Holy Spirit Enabled Missionary

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God And My Muscle Disease – Part 2

In the last article, I wrote out some of the history of this family inherited genetic disease called MELAS 3243, which falls under the general heading of being a Mitochondrial Myopathy.  In simple terms, this means that the mitochondria (the energy production part within all of our cells) do not function properly for me.  My muscles produce limited amounts of energy each day, so I constantly battle with fatigue which can happen quite fast, depending on the level of activity I am engaged in.  Along with this, I battle constant pain which increases with activity and when I fatigue.

This can be quite challenging at times and can greatly affect me at the most inconvenient times.  I recall the time when we went as a family to the church’s Christmas Eve service.  I had been moderately active during the day (getting presents wrapped), and there was certainly more excitement in the air as our family of five engaged in our annual fun time of cooking sugar cookies and decorated them with different food-colored icing .  I had my nap, then we drove slowly through neighborhoods to see the Christmas light decorations and ended up at our church for the 11 p.m. service.

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The service was beautiful with some Christmas carol singing, a short message, and then a time of silent reflection on the birth of Christ.  Now a strange-funny kind of thing about my disease.  It doesn’t just affect my muscles, but an emotional moment (whether bad or good) can also drain my energy.  So when it was time to leave, a family member had to push me uphill to get out of the auditorium.  I started to go slowly across the foyer on my arm crutches thinking I could make it to the car outside.

But then a friend stopped me to say hello and wish me a Merry Christmas.  Well, what little energy I had left was used up in that short 5-minute visit.  Suddenly my friend asked me, “Do you need to sit down?”  She saw me going white and starting to wobble.  I nodded yes and she ran and got a chair behind me just as I collapsed into the chair.  Thankfully I have never yet actually fallen, but there have been some close calls as I can deplete my energy so quickly, sometimes within as short as 15 minutes.

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Now consider what I have just written, and then consider what God has been able to do through me in these past three years.  During these three years that I have now lived with this disease, God allowed me the privilege to travel five times over to Papua New Guinea to be able to continue doing Bible translation checking.  And each trip we’ve taken, we extend it a little longer, to see how my body will do.  I went from four or five-week trips to a seven week trip, and this past Feb/March it was a nine week trip.

Admittedly, it is very hard on me to travel half way around the world.  But God has set up a great routine for me.  I fly to Los Angeles and take a day room at a Sheraton hotel to sleep 4-5 hours before going back to the airport to catch the midnight flight to Brisbane, Australia.  In Brisbane, I taxi to a family run motel and the couple know me so well, they take me straight to the handicapped room.  They have a small kitchen behind the office and when I wake up later, they cook a home-made meal for me.  Then in Port Moresby, PNG, I stay in a mission guesthouse who also have great staff who take care of my every need.  And throughout every airport, I get fantastic wheelchair assistance.  Thank you God!!!

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Now three exciting things have happened recently.  This last January I helped lead a week-long orientation class for our mission on a college campus in California.  Going from -40 C (also 40 below zero in F.) to a balmy +10 C (+50 F.) prompted me to ask my US mission colleague if he thought there might be any work for me to do if I was to say, come down to the Dallas office area during the cooler Fall and early Winter time.  One week later, I got a call telling me that at least two departments were fighting over me and asking how soon I could come to Dallas.  (I have my ticket and will be leaving Aug. 9 until Christmas to help with training and mentoring new missionary recruits for our mission.)

Secondly, at the end of this last trip to PNG, I told the Directors that the trip was very successful as I was able to finish checking 5 New Testament books for 3 different language groups.  So now we are lining up at least three, maybe four projects for me to check during the Jan-April period.  This will allow me to get completely out of Canada’s winter months, which is wonderful, considering that the colder it is, the more pain I am in, but the more hot and humid it is, the less pain and muscle cramping I experience.

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But then a third ministry option was offered to me as well.  We have a team of nationals in a Southeast Asia country, plus a veteran missionary who lives in the States for most of the year, all of whom are very computer savvy, and are able to send all their files and notes electronically to me so that I can check them while living remotely anywhere in North America.  I was told that when we finish checking and then publish the NT in this common speech (Plain Text) trade language, we will have the potential to impact the lives of over 200 million people with a text that they can read and understand in their hearts.

