Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Come With Me...written by Ruthann

The last 24 hours have been a journey…Three events, intertwined with last Friday night’s outing, have made a huge impression in my heart.  Come with me…

First to a bonfire hosted by Natalie’s employer—Natalie was excited to introduce us to the people she’s been working with.  How wonderful to put a face with the people in her stories.  Graeme, Natalie’s employer and elder at our church, and Mandy, his wife and keyboard player in our church band and my hairdresser, dug a pit near the bonfire where they placed foil wrapped potatoes and threw on hot coals.  The menu was YUM…cooked potatoes with tons of toppings and marshmallows roasted on the fire.  It was also bring your own drinks…which translated to BYOB (bring your own beer) for the majority.  Mandy shared with me how her heart aches as they live for their weekends with alcohol.  (The government here shares her concern, evidenced by a massive TV ad campaign as to the realities of alcohol abuse.)  Natalie has shared with us how BIG alcohol is to her friends…and her dismay as to their bondage to the stuff—even when its bringing lifelong consequences and reaping havoc in their lives.  Yet, we see three families, all employed at the farm whom are prayerfully asking God to show them how their work can be their mission field—which is why the bonfire happened in the first place. Also, we see a certain young woman, whom we happen to know very well, who is trying with all her might to introduce her new friends to Jesus during her summer break.

Next, will you go with me to my one-afternoon-a-week volunteering at the Open Door?  They have converted the parsonage/manse (place the pastor used to live) in to a community center that provides a toy library, a food pantry, rooms counselors may contract, a branch for a clinic, etc.  The Open Door is now under construction to expand so we can provide ministry for Divorce Recovery, Journeys through Grief, Parenting Classes, and such.  The vision is that this place is an Open Door for people coming to know Jesus through practical ministry to the community.  What a joy to see their passion first hand.

Come with me later in the evening and go with me to the cinema with five other friends.  Rhoda gave the invite—her future son-in-law directed the photography for an award winning, Australian film, Mad Bastards.  (Rhoda gave much of her life to ministering as a teacher and principle in an aborigine community).  This movie depicts the lifestyle of those enslaved to alcohol and the despair, the drunken brawls, the frightened children, the dysfunctional families, and the poverty that is so prevalent.  The main character searches for his son and begins to hope for escape from his despair when he realizes the price he’s paid for the life he has lived.   My friends were amazed at the incredible job done of a realistic portrayal of life among many.  They mentioned it was so good to watch to remind them of why they do what they do—teach, sit through frustrating staff meetings, volunteer, lead mission trips, go to Monday night prayer meetings, etc.  So amazing to get a glimpse into their passion.

Finally, can you picture yourself going with me to the local public, primary school where volunteers participate with Christian Option—which is a  quarterly presentation they are allowed to give to present Christianity as an option.  There is a careful distinction made…no evangelizing allowed, but clear Biblical presentation allowed.  The government understands that there is much about Christianity that can assist with issues in their country.  Chaplains are also allowed on campus—and even in many cases partially funded by the government.  Sit with me and be completely mesmerized…not so much by the presentation, although it is done with great excellence, but to watch as a room full of 7th graders watch and participate without so much as a whisper or talking out of turn.  Not one time did a teacher from the school or a volunteer from Christian Options have to say “SSHH” or “Be quiet” or pull a kid aside for disciplinary action.  The volunteer team did an amazing, five star job of giving a Biblical lesson on forgiveness with dramas, video, Scripture presentation and a game.  Somehow I felt honored to belong with these people!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this experience with me.  Words cannot describe the blessing of  moving in to this community of believers.  They love Jesus, they love each other, and they are devoted to being missional.  They seriously organize their time and their lives around serving and reaching those without the hope of Jesus. Thanks, God, for bringing me here.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Meet my friend Paul

Meet Paul.  Paul is a 92 year old father of 5 boys, former WWII spitfire fighter pilot, pastor for over 50 years, follower of Jesus!

Before we came to Australia I had decided I would ask Paul if he would be interested in being prayer partners.  This idea was sparked when I first met him.  It was on a Friday morning following the Traditional service at church.  I had finished speaking and off to the side of the church sat a little old man with a big smile on his face.  As he stood I knew he was intent on talking to me.  Sometimes you can just tell by looking at a person they are fully devoted too and in love with Jesus.  It was that way with Paul.  He approached me, shook my hand, and proceeded to tell me what a good message I had just given.  He then went on to tell me how much he appreciated Adam, how blessed he was to have such a godly young pastor who was doing such a great job of leading the church.  As he talked the conversation turned to how he had come to faith in Jesus.  He was a young man in the Australian Air Force who loved to fly.  One weekend he had some time off and decided to go to a Salvation Army gathering.  The rest was history, he met Jesus there and his life was forever changed!  As he shared his story tears streamed down his face and his smile never faded.  He said the moment he decided to receive Jesus as his savior was the best moment of his life.  Paul shared that once he'd met Jesus he had no more fear of engaging the enemy in dogfights..."I knew where I was going if I died!"  This peace permeated how he led his squadron.  Typically, when the enemy would be engaged the squadron leaders would fly at a higher, safer altitude while the rest would fly lower with guns blazing.  With Paul's new found faith he would insist on flying the lower position in order to protect his non-believing comrades.  He said, "if anyone was going to die in battle, it may as well be me than someone who didn't know Jesus!" 

Paul has a resiliency and purpose about life.  He has had several life threatening strokes, brought back from death three times by paramedics, and has a constant prayer request: "I need to know from God what he wants me to do today!" In some respects, I think he may have been the inspiration for the Energizer Bunny, he just keeps going and going and going.  He reminds me of my Grandpa Longcor and Uncle Ade Roth.  He has an uncanny sense of humor mixed with Auzzy sarcasm and an unmistakable love for people and life.

I meet with Paul on Wednesday mornings at his home.  His wife Audrey has water on for coffee and we spend time sharing what's going on in our lives, then we pray.  When Paul prays it's like I'm sitting in the presence of a Saint, who is talking to his God...wait, I am!  Just after the first time of praying together I knew I had made a great decision to meet up with Paul.  I just hope I can keep up with him!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

30 Years and Still Counting

June 6th, 1981 I married my best friend, Ruthann.  It doesn't seem possible that 30 years have come and gone.  But, when I think back over the years we have shared, the awesome memories remind me of the life we have lived together.  If I were to sum up the last 30 years in 3 words, it would be: a Grand ADVENTURE!  We have had some really cool adventures over the years.  We've traveled together, raised a daughter together, been involved in ministry together, built homes together.  There is a lot of fond memories we've built over the years.  Over the last 30 years we have seen God time and time again provide for our needs and even some of our wants, comfort us through disappointments and painful situations, hold us when life seemed to be falling a part, and remind us over and over again that he loves us and has a hope and a future for our lives.  We've been blessed!

Happy Anniversary Ruthann.  I love you dearly.  You've been such a wonderful friend, lover, and companion over the years and I look forward to the next leg of our adventure together.  Thank you for the best years of my life!