Sunday, December 15, 2013

Merry Christmas


And Lo, the Star Went Before Them – Part 2

In another part of the yard, a group of little angels dressed in white sheets with glittered wings and tin foil halos, stood elevated on a table that had been draped with a white table cloth. These were the Heavenly Hosts standing on clouds singing to the shepherds.  However, owing to the fact that the Heavenly Hosts were actually little elementary age girls who did not have microphones, their song was very difficult to hear. As they sang, the little shepherds alternated between chasing lost sheep and shouting to the angels in a loud stage whisper, “Louder! Louder!”

But the show must go on, and our play was no exception.  Soon it was time for the Wisemen to make their entrance.  My brother and his cohorts began their trek from the corner of Francis Jones Guest House to the stable following the lighted star and singing as they went. “We three kings of Orient are… bearing gifts; we traverse afar. Field and fountain, moor and mountain, following yonder star. O star of wonder, star of night star with royal beauty bright…” 

But midway to the stable, catastrophe struck!  The rope broke and the “star of wonder, star of night” went crashing to the ground!  Undeterred, the Wisemen continued on their journey to the stable; each stepping over the fallen star as they came upon it on the ground, still singing its praises and looking upward as if it was still in front of them.

What a funny Christmas pageant!  That year the errant sheep were not needed for comic relief! They were nothing compared with the star! After the play was over, the mission family who had gathered on that warm, clear, African night shared refreshments, gifts, and laughs. And to this day, I never think of the Christmas story without giggling a little as my heart remembers, with fondness, that pageant and the ill-fated star. 


 
 

 
 

 

Friday, November 29, 2013

Merry Christmas


 
And Lo, the Star Went Before Them – Part 1

This story has appeared in two Christmas anthologies – “Klutzin Around the Christmas Tree” and “Christmas Tales, Christmas Bells” I will post it in two parts.

It felt more like a warm summer evening than Christmas time. The crowd had gathered on the back lawn of Francis Jones – a missionary guest house named for a former missionary who lost her life to Yellow Fever in this tropical country of Nigeria. I was a child in the audience, too young and untalented to have made the cast. A person needed to be able to sing in order to be in this play and I have never been able to sing. But my sister was an angel. She sang a group song with the other angels and my brother was a Wiseman. That was a huge honor! He would be joining his voice with the voices of the other two Wisemen in a rendition of, “We Three Kings”. I was excited for them….but mostly; I was just excited. The play was always a highlight of the Christmas season in this African country I had learned to call home.

On the far end of the huge lawn was a wooden stable made by one of the missionary men. In it were Mary, Joseph, and “baby Jesus”. This year the baby was just a doll but in some of the past years it had been a real baby. The year my siblings were in the play, there was a shortage of real missionary babies. Next to the stable were some live sheep which another group of little “shepherds” worked very hard to control. These always made the play interesting. They often provided comic relief…or perhaps I should say a comic distraction as the actors tried their best to remain serious.

Usually, there was a large star made of cardboard and covered in tinfoil which rested on top of the stable, but this year was different. This year was special! One of the missionaries had attached a rope to the roof of the stable and extended it across the lawn to the roof of Francis Jones. This year, the star was suspended from the rope. It was to be pulled across the lawn in front of the Wisemen as they walked towards the stable. Also as the star moved across the lawn, it was to be illuminated by a spotlight from the ground. What a great play it was going to be this year!! And, how lucky my brother was to be walking under that spotlighted star as he sang his song!

 

Friday, November 8, 2013

Cheery Countenance


Kids say the Darndest Things – Part 2
 

My youngest son said some of the funniest things as a child I have ever heard! I have teased him and told him I am going to write a book about it – and maybe in fact I will!
 
I will from time to time re-tell one of them. This one happened when he was about five.

We were having hardwood floors installed in our house and my house was a mess! The old carpet was ripped up but the new floors were not down leaving exposed tack strips in every room. During this time, my friend Susan called me. The conversation went something like this:

 “Hey…umm…how are things are at you house? I mean, is everything ok?” This cautious question came from the other end of the phone. Confused, I replied, “We are all fine. Why?”

 My friend continued with a chuckle, “I called you yesterday and Ty answered. I asked if you were home and he said, ‘No, and you better talk fast ‘cause I have a lot to do!’ So I asked him what all he had to do and he said, ‘I have to give the dogs their food and water and I have to let them out of the house and back in…and I have to do all of that without stepping on needles which are everywhere!!’” Then my friend asked, “What needles are in your house?”

I quickly explained that my five year old had his older sister babysitting him; he was not left alone.  I also explained that what Ty called “needles” were actually exposed tack strips! We both laughed!

Susan continued chiding me, “I debated calling the Child Protection Services and telling them there was a child, apparently alone, doing hard labor in a house full of needles.”

And at the end of our conversation I realized how very thankful I am that God had blessed me with a friend knows me well enough to laugh with me!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Cheery Countenance


Kids Say the Darndest Things
Part 1

A friend of mine teaches 2nd grade at a Christian school. Not too long ago, she posted this on her Facebook page: "Today a student of mine drew a picture of God in heaven painting a picture. His explanation? "Our Father who does art in heaven, hallowed be your name!'"

Last year when I helped out with the preschoolers in Sunday School one of them tugged on my skirt and we had this conversation,

Child: “You know what I want to be when I grow up?”

Me: “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

Child: “A humpback whale.”

 Later when I told a friend about the child’s funny comment my friend responded with,  “That’s why humpback whales have been taken off the endangered species list – they have a great recruitment program!”

