Friday, April 29, 2011

The deeds of faithless men. . .

We have served the Lord in Congo for almost 33 years. My husband, Jim, was born into missionary life. He was handed down a legacy full of the wealth of faith, the peaceable fruits of righteous parents, the challenges brought about by living in a third world country, the ecstacy of seeing the Hand of God work in the hearts of men so that 1200 were baptized in a day at a time multiple times, and the transformation of depraved souls being rebirthed into the family of the Etneral One. This is the springboard of his childhood from which he jumped into serving Christ as an adult, making his own inroads, knowing God for himself through the death of his father first at the age of 11, and then promising God after the death of his 18-year-old brother when Jim was 16 that he would give God a year by reading the Bible. If, during that year, God proved Himself to my husband, he would give that Book its due for the rest of his life. This he has consistently attempted to do.

I come from great stock but stock who did not embrace the Savior passionately, nor did they know Him for most of their lives. But God in His mercies reached down and lifted my head and heart to know Him at the age of twelve. I walked upstream as a teenager to go to church, to read my Bible, to venture out in faith because my parents were both burned as teenagers by the church and its leaders and did not understand my newfound faith.

When Jim and I met in Bible school, I was captivated by his confidence in God. Our first 13 years of marriage were spent serving Christ at a local church in Michigan. Then Congo called, and I was never to be the same person again. I owe much of my molding and shaping to this country we missionaries can love and hate at the same time. Love it for the opportunities it offers to minister, for the hunger we see here to know Christ, for the simplicity of life and the forcing of one's soul to get and live back to and in the basics of life. We at the same time can hate the injustice we see all around, including graft and corruption beyond imagination that has become a mindset and mentality for those used and abused by the system.

Corruption in the "church" is the worst. We face a community group who has taken on the name of a denomination here in Congo that is full of hypocrisy. And, as Ezra faced great lapses in time while rebuilding the temple because of opposition and discouragement, and Nehemiah had to take a strong stand against men who tried to bluff him and his coworkers into fear and dismay, so we must take courage as we make our way to the mission campus to fight the good fight of faith.

We Christians tend not to like that word, fight. BUT it is Biblical, and there is such a thing as righteous indignation. Righteous indignation over impudence and hardheartedness. Spurgeon (and I paraphrase and quote his commentary out of Morning and Evening on April 28 (evening):

"Impudence refers to a hardness of forehead, a lack of holy shame, or boldness in evil. . . For a sinner to go to God's house and pretend to pray to Him and praise Him displays a brazen-faced hypocrisy of the worst kind!. . . Hardheartedness is having a heart of stone, although through grace I now have a new and fleshy heart, much of my former stubbornness remains. I am not affected by the death of Jesus as I ought to be. Neither am I moved by the ruin of my fellowmen, the wickedness of the times, the chastisement of my heavenly Father, and my own failures, as I should be. O, that my heart would melt at the mention of my Savior's sufferings and death. The Savior's precious blood is the universal solvent. It will soften even me, until my heart melts as wax before the fire

We all identify with these two ugly descriptions of character. No one is devoid of them. However, when both hardheartedness and impudence not only come knocking but are allowed to stay because we don't battle or deal with them or are so sin sick we don't recognize them, then that's another issue.

And this is what we are up against at the mission in the months ahead. Some of the impudence and hardheartedness we will find in people there who are unredeemed, instruments of satan. We will also find it in believers. Believers who have allowed sin to come and indwell, make itself at home in, and overtake their wills and hearts. They have stopped endeavoring to lead a blameless life as described in Psalm 15. They have stopped doing what is righteous, stopped speaking the truth from their hearts, stopped refusing to have slander on their tongues, stopped refusing to do their neighbors wrong, stopped refusing to cast slurs on their fellowman, stopped despising vile men, stopped honoring those who fear the Lord, and stopped keeping their oaths. . .

So we are approaching this time out here in a fighting mode. Fighting for what pleases God, fighting for righteousness, fighting against evil, rampant immorality, corruption in the church, and fighting against lifestyles impregnated with lies. We do this on our knees; the battle is the Lord's. Will you fight the good fight with us?

