2 Corinthians 12:7 (b) there was given me a sting of my flesh, an angel of Satan, to buffet me.
That is a nice way of saying he [Paul] was demonically afflicted. The word buffeted literally means "to be hit with small punches. (fist)" I prefer to think of it as buffet-ed; the French word buffet - "a spread laid on a cart to feed to the hungry; with salad at one end and desert at the other."
Behind the scenes the devil working overtime to oppose the will of God in my life; hindsight is always 20/20. Now I can clearly see that there was an equal and opposite reaction to God's advancing Kingdom, by the one roaming around seeking to devour us.
I went to the Post Office and got an application for my US passport. I decided to get two copies in case I made an error. Just a few blocks away I went to the photography studio I once worked at to have instant passport photos taken. My plan was to go right back to the Post Office and be done with it. One problem, I need a "certified" birth certificate from New Haven; 175 miles away!
After frantic phone calls, online searches and Fed-Ex packages, finally a certified birth certificate arrived about 10 days later. I placed the application, photos and birth certificate in a large envelope and headed back to the Post Office. What else could go wrong? The passport photos taken by a professional studio were the wrong size, that's what! The next day I made another appointment, got new photos, and finally my application was on it's way to Boston for processing.
In the midst of getting ready to go to Brazil, I was ministering at a few local congregations with my friend Carlos. HERE is one story, and HERE is another from that season. God was on the move and His supernatural presence followed us wherever we went.
One Saturday someone ran into my car in a parking lot. It was no big deal, the insurance company was going to pay for it -- well some day. It took months to straighten out a dented bumper.
On Tuesday morning I woke up to go to work, and my car with the dent was gone from in front of the house. The bank had sent a repo crew to pick it up. Wow, and I had even paid them on time. It turns out there was some mail fraud in the area, and my checks never made it to the bank, nor did my late notices make it to me. It was going to take a couple of days to fix that problem and I was scheduled to leave in a few days.
Things just seemed to be stacking up - issues that were, well, out of the ordinary.
My team of 4 kept praying, ministering and fellowshipping. To enter Brazil I need to get a travel visa. I Fed-Ex'd my application, a check for 40 dollars, and my passport to the Brazilian Consulate in Boston. All the delays with the passport photos, and birth certificate had made the time-line very tight. I was to leave on Saturday and here it was Wednesday. On Friday afternoon at 3 PM, I received a Fed-Ex from the consulate - VISA DENIED.
God, what is going on? I called the travel agent to cancel my tickets from JFK to Sao Paulo.
On Saturday I took my wife's car to transport my Brazilian friends to the airport. I was able to transfer my tickets for the connection to them. It was emotional as I saw the plane take off from Hyannis headed for JFK without me.
Now what God? You promised me, you provided for me, and now I am standing here. I don't get it!
I went home and prayed for my friends travel. I was so certain I was supposed to go - to be on THIS trip. I began pacing the house, and I was so angry that if I'd had a dog, I would have kicked it.
In my spirit I heard this verse. Mateus 11:12 E desde os dias de João, o Batista, até agora, o reino dos céus é tomado a força, e os violentos o tomam de assalto. Matthew 11:12
The words violento and assulto gave power to my prayer. And the Lord spoke to me. "Go to the consulate in Boston on Monday and I will give you a visa and favor."
Are you kidding me? I don't have a car, my wife needs to get to work. This is crazy. I needed the visa for today, and favor? I needed that before today too! God what are you doing?!?!?
At dinner, I asked my wife, "Can I use the car to go to Boston on Monday to get a visa? I can drop you at work, and get the kids to school on the way."
"I think that would be OK - actually I can go into the stained glass supplier and pick out some glass for my boss and you can drive." She said. "We can get lunch on the way back and then pick up the girls from school."
Sunday I just kept praying. My phone rang, and it was the guys in Brazil. They were there - and I was still in the US. I told them about the promise I had from God for a visa. They didn't seem too convinced - but said they would pray for me.
Monday my wife and I dropped the kids off at school, got a coffee and made the trek to Boston.
"Parking is really bad downtown - and expensive ($13.00/hr), my wife said."
"I was told there are some free spots near the building." I said.
"Well, we'll see." she replied. "I could wait in the car."
We pulled up in front of the Consulate and there was one free spot right in front of the door! It was 2 hour parking. The line was all the way from the second floor, down the stairs and into the street. I took a number; 26, and got in line with my papers. I told my wife I would page her when I was done, but she agreed to wait in the car because we had a free spot.
They stopped giving out numbers for the day at 40.
A gentleman came down the stairs and threw his ticket on the ground mumbling some about the line. I picked it up, number 4. As they called the numbers on the second floor, there was a "telephone" line in English and Portuguese coming down the stairs. "Two!" "Dois!" "Two!" "Dois!" Each person relaying the service number from the second floor.
"Four!" "Quatro!" I went up the stairs, making my way to the window passing, dozens of other folks. Thank you God.
At the window I handed my paperwork to the gentleman there. "David Johndrow" oh - this was a problem. He went back to talk to a supervisor. "You are all set, the cost is $40 dollars and it will be ready this afternoon." He said, returning to the window.
"Would you mind using this Fed-Ex mailer so that I don't have to come back?" I asked.
"That will be fine Mr. Johndrow. Go in peace and bless my people." He said as he handed a receipt back under the glass.
"God bless you." I eked out, in utter surprise at his statement.
I went back down to the car. 17 minutes had passed. Wow!
As I started the car, I heard that still small voice say, "You'll be leaving on Friday."
"Lord I don't even have a ticket!" I thought.
We went to the glass shop as planned, and I decided to stop at the travel agent in the Sommerville section of Boston. I had almost forgotten about my ticket refund. "When would you like to leave?," the agent asked?
"I will have my visa tomorrow, so any day after Wednesday." I replied.
As she scanned the PC screen, she said. "I have one seat for this Friday, and no seats for next week..."
"Friday will be fine," I blurted out. "Friday - yes - Friday"
I paid the $15 fee ticket transfer fee and called my friends in Brazil. "I'll be there on Friday to join you!" I said.
It seemed like anything that could go wrong, did. I wasn't able to get the car issues solved before I left. I broke a crown that had to be repaired. I slipped and fell down the stairs - things were tense at home - but I was on my way to South America.