My 3 yr old grandson was taking a bath as I worked in another room. He likes to play with bath toys for as long as possible until his mother or I tell him he has to get out. This particular night, he had played for a very long time and I became concerned the water had grown cold. So I walked in the bathroom without saying anything to him and stuck my finger in the bath water to feel its temperature. Then, I said as much to myself as to him, “Oh, good. It’s still warm.” He looked up, smiled, and sincerely exclaimed, “And its still wet too!” 

 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Confessions of a Prayer Warrior


Prayer Lessons from the Psalms 
"David composed many of them., the Israelites sang them, the church has recited them, and they all point to Jesus. Ultimately, they are all His songs." 

Edwards T. Welch , “Depression a Stubborn Darkness”

If I were given the assignment to write about prayer and was allowed the use of only one book of the Bible, I would choose the Psalms. Most of the Psalms are prayers. I have written two Bible studies on the topic of prayer which can be purchased from Lulu. I will attach the link in this blog. These two studies only cover the Old Testament. I hope to someday have Bible studies about prayer from the New Testament on this site too.
 
I will be posting short excerpts from my studies on my blog from time to time. Today’s is drawn from the section on the Psalms and is about praise and thanksgiving – an important part of prayer. One of my favorite praise passages is found in Psalms 69:30-31.
 
“I will praise the name of God with a song: I will magnify Him with thanksgiving. This will please the Lord…”

What makes these verses unique is the context in which they are found. Psalms 69 is a chapter where the writer is in great distress. He says things like, “Save me. O God! I am weary with my crying out. Deliver me…Answer me. I am in despair” Then, he writes,

“I will praise the name of God…This will please the Lord.” When read in context, this verse brings tremendous clarity to certain aspects of praise.

 Praising God is a behavior we can choose, no matter how we feel. It is always appropriate regardless of our circumstances and is not based on our circumstances. Praise is about God and who He is, instead of us and how happy or comfortable we are. Praise pleases God. It is always appropriate, especially when we are desperate for God to hear our prayers. It is no coincidence that the last verse in all of Psalms says, “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!”  (Psalms 150:6)

http://www.lulu.com/shop/search.ep?type=&keyWords=harriet+michael&sitesearch=lulu.com&q=&x=15&y=7

Monday, September 23, 2013

Two Edged Sword


The Marks of a Christian

“For we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh.” Philippians 3:3 (NAS)

Growing up in Nigeria, I often encountered people with scars on their faces – marks which had been purposefully carved into their faces when they were babies. This may sound like a barbaric practice but it actually had an intelligent purpose. The marks served to identify the child’s tribe and family. I have heard different reasons for the practice and am honestly not certain which one is accurate. But one report claims that it began many years ago during the slave trade. Nigeria was one of the African nations hit hardest by the trade. In those days, ships came to the west cost of Africa with men who invaded villages, and captured the people to sell as slaves. The Africans were stripped of all possessions including anything that might identify them. When babies and children became separated from their families, they grew up with no knowledge of who they were. By placing a mark on the child which distinguished which tribe and family that child belonged to, if he or she ever found his way back to his homeland, he could be identified immediately.

 The book of Revelation tells of another mark - “the mark of the Beast”.  Like the facial marks in Nigeria, the Beast’s mark will identify a group of people – those who follow the Antichrist. Do Christians have “marks” by which we can be identified? If so, what are they? What are the marks of a Christian? John 13:35 says men will know we are Jesus’ disciples if we love one another. Love then, must be one of the marks of a Christian; but are there others?

The 3rd chapter of Philippians gives a very good description of what a believer should look like.  Philippians 3:3 says we will “worship in the Spirit, glory in Christ, and put no confidence in the flesh.” There it is – the marks of a Christian.  But what do these words mean?

Thankfully, the apostle Paul continues to explain what he meant in the rest of Philippians 3. Paul explains in great detail what it means to worship in the Spirit, glory in Christ, and put no confidence in the flesh. He says it well in verses 7-8, “But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in the view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ.”

What about you and me? Are we worshipping in the Spirit? Are we glorying in Jesus? And the hardest question of all – are we putting any (even the smallest amount) of confidence in the flesh?

Monday, September 9, 2013

In Recollection of my First Bicycle – Part 2

By: John David Magee

On the trip back to Igede after purchasing the bike, we picked up a missionary nurse who was coming to assist with the monthly medical clinic at the small "dispensary" at the bottom of our Igede compound. I'm not certain who the nurse was. It could have been Ms. Sanders, and probably was. It was a little later than usual, around 6:30 PM, before we got out of Oshogbo, headed to Ilesha; then down the main road a few miles further to Erinmo, where we turned off onto the bush, dirt, road that would wind through the hills and rain forest to a few other places and finally up to Igede.  I remember that road so well, having traveled it often over the years. During that time in the history of Nigeria, night travel was more of an adventure when it came to possibly seeing animals, than a real danger and hazard as night travel became after the Biafran war, when bandits and thieves became a problem.

Usually, Dad stopped at Oshogbo and gas up with the last available petrol (gas) station before getting to Igede, where we had our own fifty-five gallon drums of petrol stored in the garage. Then, at Ilesha, we typically would stop briefly and buy some fresh bread from the vendors who crowded around the car windows. That night, by the time we turned off the main road to head towards Igede, it was probably 7:30 or 8 PM. From there it was thirty miles, but would take about an hour under ordinary conditions. Not only was it dark, but it had started to rain really hard. This was not during the heart of the rainy season, otherwise we would not have been driving my Dad's '49 Chevy, and pulling a trailer. When the rains really got started, the only way to navigate these roads was by Jeep, in four-wheel drive; and, sometimes in "bull-dog" extra-low gear. So, this was just a hard rain, with nothing unusual to worry about, or so we thought.

