Friday, March 31, 2006

Stories from deputation.

I will, from time to time, post stories from deputation as well. I would like to write them down here, so I will not forget them.

When we left for deputation, my children were 10,9,7, and 5. We spent 18 months traveling to churches throughout the country. During that time we saw the Lord work in many amazing ways!!

The First Week

Our first week out on deputation proved to be very eventful. My family and I sold our home and moved full-time into a motor home. I really did not have much of a choice in the matter. Living in Alaska, a place so far removed from the lower 48, a motor home was the best option for us. I purchased a 1993 Class C motor home. When I bought it, it only had 18,000 miles. The six of us learned to adjust to life in a small space. We went from 1900 square foot of living space to less then 200!

On our last day in Anchorage Alaska, the snow started falling. It was the first snow fall of the winter, and I knew I needed to get on the road and through the AL-CAN highway as quick as possible. It was October 11, 2001. After two meetings, one in Haynes Alaska and another in White horse Yukon, we headed out for the long drive through Canada. We had already driven through a lot of snow, but I was not ready for the blizzard that was coming. I left White horse very early in the morning. The snow was falling but not heavy. As the day went on, the snow was getting heavier and the road was hard to see. I was trying to go a fast as I could day as I knew I had a mountain pass to go through, and I wanted to get there before this storm closed it off.

As the daylight faded, it was almost impossible to make out the road. I simply followed faint tire tracks in front of me. Outside of those faint tracts there was no sign of any other vehicle. As we were getting closer to the pass, the snow was really falling. I would literally stop in the middle of the road, and wipe the snow off of the window, because the wipers could not keep up with it. No one was talking in the motor home. All eyes were watching outside. Keep in mind too, I am in the Yukon Territory at this time and there is no civilization around at all. As I got closer to the pass, I came upon another motor home which is stopped in the road. He is towing a vehicle behind him. I stopped and talked with the driver. He told me not to go up to the pass with out chains on my tires. He said he tried to go through the pass, but did not make it. He said he had to back down the pass!!!! I, however, really needed to get through. In spite of his council I decided to try and make it through the pass this night. I thought if I wait I will be stuck on this side for days, missing many meetings as a result. He also had summer tires on his motor home and was towing a vehicle. I had just put on brand new all-weather tires a few days before leaving Alaska, and I was not towing anything. As I started up, I was very worried the tires would start slipping. The snow was blinding. The higher we got, the fiercer the wind became. Visibility was just a few feet. I was driving around 10 miles an hour. My hands were gripping the steering wheel. I just started deputation and already my prayer life was improving. :) I was relieved when I started on a downhill stretch. I knew I had made it through the top of the pass. However, then my concern was loosing control of the motor home going down hill, on these very snowy, icy roads. About three quarters of the way down we came across a lodge, and we stopped there. I knew the worst was over and I would be able to continue on in the morning. The Lord had protected us and we made it through.

The next day was much easier driving, and after a few days of driving there was no more snow in sight. I had a meeting to get to in Winnipeg. It was a Thursday meeting, and it was looking like we would just make it in time for services, or so I thought.

About one hour out of Winnipeg, things were seemingly going well. My wife had just woken up from a nap, and my kids were quietly playing. Then I hear my oldest daughter shriek with fear. She screamed and screamed. As we were trying to ascertain what had happened, I notice my sons face is white. He had gotten into my tool box and took out the utility knife to remove something from one of my daughter’s toys. While trying to remove this, the razor slipped and cut his thumb. It severed his thumb almost completely off!!!

(I will continue this story tomorrow. Things will get worse before they get better, and then the Lord begins to work!)

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Life or No life?

When Lazarus was raised from the dead, how did the people at the grave know he was alive? (I know, I know, tough question!) They saw he had life! The resurrection of Lazarus pictures salvation, as well. It pictures what God does when he gives “spiritual/eternal” life to someone who was dead in trespasses and sins.

Have you ever noticed in some churches, where the church proclaims they have seen 7500 saved, or some other amazing number, that their attendance has not changed one bit? Where are the 7500!? If the resurrection of Lazarus pictures salvation, which it does, what would the people have thought of Jesus if he was like many “soul winners” today? Suppose, after Jesus said, “Lazarus come forth!”, nothing happened. Then Jesus turned to the crowd and proclaimed that Lazarus was alive! They would have said, “I don’t see him!” or, “No one is moving, as far as I can tell, in that grave.” What would Mary and Martha have thought?

