MUSINGS OF AN “OLDER” MAN. Nr.58

Standard

Nr.57 ended with: “But after four weeks we returned to Canada a bit discouraged as nothing had opened up. We were starting to wonder whether we were on the right track……..!”

After returning home and enjoying being together with our little girls again, Marina and I began to pray like never before. We were so sure we were to go to Europe and yet nothing had opened up, had we been so wrong? We had worked with the Native people in northern Sask. and wondered now whether the Lord wanted us there. So several times a day Marina and I would kneel down at our couch and pray asking the Lord for directions.

On a Thursday evening, after coming home from a meeting I said to Marina, “We can’t go on like this; we need to know what to do.” So I took a sheet of paper and drew a line in the middle from top to bottom and started to list on the left side reasons for staying in Canada and on the right side why we should go to Europe. When I was finished I had 3 points in the left column and 23 in the right. I looked at Marina and said, “What are we praying for, look at this, it is as clear as can be.” The final decision was made; we were now going to start working towards leaving for Europe.

I then asked for a meeting with the elders of WBC. Marina and I had decided that if one of them was not in agreement with us going, that we would not go, but wait for further directions. When I met with the elders and told about our desire and decision, some of them smiled. For a moment I thought they were laughing with me. They must have noticed the look on my face and explained that they smiled because they had been waiting for us to come to them, as they had felt for quite some time already that we were to go to Europe. And they were all in agreement! Praise the Lord. The next Sunday we planned to tell the congregation about this, but driving to church that Sunday morning we had a car accident……! (Go to Musings)

OVERPEINZINGEN VAN EEN “OUDERE” MAN. Nr.58

Standard

Nr.57 eindigde met: “Maar na vier weken vlogen wij terug naar Canada, een beetje ontmoedigd omdat er niets gebeurd was. Wij begonnen ons af te vragen of we wel op het juiste pad waren…!”

Na onze thuiskomst en de blijde hereniging met onze dochtertjes, begonnen Marina en ik te bidden als nooit tevoren. We waren zo zeker dat we naar Europa moesten, maar er was geen open deur gevonden. Hadden we het zo mis? We hadden met de Aboriginals in noord Saskatchewan gewerkt en vroegen ons nu af of de Heer ons misschien daar wilde hebben. En zo knielden Marina en ik enkele malen per dag bij onze sofa en vroegen de Heer om leiding.

Op een zekere donderdagavond kwam ik thuis van een samenkomst en zei tegen Marina dat we zo niet langer verder konden. Ik nam een vel papier, trok er in het midden een lijn op van boven naar onder, waarna ik aan de linkerkant een lijst begon te maken van redenen waarom we in Canada zouden blijven werken, en aan de rechterkant waarom we naar Europa zouden gaan. Toen ik klaar was, waren er 3 redenen aan de linkerkant en 23 aan de rechterkant. Ik keek naar Marina en zei, “Waar bidden we eigenlijk nog voor, het is zo overduidelijk.” En zo werd de uiteindelijke beslissing genomen en begonnen we ons voor te bereiden om naar Europa te gaan.

Ik nam kontact op met de oudsten van WBC en vroeg of ik met hen kon samenkomen. Wij hadden besloten dat als één van de oudsten er tegen was, wij zouden wachten. Toen ik met hen samenkwam en hen vertelde van ons verlangen en onze beslissing, begonnen enkelen van hen te glimlachen. Ik vroeg mij af of ze met mij zaten te lachen. Toen zij de verwonderde uitdrukking op mijn gezicht zagen, legden zij uit dat zij glimlachten omdat zij al op ons hadden zitten wachten, daar zij eenstemmig al enige tijd overtuigd waren dat wij naar Europa moesten. Prijs de Heer. Marina en ik beslisten om dit de volgende zondag aan de gehele gemeente bekend te maken, maar toen we die zondag naar de kerk reden hadden we een auto ongeluk……! (Ga naar Overpeinzingen)

OVERPEINZINGEN VAN EEN “OUDERE” MAN. Nr.57

Standard

Nr.56 eindigde met: “We ontvingen genoeg om van te leven, maar hadden niets extra en toen onze drie meisjes vroegen voor driewielertjes hebben we dat in gebed bij de Heer gebracht. Enkele dagen later kregen we telefoon……..!”

