For years, whenever the core team of IPICM has travelled afar to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with other cultures, there has been something of a price to pay. Although sometimes aimed directly against the team members themselves, in more recent years, family members have often received what can only be described as the brunt of Satan’s wrath. The ongoing record is far too lengthy to be discussed here. But as it happened, this year proved to be little different from years past. For example, three members of Harrison’s family, in three different parts of the country, visited hospital emergency rooms the week before the team’s departure. That same week, Michael’s parents each received disparaging health diagnoses and his sister was quickly scheduled for major surgery. And these were only the beginnings of what both men were forced to endure while on the mission field. It might also be noted that in the two weeks that followed their returns home, Harrison’s problems continued with his “car from hell,” while Michael’s father was hospitalized twice in the same week that Michael himself was treated for pneumonia. Just a coincidence? (Michael’s father passed away five weeks following his return.)
What has always stood out to those forced to put up with the enemy’s tactics, is something of a silver lining. We know the enemy of the faith would never work so hard if he didn’t have so much to lose. We at IPICM freely admit, our goal is to plunder the kingdom of darkness. What you are about to read is evidence of that goal’s partial fulfillment.
By Monday evening, the team of three—Dr. Michael Lanier, Harrison Hunter, and Peter Valenzuela—begun their journey, resulting with their meeting up in New Jersey. Harrison and Peter flew from Arizona, whereas Michael departed from Texas. Harrison’s daughter, Kellee, was kind enough to pick up the team from the airport at late-night intervals. By daybreak, the three men launched out on what was to be a memorable trek. First, they had to hasten to catch a bus in Weehawken—in the rain, dragging their bags in tote—to take them to the Port Authority hub. Nearly missing their stop—which they would have missed had it not been for an observant fellow passenger—they travelled to New York where they then hooked up with the subway system. The goal was to make it to JFK Airport in time for their morning flight. The greatest concern was for potential delays associated with the morning commute and then a potentially long wait at TSA security. But God’s grace was with the team, as it made the jaunt without incident. Even TSA was virtually empty, though it had been in the news for weeks for having as much as two hour waits at many major airports.
Tuesday was spent in the air between New York and Johannesburg, South Africa. The flight, though long (15 hours over the Atlantic Ocean), was uneventful and very tiring.
By Wednesday afternoon, the team had made its way from Johannesburg to the town of Ndola, in northwestern Zambia. I’ll pause to share a bit of humor. Not knowing exactly what to expect when flying into Zambia, as it was expected to be different from the normal border crossing, the team followed the precise instructions for entry as stated on the official Zambian Embassy website. However, the tree men quickly learned that nothing on the site seemed to apply. Passports were stamped without need for visa applications, yellow fever card, etc. When Michael inquired as to why our visa forms were not needed as stated in the websites conflicting info, “Misinformation!” was the only response offered. Okay. In hindsight, it’s better to have what’s requested and not need it than . . . .
Stephen Kaindu—who would serve as the team’s host for the next three weeks—met the men at the airport. After a bit of brief business (buying food and phones), the team made its way to a local guest house were everyone began their adjustment to African time; preparing for the immanent “jet lag” ordeal.
Thursday was slated for the first day of ministry. The team had been asked to bring a devotion to a gathering of teachers at a nearby school. As is often the case in Africa, Michael and Harrison—the latter designated to speak—arrived late and were given just three minutes to present a word. Not a good start, but they managed their assignment. The rest of the day was given to some much needed rest. The team was also joined by our Malawian friend and partner, Happy Gondwe, who travelled a grueling trek by bus to join the team in northwestern Zambia.
On Friday, the full team ministered at Bethel Mission Church, in Ndola. Michael taught the first of several lessons on the Kingdom of God, with Harrison following-up with the application and Peter sharing that Jesus is “the unchanging miracle worker.” Those in attendance numbered 123, with one individual praying for salvation. The meeting marked the first of a three-week long series of prophetic and healing services.
Saturday was a travel day. The team rented a car to take them first to Solwezi and later to Manyama; the team was scheduled to minister at the latter for the next three days. The drive was truly an eye opening event. The men travelled for an unrelenting eight hours down a highway that was sometimes wide enough for a single vehicle, and sometimes nothing more than a dirt road. The journey was rough but not entirely unexpected. No one complained. When the team finally arrived in the sleep town of Manyama, the sun was already nearing the end of its day. The men setup home in the Washi Washi Guest House, where a meal, bath, bed, and some much needed rest were welcomed by all.
At this point, one additional note should be added. The three men, along with their African partners, met for prayer before turning in for the night. During prayer time, Michael received a vision that the team would minister to a tall, slim, aging man with greying hair and beard on the next day. The man is “distraught, in despair, and hopeless” came the accompanying words. Although no one truly knew the magnitude of what to expect the coming morning, Michael shared that he believed the team was about to embark on some of the most powerful meetings they would experience over the course of the coming three weeks. Little did he know just how true his words would be.