The FACT is when Jesus gives life, when God saves a soul, there is LIFE!!!!!! I remember taking a soul winning course as a young Christian. I became very confused during one of the sessions. The session was about how to get your “convert”, (that is all many of these people were: “MY” converts), to church. They stressed going back to the person’s house every week until they finally come. This made no sense to me at all. I did not know much Bible at that time, but I did know when God saved me, no one ever had to beg me to go to church. I had a desire to go. I had a desire to hear preaching. I had a desire to read God’s Word. I truly did not understand why a newly saved person would have to be begged to come to church. Well, the fact is, they don’t. Jesus did not stand outside the grave, begging Lazarus to come out. Nor did Lazarus tell the people, “No, No, please leave my grave clothes on! I like them!”

When a person is saved, God moves in. (Romans 8:9) When a person is saved, God gives life. (Ephesians 2:1) When a person is saved, he is a new creature. (II Cor 5:17) When a person is saved, he desires the Word of God. (I Peter 2:1,2) You can not tell me, based on these scriptures, after a person is saved, his life simply remains the same. I am not saying he will jump out of bed the next day running for the church house. What I am saying, is the scripture clearly teaches us a saved man will begin to desire God. Yes, he might need encouraged, but not begged. Yes, he still has a sin nature, but praise God, he now has a divine nature too.

We do not need to not stop soul winning, but we need to proclaim the gospel in truth. Not allowing numbers to be the emphasis, but truth. Oh, how we need the wisdom and power of God in proclaiming the gospel. Oh, how we need to preach with power (I Cor 2:4,5). How we need to preach “repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Missionary Kid Insights

The following is a story my daughter, Rachel, wrote for English class. She wrote on her life her in Papua New Guinea. I thought it would make a good post.

(The Photo below is of Rachel and Heather holding a python skin we found underneath our house.)

English Rachel Faith Mcgovern

Our life in New Guinea.
What we usually do on an every day basis is…
When we get up in the morning we, of course, read our Bible and pray. All of us read the Bible, except baby Levi. Then, we all make our breakfast, except Levi and we four older kids start school. When we do school, we all chose seats usually in the living room because the dining room is too hot, but Daniel does it in his room. Daniel is in ninth grade. Heather’s grade is eighth. I’m in sixth grade. Bethany is in fourth grade. We all start at eight o’clock. We three girls usually end at eleven o’clock. Daniel ends around twelve.
After school, I usually get the computer and play Incredibles or Nancy Drew. Heather and Bethany watch me. Daniel’s usually doing school. By the time I’m done with the computer, Daniel’s done with school. Sometimes, Bethany and I play Trouble. Then, we eat dinner. After dinner, we all go into the living room. Then, the baby has his bath and is been put down for the night. Then, we have devotions. Right now we’re learning about prayer. We haven’t finished it yet. Later, we three girls go to bed at eight thirty. Daniel goes to bed at nine. Mom and Dad go to bed at ten when the power goes out.
When we get up on Saturday, Daniel gets ready to mow the yard. Heather, Bethany and I get ready to rake. It takes a long time. We have a pretty big yard. When we’re done working, we all take showers. Then, sometimes we four kids play a game like Life or Monopoly. Sometimes, we just play hide and seek. Other times, we just read. When we play with Levi, he loves it when we say “uh-oh." When we get up in the morning on Sunday, we dress in some of our best clothes. Then, we leave for church around eight thirty. The drive to where we have our first service in Sohun takes about twenty minutes. There we have one Sunday school class. Then, we just shake hands. We hurry because we have to hurry to Kudukudu. The preacher in Sohun is Pastor James Abel. His wife is Sister Linda. His daughter is Lois. There are about sixty people at Liberty Baptist Church, [The name of the Church], altogether. The men sit on one side, and the ladies on the other.
It takes about thirty minutes from Sohun to get to Kudukudu. Kudukudu is right on a beach. The name of the church is Kudukudu Bible Baptist Church. We have two services, then a reading and writing class. The first services are just a thirty minute Sunday school. We always have the same song every Sunday before Sunday school. Its page is three sixteen. “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus.” My favorite verse is the second one. After that we have the main service after a little fellowship. Then, we have a little fellowship. Then we have the “Rit na rait” class. While Mom and Dad teach, Heather and I watch the baby. We do the class in a little hut. I think I would like to sleep in a hut. But only for one night.
Bethany and Daniel help Mom and Dad with the, “Rit na rait”, class. Mom and Dad do a new letter every week. Then for the writing they give them a book. Then they write in it. We do it because there’s a lot of Christians who need to read the Bible, but they can’t. After that we have a little fellowship. Then we leave for the fifty minute drive home. On the way, we stop by Sohun. Then we talk with who’s there. They finish earlier than we do. Then we go home. When we get home we always have tacos or taco salad.