Mother and Dad sat up front; Sid and I, and the missionary nurse in the back seat (I'm almost positive it was Ms. Eva Sanders, so I'm gonna call her that), when suddenly in the headlights appeared a tree across the road. This was not particularly unusual, especially when traveling on a dirt road through the woods. Part of Dad's travelling equipment was a good, sharp axe, because this kind of roadway interruption was routine. Years later, he added a chain saw to his car supplies. It's just impossible for ordinary Americans to appreciate how much good will was generated over the years by Dad with his chain saw.  But, not that night, when there was neither a chain-saw, nor an audience.
 
He stopped the car; left the engine running so he would have lights to work by; put on his boots and raincoat (he ALWAYS carried his boots!); got his axe; and, cut out one section of the tree, to give us enough room in the road to drive around. Not a problem. Until about a half mile further, there was another tree down. He repeated the routine. Another quarter-mile down the road; another tree down. Some of these were pretty formidable. It was not just the cutting of the trunk, limbs and assorted vines, and pulling these out of the road in the rain. It was the ants, the original and eternal habitants of trees in Africa. It was dark; there were all kinds of fire flies and sounds in the forest. Mother's job was to keep calm and order in the car.

Twenty-nine trees and many hours later, we were only seven miles from home in Igede.  It was nearly five o'clock in the morning, and Dad had been cutting trees all night.  Suddenly we were confronted with a HUGE tree across the road. No way that trunk was going to be cut with only Dad’s axe! He got out of the car with his flash light; surveyed the situation; looked further down the road and saw another huge tree. In the past ten hours or so, we had traveled maybe fifteen miles. He knew it would have to go to "Plan B” and we yielded to the situation. Somehow he managed to back the car and trailer to a clearing in the road, so we would be at less risk of a tree falling on us and we waited out the rest of the night there. It wasn't until morning that we fully realized the extent of the damage that a tornado had done!

At day break, Mother, Ms. Sanders, Sid and I walked into town, over and around the fallen trees; secured the services of the only taxi in town (or at least someone who had a car), and went on to Igede. Dad stayed behind with all of the able men in town, and together they finally got the road cleared in time for Dad to get to Igede around mid-afternoon. Years later, we would still pass the remaining logs of those trees on the outskirts of Ara, reminding us of that night - long after I had outgrown that bike. 

 

 

 

Friday, August 23, 2013

Life as I Knew it


In Recollection of my First Bicycle - Part 1                     
Written by John David Magee, the son of missionaries John and Doris Magee who served in Nigeria from 1945 – 1978.
 
Around the summer of 1950, my family was into our first tour at Igede, Ekiti, which was a big adjustment from the previous tour at the Baptist College campus at Iwo. At Iwo, my mode of transportation around the compound between our house and my buddies' residences (Conrad Roberson; Roger Congdon; John Whirley) was on a hobby horse, or similar foot travel. It's just amazing that none of us kids ever encountered the big cobra and mamba snakes that would easily have done us in.

When my folks hauled my brother, Sidney, and me to Igede, we learned what real bush was. I recall our first trip to the old fourteen-acre compound, to the big house that Missionary Donath had built. Nearly two thousand feet above sea level in the hills and rain forest of Ekiti country. This was to be my home for the rest of my days in Nigeria, until I returned home to the States in 1957 at the age of fourteen.

The Humphreys traveled with us that first trip. Rachael Humphreys was my mother's sister. She and her husband, Ed, had arrived in Nigeria after we had returned to the States from Tour number one, so my folks had never met Ed until our return to Nigeria in 1949, soon after; they accompanied us to our new mission station. I recall the first night, mainly because of the tree dogs that barked all over the place, which I had never heard before. They made an incredible sound; one that always sent me under the covers, with chills down my back. From what appeared to be a great distance away, they would begin their routine with a series of snapping-clacking sounds, punctuated at the end by a single bark. This was repeated maybe a dozen times, each time with the snapping sounds getting louder and more and more slow, like a clock winding down, with the bark at the end getting louder each time too. Suddenly, they would break out into this fast, extended series of barks, which would get slower towards the end. This, they repeated seven or eight times, each time slower, and louder, until finally there was a loud single bark, then silence. In all my years in Nigeria I never saw one of these critters, so I always imagined the worst.

My folks managed to provide Sidney and me with basic kid transportation for us to use around the yard, including a pretty nice, red tricycle from Sears; the standard red wagon; and, a little peddle scooter. My mom had a bike, and some of our Nigerian help pushed me around the yard on this adult-sized bike until I gradually gained the sense of balance required for two wheels. Because it was a bike designed for women, I learned how to stand on one of the pedals, and push myself along somewhat like a scooter, thereby learning to coast by myself for short distances. Finally, I was ready for my own bicycle.

I don't remember where my folks got the bike, but probably the city of Ibadan or some similar large shopping place. But I do remember that the bicycle was a black Hercules, just my size, and man, was I excited! 

 

 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Strange and Interesting Bible Facts


Once a month, I write a short column for a writer’s newsletter, “The Write Life" called “Strange and Interesting Bible Facts.” Since 2010, I have thoroughly enjoyed digging in my Bible to come up with Bible tid-bits for this column. So, now I will pass on the interesting facts I have found to you – my blog readers – in a new section I will post periodically under this same title.

Here are four to get us started:

1) “Pass me not Oh gentle Savior. Hear my humble cry!  While on others Thou art calling, do not pass me by.”  This is a famous hymn written by the late Fannie Crosby. Where do we find the words, “Do not pass me by.” in scripture?  …. Do you give up? Abraham said it in Genesis 18:3. The setting is by the oaks of Mamre, where the Lord appeared to Abraham. In verse 3 Abraham says to the Lord, “My Lord, if now I have found favor in your sight, please do not pass your servant by.”  
 