So what am I saying at the end of these two articles that started with my disease and end with looking at all the ministry work God is placing in front of me to do.  Well, let me summarize it all in two sentences.  In the last two years, I was operating as a part-time disabled Missionary.  But now, by the grace of God, I am going forward by faith to operate as a full-time Holy Spirit enabled Missionary.

Thank you Jesus!  It is only through Your grace that all of this has been made possible.       To You belongs all the glory.


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God And My Muscle Disease – Part 1

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After hinting at or mentioning my muscle disease in quite a few of my articles, I think I should finally sit down and explain in more detail what exactly this disease is, how it affects me, and where I think God is in the midst of all this.  As you read this story, please do not think that I know all that can be known medically about this disease.  Also, please do not think that I “have it all figured out” or that I am some kind of super-Christian who has overcome this and “walks in victory” every day.

The story starts back in the 70’s when my sister Lorna showed signs of weakness and fatigue as she went through puberty.  I still remember how as a teenager that she could not throw very far, nor run very fast, nor lift heavy items.  She got worse in her 20’s and found that she could not accomplish daily tasks like grocery shopping and doing the laundry.  After a string of illnesses, Lorna went down to Jamaica to join her husband who was trying to find work there.  She did well in the warmer climate, but reacted to aloe juices that she prepared herself.  She ended up in hospital with lung congestion which led to pneumonia, and her weakened heart finally gave out and she died at age 33.

Back to the 70’s, a neurologist tried very hard to find out what was wrong with Lorna.  My recollection was that they thought she had some kind of muscular dystrophy.  They decided to do a muscle biopsy on some of the family members which ended up including my sister and me, my mother and my grandmother.  With their limited genetic knowledge back then, they saw something a bit odd in my grandmother’s cells, something more in my mother’s cells, and a lot more in my sister’s cells.  My biopsy showed I had a little bit of something else odd, but they decided then that this was just a female to female inherited disease.

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Now jump ahead 30 years to March of 2008.  I had just returned back from Papua New Guinea after doing some Bible translation consultant checking work.  I had literally been running through airports in February and worked many 14 hour days with the men.  But in March, I began to ache in various places all over my lower body, and somewhat in upper limbs.  After just being home for six weeks, these aches and pains increased to where I was unable to walk across my living room floor.  Definitely time to see the doctor.

Well, one test led to many more tests, and they ran through all kinds of possible diagnoses from osteoarthritis to fibromyalgia to arthritic rheumatism.  Finally a neurologist (who happened to be the same neurologist my sister had seen 30 years previously) suggested that I might have the same disease that my sister had and wanted me to see a genetic specialist.  I did that, and he had similar thoughts on this and ordered for me to have a muscle biopsy.

The results of the biopsy came back in November of 2008.  My geneticist said that the results showed with 100% certainty that I had a mutation on one of the genes within the DNA of my mitochondria.  The umbrella name which my disease comes under is called Mitochondrial Myopathy.  Put in simple terms, mitochondria is the energy production part of your cell and is in all the cells of your body, but mine now do not work properly and so I cannot produce a normal amount of energy for my body like others.

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The technical name for the disease is MELAS 3243.  The letters are an abbreviation from “Mitochondrial Myopathy (muscle weakness), Encephalopathy (brain and central nervous system disease), Lactic Acidosis (buildup of a cell waste product), and Stroke-like Episodes (partial paralysis, partial vision loss, or other neurological abnormalities)”.  (Taken from Mitochondrial Disease Foundation website.)

Now not to panic anyone, although I may be susceptible to all of the above disease manifestation symptoms, it does not mean that I will actually experience them all.  In fact, I am probably mostly dealing with the fatigue and pain that comes from the lactic acid build up in my muscles.  (Imagine a marathon runner whose muscles are all cramped up and it looks like he is going to collapse due to exhaustion just before the finish line.  That is very similar to what I experience every day.)

So this disease has placed some severe limitations on my life.  On a very good day, I may be able to walk as far as 12 to 15 city blocks.  But due to pain, or fatigue, or both, on most days I can only walk about 2-3 blocks and I can only do this much if I am using my 4-wheel walker and go at a very slow pace.  And at home, I have to sit most of the day in a recliner chair to keep my legs up in a comfortable position.