At the end of every month, we go to a town on the island to get supplies. It’s called Kavieng. It’s about five hours away by car. If the road’s good, it’s only about four hours. We sometimes stop at a beach that’s halfway to Kavieng. There we stretch our legs. It’s only about two hours more. When we get there we first go to the New Tribes guest house. That’s where we are staying. When we get everything into the house Mom and Dad go to the store, to get us something to eat. After we eat we go to the Thruns. They have five children. The oldest is Meagan, 12, then Amy, 9, Katie, 7, Caleb, 5, Then Jared is three. We play with them whenever we go to Kavieng. We usually go on Wednesday. So, we go to church around four o’clock. We have one service there. Then we play with the Thruns while the parents fellowship. Then we go back to New Tribes to go to bed.
The next day, we spend all day in Kavieng. We don’t leave until the next morning. We play with the Thruns while Mom shops. While Mom’s shopping, Dad goes to the bank. He also goes to the Hardware store. When they are done shopping, they pick us up. We go back later for dinner. Then, we go back to the Guest House. We all go to bed. In the morning, we leave for home. It always seems longer on the way back home. When we get home, Mama stays upstairs to unload the stuff. When we’re done Mama makes a quick dinner.
In our little town, there’s only one little plane that brings mail. It only comes twice a week if they don’t cancel it. The two days are Thursday and Tuesday. Sometimes we just send our mail to Kavieng. The airport is just a little dirt runway with a little building. They have a little bench outside to put the luggage. The guy who works at the post office picks it up at the airport, if you want to call it that. There’s just a little building for a post office.
No it’s not your normal American life. Never the less, I love it!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Divine Delays
John 11:1-45

I am still preaching through the gospel of John and have been in this book for over one year now. This week I am in John 11, and I will probably be here for a few weeks. This chapter has really challenged me this week. I am looking forward to preaching this Sunday. I have not finished my message for Sunday, but I would like to bring out one of my points for this post. That point is Divine Delays.

In verse 6 of this chapter, we see Jesus waited two days, after hearing that his beloved friend Lazarus was sick, before going to see him. Now, Jesus was around 30 miles from Bethany at this time. It will take Him one full day to travel to Bethany. (Bethany sits about two miles from Jerusalem.) Mary and Martha, Lazarus sisters, sent word to Jesus to come and help Lazarus. However, Jesus waited two days. Why?

Why, when trouble comes, does it seem God sometimes waits before helping? Why do we see so many verses telling us to “wait upon the Lord”? (Psalms 25:3,5,21, ch 27:14, ch 37:7,9,34, Proverbs 20:22, Isaiah 40:31) I think we can see the primary purpose in John 11. Although what we see in John 11 is by no means exhaustive, it is a major reason for divine delays.

There is much I could say on this, but for the purpose of this blog, I will try and keep it short.

Why divine delays? In John 11:7-14, Jesus still has not left for Bethany. He informs the disciples it is time to go, and He tells them that Lazarus is dead. Then in verse 15 He says He is “glad” He did not go earlier. What? Is He saying He is glad Lazarus is dead? First reaction, one would think, Jesus was not much of a friend. The reason why he was glad lies within the verse itself and verse 4. In verse four, upon hearing that Lazarus is sick, Jesus makes it clear that this “sickness” has happened for the Glory of God! As a result, Jesus will be glorified! The glory of God is what life is about. It is what brings joy to the Lord. Anything that brings glory and thus joy to God, needs to catch our attention as God’s people.

Now, let’s go to Lazarus’s grave; a man who has been dead for four days. Mary and Martha have both already talked to Jesus. Upon meeting him, both said the exact same thing; “If thou hadst been here my brother had not died.” Oh, how true that statement is. Based on verse 14 and the comments of Mary and Martha, I believe had the Lord arrived in Bethany before Lazarus had died, he would have healed him. Now, I have other scripture to back that statement up, but not the time here to expound on it. One might think, “well that would have been a good thing.” It would have been a good thing, but not the best thing. Too many times we settle for good things, but not the best things in relation to our Christian life.

Put yourself there at the grave side of Lazarus. People are weeping, even Jesus is weeping. Some Jews are even wondering why Jesus did not come sooner to heal him (vs 37). Now in the midst of the weeping, Jesus tells the people to remove the stone from the grave. Again, put yourself there. Picture the emotions. Think of all the curiosity aroused as Jesus said, “Take ye away the stone.” Then, Jesus begins to pray to the Father. Everyone hushes as Jesus prays out loud for others to hear (41,42). He then yells with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth.” All eyes, no doubt, are fixed on the grave. It is utterly silent now. All of the sudden, the sound of movement, from within the grave, is heard. Gasps ripple throughout the crowd. Then, in complete amazement, the people see Lazarus walking out of the grave bound in grave clothes!! People are stunned by what they are witnessing. Their eyes slowly turn from Lazarus to Jesus Christ, with a heart that is in complete awe of his power and strength. God is Glorified!!!! This heart action of those who with awe dwell upon at the Power of Jesus Christ brings him glory. As a result many believe upon Jesus Christ; again, this action glorifying God. (vs45)

Now we see why Jesus was glad. He knew what was coming. He knew their sadness would be turned to joy! He knew they would see the glory of God. He knew the disciples would have their belief strengthened (vs14). He knew many would turn to Him for salvation as a result!

