We’re wrapping up the letters of from Paul to the church of Thessalonica today. Paul’s 1st letter consisted mostly of encouragement as the church faced prosecution and urged Christians to live by high moral standards in an immoral society. Anybody think this might be applicable today? Paul also talked about Christ’s Second Coming, urged the faithful Christians to warn believers who refused to work, and gave guidance on how to live as Christians.
Paul must have received news that in spite of his first letter, the Thessalonian Christians still struggled with three major problems, so he wrote the 2nd letter to Thessalonica. In Chapter 1, Paul encouraged the believers that God is fair even if the world is not. God will punish those who punish the faithful, so we should leave judgment to Him. In Chapter 2, Paul provides additional information about the Second Coming of Christ and encouraging them to persevere despite the hardships and to seek correct doctrine and obey the Word.
Now, in Chapter 3, Paul asks his brothers and sisters in Christ to pray for him, and then addresses the growing problem of believers who not only won’t work, but also interfere with the work of others.
II. Faithful Outside the Church (2 Thessalonians 3:1-5)
Finally, brothers, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you. And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men, for not everyone has faith. But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one. We have confidence in the Lord that you are doing and will continue to do the things we command. May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.
Responsible Christians pray and obey to spread the Gospel. When Paul encouraged the Thessalonians to live morally in the immoral society they lived in, he’s recognizing one of the greatest truths of the bible: we cannot do God’s will in this world under our own power. The powerful Christian life always involves two forces; the power of God and the obedience of the believer. There is no doubt Paul was one of the most effective missionaries in the history of the world. Paul was knowledgeable about scripture, Paul was obedient, and here we also see Paul relying on the power of prayer. In verse 1 he asks for prayer that God’s will may be done through him. Paul constantly asked for prayers when he wrote his letters – Romans 15:30-31, Ephesians 6:18-19; Colossians 4:3; 1 Thessalonians 5:25; Philemon 22; the list goes on and on. It pleases God when we pray for His will to be done, and the prayers of a righteous man are powerful. Prayer has many facets to it –
a. Continual Prayer.
In verse 1, Paul says “Pray for us.” The tense indicates a continual prayer, not just a one time event. Paul recognized the need for constant prayer; in 1 Thessalonians 1:2, Paul says he prays for the Thessalonians constantly, and in 1 Thessalonians 5:17, Paul tells them to pray without ceasing. The world is as lost today as it was in the time of the Thessalonians and is in need of a savior they don’t even know. Pray they hear the word; pray we tell them the word. Pray and obey.
b. Offensive Prayer
These continuous prayers should be both offense and defense in our earthly battle. The words Paul chose for “spread rapidly” implies an imagery from the Old Testament where God’s Words runs swiftly, as though a runner in a race. Psalm 147:15 says, “He sends his command to the earth; his word runs swiftly.” And “honor” – or “glory,” in some translations, indicates a winner. The runner receives glory through winning, and God’s Word receives glory when somebody comes to Christ. Evangelistic prayer encourages us to go on the offense and spread God’s message so He may receive glory.
Offensive prayer has a purpose. Our world, you may have noticed, is sick. Our world is dying. The Word of God is life-saving medicine. Paul prays that the medicine is spread rapidly because lives are at stake. Jesus had the same urgency in John 9:4: “As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work.”
c. Defensive Prayer
Prayer is also defensive; we must never forget we are soldiers of Christ engaged in spiritual warfare. The breastplate of righteousness, the shield of faith, the sword of the Spirit are all parts of the armor of God to protect us. We are at battle with spiritual darkness and the plans carried out by evil men. Evil men that have not only corrupted themselves but intent on corrupting others. Evangelists are on the front line on this battle, and need both offensive prayer to spread the gospel effectively, but also defensive, protective prayer against the evil that would stop them.
III. Faithful Inside the Church (2 Thessalonians 3:6-15)
In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers, to keep away from every brother who is idle and does not live according to the teaching you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to make ourselves a model for you to follow. For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “If a man will not work, he shall not eat.”