There are in still many activities that I can do such as drive a car, help with the dishes, go to a restaurant or a movie theater.  But in most of these activities that are outside of the house, I have to use some kind of equipment to help me (walker, arm-clasp crutches or a telescoping walking pole).  I have in fact been labeled as “disabled” by my doctor and by the government which has provided a small disability pension.

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And where has God been in all of this you ask?  He has in fact been much more gracious to me than you might first imagine.  Three things come quickly to mind for me.  First, this disease which normally shows up in your teen years, did not show up in me until I was 47.  God gave me an extra 30 years of good health.  And we were not living overseas when this first started (I could have been crippled in Africa).  And in spite of the huge physical challenges I face each day, God has still allowed me to serve overseas on short mission trips to continue doing translation consultant work.

I want to say a lot more about how God is still working in and through my life, but I am going to leave that for the next article.  This is part one of the story.  Join me in a couple of days to read the rest of the story.

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God is To Be Praised!

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The following devotion comes from my email subscription to

Connection! Devotions for Every Day Life“.

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I will tell of the kindnesses of LORD, the deeds for which he is to be praised, according to all the LORD has done for us—yes, the many good things he has done for the house of Israel, according to his compassion and many kindnesses. Isaiah 63:7

All too often, our faith is man-centered, rather than God-centered. We think it’s all about us, when it always has been and always will be about Him! In this verse, Isaiah is focused upon God and His kindness to His people.

Isaiah demonstrates for us a marvelous way of staying God-focused. He committed himself to speaking of the kindnesses of the Lord. God had been good to His people as His deeds demonstrated, and Isaiah was going to make sure that the Israelites were aware of this fact.

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Are you telling others how good God has been to you? Are you aware of the “many good things” he has done for you? Speak it out! Let yourself hear yourself telling others of the kindness of God. This will keep your focus in the right place.

Father, thank You for your loving kindness toward me. You are so good. You have blessed me with Your Presence and awesome love. Give me both the opportunity and the courage to let others know how You have worked in my life. I want to speak of Your loving kindness with clarity and boldness.

–adapted from HeartCry for Revival devotional 2011 by David Butts, author of Asleep in the Land of Nod. Click on the link for more information on this resource.

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Tonight I am sitting in my hotel room and I am reflecting on the devotional thought that my friend David Butts has written above.  It is wonderful to be able to pause and to think about the “many good things that God has done for me.  Actually, there are so many wonderful blessings I have received from the Lord over the years, that I would not be able to write them all out in one article, or even in 100 articles.

That, in fact, is a big reason why I write articles three times a week for The Listening Post.  There is just so much that God has done for me.  And when a memory of some outstanding experience comes to me, or when I read devotional thoughts from others, or when I read a passage from the Bible and the power and the joy of His Word comes through to me, I find myself now quickly jotting down the thoughts and then going to the computer to write up another blog story.

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One line that catches my attention from David’s devotional above is the one, “[Father] give me both the opportunity and the courage to let others know how You have worked in my life.”  Up until this last year, I was very reluctant to pursue this idea of writing down “my story” with others.  Part of me felt that this was rather egocentric and arrogant to talk about me.

I have had to get over that feeling.  I’ve come to realize that in most cases (as long as I am writing carefully and prayerfully) that when I do share stories about me, that in fact I am really sharing stories about God who is the One working in and through me.  I must admit though, that even as I seek to honor God and be a blessing to others through my blog writing, that I am being blessed by the feedback I get after an article is published, and just knowing that many hundreds of people are visiting my site.

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One other thing that I would like to mention in this article in which I am wanting to lift up God and praise Him for His goodness is in regards to my health.  I do talk in many stories about my muscle disease (a mitochondrial myopathy) and I want to be careful that people don’t think I am complaining or that I am upset at God for Him “giving” this disease to me.  Even if I used milder words such as “God allowed this to happen,” people might think I am still upset at God.

On the contrary, I have many reasons to praise Him for His goodness, especially with regards to my condition.  Normally, this muscle disease shows up in puberty and the person’s muscles and body strength and energy do not develop properly.  My sister had this disease (it is a genetically inherited condition from mother to children) and she was weak from the time she was 12.  Due to health complications, she died of congestive heart failure in 1992.

