I have learned so much over my travels of the past 5 months, so I write this in memory of the kind of man that God has made me. Whenever I recall this story – it is the story that culminates everything that I have learned in the past 5 months – it reminds me of the heart that God has given me.
It was during our outreach in the Philippines, in a place called Lasam, where we had divided our group to do some door knocking evangelism. My group consisted of Sarah Lowe, Rebekah Rayner and myself in along with two ladies from the church and two of the youth to assist us in translating. At the first house we entered, we were greeted by a woman who could barely stand due to Parkinson’s Disease.
She was also a believer. She had attended the same church as the two ladies who were with us, but because of the Parkinson’s she was unable to walk to church and was bed ridden for months. As she told us her story, the Holy Spirit came and totally wrecked us with the heart of God for this woman. Everyone was in tears. It wasn’t just a tear or two, everyone was weeping with noses running and everything. God had impressed on all of us His heart for His daughter. So my team and I prayed for her, and as we prayed, we wept some more. Sarah felt like the Holy Spirit wanted us to sit in this woman’s home for a while and just fellowship with her. So we did, and as we did, God spoke to me while sitting at the woman’s feet.
He said in that small still voice of His, in the quiet of everyone’s weeping…
Ian, kiss her feet
And so began the struggle between myself and God for the next half hour or so.
I was going back and forth with God saying, “God is this you? Are you saying this? Hold on let me try listening again. Maybe that wasn’t you.”
But the voice was constant, “Ian, kiss her feet.” I finally came to the conclusion that it was God and not just my imagination, but I continued to struggle with the idea saying, “But God, it’s her feet! But God I don’t know this lady! But God, what if they’re dirty! But God, is there anything else I can do?! God why me?!”
Meanwhile, Rebekah and Sarah continued to pray for the lady and read her verses from the Bible to encourage her. The atmosphere was still that of sorrow for this woman, and I sat there in silence having this inner battle with God, struggling with, “Ian, kiss her feet.”
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. …. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 1 John 4:7-11
Then finally, after an hour or so in this woman’s home, God said something different, something that breaks my heart whenever I recall His voice in my heart. That something … that will forever define the kind of man I am called to be in ministry. He said …
Ian, how much do you love my daughter?
The words broke me. They absolutely wrecked me. We had set out to go and show God’s love to these people and that’s exactly what God was getting at. As if He was saying, “I stepped down from my glory, I left all my splendor, I abandoned all my majesty just to come down to earth to be beaten, spat on, whipped, mocked, crucified and die on a cross just to show you how much I love you. And now were you are, saying you want to show my love to my daughter and you can’t even kiss her feet for me. Ian, you’re supposed to love like me, I loved her enough to die on a cross, how much are you willing to do for her? How far are you willing to go to show my love to her? Ian, how much do you love my daughter?”
How do you say no after that?
Of course God being in control timed everything perfectly, because just as I said yes to Him in my heart, Sarah asked, “Is there anything else we need to do?” I said, “Yup! God wants me to kiss her feet.”
The woman responded in tears. She told us how she was having visions of Christ on the cross, and that in her visions, she would always see herself kissing Jesus’ feet.
That’s when God told me why He wanted me to kiss her feet. He wanted her to realize that He loved her so much that He wanted to come down and kiss her feet. God was like, “Daughter you don’t have to come to me, I’m coming to you.”
And as I kissed her feet she wept harder than before. To her, that whole time, of us entering her home, praying with her, weeping with her, fellowshipping and worshiping with her, and her feet being kissed was all a sign of the God that fiercely loved her enough to come down to her.
The Father met with His daughter that day and the Holy Spirit has forever imprinted that scene in my mind and heart. How much do we love the people we are called to love? How far are we willing to go to express God’s love to them? The questions that I will forever judge my heart by and the standard for ministry I want to live by.
My name is Ian David Opiniano, the guy who kissed the feet of a stranger just to show the love of God. That’s who I am.
And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these. Mark 12:30-31