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It’s Friday, time to look back over the blessings of the week with Susanne at Living to Tell the Story and other friends.

1. This week we were able to enjoy the fellowship of a family temporarily here until their immigration papers come through to serve in ministry elsewhere. It was a blessing to get to know them a little this week. We’ve also had a fellow minister and occasional teacher at the college staying with us this week. He is a blessing to our family in every way and we always enjoy having him in our home.

2.Freshly returned from their honeymoon to Rome, our daughter and son-in-law regaled us with stories of their travels and explorations of the City of the Seven Hills at our weekly family night dinner. It was so much fun to discuss special places we discovered on our visit there a few years ago and learn what’s the same and what has changed.

3.This week I began rereading some of my missionary biography collection. I was looking to source a quotation which I thought was from Amy Carmichael’s God’s Missionary and ended up reading the whole thing. It’s a booklet, so not hard or long to read, but Amy Carmichael’s writing tends to be introspective and somewhat mystical so it requires some contemplation, evaluation, and simplification when reading her works. I did not find the quote I was looking for so began perusing Elisabeth Elliot’s work on Amy Carmichael, A Chance to Die. Still haven’t found my quote, but I shall persevere! (Ahem * Grumpy Grammar Lady reminds you that this word is pronounced “per-se-vere.” Do not be bamboozled, hornswoggled, or flimflammed into saying “per-ser-vere.” There is no ‘r’ in the second syllable of persevere. But I digress…)

4.Someday some smart researcher will be able to definitively explain why cloudy days and stormy weather make some of us ache physically (my arthritis and fibromyalgia yell at me when it’s cloudy outside!) or feel down mentally. We’ve had a few of those days this week. I am grateful for every clear and sunny day and the positive influence they have on my outlook. More sunny days coming! Sunday is the first day of Spring.

5.I am grateful for brothers and sisters in Christ who willingly discuss thorny theological issues and controversial topics without judgement, but with an understanding that our mutual goal in any such discussion is to be made more conformed to the image of Christ.

I didn’t get much photography practice this week, but did get a few gloomy day pics of rural Alberta on Saturday.

Near Beaumont 2 Near Beaumont 5 Near Beaumont 7

What were some of your blessings this week?

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Old books, new treasures

While organizing my missionary books I came across a small volume (about 3” x 5”) entitled Missionary Daily Text Book, published by The Religious Tract Society. There is no author or compiler listed nor publication date, though by the looks of the binding, endpapers, and pages it was probably printed in the late 1800’s.

The book has entries for each day of the year and highlights missionary themed scriptures and quotes along with notable missionary events for each date.  I’d like to share a few entries from this week.

The Judsons

February 19 – Adoniram Judson sailed for India, 1812. Mark 10:27 With God all things are possible.

Judson and his wife Ann sailed for India, but God redirected them to Burma (modern Myanmar) where they endured privation, suspicion, false accusation, imprisonment, starvation, the death of children, and finally the death of Ann.

Bud God allowed the translation of the Scriptures to survive and eventually many Burmese were won to Christ.  Our friend pastors a church in Calgary where a number of the Karen tribe from Burma worship.  They trace their spiritual ancestry back to relatives who were won to Christ by the work of the Judsons.

Longfellow poem

February 21 – Longfellow poem (taken from Hymn for My Brother’s Ordination)
And evermore beside him on his way
The unseen Christ shall move,
That he may lean upon His arm and say
Dost Thou, dear Lord, approve?

James Gilmour and Mtesa – Answers to prayer  EmilyPrankard411px-Gilmourjames

February 22 – James Gilmour sails for China, 1870
Mtesa’s request for missionaries given through H. M. Stanley    

James Gilmour was used of God to share the gospel in China and Mongolia.  His had the blessing of ministering with Mr. and Mrs. Meech, but longed for a companion – a wife – to share in his life. Not having any prospects nearby, he asked God to clearly direct and provide a wife.  His coworkers opened their lives to him and often read letters from home to the bachelor.  After seeing a picture of Mrs. Meech’s sister, and hearing her letters read in his company, James, having never meet Emily, decided to write and ask for her hand in marriage.  She accepted and God gave them a number of years of joyful marriage and ministry together in Asia.

