Songwriters Rogers and Hammerstein have given the world many songs, some of which have touched people and brought hope and encouragement into lives. One of these has a wonderful promise. The song speaks about walking through a storm coming out of the darkness with head held high. It promises golden skies and singing larks after the storm. It states that a person can walk on with hope in his or her heart and not walking alone through the storm. “Walk on with hope in your heart and you’ll never walk alone. “
These are wonderful words to hear in the midst of difficulties and storms, wind and rain. It is tempting to ask if we can really walk on with hope and without feeling alone. My answer is yes. But perhaps my reason is different than that of the songwriters. I know that when we walk with God in our heart, we do not walk alone. Deuteronomy 31:6 tells us: “Do not be afraid or terrified … for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” and in Matthew 28, Jesus told his disciples (and us) “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” If we are believers in Christ, we have the promise that God is always with us through the Holy Spirit. We can sing that we will never be alone. No matter what difficulty we go through, God is with us.
Not only can we be sure that God is with us, we do not walk alone because other believers walk with us. Galatians 6:2 asks Christians to “carry each other’s burdens.” During the past two weeks, I have seen God and others walking with someone walking through a storm. A mother of three needed major surgery to correct problems in her spine. Major surgery was recommended and in the Dominican Republic the costs have to be paid before surgery takes place. Three thousand US dollars were needed. Our awesome God provided that in six days touching people in Ontario and Mississippi. People surrounded Marleny at the hospital praying while others thousands of miles from Marleny prayed where they were. Marleny’s words were, “I trust completely in what God is doing in my life.
It is possible to never walk alone because God and his people walk with us.
Two years ago, I told my family I did not want a tablet. Since then I have found the tablet is an excellent tools for ministry in other countries. I contact pastors and denominational leaders, receive prayer requests, make plans for a missionary team and encourage people much more easily that I ever imagined possible. When I am in the Dominican Republic I can take a picture and send it along with a note back to family and people who pray for our ministry. My family teases that I am addicted but the tablet is a vital part of what I do for the Lord.
A year ago I would not have known much about an emoji or sticker. Then I started sending them to a pastor’s wife in Mexico and to several people in the Dominican Republic. Recently someone dear to us has developed a serious medical problem and requires a major surgery. I send her words of encouragement and emoji. We laugh as we see which one of us will send the most hearts at the end of a message. By the way laughing on line with a Dominican looks like this jajaja. J pronounces as an h or ha ha ha. There are is wonderful selection of stickers that express things like I love you or hugs or an ongoing flow of hearts over the screen. These stickers and emojis help her get through the pain, the anxiety of future a surgery and uncertainty. I also send these stickers to a pastor’s wife to encourage her in her ministry.
Tablets and cell phones and gaming can be a problem. But like many things, these tools can be used for blessings.
The first convention of Latino Workers in Ontario held at WestPark Iglesia brought together migrant workers from several South Western Ontario Locations – Mount Brydges, Forest, Sarnia, Tillsonburg, and Thedford. A biblical reflection centered around the question who has robbed you of your peace. The workers from Mexico and Guatemala sang praise choruses, enjoyed the Mariachi singers and lines up for the Mexican style food. Some devoted soccer players delayed their supper to play a game of their favourite sport.
Pastor Mario assisted by an able translator prayed for workers.
Canadians who prepared and served the food and who have been leaders of the ministry in the communities mentioned above; all expressed the blessing they had in serving workers. They were also grateful for the seeds of the word of God that were planted during the months and years of ministry and during the event itself. Even when serving meant going out of their way to drive workers to London, to answer questions of a worker who has worked for 28 years about applying for a pension, to translate when there were problems and to host a worker’s wife who came from Cuernavaca.
Members of one Mexican family commented on the meat which was very much like the carnitas they ate back in Mexico. A Canadian English-speaking pastor expanded his Spanish vocabulary learning “solamente.” Solamente en cristo – only in jesus was a key line in one of the chouruses playing in the background. A key phrase to describe the day – only in Jesus is salvation found.
Have you noticed that when everything seems to be going just right, suddenly there is a string of concerns, needs and that coping with them all seems impossible? This past couple of weeks has been that way for me. There are a number of significant health issues such as broken bones etc. Three different critical situations in the Dominican Republic have occupied a lot of time in prayer and using technology to send messages of encouragement. A small child will lose at least one finger; Doctors told a teenager she needs a bone marrow transplant and that the best place to do it is Canada; a young mother of three needs major surgery to correct problems in her spinal column that are causing weakness and considerable pain. Finances or lack of them complicate all three situations.
