Category Archives: Travel

Cries for help

We received two cries for help this past week: one from our bishop friend in Liberia, and one from missionaries in Burma.

Guinea-Liberia-Sierra Leone

In Liberia they are experiencing a food shortage-money simply goes to supply basic needs. The ebola outbreak, civil wars, conflicts, skirmishes and perhaps corruption deny services to many. We send our small contribution in the hopes of alleviating suffering and helping our brothers and sisters as we are mandated to do.

While struggling with drought in California, it’s hard to imagine floods across the globe in Southeast Asia. As our lawns wither, we find such a deluge a bit inconceivable, yet the stark reality comes home when one views the photos of mass destruction from flooding.

Christians, alongside other relief organizations, work feverishly to rescue trapped victims and bring food, water, sanitation, and other necessities to the ravaged land.

So what’s the point here? Only that weekly we take an offering for the poor during our Bible study gathering. Such small amounts accumulate and we have been able to help out a bit through the years to many requests for help. We have purchased presents for needy families at Christmas, helped many folks in difficult circumstances and contributed to the “needs of the saints.”

We were able to help support a Washington D.C. church’s jobs ministry for many years, sending a small monthly offering. For this insignificant act, we were treated as heroes when we went there to visit our brothers and sisters.

This week we were pleasantly surprised to find that a thousand dollars had accumulated in our offering, and we were able to send help to those in urgent need. Consistent acts, even seemingly paltry efforts can make a difference.

Faithfulness is measured moment by moment. We hardly consider this sufficient effort; however, we believe Jesus when he says that being faithful in a little will help make us to be faithful in a lot. God multiplies our loaves and fishes in amazing ways. Hallelujah!

Photo credit: Morguefile

Opportunities and influence

We had some great opportunities for international travel and influence several years ago when Rich was invited to Cambodia and to Kenya to teach pastors.

The trip to Kenya was initiated by our friend and professor who is a native Kenyan. As we seek to practice partnership, Rich was accompanied by Ryan. After a LONG plane ride, they arrived in Africa. Their final destination was a remote region where some warring tribes were still fighting with spears, bows and arrows. Though primitive, their weapons were deadly nonetheless. People turned out in droves for Sunday services in which singing alone could go on for many hours. Here we encountered a deep reverence for God and His Spirit, and an abiding seriousness about the faith. At the same time, profound joy and gladness accompanied their worship. It was a privilege, not merely an obligation which brought God’s people together. In the same spirit, the 35 or so pastors who gathered under Rich’s teaching undertook their Bible study with earnest zeal.

Rich and Ryan experienced the Lord’s hospitality and welcome and made many lifelong friends. One of the many contrasts with life here in America was the gratitude for educational opportunities, both with and without a Christian emphasis.

A big adjustment for Rich was the climate; it was frequently remarked that they were in a “cool” season, but Rich eventually found that he had to sleep on a mattress outside in order to achieve even a modicum of comfort! In spite of some culture shock, we continue to celebrate the opportunity to see our God at work in a world utterly remote from our own and to have a small part in the ongoing work of the Kingdom there.

Cambodia presented its own joys and its own challenges. What a great privilege to be invited to partner with our friend and professor who has been involved in church planting in Cambodia for many years. Rich and Ryan, our intrepid travelers, found at least one important similarity with their African experience: the seriousness and commitment with which the Cambodians approached their Christian faith. In this case, a couple hundred pastors came to hear Rich’s teaching. They were most eager to learn, and to extend Christian hospitality and respect to their honored guests. A special treat of “baloot” was offered, which is an unhatched embryonic duckling still inside the shell, apparently considered a delicacy. Ryan boldly partook, but Rich, being faint of heart, had to decline!
What was amazing to discover in Cambodia was the robust faith, and the New Testament model of forgiveness and reconciliation. Former Khmer Rouge officers were now in fellowship with former enemies. Those who had killed and persecuted their fellow Cambodians were received with God’s astonishing grace and forgiveness. Murderers sat alongside victim’s families. Such a thing could only happen because of our Lord’s sacrifice on our behalf. Brought to life once again is the Scripture: “..that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby bringing the hostility to an end.”( Eph. 2: 15-16) Praise His mighty name!

National and Int’l connnections

To elaborate a bit on our national connections: our pastors are returning today from a visit to Oregon/Washington. On their whirlwind tour they visited an Orthodox monk and Abbot on Vashon Island, and a couple of Christian brothers for the purpose of mutual edification and encouragement.
In Oregon they attended a championship college soccer tournament, taught several Bible study sessions, met with various leadership in the area, had individual pastoring meetings, ate lots of delicious food, and maybe even rested a little bit! We also celebrate and enjoy friendships with congregations in Wisconsin, Tennessee, and Kentucky to name a few. When the body of Christ is built up, the Kingdom of God benefits!
When we speak globally, we refer to friends in Kenya, Liberia, Papua New Guinea, Cambodia, and Jordan. It is good to be reminded of God’s work all over the world and to have some small part in the work of the Spirit in the larger arena…
Speaking of which, last night we welcomed two visitors from Concordia University where our youngest member attends. One of the girls is from South Africa and the other from France; they will be staying with us for the entire Thanksgiving week. We rejoice to see the continuing expansion of Kingdom contacts and relationships. The last two summers we have enjoyed brief visits from five French high school students from various areas of France. We have found these encounters to be both challenging and exciting. The more recent group treated us to delicious homemade crepes during their summer sojourn. Enough for now. Thanks for your interest in our story.