In the meantime, God forbid that we allow the deeds of faithless men to cling to us, Ps. 101:3b. We must not obsess ourselves with their evil slander, with their evil tongues, with their bullying, with their threats and their illegal documents. We must not allow these evil deeds to rob us of our joy and the abundant life for which Jesus came, but glory in His Presence, and praise Him which is the highest form of trust we can give to our Lord Jesus Christ because we know it's not about us but about His glory!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Remembering Chico

Tonight as I sat at the computer posting comments on Facebook, my mind went back to decades ago when we had a chimp named Chico. We took him off the hands of missioanries in Kinshasa who had no problem letting him go. They at that time lived in Kinshasa, had taken Chico into their lives when he was a baby, and he was now in need of more space.

We drove our 1957 Mercedes Army Truck (it was now 1983) out of the city on our way to our bush mission station of Nkara-Ewa. At the time there was a roadblock at the end of the city, where "soldiers" hasseled people for money, somewhat similar to the troll in a nursery rhyme I heard as a kid. As we pulled up to the well-known barrier, the "security" person walked up to the passenger side of the truck, and to his amazement Chico jumped up to the front seat from the back to greet him. Chico put his leg on Jim's leg, made his way closer to the "guard", and became chief of the day. The man backed up very quickly and motioned us to go on. That was one time we didn't have to pay anything.

Chico grew very close to Jim. He went on road trips with him, sitting in his lap with his hands on the steering wheel as if he knew what he was doing. He had a take charge kind of personality. These memories are playing in my mind tonight:

Chico charging after Todd at the age of about 11 as he was riding his little Honda 50in the yard, jumping on the back of it, and pulling Todd's hair. Todd won, but it was a struggle.

Me chasing Chico in the house with a broom after he dipped his fingers in the jelly jar.

Chico coming after me with a big limb when he saw Jim and I holding hands. I escaped.

Chico grabbing a baby out of his mother's arms and running to climb a tree holding a real live baby in his arms, not realizing that human babies do not hold on to the hair of a chimp's chest as do baby chimps. The baby was quickly rescued and returned to his mother.

Chico running up to Shawn's bedroom and sprawling out on her bed with his hands clasped under his head and one leg crossed over the other until Shawn found him and evacuated him from her room.

Chico climbing the clothes line, grabbing our clothes, and scurrying up the big mango tree, semidressing himself, peering down at us as if to say, "Catch me if you can."

Chico sitting in the back seat of our Blazer, swigging Coke from the bottle with his knees crossed and one hand behind his head.

He truly brought us a lot of laughter and good times. There never was a dull moment when he was around. Remembering Chico reminds me that God has an amazing sense of humor!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Kinshasa and my friends

Kinshasa is the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Recent road improvements are greatly appreciated, and more road work is in progress. Since we are so close to the equator, our days and nights are both an even 12 hours long, year long.

Yesterday I went grocery shopping. I remember the days when the only things on the shelves were tomatoe paste and flour. However, today many shops are available with a great variety of products. Josee Ibaya, a gal we have known for decades, works with Mission Aviation Fellowship and lent me her driver. We spent 3 hours going to two stores getting food and exchanging currency.

The lovely Grings family has provided an apartment just behind their house for us. Electricity is on again off again, and so we use a small generator to give us current when city lights don't come on.

As I sat with my missionary friends upon arrival and saw their sweet faces, I thanked God for women who stay with their call, who serve Jesus Christ in uncomfortable situations, who live with clothes half washed in the machine, food half baked in the oven, and lack of water when there is no current.

I love you guys. You reassured me it was no big deal. But I don't think God sees it that way at all. He sees your labor of love and the fact that remain faithful to Him. I am proud of you all and love you very much, and want to gently and lovingly remind you to keep on keeping on.

Returning to Congo

The long-awaited day of April 20 has come and gone. After reassuring the people at the ticket counter of United Airlines that we could indeed check all of our 20 pieces all the way through to Kinshasa, and after their phone call to confirm that our overnight in Johannesburg was mandatory made by the airlines, I breathed a sigh of relief, and the tagging of each bag began. We pack our goods in plastic tubs purchased from Walmart because it is the cheapest way to go. However, there is no way to secure the tub with a lock, so they are closed with plastic ties.

Some of the tubs were 1 lb over the alloted 50, and others were 5 or more lb. Obviously, we need a better scale in the States! So that meant that we had to dig in each overweight piece and put however items that equaled that weight into another tub. In this case, we brought an extra tub just in case. Good thinking, Jim!

So, because Jim bought a gazillion extra ties, and soon all the opened tubs were once more weighed, passed the weight test, and resealed. Whew!