2) Have you ever heard the name Ichabod?  Most of us have heard it in the context of the story by John Quidor of Ichabod Crane and the headless horseman. But did you know the name appears in the Bible?  1st Samuel 4 tells the sad story of the Philistine victory where the Ark of the Covenant was stolen, Eli’s sons were killed, and Eli also died upon hearing the news of the battle and the loss of the Ark of the Covenant.  This sad chapter ends with the story of Eli’s daughter in law also dying in childbirth after the news of her loss caused her to go into labor.  As she was dying, she named her newborn son Ichabod, which means “No glory” because she said the glory of the Lord had departed. (1st Samuel 4: 21)

3) This tid-bit of information is drawn from a book by David Jeremiah. He tells of a geophysicist who explained that oil deposits result from the decomposition of plants and animal life that once covered the earth until a vast cataclysm (like a flood, perhaps?) The richest and largest deposits of oil are just east of Israel, where the Bible places the Garden of Eden. In presenting his argument that the last battle will be over oil, Dr. Jeremiah states, “It’s ironic to think that Satan may finance the Battle of Armageddon at the end of human history with revenues generated from the garden he spoiled at the beginning of human history.”

4) Sometimes verses strike me as humorous. This one did that when I read it. Paul said these words just before his shipwreck. He had a dream in which God had told him he would appear before Caesar. Then Paul tells the men on his ship, “Keep up your courage men, for I believe God that it will turn out exactly as I have been told.  But we must run aground on some island.” (Acts 27:25-26) Maybe there is something wrong or irreverent about me for finding these verses so hilarious.  Or maybe I’ve just been there too many times in my life. But I can truly relate with these words, “Things are going to be OK!  I believe God!...Oh! - but first we are going to have a major shipwreck. There will be pieces of us everywhere; a major mess!!  Just overlook it! Everything is going to turn out just the way God wants it too! 



 

 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Through my Kitchen Window

 
Photo: My childhood home. I had a parrot hanging off that front porch and a monkey cage in the back yard along with guava trees which I climbed - always trying to find the perfect guava. The stones around the driveway were white and flat. I used to lay my head on them and watch the clouds go by.

Last Thursday about mid day, I went outside to eat lunch on the patio. My sixteen year old son joined me. We chatted and laughed – had a delightful time – until it started to rain. With the first drop, he announced that he was going inside. I teased him about being afraid of a few raindrops, reminding him that as a child I used to play in the rain. I said I was going to finish my lunch and then look at the garden. He laughed at me for staying out in the rain and ran back inside, taking his plate with him.

It was only sprinkling so I finished my food and then headed to the garden on the side of the yard. But I was distracted along the way by a long vine type weed growing along the house in the rock landscaping. I stopped to pull it. As I did, I stepped back into a hole my dogs had dug, twisting and as it turns out, breaking my foot as I fell.

There I was on the ground in pain, unable to get up and raindrops falling on me. I called my son’s name but he didn’t hear me since he was inside. So I began to scoot on my butt to the door. It seemed to be miles and miles away and I was making slow, painful, progress, when my son opened the backdoor. Surprised to see me on the ground, he said he knew something must have happened for me to still be outside in the rain, no matter how much I liked rain. He helped me inside where I called my husband to tell him the news.

Now I’m laid up. I’m not supposed to put any weight on it for two weeks. I grew tired of watching TV after just a couple of days and pulled out a sketch pad I haven’t opened in years. I like to draw, I just never make the time for it. So, these weeks off my feet, I’m enjoying sketching. The two I am posting are from my childhood. One is my childhood home in Nigeria. I had a parrot hanging on the front porch, a monkey in a cage in the back, and a guava orchard in the back where I spent endless hours climbing the trees in search of the perfect guava. The stones around my driveway were white and flat. I used to lay my head on them and watch the clouds drift by. The second picture is of the chapel at the boarding school. It was such a beautiful structure.

Yesterday, my son saw me sitting on my bed sketching away. He sat down at the foot of my bed in disbelief saying, “Mom, I didn’t know you draw?”

I replied, “You know how your sister is an amazing artist?” He nodded. I continued, “Well, I’m the gene pool. It’s just that my talent is rusty and was never developed like hers was when she majored in it in college.” He laughed.

It’s a pleasant way to spend hours that could otherwise become very boring.

Monday, July 8, 2013

The Quotable Susan


Quotes on Prayer:

“I say it reverently, if God were stupid enough or weak enough to answer every prayer we made, I think we should have to stop praying or become much more wise than we are now. We should be about as safe on our knees as at the controls of one of our great bomber planes –loaded.”

 -Susan Anderson from her book “So This Is Africa



“There are some prayers that have not been granted, and I cannot understand why.  As my human eye sees, there are a number of persons who would be very much happier and better off in every way if the Lord could only see eye to eye with me and answer my prayers concerning them.  So far He has not, and that’s all I know about it.  But I do not plan to give up trying to learn to pray.”

-Susan Anderson from her book, “So This Is Africa



“Ask with a focused mind and an engaged will.  Seek with the objective of attaining.  Knock with urgent sincerity.

 -Susan Small (a friend)

 

“Whenever, I find myself suddenly awake in the middle of the night with someone on my mind, I pray for them, because I think to myself, ‘Either God does wake His children up in the middle of the night to pray for someone or He doesn’t. But if He does, then this is what it would look like.’”

-Susan Siami

 

“People who ski, I suppose, are people who happen to like skiing, who have time for skiing… Recently, I found that I often treat prayer as though it were a sport like skiing - something you do if you like it, something you do in your spare time…. But prayer isn’t a sport. It’s work.  Prayer is not a game…Prayer is the opposite of leisure. It’s something to be engaged in, not indulged in. It’s a job you give priority to. It’s performing when you have energy left for nothing else.”

