On Sunday morning I had the priviledge of leading worship. I was absent from the Saturday evening rehearsal for some prior engagements. We rehearsed a bit on Saturday afternnon, BUT the service was less than smooth. I'm so glad God is patient with our weak attempts sometimes.
I also had the chance to teach on Sunday evening. We looked at an ASAPH psalm. Number 74 seems to lead you to believe it wasn't Asaph who actually penned the psalm because he talks about things that didn't happen until after he was gone. It's why they say Asaph is 'credited' with 12 psalms instead of he 'wrote' 12 psalms. Either way, the psalm helps us find assurance in God though the world is full of sin and evil.
This week I'm teaching about 25 young people each morning from 9:00am until 11:00am. We're looking at the whole Bible story in one big swoop. I grew in faith when I began to see the big picture that comes out of all of those little stories we learn as kids. It's a 'forest for the trees' thing. Every story leads the reader to one place...Christ on the cross. The Old Testament is full of pictures of the sacrifice of Christ. What a book! It's like the folks who wrote it had help!
Last week I attended three funerals. Each was sad in its own way. Lismene died after a long illness that was, in the end, untreatable. Manè fatally neglected a serious wound and leaves behind 6 sons and a daughter all of whom I’ve worked with on one level or another over the years. Four were students at our school. One taught at the school. One was my right hand man at the school for a couple of years. Another cooked and cleaned for me at my house for a couple of years. It was while I was in the church for Manè‘s funeral service that we received word Michel Williere had died.
Longtime members of Christ Lutheran Church may remember that back in 1994 we raised money to help purchase a motorcycle for a man who lived out of town but taught at our school. He had been pedaling his bike to come to work for several years. That man was Michel Williere. He was the picture of joviality. Even the grueling ride into our town through muddy roads could not wipe the smile from his face…or his heart. He eventually became unqualified to remain in a teaching position and maturely made that adjustment. Since then he had made money as a fisherman, farmer, taxi driver or whatever else could bring in money. He lost his oldest son in the earthquake of 2010. He had been taking care of his mom, paralyzed a few years ago after a stroke. Through all of those trials, he never lost his smile. Last Friday he died from an attack of high blood pressure.
That funeral was hard for those of us who gathered to bury him. He was only 49. Speakers at the funeral described him as a ‘mother’ to many, a faithful friend, a generous man, and a positive moral example. One speaker actually mentioned the motorcycle that CLC members helped him to purchase. He described that motorcycle as a pillar of the community at that time. Williere had freely shared it with all those in need of transportation for health or other reasons. Those two wheels and a motor lifted them out of some problems that they confronted.
I had forgotten about that motorcycle, but I think you never really know all of the long-term effects that come out of the good you do. That is ministry. You give, you help, you serve, and you keep moving. When God does decide to show you what you’ve done, it can be humbling. If He did it more often, we’d probably find a way to become full of pride about it.
The Pastor at the third service reminded us that we can no longer tell the man in the coffin that we love him. The time for that is past. Let’s use today to tell (and show) people we love them…all of those living people we’ll meet as we move along our way.
The pens that recorded the life accounts of the three folks who died this week are now capped. But the pen that writes the effects of the way they lived will continue to write on…through their families and their friends. Funerals are great opportunities to rethink about how we are living.
I remember the days leading up to my July 1992 trip to Haiti. It had been easy to talk to people about what I was going to do...move to Haiti and be a missionary. It was exciting. But then at night...alone...I'd have these conversations. "What are you THINKING? Who do you think you are? This missionary stuff is all YOUR idea. Your on your own, buddy." I've recognized over the years that it was a voice of Discouragement talking to me...the Enemy. Had I turned around and 'played it safe', I would have missed these last 20 twenty years of ministry.
Well, what voice do you think has been visiting me again this week? He may have actually been effective because this is a whole new ball game for me again...being in the mission field 'on my own'. The argument was convincing: "You don't know what you're doing! You're gonne be stuck!"
I've compared 1992 to that moment in skiing when you crest the top of the hill and begin going down. There's no more turning back. I crested that hill in 1992 and was the better for it. Now, in 2012 there's a brand new slope. I almost thought about turning myself around. But God has been tooooo faithful for me to doubt Him now.
Yesterday I taught. Today I taught. Tomorrow, I'll teach. May my teaching be gentle rain that comforts, strengthens, encourages and empowers.
I spent all of last week working on the cement pad that will be under steel building number 1. The thing is, I didn't really do any of the work. Somehow, though, I was busy all week and tired after it was over. You folks who have 'built' a house my know what I mean. Even though you don't hold the hammer, you're busy.
Next up is the cement pad where steel building #2 will stand. It's twice the size of #1...exactly. SO, it'll be more time, more materials. We won't be in a big hurry to do this as the buildings may not get here to Haiti until...August.
My computer has been slowing me down on several projects. The recording program I use to prepare radio segments, slide show songs, and worship songs is not working at this point. It's a big part of what I hoped to do this summer, and I can't yet get it going. It's a sign that a new computer is going to have to be in my plans, apparently. This one has been faithful, and I love it. We'll make it go as long as it can. :)
I just heard an airplane go over...flying low along the coast. It reminded me that we've had no drug activity here in our area for a year or two. The negative effects of the last one are here forever (a fatherless boy, compromised morality, insecurity, etc.).
ASAPH Teaching Ministry will sprout in a few days. The seed is planted and growing. The ground above it is moving. Soon, a bright green shoot.
I long for the teaching I do here to be like a gentle rain. The Bible talks about such teaching...gentle rain teaching. It refreshes and strengthens without destruction. Gentle rain. May each lesson, each conversation be like a gentle rain full of live and truth.
Church services every night last week. EVERY NIGHT! They used to do that back in the day in the USA. Americans are too busy now for such committments. :) It was indeed tiring, but some good stuff happens when the body of Christ gathers together for significant amounts of time. I think our church grew during the week...in wisdom and love. On Saturday night during the pre-service rehearsal we had a small explosion. Tempers on the worship team were high...mine included. By God's grace, we were able to settle things down and practice the LOVE messages we'd been hearing all week. Funny how Satan tries to mess up good things...thereby creating opportunities for people to grow up.
THEN, there was a big concert on Sunday afternoon. A group of young people hosted the concert. They had 8 songs ready to go, and invited a group from a neighbor church. It was all good, except that the sound was a bit much for this 44-year-old. They had it under control for parts of the program. The group hosting the concert is called WORSHIP. Many of them are music students of mine. I was delighted to see and hear them playing to the glory of God. We recorded some of it. Haven't looked at it yet.
A highlight of the concert was when the group sang an original song about Haiti's suffering, and implored the Christians of Haiti to 'stand up' because we are the future of the country. They ended the song by singing the chorus again while holding a map of the country. Very creative group of young men and women. May God bless them as they continue to serve Him. They were able to raise a significant amount of money
Missionary in Haiti.