What if Jesus had not waited? What if He had went before Lazarus died and healed him? Yes, many would have rejoiced, but not with the passion that they now rejoice. Yes, God would have received some glory, but not nearly the amount of glory he did receive. Yes the disciples would have been strengthened, but not even close to the extent that their faith was strengthened as a result of what they witnessed.

Are you beginning to see the purpose of divine delays? God desires to be glorified by us. He enjoys (vs14) showing himself strong before us. There are times when God does delay from answering our petitions to him, but just wait, and you will see his power and strength! Just wait, and you will be able to stand in amazement at the power of God. If we are not willing to wait, then we limit to what extent we see the glory of God. (vs 40) It all comes down to faith. Faith is the vehicle which enables us to wait on God. (Heb 11:6, John 11:25,26,40.) Do you trust in God: Then wait. He is in control. When we don’t understand the actions of God, just trust him.

Jesus truly is the Resurrection and the Life!

Psalm 27:14b “…..wait I say on the Lord.”

Saturday, March 18, 2006

From a Hut to a Mansion!

(This is the story of a friend of mine named Rusawe. He is now with the Lord.)

One Sunday after services, Bro James asked me to go and visit with a man (Rusawe) who had not been in church at Sohun for quite some time. I had seen Rusawe before, once or twice, but that was all. James told me he used to always come to church, but he had not seen him for several months. I told James of course we can go and see him, and so we went to see him. As we walked up to his hut, he saw us and began to cry. At this point, I did not know what to think. We sat down with him and he told us he had been very sick. He said he just ran out of medication and needed help in getting some more from our “haus sik”. I told him I would come back the next day and take him to get medications. His house is about a 45 minute drive for my house. All together to pick him up and take him to the haus sik and back home is almost 4 hours of driving time on rough road.

As I took Rusawe to the haus sik, we talked. He had a strong desire for his children to know the Lord. Not one of his six children were saved, all of whom are adults. I told him I would come and talk with his children. I enjoyed his company as we traveled to the haus sik. Once we arrived at the haus sik, I asked one of the nurses what was wrong with him. I did ask Rusawe, but he did not know. He simply knew his symptoms and that the drugs helped with those. The nurse told me he has liver failure. This can be a common problem from taking years of malaria medication. By the way, there is no doctor at this haus sik. The nurse told me he needed to get new medication every week. I agreed to take him every Wednesday morning to get his medicine.

During the Wednesday morning drives, Rusawe and I became close. Every Wednesday he would have a stack of bananas or something else for me, to show his appreciation for helping him. Each week when we arrived in Namatanai, he would always buy me a Coke. He would not let me buy him one, but he always insisted that I let him by me a Coke. Keep in mind, the price of that Coke, to him, would be more than a day’s wages.

One Saturday I decided to go by and visit Rusawe. I was hoping some of his children would be there and I could talk with them. When I arrived, however, none of them were there. While talking with Rusawe, I realized that I had never heard his personal testimony of salvation. I was tired though and had thoughts of just going home after a few minutes of small talk. As I stood to leave, I was STRONGLY impressed to ask him his testimony. I sat back down and told Rusawe how I had never once heard his testimony of when he trusted Christ. I asked if he would tell me of that time. He then began to tell me of his faithfulness to church and belief in God. He told how he has tried to live a good life and follow Jesus Christ. I was shocked at what I was hearing. Before this day I never once even questioned whether Rusawe was saved. I always assumed he was. When he finished I told him I wanted to show him some things from Scripture. I presented the gospel, and showed how salvation is in Christ alone. I showed how he must repent and put his faith solely in Jesus Christ for salvation. Then with tears running down his face Rusawe put his trust in Jesus Christ for salvation instead of his actions. I wish all of you could have seen face as I gave him the gospel. It was if someone turned on the lights for him. I left that day rejoicing. Oh how close I was to not asking him his testimony! We need to be ever sensitive to the leading of the Spirit in our life.

The next day, after church, I traveled to visit with Rusawe again and rejoice with more about his salvation in Christ. When I walked up to his hut, I greeted his wife and her countenance was sad. I saw Rusawe lying down awake, but he did not respond to my presence. His wife told me, “tingting bilong em i pol olgeta.” Translation, he has lost his mind. I tried to talk with him, but he was not able to think coherently. I told his wife I want to take him to the haus sik and they told me no. They said he needed to stay where he was. Soon he will die. My thoughts immediately went to the day before when Rusawe trusted Christ. I think of how close I was to leaving and not asking him his testimony. I think of the Lord’s mercy, in giving him clear thinking all the way up until the time he accepted Jesus Christ.