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But consider how gracious God was toward me.  I had a very active and healthy life until the disease hit me three years ago at age 48.  So I consider it an act of His grace that He allowed me to have 36 years of good health from my teenage years till now.  And this disease could have flared up in 2007 when our family was still in Africa, but God waited and held it off for 8 more months.  Then I lost my ability to walk normally while living at home in Calgary, which is also where my geneticist works who diagnosed me and is a world-class specialist for this muscle disease.

No, I am determined to remember always that God is good and shows his loving kindness to those who love Him and obey Him.  So if I keep things in proper perspective, specifically if I can remove the focus away from me and turn the focus on God, then I will gladly “be bold and courageously tell others” how good God has been to me.

God’s 100 Blessings

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Last Thursday marked my 100th article published on this devotional blog site.  Who would’ve thought it was possible.  As in many aspects of daily life, it is truly by the grace of God that I am able to do the things that I do.  And so I pause for a moment in my writings and I lift up my voice (and keystrokes) to give praise to my God who has given me strength over this last year, and to thank some important people.

One of the purposes of The Listening Post has been to “tell my story” of all the adventures I’ve had over a lifetime of faith and Christian experiences.  But really, it is much more about trying to tell God’s story as I reflect on what He has done in me and through me, and to remember all the incredible people who have touched and influenced my life.

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My gratitude goes first to my immediate family who gave me a home and a place to explore faith as a child.  For many years, my mother took all us kids to church and Sunday School and some seeds of the Gospel were planted.  My sister, who went to be with the Lord in 1992, brought me to Youth Group and helped me to see that church was more than just “Religion”.  My Grandmother’s missionary life and her firm faith were an anchor for me.  My brother’s salvation story as an adult showed me God’s incredible grace.

Leaders in the Christian faith held out a lifeline for me as I wrestled with faith and an unfriendly world.  The caring of Youth Group sponsors, the deep exposition and teaching of God’s Truth by powerful preachers, and the wisdom and knowledge of Scripture of my many Bible College & Seminary teachers grounded me in my faith that has lasted a lifetime.

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And then there all the many Christians I have met around the world in my travels.  In Central America, I’m thankful for a small church gathering in Panama that looked after me while my shipmates wasted themselves and wanted me to join in their sin.  In Honduras, and Dominican Republic and also in Brazil and Mexico, I saw the tireless efforts of career missionaries, and it strengthened my resolve to follow in their steps.

In Scotland, Tanzania, South Africa and Vanuatu I met simple everyday Christians who exuded the joy of the Lord, and I knew that my faith was not some North American ornament or oddity, but a deep down real life experience of a relationship between a humble human being and the God of the Universe.  Every time I have shared a meal together, prayed with or met in worship with one of these precious saints, I knew that I was part of a much bigger picture, the universal body of Christ.

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Above all, I have had the privilege to live and visit some very remote parts of Papua New Guinea where one feels like he has truly gone to the “ends of the earth”.  God took a Canadian mountain boy and placed him into the hot sticky jungle lowlands to learn how to live with very little and teach him how to love his tribal neighbors.  I had the opportunity to speak the Words of God to a people group who truly “hunger and thirst” for divine truth and forgiveness from God.  How I thank God for all the years He has allowed me to live out my faith in that remote location.

And even these past three years of living with a muscle disease has been a time of drawing me closer to God.  I have had to learn to depend on Him more than ever before, to truly “walk by faith”.  I have seen now how God has used me to bless others these past few years in ways that I never could have imagined possible before.  And so I thank God for allowing me to have a voice and a message and a continuing ministry in Bible translation, in spite of this illness.

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Of all the blessings of people and events that I hold dear, there remains one tremendous constant in my life for which I am thankful, and is a big reason for having this devotional blog ministry.  It is being married to Jill, my life partner and cheerleader who continues to let me dream big dreams and who encourages me to keep on pursuing the ministries I am involved with.

Jill has been by my side now for 27 years now.  She knows the joys and the heartaches I have experienced in ministry over three decades.  And she saw the pain and darkness I was falling into when this disease hit me.  I believe God led Jill to encourage me to write so that I might remember all that God has done in me and through me, and to speak from my heart.

And so for eight months now I have had this wonderful outlet whereby in telling my story I get to tell His story.  Many people have written to me to say what a blessing it has been to read these articles.  I am thankful for that, but I want to say that this blog ministry has been medicine for my own soul and a healing for my own body.

