Who me?

I have some appointments for a series of vaccinations as I prepare to head to AFRICA. Yep, urban-boy, comfort-loving, air-conditioning-needing, bug-despising, soft mattress longing, meat eating, veggie-hating, pasta-loving, little old me will soon travel to Gabon, west Africa to encourage our church’s missionaries there and to visit the legendary Bongolo Hospital and the equally legendary missionaries, Dave and Becki Thompson. Pray for them. And for me. Here’s a snippet about Gabon… from SURVIVOR!

Yikes! Now will you pray for me? And my family? And my travels? And my shots? And most of all… my topic. What do you say, at a retreat, to a bunch of veteran missionaries? Any suggestions? HELLLLPPPPP!!!!

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16 thoughts on “Who me?

  1. Bill –

    I have spent some time with others in foreign lands and found that they always thought about the exact same things I did. They worried about their kids, they cared about their parents, they wondered about their future. No matter who they were or where they were from their concerns were always the same ones I had when my head hit the pillow at night.

    In the end were are all the same as far as what really matters to us most.

    While you are traveling my family will remember you in our prayers.

  2. What an adventure! I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little jealous, even with the bugs and shots.

    As far as topics, I reckon it’s hard to go wrong with Hebrews 12. If ever there was encouragement, it’s there. Plus, there’s that “cloud of witnesses” thing, reminding those far away from their homes that their work isn’t invisible.

    Godspeed, Bill. I’ll be praying for you and yours.

    -Jon-

  3. Wow, I’d sure like to see a hippo surfing!! I’d want to be in a cage, though.

    Maybe facing the real animals could be much like facing a congregation??

    Jonathan is right in that the veteran missionaries don’t want to think they’re doing invisible work. Also, a retreat sounds like they would like to enjoy a FUN, uplifting time of relaxation. Personally, I would like to be reminded just why I’m doing this work to which I have been called and being loved and appreciated not only by God but my fellow believers knowing my “invisible” work is being acknowledged and prayed over.

    Our prayers are with yours too! Can’t wait to hear what you’ll say about it!

  4. Bill,

    Here are some tidbits I gathered from my own mission experience to the country of Nepal several years ago.

    You will find that tongues is a VERY important part of missions. Missionaries tend to keep this topic “mum” because there is so much misunderstanding surrounding the subject in most Protestant, independent “Community Church” evangelical circles. (I have never had the experience of speaking in tongues, by the way.) Many new converts in the mission field find the experience as a source of great encouragement and joy despite that translations (interpretations) do not tend to occur. So you might want to mention that NOT everyone has this gift, and, therefore, those who have the gift should not expect others to acquire the experience. In fact, those without the gift will be left “empty-handed,” if they cannot somehow benefit (i.e., receive some exhortation or encouragement through an interpretation of tongues). Share your story of the motorcycle bikers, which you mentioned in your recent book on the Inner Mess — that is, explain how the gift of healing (in your example) demonstrated to you that no matter how extraneous the Christian or his background, his/her gift is just as important as the next gift (for the completion or “pleroo” of the body of Christ).

    Another issue is spiritism. Many converts in the mission field will still embrace totems, charms, spells, and other spiritistic artifacts because they believe these powers are indestructible. (Some believe they are still in contact with dead relatives — many will attest to hearing their relatives speak through others in trances.) Be aware of this tendency, which is evident in many sub-Saharan African cultures. These powers are miscreant angels (demons) and their influence stems from fear. Emphasize that the power of death was “killed” by Christ on the cross (because he rose from the dead) — thus Satan and his hosts have been gilded. Therefore, our rite of baptism is our association with Christ’s life and resurrection (water is the source of life and cleansing). The demonic hosts “tremble” (James 2:19) as a result of their “faith” in the power of God — that is, trembling is the out”work”ing of their response to God; in contradistinction (says James) the Christian’s response — or, our own out”work”ing of faith — should be good works. In other words, if the response of the demon is fear, then the response of the Christian should be love. Love conquers fear (1 John 4:18), which (as I just mentioned) is the basis of all spiritism.

    Finally, have a team of people (at your church) praying for you and your friends for protection from illness and misfortune. Last, but not least, keep politics, George Bush, Iraq, global warming, impending recession, price of oil, exploitation of Africa’s resources, etc., out of your conversations with your foreign brothers in Christ. They are eager to hear your opinion! One more thing: keep a journal, and share your thoughts/experiences in your blog with us.

    Grace.
    Joe

  5. The bugs in Africa have their own zip codes….they’re that big…just preparing you, and some of them hiss.

    Just because it’s called a “Madagascar hissing cockroach” Doesn’t mean it’s confined to that island…they’re all kind of places….

  6. Wow, Bill, what an adventure!

    The most encouraging verse to me is I Cor. 15:56 in the context of the whole chapter, of course; it starts with “Therefore.” I discovered it one Easter after I had been reading the haunting Psalm 90 since January.

    I also remember the devotional that used Mk 6:31 to urge the importance of time alone with God. I had a bit of time that day, and as I continued reading, I found out that the exhausted disciples didn’t get their time alone with Jesus. They got mobbed by people who became hungry after listening to Jesus, and Jesus told the disciples to feed the people . . . and performed a miracle so that they could.

    Missionaries probably don’t have as many opportunities as we at Neighborhood Church have to hear good sermons. I’m sure your preaching in English from the Word of God will bless, encourage, and challenge them.

    I’ll be praying for you.

  7. WOW, I’ll definitely be praying for you guys. I think you should preach what you are best at: The Grace of God. I’ve never heard anyone communicate the heart of God like you can. I think that’s what we all need to feed on. I’ve heard you preach on certain words of the Bible…your Grace sermon would be perfect:)

    Also, the book of Esther might be neat, too. Perhaps missionaries would enjoy being reminded they are born for such a time as this.

  8. Hi Bill:
    Talking to missionaries…you got me on that one… there is this misconception that missionaries need some super sized sermon because they are super spiritual, and have that “connection” with God that lay people do not..remember your sermon last week? It’s just like that.. they serve the same God, same savior as you and have the same needs as the rest of us.

    Their conference is a yearly event that C&MA missionaries have to get together and just be together, in addition to a lot of business meetings.. They spend that time doing a lot of laughing, talking and just being together. It was the highlight of the year to all be together for a few days.

    Share with them your heart, your encouragement, and the grace of God. Many are exhausted spiritually, and just need to know that his love abounds and will give them the strength for what He has called them to do.

    Can’t wait to hear how it went.

  9. I wasn’t going to comment on this because, what do I know about being a missionary — nothing. But after re-reading this blog, I had a thought come to mind and it seemed like a good enough answer to share. I imagine your sermon on heaven would be appropriate. You know, the one about the crowns being more than a heavenly fashion statement, and building our capacity to accept/use the blessings God has for us. I would think that would be very encouraging. My 2¢.

  10. Nail on the head, bg. From my experience, the more mature one becomes, the more grace is shown and received. Grace to save, and grace to grow.

  11. If someone has to be near bugs and fangs, better Bill than me. But I say this in a compassionate and thoughtful way.

    Dave M.

  12. But on a serious note, bravo for you. God will use this to edify the team, and stretch you. Thanks for being willing to go. We will pray for a great (and safe) trip.

  13. Hi Bill, T
    The worse bugs are the “no see-ums”. Bring bug spray.
    You’ll be here during the cool season which is good. Field Forum is during dry season. The hotel is nice (point of view) with air conditioning!
    See you when you get here.
    Joshua’s “Aunt Carolyn”

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