(written 11th September 2012)
Six years and four weeks have passed (on 19th December 2012) since my first cancer operation – a laryngectomy, or removal of the voice box. Some days I feel sad knowing what I have lost, missed and miss. Other days I feel pleased to be able to enjoy my grandchildren, to be with my wife, and together watch our two children develop through their maturity. My own calling still seems to be to write for the Sudanese Christians. Many of them know far worse physical suffering than I am called to go through. I hear from them on emails. Especially heart-‐wrenching are from those who are being bombed in the Nuba Mountains. I have lobbied the British Government through our MP, but the answer always seems to be, “We know, you are right, but we can’t do anything”. I am able to write 18 Encouragement articles per year and to distribute them through my own website, by email and occasionally even good old-‐fashioned post! Writing is supposed to be relevant to their situation. Articles in 2012 have included “Dealing with Tribal Unrest”; “Stop the War, Now”; “Praying for National Leaders”; “Polygamy and Christian Values”; “Do to Others as you would have them Do to You”; “Love Your Enemies”; “On Being Uprooted”; etc. Every article takes prayer and meditation, research in the Scriptures, and trying to imagine myself living where the readers are living. In a good week I am blessed by seeing how God graciously still uses me to encourage these dear suffering people of His. But, to be honest, I must admit there are plenty of bad days when I wish this life was over. Then I could be at peace, pain free, in eternity! My ability to tolerate pain is not very good. And it seems to be getting smaller and smaller. A friend of mine over 30 years, a missionary to several places, latterly focused on Romania, recently went to his heavenly home. I was asked by his widow to “preach the gospel” at his funeral. I spoke for some 10 minutes on two Bible texts – “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”, Romans 3:23; and “Christ in you, the hope of glory”, Colossians 1:27. People getting into a right relationship with Jesus Christ is the ONLY answer to the world’s problems. Altogether in 2012 I led 20 home Bible studies and preached for 6 services. (Years passed that number could well have been 50 home studies (or classes) and 250 sermons!). I am still trying to remember to let go of the past and to live in the present for the future. This is a daily challenge. An example of what I mean is here below. I jotted it down before (and during!) a service at my church, Redruth Baptist. Brenda and I shared it with our prayer partners on a letter, and RBC also used it in the weekly Fellowship News. It has blessed others. I pray now, it will bless you too: My disability – entrusted to me by God – means I cannot join in congregational singing, or times of open prayer and testimony, not even chatting fellowship in noisy rooms! It’s nobody’s fault! And I’m not complaining. Because this is some of what I see…
Windows letting in God’s created light,
Flowers showing off the glory of God,
An arch reaching up to God’s transcendence,
The cross, the highest point of God’s love here on earth.
A pulpit reminder that God still speaks to us,
A jug and glass with water, God’s material of creation,
Bibles and banners with God’s more direct revelation.
A Newssheet with communication about God’s work hereabouts,
Loudspeakers and other electronics giving clarity to God’s word,
Musicians playing and singing to God’s praise and worship, Drums rhythmically mimicking God’s heartbeat.
Different people gathering to show many of God’s people types,
Babies to grand-‐oldies with a variety of God-‐given experiences,
Chairs offering comfort for fellowship in God’s house,
Joining sockets - since it is God who has brought us together.
Table spread and awaiting the 2nd coming of our Lord Jesus Christ,
Bread, the body of that single suffering, substitutionary God-‐man,
Red grape juice, the dying blood of God’s Son our Saviour, Jesus.
Teachers and children giving and receiving God’s plan for young lives.
God’s offering boxes, too small to get ourselves in, so it has to be cash,
The Food Bank where we can show practical help to people God loves.
Windows letting our light of the world reflect beyond to God’s world, Handshakes, hugs and kisses; we all know the need for God’s touch.
A benediction with hand upraised, to leave with God’s blessing, Stairs reminding us to be careful walking for God this coming week.
The exit door, and way into God’s everyday opportunities for us.