Ik nam op en een vrouwenstem vroeg hoe het met ons ging en of wij ook een driewielertje konden gebruiken. Zeer verrast antwoordde ik, “ja, ik denk van wel!” Zij vroeg om bij haar te komen. Daar aangekomen nam zij mij mee naar de garage en tot mijn grote verbazing stonden daar drie tweedehandse driewielertjes, ongelooflijk! Ik vroeg hoeveel zij kosten, en zei antwoordde “niets.” Ik nam ze mee naar huis en zonder ze onze dochtertjes te tonen kocht ik eerst wat verf en na ze schoongemaakt te hebben, verfde ik ze en zagen ze er uit als nieuw. Je had onze meisjes moeten zien, wat een opwinding! Na samen de Heer gedankt te hebben sprongen ze erop en daar gingen ze, ons achterlatende met tranen in de ogen. Opnieuw hadden we ervaren dat God zelfs geïnteresseerd is in de kleine dingen van ons leven. Wat een wonderlijke hemelse Vader hebben wij toch!

Terwijl wij doorgingen met onze dienst voor de Heer in die streek, door het houden van evangelisatiesamenkomsten, huis-Bijbelstudies, sommigen met in de buurt wonende Nederlanders, prediken in gemeenten, enz, bleef de last op ons hart voor Europa groeien. Op iedere bidstond bij WBC bleven wij gebed vragen voor Europa. Uiteindelijk besloten wij een reis te maken naar Nederland om “het land te verkennen” en te zien of de Heer ergens een open deur zou geven. Goede vrienden boden aan voor onze dochtertjes te zorgen, waarna Marina en ik naar het land dat ik meer dan 12 jaar geleden verlaten had te vliegen. Het was geweldig mijn familie na al die tijd weer te zien en hen Marina te laten ontmoeten. Mijn jongere broer en zijn vrouw hadden een Volkswagen Kever en reden met ons door heel Nederland, naar familie, gemeenten en speciale samenkomsten, terwijl wij voordurend aan het bidden waren dat de Heer een deur voor ons zou openen. Maar na vier weken vlogen wij terug naar Canada, een beetje ontmoedigd omdat er niets gebeurd was. Wij begonnen ons af te vragen of we wel op het juiste pad waren…….! (Ga naar Overpeinzingen)

MUSINGS OF AN “OLDER” MAN. Nr.57

Standard

Nr.56 ended with: “We continued to trust the Lord for all our needs and did not make those needs known. We had enough to live on but nothing extra and so when our three little girls asked for tricycles, we prayed. A few days later we received a phone call ……!”

I picked up the phone and a woman’s voice asked how we were and whether we could use a tricycle. Surprised I answered, “I think so!” She then asked whether I could come over. When I got there, she took me into the garage and there, amazingly stood three used tricycles, unbelievable! I asked how much they would cost and she answered that they were free. I took them home, not showing them to our girls until I had bought some paint and given them a fresh paint job after which they looked like new. You should have seen our girls, what an excitement! We thanked the Lord together and off they went, leaving us with tears in our eyes! Again we had experienced that our God is interested in small things, what a wonderful heavenly Father we have.

While continuing to minister in the area in different ways, holding evangelistic meetings, home Bible studies, some with Dutch people and preaching in assemblies, the burden on our hearts for Europe continued to grow. At every prayer meeting at WBC we would ask to pray for Europe. Finally we decided to make a trip to Holland to “spy out the land” and see whether and where the Lord would open a door. So after leaving the girls with good friends, Marina and I flew to the country I had left more than 12 years before. It was great to see my family and have them meet Marina. My younger brother and his wife had a Volkswagen Beetle and they drove us all over Holland, visiting family, churches and special meetings, while all the while we were praying and looking to the Lord to open a door for us. But after four weeks we returned to Canada a bit discouraged as nothing had opened up. We were starting to wonder whether we were on the right track……..! (Go to Musings)

Columnists Matthew Parris: “As an atheist, I truly believe Africa needs God”.

Standard

Columnists Matthew Parris

From The Times

December 27, 2008

As an atheist, I truly believe Africa needs God

Missionaries, not aid money, are the solution to Africa’s biggest problem – the crushing passivity of the people’s mindset

Matthew Parris

Before Christmas I returned, after 45 years, to the country that as a boy I knew as Nyasaland. Today it’s Malawi, and The Times Christmas Appeal includes a small British charity working there. Pump Aid helps rural communities to install a simple pump, letting people keep their village wells sealed and clean. I went to see this work.

It inspired me, renewing my flagging faith in development charities. But travelling in Malawi refreshed another belief, too: one I’ve been trying to banish all my life, but an observation I’ve been unable to avoid since my African childhood. It confounds my ideological beliefs, stubbornly refuses to fit my world view, and has embarrassed my growing belief that there is no God.

