The first time I’d heard of the “names of God,” I was on my very first mission trip: a women’s mission trip to Ciudad Juarez to build homes for the homeless. Our agenda was to build three homes for three families, and it was my first time doing really anything Church-related.
As a new believer, I was looking at the project much like I would look at any volunteer project. So, when they told me I needed to raise money for the travel expenses and the building supplies, I thought I would simply write a check for my share, somewhere in the neighborhood of $2500. The older ladies shook their heads in admonishment. “This is an opportunity for you to experience God’s provision, as well as glorify him. Do your fundraising.”
They weren’t wrong. We were able to raise enough money for the three pre-built homes, as well as groceries for the families. We were also taking donated clothes, toys, and about 25 cases of baby formula that my daughter hadn’t been able to tolerate. The excitement in the van was tangible as we raced across the country from Denver to the Texas border. I was still heathen enough to own a radar detector, so when I say “raced,” well…. Those ladies were happy to let me do the driving.
We stopped at a Wal-Mart before crossing the border into Mexico. There, we would transfer our donations from the church van to the school bus that would take us to the mission in Juarez but before we left, we went to buy groceries for the families we were planning to meet.
Buying three of things at Walmart is not as easy as it sounds. We quickly discovered that most things come in 2-packs or 4-packs, and since our fundraising exceeded our needs, we rounded up on almost everything. Worst case scenario, we thought we could leave the extra juice, bread, and canned goods at the mission, along with the other donations we were taking, and so, we wound up with four complete sets of groceries for our three-family mission. Then we were on the road into Mexico, our hearts in our mouths.
We had heard horror stories about border crossings into Mexico. I’ve been there many times but usually to shop, not to bring provisions to the citizens, and I was terrified of the border guards seizing our bounty, or worse.
I needn’t have worried! Our seasoned missionaries had put together a prayer schedule with a one-hour window covering the time we would be crossing the border. Our guides would later tell us it was the first time in their history that a guard hadn’t at least boarded the bus.
Then, we were pulling into the mission. The resident missionary gave us a tour of the property, showed us our cabins, and gave us the plumbing instructions (if you know, you know), and soon we were sitting at a lunch table with coffee, introducing ourselves and getting acquainted with the mission.
Learning from a divine appointment
Suddenly, there was a bright light signaling someone at the gate. The missionary departed quickly and then came back to let us know that a woman and her children were at the gate, looking for help. Normally, he said, he didn’t allow unexpected visitors to the mission when he had visiting missionaries on site, but the woman’s husband had just been killed by one of the cartel members and she didn’t know where to go. Being widowed myself only two years earlier, I understood that feeling and he went to let her and her children in.
Suddenly, we knew who the fourth set of groceries was for.
She sat next to me on the bench and I told her, in Spanish, that I had lost my husband dos años pasado but that God was creating a new life for me, as He would for her. She held my hand and we cried together, and eventually, we located a relative that she and her little ones would stay with.
My team looked at me sideways. “We didn’t know you spoke Spanish.”
“I don’t. Not really.”
The missionary looked at me and laughed, saying, “Well, I guess we know why God brought you.”
The powerful names of God
It was during a devotional on that trip that I learned the phrase “Jehovah Jireh,” along with the many other names for God. As I affixed sticky notes to a large wooden cross, meditations on the hurts of the preceding years translated into all the ways God had provided for me, and I began to have a deeper relationship with the Jesus that I had really only come to know a few years prior. I began to allow Him to have a deeper relationship with me.
Every time my church worship team announces a new song, I cringe a little bit. Like many people, I have a comfort zone. And so, when the new song began a few weeks ago, I was not surprised that I found the beat a little plodding, the lyrics a little repetitive. But suddenly, the plodding changed to a swinging beat full of rejoicing, and I was transported to the many mission fields I have visited, experiencing all the methods of God’s provision.
Jehovah Nissi, fight your battles
Jehovah Jireh, meet your need
Jehovah Rapha, heal your body
Jehovah Shalom, be your peace.
I like to think, now, that God reveals to us His many names so we know how to ask for what we need. Whether we need a defender, a provider, a healer, or just someone to settle our souls, God can be any of those. And, more importantly, God can be all of those.