I saw the pilot smile

Psalm 27:8-9

When you said,” Seek  My face,” My heart and to You,” Your face, Lord, I will seek.” Don nor hide Your  face from me; Do not turn Your servant away in anger. You have been my help; Do not leave me nor forsake me, O God of my salvation.”

So were flying to Mandera and had to land in Takaba to drop off and pick passengers. Those who’ve been to Takaba airstrip will tell you the runway is a bumpy rough road. I say a prayer every time we land. Now on this day, as we were taking off, full speed, I heard a loud blast, and what was it? – a tyre burst. I thought we would disembark and wait till that was fixed, but no. We didn’t. I wondered if the pilot knew of the accident and wondered how we’d land in Mandera. Then there was turbulence. Sigh! At that moment I remembered an old line “when you’re sailing in a storm, just look at the pilot’s face, if he smiles, then all is well”. Coincidentally, I saw the pilot’s face (for real), and he must have noticed how tense I was. He smiled.

Lesson: Are you in a storm right now? All you need is to seek the face of the Master Pilot. You may not know how it will end, but the Master of ocean and earth and sky is in control. Trust Him for to ensure you have a safe landing.

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“The cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?” John 18:11

I will not take that bitter thrust which rent my heart today;
As coming from an earthly soul, though it was meant that way;
But I will look beyond the tool, because my life is planned;
I take the cup my Father gives, I take it from His hand.
 
He knows, and even thus allows these little things that irk;
I trust His wisdom and His love, let patience have her work.
Though human means have brought the sting, I firmly take this stand;
My loving Father holds the cup, I take it from His hand.
 
Now those who watch may wonder why these things do not disturb;
I look right past the instrument and see my Lord superb;
The trials which would lay me low must pass through His command;
He holds the outstretched cup to me, I take it from His hand.

Accept the assignment

It is easy to appreciate God’s leading when He takes us from a slippery road, and places our feet on the solid rock; when He expressly answers our prayers by providing our needs. What about when we cannot figure out the way of the Lord’s working?

Assignment

You remember how after a lesson, the teacher would give out assignments (problems). The teacher knew the answers, we didn’t. It was in solving the problems that we learnt to know what the teacher knew. When we solved one problem today, the teacher would give you a more difficult one tomorrow. Now imagine if a student said “No, I will not do that difficult one, I have one I have chosen for myself, an easier assignment.” The student will never grow.

We must learn to accept the assignment that Christ the Master teacher gives us. He already showed us this. He accepted Gethsemane as an assignment given to him by the Father:

The cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?
John 18:11.

As far as Christ was concerned, the cross was a cup handed from the Father, not the Roman soldiers, not Caiaphas, not Judas. No. He trusted Himself in His Father’s hands so much as to trust that whatever came to Him passed through the weighing scales of His Father’s hands. I pray for the experience of the hymn writer:

Help Me Lord when toil and trouble meeting

So to take as from a Father’s hand

Accept the assignment!

Push that cow down the cliff!

Have you heard the story of the poor family that pushed their cow down the cliff? I bet you have. I do not know the source unfortunately, but I know a few cows that I need to push down the cliff.

Once a monk set on a journey with his assistant to a very remote place. When it turned dark, the monk asked his assistant to look for a place they could lodge at. After hours of searching, he came to a tiny little hut, where a very poor family lived. Though poor, the family was very welcomingDeadCow and they agreed to accommodate them for the night.

The poor family served them with a meal from fresh milk, cheese and cream before they could retire to bed. When they were done eating the monk asked the family how they managed to survive in such a remote place, away from shopping centre.

In a resigned tone of voice the man of the house told them how they managed to survive. ‘We have one cow. We sell her milk to our neighbors who do not live too far away. We hold back enough for our needs and to make some cheese and cream-that is what we eat.”

The next morning, as they were living, the monk told his assistant, “Go back and push the cow off the cliff!” In disbelief, the assistant answered “But this cow is their livelihood, if it dies, they also die…” The monk repeated his order, “I said go and push the cow down the cliff.” Since the assistant had vowed unquestioning obedience to his master, he went and pushed the cow down the cliff and it died.

