Friday, March 30, 2007

Tears of Sorrow - Tears of Joy

Brazil Missions Trip

Thank you all so much for your prayers and financial contributions! The past two weeks were very encouraging and once again reaffirmed God's call on my life!

13 members from various churches went down to Fortaleza, Brazil for 2 weeks. While there, we were involved in 4 ministries: manual labor, public school evangelism, soccer evangelism, and local church ministry. God used the team mightily despite the language barrier for most.

My part specifically on this trip was to serve the team by translating. I had opportunities to work, preach, and even play - but God used my MK (missionary kid) background for His glory.

There were two events that struck hard in my heart on this trip. One involved tears of sorrow, and another tears of joy.

One Wednesday during prayer time at church - Sr. Chico began to share his testimony. This man had come into the church in a drunken stupper - and God used that first service in this mans life. Chico proceeded to share the things that had happened in his life to build his faith. My heart was sorrowful - because this mans faith was so strong. I was jealous for his faith minus his trials. God showed me a truth from the book of James - but in living color - Chico! His testimony moved me to tears. Oh God - build my faith!

The tears of joy came late in the trip. God gave me a neat friendship in the bus driver - Kleber. He and I talked several times while riding to our next ministry. I shared the gospel with him and things made some sense to him. He told me had chosen to leave the Catholic church because it seemed foolish to him to have to pray to a priest and not directly to his Creator. I preached one Sunday evening and he heard the evangelistic message. After the service he had questions about the Trinity. I told him we would get together to talk about it, but things didn't seem to work out. Two days before we are to leave he hurts his ankle and cannot drive the bus! Oh, Lord - what now - we didn't get another opportunity - was what I was thinking.

On the last night we are there - Kleber gets in his car with his wife and his Bible and drives 20 kilometers to where we are staying! Everyone on the team greeted him with joy. He caught my attention and said: Can we sit down and talk? Uh - Yeah!!!

We went through John 14 - Great chapter on the Trinity - Great chapter on the Gospel!!! As we wrapped up I asked Kleber if he had repented of his sin and put his trust in Christ! His reply was: I think I have done that this week. I encouraged him to talk to the Lord about this and so he prayed with me. His wife was listening - but I could sense she was not where here husband was. I encouraged Kleber to continue to share these verses with his wife and wait on the Lord for his work in her life. Will you pray for Kleber, Lucianna, and Leticia - his 15 year old daughter. His new life has just begun! He needs to grow! Tears of Joy!!!
The picture is of Kleber, his wife and Joel Johnson - our group leader.

Praise God - What a cap on the end of this trip.

Thank you all again,

God Bless

Friday, March 9, 2007

When Believers Die - It's Different!

This is lengthy, but just start reading and you won't stop!

