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EbolaA war is raging in West Africa, but this war if different from others.  This time the enemy is invisible, sneaking up on its victims unaware.  By the time the victim realizes he has been attacked, it is usually only a matter of days before he dies.  That is, after he has infected dozens of others, and then they too die.  This enemy is called Ebola.

Ebola first reared his ugly head back in March, in the forest region of Guinea.  Because of the porous borders, the disease quickly spread into Sierra Leone and Liberia’s northern county.

In May, it appeared as if the disease was coming under control, but that was due largely to fear and irrational behavior.  People have become afraid to expose themselves, so when they become sick, instead of going to the doctor they run and hide. They just do not understand.  Doctors Without Borders, has been chased out with machetes from the forest region of Guinea.

This invisible enemy is taking its toll on Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. In Sierra Leone, Ebola seems to be even more out of control.  A local Pstr there told me “Ebola is real and it is bad!”

About 1200 cases have been reported with 672 confirmed and suspected deaths: 319 in Guinea, 224 in Sierra Leone and 129 in Liberia and the numbers continue to grow.

This nation that thrives on relationships is now being reprimanded for giving a handshake or a hug.  Taxi drivers are wearing gloves and masks.  Grocery store workers and others are wearing gloves.  Tonight we went to the grocery store and before entering, we had to wash our hands with bleach water.  A few restaurants and other businesses have shut down until Ebola comes under control.  Borders to Liberia have been closed except for the 3 major borders and the two airports.  And tonight one of our major WA airlines has cancelled all flights to Liberia and Sierra Leone.

This invisible enemy must be stopped and there is only One who is able to stop it…the Prince of Peace, Jehovah Rapha. Please speak to Him on behalf of the West African peoples, on behalf of those working on the front lines, on behalf of those who are sick and trying to overcome, on behalf of all of us who are wondering what to do, how to help and how best to be His Light in this dark world.

A dream come true

One of the first things we did after moving was to go out even further into the countryside where we stopped at a small, dusty, mountain village.  Since cars coming through the village are far and few between, we just parked in the middle of the road.

Then, we encountered an elder of the village, who was Muslim. When he saw us he literally jumped up and down off the ground and asked our group to come into an outdoor enclosure in the woods and eat with him and his family. He was snaggle-toothed and bright-eyed. Quite a character!

He fed us the best of the best, including fresh honey from his beehives, freshly made yogurt and milk on the best locally made bread we’ve ever eaten. Afterward, he brought out perfume and sprayed it on each one of us! Then we enjoyed freshly roasted coffee along with the incense that is traditionally burned when entertaining.

falling starHe told us about a dream 20 years before that he would one day entertain foreigners and that he had been preparing for that day ever since. His dream included a huge star in the sky, which shattered and broke into pieces as it fell from the sky. So we told him the story of the star which announced the birth of Christ and the gifts of the magi. We compared the myrrh to the perfume, frankincense to the incense and his hospitality and the relationship that we were building together to the gold.

The second visit to his village resulted in presenting the Gospel and him saying, “This is Truth, and I believe it!” Isn’t God amazing!

Thank God for arranging this divine appointment with the village elder and for God speaking to him through a dream 20 years ago.  Praise God for the work of the Holy Spirit in this man’s heart.  Pray for him as he follows the Truth.  Pray for others in his village to make this great discovery.

(Names, locations and original blog link omitted due to security concerns.

Church and MosqueA friend in Central Asia writes, “Right before the post-Ramadan holidays, Murat* and Ali* invited us to an ‘Iftar’ meal. Murat is an old friend of mine from Istanbul. It was in response to a challenge from him years ago that I read through the Quran. On the night of ‘Iftar,’ after dinner we sat out on his balcony. I pulled out my smartphone and asked him to watch ‘The Prophet’s Story’ (a ‘Creation to Christ’ video). He attentively watched it all. Murat reads the ‘Namaz’ (book about Islamic prayer), keeps the fast, and visits the mosque frequently.

I expected some objections from him after the video. Instead, he looked at me very seriously and stated, ‘We believe all this.’ He immediately asked, ‘Why don’t you believe in Muhammad?’

I didn’t know how to respond. He caught me flatfooted. My first desire was to say, ‘No, you don’t believe all that!’

After we talked more about Jesus’ perfect nature, His embrace of the penalty of my sin, and the affirmation of God in Jesus’ resurrection, Murat again said, ‘We believe all that. Now, why don’t you believe in Muhammad?’

I left that night wondering, ‘What is God doing in Murat’s life?’ Is this a step on his road to faith, or just a warning that I am not communicating clearly?

Road of faithI took comfort in the fact that even if I can explain everything correctly to Murat, the Father is still the one to ‘give’ Murat to Jesus (John 6:37).

