“Come on, Wilson, you gotta try one thing at least!”
Will Hart was admonishing me, and as usual, I was laughing. I don’t think I laugh more with anyone in the world than I do with Will Hart, an evangelist who has accompanied me on various film shoots around the world, and who has become a trusted friend. He is, without question, one of the funniest people I know. He also has a heart that absolutely burns for God and for saving the lost. But today, he was having some fun at my expense.
We were at an enormous outdoor market in Bangkok, Thailand, taking a day off from shooting to see some sights. At this moment we were standing in front of a vendor who was offering such delectable delights as fried baby sparrows (with legs and head included), wasps, water beetles, and crickets. The other guys had all tried something, which, of course, meant that my manhood was now on the line. I gingerly chose the wasp, since it was the smallest, and crunched down. It tasted like…a wasp. Will bellowed with laughter at my face, and popped another baby sparrow into his mouth. He said it was pretty good, but crushing the skull and dealing with the rubbery feet were kind of nasty.
I had just spent a week with my crew and Will in Bangkok and Pattaya, as we filmed with various ministries who are light in darkness in the truest sense of the word. We spent time with ministries like Nightlight Design, which works tirelessly to get women out of the sex trade and into a job making jewelry. The goal is to give these women a job outside of prostitution, and to give them their dignity back.
Whenever I go somewhere to film, there is almost always at least one ministry I visit who is already working in the area. Only occasionally do I go into a place blind, and that is becoming increasingly rare. But even though we may be working with an established ministry in the area, we will almost always hit the streets themselves with whoever I have brought with me. So I go to an area knowing a little about what I am going to capture, but I always want to allow for God to do whatever He wants with us–to allow for those “God moments” that my films are known for.
Will Hart was the guy I brought along to help with the God moments. He had lived in Mozambique with Heidi and Rolland Baker, and has seen thousands of miracles in his 28 years. He’s done a lot of street ministry and evangelism, and he has a giant heart for Thailand, so I figured he would be perfect for this trip. Plus, I knew we were going into a heavy atmosphere, and the more laughs we could have along with us, the easier it would be for everyone.
We filmed a lot with Will that week; in bars, clubs, and brothels, he wasn’t afraid of anything or anyone, and intimidation didn’t seem to be in his vocabulary. He has one of the most uncanny abilities I have ever seen to instantly make a stranger feel comfortable and unthreatened when he approaches them. I watched in amazement as he approached people, prostitutes, and predators with tenderness and confidence that God wanted to show every one of them how much He loved them. Will is also very prophetic, and he never shied away from speaking prophetic words over people, and many were amazed and left in tears when they heard the words God had for them. It was beautiful to watch all week.
But there was another occurrence that happened with alarming regularity that caused all of us no small sense of embarrassment and awkward moments. For some reason, this week Will had a thing for birthdays.
I kid you not, with nearly everybody Will encountered, the first thing he tried to do was guess their birthday. Now this wasn’t a normal thing for him to do, in fact he’d never done it before in his life, but for some reason this week whenever he met someone he would get a very strong impression of a particular date, and he was almost certain it was a birthdate. So he would approach someone, start a little small talk, then ask them if, by chance, their birthday was October 3. Every person, without fail, gave him a blank stare then stated that no, in fact, their birthday was on April 30. No matter what date he gave, their real birthdate was about as far from it as possible.
The first few times it happened it was kind of funny. Will would look sheepish but then would barrel forward. I’d usually laugh nervously, inwardly hoping he’d stop doing this stupid birthday thing. But with each new person we met there came another stab at the birthday. By the end of the week, Will was…I was shocked to see it…frustrated. God was doing great things, but Will couldn’t figure out what was going on with these birthdays. He was CERTAIN that what he was hearing was from the Lord; he knows that voice, he would tell me over and over again. And he had never been this wrong this often in his entire life. What was going on?
We both got the answer on the same day towards the end of our stay in Thailand. That morning, I had a strong sense of what God might be doing, and later in the afternoon Will approached me with the exact same thought. God was teaching us, and me in particular, a lesson.
Without question the most frequently voiced comment I hear from people when they see my films is some iteration of “Boy, I sure wish stuff like that would happen to me.” When I ask them if they ever pray for people around them, the same look of shock and horror that I know so well flickers across their face. “Oh, I could never do that. It would be terrifying!” In my experience, though, the people who do these kinds of things on a regular basis–who see someone in need no matter where they are, and approach them to pray for them–are always nervous about what they’re about to do. It’s never easy to pray for someone, especially if you don’t know them. But often, even when we do know them, even if it is a member of our own family, we become so paralyzed by fear that we are grounded by inaction.
Jesus was quite clear that we would “do greater things” than he did. This seems like a pretty clear directive to walk confidently into the dark unknown and face our own unbelief head on. Having talked with countless Christians over the years, I am now convinced that the overwhelming reason more Christians are not stepping out in their faith, are not praying for full blown healing and intervention in someone’s life, and generally do not act on Jesus’ admonition to do greater things than he did is because we are terrified, utterly horrified by the prospect of being wrong, looking foolish, and in no small way, making God look weak. We either fear man, or we fear a silent God. Either way, it is fear that is keeping us from a life of faith.