God Directs the Feet of a Missionary

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James and Lisa serve in West Africa as missionaries with Pioneer Bible Translators. In a newsletter written April 16, 2011, James shares an exciting story about how they have experienced God at work in West Africa. He writes:

I’d been feeling for some time that God wanted me to go visit a certain town a few hours north of us. I knew there are people there who don’t like what we do, and to be honest, I wasn’t really looking forward to meeting them. Also, I thought a certain thing needed to happen before I went, and as it hadn’t happened I felt OKAY waiting.

Meanwhile, I’d been wanting to get back up to the town where we prayed for all the mute people a couple of months ago. I wanted to get some Scripture up there and was pretty sure they’d let me sell some in their weekly market.

So yesterday, Thursday, Lisa, [our daughter] Laura, and I went to sell. Normally, selling 40 or 50 pieces of Scripture at a market is considered a pretty good day, but this was the first time we’d done it on our own and for some reason I packed several times that much.

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Things are a little different here. You have to ask official permission to do things like this. I decided to start at the top, by stopping at the regional capital and asking the governor. He’s not usually there, but he was this time. He was OKAY with us going, but informed us the weekly market in the town to which we were heading wasn’t on Thursdays. It was on Sundays. How embarrassing. I’d gotten the market days mixed up!

So there I was, way up there with a carload of Scripture and no market! I asked him if there was a town in his jurisdiction that held their market on Thursday. It turns out the only one was – you guessed it – in the town I’d been putting off visiting. So off we went, now in a new direction, on what you might call a “cold call.” We’d never been there and didn’t know anybody there. But we had that excited-but-slightly-creeped-out feeling that God was putting something together in which we were about to play a part, and we were trying hard to convince ourselves that we felt good about it.

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We found the road and picked up a hitchhiker on his way to the market. When we got there he took us to the local leaders, as we needed their permission too. But things didn’t go really well at first. They wanted to see what we would be selling before they gave permission, and even afterward they didn’t seem very enthusiastic and I wasn’t sure they were going to let us sell.

Then one of the leaders who’d been quiet spoke up. Six years ago while working in another town, he’d met a white guy who carried books from town to town. He asked if I knew him. Of course I did! It was my trekking partner! That changed everything. Because of his testimony regarding the character of my friend, they let us sell.

There were probably two thousand people at this market, and I think every one of them came by to watch us set up and find out why we were there. Often in markets like this people are so afraid of what others might think that only the very bravest will approach our table. But not this time. As soon as we explained that we’d brought books of God translated into their language, things got crazy. We were surrounded by a crowd of people four to five deep the whole time we were there!

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We sold so much Scripture so fast we literally couldn’t keep track of it. With our still feeble language skills, we couldn’t have given the explanations, answered the questions, and done the transactions quickly enough to keep up, but no problem. God took care of that. Three older men came by (one was even in uniform!) and did crowd control for us, strategically positioning themselves around the table.

Before long they too were selling for us, carefully making sure we witnessed each sale, and telling people what the different books were. It was all we could do to keep the money off the table and scripture on it…. As we drove out of town, I saw a man reading some Scripture he’d just bought to six or seven others.

On the way home we tried to figure out how much we’d sold. Our best estimation was that we’d sold between 350 and 400 books! (I’ll bring more next time.) We got home just as our friends here were gathering for our mid-week prayer meeting. What a treat it was to report what God had done: how He’d used my fumbling of dates to get us up there in the first place; how He’d arranged to have the governor turn us in a different direction en route; how He’d arranged to have someone at the leaders’ meeting who knew my friend; how He’d sent the three older guys to help us; and most of all, how He put hundreds of pieces of Scripture in the hands of people for the very first time, and all of it in their own language.

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After an amazing story like this, what can we say except “Praise God.”

  • Praise God for how He worked in ways far beyond what James and Lisa thought or imagined.
  • Praise God for how He got a reluctant missionary to the very place where He had prepared the people to eagerly receive portions of Scripture in their language. Pray that much spiritual fruit will result in the lives of all those who are now reading the truth of God’s Word for the first time.
  • Pray for God to abundantly bless this family in their continued ministry for Him. Pray for Him to protect them from burnout as the stresses of living in such a remote area are many.
  • Pray for all PBT missionaries to be open and obedient to God’s leading, even when it seems a little scary to do so.
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We Need to P.U.S.H. With God

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“I Don’t Understand, God.”