Three days later, men showed up at my house and told me Rusawe has died, and to please come to the village. My emotions were mixed. I was sad to see him go, but rejoiced to know he was with the Lord. To think this man, who never left Papua New Guinea, who never knew a life outside of village life, was now walking on streets of gold. To know he left his hut, the only type of home he ever knew, to receive a mansion in glory. WOW! As I arrived in the village multitudes from the village were there with his body. There is no morgue here. There is no funeral director, or mortician. The family simply takes care of everything themselves. The people build a casket out of bush material, and dig a grave.

Before the body was placed in the grave I held a service, which is normal here. I was able to preach to around 500 people, including all of Rusawe’s children. I gave Rusawe’s testimony and preached the gospel. After the preaching it was time to put Rusawe’s body in the grave. As they placed the casket in the grave, the wailing began. One of Rusawe's sons (Tulsin) threw himself down and I pick him up. He was just wailing. Tears began to go down my face as well from the grief that is present. The wailing went on for quite some time, and then it eased, bit by bit.

In the following weeks, two daughters and one son of Rusawe made professions of faith. The one son, Tulsin, is very faithful still. He has a strong desire for the Lord. I look forward to reuniting with Rusawe in heaven!

John 14:1-3
John 16:13, Acts 10:19,20

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Serving with Joyfulness and Gladness of Heart

(Deu 28:47,48) Because thou servedst not the LORD thy God with joyfulness, and with gladness of heart, for the abundance of all things; Therefore shalt thou serve thine enemies which the LORD shall send against thee, in hunger, and in thirst, and in nakedness, and in want of all things: and he shall put a yoke of iron upon thy neck, until he have destroyed thee.

These verses really caught my attention this week. Here, God says judgment will come as a result of not serving God with joyfulness and with gladness of heart. Think about that!!! How often we simply serve God as a result of duty. Our joy is not in God. Many Christians are serving the Lord but NOT with joyfulness and gladness of heart. This is wrong and the Lord is not pleased with this. What a thought! The Lord is not pleased when we are not pleased in Him

The Lord does not want us simply to serve him because it is our duty. He wants us to serve him because we find joy in Him. I do not want my service to be about duty, I want it to be about love. I do not want my convictions from the Bible to be a burden, but rather a joy. Oh, how we need to delight ourselves in the Lord, as the Psalmist pointed out to us.

Christian are you serving God with joyfulness and gladness of heart, or is it duty, tradition, or trying to gain the favor of God? The truth we see from Deuteronomy 28 is that it is not simply our service that pleases God, but when we have joy in our service for God. Oh, how we need to find joy in our LORD!

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Flash Flood, Tires, Nails

Flash Flood, Tires, Nails
(The following story took place on the morning of March 11, 2006)

Saturday is usually my day to head out to Kudukudu and visit. This morning, I left my house about 8:00am. It was partly cloudy and very humid. I knew it had rained the night before, but I did not know how much. Here when it rains, it can really pour. If you are out in it for just a few seconds, you will be completely drenched. I come across one area where a flash flood has hit the night before. Trees are down, and the landscape has been changed. As I approach the small river which had flash flooded the night before, it is still incredibly high. There is a small cement bridge which crosses this river. Two large trees have fallen from the flash flood and are up against the bridge. Parts of their branches are covering parts of the bridge. I really wish I had my camera with me. It is safe to cross this bridge, but I am amazed at the damage done by this little river to the landscape. Water is very powerful! I continue with my drive, and I come up to another river with a small bridge. Here there is damage as well from flooding, but not as severe as the last river. The bridge is covered with debris, but is passable. The next river I come up to does not have a bridge. The bridge was washed away years ago, from another flash flood. As I approach this river, I quickly realize there is no way to cross. Not only is the water way to high, but there are trees and more debris in the river. I decide to turn my truck around.

On my way back home, I pick up some people heading to the market. Within seconds, the back of my truck is full of food from their gardens. I come up to a village called Racesa and my truck enters a large ditch. Little did know that the ditch was full of nails, put down by some of the men in the village to incapacitate trucks. Only one tire is hit, but it has two large nails sticking in it. I pullover and change the tire. While changing the tire, I catch a lady, who I was taking to the market, stealing a book out of my truck. Stealing is a HUGE problem here. They really believe “what is yours is mine”. After changing the tire, I head out again. As I am about ½ mile from my house, I enter another large ditch, and again I have another tire punctured with a nail. I think my tires have nail magnets on them. The benefit of this is, I do not need to buy nails. :) I now no longer have a spare tire. I decide to inch in to Namatanai to the “tire shop.”

