Titus 2 Thoughts #3 and Surgery Update

I have been home since Monday evening. I cannot remember a time when I was more exhausted than I was on Monday night. My meager post-surgery strength did not match the demands my body required of me. That night I deeply second-guessed coming home instead of going into rehab. I could barely move, much less properly engage the specific mechanics required of me to consistently keep the weight off my right leg.

My week was filled with focus, practice, adjustment, and caution. I had little to no pain in hospital, but as my previous painkillers worked their way out of my system and I reduced the amount of new painkiller I was taking, my pain increased slightly. Was this a bad sign? Was I doing something wrong? Should I cut back on physio? Increase it? More meds? Less? Not sure.

The surgeon wanted to see me two weeks after my surgery. After returning home I called to make the appointment. I discover that the ortho clinic will be closed two weeks after my surgery, and closed for the entire week. My follow up is now 3.5 weeks after surgery. Will this be ok? Will my dressing last? What about my staples?

As the meds work their way out of my system, I struggle with fatigue, ennui, enervation, and depression. I hesitated to write about this, but it is my reality. When we share what is going on in our lives with the body of Christ, we do not share only the blessings, but also the struggles. The love and prayers of God’s people are a great encouragement in times of struggle.

Slowly I am seeing improvement. I am better able to hop using my walker and keep most of the weight off my injured leg. I discovered I tend to hold my breath when I am concentrating. I need to talk myself through the steps. Remember to hold in my abs, breathe, hold my arms straight, and move forward, keeping my foot barely on the ground for balance. And again. And again.

How did my appliance fail? How did I go so long without knowing it? Did the doctor do something wrong? Was it something I did wrong? Am I doing something wrong now? Is it even possible to find the truth about this?

Why hadn’t my hip itself hurt? The last month before the x-rays I felt crooked and was unable to stand straight. I felt the tightness in the muscles of my back and in the thigh of my right leg, but when I poked the hip area, nothing hurt. I thought it was my fibromyalgia. I now realize that not every muscle pain is fibromyalgia.

I become aware of many others who are struggling physically, emotionally, spiritually, and I pray for them. Sin has touched and cursed us all. We all need Christ and His truth and His salvation. We need to speak truth to each other in times of sorrow and in times of joy. We are family. We rejoice and we weep with each other.

Today as I heal and continue to work to strengthen, I am enjoying some special blessings. My family has arrived from China and I get to hold and talk with my grandchildren, listen to their dreams, join in their imaginings. This morning my grandchildren picked the first of my garden peas to share with me. Well-formed, sweet and delicious, they are consumed with gratitude and satisfaction.

I am abundantly blessed through this ordeal to have my daughters living nearby ready to sacrifice to help in any way possible. God has also blessed me with many children of the heart who visit and write and stop by to help. They bring their little ones, my ‘adopted’ grandchildren, to visit Purple Grandma and hand me sweaty fistfuls of flowers or grasses or other treasures selected just to cheer me.

Truth is, just like many others who suffer unexpectedly, I may never know why this happened. God chose it for me for His glory and my good. I do not understand what that looks like right now or how it helps me and the body of Christ overall. I struggle to rejoice in infirmity. I struggle against self-focus and negative thinking. I struggle to rejoice in the Lord always, but by God’s grace, I am not content to be disobedient.

The prayers and love of God’s people are very precious to me. Thank you to each of you who have prayed for me and continues to pray with me. I pray God will bless you for your love and concern.

Philippians 4:4-7

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.  Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Friday Fave Five #86 and Titus 2 Thoughts #2

Suzanne hosts Friday Fave Five at Living to Tell the Story to encourage us to count our blessings each week. This week I am coupling my Titus 2 Thoughts with FFF.