To be really honest, there are times when I have felt that I am not getting anywhere in life, or in my vocational career as a Bible translator.  It has seemed like many times, we just get moved and settled down into a given location and are at a specific level of my vocation, and then we are uprooted and have to start all over again.

I can say this quite literally, seeing as Jill and I have been married for 27 years now, and in that time we have moved 55 times to live in another residence.  We have lived in 7 Provinces of Canada, 2 States in the USA (multiple times in each), and at least 7 countries from the Americas, to the Pacific Islands and Australia, to Africa.  We have lost count of how many times we have either sold all our belongings to go live somewhere else, or lost our belongings due to sudden moves across the world.

Even now, we can feel discouraged as we look at what is happening.  God did provide a lovely 3 level condo for us in 2008.  A month after we moved in, my symptoms hit and living in the 3 level home became very challenging for me.  So we were led back to buy a simple 1 level condo right across from the hospital where Jill works.  But we need to be released from the first mortgage, and it looks like it would be at quite a loss for us.

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And now God is asking me to move to Dallas in August up through mid-December and Jill will stay back here in Calgary.  We have plans of getting together once or twice in those four months, and we have a number of ways to phone or Skype each other for free so we can talk to each other every day if we want to.  But that does not mean it is going to be easy to do this.

And yet, we see God’s hand in all of these matters.  We fail to understand His will behind some of these things.  But we believe that He orchestrates the important matters of our lives, and our response is to simply obey.  And my optimism and my hope tells me that later on, one day we will look back and be able to see what it was all about.  But for right now, we do what we believe He tells us to do, and leave the whys and the wherefores into His hands.

A friend sent me this recently and I believe that not only does it contain some real wisdom, but even while I was reading it, I saw God use it to minister to me in my current life situation.  See if it might also be speaking directly to you at where you are at.

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P.U.S.H. – and God appeared.

The Lord told the man he had work for him to do, and showed him a large rock in front of his cabin. The Lord explained that the man was to push against the rock with all his might. So, this the man did, day after day. For many years he toiled from sun up to sun down, his shoulders set squarely against the cold, massive surface of the unmoving rock, pushing with all of his might. Each night the man returned to his cabin sore and worn out, feeling that his whole day had been spent in vain.

Since the man was showing discouragement, the Adversary (Satan) decided to enter the picture by placing thoughts into the weary mind: “You have been pushing against that rock for a long time, and it hasn’t moved.” Thus, he gave the man the impression that the task was impossible and that he was a failure. These thoughts discouraged and disheartened the man. Satan said, “Why kill yourself over this? Just put in your time, giving just the minimum effort; and that will be good enough.”

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That’s what the weary man planned to do, but decided to make it a matter of prayer and to take his troubled thoughts to the Lord.  “Lord,” he said, “I have labored long and hard in your service, putting all my strength to do that which you have asked. Yet, after all this time, I have not even budged that rock by half a millimeter. What is wrong? Why am I failing?”

The Lord responded compassionately, “My friend, when I asked you to serve Me and you accepted, I told you that your task was to push against the rock with all of your strength, which you have done. Never once did I mention to you that I expected you to move it. Your task was to push. And now you come to Me with your strength spent, thinking that you have failed. But, is that really so?

Look at yourself. Your arms are strong and muscled, your back sinewy and brown; your hands are callused from constant pressure, your legs have become massive and hard. Through opposition you have grown much, and your abilities now surpass that which you used to have. True, you haven’t moved the rock. But your calling was to be obedient and to push and to exercise your faith and trust in My wisdom. That you have done. Now I, my friend, will move the rock.”

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At times, when we hear a word from God, we tend to use our own intellect to decipher what He wants, when actually what God wants is just a simple obedience and faith in Him. By all means, exercise the faith that moves mountains, but know that it is still God who moves mountains.