It could be so easy in a situation like mine to just waste away in this living room recliner and let this disease take my life.  But God has been gracious to let me remember so many blessings that He has given me throughout my life, that I eagerly come back time after time each week, ready to tell you another adventure and let you see God and His goodness through my life story.

So for those who have touched my life, I say “Thank you!”  For those who say that I am touching their lives, I say “Isn’t God good!”  And to God I say, “Thank you Lord for letting me count my blessings, one article at a time.”

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God’s Lessons in Pain & Forgiveness

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Who Am I?  Part 13

Undoubtedly, 1989 was a year that held great blessings as well as times of great difficulties.  You can see this even by just reading the titles of the last two articles in this seriesWho Am I?.  I reflected on the idea of me being like a prodigal son, (one who tries to walk independently from his Father with disastrous results), and then shared the joy I had of being a new father.

It is certainly by God’s grace that I was able to be there at Eric’s birth, considering that I had been so ill that I was mostly on bed rest for the three months before my son’s birth.  And wouldn’t you know it, I got a job shortly after his birth and within three weeks I put my back out and was on bed rest for another three months.

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Now when I say I hurt my back, that is an understatement.  I’m pretty sure now that the three-month illness must have weakened many of my muscles.  Then, the job I got was to work alongside young offenders and juveniles in trouble to show them how to get work and integrate well into the regular world.  So one day we were to sweep gravel off a pavement and that required us to stoop low and get our brooms under a bunch of parked cars.

The work that day was definitely a “back-breaking” job.  That evening I was extremely stiff and sore.  I went to bed early, but woke up as I tried to turn over.  To this day, I can still “feel” the muscles in my lower left back tear apart and immobilize me in pain.  To be honest, I don’t know how Jill got me out of bed and helped me get to a doctor.  Immediately I was referred to a special physiotherapist clinic which worked with me as an outpatient for three months until I could fully walk and move again without further damaging my back muscles.

As you can possibly imagine, I was on the edge of real serious depression, seeing as half of 1989 I spent on my back in bed.  But I must say that God was gracious to allow me to be well on the day that Eric was born, and having a little baby boy in my life was the ray of sunshine and joy that pulled me through the first half of that year.

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During the summer and early fall, I found that landing a job was quite difficult and believe it or not, I tried to earn a salary going around and selling dictionaries.  It was a good thing that my physiotherapist was able to fix me pretty well, because walking around from store to store and house to house with a 20 pound dictionary all day is no easy task.  (Okay, maybe it was only 15 pounds.)

What I really wanted to do was to be involved in Christian ministry again.  Somehow I had lost my focus on my lifelong dream to be a missionary.  Part of that I think is that I felt I needed to find a job at home to help take care of my family of three now.  And we wanted Jill to be able to stay at home with Eric as long as possible.

After sending out many copies of my resume, a day came when we were invited to a church in western Canada to interview with the elders for a Youth & Associate Pastor position.  The interview went well and we were invited to serve in that church.  I was excited that once again I would be able to engage in full-time Christian work.  Little did I know that just one year later, I would be asked to leave and that I would experience a deep wounding of my soul that would last for years.

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When I started working at the church, I threw myself into the work: leading the Youth Group, training teachers and leaders, doing home visitation and small group ministries, and starting a Children’s Church program.  I felt like this was what I had trained for, and I worked hard.  And yet at the same time, I also worked at being home for Jill and our newborn son as much as I could.

So it came as quite a shock when I was called into a special elders meeting and asked to resign from the church.  Quite literally, they pulled out their black notebook and recited back to me all the things that I had done wrong in the year I had been with them.  Ouch!!  They actually kept a record of my “wrongs”?  (That doesn’t sound like 1 Corinthians 13 does it?)

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Now, without going into the details, I’ve thought a lot over the years about the things I was told that night.  Was there some truth in what they accused me of?  Yes, there probably were times that I came across as arrogant.  And I’m sure there were some people who I had offended for some reason.  And there were other points on their list that had a kernel of truth in them.  But could the elders have handled this better?  Most assuredly.

But the damage was done.  And so we moved away from there.  It hurt terribly for a long time, but even this wounding was used by God I believe to make me more into the person that God wanted me to be.  Whether it was this experience, or maybe it is just because I’m older now, but I believe I try harder in my ministry work to be more sensitive to and to listen better to those whom God has called me to serve.