 -Elizabeth Elliott as quoted by Chip Ingram in his book, “The Invisible War”

 

 

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Cheery Countenance


Life’s a Blast!

*This story is posted with permission from Richard Hill.

The mission children in Nigeria, also referred to as missionary kids or mk’s, attended the boarding school called Newton Memorial School. Mk’s were home schooled until the 5th grade when Newton began. Newton offered classes for 5th – 10th grades, after which the mk’s either went back to the states to finish high school or to another boarding school in the northern Nigerian city of Jos, called Hillcrest. There are numerous stories from Newton and Hillcrest - most are good.

This story is true. It happened to a fellow mk named Richard, but I remember it well. Richard’s family, like mine served in Nigeria during the Biafran war. At that time, the night watchmen or “magardi” also had another job selling gunpowder. He sold to soldiers and whoever else would buy gunpowder by day and kept watch over the sleeping mk’s at the boarding school by night.

Well, not all of the boys slept like they were supposed to at night. While the girl’s dorm stayed mostly quiet, many of the boys snuck out and roamed the campus. There wasn’t much to do at night but sneaking past the house parents was an adventure in itself. Richard was one of the worst offenders. Oh, there were others…some other names definitely come to mind (Kevin, are you reading this? Phil?...) But Richard in particular, was all over the place at night when he was supposed to be sleeping.

The magardi knew of Richard’s antics but kept the secret under one condition – Richard had to buy a small amount of gunpowder whenever he was caught. Mk”s had a little money given to them each week to purchase snacks at the school’s canteen. So, that was the deal: Richard bought the margardi’s silence by purchasing some of his wares, which just happened to be gunpowder!

Consequently, Richard had a growing supply of gunpowder in his room.

What was an 8th grader to do with gunpowder?? Richard stored it in a metal coffee tin he had gotten his hands on and played a little game with it. Every day during rest period when the mk’s were required to be in their rooms in order to keep them out of the tropical sun in the heat of the day, Richard would spill out a small teaspoon of gunpowder onto the concrete floor of his room. Then, sitting on his bed, he would light a match, and throw it on the gunpowder – a few feet away. The gunpowder would ignite and make a very small, controlled explosion on the floor. Richard and his roommate watched the gunpowder make a little puff as it was consumed and the smoke ascended, then dispersed, in the room until it was gone. Richard did this nearly everyday.

But one day…things went a little wrong. That day, when Richard threw the match onto the small amount of gunpowder in the middle of his floor, a spark flew back and landed in the metal coffee can. BOOM!! The tin, full of gunpowder, acted like a small bomb. The explosion shook the dormitory, rattling the louvered glass window on one side of the building. But the only casualties were Richard’s eyebrows and the hair off of his right arm.

For years, no one knew what caused the explosion. The school was thoroughly inspected by the missionaries and nothing was ever found.

Now that he’s an adult, Richard has confessed and everyone has had a good laugh out of an adventure we all knew about but to quote Paul Harvey, “Now we know the rest of the story!” 

Monday, June 10, 2013

Those Who Fear God


Those Who Fear God

“Except the Lord build a house, they labor in vain who build it.” Psalms 127:1

David Henry Michael was born June 5, 1929. As a young man he was a gifted athlete, excelling at both soccer and wrestling. In his entire wrestling career, throughout high school and college he only lost one match, ever! And that was a national final match. After his death, he was admitted posthumously to Brown University’s Athletic Hall of Fame for both sports. 

He was also a successful business man who was later named as a Kentucky Colonial in the state of Kentucky for his business and community contributions. But more than these successes, David Michael was a loving husband, father, and committed Christian.

As a young man with a wife and family, he longed to serve God in whatever way God asked of him. After much prayer and searching, he felt God was just calling him to continue being a business man. So, David started his own business and dedicated it to the Lord, tithing his prophets and using his company airplane to fly an evangelist friend around at no charge. The verse he chose as his company’s verse was Psalms 127:1, Except the Lord build a house, they labor in vain who build it.” David knew his work was all for naught if God was not in it.

In late November, 1972, David was flying home from a hunting trip with a friend. He wanted to be home in time for Thanksgiving. But God had other plans. David was the pilot, flying alone in his small company plane when it went down, killing him. His family was grieved by his passing, but praises were sung at his funeral just the same. It was a service of rejoicing in the Lord for the life of this loving and dedicated man and for the God he served. The gospel was preached at his funeral and souls were saved. And David was home after all.

David Michael was my husband’s father whom I never had the privilege of meeting while on this earth, but I look very forward to meeting him in the world to come. Thank you David for being the kind of father to my husband that molded him into the man I have loved for the last 34 years.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Confessions of a Prayer Warrior


“I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one.” John 17:11(NIV)

This passage is from a prayer Jesus prayed at the last supper. He was praying for His disciples and other followers yet to come. He prayed that we, His followers, would be one just like He and the Father were one.

Becoming one with other believers is not always easy, especially if those believers live in a strange land, speak a strange tongue, and have different customs, languages, and even skin color from you. When my parents served as missionaries in Nigeria, they and the other missionaries worked at becoming one with the people among whom they lived and ministered.

When I was eight years old, I made a profession of faith in Jesus and wanted to be baptized. Being a doctor, my father felt he should not be the one to baptize me, but desired instead to have me baptized by a minister. Though there were other missionary ministers he could have asked, he chose to ask Reverend Asaju, the hospital chaplain. Here is the man’s response as written in a thank you note to my parents which they still posses.

