Trophies of Grace

It was poor, the poverty I went by was amazing and the river that ran through the place had dead bodies of animals in it, it was black.

Joy- Welcome to Asked and Answered,” the podcast series that answers all of your mission related questions. With me in the studio are Ron and Charis Pearce. Hello, guys! Welcome!

Ron- Hi Joy.

Joy- Okay, so Ron, in the past I have heard you use this term: trophies of grace, so I’m wondering if you could tell our listeners what you mean by that.

Ron- Well, it all came about from me in India one time. I was in a slum in India and we were meeting in there with this young pastor, 17 years of age. He had three churches. I still remember this was one of the largest slums in India, in Bombay, what they call now Mumbai, and they had this church running, it was in a shack, a little house. It was poor, the poverty I went by was amazing and the river that ran through the place had dead bodies of animals in it, it was black. There was hardly any drinking water. People died all the time and their bodies were collected in the morning, they were taken over and disposed of. It was really bad.

Joy- It sounds really bad.

Ron- It was, it was one of the major slums of India. So out of this we have the church service, (I’m making the story shorter), but we had the church service and at the door was this man shaking hands with everyone. In the hut, probably would have been about 30 people sitting on stairs, sitting on beds, sitting on the floor, sitting everywhere, standing, hanging out a window, and he was the one shaking hands. He had leprosy before and God healed him of leprosy. {He had leprosy} so much so that he didn’t have any fingers, he didn’t have a nose or ears, I think both ears were gone. I can’t remember right now it was a considerably long time period ago. He lost parts of his body to leprosy, let me put it that way. So he stood there, shook hands with everybody, and greeted them. I asked the 17-year-old pastor, So why do you have that man doing that?” He said, He is a trophy of God’s grace and we want to put him out front”. So I thought, okay, so over the years I kept watching as to how the church handled many of these situations where the people were put on display like a trophy case. You know you go into some people’s homes and they’ve got a football trophy or a hockey trophy or baseball or gymnastics or all various things like that, and I’ve watched them over the years and they’re great. Well, in God’s little display case of the world He sometimes has these people who are brought forward and put up to say this is what I can do. That’s what a trophy is basically, it says this is what I can do.

Joy- This is what I accomplished.

Ron- This is what I accomplished, this is it! And so God has his own and, therefore, He wouldn’t look at these people as being superstars because they are not magnificent specimens in any way, they are not professional athletes or somebody that polished their bodies up or their trade or their craft or whatever it is. No, these are people who God did a miracle through, changed their lives, healed them, did something and then they are put up on the stage and said folks, this is what is possible, this is what I did. I will build my church Jesus said, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it and this is just a few of the little things that I’ve gathered over the years. Well, I started to watch for those and they are in every country and you can go and ask national believers and say show me an example if you could, of God’s power in this culture, this people, in this time in history. And they always have somebody that they will say, this man was delivered from demonic possession, this man over here something else, this woman over here was a priestess and she was, I remember in India, she had 1000 people in her church and she used to be in charge in the town of the big snake god, she was the goddess for the snake god. Totally delivered! Now she is the exact opposite. She is a trophy. So that is what I refer to as the trophies of grace.

<p>Slums of Mumbai</p>
I still remember this was one of the largest slums in India, in Bombay, what they call now Mumbai, and they had this church running, it was in a shack, a little house.

Joy- And they would get a lot of attention.

Ron- Oh, they are famous! They were probably famous before in a bad way, they call that infamous, and now they are famous in a good way and they are always there.

Joy- So, with the stories you tell, these trophies of grace, every single time it comes with a new church plant, masses of people following the Lord, is that not correct?

Ron-Yeah, it is.

Joy- They are used by God, God uses a healing.

Ron- In many situations, it is somebody to point to and the unbelievers will look at that person, or even believers that need encouragement, and they will look at that person and say, God is powerful, God is all-knowing, God did this and I can hold onto it. It’s a little bit like the things that we hold onto in the Bible and that maybe the people in the Bible held onto as well. I’m going to think of it here, Moses, Red Sea parting, people going through. They held onto that. That was a miracle. They really held onto that for a long time. We just came through Passover right now, celebrating Passover and the blood was on the doorposts and over the top of the door etcetera, and that was to be done so that the angel of death would not hurt anybody in that household. That was passing over. Well, they hold onto that thousands of years later as a miracle. And those in themselves, those instances of God’s actions, are those trophies. So every church, every situation, has got them and we need them. This is the thing, you just can’t go all the time on theory. You have to have some solid examples; this is God’s power.