It’s not easy to be humbled or hurt.  Whether we feel we deserve it or not, there is always some lesson or truth that God is trying to teach us out of every situation.  It’s been over 20 years since that incident, and I have forgiven those whom I believe had not treated me fairly.  But then the Bible tells us that we are to forgive and let God handle justice if need be in His own way and in His own time.  I pray that I will never forget that lesson.

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That’s What Friends Are For

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Hard Road Journey – Part 6

Today we want to continue our study of Mark Atteberry’s book, “Walking With God on the Road You Never Wanted to Travel“.  So far, we have learned that difficult times come to everyone at some point in their lives.  And as much as we may want and try to figure out how we got to that point, or who may be at fault, it is more important to learn good strategies that will help us get through a difficult period in our lives.

(If you have not read previous articles on this book, then click here to go back to “A Hard Road Journey – Part 1“.)

In the last article, we looked at the important strategy of  “Travel With a Friend” when traveling on a hard-road journey.  When choosing what kind of friend to travel with, Atteberry suggests four qualities to be looking for in them that would make a person a good friend, someone  who would probably be the most helpful to you as you travel your difficult road.  He recommends that you choose:

  • someone who also has experienced traveling on a hard-road journey
  • someone who has an intimate connection with God
  • someone who has a heart of compassion
  • someone who will be loyal and be around long after the initial crisis is over

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At the end of the last article (“God Given Friends”), I had started to tell you about the friendship that developed between me and my friend Christian.  (That is his name, and I think that is so neat to have a friend with that name.)  As I look over the list of qualities in a good friendship, I believe that he fits the bill in some wonderful ways that only God could have orchestrated.

In 2002, when our family was just starting to walk the hard road of dealing with Eric’s cancer (leukemia), Christian himself had just undergone treatment for a rare form of eye cancer.  From what I understand, he could have lost his sight, and it could have been life threatening.  So when he heard about our son’s battle with leukemia, he understood the fears we had about cancer and the survival of our son.

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What started our relationship is actually quite interesting.  The Wish Foundation had been talking to us about what wish Eric had as a cancer child and they would try to make it happen.  Well, Eric had a very strong interest in Nintendo, and one of his thoughts was to meet the top man from Nintendo who was the creator of so many of his video “heroes”.  So I did some web surfing and finally saw a link to where I could submit a question.

As far as I know, the question I sent about Eric meeting this famous man from Nintendo never got to the company.  But Christian worked for a subsidiary video company and somehow he saw it.  He wrote back and shared how he was also in this battle with cancer, but he wanted to know how he might encourage us.  So I knew from the start that this would be a person who knew something about the hard road journey we were on at that time.

That is how I happened to mention Eric’s other big wish, to have the newest console, the Game Cube.  And Christian, with a compassionate heart and great enthusiasm, immediately went about finding a Game Cube and sent it up by Express Mail so that it came to Eric just in time for his birthday.  And he even made sure he got Eric’s favorite color back then, purple.

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As time went on, I found that Christian also had a belief in God.  And he found our ministry of Bible translation work to be most fascinating.  He appreciates how the Bible is able to speak to the needs of our soul, and so we found we had another area, an important area of life that we could share with each other.   And for almost 10 years now, Christian has been very supportive to what our family is doing and is interested in how we are doing.  That’s the loyalty factor that Atteberry talks about.

Now jump ahead with me to more recent times, the past year and a half or more.  Christian knew of my strong faith in God, and we had shared a journey together as friends for a number of years.  And then a recent development came up in his life that was rocking his world, and he needed a hard-road journey friend.  What looked like a perfect relationship match for him turned out to be anything but that, and it was crushing his soul and spirit.

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So what was he to do?  He could have done a lot of things that would have been harmful to himself.  He could have lashed out at the other person.  He could have just sunk into a deep depression and stayed there.  But he didn’t.  He reached out to God.  And he reached out to me.  For he felt confident that I would be that loyal, compassionate, and godly person who could walk beside him through this difficult time.  And that is what I did.