To be honest, I did not expect to be writing a FFF today. When my doctor called on Tuesday and told me my x-ray shows my most recent hip replacement has is broken and I will be scheduled for emergency surgery in the next day or two, I literally believed a day or two. The latest word is ‘sometime this weekend.’ My son asked if that means they have downgraded me from emergency to urgent. Maybe, but for now, I am supposed to ‘just use crutches’ and keep weight off that leg.

Just use crutches. Hmmm. Part of what I have been experiencing the last few weeks involves balance issues and motion sickness. Partner that with my natural lack of coordination and that little phrase ‘just use crutches’ is fraught with potential disaster galore. “Here, poor sick, sometimes-dizzy, out-of-shape lady with a wonky hip, just hobble around on these two little sticks. Keep your leg off the ground, oh, and press those crutches into your ribs. No, no! do NOT jam the pad into your armpits! Stand up straight! Grasp those hand grips and use your arms to hold your lumpy self up! No slumping! Simply follow these 25 easy illustrated steps to master the art of using crutches for any occasion.” It may sound crazy, but having to use crutches post-surgically is probably the thing I dread most about this surgery.

After my last hip replacement, I told myself I never wanted to go through hip replacement surgery again. A congenital condition, both hips replaced now, we’re done. Guess what? I’m not in charge. I can do ‘everything right’ and still not be in the position to control whether or not I have to endure something once or a dozen times. God is in control, and He orchestrates every part of my life for my good and His glory.

I’m an introvert and do a lot of self-talk. This can get me in trouble when I do not filter my thoughts through the truth of God’s Word. Lugubrious, self-focused Eyore thinking does not glorify God and is not helpful to me or to those around me.

My self-talk: anxiety and fear. God’s truth: Be anxious for nothing. God has not given us a spirit of fear. I will never leave you or forsake you.

My self-talk: What about the unknowns? How am I going to get through this arduous surgery and recovery again? God’s truth: My grace is sufficient for you.

Remember the children of Israel in the desert? God provided manna daily for them. If they tried to save up for the next day (with the exception of the Sabbath) the manna would spoil and not be fit to eat. In a similar way, God provides grace to help in our time of need. It’s not saved up like money in a bank but is instantly provided for each situation. That is a promise we can rest on.

So here are five blessings among many from the past week.

1. Protection from a potentially life-threatening situation because of my broken prosthesis. I’m not sure how long it has been broken, but I have had symptoms (that I thought was a flare up of my fibromyalgia) for at least 6 weeks

2. Loving family, church, family, and friends. I have blessed with flowers, cards, and the promise of prayer from many friends from around the world. My husband and daughters have helped in so many ways. My son and his family arrive in 2 weeks ready to help, too.

3. Getting my desk work caught up while waiting for the call about surgery. I finished some reports, organized some photos, filed some papers, and set up some automatic payments in preparation for my time in hospital.

4. Living at a time and in a place where I can be helped medically. Such a blessing!

5. All the wonderful ministry friends I met and fellowshipped with at the conference we recently attended in North Carolina. It was a joy to spend time with many who serve God faithfully across the globe, hear their stories, and learn of their hearts for the places where God has called them to minister.

Update! I just got the phone call. I will be admitted through emergency today and surgery is scheduled for tomorrow.

Here are a few more pictures from our recent vacation to Holden Beach in North Carolina.

Beautiful hydrangeas

Reflection

Marsh visitor

Sunset on marsh

Titus 2 Thoughts #1

I am awaiting surgery to have yet another hip replacement. My most recent replacement (2014) has recently failed and broken pieces are protruding into my pelvis. There is concern that an artery could be poked so I am on crutches and waiting for ‘the call’ to go into hospital.

Since I am not going to be able to minister in traditional ways as a pastor’s wife (such as having group Bible studies at the church) I will be writing posts to share things God is teaching me. God commands the older women to teach the younger in Titus 2. There are many things I am still learning or have learned the hard way over the years. By God’s grace, and with His leading, I hope to encourage you in your walk with God. I am calling these posts Titus 2 Thoughts. I will be posting these on my blog, PurpleGrandma.com. Please sign up to receive these in your e-mail feed if you are interested in receiving these directly.