Joy- Well, isn’t it one of the reasons you tell the stories that you collect back to the North American church? Because for people who know Empower and support Empower these stories to them are holding onto and opening up their faith and encouraging them.

Ron- Exactly! Joy, why do you think the Book of Acts was written? Why do we have all these stories in the Bible? These are things that hold us to the realization in real life of the power of God. That is something that we need. That is a big part of what the Bible is. Sure we’ve got all the theory there of how do you know God, the theology parts of it, but it’s the stories that are woven together throughout history that are really the things that give us something in the morning to get up and remember. I remember God did this, I remember God did this, and he even says, tell this to your children, to your grandchildren, go through all your generations, I Am the God that did all these things.

Joy- You know, it reminds me of a story you tell about Ethiopia and the woman, I think you even call it show and tell, there was this one woman who would travel and she would be…well, you tell it, you tell it better than I could.

Ron- Okay, she was the sorcerer, the witch doctor for the village, very well known. To get more demonic power she would sell herself a little bit more all the time and finally, she became crippled, she was dying laying on a bed. This is the short version of what I tell. She had heard there was a new man in town who had the power to heal her and deliver her from all the demonic forces that promised her all the right things, but they robbed her of her life and she was dying. So she dragged herself over, she had to drag herself in the dust about, I’m going to say, two to three blocks.

So she dragged herself over, she had to drag herself in the dust about, I’m going to say, two to three blocks.

Joy- Right, because she literally dragged herself on her arms.

Ron- She was on her back using her elbows, dragging herself over to the church in the dust. So here she is and she heard about this man. Well, his name was Jesus, that’s all she knew, and it was the pastor that was there, his name wasn’t Jesus, but the rumor was Jesus, and all she knew was there’s a man to do it. She didn’t know it was God working through this man. So he saw her coming, he went over to her, heard her story, prayed for her, she was totally healed. She danced in front of me and she says, Look!” She was a trophy for that congregation and for that whole area, she would go around giving her testimony and everybody knew it. Everybody that had come to her before for demonic incantation saw that this was a trophy. Therefore that woman, I would look at and I would say for those people, she was the mark of God’s power that they could go back to time and time again.

Charis- I find it fascinating too that it affects people in different ways. It affects the woman who was healed because God healed her personally. It affects the Christians because it encourages them and drives them on, but it also affects the non-Christians who see this and say I want to know that God. So it’s not a miracle that just affects the one person, it affects everybody.

Ron- Exactly! And it’s the same thing Charis, as Jesus when he was on earth. He did the exact same thing. And Lazarus, that was a trophy, coming back to life like that. You can go and you can look at all the times, the man by the pool that was healed, all the miracles, it was for their benefit, yes, but it was for the benefit of all those people who were watching like you just said, and it was for all time, for us, as examples of what is going on. Now, you can always criticize and sort of doubt the fact that these things happened and there are a lot of doubters around. I run into them all the time, well, how, Ron, can you be sure, you weren’t there. Do you have doctor’s reports on this? No, I’ve just got this woman that was dancing around that quite a few people would give testimony that she was the witch doctor and that she was totally incapacitated, she was going to die. And something happened, she says it was God who healed her, and everybody else does too. I would take that as proof. But there are still people who still don’t want to believe and the problem for me is they call themselves Christians and it’s sort of like, if you doubt that then you’re going to be doubting a lot of the Bible and you’re going to be doubting a lot of things that go on in life where God intervenes in the natural and does the supernatural. And he’s doing it all the time in history, he’s doing it in people’s lives, I find the greatest miracle is when people accept the Lord and they are transformed. That is the biggest miracle of all. So I don’t like skeptics, skeptical people are the ones that really need to come to God and ask for their eyes to be opened and for a miracle to take place in their hearts because those people aren’t good for the body of Christ. Overseas I find very few skeptics. In these cultures, third world etcetera, I find very few because they have recognized the fact that these trophies are people that they knew, and that they watched, and they came through whatever they came through, and they are different now and, therefore, these are trophies that God has on the shelf and they are so valuable.

Joy- Well thanks guys, you know, just to go back to the very original thing that you said, the first thing that was so profound, what that 17-year-old pastor said, wasn’t it? This man was a trophy of grace. Okay, well thanks for answering that question.

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