Now, please, when I say tire shop, do not confuse this place with a Goodyear tire shop. There is no building here. There is no place to sit down and have a soda while you wait. There is no man with a uniform and full set of tools to quickly fix your tires. No, No, No! There is not even a tube or a patch for my truck. There is man there who has very little experience at fixing tires. He as a large metal bar with a flat end, a rubber mallet, pliers and of course the one ingredient that makes this place a “tire shop”, an air compressor. When I arrive, I remove the one flat tire which was still on my truck. In total, I have three tires for him to fix. By this time, I am covered in sweat, filthy from lying on the muddy ground to jack up my truck and weary too. (This past week I had Malaria again, so my body was not quite 100% today.)

I walk to some of the trade stores to see if I can find tubes for my tires. As I am walking everyone is curious as to what happened to the white man. One, he is walking with out his truck. Two, he is covered in mud and sweating. I just smile and wave or make polite conversation. I am able to find one tube, and this tube is for a 15” not a 16” tire, which mine is. I am thankful for the 15”, though. For the other tires I manage to find patches to repair the damage. Upon returning with the supplies, I notice one tire is beyond repair. The man takes the tube and the patches I found, and makes the repairs to the other two tires.

It is quite the experience just watching how they fix tires here. They have no fancy machine to remove the tire from the wheel. This is all done by hand. Then, replacing the wheel and tire is quite the challenge as well. For all you tire workers in the States, please, when you go to work on Monday, be sure to kiss the machine that removes the wheel from the tire. It is making your job so much easier. :) For those who will visit their tire shop this week, while you are sitting down, enjoying a cup of coffee and reading an 8 year-old magazine, realize how boring your life really is. (LOL)

After the two tires are repaired, I head to my house. The morning has just finished, but I am ready for a shower and a nap. As I enter into my house and tell my family about my morning, I notice it is no big deal to them. After all this is PNG, and todays events were just a normal day!

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Where is your Heart?

(Mat 6:21) For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

What an amazing statement! Where is your heart? If you really want to know, look to see where your treasure is. This verse is not just talking about money, although that would be included. Where do you spend your time and energy? What is it that consumes you?

In the day we live in, we have so many things to occupy our time and money, or our “treasure.” The devil bombards us with things to occupy our treasure. Many times it is even “good” things. Why? To keep our hearts/love from God. Our life is about God. It is not about a bigger house, or more money. It is not how many cars you have, or what clubs you belong to. We spend our time chasing the “American Dream”, instead of Almighty God. Many times we teach our children a false definition of success. True success is in relation to God (Joshua 1:8,9).

For many, their career consumes them, for others it is a hobby. Some it is even “church”, or their “theological position”. I know, as a preacher, many times I can get so busy in my work for God, I loose my focus on the God of the work. These things are tragic.

What is it that drives you? Why do you get up each morning? Is it to get that promotion at work? Is it to shoot that deer or get a better golf score? Is it to get that attendance button at church? Is it to make sure you have 750 people in service so you can report it to the “Sword of the Lord”?

Oh, how we need to set our heart on the Lord. How do we do this? By putting your treasure there. Put your heart and mind on God. From the time you wake up, put a prayer from the heart to the Lord. Dwell upon Him throughout the day. Talk with Him. Read His Book that He wrote for you. Allow God to be the focus of your life. Don’t let your career control you, let God. Don’t live for a hobby, live for God. Don’t let church simply become your social club, let it be about drawing closer to God.

Today God’s people need to put their love on Him, and quit being “entangled with the affairs of this life”.

I leave you with two verses to dwell on. They are two verses that always speak to my heart.

(Col 3:1,2) If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

"Now Lord?"
Part II
(You will need to read Part I of this story, for this to make sense.)

I began praying about the village of Kudukudu every day. I was praying for the Lord to open a door to plant a church there. (I believed that was His will.) I told no one of this prayer. I did not put it in a prayer letter. I did not mention it to one person on the island. I never told any one about the Lord working on my heart about this village.

Three weeks had now passed and I was still praying about Kudukudu. Then on a Wednesday in early July of 2004, a man was standing at the end of my property. I had never seen him before. I walked out to him and introduced myself. He told me his name was Len. (Len is in the picture above. He is wearing the hat.) He told me the day before he was in a PMV, (a PMV is a truck which carries people, similar to a bus in the U.S.), and saw me in my truck. He said everyone in the truck began talking about the white man. He heard some say that I was a Baptist missionary. Len then asked me if that was true. I said, “Yes, I am a Baptist missionary.” Then he told me how in the 1970’s he was living on another island and met a Baptist missionary there. He was able to spend some time with him. He then returned to New Ireland. He said he began praying for God to put a Baptist church in his home village. He said he had been praying about this for well over 20 years! He told me how as soon as had heard the day before that there was a Baptist missionary on the island, he determined to go immediately and talk to him. I then asked him what village he was from. He said he is from Kudukudu and could I please come there and start a church!!!!!! I stood there stunned at his reply. I then told him how I was in his village three weeks earlier getting Kuni grass. I told him how I was praying about his village everyday. I told him how not even three hours earlier I was praying/asking the Lord to open a door to Kudukudu!

