Heat Exhaustion in Central America (Plus: Eastern Europe 2017)
“Zach! You’re supposed to be out there right now!”
I jerked my head up violently from the chipped concrete floor and got a face-full of hot, damp air from a nearby oscillating fan.
“Shoot,” I shook my head again to clear it as I dragged myself to a standing position. The temperature in Chicago when I had left a few days ago had been well below freezing, but here in Puntarenas, Costa Rica it was nearly one hundred degrees hotter and monstrously humid.
I like to think of myself as a pretty strong guy, but the climate-shock during the first day of our open-air festival had sapped nearly all of my strength, and I had retreated to a nearby church in between speaking sessions and laid down on the rough floor in order to try to recover.
It hadn’t really worked, and now I was late to speak.
“C’mon!” the messenger turned towards the door and waved at me to follow. I staggered and followed, wiping at my clothes with both hands in a vain attempt to un-rumple them.
We swung open the barred door of the church and stepped into the blast-furnace heat of the day, jog-walking over a few hundred grassy yards of festival ground and under a small line of trees before emerging onto the scarred concrete surface of the neighborhood skate park.
A few dozen local young people with beat-up skateboards and rusted BMX bikes were gathered in a lopsided semi-circle around one of the wooden skate-ramps that our team had set up earlier in the day.
“There he is! Where have you been, man?!?”
The group turned to look at me – the leaders with expectancy and the teenage skaters with a kind of semi-bored apprehension. It was time to go to work.
Ninety seconds ago I had been lying down in the dampness of my own sweat, struggling for breath, exhausted.
And now I was going to have to fight for the attention of a group of young people in this sweltering graffiti-covered skate-park.
I took a deep breath – if I was going to do this, I was going to give it everything I had.
And suddenly, in an instant, I felt strong again.
It was almost as if I could feel God’s strength fill me.
And that was good, because I needed it.
“Hey everyone! Thank you guys so much for waiting – I’m so pumped to be here in Costa Rica today!”
As the translator repeated my words in Spanish, I walked quickly to the skate ramp, vaulted up, and perched on the top.
“I want to tell you guys about something crazy that happened to me…”
And I proceeded to share the story of how Jesus had rescued me when I needed it most – how God loves us desperately, how Jesus gave His life to pay the price for our sin, and how we can experience freedom and reconnection to God by receiving the gift of His son Jesus.
And there, in the blazing noonday sun, I invited the crowd to respond.CLICK TO PARTNER WITH US IN OUR MISSION TO SHARE THE LOVE OF JESUS WORLDWIDE
And they did – dozens of young Costa Rican teenagers said “Yes” to Jesus and began the journey of a lifetime.
And this is why we do what we do.
I shook my head as our team members gathered around to pray for the young people who had responded – the drained, nauseous, close-to-heat-stroke weariness that I had been fighting just minutes ago was completely gone.
Once again – subtly, miraculously – God had given me what I needed to finish the job.
Our vision is to reach as many people as possible all over the world with the incredible message of freedom in Jesus, and we have been consistently amazed by God’s provision and grace to accomplish this when we have needed it the most.
In less than two weeks we are scheduled to travel to Bosnia, Serbia, and Croatia to share the incredible message of Jesus – that we’ve all separated ourselves from God by our sin, that Jesus paid the price for that sin with His life, and that anyone can experience forgiveness and freedom through Him. We will be sent by On The Go Ministries to work with the Reid Saunders evangelistic association, and we need your prayer!