Now a confirmed atheist, I’ve become convinced of the enormous contribution that Christian evangelism makes in Africa: sharply distinct from the work of secular NGOs, government projects and international aid efforts. These alone will not do. Education and training alone will not do. In Africa Christianity changes people’s hearts. It brings a spiritual transformation. The rebirth is real. The change is good.

I used to avoid this truth by applauding – as you can – the practical work of mission churches in Africa. It’s a pity, I would say, that salvation is part of the package, but Christians black and white, working in Africa, do heal the sick, do teach people to read and write; and only the severest kind of secularist could see a mission hospital or school and say the world would be better without it. I would allow that if faith was needed to motivate missionaries to help, then, fine: but what counted was the help, not the faith.

But this doesn’t fit the facts. Faith does more than support the missionary; it is also transferred to his flock. This is the effect that matters so immensely, and which I cannot help observing.

First, then, the observation. We had friends who were missionaries, and as a child I stayed often with them; I also stayed, alone with my little brother, in a traditional rural African village. In the city we had working for us Africans who had converted and were strong believers. The Christians were always different. Far from having cowed or confined its converts, their faith appeared to have liberated and relaxed them. There was a liveliness, a curiosity, an engagement with the world – a directness in their dealings with others – that seemed to be missing in traditional African life. They stood tall.

At 24, travelling by land across the continent reinforced this impression. From Algiers to Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon and the Central African Republic, then right through the Congo to Rwanda, Tanzania and Kenya, four student friends and I drove our old Land Rover to Nairobi.

We slept under the stars, so it was important as we reached the more populated and lawless parts of the sub-Sahara that every day we find somewhere safe by nightfall. Often near a mission.

Whenever we entered a territory worked by missionaries, we had to acknowledge that something changed in the faces of the people we passed and spoke to: something in their eyes, the way they approached you direct, man-to-man, without looking down or away. They had not become more deferential towards strangers – in some ways less so – but more open.

This time in Malawi it was the same. I met no missionaries. You do not encounter missionaries in the lobbies of expensive hotels discussing development strategy documents, as you do with the big NGOs. But instead I noticed that a handful of the most impressive African members of the Pump Aid team (largely from Zimbabwe) were, privately, strong Christians. “Privately” because the charity is entirely secular and I never heard any of its team so much as mention religion while working in the villages. But I picked up the Christian references in our conversations. One, I saw, was studying a devotional textbook in the car. One, on Sunday, went off to church at dawn for a two-hour service.

It would suit me to believe that their honesty, diligence and optimism in their work was unconnected with personal faith. Their work was secular, but surely affected by what they were. What they were was, in turn, influenced by a conception of man’s place in the Universe that Christianity had taught.

There’s long been a fashion among Western academic sociologists for placing tribal value systems within a ring fence, beyond critiques founded in our own culture: “theirs” and therefore best for “them”; authentic and of intrinsically equal worth to ours.

I don’t follow this. I observe that tribal belief is no more peaceable than ours; and that it suppresses individuality. People think collectively; first in terms of the community, extended family and tribe. This rural-traditional mindset feeds into the “big man” and gangster politics of the African city: the exaggerated respect for a swaggering leader, and the (literal) inability to understand the whole idea of loyal opposition.

Anxiety – fear of evil spirits, of ancestors, of nature and the wild, of a tribal hierarchy, of quite everyday things – strikes deep into the whole structure of rural African thought. Every man has his place and, call it fear or respect, a great weight grinds down the individual spirit, stunting curiosity. People won’t take the initiative, won’t take things into their own hands or on their own shoulders.

How can I, as someone with a foot in both camps, explain? When the philosophical tourist moves from one world view to another he finds – at the very moment of passing into the new – that he loses the language to describe the landscape to the old. But let me try an example: the answer given by Sir Edmund Hillary to the question: Why climb the mountain? “Because it’s there,” he said.

To the rural African mind, this is an explanation of why one would not climb the mountain. It’s… well, there. Just there. Why interfere? Nothing to be done about it, or with it. Hillary’s further explanation – that nobody else had climbed it – would stand as a second reason for passivity.

Christianity, post-Reformation and post-Luther, with its teaching of a direct, personal, two-way link between the individual and God, unmediated by the collective, and unsubordinate to any other human being, smashes straight through the philosphical/spiritual framework I’ve just described. It offers something to hold on to those anxious to cast off a crushing tribal groupthink. That is why and how it liberates.

Those who want Africa to walk tall amid 21st-century global competition must not kid themselves that providing the material means or even the know how that accompanies what we call development will make the change. A whole belief system must first be supplanted.