Len ended up being the first man saved in Kudukudu, followed by his wife trusting Christ for salvation. He was also the head of the local politics in the village, and this opened the door for the church to be planted.

Now, as of March 2006, 30 to 40 adults in the village have trusted Christ and come to church every week. Each week the work is growing. Each month two to three trust Christ for salvation. The past two months have seen over 60 in attendance each week, and the last two weeks there have been over 70 in attendance! That might not sound like a lot, but keep in mind there only about 700 to 800 people in the area.

The Lord truly is wonderful in his workings! When I look back and see how the Lord led in the start of the work in Kudukudu, it amazes me.

Mission-Trip Insights

Mission-Trip Insights

The following post I took from the comments section from my "Now Lord?" post. I really enjoyed reading it and thought I would bring it to the front page. I thought it would be good for all to read. Rob Wright is the head deacon at my home church. He told me if I did not post his comments on the front page, the church would drop my support! (Just kidding) I posted some pictures from his trip here as well.

My name is Rob Wright and I am the out-of-shape guy sitting on the pillar in the picture of the “strange pillars”......(on second thought, “round” is a shape… I am in some kind of shape).

My two weeks spent on the island of New Ireland with Brother and Mrs. McGovern and their four outstanding children will forever be etched in my mind as one of the most special, and privileged times in my life. I would love nothing more than to go back for another visit and get to meet their newest family addition, Levi. I desperately want bragging rights to having been the first person in our church here in Alaska to get to hold that little guy in my arms! (lol)

After our arrival in the McGovern’s home village of Namatanai, we rested the first night, went site-seeing the next day, church the next, and then the work started. I truly thought I would lose weight in the extreme heat. Not even close! Mrs. McGovern performed absolute miracles ensuring we were well fed and comfortable the entire time we were there. Although I was always in a sweat when we were eating, and I knew I would be miserably full when I finished, I was willing to accept these dreadful consequences because of her excellent cooking! She is a hero in her own right.

Unless you are 44 years old, 40 pounds over weight, live in a place (Alaska) that frequently gets below zero for stretches at a time, had just left -40 degree in Fairbanks, Alaska and found yourself sitting in +130 degree temperatures within a one-week time frame, you don’t know what really being miserable is! Don’t forget 100% humidity. It’s a beautiful thing, to be sure! Simply breathing enough oxygen to stay conscience was enough to email home about.

I always looked at photos of New Guinea and was amazed at how lush and tropical it was. And it is that. However, after my visit I now look at those same pictures and start to sweat and break out in a heat rash just thinking about it ! But, I wouldn’t hesitate to jump on the next plane going there! What an amazing, life-changing experience it was!

Our first experience of going to a village was to show two Christian films. This village was literally against the sea shore on a sandy strip of coastline with various trees including tall coconut trees. Come to think of it, that pretty much describes 95% of the villages on New Ireland.

We arrived a little before sunset and there didn’t seem to be too many people in that particular location. We went ahead and set up the generator, the make-shift screen, and video equipment while the crowd of mostly naked children staring at us in shy amazement continued to grow. It wasn’t too long before straggling groups of people began to filter into the village from every direction. They seemed to just appear from the edges of the jungle. The number in attendance began to swell considerably. Anywhere else, and the crowd noise would have been deafening. Not here. Intense, studious curiosity was written on every face.

Soon we stopped trying to count as the quiet crowd continued to grow into the hundreds. As darkness fell, our flashlights would sweep across the flat plain of the main village. I was awestruck to discover there were easily well over 600 people sprawled out over the landscape! Almost every one of them was carrying a machete and I suspected they each knew how to use one efficiently. Let me tell you, this wasn’t Hollywood! This was Papua New Guinea and there are no 911 operators to call and ask for police assistance. I found myself sizing up Brother McGovern and soon realized he was so much smaller than me, that he would serve no use as a stalling tactic in the event someone reverted to their ancestral roots and got a hankering for white meat. He could only serve as an appetizer at best, but I would surely be the main course!

Even though we experienced technical difficulties several times with the equipment, the films worked and the crowd was patient. No one got a hankering for white meat and Brother McGovern then preached in their native tongue (at least that’s what he told us he was doing) and it appeared well received.

