Rachael is a missionary based out of YWAM Kona and has been to Papua New Guinea twice now. She works with the Ships (Mercy) ministry, and most recently returned from months on a boat visiting islands and administering medical care. Fascinating and rambunctious, she is a gem. Rachel has been a dear friend of mine for many, many years.
She is stunning, one of the most beautiful women I know, and absolutely infectious. She stirs up zeal in those around her, has a deep, contagious joy and enthusiasm about life: she is infectious. She has a brazen, unapologetic, audacious view of God and audacious ability to LOVE and bring truth to the people she comes in contact with.
The story begins, here...
As they got closer and closer to the shore of Karkar Island, Rachael realized the small dots on shore were actually 50 young, totally naked, very tanned kids screaming and jumping around, very excited for the arrival of the missionaries. The island doesn't really get visitors, especially white ones. Rachael says this welcome scene "was overwhelming:" clearly "the Lord had called us to come here, and they were all waiting. We knew God had something specific and special in mind then."
They tied up their ship...to a palm tree. The island itself, in Rachael's eyes, looked just like Jurassic Park. "You can't even describe how beautiful it was." I asked her what it felt like, being there: "Imagine being in an oven, covered by the stickiest sauce you could imagine. (She laughs). Like that." Karkar Island is quiet, calm, welcoming - "Except for when it rains--there are crazy thunderstorms...There aren't many birds, you can just hear the wind in the trees. And you can hear kids laughing everywhere you go."
Rachael says the kids would swim out to the Zodiacs (small vessels able to scoot to shore) at six am every day and yell the names of everyone on the ship they knew, waiting for them to come out. “One of the kids’ names was ‘Batman.’ And they didn't know how old they were, so they’d make up a number.” She saw Jesus “in the kids. They were always singing a song about Jesus’ love. I saw Jesus in their eyes, in their voices, in their smiles...when you were with them you knew you were with Jesus."
This medical ship had ophthalmologists, dentists, primary health care workers, and community development teams on board. They did the first eye surgery ever on the island: 64 cataract surgeries, 42 removals of eye moles, and many other surgeries on the boat. Rachael says "the opthamologist wasn't saved, but I think he is now." He came to worship with the teams every morning, prayed, and really loved the YWAMers.
There's no hospital or medical care on the island - "Women give birth on giant banana leaves by themselves." As a new mom, I can't even imagine. Major props to those PNG Mommas.
Rachael tells me that the people of Karkar Island are shy, but once you break that open they're the most kind, joyful, accepting people. "They automatically call you uncle or cousin."
"Every day we'd send the Zodiac to shore, [it would rain the entire trip] and a truck would go hours to the village, bring back villagers to the Zodiac, and back to the ship at anchor. The team would pray and show the Jesus film. We’d talk with them...if they didn't know English we'd pat them on the back," she says with a smile. It sounds amazing - the villagers would have their eye surgeries, and the team would watch them see for the first time.
You might think, “5o people on a ship? Close quarters? In unfamiliar territory, exerting themselves all the time? Yeah, that’s for sure messy.” But Rachael says their teams were of “One mind, one purpose, one heart...There was no drama. Everyone clicked.” When she talks about her teammates and the people they worked with, it’s all positive and endearing. “We were spreading the Gospel, working with local pastors,” often fitting 25 people in the back of a truck. Their ship’s camaraderie and positive culture she calls, “A God thing.”
The Harvest is Ready.
Rachael's impression of God after two and a half months on a ship is that “God just provides. He really showed how he did….With finances, but everything we needed. Environment, clothing, food, people, stability...When things got overwhelming, he was reliable. God provides in every way.” The way she says it is fascinating - she mentions finances and food without much emphasis - what’s more real to Rachael is God’s character and faithfulness in the midst of it all.
For Rachael, adventuring with Jesus "Is challenging but beautiful. And it’s pretty fun." She tells me that "We went to pour into the nation and community, to paint the glory of God for them and they ended up painting the glory of God on our hearts." People were "living in huts but willing to give everything they have" for each other and the visitors. They were open, responsive, "The most joyful people you could ever imagine."
I asked what makes their joy so great: “They aren’t consumed. People in the first world are absorbed in technology. All they have [in PNG] are their coconuts and their family. They're joyful because they have each other and love and they know the value of family and hard work.”
Rachael tells me that Papua New Guinea “just announced they are a dedicated Christian Nation...I think a lot of the joy has to do with the Lord being there and Holy Spirit being welcomed.”
Ok. Rachael, what would you say to a person who said, ‘Great for Papua New Guinea, but America isn’t a Christian nation anymore so there’s not hope for joy like that.’ "
She takes a breath, and with a kind, yet stern tone says, “You can’t underestimate the power of love. When someone gets a hold of true love, true Christianity….Man. You don’t have to start by changing America, but by individuals looking for something more. It’s about the love that transforms the heart. America can be transformed.”
The audacity of the Gospel is infectious. It’s infectious in joy, it’s infectious in love, it’s infectious in kindness. Rachel changes the lives of others daily, because she chooses to love, find joy, and delight. She chooses to be brave, not respond to fear, and walk in confident originality.
She believes in a Savior who came to set the entire world free, and believes that the Gospel really is such Good News to the perishing.
Live by the example of my friend this week.
We possess the Hope of nations, the Savior of souls, and Redeemer of all things.
God is moving on the earth. He's healing bodies, restoring vision, bringing joy, and joining people together in love.
Believe it for the world, believe it for yourself, believe it for America.
The Audacious Gospel. It's yours for the taking.
Luke 10:2 - Romans 10:9-10 - 1 Corinthians 15 - Matthew 12:21 - Romans 5:10 - Galatians 3:13