Fast forward… Years later, the assistant was now a monk, and he was passing by the same place, but it had changed completely. There was a mansion there, beautifully mowed lawns… a luxurious resident. He was sure this was the place they spent with is master, so he decided to knock and ask for directions. “Whatever became of the family who used to live here? Did they sell the property to you?” He enquired. The man looked surprised and said he and his family had always lived on the property. The Monk told him how he had stayed in a hut on the same spot, with his master the old Monk. ‘What happened to the family that lived here?” he asked.

The man invited the Monk to stay with him as his guest. While they ate, the host explained how the family’s fortune changed. “You know Father, we used to have a cow. She kept us alive. We didn’t own anything else. One day she fell down the cliff and died. To survive, we started planting herbs and vegetables to supply our food. The plants took a while to grow, and so I started cutting down trees to sell the wood.  Then, of course, I had to buy seedlings to replace the trees.  When I was buying the seedlings, I thought about my children’s clothes, and it occurred to me that I could perhaps try growing my own cotton.  I had a difficult first year, but by the time harvest came around, I was already selling vegetables, cotton and aromatic herbs. I had never realised how much potential the farm had. It was a bit of luck really that cow dying! We had to start doing other things, develop skills we did not even know we had. We were forced to come up with new ways of doing things. We ploughed the land and grew crops, we sold tree seedlings… It was the best thing that ever happened to us! We are now much better off than before.”

Do you have a cow you need to push down the cliff? I do. Many cows. Reliance on things that hold you back? Have you grown comfortable? Not successful, but comfortable? – Push that cow down the cliff. Or maybe someone needs to push your cow down the cliff.

Jesus pushed the disciples cow down their cliffs of comfort. They had grown comfortable with His presence. He told them severally that he was going to be crucified, but they could take none of that. They were ready to install him as their King. They saw in Jesus a political King that would set them free from Roman tyranny. Their cow of misguided hopes was pushed down the cliff that Friday when Christ hung on the cross, seemingly helpless between two thieves. They went back fishing, discouraged… but thank God for the resurrection morning. Christ appeared to explain why it was better that the cow be pushed down the cliff:

And he said unto them, Why are you troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts? (Luke 24:38). Christ had risen, but he wasn’t going to be with them for long, but He had some assignment for them to do. Yes, they had left their nets in following Christ, but He was calling them to higher ground.

And Jesus came and spoke unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go you therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen. (Matthew 28:18-20).

The disciples hopes were resurrected. They now knew Christ and his misssion better. The gospel to all the world? The disciples now woke up to their true calling. They left their comfort zones… You just need to read the book of Acts in the bible, and search for ‘boldness’ or ‘bold’ or ‘boldly’. They pushed their cow down the cliff, and God rewarded their diligence and entire surrender.

God has promised us #AllPower, but are we willing to push our cows down the cliff?

 

 

 

 

Meet Richard (Once again)

I once told you about Richard.

Two years later, the young man’s story of faith still continues. Thanks to support from friends, Richard is now in Form 2.

This is how it happened…

We took the challenge by God’s grace. Richard and Irene (I’ll tell you her story another day) are now through with their first year in High School. While we thought taking Richard to boarding school was the best we could offer him, he had other plans. He needed to visit the churches he helped establish. He needed to juggle between his assignments and visit community in their homes. He humbly requested to enroll in the nearest secondary day school, which is like over 20 km away from the communities he loves serving. He knows all church members, prospective church members, their family members, their neighbours, their livestock, their challenges, which homes have (or do not have) bibles… everything!

Sometimes he has to walk to Kitelakapel from school every Friday, to conduct church services in one church, while coordinating with the elders (whom he has trained and mentored) to conduct services in the other church. Sundays are visitation days, after which he has to make the long trek back to school.

We are positive that God will provide the funds for their school fees this term, somehow. The best investment we can make for Kitelakapel is to educate Richard and Irene. They have re-defined self-sacrifice, radical commitment to the Lord’s cause and missionary lifestyle.

