I was invited to a conference this past weekend in Tuscany of the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry (Bethel Church in Redding, California). And I was surprised to find that my calendar was open between trips (returning from Israel and going to Albania and Kosovo). So I made plans to go, and it was a wonderful time in so many ways.
Since this would be a conference on the prophetic, I knew that Felicity would be interested in going. So I invited her, and she in turn invited Max and Guy, who are her buddies from church. The three of them often get together to worship and pray. They only had enough money for the conference, hotel, and train to Tuscany. They wondered aloud about how to get back to Milan. I said, “God wants you down there, so He will provide you a ride home.” Then I forgot all about it. (That’s usually the way when God speaks through me because it didn’t originate in my own brain, so it doesn’t always stick in my brain.)
I arrived at the hotel and was placed in a room with two other women who also came from Milan. One was in the shower when I arrived, so I got to know Maria, who is starting up a church in Brianza, just outside of Milan. It was a case of instant friendship, which happens often in Christian circles. Then she asked about my church, which is the biggest Evangelical church in Milan. Of course she knew it, and she said that Juana, our showering roommate, used to go to my church, and her daughter has been ordained by the church as a youth pastor. I know the daughter, but I didn’t know the mother. That’s often the case, that you know people, but not necessarily their connections to one another. When Juana came out of the bathroom, we instantly recognized each other, and laughed about what a small world it is.
The next morning after the official welcome and a wonderful worship session, we heard some encouraging testimonies—one by a fellow Texan! Then a young man from the Bethel School told us that he looks like a regular guy, but in reality, he’s a superhero. Then he took off his shirt, and underneath was a Spiderman T-shirt. He told us that his superpower is love. What he does is prays for God to show him people who need His love, then he goes out, armed with a sketchy description of people to look for. When he finds them, he just starts talking to them, getting to know them, and showing them love. Sometimes they ask for prayer, other times, he connects with people who are hostile and suspicious. Both kinds of people get the same love from him because God led him to them.
So he told us how to make a Treasure Map:
- Pray and ask God who He wants you to show love to
- On any piece of paper, write whatever impressions you get about:
- Appearance – like a red jacket or bald head, etc.
- Objects – skateboard, blue backpack, etc.
- Name – could be either their name or the name of one of their loved ones
- Location – coffee shop, beach, etc.
- Actions – dancing, sitting alone, etc.
- Or if the Lord gives you a picture to draw, make the drawing to give to someone
- Or if the Lord motivates you to do so, buy a bunch of single-serving cookies or whatever and pass them out on the street
- Go out and start looking for the people described in your Treasure Map
- When you find them, follow the leading of the Holy Spirit about how to talk to them:
- “Pardon me, is your name Joe? Do you know someone named Joe?”
- Or “Hey, I like your haircut.”
- Or “You look sad, may I pray for you?”
- Most of all, keep love as your motivator
- This is not a time to get into theology or apologetics
- Love, love, love is all you say and do
Simple and easy, right? Well, then he told us that we were going to go out and do a Treasure Hunt right after lunch. You would be surprised how many of us were scared by the prospect of starting a conversation in such a strange way—including yours truly! I was originally on the same team with Suki, who is a very bold evangelist, unintimidated by anything (a Muslim headscarf, strangers, etc.). So I thought I would just go with her and hang back, myself (I definitely do not have a gift for evangelism). But, being bi-lingual, I was pulled out of Suki’s team and put with another that needed an interpreter. Acting as an interpreter made it both easier and necessary to talk with people. And the thing that the Bethel student said to each person also came out of my own mouth in Italian. So in this way, it didn’t feel quite so risky. In fact, I found myself taking over and talking with the people on my own. What had seemed so scary and intimidating turned out to be both fun and rewarding.
It occurred to me that Treasure Hunting would be a great way to pass the time in airports and train stations—something my traveling missionary lifestyle requires a lot of. It sure beats reading a book or working a Sudoku puzzle.