When everything seems to go wrong… just P.U.S.H.!

When the job gets you down… just P.U.S.H.!

When people don’t react the way you think they should… just P.U.S.H!

When your money is “gone” and the bills are due… just P.U.S.H!

When people just don’t understand you… just P.U.S.H.

P= Pray

U= Until

S= Something

H= Happens

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God’s Way In God’s Time

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God Will Provide For You

This article continues our study on the book, “Walking With God on the Road You Never Wanted to Travel“.  We will look at part of chapter 6 entitled “Trust God to Meet Your Needs” right now, and then we will finish the chapter in two weeks from now.  For those who have been asking about how to get a copy of this book, please read my article “Good Christian Resources” and it will lead you to a site to help you.

To appreciate what Mark Atteberry says in his #6 Strategy, trusting God to meet our needs, we must remember two things.  First of all, Atteberry is talking in his book to people who are experiencing very difficult trials in life.  They have found themselves walking on a hard-road journey.  It is at this point that some people find it most difficult to trust God, believing that He has abandoned them and will not help.

Secondly, Atteberry has chosen the history of the children of Israel and their 40 year period of wilderness wanderings as the key biblical backdrop to unearth many spiritual principles for people to learn how to go though difficult periods in their lives.  I hope that we will never rebel like they did and so end up under the disciplining hand of God, but at the same time, learning from their experiences will be helpful to us when we do experience tough times.  That being said, let’s see what we learn from chapter six, and from the Bible.

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Exodus 16:14 – 18 says:

When the dew was gone, thin flakes like frost on the ground appeared on the desert floor.  When the Israelites saw it, they said to each other, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was.

Moses said to them, “It is the bread the LORD has given you to eat.  This is what the LORD has commanded: ‘Everyone is to gather as much as they need. Take an omer for each person you have in your tent.’”

The Israelites did as they were told; some gathered much, some little.  And when they measured it by the omer, the one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little. Everyone had gathered just as much as they needed.

Atteberry suggests three main truths that we learn about how God takes care of His people. First of all with regards to the daily provision of this manna, the “bread from Heaven”, he says, “The manna was never too early and never too late.”  When we look ahead into verse 21, it says that the manna came with the dew every morning, but then melted away with the rising of the sun.  God knew that the people would be hungry every day, and He made sure that the provision of food was there exactly when the people needed it.

This may be one of the hardest lessons for believers to truly learn.  Namely, that we cannot rush God to provide something for us before we actually need it.  And also that we should not worry about the idea that we will not have what we need when the time arrives, like an unexpected bill for something.  No, God always seems to come through in the eleventh hour.  And that is because He waits until the right time, never early, but never late.

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The second principle that Atteberry points out to us in this passage is “the manna was never too much and never too little“.  Each person was able to gather sufficient manna to feed his or her family.  Their plates were full, and since the remaining manna melted away with the sun, there was never any need or worry about what to do with the leftovers or where to store it.

This has been so true for me and my wife.  We have been married for 27 years now, and if you were to look at our savings and the little we have for retirement, you might ask, “What happened?”  But the truth of the matter is that God always gave us what we needed, and often that was all.  I can remember many times that we would get a bill for something, and we would wonder how we would pay for it.  And then just as we had to pay it, a surprise donation or an extra salary bonus came and would be just enough to pay the bill.  (Thank you Lord.)

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And then the last principle that Atteberry brings out from this passage is this, “The manna was never too hard and never too easy.” As our loving Father, God is always aware of the difficulties we face, and He will provide what we need to overcome the challenges of our situation.  But also because He loves us, He will not just give us a quick handout.  He does want us to do our part in pleasing Him, and doing His will, and in turn, not because of our efforts, but because He loves us, He will then provide us His blessings and His provisions.

Atteberry puts it this way on page 76:

He knows that when we work together with Him, we grow into a deeper relationship with Him.  And that, ultimately is what He wants.  Yes, your physical welfare is a concern to Him, but your spiritual welfare is an even higher priority.  In other words, yes, He wants to keep you going.  But even more, He wants to keep you growing.  He desperately wants to bond with you and develop a relationship that will last far beyond the end of your hard road.