In a letter dated, 11/12/67 from Rev. Asaju , the chaplain of the Baptist Hospital Ogbomosho.  Address: Ogbomosho Baptist Hospital, Ogbomosho Nigeria, Po. Box 15.

Dear Dr. & Mrs. T. K. Edwards,

            The occasion of yesterday afternoon was one of those I will never forget in my life for the meaning it has for me and for the cause of Christ in this land.

            Your daughter was the first American Baptist Missionary I had the privilege to baptize. The most important thing about it is this – that oneness in Christ you preach is practicalized. That is you prove to us that you do not say by mouth that you love the Nigerians but you demonstrate it. May the love of Christ continue to flow through you to many more in this land as you dedicate your lives for the service of our Lord, Amen.

                                                                                                I am,

                                                                                                     Sincerely Yours,

                                                                                                             D.A.Asju

 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Cheery Countenance


You Want Me to Do What?

When my youngest son was in the fifth grade, he attended a Christian school. One day he surprised me with this request, “Oh Mom! My teacher has started having the kids do morning devotions. She said we could get our parents to come and do the devotions with us. So, I signed you up for tomorrow. I told my class that you would teach us all about Revelation. We are reading it right now, so I told my class you had studied it in your Bible Study and you know everything!”

Wow! What a task…but what confidence from my child. So, the next morning I would be expected to teach a class of fifth graders “everything” about the book of Revelation – in twenty minutes. And I had less than twenty four hours to prepare. The very idea made me laugh and still makes me laugh today! How does a mother answer such a request? Well, here’s what I did.

First, I explained that the Revelation was the hardest book in the Bible to understand. I also told the class that actually no one knows for sure what everything in Revelation means – great Christian scholars throughout history have studied it and held differing opinions.

Nevertheless, I had studied it for two years through a Precepts Bible study, and I did have some understanding but it would take too long to explain it all. So instead, I was going to give them a demonstration of how a person goes about studying parts of the Bible that are hard to understand. I explained that the place to go for answers when confused about a passage in the Bible was other scriptures. I told them it was okay and even helpful to see what their friends and teachers think, but what really mattered was what God had to say. God’s thoughts are recorded in the scriptures; the Bible is His word, so the best thing to do when trying to figure out what God meant is to read more of His words.

Then I gave the children a little exercise. I told them Revelation was like the huge puzzle my family works every summer while on vacation. But when my family works puzzles, we have a box with a picture on it. We can see what the puzzle is supposed to look like. However, when trying to figure out Revelation we don’t have a picture to look at, making it a very difficult task. Still, some of the puzzle pieces can be figured out.

I told them we would solve a tiny piece of the puzzle in class so they could see how it is done. Then I had my son read Revelation 1:16, “And in His right hand he held seven stars and out of His mouth came a sharp two edged sword.” (NASB) I explained that the person described in this verse is Jesus. We talked a little about whether the sword coming out of His mouth was a real sword or a symbolic one. I explained the terms, “tangible” and “intangible”. By a show of hands, about half of the class thought the sword was tangible and the other half thought it was intangible. Then, after reminding them that the place to look to understand scripture was other scripture, I had my son read Hebrews 4:12, “The word of God is quick and powerful and sharper than a two-edged sword.”(NASB) I asked them what they now thought the sword coming out of Jesus’ mouth was. One of the kids raised her hand and said she thought it was the word of God. I agreed, saying that I too thought it was God’s word. Then I asked again if the sword described in Revelation 1:16 was a tangible or an intangible sword. They all agreed it was intangible.

Next I had my son read Revelation 2:16, “Repent therefore; or else I am coming quickly and I will make war against them with the sword of My mouth.”(NASB) and Revelation 19:15, “And from His mouth comes a two-edged sword. So that it may smite the nations…” (NASB) I asked them one more time if this sword was tangible or intangible. They were stumped!

So I explained the terms finite and infinite and the fact that our knowledge is finite - or limited, but God’s is infinite - or without limits. I concluded by saying that even though we have trouble understanding this, God doesn’t. But what we can say for certain is that the two edged sword coming out of Jesus’ mouth is the word of God. Yet, it is somehow also a powerful weapon; so powerful in fact that it can smite the nations!

I don’t know about the kids but the experience was loads of fun for me!

 

 

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Mother's Day


Especially Gardenias


The sweet aroma of gardenias on a warm summer day takes me back to a little house in South Carolina where my grandmother once lived.  The yard of her cottage style home nestled in the Carolina pines, was filled with flowers. To this day, flowers remind me of her. Sometimes the smell of pine trees, or roses, or camellias will take me back – but especially gardenias. 

My grandmother was born in 1890. Not even five feet tall, she was a petit beauty with deep blue eyes and a contagious laugh. Once while visiting a zoo; she drew quite a crowd when she laughed at a parrot who parroted her laughter back at her. This caused her to laugh all the more causing the parrot to mimic her again. The cycle continued for quite a while. They were the zoo’s biggest attraction that day.

In 1911, she married my grandfather, a country doctor who could not afford an engagement ring. His bride wore a plain gold band. Twenty one years later he surprised her with a diamond ring. He had scrimped and saved for years!

Life was not easy for her. Her oldest child, a son, became progressively crippled. No one knew why. Even his father, the physician, was stumped. My grandmother watched as her first born began to decline as a teenager. She stood bravely beside him, as he lost his ability to walk, became wheelchair bound, and eventually died at the age of 28. Later, her husband too died from a heart attack leaving her a widow with one child still at home. 

In 1956, my parents became foreign missionaries to Africa. Shortly afterwards, my grandmother was diagnosed with a serious disease. When, I was born and given my grandmother’s name, there was no quick way to get news from Africa to the US in those days. But the news arrived at the best possible moment.