Hello, My Father Just Died
By John Piper March 7, 2007

The following is John Piper’s journal entry narrating his father’s death on Tuesday, March 6, 2007.
The big hospital clock in room 4326 of Greenville Memorial Hospital said, with both hands straight up, midnight. Daddy had just taken his last breath. My watch said 12:01, March 6, 2007.
I had slept a little since his last morphine shot at ten. One ear sleeping, one on the breathing. At 11:45, I awoke. The breaths were coming more frequently and were very shallow. I will not sleep again, I thought. For ten minutes, I prayed aloud into his left ear with Bible texts and pleadings to Jesus to come and take him. I had made this case before, and this time felt an unusual sense of partnership with Daddy as I pressed on the Lord to relieve this warrior of his burden.
I finished and lay down. Good. Thank you, Lord. It will not be long. And, grace upon grace, hundreds of prayers are being answered: He is not choking. The gurgling that threatened to spill over and drown him in the afternoon had sunk deep, and now there was simple clear air, shorter and shorter. I listened from where I lay next to him on a foldout chair.
That’s it. I rose and waited. Will he breathe again? Nothing. Fifteen or twenty seconds, and then a gasp. I was told to expect these false endings. But it was not false. The gasp was the first of two. But no more breaths. I waited, watching. No facial expressions. His face had frozen in place hours before. One more jerk. That was all. Perhaps an eyebrow twitch a moment later. Nothing more.
I stroked his forehead and sang,
My gracious Master and My GodAssist me to proclaimTo spread through all the earth abroadThe honors of thy name.
Daddy, how many thousands awaited you because of your proclamation of the great gospel. You were faithful. You kept the faith, finished the race, fought the fight. “Make friends for yourselves with unrighteous mammon that they might receive you into eternal habitations.”
I watched, wondering if there could be other reflexes. I combed his hair. He always wore a tie. The indignities of death are many, but we tried to minimize them. Keep the covers straight. Pull the gown up around his neck so it looks like a sharp turtleneck. Tuck the gappy shoulder slits down behind so they don’t show. Use a wet washcloth to keep the secretions from crusting in the eyelashes. And by all means, keep his hair combed. So now I straightened his bedding and combed his hair and wiped his eyes and put the mouth moisturizer on his lips and tried to close his mouth. His mouth would not stay closed. It had been set in that position from hours and hours of strained breathing. But he was neat. A strong, dignified face.
I called my sister Beverly first, then Noël. Tearfully we gave thanks. Get a good night’s rest. I will take care of things here with the doctor and the nurses and the mortuary arrangements. I will gather all our things and take them back to the motel. “I wish I had been there,” Beverly lamented. Yes. That is good. But don’t let that feeling dominate now. In the days to come, you will look back with enormous gratitude for the hundreds of hours you gave serving Daddy. It is my turn to be blessed.
The nurse came to give him his scheduled morphine shot. As she walked toward me I said, “He won’t need that any more.” “Is he gone?” “Yes. And thank you so much for your ministry to him.” “I will notify the doctor so he can come and verify. I will leave you alone.” “Yes, thank you.”
The doctor in his green frock came at 12:40 and listened with his stethoscope to four different places on Daddy’s chest. Then he pulled back the sheet and said, “I must apply some pain stimuli to his nail base to see if he reacts. Then he used his flashlight to test Daddy’s eyes. “The nurse supervisor will come and get the information we need about the mortuary.” Thank you.
Alone again, I felt his cheeks. Finally cool after the fevered and flushed fight. I felt his nose, as though I were blind. Then I felt mine. I thought, very soon my nose will be like your nose. It is already like your nose.
The nurse came. No thank you, an autopsy will not be necessary. Mackey Mortuary on Century Drive. My name is John, his son. My cell phone is . . . . “You may stay as long as you like.” Thank you. I will be leaving soon.
Now I just look at him. Nothing has changed in his face here in the darkness of this dim light. Just no movement. But I have watched his chest so long—even now, was that a slight rise and fall? No, surely not. It’s like sailing on the sea for days. On the land the waves still roll.
He has four-day’s beard and dark eyes. I lift an eyelid to see him eye to eye. They are dilated.
Thank you, Daddy. Thank you for sixty-one years of faithfulness to me. I am simply looking into his face now. Thank you. You were a good father. You never put me down. Discipline, yes. Spankings, yes. But you never scorned me. You never treated me with contempt. You never spoke of my future with hopelessness in your voice. You believed God’s hand was on me. You approved of my ministry. You prayed for me. Everyday. That may be the biggest change in these new days: Daddy is no longer praying for me.
I look you in the face and promise you with all my heart: Never will I forsake your gospel. O how you believed in hell and heaven and Christ and cross and blood and righteousness and faith and salvation and the Holy Spirit and the life of holiness and love. I rededicate myself, Daddy, to serve your great and glorious Lord Jesus with all my heart and with all my strength. You have not lived in vain. Your life goes on in thousands. I am glad to be one.
I kissed him on his cold cheek and on his forehead. I love you, Daddy. Thank you.
It was 12:55 as I walked out of room 4326. Just before the elevators on the fourth floor in the lounge, a young man in his twenties was sitting alone listening to his iPod with headphones. I paused. Then I walked toward him. He stopped his music. Hello, my father just died. One of the greatest tributes I could pay to him is to ask you, Are you ready to meet God? “Yes, Sir.” That would make my father very happy. You know Jesus is the only way? “Yes, Sir.” Good. Thank you for letting me talk to you.
As I drove out of the parking lot, I stopped. The moon was a day past full. It was cold—for Greenville. I looked at this great hospital. Thank you, Lord, for this hospital. I will probably never lay eyes on it again.