We hear that some among you are idle. They are not busy; they are busybodies. Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the bread they eat. And as for you, brothers, never tire of doing what is right.
If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of him. Do not associate with him, in order that he may feel ashamed. Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.
Discipline inside a church is necessary. And just like we’d like God’s justice to reign down on somebody else while only God’s mercy reigns on us, we only want church discipline to be imposed on other people. Some people and even some churches use discipline to kick people out of a church. But church discipline as used by Paul is a loving act. Church discipline is demanded by scripture to bring our wayward brothers and sisters back to the church, back to the fold, to heal wounds, to restore them in love.
Listen to what Jesus says in Mathew 18:15-17
If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.
The relationships we have with one another are those of brother and sister, and they reflect our understanding of the love God has shown for us. If we can’t show love to our brother or sister, do we truly understand love at all?
In Matthew 5:23-24, Jesus tells us that our relationships with each other are so important that until we are reconciled with our brother, our offerings to the Lord are of little value. Our service to the Lord, our tithes, our worship, worthless. Jesus says to put your offering down and go reconcile with one another. Then come back and give your offering.
How do we do that? The first step is simple communication with each other. Just talk. If that doesn’t work, enlist a friend or two to help. If that doesn’t work, take it to somebody in the church leadership. Do that as many times as necessary, it’s not a one-time thing.
Human nature being what it is, you’re thinking of somebody that you’d like to drag up before the church leadership. But what if somebody drags you to the church leadership? What sort of attitude should you have?
Removing somebody from the church body is serious. Remember the goal is to restore sinners and bring them back into repentence. We should give them every opportunity to respond. The most important thing to remember is that we never have the right to treat them in an non-Christ-like manner just because they are acting in a non-Christ-like manner. Regardless of how the other person acts, we are to love them.
Here in the case of the Thessalonian church, Paul was dealing with a specific issues. In 2 Thessalonians 1, Paul explained to the church how to act while under persecution. Chapter 2, Paul warned against false teachings. And now, Paul is addressing idle people. See, most of the Thessalonians were Greek and part of the Greek culture was a disdain for work. Work was beneath them, and so they owned slaves to do all their work. Did you know the Roman calendar at this time observed 156 holidays a year? Festival of feasting, Festival in honor of Mercury, Festival of Mars, Festival of Flowers, Festival of Childbirth, Festival of the Dead, Festival of Success. They even had a festival, Agonalia, honoring Janus, the god of gates and doorways.
The Greek Thessalonians used the return of Christ as an excuse not to do work. These idle Greeks became burdens to the church; rather than contributing to the benefit of all, the Greeks lived off the works of other church members, working hard to make a living and contribute to the church.
Paul begins his discussion on church discipline first by studying scripture, in verse 6 he says we must live according to the teaching we received. What does the Lord say about work?
Turns out God has a lot to say about work. Starting in Genesis 2:15, Adam’s job before the fall was to cultivate and keep the garden. In Ecclesiastes 9:10, Solomon says, “whatever your hands find to do, do it with all your might.” There are a dozen proverbs (Proverbs 6:6-11; 10:4-5; 12:11, 12:14, 12:24, 12:27; 13:4; 15:19; 18:9; 19:15, 19:24; 20:4; 21:25-26; 22:13, 22:29) that deal with work. Here’s Proverbs 6:6-11 –
You lazy fool, look at an ant.
Watch it closely; let it teach you a thing or two.
Nobody has to tell it what to do.
All summer it stores up food;
at harvest it stockpiles provisions.
So how long are you going to laze around doing nothing?
How long before you get out of bed?
A nap here, a nap there, a day off here, a day off there,
sit back, take it easy—do you know what comes next?
Just this: You can look forward to a dirt-poor life,
poverty your permanent houseguest!
