Sandra, the leader of Jennifer’s home Bible Study, informed the women of her job promotion with Key Bank. As a result, she would be moving to another state. While the women cheered her good fortune, immediately they wondered what would happen to their group when she left. At first, there was quite a bit of discouragement. Jennifer was personally going through a rough time in her life as a parent and Sandra’s advice was often invaluable and encouraging.
Recently I had the opportunity to speak to a group of Army officers and noncommissioned officers. I asked the question, “How many of you grew up with a mom and a dad?” Almost all of them raised their hands. I then asked, “How many of your cadets (college students) come from homes with a mom and a dad?” The crowd guesstimated that about 50% came from two-parent homes. They underscored a point I hoped to make which is that today there is a huge need for mentors. Too many of those exiting high schools across our land have had insufficient parenting and manifest a great craving for meaningful relationships.
Ephesians 4:11-13—And He personally gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, for the training of the saints in the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ, until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of God's Son, growing into a mature man with a stature measured by Christ's fullness.
We’ve tried hard to sell our house in Tigard but to no avail. For over a year it sat vacant. Have you ever had times when a nagging notion persistently sits in your heart? I’ve had that notion—I believe God wants our house to be used for ministry. So, with hesitant concurrence from my wife, we decided to deepen our risk factor. 12350 SW Tiedeman became a spiritual oasis, a shelter for the homeless and refuge for the hurting.
In Chimpembelle Village, Zambia, Onedy Kalimina’s uncle died. When the Head Man dies, one of his relatives on the mother’s side is chosen to replace him. As it happened, the 22 year-old Kalimina was chosen. He was taken to the village witch doctor who prepared a charm called Chitumya. Then he was asked to kneel down and pray “Chitumya come into me and I come into you.” After praying this, Kalimina took a ceremonial bath and put on an arm band for protection that no one else was ever to see. This occurred in 1990.
Recently while flying back to Portland, I sat next to a man who worked for KLOVE, a Christian-owned corporation of radio stations that play Christian music. Because of my passion for worship and experience listening to the local KLOVE station, I queried him about how they chose the songs they aired. He told me that songs were selected according to the interests of the listeners. I challenged him on the accuracy of that statement. In essence, big labels sign artists and promote their music. While the public as a purchasing body has a say in what is popular, in fact companies sign artists based on what their market analysis determines will be well received by “young listeners.”
My son, Bryan and I were driving down a steep road when we encountered a peculiar sign. It said, “Caution—Hill Obscures View”. Well duh! We laughed at the great wisdom displayed! Maybe it’s the way my brain works, but that set me to thinking about signs and miracles. Does it seem like people are unimpressed with the obvious and bore easily today in an age where technology renders the sufficient obsolete?
We walked into a large meeting hall at a nursing technological university in Huancayo at about 3:30 p.m. on March 28th. I was asked to give a concert. Mentally I questioned the value of singing songs in English to a group of Spanish-speaking students. Yet this was our last day of ministry in Peru and clearly some effort and expense had gone into making arrangements for me to sing.
Felipe dresses up as a clown. Each Sunday he and his team of fellow youth workers from Iglesia Misionera Evangelica (I.M.E.), go to the poorest sections of Cerro de Pasco to minister to the children. As many as 40-60 kids come out to watch the antics of Bomba the clown, to sing and dance to Christian music and hear Bible stories. Wonderful boys and girls glow with expectant smiles. Their lungs produce hearty cheers and sweet melodies. They held on to us with forever-loving grips. In truth, they ministered to our team more than we did to them.
In 1725, Franciscan monks established the Convent of Ocopa to evangelize and civilize the tribes of the Peruvian jungle. Located about 45 minutes from the city of Huancayo in the central Andes, this monastery contains a library with over 25,000 volumes of antique literature. Adorning many of the walls of the splendid building are paintings that date 200-300 years in age. It is a most impressive place where the walls literally seem to breathe with stories.
Cerro de Pasco sits over 14,000 feet in elevation in the central Andes of Peru. It is a bleak place. Besides the lack of trees and barren terrain, the atmosphere around this mining town is oppressive. In the community where the engineers reside, a blue signboard welcomes the spirit recognized as lord of the mines. Pastor Marco, Felipe and two other young men of the church we visited, walked us around the central plaza one evening. They pointed out the many bars and discussed the rampant problems of alcoholism, adultery, prostitution, incest, animal sacrifices and demon-worship. They discussed the pride among the inhabitants—a “machoism” that scorns outsiders and keeps the many different churches from coming together as a united body.
In 1937, Pastor Rubio Beltazar challenged young men in his church to take missions seriously. The Holy Spirit used his words particularly to inspire Juan Cueva with the task of taking the gospel to the world.
Acts 20:28--Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock that the Holy Spirit has appointed you to as overseers, to shepherd the church of God, which He purchased with His own blood.
Professor Howard Hendricks once related a story of how as a student he often walked by the home of one of his college professors. It seemed at all hours day or night the light would be on in the man’s study. One day he had the opportunity to ask him what kept him studying so much. The teacher replied, “Son, I would rather have my students drink from a running stream than a stagnant pool.”
Tucked away in a remote part of America, Durino, Jack, Pat, Larry, Johnny and George meet six mornings a week at the Silver Spoon. For years they met at The Hook Shop until tight financial times forced its owner to close. Their appreciation for each other is built on a daily investment of time they wouldn’t think of forsaking. Over coffee they sit and poke fun at each other and trade the latest news. In rural Kellogg, Idaho, a healthy habit most of urban America has lost flourishes.
“Strength as One” is a great class motto. Attending my 20th West Point reunion was a fresh reminder of a unique gathering of unpretentious classmates who are a joy to be around and a blessing in so many ways. By measured statistics, the class of ’81 is special both in service to our country and in generosity. I found myself again humbled that God would allow me, a scrawny missionary kid from the Philippines, the privilege of spending four years of my life with such outstanding people.
Philippians 1:29-2:4—For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for Him, since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have. If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from His love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. (NIV)
Jenny and Joe are back. Don’t talk to them about ministry or what happened after six months in Kuala Lumpur. They’re hurting right now and it will take some time for them to settle. They left with a banquet and profound expectations they returned bankrupt their confidence dashed.
Leaning against the gymnasium wall, Bob and I talked about our children and their involvement in sports. Between carting his kids to Cub Scouts, his work and everything else, his life sounded complex. Life in our land is like walking into Circuit City and seeing 15 different channels at the same time in the television section, while we talk on our cellular phones and wave at the sales clerk we know across the room. Isn’t it comforting that no matter how fast the globe spins, no matter what level of activity we engage in, Jesus remains the same!
The hero stands and surveys the majestic scene. His ears catch the music of one anthem after another as the London Philharmonic Orchestra plays in honor of each nation represented. His eyes scan the dignitaries of 140 different nations as they mingle--Zambians, Koreans, Brazilians, Turks, Ukranians, Indians, Filipinos, Costa Ricans, French, Nigerians, Chinese. . .