We sent many emails back and forth to each other.  We talked on the phone.  We prayed.  We shared uplifting passages of Scripture with each other.  It has been a couple of hard years for Christian, but he is a stronger, more godly and grounded person now than he was before.  What made the difference?  He turned to God who answered his cries, and he turned to me who could share in his tears.

This is the message of this article.  If you are on a hard-road journey, then ask God to help you, and He will.  But one of the best things that God often does, is He provides that special friend who will help you through this difficult time.  So pray to God, and ask Him to send you such a person.  And He will.

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Pray For “My Brain”

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Who Am I?  Part 4:  Apology

I received some helpful feedback from one of my readers about the article I just posted on Feb. 19th.  I went back and read my article and noticed that if taken by itself, it could come across as being rather egotistical.  Someone could read this and think, “Gee, this person sounds pretty arrogant.”  Now I will admit that I used to be an arrogant person, but I don’t believe that is true anymore today, and I really don’t want any of you to think this about me.

Now I believe that the basic facts are there in the stories.  One thing I didn’t tell you was that because of me, my Grade 5 teacher had to put a lock on the cabinet for the extra homework sheets.  : )  But I did not include those stories just so people could “ohhh”  and “ahhh” at me and praise me for how smart I was.  There are two main reasons why I included that article in my blog site, and I want to make sure that these two points are clear.

First of all, with encouragement from my wife and others, I began last November to write out “my story”.  So the last article about my achievements is simply one part of a larger life story.  And within the context of my life, there was a time that I pushed myself to be a high achiever and was proud of myself when I got those results.  But God has been at work in my heart for a long time now to be more humble in nature, and to give the credit and honour for achievement back to the Lord.

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Secondly, I am looking at my life now with the advantage of hindsight.  As a young man, I thought that I could go out and conquer the world, just like most other young people.  And I especially thought at that time what a great thing it was that God had blessed me with a sharp mind.  But now in the later part of my life I am seeing this blessing from a completely new angle.  The muscle disease which has reshaped my life in so many ways has now shown me how gracious God has been to me.

God, who knows all things in advance of when things will occur, He had it in mind all along that I would be engaged in this ministry work of Bible translation.  He also knew that I would be hit with this Muscular Myopathy in 2008.  Since then, almost all of my major muscles, but primarily my legs, have been affected and have lost significant energy and strength.  Thankfully my major internal organs have not been affected at this point.  And for the most part, I think I can say that my brain has not been too affected either.

And yet, there are times now that I seem to struggle to keep my attention or focus on a task, and after a few hours of doing translation, I find my body and mind can become quite tired.  Then I need to rest for an hour or so to get the energy to keep going with the checking sessions.  And so I have wondered at times, what would I be like if my mind had not been as strong and as sharp as what God had given to me?  Would I have been able to continue doing Bible translation work?

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But God has been very gracious to me.  My heart’s desire ever since I was a teenager was to be a Bible translator.  It took quite a while before I finally got to the field, but from 1997-2002 our family was able to live in a remote village of Papua New Guinea to learn the language and start translating Scripture into their language.  For a family medical reason, we had to leave the field and be in Canada until 2005.  Then we spent a year and a half in Africa helping one of our field branches doing administrative support work.  So finally I was ready to start doing more translation work in PNG by 2007.  I got the training to be a translation consultant, and then my disease hit in 2008.

For three years now I have been struggling with the physical limitations of this disease.  And there were many moments when I wondered if my work for the Lord was over.  But with Jill’s help, and the support of many others, God has been revealing quite clearly to me that He is not finished with me yet and is still able to use me in this important area of translation checking.  And I am so thankful that it is for the most part a task that requires mental energy and not too much physical energy.

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So God in His wisdom gave me a good mind, not so that I would have something to boast about, but He did this in preparation for this time when I would need to have a clear mind to do His work.  In another article I will tell you all that is involved in doing Bible translation consultant work.  But suffice it to say, there are many times when I need to be able to think and talk about Scripture in at least three, and sometimes four different languages.

So just like Paul says, “our bodies are wasting away”, so I am learning to live with a disease which is limiting me in the physical realm.  But while I am still able to and God gives me the strength, I will commit my body to do the work of God, but even more so I will commit my mind to doing the Lord’s work.  My request is that you would all pray along with me that God would heal my body.  But if not, pray even more so that God would protect my mind so that I can continue doing this work for Him for many more years.

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