Then there are situations where a home may be lost because of debt and lack of work and an overwhelming feeling of hopelessness came clearly through the Facebook messages. Here in Canada there are many people with health issues that seem to have no solution. Four families are experiencing grief for a loved one who recently passed away. Recent trips to emergency room and or hospital stays characterize many lives.
Where do I find words of encouragement? How do I handle the stress of so many needs and the inability to respond? Jesus said we should bring our burdens to him and we will find rest for weary souls. I can remind others of God’s many promises and send messages of encouragement to those who seek support. For myself, I must cast these burdens on my heavenly father. Never has the need for prayer been so great. We have a great God who listens. “He will respond to the prayer of the destitute; he will not despise their plea.” Psalm 102:17 No matter what the burden, we have God of victory and hope.
Friday afternoon we entered the hospitality centre, brought in the tortillas, set out the cookies and chips, made sure there was water and pop in the fridge and waited just minutes before the first of the Mexicans dropped in to the centre. Abraham, a visitor from Mexico picked up his bible and went to sit at a table with the first group of men who arrived. After everyone had received a coke or a bottle of water and eaten some tortilla chips, he introduced himself and spoke a bit about this home back in Mexico. After asking them a couple of questions about their week, he said “I am a missionary.”
Abraham then talked about God’s love, how he had experienced that love, about the one God and answered questions. He and those he talked with opened bibles and read and discussed what he read. Most of the men listened intently. Abraham came prepared, knew what he wanted to share and was pleased that he found people receptive to listening. Many Canadian Christians could take a lesson from Abraham. He came prepared, he had prayed about the conversations he had and he was intentional. He had come from Mexico and was speaking with people of the same language and culture. Romans 10:14, 15 asks the following questions: How can someone call on the God if they have never heard about them and how can they hear if no one speaks to them about God. Abraham has chosen to teach the good news of Jesus Christ. May god bless his efforts.
Recently a couple of scriptures have been going through my mind; both call for rejoicing in the midst of crushed or broken bones. As well an old spiritual repeats in my mind, “Dem bones, dem bones, dem dry bones, I hear the word of the Lord.” The spiritual reference is to Ezequiel 37: 1- 14. Ezekiel receives a vision in the middle of a valley of dry bones and the Lord calls him to prophesy of a restoration of life and the dependence for that restoration on the power of God. As Ezekiel spoke the words God had given him, he heard a rattling sound and the bones which came together were given flesh and life was restored.
Why has the subject of bones been on my mind? I just came from a family summer barbecue and my son–in-law commented on the “fractured family.” (The men in particular, in the family love to use puns.) One person wore a splint on his finger which he broke at work. Another member of the family was unable to attend because he broke his arm while out west and can’t drive back to Ontario because of the break. And lastly, my son-in–law was released from the hospital just days ago after surgery to repair three breaks in his leg bones. He, too, was unable to attend the event.
Psalm 51:8 states, “Let the bones you have crushed rejoice.” How wonderful that we can rejoice in a God who restores, who heals and does so through a power that only He has. We rejoiced and laughed about a lot of things as the family was together and we rejoice that bones can be restored.
Moses writes of building the tabernacle and of the people sending in freewill offerings and supplies. He reached a point when he had to give an order not to bring in any other offerings for the sanctuary because they had already received enough. We wonder when that point will be reached in the building of the church in Navas in the Dominican Republic. We know that God knows where the resources will come from and we know that “unless the Lord builds the house, the laborers build in vain. Psalm 127:5.
Yesterday the Navas church got just a little bit closer. We held a yard sale and God gave us a nice morning. The benefits include a cleaner garage and more space in an apartment storage area. There was good conversation with the neighbors who also had a sale. Fishing equipment, garden tools, a lawnmower and a hedge trimmer found new homes as did a lot of other things. But the best part is that $275.00 was raised to assist in the construction in Navas.
How many blocks and how many bags of cement will that sum provide? A bag of cement in the Dominican costs about $10:00 Canadian a bag and a concrete block is approximately $1:25. The yard sale will advance the work of God’s temple. Thanks for the use of a driveway for the sale, for the preparation work to get materials ready for the sale and for the blessing to the people of Navas.