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I continued my lament, telling the Lord how we had to stand up in front of all these people and tell them that we had read from a book about a man named Jesus who had lived more than 2,000 years ago. No, we had never met this Man, but we were acquainted with Him personally.

Under all the opposing circumstances, how could we expect people to believe our message? At this point my one-sided conversation was suddenly interrupted.

The words "Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Col. 1:27) began to pierce my troubled mind. Over and over the Holy Spirit repeated this phrase from the Word.

I knew it was truth; at least I thought I did. I had invited Jesus into my heart at a very young age. Why was this so important for me to know now?

I began walking back and forth on the same little trail. "Christ in you, the hope of glory," I repeated over and over again, trying to get the significance of the message.

TREASURE IN EARTHEN VESSELS

Suddenly, like a flash of lightning, I understood what the Holy Spirit was saying! The simplicity and wonder of it all left me astounded.

"Hazel Grace, I live in you. The fact that you are just a young girl out in the middle of Africa has nothing to do with the situation.

"What really matters is that I wanted to come to these villages, and you have been willing to bring Me here. The vessel that carries Me is not the important thing; it is the treasure in the earthen vessel that matters."

I was reminded of 2 Corinthians 4:7: "We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us."

As I meditated further, I saw that God had called many strong young men to do this job, but they had given Him reasons they couldn't go. "But," His voice whispered to me with great love and tenderness, "You have said yes to My call.

"Many years ago when you were just 17, I asked if you would be willing to go anywhere for Me, even to the worst place you could imagine. You wept a lot that night, but finally you said, 'Yes, I'll go.' This is one of the places I had in mind when I asked you that question."

I don't know if the flies stayed or left during this glorious encounter with the indwelling Christ, but I do know I was no longer aware of them. I wept and praised as wave after wave of this revelation swept over me.

Not only did the glory of this truth thrill me, but also the practicality of it became clear. With Jesus in me, I had no reason to fear anyone or anything, whether it was an entire village of pagans or a town of strong Moslems.

I was simply the vessel that carried Jesus. I was His mouthpiece to tell the world and, even more specifically, the people of the Touba area in the northwestern corner of the Ivory Coast, that He loved them and longed to deliver them from their sins, bondages and fears.

This revelation of "Christ in me" transformed my thinking. Although He expected me to use wisdom and not be foolhardy in my decisions, when I obeyed His orders, I was not responsible for my own protection.

God would always take care of His interests. This understanding gave me fresh boldness and authority to speak out His message, with an assurance that it was true and that Jesus Himself stood behind every word. *


Hazel Grace Thompson served as a pioneer missionary in Burkina Faso and Côte d'Ivoire, West Africa, for eight years.

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