Bad News – Good News
Breaking News – I have no bad news to share today. The good news, however, is remarkable. This week I responded to the invitation of Dr. Timothy Pigg of Immokalee and Ave Maria, Florida, to participate in a Great Commission Conference. The payoff was that I watched three miracles. Halfway through the third, I, though a little slow, finally got the point. God, in the midst of political upheaval, COVID-19 pandemic, and a thousand other reports of bad news is still at work transforming lives and effecting miracles before the eyes of those with eyes to see.
About a decade ago, Tim Pigg showed up for college. With great ability and giftedness – well – a few rough edges, he began a pilgrimage, which would end in a Doctor of Ministry degree and his third pastorate in South Florida. Begin with the first miracle. Without notes, I listen as Dr. Pigg stands to preach. For the following 40 minutes, he provides a scintillating exegesis of Psalm 19. Those in the packed sanctuary of Fellowship Church hung on every syllable. Patterson, probably the harshest critic of preaching, sat there charmed and blessed as the Word of God came alive.
There are actually three congregations in the Florida mix. One meets in Immokalee, one in Ave Maria, and then the Creole congregation brought their people to participate in the baptismal service. With fascination I watched two young men from the Creole-speaking church step into the baptistry, where Pastor Pigg immersed both of them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. A young woman from the Creole church wept as she also came to Christ.
Was there wickedness at work in the world? Was there some bad news on the wire? I am pretty certain that there was, but all I could do was brush back tears of joy as I saw the memorable work of the Lord and the evidence of His regenerating men and women. Oh, and I forgot to tell you that Dr. Pigg also baptized two from the other congregations gathered. Miracle number two is recorded.
The concluding Sunday morning message was to be delivered by Scott Colter. Unknown to anyone, the pastor of the Creole congregation, Rev. Benoit Elidor, intended to translate that morning’s message. Brother Colter had never preached with a translator and did not realize until he stood to preach that this scenario was afoot. As a veteran of what feels like a thousand translated sermons in probably 130 countries, let me assure the reader that effective translation is a science. It includes discipline and planning on the part of the preacher and unbelievable rapidity of thought in two languages and sometimes three on the part of the translator.
Seemingly I was in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost when God gave Peter and others the gift of tongues. Scott Colter was a pro! How on earth did he do that? And Pastor Elidor was operating on a super-human level. He never missed a syllable and translated with the dexterity of a man who had memorized the sermon in advance, though he had no idea of the passage of Scripture Scott had selected, let alone the content of his sermon.
Mark Gonzales, Director of Missions for the areas of Ave Maria and Immokalee was also present, sharing – among other helpful resources – a book he has developed as a tool for reaching children for Christ. This book was written with a view of seeing to the fact that children seeking baptism have actually had an experience with Christ.
And this miracle included the congregations of Immokalee and Ave Maria. Most American audiences are done with auditing translations in about thirty minutes. These sweet saints of the Lord were still worshipping the Lord and grasping the fine points of Matthew 16 well into the heart of the message. I have not had as much joy as watching a “three-miracle” Great Commission Conference at the edge of the Everglades.
So you can be among those who constantly cogitate on the news of woe and doom. That is your choice. But the Gospel is good news; and if you focus your concentration on the Gospel, you are stepping onto ground where God is still working the miraculous. And you are sure to be treated to the joy of the best news of the day. Thank you, saints of the Everglades.