I wrote the following recently with ministry women in mind, but the principles apply to us all. Do what God has given you to do for now. Do it with all your heart. Do it as unto the Lord. Do not always be wishing you could be in a different place doing different things than what God has allowed for now.

I would appreciate your prayers for both the surgery and the writing.

As a young ministry wife and mother of five small children, I often felt dissatisfied with all the maintenance work that fell to me just to keep our family functioning. This was not what I had envisioned as ministry efforts! Cooking, cleaning, laundry, and, in the years that we homeschooled, teaching, wore me out and consumed most of my days. Yes, I taught Sunday School, held ladies’ Bible studies, organized ladies’ retreats, showed hospitality to travelers and church families, and helped with many details of our church plant, but I was exhausted, miserable, and felt that God could not possibly want His workers to be occupied with what I thought of as busy work. If I could just hurry through my responsibilities surrounding my family, then I would have more time to ‘do ministry work.’

God in His wonderful sovereignty allowed me to became ill. No one could accurately diagnose what was wrong with me. I grew weaker and could do less and less of the things I thought would please God. I could barely get out of bed, much less teach or evangelize. What must He think of me? I felt my limited service and the continuous encumbrance of mundane matters meant I wasn’t doing my job and so God must be sighing with displeasure at my deficiencies.

I struggled from my bed one Wednesday night to prepare for the mid-week service held in our home. Bud was teaching through Romans. He opened the Scriptures and began reading chapter 8,“There is therefore now no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus.”  The words pierced my struggling soul like an arrow from my Maker. ‘No condemnation.’ Years ago I had accepted His sacrifice as payment for my sins and understood now that I was positionally without sin – without condemnation because of the work of Christ on my behalf. There was absolutely nothing I could do to make God love me any more or any less than He already did. I was ‘accepted in the beloved’ and had ‘peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ!’

Soon after God allowed me to see that the most important ministry I had was with my children. We only have one opportunity to rear them for the Lord. No retakes on childrearing! If, by God’s grace, we could point these five little sinners to Christ, if we could proffer them God’s Word and embody authentic humility, grace, and forgiveness, this would be ministry work just as important as any other.

Sometimes I am amazed that our five children are all from the same parents. Such a diversity of personalities, abilities, and interests! It grieved my soul that I never worked to get along with my sister, and I was determined to teach my children to prefer one another in love. There are so many biblical principles that must be followed to foster this in a family. Every conflict, every argument, every disagreement provided an opportunity to grow in sanctification. Love bears, believes, hopes, and endures all things. Don’t let the sun go down on your wrath.  Be quick to listen but slow to speak and slow to wrath. In love prefer one another. A soft answer turns away wrath. As a man thinks in his heart, so is he. By God’s grace, a regular application of Scriptures and spiritual principles over many years has worked in the lives of our children so that each loves God and they all love each other. And as adults, they all love and serve the body of Christ.

Ministry work may not look like you expect it to. Allow God to direct your life of service and praise Him for every opportunity He allows for you to serve Him.

 

 

O Be Careful Little Ears What You Hear

O be careful little ears what you hear???????????????????????????????

O be careful little ears what you hear

For the Father up above

Is looking down in love

So, be careful little ears what you hear

Still learning about grace

When my husband was first saved at age 20, he aggressively witnessed to M, his father’s second wife. He had a lot of zeal and was still learning about grace when addressing her and she made it very clear that she did not approve of him or his message.  Her animosity towards him grew over the years to the point where she told other family members that she hated him. Though Bud apologized and attempted many times to win her over, M refused to be reconciled.

For some reason M seemed to like me.  She bought me gifts and was very kind to me.  She spent time talking with me and we discovered we shared many of the same interests.

