Answering The Call is an international missions organization dedicated to reaching people in difficult to reach places.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Father of The Bride

Things are quite crazy around my house these days. We are not only planning for Christmas, but we are also preparing for our daughters wedding, which will take place in a little over a week. Leave it to our daughter to give us 8 weeks to plan a wedding. She always did like to throw in some spice and toss it up a bit. I do have to say, she has been a dream bride! She has had little opinion on things and has rested in the thought, ‘mom will get it done.’ The one who has surprised us all is her father. I never knew he had so many opinions. Everything from what type of dresses the bridesmaids should wear to the centerpieces for the reception tables. Go figure! Let me just make it clear, there is no bridezilla, momzilla, or even brotherzilla at our house…only dadzilla. He has reduced our daughter to tears on several occasions and I have had to bite my mother/wife tongue more than several times.

Jessica and I secretly met and decided upon the things we could delegate to him in order that he feel included. We decided he could take the boys to the tuxedo shop for the fitting of the tuxes which we had picked out. He seemed to be insulted at this suggestion. After much thought we decided he could help Ben, her wonderful husband to be, build their Huppah. (I am praying Ben knows how to use a hammer and nails and any other man tool that may be needed).

You may be wondering, “What is a Huppah?” One thing we have been privileged to receive from our friends in the Messianic Congregations in Ukraine, besides some traditional Russian apparel for dadzillas to wear, is the teaching of some ancient Jewish traditions. One particular tradition has to do with wedding ceremonies. In Jewish weddings the bride and groom marry under a “Huppah.” The original meaning of this word is room or covering. Sometimes referred to as the bridal canopy or bridal chamber, it is made of cloth that is supported by four poles.

The Huppah represents the groom’s house and symbolizes the beginning of the new home the couple will establish together. In Jewish tradition once the bride and groom were betrothed or engaged, the groom would return to his father’s house in order to build a room in which he and his bride were to live. One year later the father would tell him when it was time to go get his bride. The groom would return to his bride in order to retrieve her for the wedding ceremony. During that year she was to prepare herself for her grooms return. She did not know the day or the hour in which he would come for her. She only knew the month. The groom would take the bride back to his father’s house and the wedding ceremony would begin. The bride would take her place under the Huppah, the vows were exchanged and she was now under the protection and covering of her groom. A great celebration followed.

What a beautiful picture of the wedding day we will have with our betrothed groom, Jesus. As David and Ben build our daughters Huppah this week, I am reminded of what Jesus told his disciples in John 14:2-4, “In my fathers house are many rooms…I am going there to prepare a place for you. And If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” He told us we do not know the day or the hour of His return. In fact, the book of Matthew tells us that Jesus doesn’t even know the day or the hour, only the Father knows. But there is a day coming when the Father will tell the Son, ‘It is time; go get your bride!’ Jesus will come to retrieve his bride. He will usher us to His Father’s house, where He has prepared a room for us, and we will celebrate the great wedding feast with our groom.

Our daughter’s primary focus since her engagement has been on her groom. She talks to him the first thing every morning. She waits for his calls during the day. She longs to see him over their weekend visits. Her adoration for him is growing. They are finding more and more things to talk about. Her excitement and anticipation of being with him is increasing. May it be so with us and our groom!

“Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready. Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” (Revelation 19: 7, 9)


Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Battle Is A Team Sport

Last night was one of the coldest nights this fall. As good fortune would have it, I was able to spend 2 ½ hours in the cold watching soccer. It was Jacob’s, our youngest child, championship game.

The game was intense with regulation play ending at a zero to zero tie. Next came the shootout for the tie breaker. Each team puts five guys on the field. They all take penalty shots on the opposing goalie and the team who scores the most wins and in this case holds the bragging rights for the year.

I was proud as my son was selected as the first player to take a penalty shot. His shot was beautiful, arching over the top of the goalies head beyond his reach and falling lightly into the net.

In the end it took 10 players shooting to break the tie. The final score of the game was 6-5, we lost. It struck me that the TEAM either wins or loses. Individual performance doesn’t guarantee victory, however, it does count.

I am increasingly aware that this battle God has called Answering the Call to be engaged in is a team effort. This would imply that anyone who is called to this particular battle affects others in the battle by his or her level of performance. I have been challenged personally that my performance can greatly impact the whole team. I have also seen that even if I perform well, it does not necessarily guarantee a victory since what I am engaged in is a team sport.

I have been thinking lately, and gratefully, about all the participants involved in this battle. Literally hundreds of individuals who give and who pray. Partner churches that invest dollars, people, and time. Partners overseas who, at points, literally jeopardize their well-being to engage in the conflict. It is an amazing thing to behold.

Most of all I feel honored. I feel honored to be on the team with a man in Sudan who walked for three months so that his people could hear the gospel rather than take a free plane ride to America . I am greatly honored to be on the team with a man in Congo who labors intensely and without hesitation to plant churches, feed hungry children, and minister to shattered women. How about the guy in Northern Asia who has planted over 100 churches among his Muslim neighbors? Oh yeah, and the guy who puts his life on the line in the Middle East to plant cells in neighboring closed churches. Don’t you see it? It’s an all-star line up and you and I get to be on that team!