And I’m afraid it has to be supplanted by another. Removing Christian evangelism from the African equation may leave the continent at the mercy of a malign fusion of Nike, the witch doctor, the mobile phone and the machete.

 

 

OVERPEINZINGEN VAN EEN “OUDERE” MAN. Nr.56

Standard

Nr.55 eindigde met: “Wij begonnen heel sterk Gods leiding te ervaren ivm ons toekomstig zendingswerk in Europa. Bepaalde dingen begonnen duidelijk te worden en wij zagen Nederland en België dichterbij komen.. ………!”

Wij genoten echt van de gemeenschap bij WBC. Een Open Broeder Gemeente verschilt wat van andere kerken, ik zeg niet ze beter is, gewoon anders. Er waren drie dingen die mij echt raakten en waarmee ik het volledig eens was. 1. Ik geloof dat de Bijbel leert dat er een meervoud van leiders of oudsten in een gemeente moeten zijn, niet één man. Voorgangers worden dikwijls gezien als een speciale groep van mensen, op een beetje hoger niveau dan de leken, zoiets als priesters in de Katholieke Kerk en in het O.T. Begrijp me niet verkeerd, ik veroordeel geen voorgangers en ik dank God voor iedere man die zich geroepen voelt voorganger te zijn, maar ik heb me nooit goed gevoeld als DE voorganger van een kerk.

2. Ik geloof dat de Bijbel leert dat alle N.Testamentische gelovigen priesters zijn. De meeste evangelische gemeenten geloven dat, maar het wordt over het algemeen niet omgezet in de praktijk.

3. Ik geloof dat we het voorbeeld van de eerste christenen dienen te volgen en iedere zondag communie, avondmaal of het “breken van het brood” dienen te vieren. Deze drie dingen werden bij WBC geloofd, geleerd en in de praktijk gebracht. Ik heb altijd geloofd dat hoe dichter wij bij de leer en praktijk van de eerste kerk konden blijven, hoe beter. Deze overtuiging heeft later veel zegen gebracht in het werk in België. Ik realiseerde dat de Heer ons dingen toonde en ons aan het voorbereiden was voor onze toekomstige bediening in Europa.

Ondertussen bleven we doorgaan met evangelisatiesamenkomsten en predikingen. De oudsten van WBC droegen ons op aan het werk van de Heer, hetgeen inhield dat wij steun ontvingen van WBC zoals de Heer voorzag, en dat dit aan andere gemeenten bekendgemaakt werd, waarvan wij dan ook af en toe wat steun ontvingen. Wij bleven op de Heer vertrouwen om in onze noden te voorzien en maakten die noden nooit bekend. We ontvingen genoeg om van te leven, maar hadden niets extra en toen onze drie meisjes vroegen voor driewielertjes hebben we dat in gebed bij de Heer gebracht. Enkele dagen later kregen we telefoon……..! (Ga naar Overpeinzingen)

 

MUSINGS OF AN “OLDER” MAN. Nr.56

Standard

Nr.55 ended with: “At the same time we were starting to sense God’s leading in regards to going to Europe as missionaries. Things were starting to shape up and Holland and Belgium were coming closer……..!”

We thoroughly enjoyed fellowshipping at WBC. A Brethren Assembly is a bit different from other churches; I’m not saying it is better, but different. In fact there were three things that really touched my heart and with which I was in total agreement. 1. I believe that the Bible teaches that there should be a plurality of leaders or elders in every local church, not just one man. Pastors are often perceived to be a special group of people, on a higher level than the laity, like priests in the Roman Catholic Church and like priests in the O.T. Don’t get me wrong, I am not judging pastors and I thank God for every godly man who has felt called to pastor, but I never felt at ease being THE pastor of a church.

2. I believe the Bible teaches that all N.T. believers are priests. Most evangelical churches believe this but do not really put it into practice.

3. I believe that we ought to follow the example of the early Christians and have communion, or “breaking of bread” every Sunday morning. I found these three in practice at WBC and I rejoiced. I had always felt that the closer we stayed to the early church, as found in the N.T. the better. This conviction would later bring real blessing in Belgium. I realized that the Lord was showing us things and preparing us for our future ministry in Europe.

In the mean time we continued on with an evangelistic and preaching ministry. The elders of WBC “commended” us to full-time work of the Lord, which meant that they would support us as the Lord provided and that other assemblies were notified of this and would also support us from time to time. We continued to trust the Lord for all our needs and did not make those needs known. We had enough to live on but nothing extra and so when our three little girls asked for tricycles, we prayed. A few days later we received a phone call ……! (Go to Musings)