How I Learned to Trust God #3

by Dustan Stanley
April 19, 2012


by D.E. Stanley

Part 1 | Part 2  | Part 3

This is a continuation of How I Learned to Trust God #2

“…why were they looking for me?” I asked.

“Well, they were looking to arrest you…”


“Yeah, they came, acting like normal folks. When they found out you left the village they pressed us, but all is well. Just stay away for a little while.”

“No problem.”

Indonesia coastline - Revolutionary Life

Indonesia coastline,

So we did. Ironically those were our plans already. We were to go to a different part of the city to help a few villages in their attempt at rebuilding their lives. In a way, I was walking around in a fog of awe, if there is such a thing. I felt like I was floating, absolutely amazed at God’s love and protection. Seriously, three different times the corrupt leaders had come looking for me, and three times I was somewhere else. It felt like the bible, when they attempted to arrest Jesus but he walked right through the midst of them to freedom. My heavenly father made sure I was far from their grasp. What love! I had never experienced such, and although I was being more cautious, I felt braver than I had ever felt before.

Looking back, that defining moment, when I chose to chance death rather than disobey God, has directed my life even until this day. I discovered then that I was stronger (in Christ) than I thought. I WAS brave, even though I doubted it before. That in Christ I am enough and have inside me the courage it takes. I cannot tell you in words the difference that reality makes. It’s as if you doubted you were real this whole time, wondering like Pinocchio, am I just a shell of man, a fake; will I be discovered for who I truly am and shamed? But then, in an instant, in the power of God and Love, you charge instead of retreat, you stand instead of kneel, you take the reigns, paint yourself blue, and run into the battle. Afterwards, you are never the same.

That’s how I felt. That’s how I feel. One act truly can change you, thus changing your future. Even now, as I signed the first copies of my first book, The Winter Letter, I find myself writing, Be Brave. Always to the young boys.

Afterwards, we moved to the new mission base and began prepping for a major food delivery. The disaster could still be smelled in the air, and some of the fishing villages were so terrified of the ocean that they would not even fish. Thus, food deliveries were still needed. Our plan was to deliver a dump-truck full of food. Yes, literally, a dump truck, then we would spend some time talking with the people.

“Hey Dustan,” said Mr. Leader with the money.

“Yes sir?”

“Go with these guys, fill the back of this dump-truck up with this list of food. Buy from the locals as much as you can. Meet us back here afterwards and we’ll head out. Think you can handle that?”

This was the first time I was put in charge of anything. I had no idea what I was doing, but for some reason this guys asked me. So naturally…

“Yeah I got this! No Problem!”

And, to my surprise I did, and I did with new confidence. Surely if God could use someone like me to share the Gospel in such a place as this he could use me to buy a bunch of food to fill a dump-truck. We bought bags and bags of rice, veggies, some meats, spices, water, you name it, then we headed to the village.

We took an additional car, and I rode in that, and as we went I caught a  glimpse of what the tsunami had done to the central part of the city. One place we stopped was nicknamed Death City. Here, in this small little area, somewhere near 17,000 people had died. Every house that stood still was gutted in the bottom two floors, tiny little shoes lay without their owners, and once again the smell of death lingered. As we explored we came across a massive ship blocking the road. Mind you, I said ship, not BOAT. It was some sort of generator vessel, and had been literally tossed a few kilometers inland. Insane. This is what the ocean can do when it breaks the this far and no farther rule.

A village nicknamed Death City after the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami - Revolutionary Life

A village nicknamed Death City after the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami

After, we weaved our way an hour or so south of the city, driving on new makeshift roads, as the old ones were mostly destroyed by the earthquake. When we pulled up to the village my heart dropped. The place was desolate; nothing remained but a few UNICEF tents on concrete foundations. Behind the village was the mountain, showing fresh dirt where the wave had slammed against it. If I remember right, this one particular village had nearly 4,000 people in it before the tsunami, but only around 50-100 were still alive after. Remnants of buildings accented white tents built on crates. Less than a hundred yards behind rumbled the Indian Ocean with its white caps spitting fear.

We unloaded while our good Indonesian brothers and sisters shared with the villagers what we had come to do. They were thrilled. As said, because the fear of the ocean remained, the main source of food was limited, coupled that with not being able to buy rice and the residents felt stuck. Thank God for the givers who had given Mr. Leader the money. Without knowing it they were about to feed hundreds.

A ship tossed ashore by the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami  - Revolutionary Life

A ship tossed ashore by the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami

So we started unloading. Bag after bag, crate after crate and with every new armful new thanks and tears were returned. The wonderful Indonesian thank you, terimah kasih, literally means I have received (terimah – same root word as terminal) your pure and holy love (kasih). And that’s what we came to give, and that’s what they received, love. As we finished unloading the ladies insisted we stay the night. They needed time and they wanted to feast us, to share in a community meal of thanks. There was no way we were passing that up, so we started setting up our tents maybe fifty yards are so from the ocean while the ladies starting prepping.

“What a day,” I said to my good Indonesian friend (let’s call him Ned).

“I know. It is wonderful to be a part of this,” said Ned.

“Do you think that—”

HONK HONK! yelled a horn.

We turned to see two military jeeps slide to a stop. Four or five military guys, all with machine guns in hand stepped from the vehicle.

Our Indonesian friends approached the soldiers, smiling. “Is there a problem sir?” they asked.

The lead military man rattled back some very fast Indonesian, then turned to the villagers. “These people are not here just to love you. They just want your money!” he half screamed.

Our brave Indonesian comrades stepped forward, urging that this was wrong, but the officer turn back towards them and gave them a hard glare, followed by a stream of Indonesian so fast and brutal that I had no clue. After the tongue lashing was over our Indonesian friends turned back to us.

“They say we have to go with them… now.”

To Be Continued