Frail children of dust, and feeble as frail, in Thee do we trust, nor find Thee to fail;
Thy mercies how tender, how firm to the end, our Maker, Defender, Redeemer and Friend!
Dear Friends in Christ,
One of our Haiti Team 2016 team members reported to me a story that has stuck with me all week. He told me that when the team was preparing to leave Cap Haitien one of the men who works with Jean Claude Compere, the pastor with whom we are partnering, shared in a very emotional way what our team’s visit and work meant to the Labruyere Church congregation, generally, and meant to him, personally. Among other things he said that the team “was Jesus” to him and the members of his congregation.
That’s a pretty significant statement! What might he have meant by that? I think that he was speaking about our team’s sacrifice, hard work, perseverance through sometimes debilitating illness, care, love and friendship just to name a few characteristics of our team members and their work.
That our folks would “come all this way” was, I am sure, an important element as well. We don’t think too much about getting on a plane and flying to Chicago, LA, London, Tokyo; we do it for business and we do it for pleasure and little beyond the cost in dollars and time deters us from traveling long distances. But to Jonas and to all of the folks with whom I met when I “came all this way” earlier this year that was a really big deal; so big that, to their way of thinking, probably only Someone like Jesus would do that for them.
So, once again, just showing up makes a powerful testimony! And so does friendship. Jonas and the people in Haiti live a very, very hard life. Everything in Haiti is hard; everything is scarce; everything is broken or rotting or stolen or unattainable. We refer to the population as living on a subsistence level; the average annual per capita income is $790. Most people are hungry most of the time.
And what the people are also hungry for is friendship and I think that’s what made Jonas feel as though our team “was Jesus” to them. This was our third team trip to Cap Haitien and there have been two other individual trips as well. Each time the team or an individual left Haiti we told the people that we would be back. They hear that a great deal from groups who travel there but too often, people don’t go back. By God’s grace and the generous support of the congregation our teams have gone back. We have built a level of trust so that the folks of Cap Haitien can count on us to keep our word. Now, we are not just acquaintances with Jean Claude and his congregation – we are partners and we are friends.
Sometimes my best devotional musings are prompted by the lyrics of hymns and this week I have been thinking about the words of “O Worship the King.” Most particularly I have been thinking about the verse quoted above and, specifically, the reference to our Lord as our “Maker, Defender, Redeemer and FRIEND.” One of the characteristics of God’s relationship with us is that of friendship. Jesus told His disciples in John 15. 14 that they were His friends and Abraham was referred to as a friend of God.
What I’ve been wondering about is to what extent we are giving a significant testimony to the wonder and grace of our God when we act in ways (roles?) in which He acts? When we think of Christlikeness we typically do so in terms of character and personality traits: love, kindness, patience, service, sacrifice, and the like. If you think about it these all accord with what a friend is. Consequently, when these are displayed by our team members in relationship with Jonas they see Friendship and, because Jesus is our Friend, they see Him.
So, now think about this: to what extent can my life be a powerful and effective testimony to our Lord Jesus Christ when I, in relationship to others, exhibit the divine roles of Maker, Defender and Redeemer? To suggest such a possibility – isn’t that blasphemy, i.e. attributing to ourselves the characteristics and prerogatives that belong only to God?! We are treading on hallowed ground here and we must walk gently and carefully but it’s worth thinking about.
Last Monday morning I was playing the role of my Lord, the Maker, in front of my house and two people stopped and commented (positively, I might add) on what I was doing and what I had accomplished. Did they see Jesus in my work as a “maker” as Jonas saw Jesus in our team’s work as “friend?” Could be…I think so. I’m going to pursue this line of thinking and writing in the next couple of weeks. Stay tuned and let’s see where it takes us. Any thoughts? Hit “Reply!”
Here are some things to keep in mind as the weekend approaches:
- Our guest speaker this Sunday will be Rev. Dr. Ed Glover, Founder/President of Urban Impact here in Pittsburgh. His ministry is absolutely tremendous and I have been trying to get us together for almost a year. He will be preaching at both services AND he will be speaking at a special SundaySchool class at 10 AM in the Social Room, sharing about the ministry. I don’t think you’ll want to miss this. All Middle School and High School students will also gather in the Social Room at that time, too. If you are not already attending the Statement of Faith or Inquirers classes this class is a don’t miss for you.
- Our Men’s Chorus of 9 intrepid singers, two instrumentalists and two pianists (it takes two pianists to handle this crew!) will be singing at both services. I’m not going to promise that there’ll be dancing in the aisles but there may be some sanctified toe-tapping going on!
- At both services we’ll be commissioning our West Virginia Team 2016 that will be leaving for a week of ministry shortly after Morning Worship. Also, next Thursday our Uganda team will leave Pittsburgh for the first leg of their trip which is to Dubai. We still have some Crocs available for those who would like to purchase a pair for one of the orphans in the Lulwanda Children’s Home where Larry, Dee, David and Bill will be serving. They are $20. per pair…you have graciously underwritten about 80+ pairs already.
- Please be in prayer for our mission partner Greg Livingstone who, just last week was diagnosed with extremely aggressive (9/10) prostate cancer. He is awaiting word about beginning radiation treatments in Oxford, 5 days per week for 4 weeks. Surgical options may be available, too. I talked with him at his home in High Wycombe outside of London and his spirits are up but he and Sally are concerned, as you can imagine.
That’s it for now. For those in Pittsburgh, I hope to see you on the Lord’s Day. It’s going to be hot…dress comfortably.
Faithfully in Him,
Posted on Fri, July 15, 2016
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