The comments began

Because of the tension between M and my husband I was very mindful about keeping our children under control so Bud could spend time with his father when we visited.  Soon the comments began. At first they were subtle, and never when Bud was around. “Bud should make sure you get enough rest.”  “I can’t believe Bud said that to you last night.”  “Bud is so selfish!  He needs to take care of the kids so you can have some time for yourself.” Because of her words slowly, and imperceptibly at first, resentment toward my husband grew in my heart.

Poisoned my thinking

If I had been more mature or more spiritually minded I might have thought of Eve and the subtle words of the serpent in the Garden of Eden.   I might have seen that M’s angry words against my husband influenced me to think wrongly about him.  I might have responded biblically and told her to take her comments directly to the person she had the complaint against. But I did not want to upset the delicate relationship balance so I kept quiet. Instead, I listened to what she had to say and allowed M’s words to poison my thinking.

Gossip

I have noticed this same sort of situation in churches.  Someone becomes disgruntled with the leadership or with another believer in the assembly and begins grumbling and complaining to others.  They either don’t talk to the pastor at all, or they leave from a meeting with the pastor annoyed and angry because he will not side with them on some issue.  These kinds of people puff themselves up and make it their pet project to destroy God’s work by gossiping and complaining to others.

God hates these things

Proverbs 6:16-19 says:

There are six things that the Lord hates,
seven that are an abomination to him:
 haughty eyes, a lying tongue,
and hands that shed innocent blood,
 a heart that devises wicked plans,
feet that make haste to run to evil,
a false witness who breathes out lies,
and one who sows discord among brothers.

At best these disgruntled believers are guilty of sowing discord among the brethren, and may also be guilty of telling lies and devising wicked plans.   Rarely will there even be an attempt to deal with issues biblically, and if rebuked, they are often full of self-righteousness, pride, and even downright hatred.

They may talk of this issue as ‘a prayer request’ or a ‘concern’ but what they are doing is wrong, so wrong that God hates it. God hates those who sow discord among other believers. Yes, He opposes them and what they are doing.

No grace

They may caution you that the pastor is preaching heresy or that a fellow Christian doesn’t do things the right way, when in fact the bitterness, resentment or pride in their own heart is the real problem. They are blind to the fact that good men differ over some areas of doctrine and practice. There is no grace extended to genuine believers who hold a differing position.  They resent the fact that people love and follow their pastor instead of them.

We will all answer

They forget that we all have to answer to God for our thoughts and actions and that the pastor is particularly held accountable for how he handles the flock. There is no grace, no love and no genuine concern for the body of Christ. They secretly delight in winning others to their position or in hurting the pastor or the church.

Don’t spread gossip!

Be careful, dear sisters, to have your spiritual antennas up!  Don’t be the one spreading gossip and don’t listen to those who do! When someone begins speaking critically about another believer, stop them and tell them to talk to that person not to you.  If there is a question about what your pastor has been preaching, go to him and ask your questions.

We are all responsible to search the scriptures to see if what we are being taught is accurate.  To do this we need to understand what the Bible says.  You may need to use a commentary or a reliable modern translation so you can clearly understand what is being taught.

O be careful little ears what you hear

But do not fall into the trap of being spiritually poisoned by lending an ear to a person who God clearly says He hates:  a sower of discord among the brethren.  Don’t poison the thoughts of other believers with gossip.  And don’t be guilty of listening to it just because it comes from a good friend or to keep the peace.

It may be a children’s song, but it contains simple yet rich truth:  ‘O be careful little ears what you hear.’

But God…

???????????????????????????????For those in our church:  you really missed a great blessing if you missed last night’s service.  We had a special evening of testimonies and singing, and it seemed as if God drew back the curtain to give us a glimpse of what He has been doing behind the scenes.

Hard things

It can be easy to look at and even focus on the hard things, or the things we view as bad that are going on in our lives. I certainly have been guilty of this.  When we do this we forget that God is still there, still working out things for His glory and our good.

Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery

Remember Joseph?  Hated by his own brothers – this is bad.  Sold into slavery – how could those brothers be so mean? Falsely accused and thrown into prison – that Mrs. Potiphar was really wicked.  Languished in prison when the butler forgot his promise – how could he?

The story, as we know does not end there.  Joseph was not only brought out of prison, he was appointed second highest official in the land.  In Genesis 50:20 Joseph reassures his bothers, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.”  When we look at part “A” and react to all the bad stuff, we are forgetting part “B,” “But God…”

Saul wanted to kill David

David, anointed to be the next king of Israel, had to be constantly on the move to avoid the murderous plans of jealous king Saul.  Day after day Saul pursued David and day after day David moved out of the way.  To onlookers this chase must have appeared to have an uncertain outcome, until we read in 1 Samuel 23:14, “And Saul sought him every day, but God did not give him into his hand.”  God was protecting David all along in spite of appearances.

Jesus was crucified

When Jesus conducted His preaching and teaching ministry many followed Him with gratitude and joy.  Yet one terrible day He was falsely accused, beaten, and killed.  His followers were shocked and grieved.  Some did not realize these events fulfilled biblical prophecies of the coming Messiah. Paul recounts the crucifixion story in Acts 13:29-30, “And when they had carried out all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb. But God raised him from the dead.”  What initially seemed to be a terrible injustice was, in fact, planned by the hand of God for the salvation of mankind.

But God…

When we arrive at the end of our rope, the end of our hope, the end of our courage, or the end of our strength, we need to be encouraged by the “but God” verses of Scripture.  Psalm 73:26 reminds us, “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”  Forever means today, tomorrow and every day of our future.

God is still there

Are you burdened about something in your life, your family, your church, your wider circle?  As I listened to the testimonies last night I was encouraged that in every case when people got to the end of themselves God was still there, still involved, still leading, and still loving.  God is faithful to His word and is still using those who are willing to let go and give Him glory in their lives.

God’s choices

1 Corinthians 1:26-29 reminds us, “For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.”

Take heart!

Something difficult may be happening in your life today.  Take heart! The same ‘but God’ verses which encouraged saints in the past are still true for us today.

Old Books, New Treasures

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

Reading About Gladys

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!!

Missionary Story for Kids: William Waddell Builds for God in Africa

A godly family

William Waddell was born in Scotland in the mid-1800’s.  His parents loved God, helped in the church, and taught young William William Waddell 001about God and the Bible.  William’s mother loved to read missionary stories and eagerly retold them to her children.

Quiet and humble

William had a sensitive nature and was very quiet and humble.  He did not feel comfortable playing rough games with the other boys and they often made fun of him because of it.

William could build and fix things

Sickness kept William from attending school regularly.  He was not a very good student, but he was very good at figuring out how machines worked.  He spent many quiet hours in his workshop building with wood and rebuilding mechanical things. Neighbors soon learned that William had the exceptional skill of understanding how machines worked.  They brought their broken machines to William and he was happy to repair as many of them as he could.

Good, but still a sinner

William liked to be good, but just like everyone else he was a sinner.  At age fifteen he asked Jesus to save him from his sin.  Jesus did save him and will save you or anyone else who asks.

God made it clear that He wanted William to be a missionary in Africa.  But the boy wondered if that could ever be possible since he wasn’t smart like other young people and had such a hard time studying from books.

In those days someone who was not good at studying from books could be apprenticed to a tradesman who would teach him a specific skill.  William was apprenticed to a joiner, a type of carpenter, and became very good at his work.

To finish his apprenticeship William was sent to a ship building company.  The other men who worked there were crude and ungodly.  They did not like the young man’s quietness or his faith in God.  Many of them taunted and threatened William as he worked.

William stands up for God

But even though William was a quiet person, he was not afraid to stand up for God in front of these men.  God gave him a quiet confidence and helped him to know how to answer the mocking words.