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A Pervasive Prayer Strategy

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The following devotion comes from my email subscription to

Connection! Devotions for Every Day Life“.

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A Pervasive Prayer Strategy

Becoming a house of prayer is far more than adding a prayer meeting to an already hectic church calendar. It is a church in which prayer has become pervasive in all aspects of church life. Leaders and members of the congregation cannot imagine prayer not being a part of everything they do.

This will not happen automatically. It must be an intentional decision made first by leaders and then carried out systematically in the life of the church. There can be a basic church-wide accountability system in which, for every proposal made or program initiated, the question is asked, “Where is prayer in this?”

The local congregation that begins to move toward becoming a house of prayer is changing more than methods and techniques. It is honoring the Lord by turning to Him first and by depending upon His power and might released through prayer. There is a spiritual dynamic that is unleashed within the body that cannot happen in any other way than through God’s people bringing everything to the Lord in prayer.

–Adapted from Giving Ourselves to Prayer: An Acts 6:4 Primer for Ministry (Chapter 44, How to Build a House of Prayer by David Butts). Click on the title for more information about this resource.

Lamb of God, teach my congregation to become a house of prayer and pour out Your power in our midst. Show us how to infuse every aspect of the life of our church with world-changing intercession! Fill our leaders to overflowing with wisdom and discernment as they focus upon prayer and the ministry of the Word.

May we stop our strategic planning to win the lost through our own programs and committees and instead become dependent upon the leading of Your Spirit. We long to do nothing apart from You as You build us into a true and faithful house of prayer for all nations!

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This devotional thought prompted a number of my own thoughts about my own prayer life.   And there are  some things happening right now that show me how timely this devotion is.  Which really shouldn’t be very surprising.  I have found time and time again, that the voice of God is not some loud and dramatic event, but rather He is found in the quiet things, the times when circumstances and a portion of His Word seem to come together at just the right time.

No, for me, I have seen that what many people would write off as being simply “coincidental”, is in fact a sure sign that God’s hand is in our affairs.  As they say, “It’s all in the timing”.  God is never early, nor is He ever late, He is always right on time for getting accomplished what He wants done.  The question is whether or not we have our spiritual antennas up so that our eyes truly see and our ears truly hear what God is telling us to do.

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For me, I have been feeling a desire within my soul to become more of a man of prayer.  For too long I have had my eyes fixed upon myself and my health issues, and the more I did this, the smaller, the weaker and the more defeated I felt.  Then God used some people in my life to prompt me to start this blog.  At first it began as a means to tell my story to others, which has been fun and therapeutic to my soul.  But it wasn’t long before it became something else.

As I would begin to think about what to write, God would impress upon me the need to write stories that would be of great encouragement to others, to be a real blessing to people who needed a boost for the day.  And so I began to pray more about this each day, and throughout each day.  And I find now that there are days that I don’t know what to write about, but God shows me something and I just know He has someone in mind that is needing to hear this story.

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The next thing the Lord has done to open me up to deeper praying is He led me to discover an online prayer group called Great Commission Ministries.  Actually, one of my FB friends added me to the group, and then I found out what the group was all about.  And I quickly saw that this group of Christians is really serious about praying “in all seasons for all things”.

And so I find myself every day being in a prayerful attitude both about what I can write to encourage another person, and I carry in my heart the needs of those whom I have read about on GCM’s Facebook page.  I had no idea four months ago when I started asking God, “How can I make prayer more of a daily reality and priority?” that He would open these two doors of ministry that I can do right from my living room armchair.

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As I am beginning to discover, prayer is not an activity that we mark down as a scheduled event in our day timer.  Now don’t misunderstand me, there is a great need to set aside group prayer time on a regular basis.  But prayer needs to become the air we breathe, shaping every thought that our mind thinks, and an attitude that prompts us to speak with our Father in every situation we encounter.

So how about you my friend, is it time for you too to pursue a lifestyle of pervasive prayer?  I pray that you will, and I really mean that.  May God bless you as you walk in faith with Him.  Amen.