She was lying in a hospital bed. Her usual chipper, in love with life, personality was uncharacteristically despondent. She was alone when there was a knock on her door. In walked a nurse with a letter in her hand… from Africa! Her mood lifted immediately and she made a decision. To that baby, born half a world away in the jungles of Africa, her namesake, she would leave her diamond engagement ring.

I have vivid memories of this lovely woman for whom I am named. I remember her laughter. Visiting her was a delightful treat! She told stories, read adventure books, sang songs, and let us push her wheelchair around her beautiful, flower filled yard. And Oh! – The flowers! Roses, daisies, carnations, camellias, and gardenias – especially gardenias!

As I write this, I look at my ring. It’s a brilliant cut diamond set in an antique, “Old Mine” setting. I look at the ring and think of the woman who gave it to me. And then I remember her laughter and her flowers – especially gardenias!

 

 

 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Those Who Fear God


Reasonable People

“But at the end of that period I, Nebuchadnezzar raised my eyes toward heaven and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever.”

-Daniel 4:24 (NAS)

What do reasonable people look like? This passage in Daniel sheds light on that question. The passage begins with King Nebuchadnezzar bragging to himself. He boasts that the great city of Babylon was built by his mighty power and for the glory of his personal majesty.  What an audacious claim!  Immediately, God struck King Nebuchadnezzar with a mental disorder, causing him to leave his glorious palace and live in the fields. For seven years Nebuchadnezzar wandered aimlessly, eating grass like a cow. 

Then in His timing, God removed the king’s mental disorder. In verse 34 of this passage, Nebuchadnezzar is a very different man. Look at what he says, “…my reason returned to me and I blessed the Most High and honored Him who lives forever.” What a stark contrast this verse presents when compared to the first verse in this passage.

 We can conclude then, that a person who honors God is a person with a sound mind. We see this truth in the New Testament too. Mark tells of a demon possessed man who lived among the tombs crying out and cutting himself with stones. Then in Mark 5:15 we read that after Jesus had cast out the demon; the man was clothed, in his right mind, and sitting at the feet of Jesus.

 The world may try to say people who honor God, bless His name, and sit at the feet of Jesus are religious fanatics but the Bible says otherwise. The Bible tells us that such people are in their right mind and thinking clearly.

 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Easter


All Through the Blood

 “In shady green pastures, so rich and so sweet,
 God leads His dear children along
where the water’s cool flow bathes the weary one’s feet,
God leads His dear children along.
Some through the waters, some through the flood,
some through the fire, but all through the blood.”
 
 (This old hymn entitled; “God leads us Along” was written by George A. Young in 1903.)

According to John 18:1 when Jesus traveled to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray on the night before He was crucified, He crossed the Kidron valley. The Hebrew word, Kidron means dark or black. The valley derived its name from the fact that the temple was located directly above this valley. As the animals were sacrificed, their blood ran out of the temple, down the hill, and onto the Kidron Valley, turning the ground black as it dried.

Isn’t it amazing to realize Jesus passed through this valley on his way to the cross? I wonder what went through His mind as he stepped on the ground, black from the blood of sacrifices. Maybe He thought of the ordeal He was about to face. Did He agonize over this? Or did he think beyond the cross to those of us whose salvation He would win because of His willing sacrifice? I wonder if He pictured my face – and yours?

“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” Ephesians 2:13 (NIV)

 

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Life as I Knew it


Shades of Green
 By: Jane Ray  

            There is no more beautiful place in the world than Nigeria during the rainy season. This is especially true if one should live in the bush. The daily rain washes everything new and sparkling, making even the dirtiest village seem clean.

            The rainy season begins with a line squall which blows with hurricane proportions. The sky darkens and it is as though the black clouds have been punctured, for the water falls suddenly in heavy torrents. Winds up to 70 miles an hour rip through the compound, scattering limbs and branches from the trees and even uprooting them. Tall palm trees bend beneath the fury of the gales. As the rain falls, making rivulets in the roads, puddles in the yards and filling the water tanks, the dirt spatters roof high before turning into mud.

            The earth becomes soaked causing hundreds of ugly, red worms to wiggle their way to the surface in writhing masses, causing squeamish people (like me) to step gingerly around them.

            It did not rain all day long during the rainy season, The day was filled with intermittent showers, and in between the showers, the moisture hung like glistening beads on the leaves of the trees and flowers, promoting rather rapid and vigorous growth.

            I would stand at the window of my house trying to identify the shades of green I saw after the rain. It was as if the colors were being squeezed from an artist’s color tubes, ranging from a green so dark as to be almost black on the mango tree to the delicate blue-green of the ferns growing wild, to the bright yellow green of the lacy fronds of the palm tree…and the colors went on and on.

            The mango stood out from the others by its size and its slick, magnolia-like leaves, while the other fruit trees – orange, grapefruit, lemon, and lime had the advantage of flecks of bright orange, yellow, and white peeking through the branches where the fruit grew on the trees.

            I could see the bush-like guava tree glistening with the dampness and as the vapor rose from the humidity, I could almost see the fan-shaped papaya tree growing taller while I watched.

            Everything flourished during the rains!

            Our driveway was flanked by several beautiful palm trees loaded with the blackish-red nuts the Nigerians pressed and used for cooking oil. A kapok tree 150 feet tall stood directly in front of our house and back by the Koto (where we burned the trash) the pineapple garden added yet another shade of green.

            There were many beautiful plants and trees in our yard that served no other purpose than to be enjoyed for their beauty and fragrance. The Frangipani tree was one. The changing hibiscus was popular as house flowers for vases and bouquets as well as corsages.

