Monday, December 15, 2008

Have you ever seen anything so beautiful as a. . . ?

The year was 1982. Our first term in DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo) was winding down with only a month to spare. We made it! Three and a half years were behind us instead of looming in front of us. Language barriers, culture shock, feeling like aliens on Mars, daunting loneliness, and fear of losing my baby in the bush of Africa had been exchanged for speaking Kituba and actually being understood (the kids had no problem whatsoever), acclimating to a new culture, settling in to ways that were not quite so foreign and finding some of them actually delightful, finding refuge in the Ancient of Days whose sustainability covered me in the loneliness, and watching Jack, our baby, grow and thrive in spite of malaria, boils, severe diarrhea, and playing with a snake on our front porch. The Great I Am had once more proven his grace is sufficient for every need for everyone, not sufficient for just some needs he chooses to shell out to only a few.

We LOVED having visitors from the States. One such visiting pastor had joined us for about 10 days earlier that year. His name was Dr. Bobby Douglas, and he was a Southern Baptist minister. Bobby didn't know us personally. He heard about our work on the radio through a mission agency, AMG International, headquartered in Chattanooga, TN. How incredible that the Spirit of God drew him to our remote mission station of Nkara located 400 miles due east of Kinshasa in the middle of no where to missionaries who were not members of the Southern Baptist denomination, 8500 miles from his residence.

We loved Bobby right away--all of us. He was genuine, concerned, God loving, fun, joyful, and soon took on a burden for our work. Nicol was 11 at the time, and she gave up her room for Bobby. He stayed with us for about 10 days. We hated to see him leave.

Todd, 8, and Jack, 3, were totally immersed in life in Congo, and they couldn't have cared less that furlough was fast approaching. A furlough is a period of designated time missionaries leave their field of work to return to the States to regroup and hopefully rest? while visiting their supporting churches and individuals, and recruiting new partners in ministry to assure sustaining funding when the time comes to return to the foreign service location for their next term of 3 to 4 years usually.

As we drew nearer to our departure date, I gazed at my little self-made make-shift calendar I made as a survival tool for eking life out in Africa, at least to begin with. Shortly after our arrival at Nkara, I counted the years in days that we would be there, framing each day in by square lines. Our term was 3 years and 5 months, so that gave us 1221 days in Africa. Each day I lasted was a major victory simply because I didn't leave. I didn't leave physically, and God's grace kept me from checking out mentally and emotionally. A huge turning point occurred after 812 days had gone by or about 2/3 of our term. The daily crying stopped; I was communicating with our staff; frequent spurts of joy surprised and delighted me. Was this obedience yielding the peaceable fruits of righteousness?

Now with only approximately 30 days left, Shawn, 14, and I had a major problem. We were home schooling, and many assignments were due. We needed to send them to Pensacola, Florida for evaluation. The major problem was we had run out of paper. No paper? No Rite Aids. No Walgreens. No Walmart. What to do?

We prayed. .. and prayed. . . and prayed. No worry. God is the Way Maker.

Receiving packages in Congo overwhelmed us with sheer delight. And one day a package came from Bobby Douglas. He wrote on the enclosed note how sorry he was that he didn't bring small toys for the children; that he didn't know we couldn't even get gum there; that he wished so he had brought candy and other goodies for our family. Out of a heart of love he packed a box of goodies that made our eyes pop out of our heads. We read the note, tore the box open, and what do you think was on top? PAPER!

Bobby never knew our desperate need for paper. We did not mention it one time. I find it amazing that out of all the things children might find appealing, of which he sent many, notebook paper may not show up on the radar, but it was at the top. The voice of God shouted through the paper. "Before you call I will answer.. . . I told you I would provide every need according to my riches in glory. . . I wouldn't let your work suffer because of a lack of something so basic as paper. . . We cried with joy.

After experiencing long-awaited sugar highs (candy never tasted so good), perusing and stroking all the wonderful gifts he sent for our pleasure which God does to us for His pleasure, and allowing the feeling of being lavished on to wash over our souls, Shawn and I settled down to tackle her school work in our master bedroom late that afternoon.

As she gingerly gathered her prized ream of notebook paper in her hands, she looked up at me and said, "Mom, have you ever seen anything as beautiful as a clean sheet of paper?"

It still brings tears to my eyes today when I choose to remember that moment forever photographed in my mind, and I can't help but think of these beautiful words in Scripture: Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when it is fulfilled, it is a tree of life. Thank you, my Mighty King, for busying yourself with our every step. You are amazing, and I love you so.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Feed your soul - Feed a family in Congo

Are you having fun yet? The joys of Christmas include a lot of hustle and bustle as we search for just the right gift for our families and friends. We anticipate the look on their faces as they open each treasure under the tree prepared and packaged especially for them. Far greater than any earthly treasure we could ever buy for the special people in our lives is THE GIFT of God's Son, Jesus Christ.

What an unfathomable act of humility it was for Christ to become an embryo and nestle in the womb of Mary, a woman He Himself created. What must it have been like for Jesus to limit Himself to that seclusion for nine months after leaving the glory and majesty of heaven?! He,"Who being in the very nature God, did not consider His equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself of no reputation taking upon Himself the form of a servant". . . The Lamb of God, the Lion of Judah "had to be made like His brothers in every way in order that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that He might make atonement for the sins of the people." To you, Lord, Who earnestly remembered us in our low estate and imprinted us on your heart and engraved us in your hand, for your mercy and loving kindness which endure forever, we give You great praise!

Recently, two major evangelism thrusts took place in the Congo. Poverty drives people to their knees. Abject poverty in Congo keeps these dear ones in that position and sometimes in a completely prone one. The bent knee and heart are precious in God's sight, and many, many hundreds turned to Christ during these crusades. The updates via cell phone are priceless. Pastor Mbuku, Dean of Evangelism, is amazingly focused on the implementation of rescuing souls from hell.

We love our staff in Congo from the leadership of Gary, our National Director, Kapem, Vice National Director and Dean of Academics at Laban Bible Institute, Iwungu, Mboma, Director of Radio Glory, and Assistant National Director to our masons, carpenters, mechanics, women professors, male professors, Mama Marie, Director of the Literacy Center, nurses, radio announcers, evangelists, and students to our general foremen, and general work staff. Some never finished high school; others have degrees. They love to laugh. They love their wives, husbands, and children. THEY LOVE GOD. From time to time they pray all night for you and for us. They are rich in faith, moving mountains in their prayers. Many live the fruit of the Spirit. They have nothing, yet they have everything.. They are real people! They feel deeply. They are emotionally rich, intelligent, and brilliant men and women who serve God day in and day out.

Every Christmas we try earnestly to provide a Dream Package for as many of these precious families as funds allow. This enables them to buy cloth for their wives, shoes for their husbands and perhaps a shirt and belt, a little dress or shirt and pants for their girls or boys, a Christmas dinner consisting of dried fish, rice, bread, a coke for each family member, fresh beef, fruit, and a special toy for each child. For $300 you can furnish one of our overseas families with a feast and a wonderful gift day, as well as enabling them to go to bed with a full stomach for the average 12-member family. Your Dream Package will go a long way to lift the hearts of wonderful staff members who serve the Lord in Laban Ministries. The Lord bless you as you contemplate making a huge difference in the life of a servant of Christ in Congo, Africa. To donate go to:

Click here to make a donation.

Your act of kindness will feed your soul, and someday in Glory they will thank you for reaching out 8500 miles to them, a people you most likely will never meet. Go ahead, lend to the Lord and watch him return your investment. (Proverbs 19:17) Merry Christmas!