The Leading of God’s Spirit

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“Does God Speak Today?”

I have heard this question, and been asked this question, many times.  Often when someone asks this question the person is really asking, “Does God speak audibly to people today?”  And that is somewhat of a loaded question.  If the person asking the question has not had this experience and is skeptical, then if anyone says, “Yes, God speaks to people today,” the questioner might yet just write that off as simply “poppycock” or think that those who say God speaks to them are more likely fringe or fanatical Christians.

On the other hand, if the person asking the question has not had this experience and is asking it as a sincere question, then if anyone says, “Yes, God speaks to people today,” the questioner might ask, “Why then is it that God has never spoken to me?”  And from this perspective they can get the sense that there must be something wrong with them, that they are in some way an inferior Christian to those who claim that God has actually spoken to them.

Personally, I believe that the question itself or at least the interpretation of the question is wrong.  That is, to hear the question, “Does God speak today?” and to interpret it so narrowly to mean, “Does God speaks audibly to people today?’ is misleading.  We do know from Scripture itself that God speaks to His people, but He most often does it in ways other than just audible form.

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We accept this as true, for Scripture says in Hebrews 1:1-2a,

In the past, God spoke to our ancestors many times and in many ways through the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us through his Son.

The writer of Hebrews is referring to the fact that God came down in human form in the person of Jesus, and through His teachings, recorded by the Gospel writers, God has spoken to us, and continues to speak to us through His written Word.  Scripture even says about itself that God’s Word is interactive within people, and thus we can say that God is still speaking to us today:

The word of God is alive and active, sharper than any double-edged sword. It cuts all the way through, to where soul and spirit meet, to where joints and marrow come together. It judges the desires and thoughts of the heart.    Hebrews 4:12


And then we also accept that we have the Holy Spirit within us (1 Corinthians 6:19 ) and by means of His Spirit, God communicates with us today:

But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.    John 16:13

What a wonderful promise this is to know that the Holy Spirit that lives within us can communicate with us on important issues of truth and life.  Isn’t it wonderful that God’s Spirit can teach us truth to live by, especially with regards to the meaning of Scripture.  But I believe that the Holy Spirit can also lead us in day-to-day activities of life.

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Let me give you an example from my life.  When I was 19 and living in Florida and working with a group called Teen Missions, I woke up out of a dream and had a strong impression that I should go visit the Bible bookstore that was nearby.  I didn’t really know why I had this impression, but I followed what I considered to be the leading of the Spirit.

So I was walking up and down the aisles of the bookstore and finally a woman came over and asked if she could help me with anything.  I said no, and that I was just “browsing”.  But within my spirit I felt that it was very important that I find the “right” book and buy it that day.  I think I spent over two hours wandering all around the store.

Finally, just before it was closing time, I slowed down in this one section and carefully read the title and back cover of each book on the shelf.  Then suddenly, when I picked up this one book, it was like an electric shock went through my body and I knew that this was the book I was supposed to buy.  I knew within my heart that God was directing me by His Spirit to make this purchase.

The name of the book was “Explore the Book” by Sidlow Baxter.  In one volume, it gave a good summary and background information on every book of the Bible.  I bought the book and began to use it along with my devotional reading of the Bible.  For at least the next two years I used this book as an excellent companion to the reading of each book of Scripture.  It was amazing how much I learned, and I used the book as foundational background material for many Bible study groups that I led over the years to come.

I still have the book in one of my boxes.  And every time I come across it, I think about how the Holy Spirit “spoke” to me and guided me to find it in that Christian bookstore.  I learned from this experience from an early age to recognize the promptings of the Holy Spirit.  So I believe that I can honestly say that God still speaks today.  But it may be in ways that we may not expect.  We must remain ready though and be attuned in our spirit to see His hand and to hear His voice in whatever form it may take.

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A Miracle Child

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Who Am I?  Part 1

“Hi, I’m Craig!”

“Wait a minute, I thought you were Norman?”

“Yes, that’s true, but that’s a story for another day.”

