“The King will answer and say to them, I assure you and most solemnly say to you, to the extent that you did it for one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it for Me.”
Heidi Meets Jesus
Tenacity characterizes this petite blonde, who is originally from Laguna Beach, California. At the age of sixteen, when most Laguna teens lounged on the beach enjoying the party atmosphere of the era, Heidi Baker was accepted as an American Field Service student. She was sent to a Choctaw Indian reservation in Mississippi where she was exposed to an environment of poverty that she had never seen before. It was here that she gave her life to Jesus and after a five-day fast, encountered the Lord in a dramatic way:
On the night of the fifth day, I expectantly went to Roark’s little Pentecostal church in the country and was drawn to the altar. I knelt down and lifted my arms to the Lord. Suddenly, I felt taken to a new heavenly place. Pastor Roark was preaching, but I couldn’t hear his loud, powerful voice at all. God’s glory came to me again, wrapping me in a pure and brilliant white light. I was overwhelmed by who He is. I had never felt so loved, and I began to weep. This time He spoke to me audibly. “I am calling you to be a minister and a missionary,” He said. “You are to go to Africa, Asia, and England.” Again my heart was pounding and racing. I thought I might die.
Then the Lord Jesus spoke to me and told me I would be married to Him. He kissed my hand, and it felt as if warm oil ran down my arm. I was overcome with love for Him. I knew at that moment that I would go anywhere anytime and say anything for Him. I was ruined for this world by His intense love and mercy in calling me to Himself. [Rolland Baker and Heidi Baker, There Is Always Enough (Grand Rapids, MI: Sovereign Publishing, 2003), 26.]
Full of the presence and love of Jesus, Heidi started telling everyone about Him—on the reservation and later in her high school. She talked the local Episcopal priest into letting her start a Christian coffeehouse in the parish hall and ministered every Friday night for several years—praying for the drug addicts, alcoholics, homeless, and demon-possessed people. In the meanwhile, she attended Southern California College (now Vanguard University).
Heidi Meets Rolland
During her last year in college in 1980, she met her husband, Rolland Baker, grandson of well-known missionaries to China, missionaries who had gained a place in the Church history books for their vital part in launching a revival among Chinese youth in the pre-Maoist years (see H.A. Baker’s Visions Beyond the Veil). True to both Rolland’s heritage and Heidi’s calling, they discerned that they were called together to help bring revival among the poor. Their ministry would be incarnational. They would live like the people, learn the language and the culture from those on the street, suffer with them, and earn trust in the process. They married six months later and have since traveled as missionaries to Hong Kong, England, and Mozambique. Their work has extended from Africa into many other countries of the world:
The Lord had showed me thousands and thousands of children, and I believe we are called to care for millions of children. At first I was absolutely overwhelmed with that vision, and I thought, “God how could that ever happen? How could we ever do that, just stopping for the one? I don’t know how we could ever, ever do that.” I was praying, crying, fasting and asking God, and He said that He would bring a great revival, and in this revival He would touch the hearts of pastors, and they would become fathers of the fatherless. He said that was His answer for these children. They would be literally cared for by these Mozambican pastors. And then He told me that the widows would cook for them and feed them, that the widows would help farm and that we were to build indigenous buildings made of mud and straw, buildings that fit in with every church. We would see these children cared for in families. [Ibid., 160]
Ministering to Thousands of Children
Heidi and Rolland labored for years in Africa; this lifestyle eventually took a toll on Heidi’s spirit. Her ever-expanding heart of love ached to do more:
Now in Africa we were seeing the sequel to the revival Rolland’s grandfather saw among his orphans in China. That was not an isolated outpouring without further fruit. In it Rolland and I saw the heart of God. We saw how He feels about the lost and forgotten. We saw how He delights to use the helpless and hopeless to accomplish His best work. We saw His pleasure in revealing Himself to those humble and poor in spirit enough to appreciate Him. We saw His ability to use simple children to ignite revival. Now we are seeing Him do the same thing in Mozambique. And what He was doing in our children’s center fired our appetites all the more for revival. [Ibid., 164]
Empowered by the Face of Jesus
Rather than burning out (physically and spiritually) on the mission field and giving up or being consumed with worry over funds and food shortages, rather than flickering out in middle age after decades of ministry, Heidi and Rolland are burning ever stronger, completely dependent on God. Heidi has come to know of the love of God more keenly through the suffering orphans they minister to daily—orphans who reflect the face and heart of God. Heidi wrote recently in her online ministry report:
It is a privilege beyond price to see the joy and affection of the Holy Spirit poured out like a waterfall on people who have known so much severe hardship, disappointment and bitter loneliness in their lives. …
From the freezing cold gypsy huts of eastern Bulgaria to the 115-degree heat of Sudanese refugee camps, from the isolated native Inuits of arctic Canada to the dirt- poor subsistence farmers along the Zambezi River, we see ravenous desire for God among the poor and lowly. Jesus knows their suffering, and He will make it up to them. He will be their God, and they will be His people. He will use them to shame the wise and make the world jealous of their wealth toward Him.
… All I want to do is love God and care for His people. I find them in the garbage, under trees dying of AIDS. I’m just really simple. Jesus said, “Look into My eyes,” and everything completely changed. His eyes are filled with love and passion and compassion. Jesus always stops for the dying man, the dying woman and the dying child.
That’s all I know, passion and compassion. He calls me to love every single person I see every single day.
Just focus on His face. You will only make it to the end if you can focus on His face. Focus on His beautiful face. You can’t feed the poor, you can’t go to the street, you can’t see anything happen unless you see His face. One glance of His eyes, and we have all it takes to lie down. We’re not afraid to die. [Ibid., 176–177]
Dear Lord God Almighty, thank you for the strength and courage you have given those who are laid-down lovers of you. Thank you for those who reach out to the poor—one child, one person at a time. Help me to become like those who seek to help and comfort. I need your face before me to focus on and to draw power from—I need you to show me the way. In the precious name of Jesus, amen.
[This article is taken from Day 37, “Empowered Living: Heidi Baker” in James W. & Michal Ann Goll’s 40-Day Devotional: Empowered Women: Fearless & Free.]
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