Please breathe a prayer for Murat’s salvation.”

(*pseudonyms) STOCK PHOTOS

Falling apples

Falling apples“Our language tutor occasionally asks us to teach him English terms and idioms. The latest ‘English moment’ found us teaching him this idiom: ‘The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.’ While this isn’t a phrase I use often, sometimes it’s simply the best way to describe someone who looks or acts like their parents. In Ephesians 5:1b, Paul instructed his readers to ‘be imitators of God, as beloved children.’ After reading this verse, I wondered if someone could look at me and say, ‘The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.’ As a beloved child of God, do I act like my Father? We are learning the complex sounds of Sesotho by imitating our language tutor over and over again. We listen to him and then repeat it ourselves. Listen. Repeat. Listen. Repeat. The sounds that first seemed impossible are starting to come out of our mouths! The same can be true for those who walk with God. We can listen to Him speak to us through His Word and, by the power of His Spirit, repeat what we’ve heard. Listen. Repeat.

falling applePlease pray for us as we continue to listen, repeat and learn Sesotho so that we can proclaim the Gospel of Christ to people who have never heard so that they can be adopted into the kingdom of God, no longer separated from Him by their sin. Please pray for us as we seek to be imitators of God. These apples want to fall close to their ‘Tree’!”  STOCK PHOTOS

someone knockingLife as a missionary is hard. There are many days when I hear a knock on the door, and I am paralyzed with immobility because I know it will be another beggar/hungry person/scam artist coming to my door to ask something from the white man. When I go out into town, people are not running up and asking me what they must do to be saved. No one is thanking me for leaving the comforts of America to come and live among them. I see pictures on Facebook of my friends and family, and I long to be able to spend the holidays with them.

Recently, I memorized and mediated on Ephesians 6:7-8,  “Serve with a good attitude, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that whatever good each one does, he will receive this back from the Lord.”

I am in awe of the fact that I serve a God who sees and knows all and will reward every act of obedience. I am thankful for a God who knows the sacrifices my wife and I are making and will reward us. God will not only reward missionaries, but He will reward everyone who lives in obedience to His will for their life. All of us are rewarded based on our obedience in obeying God’s direction. My wife and I will not be rewarded more for being missionaries; rather we are rewarded based on our obedience in obeying God’s direction.

Obedience to GodWhat does this mean? It means that if God has called you to be a doctor, then work hard, obey God and great will be your reward. If God has called you to be a teacher, work hard, obey God and great will be your reward. If God has called you to be carpenter, work hard, obey God and great will be your reward, and if God has called you into the ministry, work hard, obey God and great will be your reward. If God has called you into _______________, work hard, obey God and great will be your reward.

God the Father loves all of His children and will disown none of them, but He does not equally reward His disobedient, stingy and lazy children the same as He does His obedient, generous and hardworking followers. All who know Jesus Christ as Savior will inherit heaven, but there will be those in heaven with greater rewards.

My encouragement to everyone reading this post is the same that I tell myself every morning. God sees and knows all and will reward every act of obedience. Brothers and sisters, God has called all of us into our profession, and in our profession, whatever it may be, we must work hard, obey God, and our reward in heaven will be great!

Editor’s note:  Thank God for the profession to which He has equipped and called you; ask that He may be glorified through it as you labor each day.

Names, location and original blog link have been omitted due to security concerns; stock photos.

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Bangladeshi rickshaw driversHis rickshaw’s pedal was broken, but he was so determined to take his passenger to his destination that he pulled his rickshaw on foot. The passenger, a Christian man, gently suggested that he fix his rickshaw so he could better provide for his family, but he had no money. The Christian gave him the little bit necessary for the repair, and he suddenly had a full-time rickshaw driver committed to take him wherever he wanted to go! Sometime later, the rickshaw driver came to the Christian man’s door with a swollen wrist, ready to work. The Christian instead took the driver for medical care. With each act of kindness, the driver, a Muslim, became more intrigued with this follower of Jesus. Ten days after the rickshaw driver received treatment for his broken wrist, the Christian celebrated his birthday by bringing together the driver and a Bangladeshi pastor friend who is a Muslim-background believer. “The pastor friend shared the ‘Creation to Christ’ story with the driver and invited him to accept Christ as Lord and Savior, which he did with great contrition and thankfulness,” the Christian said. “We are so humbled to have been a part of this!” Rejoice with the angels in heaven over the driver’s surrender to Jesus. “I am very happy to get a new brother in Christ,” the pastor said.

Praise God for pursuing and saving this rickshaw driver. Pray that the driver will become firmly rooted in his new faith and that he, too, will soon be an ambassador for our risen Savior in the city of Dhaka, Bangladesh!  STOCK PHOTO

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