Okay so what’s going on here. Well, apparently, I am a man of many names, and each name has an interesting story behind it.  A couple of names are given names, a few names are nick names given to me, and many names that I have are simply descriptive names which reflect accomplishments or activities I have been involved with over the years.

They say you can know a lot about a person just by knowing their name, and I think there is truth in that.  Over the months ahead, I want to publish a number of articles that will deal with the question of “Who Am I?”  Each story will try to capture just a brief glimpse into my life and help my readers get to know me a little better.  But more important than getting to know me, I want my readers to get to know my God who created me the way I am, and who has had the most significant influence upon my life.  Many of my so-called “names” will show how God has had His hand on me throughout my life.

The best place to start a story is of course at the very beginning.  So….go back 50 years, and you would hear about my mother and father having a healthy baby boy.  I won’t go into those details, but rather, let’s go farther back, to tell you how I came to be my mother’s “miracle” baby.  Not to say that my other siblings were not “special” too, but there is one very important detail about my birth that is definitely noteworthy.

In the 50′, it was quite common for families to have many children.  My parents were no exception.  But by the time it was 1960, my mother had already birthed three children, and had two miscarriages.  After talking things over, my parents had decided that it was time to make sure they had no more children.  So my mom set up the appointment to see her doctor to have her tubes tied to prevent any more pregnancies.

It turned out though, that mom’s regular doctor was on holiday.  So mom saw the other doctor covering the clinic that day.  When she asked for the surgery to be done, this second doctor said that for personal and religious reasons, that he could not do it.  She would have to wait till her regular doctor came back.

So mom had to wait for a few weeks to see her usual doctor and again went in to ask to have the surgery.  But as the two of them were talking about it, mom revealed to her doctor that she had noticed little signs that made her suspect that she might be pregnant.  That’s fine, said the doctor, and she ordered a pregnancy test.  Well….Lo and Behold!  Mom was pregnant.  And that settled the whole matter.  The Weatherhead clan was going to add one more member to it.

It is at this point that I want to be careful not to overspiritualize this, but I do look back and consider just how close it came for me not to be born at all.  And yet, as a Christian, I do take a strong stand that from the moment we are conceived, we are a child created by God, and in my case, I believe that He was looking out over me.  Psalm 22:10 says:

From birth, I was cast upon you;

From my mother’s womb, you have been my God.

This has been a special verse to me, as I believe that God knew all along that my mother was pregnant with me, probably even before the first visit to the doctor.  It could easily have been overlooked in those days, and I could have become an infant death without them even knowing.  That would be God’s hand of protection.

Or, if mom had gotten pregnant between the two doctor visits, then that too would be a minor miracle.  First, that it happened in this short interval period at all.  Second, that mom sensed it and had it checked out. And then thirdly, with already having had two miscarriages, what was to stop it from mom having another one.  Again, only God’s hand of provision and protection made it possible for me to be carried and born.  In either case, mom has often called me her “miracle” child.

Oh yes, you are probably still wondering about my name confusion at the beginning of this story.  Well, both of my parents were happy with the two names they had chosen, but apparently they did not completely agree with the order of the name.  They liked giving me the name “Norman” which was my mother’s father’s name.  (And that will be another story to come.)  But they also wanted to call me as my primary given name “Craig”, which sounded strong.

Now the remainder of the story is still a bit fuzzy.  The name written down on the form was to be “Craig Norman Weatherhead”, which makes sense.  You use your first name in public, and you treasure your middle name-sake given to you.  But somehow, during the discharge paperwork, it seems that my names were reversed and I officially become “Norman Craig Weatherhead”.  Years later, when I asked about this, I was told that the latter arrangement had a kind of “nice lilt” to it.   Hmmm….and let me see….my mother was musically inclined, and my father was not so much.  So…I wonder how that paperwork got all mixed up?  Oh Mom….I have a question for you.   : )

God Triumphs Through Difficult Times

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God Triumphs Through Difficult Times

On June 8, 2010, a letter of invitation was sent asking me to come over to Papua New Guinea to help do the consultant check of Matthew for one of the local language groups.  There had been some discussion about me also doing the consultant check of Hebrews for another group, but dates and circumstances did not allow me to do this on this trip.  Instead, we are anticipating that this may be put into a program plan for a Spring 2011 trip.