Ok, so scripture is consistent about work. After making sure your exhortation is consistent with scripture, the next thing Paul commands is that you yourself aren’t guilty of the same thing. Jesus once said that before you judged another for the speck in his eye, you had to make sure you didn’t have a plank in your own eye. Paul had a vocation; he was a tentmaker and earned his living as he traveled. He reminds the Thessalonians of his example in verses 7-10. In order to be an effective witness for Christ, you must examine your own life first to ensure you are a worthy imitator of Christ. Paul didn’t have to work so hard; I’m sure he was fatigued after teaching all day, writing letters to churches, and then making tents at night. As an apostle, Paul was entitled to accept help from the church, but instead Paul went the extra mile to make sure he was an example worth imitating and relieving the church of the burden of supporting him.
First, examine the scriptures, then examine ourselves. The next step is to examine the situation. Why are the Thessalonians not working? Is it because they are unable, or because they are unwilling? Some people are unable to work. Perhaps they are disabled. Perhaps they haven’t found an opportunity or there are no job openings available. Our country is in a recession, and it appears it’s getting worse, not better. We should be diligent in applying ourselves to work as soon as possible.
Don’t take this to mean that the job must be a well-paying job, or that it pays at all. Some of the most demanding work is housework or taking care of children or ministry work. The point is that, as far as you are able, to contribute to work instead taking, to be busy at the things that pleases God instead of using idle time to simply please ourselves or meddle in the lives of others.
Look at verse 12 again. What commonsense advice does Paul give? As Christians, how can we apply this in our approach to society in general? What type of character is created by honest work?
Once the examination of scripture and examination of ourselves is complete, we may find that it’s time to confront another in the church out of love and to heal the body of Christ. Verse 13 is key to our heart at this point; Paul says we are never to tire of doing what is right. Doing what is right may be uncomfortable, but it can also be a time of significant personal growth. Here are some reasons for Christian confrontation –
i. Personal differences. This is probably the most common. We are so quick to judge others, yet are so blind to ourselves. The Thessalonians may have grumbled among themselves, “If they don’t have to work, why should I?” Sin is often unintentional, but sin nonetheless hampers God’s plan for us and for His church. When there is sin in the life of a believer, the health of the church is affected. Paul’s word for these believers were “disorderly” believers, people that marched out of step with others, disobeying Christ’s commands or the instructions of church elders. Instead of being busy, they were busybodies, and 1 Timothy 5:13 says that busybodies are more than just idle gossipers, they may be opposing God’s will by talking nonsense about others and doing Satan’s will. How tragic to find that we think we are good Christians but find instead that our idle talk is encouraging Satan instead of the church.
ii. Doctrinal error. We may find another Christian teaching the wrong doctrine. If they are doing it out of ignorance or lack of knowledge about scripture, we are to teach them the truth. 2 Timothy 2:25 says we are to do this so that God will grant them repentance and lead them to the truth. If they continue, Titus 1:10-14 says we are to rebuke them sharply. If the error continues, Romans 16:17 says avoid them, and 2 Timothy 2 says eventually we are to separate from them because their teaching will spread like gangrene.
iii. Another reason for righteous confrontation is if a believer has been overtaken by sin. This happens to believers, far more often than we think. Even the Apostle Peter denied the Lord, David yielded to lust, Moses to pride, and so on. Galatians 6:1-3 says that for these believers, we the church are to restore them gently. Remember Jesus and the adulterous woman? Jesus wasn’t harsh with her, He was gentle, admonishing to her to go and sin no more. The word “restore” literally means “to set a broken bone”. It takes gentleness and kindness and patience, not sudden judgment and condemnation.
iv. Then we get to the repeating troublemaker. Titus 3:10 tells us to warn them twice and then have nothing to do with them. These people are divisive, they often have good scriptural knowledge but because of their pride, they love to take side and encourage argument. They have a strong opinion because they love to get their way – they may argue about how the Lord’s Supper ought to be served or how the worship songs should be sung or even what kind of service to the Lord is more important. Pride is at the root of division, and Satan uses such heretics to divide a church.
v. And then, there is the church member living in open immorality. 1 Corinthians 5 deals with a case of incest within the church. The church was proud of their tolerance, how despite this open, flagrant sin, the church passed no judgment on him. There are many churches like this today that openly accept members and elders in open sin. Paul tells us that instead of being prideful of our tolerance, we should be in mourning. A believer in open sin should be expelled from the church. Paul warns us not to treat these people as enemies, because they are not. They are our brothers and sisters. Just like Lot fell out of fellowship with Abraham and the Lord because he moved to Sodom, Genesis 14:14 says, “When Abram heard that his relative had been taken captive, he called out the 318 trained men born in his household and went in pursuit as far as Dan.” Our goal is to rescue our brother, not condemn him.