One day William saw an advertisement looking for workers to build a church in South Africa.  He answered the ad and soon left for his new job.  Maybe God would lead him to missionary work once he was in Africa!

William settled in to his work and joined a local church.  Hi pastor became a close friend.  One day William’s pastor told him about a missionary nearby named Francois Coillard who was praying for a godly man to work with him.  He particularly wanted someone who could build and repair things.

A missionary in Africa

When the missionary met William he saw a quiet frail-looking man.  He was not sure the young man knew how hard the work would be in remote African areas.  “Do not come unless you are certain God is calling you to this work.”  But William was absolutely certain God wanted him to help the Coillards.   He was thrilled that God gave him exactly the right skills that the missionary group needed!

The missionaries traveled north to begin work in the area now called Zambia.  Sickness, tribal wars, bad weather, rough roads, and wild animals made it hard for them to travel quickly.  Finally they arrived!  William was able to begin building houses and other buildings for the mission station. Soon he was not only building, but making the tools they needed and repairing almost any tool, machine, or vehicle that broke.

Showing God’s love

The African people there had never heard of Jesus and did not seem interested when Mr. Coillard preached and taught them.  But a wonderful thing happened.  The young men who helped William cut down trees and build things were impressed with the quiet man’s bravery and skills.  As time went on he was able to show them God’s love.  These boys began to listen and some asked Jesus to save them from their sins.

William was very happy in his work and he and Francois became close friends.  Both men loved God and God used the different abilities of each man to establish a mission station.  These men showed the love of God to the Africans in many ways.  Because the African people saw that they were loved and not just preached at, some were willing to listen to the gospel and become Christians.

Back in Scotland but not forgotten

After many years of serving God in Africa, William became ill with a tropical disease.  The disease made him so sick he had to return to Scotland where he was told he would never get better.  The last years of his life William could no longer be with his beloved African friends.  But God’s work continued in Zambia and his friends and helpers never forgot the quiet man who could build anything and who showed them the love of God by the way he lived.

Verse: Isaiah 30:15 In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.

Ten Questions for young readers:

  1. What kind of a person was William?
  2. Was William a good student?
  3. What did he spend time doing?
  4. Was William a sinner?
  5. Where did God want William to serve as a missionary?
  6. Was he afraid to stand up for God when other people mocked him?
  7. What does it mean to be an apprentice?
  8. Do you have to be a preacher to be a missionary?
  9. How did God use William on the mission field?
  10. What did William show the African people that helped them want to be Christians?

Bibliography: MacConnachie, Rev. John.  An Artisan Missionary on the Zambesi:  The Story of William Thomson Waddell.  Edinburgh and London:  Oliphant, Anderson & Ferrier, 1910.

Missionary Stories for Kids: Jennie Atkinson Goes to China

Missionary Stories for Kids are written for preschoolers or young readers and are suitable for family devotions, Bible clubs, or Sunday School.

Jennie Atkinson was a shy girl

Jennie Atkinson was a shy, timid girl who lived a long time ago. When she was very little her mama died and her new stepmother OldDesignShop_OscarPletschShynessloved her and took care of her. But one day her stepmother also died and soon Jennie’s father was going to marry again.  For some reason that Jennie did not understand, her father and his new wife decided to send eight-year-old Jennie away to be adopted by some distant cousins. “What is wrong with me that my own father does not want to keep me?” Jennie asked herself. 

The child was sent away alone on a big train. Before she left her father placed a nametag on her coat so the conductor would know her name and the train stop where she was going. Jennie got on the big train and left everyone and everything that was familiar to her.

The train conductor helped her get off at the right station. Jennie squinted as she stepped off the dark train into the bright sun. She looked around and waited expectantly but no one was there to meet a little girl.  Now she felt even more alone and insecure.  She waited as the depot agent contacted her cousin who finally came to pick her up after a long wait.

Would anyone ever really want little Jennie?