The natives are an amazing people themselves. At first glance, you see only the unnerving, fierce-faced image you have seen so many times in National Geographic magazine. But, smile at them, and IT CHANGES EVERYTHING! Their entire countenance undergoes such an instantaneous change; it is hard to recognize the person you were just picturing as an “extra” on the set of a cannibal movie production. They are a hospitable people eking out a very meager existence from the land and sea. I was very honored to be in their presence.

But, my heart was broken at once for this seemingly forgotten people from one the furthest points on the earth from civilization. They are no different than any other people with respect to loving and raising their families, suffering hardship peculiar to their society, but especially with regard to having a soul in desperate need of Salvation.

To pray for a missionary whom you have a prayer card from is one thing. To pray for a missionary with whom you have witnessed the challenges of his foreign field of service first-hand is another thing altogether.

I have seen the particular challenges presented in PNG. I have experienced the particular fatigue of the work. I have witnessed the particular fruits of strenuous spiritual labor. And I have winced with a broken heart for the burden represented by the suffering and lost souls of this particular place.

Praying for missionaries is different for me now. The attention I give to missionaries visiting our church is different now. The questions that come to my mind to ask about their particular ministry are increased in number and a desire to truly get a good glimpse of their vision for serving there.

As I got on the plane to leave PNG, it struck me that a part of my heart had been ripped out by this place. And that part of my heart is still there today. Perhaps one day I can return to revisit it.

--Posted by Rob to Missionary Insights at 3/04/2006 11:37:09 AM

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Now Lord!

"Now Lord?"
(The story of how the Lord led in the start of the work in the village of Kudukudu. This is Part I of a two part post.

When we first arrived in PNG, I had no intentions on starting a new work in my first term. My plan was language and cultural study, but, as is often the case, the Lord had other plans. Our first six months in country were very difficult and very challenging. Those challenges, I will let my wife write about in other posts. We did have a small group of Christians that helped us when we arrived in country. They were meeting in the village of Sohun. They were a huge blessing to us.

As language study progressed, I began teaching at this church in Sohun. The work was growing and we decided to build a “Sunday School House”. This “house” would be made of bush material. At this time I had been in country about 8 months, and this would my first experiance at building a bush house. While in the bush cutting down the trees for the Sunday school house, Bro James, the pastor of the work in Sohun, told me we need to get Kuni grass. He said this Kuni grass is in another village, and it is used to make the roof of the house. One week later, we traveled to this village; it was the village of Kudukudu. It was a very hot day, well over 100 degrees. I was working in an area with no shade, pulling this Kuni Grass out of the ground. This grass is very sharp, and it was cutting my hands. It seemed to me the villagers hands were immune to the razor sharp grass, but in reality they knew how to properly pull it out of the ground, where as I did not. They loved watching the white man pulling the grass out. They were surprised that a “white skin” was performing villager work. Normally, the white skins simply pay to have the manual labor accomplished. The heat was strong and I decided to take a break. A lapun (old man) came and sat down and a few others with me.

The lapun began to talk to me about the history of this village. As he did, the Lord began working on my heart. In years past, this was a cannibalistic village. When fighting with an enemy tribe, if they captured one of them they would eat him. Then the story turned even more interesting, as he told me how this was the village where the very first missionaries, who came to the island began their work. The missionaries were from the London Missionary Society, and arrived on the island in the late 1870’s. Those who came were Methodist; when they first arrived in the village, they had to leave quickly. The young men of the tribe wanted to eat the white men. This was the tribesmen’s first encounter with a white man. The missionaries fled to the Duke of York islands. The older men in the tribe convinced the younger men, that they needed to find out who these strange white people were, and that it would not be wise to eat them yet.

The missionaries made another attempt and were welcomed in. It was still dangerous, but they did introduce the gospel to the people. A few years later, a Methodist church was established. On the ground where I was sitting, they showed me the foundation pillars from the L.M.S. missionaries’ house. (In the above picture, you can see the foundational pillars from their house. In the pitcure, I am kneeling down and the men in the picture with me are from my home church. My daughter Rachel is to the side sitting on of the pillars.) At the time of the picture they were here in PNG helping me build a church building.) I was amazed. This Methodist church no longer exists in the village. At this time, the village had a United Church, SDA, and ALC. None of these preach the gospel, and all have a multitude of doctrinal errors. (This is true of almost every single village on the island.)

As I was being told the history of the village, my heart was burning for this village. The Lord was clearly working on my heart. However, for me to attempt to start a work in a village did not line up with my time table of how things were supposed to work. The Lord was working on my heart, but He forgot to check with me first. Did He not realize that my language skills were still lacking, and my cultural understanding was still poor at this time? I had only been in country for 8 months. I was thinking, “Now Lord?” The fact still remained, even though the Lord was working on my heart, I did not have an open door into the village to begin establishing a church. That however was about to change in an amazing way!

The rest of this story I will write on the next blog.