-Spirit Powder and the Walker Rocker: Patent Pending. That’s true if you are going to live in the jungle; otherwise, you will only need the first two. And if you act now, the Holy Spirit is standing by to show you Jesus’ ministry—with or without H & H.