Jennie’s cousin and his wife were kind to her but they were very surprised that this little girl had been sent to them.  There must have been some mistake.  They were willing to adopt one of Jennie’s brothers, but they had not wanted a girl.  After talking it over they decided to keep her, but Jennie knew they were disappointed.  Would anyone ever really want little Jennie?

A few years passed when one day Jennie read in the newspaper that her very own father was going to be in a nearby town as a special speaker.  Oh how excited she was that she could see her father again!

After the lecture she went up front with other well-wishers to speak to her father. He reached out to shake her hand and casually asked, “Whose little girl are you?”  Jennie’s own father did not even know who she was.  How lonely and abandoned she felt!

God will never leave us or forsake us

But God was working in Jennie’s life and she opened her heart to the Great Heavenly Father Who would never leave her or forsake her.  She confessed her sins and asked Christ to save her.  Soon she began to understand that God was leading her to be a missionary to China.

After graduating from college Jennie was qualified to be a teacher.  She began teaching at a small school near her cousin’s home and was in charge of a Sunday School class of children.  She knew God had spoken to her about serving Him as a missionary in China but in spite of her love of teaching, she was timid and afraid at the thought of going to such a distant country as China.

Finally some leaders in her church asked for several highly-trained unmarried women to volunteer to work as missionaries in China.  God again whispered to Jennie that He wanted her to serve Him in China, and Jennie said “Yes” to God’s call.

The first time she saw a Chinese person was when she traveled to the west coast to meet the boat traveling to China.  Jennie was so shy and fearful she could not even speak to the man!  Soon she was aboard the ship that was taking her to China, but Jennie still struggled with timidity, insecurity, and fear.  How could she help the Chinese learn about Jesus if she was this shy?

Going to China

The ship docked in Shanghai where missionaries and Chinese Christians greeted the ladies with such kindness and warmth that Jennie no longer felt afraid.  She looked around at the thousands of people crowding the docks and streets of Shanghai.  Her heart was overflowing with compassion as she saw the Chinese people surrounding her. These dear Chinese needed Christ and God would help her tell them.

Chinese people find western names strange and hard to pronounce.  The Chinese place the surname first.  Where we would say Jane Doe, they would say *Doe Jane.  Jennie was given the name Kyung, which means gold.  Her first name became Tsung-sung, meaning Arouse-Music.  So Jennie Atkinson was now named Miss Kyung Tsung-sung or Miss Gold Arouse-Music!

Virginia Atkinson (Jennie)The Chinese language is intricate and complicated but it needed to be learned in in order to communicate with the Chinese people around her.   God gave Jennie the idea to learn Chinese like she had learned music – using rhythm and tones.  Because of this she became conversant in the Chinese language much more quickly than her fellow missionaries.

As her language skills improved Jennie was able to visit the different schools she was in charge of and teach the children hymns.  Her students loved her and soon she was invited to visit their homes where she could practice speaking Chinese with her students and their families.

Loved by her Chinese family

Over time many students came to know the Lord and became Bible-teaching women, pastors, school teachers and church leaders.  God used Jennie to help establish a church, to build many schools and to arrange training for many pastors and teachers.

Jennie’s students loved her and her shy ways and accepted both her and her teaching.  They could tell that she loved them and wanted to help them.  When Jennie returned to America for furlough her Chinese friends and family wept and begged her to ‘come back home’ soon.  She finally realized that God provided a home for her among the Chinese people she was called to serve.

Bible verse

Verse:  Hebrews 13:5 I will never leave you nor forsake you (based on Deuteronomy 31:6)

Ten questions for young readers:

  1. What does the word timid mean?
  2. What happened to young Jennie that made her feel unwanted?
  3. Who will never leave or forsake us?
  4. What job did Jennie train for?
  5. Where did God want Jennie to go as a missionary?
  6. Who would help Jennie tell the Chinese people about Jesus?
  7. What language was Jennie able to learn quickly?
  8. Where did God finally provide a home for Jennie?
  9. Can God use shy people to be missionaries?
  10. Where was Jennie’s true home and family?