Jason and his dad’s promise

So I was watching a song with my son Jason last week where someone was playing a piano. He says, look daddy, a piano. Then without thinking about it I promised “I’ll buy you a toy piano.”
Jason
I left for the day and  he keeps telling he mum, “Daddy is bringing me a piano. I want to call him and tell him to bring it when he comes back” So he called me on her mum’s phone at 8pm and said “Si daddy unaniletea piano?” I had forgotten about my promise! So now I started the search. I went from shop to shop without any success.

This sounds very trivial, but it made me think, how often do we take our heavenly Father at his word. Like Jason, we should rest assured that our heavenly Father will keep his word. No circumstances can hinder Him from keeping any promise He has made to us.

So I didnt get the piano that night. I decided to buy him a toy car. When I gave it to him he said “Thanks daddy, na piano iko wapi?”

An open letter to Adventist Youth Leaders: Are we rightly trained?

Elder Baraka Muganda, former General Conference Youth Ministries gave the following analogy:

I would like us all to imagine a vast army on the eve of battle. Just across the hills, the enemy army is ready to strike, but the impending army faces a terrible problem.

As they face the impending battle, their soldiers are deserting in large numbers. One by one, they drop out and disappear. The commanding officers call the roll call and shake their heads sadly as they cross their names off the list. New recruits are brought in regularly, but they barely replace those that have left. Officers introduce tough rules to prevent soldiers from escaping, but nothing seems to help

Meanwhile, the remaining soldiers are kept busy. What are they doing? Not drilling, or practicing with their weapons, or making raids into the enemy’s territory. No, the soldiers are assigned to clean the latrines and dig holes- over and over, day by day. Many of them complain “This work is menial and pointless; there is an enemy just over the hills, why are we not preparing to fight them?”

Some young soldiers join the army eager to go into battle, yet after weeks and months of doing meaningless labor, they become discouraged “I’ve joined the wrong army!” Some cry as they throw down their weapons and slip away into the night.

The Commanders are worried. They know the enemy is drawing near and they are losing the soldiers rapidly. How will they fight with a depleted, demoralized force? Some officers start a campaign of making the army more attractive to their soldiers. They organize parties and games in the mess hall, show movies every night, loosen the rules a bit and organize sporting events. The soldiers enjoy the entertainment- yet it doesn’t stop them from deserting in record numbers. When questioned later, some say “Yes, the entertainment was good- but I can go to parties and play sports in the nearby towns and I don’t have to worry about wearing a uniform or eating army food. Why should I stay in the army just to be entertained?”

The officers meet to discuss how to deal with the crisis. They are discouraged by the statistics. The desertions continue to increase, while recruitment is down and morale is poor. But most serious of all, over the hills, they can hear the distant sounds of drums and bugles. Today I ask my friends, is this the picture of our army?**

We have kept our young people active and some times as leaders we burn out with busy-ness, but if we are not engaged in the main business of the movement “The Advent Message to all the world”, the picture painted by Elder Muganda fits us. Where did the Vision of the teenagers who started this movement? Where is the passion they had about ministry?

We focus youth programs around anything that will keep the youth busy. As long as the group is ‘busy’ – singing, sporting, having fun, pitching tents, wearing uniform and doing drills, we are satisfied. Our focus is to give them an alternative spot from what the world offers. We will keep them active in the church, by all means necessary. Outreach, life-transformation, once in a while gets a passing mention, but it’s clearly not the central focus.

We want to make ministry to the youth “entertainment-oriented” because we have no greater vision for them than to “keep them in the church” – or perhaps, to “keep them in their place in the church.”

We have an army of youth, but are they rightly trained? The best kind of training happens on the mission field. Is the AY aim another slogan to you? If we were to evaluate your leadership after one year, will we truly say that ‘taking the Advent Message to all the world has been your ‘main’ business?

I long for that day that we will make outreach our main business. When we will train our young people rightly – for Mission, and engage them in reaching out to a world that is perishing.

With such an army of workers as our youth, rightly trained, might furnish, how soon the message of a crucified, risen, and soon-coming Saviour might be carried to the whole world!–Education, p. 271.

We have an army of youth. This dream must come true in our generation.

**Adapted from Pr. Baraka Muganda’s keynote address “Salvation and Service”