Mtesa was the King (or Emperor) of Uganda who was converted to Christ.  He sent a message back with H.M. Stanley (of Stanley and Livingstone fame) to send more missionaries.  God blessed that request by calling a number of missionaries to Africa.

The view from history

Sometimes in obeying God’s leading we feel like failures or as if we are wasting our time.  Nothing is happening!  God does not seem to be answering our prayers!  We’re enduring such opposition!  These entries remind us that sometimes we don’t see immediate answers to prayer in our spiritual efforts.   It is essential that we walk with God, obey His direction for each of our lives, and leave the results with Him.  History will better display the eternal effectiveness of our Christian labors than what we are able to observe in the here and now.

photos: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:EmilyPrankard.jpg; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Gilmourjames.jpg

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Reading about Gladys

This past week I have been reading the books from my library about Gladys Aylward.  I’m working on a series of missionary stories Gladys Aylwardfor kids, something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, but am realizing I won’t always be able to whip out a story a week as I had hoped.  Though I am using only the books from my own personal library as source material, I have multiple books on some of the missionaries and it takes time to read or re-read these books.

So many books, so little time

I have read seven books and three articles on Gladys this past week and have two more books to go. One of the benefits of doing this concentrated reading on one subject is that you can understand the person from more than one perspective.  I love seeing how God uses such a wide diversity of people to accomplish His purposes!

Gladys loved God

So what have I learned from reading about Gladys Aylward?  I have been reminded that it is not education, station in life or natural giftedness that God is looking for.  Gladys was a terrible student and may have possibly had a learning disability.  She was from a working class family and was unremarkable in appearance and abilities.  But she loved her God and obeyed His leading. Her friends thought she was crazy, the mission board she wanted to work under rejected her, and most in her circle of acquaintances thought she was irresponsible for heading off to serve God in China with little more than her certainty that God wanted her there.

Child-like faith

Over and over again in her life Gladys demonstrated sincere child-like faith in God and His abilities.  And over and over again God proved Himself faithful to Gladys.  Her story is remarkable and I have been blessed by reading it.  And remember, her God is our God and He is the same today as He was in her lifetime.

So I will soldier on reading my Aylward books and hopefully soon write a kid’s missionary story as well as an overview of her life for adults.  Thanks for sticking with me!!

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20130720_200311 - CopyGod’s provision

Years ago God gave me the opportunity to purchase second-hand missionary biographies very inexpensively.  We had a wonderful used book store in our city run by two retired sisters who had formerly served as missionaries in Africa.  Their burden was to get good resources into the hands of local pastors.  News spread, books were donated, and many, including my husband and I, were blessed and helped in ministry because of these dear ladies.

Church library

As a child I ransacked our church library and read as many missionary books as possible.  I loved reading about people from all walks of life, with all kinds of personalities, and many different skills and hindrances whom the Lord used to spread the gospel across the world.

Gleaning gems

When I learned that the used bookstore carried not only commentaries, but also biographies, I was thrilled.  Initially when I visited the bookstore I would stand and stare at the hundreds of missionary titles and wonder how to separate what was good from what was fluff.  A dear missionary mentor, Bettie Dreisbach, helped guide me in my selections.  She told me that reading missionary books was like mining for precious gems; sometimes you would come away with a gem or two, but sometimes you would glean a whole vault of gems from these books.

Family devotions

My husband and I had family devotions with our five children and would often read missionary stories in conjunction with Bible reading.  My husband would stop mid sentence at an exciting part or give a dramatic pause and finish with a cliff hanger so the kids would squirm in their seats and beg him to read more.  We discovered some good biographies written for youth, but not many written for preschoolers and very young readers, and so we compromised and edited as we read to keep our children’s attention.