            Once in Lagos, a French lady crossed the fence between our yards and begged for just one flower to wear to a party. We told her she was welcome to pick as many as she wished. Later she sent for several choice blossoms and at Christmas time she gave our kids chocolate and a big red ball for two year old Chris.

             The bougainvillea, a thorn bush type of plant, grew on nearly every compound. White and variegated crotons and coleus were planted in neat flower beds next to the house. Poinsettias grew in crimson abundance and I never tired of seeing them growing in the ground. The only way I had ever seen a poinsettia before was potted at Christmas time.

            Many people imported roses from Ireland, growing them in clay pots to protect them from being eaten by white ants. When we lived in Ogbomosho, Stanley decided to try his luck with Irish roses and our conversation was soon dominated by “Rose” talk. We had beautiful “teacup” roses as well as a creamy apricot Peace and delicate Pink Queen Elizabeth.

            After a rain it was so refreshing to sit on the veranda and just enjoy the green, rain-washed world with its fresh, wonderful smells. During a rains storm once, I remember playing cards with another missionary couple. While the rain steamed off the roof of their screened-in porch while enjoying coffee and cracker spread with peanut butter. It seemed especially delicious! Perhaps the goodness of this simple treat was enhanced by the freshness of the cool rain all around us.

 

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Through My Kitchen Window


I am reading author Chinua Achebe’s newest book titled, “There was a Country – a Personal History of BiafraChinua is a well respected writer and poet. Perhaps his best known work is “Things Fall Apart.”

Born in 1930, he and I have something in common. We were both born in the part of Nigeria once known as the Eastern Region which tried to secede and form the new nation of Biafra. Achebe was born in Ogidi and I was born in Joinkrama. Actually our birthplaces are not all that close. His was on the northern edge of the area that tried to become Biafra in what is today called the South Eastern State. I was born in the most southern region near the ocean in a wild, jungle area in the Niger River Delta which today is called The Rivers State. Joinkrama where I was born was once referred to as “The Back Side of Nowhere” by missionary Jo Scaggs in her book. Aunt Jo, as I called her when I knew her, served in Joinkrama a.k.a. “the backside of nowhere” with my parents and was a big help to my mother the year I was born.

Achebe writes, "Most members of my generation, who were born before Nigeria’s independence, remember a time when things were very different. Nigeria was once a land of great hope and progress, a nation with immense resources at its disposal—natural resources, yes, but even more so, human resources. But the Biafran war changed the course of Nigeria. In my view it was a cataclysmic experience that changed the history of Africa."

Well, to me personally it was a cataclysmic experience that changed my personal history. The war ripped me out of the country of my birth – my happy childhood homeland and set me squarely back on US soil. The first couple of years back I was so homesick for Nigeria and the friends I knew there. I was an extremely unhappy little girl.

But then as time went by, I became accustomed to my new home in America and even grew to love it. I had many friends and experiences in the years that followed which I treasure also. And when I look back on my life, I marvel at all the adventures God has allowed me to have. From tropical Africa where I happily played barefoot, chasing lizards and eating guavas straight from the trees to quintessential Americana where I had the privilege of being a high school cheerleader for a state championship football team – my experiences have been many and diverse and I marvel at the God who has led me all of my life.


Sunday, February 3, 2013

Valentines


God’s Love

This was posted by my friend and fellow writer, Linda Jeffrey last year in her blog:  www.thegriefexperience.wordpress.com 

A hundred years ago in an old fashioned camp meeting, the evangelist told about a man who died alone in an insane asylum. Scrawled on the wall of his room were these words,
 
Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill
And every man a scribe by trade.
To write the love of God above,
Would drain the ocean dry.
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.

A song writer in attendance that day wrote down the words and added other verses, but none so powerful as this metaphor. I cannot tell you about God’s love and I will never be as eloquent as the anonymous sufferer who wrote those words on his wall, but I know the love of God was more than words in a Bible for him. Some day he will tell us how the love of God carried him home.

The love of God is greater far
Than tongue or pen can ever tell;
It goes beyond the highest star,
And reaches to the lowest hell;
The guilty pair, bowed down with care,
God gave His Son to win;
His erring child He reconciled,
And pardoned from his sin.

O love of God, how rich and pure!
How marvelous and strong!
It shall forevermore endure
The saints' and angels' song.
 

 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Two Edged Sword


“When you enter the land which the Lord your God gives you, and you possess it and live in it, and you say, ‘I will set a king over me like all the nations who are around me…’” Deuteronomy 17:14

Deuteronomy 17: 14-20 gives God’s commandments concerning the king the Israelites would appoint over themselves. These verses list three negatives about a king and three positives about him. The negatives are listed in verses 16-17where it says that a king should not multiply his horses, multiply his wives, or increase his silver and gold.

The positives are found in verses 18-20. These are that the king will copy God’s law onto a scroll for himself, he will keep this with him, and he will learn from it.

But what is the deeper meaning contained in these verses? The real lesson of these verses is that the king (or any of us) should place trust in God alone. If a king multiplied his horses, he would be increasing his military power (trusting in his military power). If he multiplied his wives, he would be making alliances with the nations from which his various wives came or trusting in pacts with other nations (trusting in his negotiation skills and / or the strength of his allies). And if he multiplied his silver and gold he would be trusting in his riches. Instead he should know God’s word, keep God’s word with him, and learn from it or in other words, he should be trusting in God only.

Jeremiah 9:23-23 makes this point when he writes,

“Let not a wise man boast in his wisdom and let not a mighty man trust in his might, let not a rich man trust in his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands Me, that I am the Lord who exercises loving kindness, justice, and righteousness on the earth; for I delight in these things declares the Lord.”