This process took about an hour and 15 minutes, and we made our way to the gate in Detroit, never to put eyes on our luggage again until we reached kinshasa, hopefully. We fell into our seats & relaxed for the hour flight to Chicago. From Chicago we went on to Washington Dulles, about a 2 hr. flight, and then we boarded South African Airlines for Johannesburg. I took a melatonin and rested in lala land most of the 16 hr. flight.

The evening in Johannesburg was cool and beautiful. This is their fall. June and July will bring winter weather. We ordered a lovely meal in our room, fell into bed, and slept until 2:30 a.m. Arose and reviewed some things awaiting us in Congo, and left the hotel at 6 a.m.

Arrival on Friday in Kinshasa was uneventful, and all 20 pieces made it!!! Yay God. Thanks for your prayers and concern. We are in this together.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

about to leave

Many years ago, after participating in a mission conference several nights of the week, the pastor of the church told Jim and I he felt his church would not be supporting us because there was too much "glory" in what we did. By that he meant that his church attenders would not understand and be able to equal our experiences of traveling through Europe and purchasing expenses perfumes and the like. In other words being a missionary was all about the glory. . .

It is now about 4 a.m. Weary, exhausted, and not feeling very glorious, we are about to climb in a car, take 19 trunks to Metro Airport, deal with people who are freaked out at our "excess" baggage, board 3 planes during two stops, and sit in one of them for 16 hours straight until we land at Johannesburg.

Once in Kinshasa, we unpack, sort, and repack all the goods, sending the heavier ones up on a rented truck to Kikwit, where we will hire another truck to deliver them to the mission campus because both of our trucks recently died. The lighter trunks will follow us up on the MAF plane, where we once again unpack, sort, and put away either upstairs or downstairs, begin cleaning a house that has not been lived in since October, 2010, deal with an enemy organization recently enlarged by men we had to let go of last trip, go to court over the property given to Jim's father in the 40's, which they continue to claim is their own, and deal with new staff issues.

After we settle in a little bit, we will witness miracles, laughter, tears, untold joy, spiritual breakthroughs, staff meetings, discipleship meetings under a big old mango tree at the dispensary, funeral(s), teaching in Laban Bible Institute, incredible evangelism outreaches, ministering in the Women's Lit Center attended by 94 women at Mbila, hearing moving testimonies from some of these women, letting more staff go, meeting returning students in the Bible school, attending graduation, and a myriad of other experiences.

We come home the richer for having been in a third world country, like Congo. And the glory? Yes, it will be there. But not the glory this pastor spoke of. It will be the glory of God unleashed! which is ETERNAL! Praise His Name!

Eve of our Departure

Tomorrow we will rise at 4 a.m. and leave approximately 1/2 hour for the airport. The kind neighbor across the street has offered to take all of our 19 trunks (including a lawn mower & 4 trunks of solar radios) in his trailer, which Jim is at this minute loading with the packed, sealed, addressed, spotty spray painted, 50 lb plastic tubs.

It has been stressful and draining to restrain ourselves from buying even what we could really use in Congo as well as actually unwrapping it (to reduce weight), packing each item in a zip lock bag if it is something that could spill, and weighing it so as not to exceed the allotted measly 50 lb. limit per piece of checked baggage. Money for supplies is tight and also shipping each trunk has become very expensive. If we can go with some of the many things we need once we get to Africa, we prefer doing that. But that may mean up to more than 30 trunks. That's a no no this year. We are doing half of that this year. Hooray for restraint!

As with many ministry organizations, Laban Ministries International has been hard hit over the past two years, especially. This resulted in making staff cuts, paring down expenses here, thinking about every potential expense before making it one, and taking pay cuts ourselves. Despite the fact that we have had less to work with, we are current in overseas salaries, have no credit card balances, owe no one anything (except to love them), and continue to see God provide as He has since the inception of this work in 1938.

The little book of Philippians tells us to rejoice 16 times. It's not an option or a suggestion. It is a command. Furthermore, Paul goes on to say that reminding his audience repeatedly to rejoice is not something that he tires of doing. He says that for them it is safe. In other words, it is like a safety net around them that keeps them in line, stabilizes them, and produces an even keel in the hectic lives they lived, even way back when. They need no longer focus on what they don't have but on the one whose every gift or lack thereof is good and perfect.

So, I thank you Lord that we are taking less this year. That means less stress in buying, less stress in packing, less money outlay for shipping, less keeping track of, and a lot of other lesses. Thank you for less, Lord. Less is really more.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Holding on to your dreams

Imagine having no radio where you live, no TV, no way of being let in on news of any kind No media. No newspapers. TOTAL ISOLATION would be your world.