Missionary stories for toddlers

A couple of years ago I was challenged by some friends, young couples with small children, to use my missionary books as references to write missionary stories for young children.  Tomorrow will be the first in what I hope will be a long series of stories written with my grandchildren and other toddlers in mind.  If you use these in family devotions or to teach your children, please pass on any feedback so that I can improve and refine the process as I write.

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Rose from Brier

Amy Carmichael was an invalid the last twenty years of her missionary life.  She wrote Rose from Brier – a collection of thoughts 7-13-10 The Garrique roses 9and lessons from one sufferer to another.  She understood suffering – it was her lot in life for over twenty years.

I have been reading this book and sharing some of the wonderful poetry and thoughts with Louise as she continues her fight with cancer.  Maybe these words will bless and encourage others who are suffering.

My grace is sufficient

From chapter 3 in the book:

“Hardly a life that goes deep but has tragedy somewhere within it; what would such do without Job?  And who could spare from his soul’s hidden history the great words spoken to St. Paul, My grace is sufficient for thee, for My strength is made perfect in weakness?  Such words lead straight to a land where there is gold, and the gold of that land is good.

I shall come forth as gold

Gold – the word recalls Job’s affirmation, When He hath tried me I shall come forth as gold; and St. Peter’s The trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire;  and the quiet word in Malachi, He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver.  I have often thanked God that the word is not gold there, but silver.  Silver is of little account in the East, and we feel more like silver than gold.  But He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, so who need fear?

How do you know when it is purified?   Melting_crucible.jpg large

This picture of the Refiner is straight from Eastern life.  The Eastern goldsmith sits on the floor by his crucible.  For me, at least, it was not hard to know why the Heavenly Refiner had to sit so long.  The heart knows its own dross.  Blessed be the love that never wearies, never gives up hope that even in such poor metal He may at last see the reflection of His face.  “How do you know when it is purified?” we asked our village goldsmith.  “When I can see my face in it,” he answered.”

Can others see Christ in us, even in our sufferings?

Maintain a constant victory

This poem is from a beginning chapter titled ‘The Rose’

Before the winds that blow do cease,
Teach me to dwell within Thy calm;
Before the pain has passed in peace,
Give me, my God, to sing a psalm.
Let me not lose the chance to prove
The fullness of enabling love.
O Love of God, do this for me:
Maintain a constant victory.

Before I leave the desert land
For meadows of immortal flowers,
Lead me where streams at Thy command
Flow by the borders of the hours,
That when the thirsty come, I may
Show them the fountains in the way.
O Love of God, do this for me:                                                                                                                                                                                                          Maintain a constant victory.

crucible picture credit:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Melting_crucible.jpg

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Dawn Beyond the Andes by Phyllis Thompson (Regions Beyond Missionary Union, London 1955) is a wonderful missionary biography about Miss Annie Soper, missionary nurse to the unreached regions of eastern Peru in the 1920’s.

Annie Soper was certain God had called her to serve Him in Peru, but health issues resulted in rejection by the sponsoring mission board.  Instead, she ventured alone to Lima and worked as a lone Protestant nurse in a Catholic hospital.  Annie showed the love of Christ by lovingly and carefully caring for her patients.  For her testimony and Christ-motivated care for her patients, Annie was shunned, resented, and eventually poisoned by someone on the hospital staff.

As Annie recovered she continued to hear about remote villages east of the Andes deemed inaccessible to westerners where no missionary had ever ventured.  Though these villages had Catholic priests, the people had never heard of the Bible or salvation through faith in Christ alone.  Medical help was scarce in these areas and Annie’s heart remained burdened for the spiritual and physical needs of these villagers.

A missionary doctor crossed paths with Annie and with great compassion told about the village of Moyobama which he felt could serve as a hub for medical and evangelistic outreaches.  “Can’t you go there, Miss Soper?” was his pleading question that the Holy Spirit used to clearly direct her to strike out to serve in faith.

