Category: Blog

May 22, 2024

We’ve all read the report on the sudden descent of a Singapore Airlines flight from London to Singapore with one person dead and scores injured in the sudden fall. Apparently it hit turbulence and fell 6000 feet in a matter of minutes. People who were not wearing seatbelts were thrown all over the interior with many hitting the ceiling with their heads. Some of the most seriously injured were attendants standing in the aisles serving breakfast to the passengers. Fortunately the pilots were able to make an emergency landing in Bangkok.

For those who fly this event is disturbing to say the least. Indeed it’s a cautionary tale about our universal vulnerability. Whether an air disaster, a sudden traffic accident, or a report from the doctor that a test has revealed a fatal disease, we are all subject to the seeming randomness of tragedy.

Nevertheless we still fly, drive, and live our lives with the belief that “it won’t happen to me”. The alternative, of course, is the “Henny Penny” view ( Google it) that “the sky is falling” with its concomitant daily anxiety.

I think Jesus’ words from the Sermon in the Mount should be not only considered but adopted:
“Think not what the morrow bringeth. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof”. Worry is counterproductive. Why borrow trouble from the future?

I often think of the old man lying in his death bed who told his pastor “90 percent of everything I worried about never happened”. So true.

Burying one’s head in the sand, like the proverbial ostrich, is to be avoided as is staying indoors for the rest of our lives. Fear paralyzes. We’ve got to live. And living means risk taking. So get on that plane, drive that car, get out into our world. And wherever you find yourself “be there”.

 

May 8, 2024

I was the guest speaker at a church recently where the setting was inner city and the congregants bore the signs of “living rough”- some living on the street, others on welfare, and many the “working poor”. Compared to the poor we minister to in Africa they had/have much more in terms of a social safety net, but with economies of scale are just as vulnerable.  Yet, in terms of spiritual sensitivity and love for God they are on a parallel track.

The service was sweet. The atmosphere gentle and worshipful. The singing soft but sincere. I felt the presence of the holy.

Once again I was reminded that the Lord, unlike us, is “no respecter of persons”. His values transcend ours. Where we look “on the outward appearance” He “looks on the heart”. There are no socio-economic judgements from Heaven. Rather, there is divine resonance with the humble souls who love their Maker.

Jesus set the bar when in his home town synagogue in Nazareth he read from Isaiah 61, “The spirit of the Lord God is upon me , because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor, to bind up the broken hearted…to provide the oil of gladness for the spirit of heaviness…”. His first priority was the poor. Indeed, in his famous “sermon on the mount” he began with “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven…”.

 

So I have found myself preaching mainly to the poor these past 25 years. Maybe that’s exactly what I should be doing.

April 24, 2024

One would think that after 25 years of working with orphans and widows in Sub-Saharan Africa my wife Kathy and I would be somewhat acclimatized to the suffering of “the least of these”, but we’re not.

 

Recently we visited our champion partners in South Africa, Zambia, and Malawi. We were very impressed with the growth in their ministries to orphans and widows in distress- impressed and moved with compassion.

Thanks to the availability of antiretroviral medicines the impact of HIV and AIDS has been mitigated but the impact of opportunistic diseases remains.

On this visit we met and prayed with several patients suffering from tuberculosis of both lung and bone. The bone tuberculosis is very painful. Sitting on the ground with these precious souls as they lay on their mats our hearts were broken. I wept as I prayed, their suffering was so intense. We felt both sorrow and frustration with their agony and the distance between our western world and theirs, wishing we could just summon an ambulance and wisk them away to first world medical care. But instead of an ambulance the critically ill have to be strapped to a bicycle or laid in an ox cart and transported to rudimentary rural clinics.  It’s hard to believe sometimes that we share the same planet.

Nevertheless our valiant volunteers continue providing weekly Home Based Care to these dear ones. And everything is done with kindness, gentleness, faithfulness and love- in the name of Jesus.

As we pray with each one we remind them that the Lord knows their name and their need. But our souls ache. Our only comfort is that these dear ones are being gently cared for and we are able to faithfully pray for them every day wherever we are in the world.

Bottom line is our trust in the Lord who “sees the sparrow fall” and holds these fragile patients in his hands.

April 10, 2024

Were you “eclipsed” by the recent solar eclipse in North America? Millions were. The massive crowds with their eclipse glasses lined the route of the eclipse as it moved diagonally from southwest to northeast. It was a once in a lifetime phenomenon. The enthusiasm was huge. Loud cheering, like that at big sports events, ricocheted from sea to sea.  People were kids again.

 
It struck me that we’re all kids at heart. Little things can thrill us and big things can overwhelm us, especially when the stimulus is the natural world. Vast mountain ranges, roaring rivers, endless forests, deep blue lakes, soaring birds, and so much more, enfold us in wonder. Indeed that wonder sometimes borders on worship. There’s something childlike in us that wants to look up, to exalt the Designer of the great design.

This is an essential spiritual quality common to us all. We have an intuitive knowledge of God. All it takes is a moment of wonder to bring it out. We are born to worship.