Monday, October 11, 2010

Dear Kilundu

His condition is terminal, diagnosed with widespread liver and pancreatic cancer in June, we count every day he lives a blessing. As he taught Romans 14, his once crisply ironed shirt became drenched with perspiration. Power and peace permeated the atmosphere as he calmly admonished the other students who are filled with grief at the prospect of losing him. Strikingly evident was his recent dramatic weight loss and gaunt facial features. He spoke of Paul's urging to welcome the weaker brother and be careful not to crush him with criticism. In addition, he warned the young men to avoid all appearance of evil in their ministry so that they do not become stumbling blocks. He holds us all in the palm of His hand and we praise God for his wise, gentle counsel, shrouded in authority and transparency with which he has lived his life on earth.

Jim and I have a long history with Kilundu. In 1984, when a reprobate pastor was threatening to cut off the heads of some of our pastors, ravishing young ladies attending the high school on the mission, and robbing the teachers of their hard-earned salaries, plus keeping all tuition for himself, it was Kilundu who headed up all-night prayer meetings to get him out of here. He constantly challenged us to hold on, hang on, be strong, and be courageous because God will deliver us! And avenge He did!

As he stood before us, scenes of those long-ago days played through my mind. I was bawling inside as I thought of living life here in Congo without Pastor Kilundu. Once he enters the gates of glory, he would never choose to come back, but his ways, his personality, his sterling character, his big smile, and his wise counsel will leave a huge hole in our hearts.

He said, "The reason I am alive to today and able to preach in this seminar is because of my children's and wife's prayers. If you could hear the way my little boy begs God for my life every time he prays, big tears would fall down your cheeks"

Thank you, Kilundu, for the wealth of knowing you.

The riches we share because we were permitted to rub shoulders with you in this life, the enjoyment of meeting with you around our table, the challenges of organizing yearly reunions with you, the fun of laughing at ourselves with you, the moving experience of praying with you, the thrill of hearing you expound God's Word, and the gratification of fighting the good fight with you.

We love you.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

A Seminar Enrollment

There he stands, Pastor Ndombe, in his tall, thin frame and hollow-cheeked face with a somewhat recently shaved head and tufts of white hair lecturing on Romans 15 - the way we should live with our Christian brothers. He spoke with humor, authority, and distinction, qualities he has acquired after teaching at LBI for more than 20 years. His gentle spirit honed by suffering one trial after another developed Ndombe's quiet personality. Warm laughter from the students filled the air. I laughed, too, at his illustrations, while trying to keep back the tears at the same time.

My mind's eye sees him in his youth when he came to enroll as a bible school student in the 80s. He came in humility and has stayed humble and grateful till this day in spite of a fire that destroyed his home and his entire precious library, chronic illness which has wreaked havoc on his wife's quality of life, the near death of his teenage daughter as he biked 65 miles to the nearest hospital, not to mention financial hardship. He remarked that when he came to attend LBI, now looking back, he doesn't really know if he was born again, and then turned toward another professor and asked him if that were true. Pastor Kapem readily agreed. Ndombe continued, "I was young and thought my life was under my own control." An hour and a half spent under his teaching was so worth it - a refreshing, cooling spring that washed over my soul.

What a source of comfort and joy after months of dealing with difficult staff issues that nearly broke our hearts. On the matter of gratitude - challenging the students of the need to thank God every time they pray for:

1) What you do have. Don't complain about what you don't have. Don't complain to God if you don't have a car - you may never have one.

2) Salvation. You could be on your way to hell, which we all deserve.

3) Life. You did nothing to keep yourself alive while you slept. We all sleep like dead men. Only God can wake us up.

And then he challenged the students to be generous.

"As a pastor, you have this obligation to help your sick brother even if you only have a dollar in your pocket. Don't just preach the Word of God to him."

Pastor Ndombe, I am so honored to call you my friend, my colleague in ministry, my brother and my teacher. You continue to enlarge my heart and my mind. Today I delight in the fact that God delights in you.

Friday, October 8, 2010

To Think That...

To Think That...

...the man standing before me, who is teaching the book of Romans in depth, is the grandson of a cannibal.

...the vocabulary of those olden days, once centered in the base, vile plot of eating human flesh, is now a glorious expression of redemption, imputation, sanctification, predestination, glorification, and on and on as outlined by Paul in Romans.

...the darkness of slavery to the bewitching sins of his forefathers has been replaced with the light and power of the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ thus bringing him to walk with God.

...the droning, repetitive chants which characterized their vocals, offered up to the spirits of their ancestors' approval, is now given over to, "There Is Power in the Blood" and "How Great Thou Art."

...their foolish, darkened minds and hearts surrendered to serving Satan are now surrendered to the high calling of studying and pursuing Jesus Christ through His eternal Word.

...they have gone to wearing loincloths, steeped in miry clay and ignorance, to being fully clothed and in their right minds.

I am astounded, Lord, at how far You have brought them. To this broad place and level ground You prepare for those who love You.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Comment on Philippians 3:10

"I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death."

Philippians 3:10

I was profoundly affected by this commentary on the above verse:

Many Christians are satisfied with expenditure in which there is no shedding of blood. They give away what they can easily spare. Their gifts are detached things and the surrender of them necessitates no bleeding. They engage in sacrifice as long as it does not involve life; when the really vital is demanded, they are not to be found. They are prominent at all triumphant entries and they willingly spend a little money on colorful decorations - on banners and palm branches - but when HURRAHS and HOSANNAS change into ominous murmurs and threats, and Calvary comes into sight, they steal away into safe seclusion. But here is an apostle who joyfully anticipates this supreme and critical demand. He is almost impatient at his own dribblings of blood-energy in the service of the kingdom! He is eager, if need be, to pace it out.

"The Lord Jesus became fruitful not by bearing His cross only but by dying on it..."

There are not two Christs - an easygoing Christ for easygoing Christians and the suffering, toiling Christ for exceptional believers. There is only one Christ.