One thing the young man in the Spiderman T-shirt said really stuck with me. First a little background: I had recently been led to ask the Lord once again if He ever refuses to heal. When I had asked the Lord this question two years ago, the answer came back that it is always His will to heal. Just before coming to the conference I was with a couple of pastors and their wives from the US. A mutual friend asked us to pray for his friend who is quickly dying of cancer. So one of the pastors immediately started praying—something I do all the time—but he said this in the prayer: “Lord, we know that You don’t always choose to heal everybody . . .” Before my brain had a chance to understand what it was hearing, my body reacted by bending violently at the waist with a whoosh of air coming out of my mouth, just as if I had been punched in the gut. From that, I was certain that the Lord had given me my answer once again: that it is always His will to heal people. I didn’t get the chance to speak privately with the pastor who prayed that, and I sure didn’t want to confront him publicly, and now they’ve gone back to the US. *Sigh!*
(Despite the fact that it is God’s will always to heal people, there are still lots of people who never see their healing manifested in the flesh. WHY??? I keep coming back to the same answer on that, too: lack of faith. Sorry! I know that may hurt your feelings, but that’s what it is. Often we rob ourselves of our healing by our own words. How many times have you heard someone who immediately after you pray for their healing, they say, “I hope I’m healed.” It makes me want to cry! I guess we need to caution people to guard their words before praying for their healing.)
So, back to Spiderman: what he said was confirmation to me on the issue of healing. He said, “God is always willing to heal everybody.”
Then the following morning over breakfast, Max told me that they have a ride back to Milan with Juana, my roommate. He reminded me that I had prayed for it. By this time, I had forgotten all about that prayer. And a woman at the table asked us to pray for her friend who is suffering from lupus. Suki prayed, and then I joined with prayer, too. Suddenly, I began weeping uncontrollably. My dad died of lupus in 2000. At the time, it was a relief and a release because he had been so sick for such a long time (about 20 years) that I hadn’t cried much. Plus, Daddy was a believer, so it was sweet, knowing that he had gone to be with Jesus. But praying for her friend’s healing from this cruel disease caused the dam to break. At the time, I hadn’t dared to ask God to heal Daddy. At the time, I hadn’t known that God wants to heal everybody. I was so intimidated by the ravaging effects of the disease that I didn’t have the faith to see him healed. Yes, it hurts to know that I didn’t have the faith to see Daddy healed. But after crying it out, there was birthed in me a determination to bring healing to people, including this woman’s friend. Breakthrough!
Part of that breakthrough was a new and deeper love for people—God’s lost Treasures. And just because I had the determination and desire to love and heal people, I saw people start coming to me—attracted to the love in me. I love the Treasure Map strategy, and I encourage you to go out today and hunt for Treasure. It’s the most fun and rewarding thing I’ve ever done!
So this morning on my way to the airport to go on my next adventure, I sat on the bus next to a lady who looked and sounded South American. So I greeted her with a smile, and asked where she’s from. She said she’s from Peru, so I told her about Nina, who is Colombian. She was curious about me, so she peppered me with questions, and I told her about being a missionary, and about my church in Milan. She wanted to know where it is, and it turns out to be in her neighborhood. I gave her my card, and asked her name, and she said Nina! No coincidence with God, this had been a divine appointment, so she will visit the church.
Then in the airport I met another woman and her daughter. They also peppered me with questions. The daughter was especially interested to know about me. They are Albanian, and were very interested in knowing about why I’m going to Albania. My answer (to pray for Albania) surprised and pleased them. And although Albania is largely Muslim, they are Christians. I think they may have moved to Italy because of wanting to live in a Christian country (without understanding that Italy isn’t really very Christian). I had brought three copies of my book, Look, Listen, Love, not knowing who I would give them to. The daughter understands English, so I gave her a book and wrote a personal note inside for her. She was so pleased that she opened her suitcase and gave me a stuffed toy to be a companion for Prayer Bear (who had been busy charming her while her mother and I spoke).
So here’s what I learned: Treasure Hunting is really easy if you make sure that you’re walking in love for God and for your fellow humans. More than that, it’s so much fun, I feel like the time I wasted focused on myself is like another life, one lived in a dream. Now I’m more truly alive than ever before! God is good! Get out there and love some people, and let them know about what real love is.