Bibliography:  White, Mary Culler.  Just Jennie:  The Life Story of Virginia M. Atkinson.  Atlanta:  Tupper and Love, 1955.

*Suggestion:  When reading this to your children substitute the child’s name for Jane Doe.

Clip art from http://olddesignshop.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/OldDesignShop_OscarPletschShyness.jpg

When Critical Illness Hits Home, part 1

Children are a blessingIMG_0055

We were delighted with our firstborn, a son.  His red hair reflected the Scottish portion of our heritage and his cheerful demeanor was engaging.  Though he did not walk until after his first birthday, he began speaking when he was nine months old, and parroted word after word that we modeled for him.

Dedicated to God

We dedicated each of our children to the Lord when they were infants.  This child, on loan from God, was entrusted to our care.  We knew we needed wisdom beyond our years to rear him properly, and so we asked God for His help.  We also stood with open hands before the Lord, acknowledging that we understood that this child, like everything else that we claimed as ‘ours,’ ultimately belonged to God and that He could do with our son as He pleased.

Getting sick

Our son was thirteen months old on American Thanksgiving.  That year we spent a joyful time of feasting and giving thanks with family and friends.  On Friday my husband and I loaded David into a stroller and enjoyed a leisurely walk through the mall.  The next day David was unusually fussy and was running a slight fever.  Had he picked up a bug when we were out?  Was he getting a cold?  Teething?

Missing church

Sunday dawned.  Our son’s fever had climbed slightly and he was unusually placid.  My husband was in seminary, preparing for the ministry.  His philosophy was that if we expected others to attend church faithfully, we should lead by example.  After some discussion we decided I should stay home with the baby.  We thought we were bending our self-imposed rule that we had to be at death’s door to miss church.  Little did we know then that that was exactly where we would be in a few hours.

My mother-in-law, a nurse, shared the house with us at that time.  We took turns tiptoeing in to David’s room and checking on him.  After a couple of hours he opened his eyes, but didn’t move or cry. He had a vacant look, and was extremely listless.  The slight fever had suddenly skyrocketed to 105 and his skin held a definite grey pallor.

Call the doctor

We called our doctor and described the symptoms.  “Come immediately to my office.  I will meet you there.”  All of us knew these were symptoms of meningitis, and several children in our vicinity had been diagnosed with it lately.

This looks very, very serious

The office was only minutes away and the doctor and his nurse met us there where they immediately did a spinal tap.  The spinal fluid was very cloudy.  He told us what we feared, “This looks like meningitis and it’s very, very serious.”  “Where’s your husband?” asked the doctor urgently.”  “At a required meeting at the seminary.” “I’ll track him down.  Waiting for an ambulance or for my husband to join us would have taken too long.  Every minute was critical.

Don’t break down now

“Can you handle driving to the hospital?”  We gulped back tears and nodded. We couldn’t break down now.  David’s life may depend on it.  The doctor gave my mother-in-law and me an evaluating look.  Mom was obviously shaken.  “You,” he pointed to my mother-in-law, “hold the baby” and “you,” he said to me, “drive.”  He sent along the spinal tap and called the hospital to give orders and prepare for our arrival.

Spinal meningitis

We arrived at hospital emergency where the staff whisked David and his spinal tap test away.  My husband arrived and soon after so did our doctor.  Test results quickly came back positive for bacterial meningitis.

It doesn’t look good

Massive doses of IV antibiotics were administered.  Our doctor gently drew us aside and told us, “David’s symptoms are quite advanced.  It doesn’t look good,” then asked my husband to lead us in prayer.

Did we really mean it?

Suddenly we were faced with the reality of what dedicating our child to God might actually cost us.  At the time we sincerely meant it when we told God He could do whatever He wanted with this child.  Was He requiring David’s life for some reason we did not see or understand?  Did we really mean it now when our son’s life was in the balance?