First by steamer, then by train, and finally by mule, Annie and her nursing friend Rhonda Gould ventured across the Andes into the unknown.  Many near death experiences met them along the rugged path to their new calling. Yet God protected them and brought them safely to Moyobamba.

Even their essential medical efforts were resisted at first but God directed them to wrap their medicines in Gospel tracts and eventually hearts melted, superstitions were set aside, and souls were saved.  One of their first converts, Eduardo, graduated from Bible school and returned as pastor to his fellow villagers in Moyobama.

Dawn Beyond the Andes is an inspiring book about a woman who in simple faith obeyed and served God!

This book is out of print and can be found used through online booksellers such as www.Addall.com   www.AbeBooks.com  and www.amazon.ca

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Reading Which Glorifies God part 2 – Missionary Biography Suggestions 

The missionary biographies below are among my favorites. I have a list of “Fifty Favorite” missionary biographies which I have read, learned from, and recommend to others.  Some overviews are posted in the Book Blurbs section of this blog with more coming in the future.  God has taught me a great deal through reading about struggles and victories these godly men and women experienced.  Many of these books are currently available in e-book format, some of them offered without charge.  I hope you will be able to find and read these books, or others like them, to the glory of God!

To the Golden Shore by Courtney Anderson

To the Golden Shore by Courtney Anderson chronicles the life of Adoniram Judson, one of the first missionaries to leave North American in obedience to God’s call.  He and his wife left New England in the early 1800’s with no promise of ever seeing home or family ever again.  Modes of communication were limited to letters or word of mouth; a letter could take up to a year to reach its intended recipient.  The Judsons ministered over six years to the Burmese people before one professed Christ.  All of the Judson’s children died due to illness or harsh living conditions, none of them surviving to school age.  Adoniram painstakingly learned the language, wrote it down, worked on a dictionary and laboriously translated the scriptures into the Burmese language so that these people could know the truth.  He was falsely imprisoned as a spy and tortured during a war in 1812.  Adoniram, starving, ill, and completely worn was released from prison just a few short weeks before his wife died.  After a period of great despair, new avenues of ministry were opened up to him and many confessed the Lord.

The life of Adoniram Judson reminds me of the following verses: Luke 14:26  If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he  cannot be my disciple.  Luke 14:27 “And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.”  Luke 14:33 “So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.”

How I Know God Answers Prayer by Rosalind Goforth

How I Know God Answers Prayer is a poignant, personal account of God’s direct dealing with the Goforth family during their years of missionary service in China.  Mrs. Goforth honestly lays out her own struggles with sinful attitudes that quenched or grieved the Holy Spirit and hindered prayer.  She reverently wonders at miraculous deliverance from the hands of murderous Chinese rebels (Boxers) bent on eliminating all foreigners.  God literally stayed the hands of these murderers on several occasions as the Goforths traveled by cart in their escape from the interior of China.   Weapons aimed directly at them glanced off, leaving little more than a scratch; when attacked by the rebels, Mr. Goforth was saved from a final death blow by a horse collapsing to the ground in front of him and separating him from his attackers. Strangers offered them protection knowing they would be killed instantly if caught aiding the “foreign devils.”  God did answer prayer and brought them safely through this ordeal.

On furlough in Canada, Rosalind recounts the many provisions of food, clothing, accommodation and unexpected gifts for herself, her husband and her six children.  At the turn of the century tinned foods and store bought clothes were expensive, so clothing was generally sewn at home and fruits and vegetables home canned.  Repeatedly God laid it on the hearts of various people to give clothes to, or offer to sew for, the Goforths as well as give them fresh and canned fruit and vegetables.  Both Mr. and Mrs. Goforth were engaged as speakers in various churches.  This schedule prevented Rosalind from sewing and canning as she needed so these provisions were a specific answer to prayer for her.