This has been the lot of bush dwellers in our area of the Congo. Superstition, fear, discouragement, depression, loneliness, and boredom are the products of this kind of isolation.

A dream of Jim's since 1981 when he along with some of our staff began praying for an effective follow up to consistent widespread evangelism, Radio Glory was finally birthed 23 years later in July, 2004.

Many would have given up on the dream much sooner.

However, one of Jim's gifts is faith, and so discouragement is not his lot, even if it means waiting, and waiting, and waiting.

Even if it means people doubting the validity of his dream.

Even if it means no funding to finance the dream.

Even if it goes against the norm; i. e. a radio station flourishing in the bush of Congo, 400 miles from the capital city?


Because the dream was given by God.

Because the dream was to benefit the poor who are a class of people very close to the heart of God.

Because the motive of the broadcasting was not only to diffuse the isolation, but to exult the Word of God, which God holds equal to His Name.

Because God is faithful and if He gives the dream, He will fulfill it, despite the obstacles.

Because God is worthy.

Hold fast to your God-honoring dreams.

Wait on Him, and in the waiting, be sure you praise His Holy Name,

For He inhabits the praises of His people.

Remember how David assigned 4,000 people in the temple to the job of PRAISING GOD.

Remember that there are myriads of angels whose occupation in heaven is to praise the Lord 24/7.

Remember who you are talking to: The Ancient of Days, the Great I AM, the Creator, and Redeemer of all mankind.

Remember that you are fearfully and wonderfully made by the One who knows all your down sittings and uprisings.

Remember that while we were yet sinners, Christ, the Darling of Heaven, died for us.

Remember that the Israelites continued to stray in the wilderness for 40 years because they did not remember what great works God wrought in their lives delivering them out of Egypt.

Dream, pray, wait, hold fast, praise, and remember. Don't be sucked up by the world's attitude of entitlement. Run from it.

Relinquishment of your will to His and humbling yourself before Him are what He loves and where He is most comfortable and closest to, and the conditions that cause Him to respond.

We are entitled to nothing but Hell apart from Christ.

But oh! What measures He has taken to rescue us from Hell.

"Accepted in the Beloved." The maintainer of my lot. My Alpha and Omega.

My God, I stand in awe of you and your ways.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Lord of Breaking Through

"David smote the Philistines at Baal-Perazim and he said, 'God has broken my enemies by His hand, like the bursting forth of water.' Therefore, they called the name of that place Baal-Perazim--Lord of breaking through."

In a few weeks, we take off for another world we have been privileged to work in for nearly 33 years. As fertile a ground as the land of Congo is spiritually, there are real enemies of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They come in all shapes, sizes, and guises there just as they do here. They crave power, position, and money at any cost. Like weeds, they spring up and take over ground that is not rightfully theirs.

Having had their hands in the affairs of Nkara-Ewa for more than 50 years first by invitation to take over the state-operated school system, this "church" community has now become fleshly, corrupt, and immoral. In fact, I would go so far as to call them evil. Their strength is deceit; they have crafted lying into an art form.

Property issues settled legally long ago through government-drawn documents given first of all to Dr. & Mrs. Laban Smith, and then confirmed to Laban's wife, Marcella, years after Laban's death have continued to surface, despite the real proof of ownership. Their presence and influence of the mission property of Nkara has been a curse disguised in the cloak of a "church" group known as the Community of Baptist Churches in Congo.

The newly elected Chief pastor of the district voted in last year was found to be guilty of sleeping with more than one woman. He follows a long line of chief "pastors" who have left such legacies as ravagers of national Congolese youths attending the high school at Nkara, confiscating tuition monies for personal gain, lying, cheating, and characteristically living a life-style contrary to the Word of God.

Their 50 year plus presence has gained an incredible stronghold that only God the Holy Spirit can break through.

But we take heart in David's declaration, and we claim with him a spiritual renaming of our Nkara campus: Baal-Perazim, the place where God will break our enemies by His Hand like the bursting forth of water."

Lord, as we return to Congo in a few days, we implore You to come be the Lord of breaking through.

Break through the curse.

Break through the power of their evil presence.

Break through the stronghold they have gained.

Break through the guise and reveal who they really are.

Break through and diffuse their plans to take over Nkara.

Break through their false documents that say "Nkara is theirs."

Break through their traps and our preoccupation of the unknown that is before us.

And in the breaking through, we praise You for the power, blessing, glory and honor you will claim for Yourself.

Amen and amen!