During the month of July, I did some initial study of key terms and difficult phrases in Matthew.  This would help me identify potentially difficult parts of Matthew which would need to be examined carefully.  Meanwhile, I was waiting for the VE file of the Matthew translation to be sent to me from PNG.  (A VE is a vernacular to English literal back translation from the village language into English from which I can compare with the Greek NT to spot errors or areas of discussion.)

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At the beginning of August, it was clear that a more pressing matter was arising within the Branch, namely the sudden illness of the Director.  Immediately we began emailing the leadership in PNG and praying as to whether we should actually try to come as planned, or cancel the trip until a later date.  As we dialogued with them, we all came to the decision that we should still come, and trust that we would be able to get some of Matthew checked.

And so I began in mid-August to do intense studies on the Greek text of Matthew, and using a computer program called Paratext, was able to write myself inline text notes.  I noted areas of the Greek text where translation would be difficult or ambiguous, and also made note of various interpretations and cultural issues unique to the biblical era.  These exegetical and cultural notes would help me to evaluate the translation when the back translation was given to me orally, so that even without the written VE, I would be able to spot potential problems and areas needing revision.

Sadly, the Director died on the day I left Canada, and even before we started, we all wondered how this would affect the team and when the memorial for her would take place.  So I went into the sessions expecting that there would be even more delays and interruption.  I think what helped all of us from the beginning was that we all agreed that any verses we could do the consultant check on was still good, and was still moving forward the goal of having the New Testament finished for this language group.

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The date for the memorial was finally set for October 9, the day Jill and I would fly out of PNG, so it did not turn out that we would stop our sessions in the middle of our checking of Matthew.  But then a new area of major concern arose.  Due to a drought and the stagnation of existing water in the region where the national team members lived, scores of them were becoming sick and three people did die during our three weeks of checking.  In addition, the wife and son of the key national translator, were also sent to Wewak for medical attention.  Thankfully, they recovered quickly after getting treatment.

Understandably, this caused the team much distress and concern which made the checking even more difficult.  The final decision by all of us was to end the sessions early and have the men return to the villages so that they might be able to help out and comfort the people during this difficult time.

In spite of all these obstacles that our team faced, it is amazing to look back and see what progress was made and how God’s hand was in all of this.  In 12 days of actual work, we were able to check, correct and revise 20 out of the 28 chapters of Matthew.  We were able to check an average of 56 verses a day, which is pretty good considering the many hard passages of Christ’s teaching.

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Another area for praise is how God sustained us all.  My health was good during the entire time, and I discovered two women in the Center who knew how to do massage therapy so that I could get my legs worked on twice while there.  The massages, along with adequate rest periods each day, allowed me to function with a much lower pain level than I expected.   For this I was very grateful to God, and I am sure the many prayers of God’s people helped to carry me through this trip.

I am also thankful once again that Jill was able to come join me (two weeks later) and then return with me on the trip back to Canada.  She helped me in so many ways to be able to function and live each day over there in PNG.  And she has such a desire to help out, that when a special formatting task was sent up by CD disk from our Publishing Dept on short notice, Jill willingly worked on the computer during my breaks (sharing my computer) and on the weekend to get 166 Shellbooks (literacy picture books with empty text boxes) fully reformatted and ready for use by translators.

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So what is next?  There is already discussion about me and Jill coming in Feb-April of next year.  The book of Hebrews in one language is ready to be checked.  The epistles of Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Philemon and Jude in another language are anticipated to be ready.  And there are still the final eight chapters of Matthew to do for this language group.  Translation consultant checking remains a constant area of need in our overseas branches.  I am just happy that I can be involved and do my part to see God’s Word made available to these language groups.

I must also say thank you to all of you who so faithfully pray for us and support our ministry work with Pioneer Bible Translators.  We  could not do this work without you standing behind us.  Above all, we give thanks to God who has equipped us and sustained us to be able to do this good work.

To Him be all the glory,

Norm & Jill Weatherhead

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