It’s really not about a single performer. It is a team game. To my fellow teammates, you are an encouragement to me. Let’s stay in the game until the Lord comes, once and for all, to usher in the final victory.


Thursday, October 11, 2007

There Was A Time

There was a time, around three or four years ago, that I met with a potentially large donor. As I left the meeting there were indications that this particular donor was going to fund the construction of the training center in Central America. I was elated as I left the meeting with lofty thoughts of how awesome the will of God really was.

It was perfect. This donation would allow the training center to be built quickly and without interrupting operational funds. This elation lasted only a few days until a phone call came bearing the news that a change in direction for that foundation meant there would be no funds forth coming.

We began the long process of praying and securing volunteer workers from partner churches and other networks of relationships. It was slow. To say that operational funds were interrupted is quite an understatement. I remember the very first volunteer team that arrived to work on the site as if it were yesterday. They probably wondered what they had gotten themselves into as they hiked the mountain daily, trudging through the mud, carrying bags of cement and whatever else that needed to go up. I was too excited to realize how crazy this must have seemed to them. All in all, my wife kept a good spirit but she often asked, "Honey, are you sure about this?" From the outside looking in, and sometimes from the inside looking out, it did in fact seem crazy to build a training center in the middle of the jungle for people we have yet to meet. The process has been long, tiring, tedious and extremely rewarding.

Some how the vision stayed alive and we kept persevering. As we sit six months or so away from the completion of the first phase of construction, I see an entirely different picture of God's will. It is my unofficial estimate that some two hundred plus people have come to Central America to help build the center that will serve and train Christian workers from some of the world's most difficult places. I have also learned that the purpose of the training center extends beyond the leaders who will attend. I have watched the Lord work as these two hundred workers have come. I can without equivocation tell you lives have been changed. Many have caught a vision for missions. Some have found the Lord for the first time. Others have renewed their relationship with God. Many have been renewed and refreshed in the Lord. It has been truly amazing to watch.

I am coming to realize that God is never in a hurry. Time is on His side. In fact, you will never find scripture encouraging us to hurry. The enemy is the one who wants us to hurry because his time is short. I often think of how much Kingdom work would have been lost if we had landed that large donation. The plans of God are so far beyond my comprehension that even hindsight doesn't always give full revelation. I do know this, Hebrews 6:12 tells us it is through faith and patience we inherit the promises of God. Many times for me faith seems easier than patience. God has a way of making sure patience and perseverance is worked into our character. The large donation would have prevented some character building in my own life as well as prevented a great blessing in the lives of all who have come over the past few years to volunteer. I guess God knows best.


Monday, September 17, 2007

Still Small Voice

Has God ever asked you to do something that seemed really stupid? I'm not at all suggesting that He is somehow deficient, but the things He asks of us can sometimes make no sense. At least this has been my experience.

This happened with me recently as I traveled to the Middle East. As the time for the trip approached I began to think that perhaps I shouldn't shave my beard. I even began to sense that this was from the Lord. I realized that as I arrived in the Middle East it would certainly allow me to fit in a little better. Perhaps I would not be so immediately recognizable as an American.

As the plane took off I was very secure in this decision. Upon arriving in the Middle Eastern country of my destination, I became of great interest at various checkpoints along the way. I assumed this was because of my bushy, overgrown beard. I surmised that since God could not be wrong, I had obviously misheard Him.

Throughout our stay there I attempted to squeeze in time for a beard trim from a local barber. This time never seemed to materialize. We were quite busy and any free time occurred in the middle of the night due to severe jet lag. In the final analysis I left the country in the same way I had arrived, including my bushy, overgrown beard.

The flight I was on left the Middle East at 3:00 a.m. and headed back to Europe. I settled in and was bout to drift off to sleep when the guy next to me began a discussion. He looked at me and declared, "You are Hezbollah aren't you?" (Hezbollah has been labeled as an Islamic terrorist group by our government.) I told him in no uncertain terms that I was not. He pushed on, "Yes, you are, you are Hezbollah." Again I assured him that I was not. He proceeded to tell me that peace would come to the Middle East by way of Islam. After listening for an hour or so it was my turn to share.

I had the opportunity to share with this holy warrior about the Prince of Peace, Jesus. I don't know how much he heard, or through what filters he heard it, but he did hear the gospel. As we finished our discussion of two hours, I drifted off to sleep and began to wonder if this was partly the reason why the Lord instructed me to not cut my heard. It opened up an opportunity for conversation, to learn and to share of the hope that comes through relationship with Jesus.

I am seeking to listen more attentively to the still small voice of God. Psalm 46:10 says, "Be still and know that I am God." I notice when I am still, when I have ceased striving in my own flesh, I am in a better position to hear His still small voice. Recognizing and obeying His voice is essential, not only for our sakes, but also for the sake of those whom God places in our paths to minister. His instructions may not always immediately make sense but I am learning to obey. I am also seeing the fruit from obeying. How about you, what is God saying to you these days?

Monday, September 10, 2007

We Have a New Look....

Check out our new website which now includes updates on the Training Center and Julie Project, Episodes of Congocast, picture galleries and lots more.

You can visit our blog site to read articles from the director, read the latest information from our teams from the fields and have opportunity to submit comments directly to us.

We invite you to give it a look and tell us what you think. We welcome your comments.