A particular time of testing came for Rosalind when her husband proposed moving their work further into the interior of China. Four of their children had already died and fearful for the lives of her remaining children in an unsanitary, disease-ridden area, Rosalind refused her consent.  Her husband admonished her and reminded her that the safest place for their children was in the will of God.  When she continued in her refusal, Jonathan warned her that he feared for the children. The next day a son became seriously ill, rallied, and then another child grew ill and died.

“In the moments that followed God revealed Himself to me in such love and majesty and glory that I gave myself up to him with unspeakable joy.  Then I knew that I had been making an awful mistake, and that I could indeed safely trust my children to him wherever he might lead.  One thing only seemed plain, that I must follow where God should lead.  I saw at last that God must come first.”

They began preparations for the move right away.   From that moment on her family suffered little sickness and the lives of their other children were spared.  We read in Matthew 6:33 “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be added unto you.”  Rosalind learned this lesson through these experiences.

Rosalind Goforth penned several other books which are well worth reading including among others:

1.  Goforth of China

2.  Climbing

3.  Miracle Lives of China

4.  Chinese Diamonds for the King of Kings

By Searching by Isobel Kuhn

By Searching opens to us the struggle of Canadian Isobel Miller as the world entices her from one direction and the Lord calls from another.  A bright intelligent girl, Isobel attempted to lead a worldly life and still have a Christian testimony. She learned through many hardships that God expects the believer to be holy and dedicated solely to Him without divided loyalties.  God brought a lovely older Christian lady into Isobel’s life.  This woman encouraged her in the things of the Lord, prayed constantly for her, gave her a godly example and kindly admonished her when necessary.  Isobel was able to attend a Bible college and had to trust the Lord to provide to pay her bills while there.  She felt this exercise in faith laid the groundwork for trusting the Lord while engaged in missionary service in China.  God called Isobel to China and later called her to marry fellow missionary candidate John Kuhn.  Isobel’s books are engaging compilations of her work among the Lisu tribe on the Chinese boarder.  Isobel learned as a young woman that “No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” Luke 16:13

Isobel’s other books include:

1.  Precious Things of the Lasting Hills

2.  Nests Above the Abyss

3.  Stones of Fire

4.  Ascent to the Tribes

5.  Green Leaf in Drought Time

6.  In the Arena

John Paton – an Autobiography

John Paton-An Autobiography is a two-volume read which allows us to look into the life of this Scottish missionary to the cannibals of the South Seas Islands.  Fervently believing God wanted him to give the gospel to those who had never heard, John Paton embarked on his missionary endeavors with great intensity.  His attempts to win the natives to the Lord were met with suspicion.  Repeatedly his life was threatened, his goods stolen, his health broken.  His first wife and son died from the tropical fevers so common in the area.  Various traders in their ships tried to stop Paton from evangelizing the islanders fearing it would affect their opportunities to trade on the islands. Yet John persevered and after a number of years many came to know the Lord.

Hudson Taylor by Dr. and Mrs. Howard Taylor

Hudson Taylor by Dr. and Mrs. Howard Taylor in its original form is a two-volume detailed account of the life of the founder of the China Inland Mission, James Hudson Taylor.  In a time when Europeans dressed and acted as Europeans wherever they lived in the world, Taylor’s decision to dress, eat and live as the Chinese was shocking.  Also shocking to some was his concept that God and God alone should be consulted for the means to live.  While still in medical school Hudson determined to live as ascetically as possible and to ask God only for things he needed.  He felt that he must learn to live by faith first in England or he would never be able to trust God in far-away China.  Taylor’s faith was stretched as he waited upon God to provide for him, and he found God faithful to meet every need.  From this early lesson grew the understanding that God could and would do amazing things for those who believe wholeheartedly in Him. Hudson Taylor reflected the truths found in Hebrews 11:6 “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”

Other good books by or about Hudson Taylor include:

1.  Hudson Taylor and Maria by J.C. Pollock

2.  A Retrospect by J. Hudson Taylor

3.  It Is Not Death to Die by Jim Cromarty

4.  Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret by J. Hudson Taylor

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