As I read through the Bible this year, I am focusing on finding missions-related texts. While Psalm 3 is really all about David fleeing from his enemy, his son Absalom, it is a beautiful prayer to remember while on a missions trip. Especially when you are in hostile territory. Let me explain.
In March of 2005, my husband and I were on a missions trip to Mindanao, the southernmost island in the Philippines. There are State Department warnings against any travel in Mindanao by Americans. Violence errupts on a regular basis on this island, as Muslim extremists battle for control. You may recall the story of Martin and Gracia Burnham, American missionaries who were kidnapped by the Abu Sayaf, a terrorist group with ties to Osama bin Laden, and spent a year of terror in the Philippine jungle. Martin was killed during the rescue. Gracia has written a book depicting their odeal, “In the Presence of My Enemies.”
We were with Vernacular Video Mission International, partnering with Vernacular Media Network. We were in a rather remote area, doing a medical outreach one Sunday afternoon following the church service. One little baby boy had been waiting to see the doctor, my husband. One of the nurses we had with us saw the condition of this boy and brought him to the front of the line. Little Ronnie had a strangulated hernia. His condition had been rapidly deteriorating and he would die without surgery. We were many hours from a medical facility, but 17 of us piled into and ONto the extended cab pickup for the drive back to Davao City, in the dark, in the rain. The six of us “Joes” (after “GI Joe”) were like a sitting target for radicals. We prayed for Ronnie and sang hymns as we wound our way through the jungle roads to the city hospital. Ronnie’s life was spared. And ours, too!
Psalm 3:1 O Lord, how many are my foes!
Many are rising against me;
2 many are saying of my soul,
there is no salvation for him in God. Selah
3 But you, O Lord, are a shield about me,
my glory, and the lifter of my head.
4 I cried aloud to the Lord,
and he answered me from his holy hill. Selah
5 I lay down and slept;
I woke again, for the Lord sustained me.
6 I will not be afraid of many thousands of people
who have set themselves against me all around.
7 Arise, O Lord!
Save me, O my God!
For you strike all my enemies on the cheek;
you break the teeth of the wicked.
8 Salvation belongs to the Lord;
your blessing be on your people! Selah