Carry Your Flashlight

The talents that God has given us. What are we doing with them? There are many reasons why we may be tempted to hide our talent in the ground, instead of using it. Disappointment and envy may be one. Perhaps we wondered at some point why we have our particular talents, rather than someone else’s… or why we have one, rather than five. We wonder why our ability seems small compared to the ability of others. Why do we have what we have, and not what some other saint has?

Fear is another reason we may hide our talent. What if nothing happens and it appears to us like our talent is completely useless? What if we try to use it and God is not pleased with our efforts? What if our investment brings nothing?

A few years ago one of my prayers was answered. God answered my prayer to let me go once again to another part of the world to help bring the gospel. This time, I would be going to an “unreached people group”; people who have not heard the gospel in their geographic area in many decades, due to Communist control of the country. Many miles away from the capitol (where new believers were beginning to reach out to their own people for the first time since the country opened up), and without actual roads, the Albanians in these small mountain villages were effectively cut off from the rest of the world. This region, once visited by Paul (see Rom. 15:19-21) was without the gospel and the Word of God for several generations.

I was invited by friends to come help with AERO, the Albanian Evangelical Rural Outreach. For almost a dozen years each summer, Americans and Europeans (and others) were invited to come join Albanian believers in bringing the gospel to these rather isolated rural mountain villages, which lie between the Adriatic Sea, and Macedonia.

Before I left, my dear husband gave me a gift: a small mag light flashlight. This was a gift of love and blessing. He wanted to make sure I was well taken care of. Little did I realize when I was packing, that that would be the most important thing that I brought on this two week adventure.

I went because I so wanted to help share the gospel with people who had not heard it. Plus, it would be such a blessing to see my dear friends at work in their assigned (by the Lord) “homeland” of Albania, among the people they serve and train.

My team consisted of five people. The leader was a man my age, who sold everything he had in America, and came to a small town in Albania with his wife and three children. They were there to stay. He made all the decisions and figured out what we were to do, preached the gospel and taught bible studies. There was a single twenty five year old Albanian woman who spent a lot of time helping the leader communicate with the people we were reaching, especially the mayor of each village. Being a nurse, she also patched up gashes and wounds that children had in the villages, as no hospitals or clinics existed in the villages. There were only mountains, houses, farms and animals. She evangelized and taught the children, organizing “vacation bible school” at each village we visited. She shared the gospel and taught the women in the villages. She worked very hard. There was the nineteen year old Albanian young man who operated our ‘Jesus film’ equipment, and a seventeen year old Albanian girl, who also taught and evangelized the children. I was the only one on the team without an assigned role.

What did I do? I carried the flashlight!

The Lord did let me share my testimony and share the gospel a few times, and my teammates kindly translated for me. But mostly, I carried the flashlight. After a very long landrover ride up to the top of the mountain, we were dropped off. Just us and our backpacks. We walked from village to village, spending a day and night in each village, completely at the mercy of the kindness and hospitality of the people in the village. After spending the day visiting inside the homes of families, we would show the Jesus film and share the gospel, handing out Bibles and children’s Bible storybooks. My flashlight was used every night to help my young brother run the projector and change reels, and for those nighttime outreaches that were lively with gospel proclamation, testimonies, and conversations.

Once I was sitting with a woman in her house. How I wished I could speak to this woman, personally, one on one. I wished we could understand each other. I wished we could have a heart to heart. I looked at her, knowing we have so much in common, although our lives are so different. At one point the leader of the whole project (my friend’s husband) came and joined our team for a few days. We sat and listened to him speak for hours(in Albanian) to the men; having apologetics type conversations in which the gospel was shared. Once an Albanian man laughed at me and said to me, (in Albanian) “What are you doing here, all the way from America, telling us what we do not want (or need) to hear?” Why was I there? What was I doing?

Well, God brought me there and He had work He wanted me to do there.

Sometimes at night we walked to the next village through fields, across farms and creeks. I held up the flashlight so my team could see where they were stepping, in the dark but star filled nights. Sometimes I thought, “I’m here in Albania, holding a flashlight.” Well the flashlight sure was a comfort to us, as we crossed that field, with only open grasses around us, and the huge starry sky above us. We heard a wolf, and later we heard shotgun fire. We were not sure if they were shooting at us! Oh, and did I mention we were pretty much lost, wandering in circles (in the middle of nowhere)? We were looking for a certain house that we would spend the night at. Later at the house, we discovered that the man of the house was trying to shoot the wolf, (shooting into the field!) since he knew we were on our way. Boy that made us feel better!(ha!)

Have you been given a flashlight? God has given you something. Perhaps it is small. Perhaps it is one thing instead of five. Perhaps it is not as glamorous as what some other saint has. What are you doing with your flashlight? Will you be disappointed that you got a flashlight? Will you be afraid it won’t make one bit of difference?

God is the one who has chosen what kind of talent you should have, how many you should have, and what amount of ability you should have. He knows what He is doing! He has given and entrusted these talents to us, and He will bring the result from their use, if we humbly and gratefully accept what He has given us; if we are obedient in doing what He told us to do with them.

So be thankful for your flashlight, and use it. Hold it up and carry it well. Don’t stick it in a drawer. God has a special assignment, just for you. He has given you not only salvation as a gift, but talents as a gift that He wants you to use for Him; to invest in faithful service to Him. He has a plan for these talents; we must do what He tells us to. Few or many, great or small, it matters not. Be faithful. Carry your flashlight and God will be honored and pleased as you show your faith, gratitude, obedience, trust and love for Him. Someday He will show you the result of your work. You will be able to show Him the increase on His investment. And He will show you your reward.

Well done, good and faithful slave, you were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master. Matt.25:21.

Audio: What are we doing with the talents God gave to us?

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2 thoughts on “Carry Your Flashlight

  1. Loretta,
    What a wonderful testimony and thus a wonderful post. Praise God for the light.
    I can relate to the “language barrier” thing. We have also traveled to some other countries, and boy is it tough when you can’t speak their language. It sure makes you appreciate it when you can speak their language.

    Thanks and may you be blessed as you go,
    Richard

  2. Hi Richard,
    Yes, it was the most challenging thing I’ve ever experienced physically, but the language barrier was by far the hardest part of all. I do love to talk and communicate! : )

    I so wanted to speak more, personally, to the dear people in these villages(beyond a few words). I had only about 2 weeks to prepare for going, so I arrived with only a few words of this unusual language, and I was a pretty slow learner while I was there.

    It did help me appreciate the fact that most of the tens of thousands of internationals here in the Bay Area, speak English already when they arrive!

    Thanks Richard, and the Lord bless you as you work.
    love, Loretta

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