2 Thessalonians 3:14 says we should have such a purpose in our separation. When it comes to the idle, the busybodies, the heretics, the unrepentant sinners, after trying to restore them, rebuke them, disassociating with them, the purpose of our actions is to bring them back into the Lords will. Examine scripture first; make sure you are correct in your theology. Examine yourself, make sure you do not have a plank in your own eye and that you are a good example. Confront them individually, with another believer, with a church elder in order to restore them. And then, if all else fails, leave them alone and mourn that they are not in fellowship with the Lord.
Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.
I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand, which is the distinguishing mark in all my letters. This is how I write.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.
Paul wraps up 2 Thessalonians 3 with note that as Christians, the Lord of Peace himself will give us peace at all times and in every way. This peace is for all Christians; notice Paul says, “The Lord be with all of you,” and this includes those he just finished rebuking. This peace is for us. Let us examine ourselves and our church family and work for what is right for the benefit of all, to make a strong, healthy body of believers for our Lord and Savior.
In the two letters to the Thessalonians, Paul taught them how to live in fellowship as believers. The lesson Paul taught is just as true today. We don’t know when Jesus will return, but we do know that His return is eminent. Until then, we have tasks to do as His body. Work eagerly and joyfully at the tasks God has given us on this earth, all the while keeping an eye toward heaven. In this Chapter, Paul tells us about two of those tasks; we are to pray, and we are to earn a living. In all circumstances, we can take comfort in the peace given to us by our Lord Jesus Christ.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 5 so far )
I’m amazed at how fast we’re moving to a system where the government controls everything. They’re nationalizing banks, socializing medicine, rewriting property laws and taxing our grandchildren as we speak. Here I thought the loss of property rights from the Kelo decision were bad for America. All this coming from lefties who have said for decades they distrust the government. Apparently that’s true only when they’re not in power.
Here’s the latest: they want to put a GPS in your car. They want to see where you drive, when you drive, how far you drive, and tax you based on your driving habits.
The system would require all cars and trucks be equipped with global satellite positioning technology, a transponder, a clock and other equipment to record how many miles a vehicle was driven, whether it was driven on highways or secondary roads, and even whether it was driven during peak traffic periods or off-peak hours.
The device would tally how much tax motorists owed depending upon their road use. Motorists would pay the amount owed when it was downloaded, probably at gas stations at first, but an alternative eventually would be needed.
Next step, no doubt, is to actually implant GPS technology into people.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )
Ok, so that’s a scare title. But not by much.
Buried deep in the so-called Stimulus Plan are new government-mandated health-care restrictions. Here are some snippets –
The bill’s health rules will affect “every individual in the United States” (445, 454, 479). Your medical treatments will be tracked electronically by a federal system.
One new bureaucracy, the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology, will monitor treatments to make sure your doctor is doing what the federal government deems appropriate and cost effective. The goal is to reduce costs and “guide” your doctor’s decisions (442, 446).
Hospitals and doctors that are not “meaningful users” of the new system will face penalties. “Meaningful user” isn’t defined in the bill. That will be left to the HHS secretary, who will be empowered to impose “more stringent measures of meaningful use over time” (511, 518, 540-541)
Hospitals and doctors that are not “meaningful users” of the new system will face penalties. “Meaningful user” isn’t defined in the bill. That will be left to the HHS secretary, who will be empowered to impose “more stringent measures of meaningful use over time” (511, 518, 540-541)
Daschle says health-care reform “will not be pain free.” Seniors should be more accepting of the conditions that come with age instead of treating them. That means the elderly will bear the brunt.
The stimulus bill will affect every part of health care, from medical and nursing education, to how patients are treated and how much hospitals get paid. The bill allocates more funding for this bureaucracy than for the Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force combined (90-92, 174-177, 181).
Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )
I think most Americans will object to this being buried in a panic-induced overreaching deficit bill without debate. Why is our Obamanation ramming stuff like this down our throats without debate? If these are so important, why can’t they be voted on individually so each portion can be judged on its own merit?
Please, government, stop helping us. We can’t afford it. Just put the checkbook down, back away, and nobody will get hurt. We don’t need a “stimulus” plan. It’s that’s sort of government “help” that got us into this mess in the first place.
In this morning’s Washington Post, Obama wrote that the Stimulus Package (which is horrendously misleading as there is far more liberal pet socialist programs than stimulus in the package) must be passed immediately or puppies will die. No time to read it, just sign it.
But then he includes this phrase –
“I reject these theories, and so did the American people when they went to the polls in November and voted resoundingly for change,” he wrote.
I heard him say something similar last week when he refused to implement any conservative suggestions into the negotiations, adding it was because “he won.”
I heard it last night as a significant step toward Marxism was implemented when Obama signed the SCIHP program. Congress is lying about it’s implementation. They raised taxes for the first time in this adminstration by adding 62 cents to a pack of cigarettes, they claim this will fund the socialized medicine program, when in reality they need an additional 24 million smokers to fund it. And then Obama added that the people voted for it because they voted for him.
This is arrogance, and I’m already tired of it. Yes, Obama is my President, but I didn’t vote for that. Nor did the vast majority of Americans request a move to Marxism. Obama promised change, and Americans were tired of Congress lying. Every year they promise to hold back spending and then they spend it like drunken sailors. Obama is doing the exact same thing and there is absolutely no change. Same old same old.
I reject the arrogance. If you want to be bipartisan, Mr. President, show that you have an inkling of understanding for the conservative view point instead of shoving an “I won” down our throats.
May the so-called “Stimulus Package” go down in flames. Defeat is necessary in order to save our country.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 5 so far )
It’s National Bailout Day, seeing as how our illustrious US Congress has allocated $700 billion for Wall Street bankers. As Christians, I think we probably could put $700 billion to better use, don’t you?
But I got to thinking that our lives are not ours, we have been purchased at a cost. How much did it cost for Jesus to bail us out? In that view, $700 is mere paper. The Son of God sacrificed Himself.
Chasing the Wind is please tonight to host the 244th Christian Carnival, this week’s collection of the best Christian writing found on the planet. (Hey, if you find better, at least you’re looking. Halleluiah. :) )
In order they were received, here they are –
- Minister Mamie L. Pack presents Called to pray posted at The Life I Now Live. Instead of just watching somebody fail – why not pray for them?
- FMF presents Is It Ok for a Church to Accept Credit Card Donations? posted at Free Money Finance. Are credit cards themselves either good or bad?
- Renae presents Feeding my Pride posted at Life Nurturing Education. Sometimes it’s hard to recognize the tangled weight of expectations.
- And Michael (that’s me) presents Hearing God posted at Chasing the Wind. God wants you to put it into practice. Are you just listening?
- Messy Christian presents The Shack: Is it heresy? Wayne Jacobsenâ€™s answers posted at Messy Christian (2.0). Messy Christian interviews the publisher of The Shack, Wayne Jacobsen, and asks him what he thinks about the controversy swirling around William P. Young’s bestseller.
- Raffi Shahinian presents Top 10 Things I’ve Learned Re: Emerging/Emergent Over the Last Few Weeks posted at parables of a prodigal world. There’s been a lot of internal dialogue about “Emerging Church” / “Emergent” over the last few weeks. Here are some things he’s learned by following that dialogue.
- Daniel Partin presents Defending The Shack: Black Madonna posted at Prophet For Hire: A blog for those seeking relationship with God. Daniel defends The Shack from charges of promoting goddess worship.
- Casey Petersen presents Financial Crises for Dummies, Part 1: Wu-wu-What just happened? posted at The Limitless. The beginning of the Financial Crises for Dummies series, which will examine the basics of what makes our economy work, and how we got into our current financial crisis, leaving out all the Wall Street mumbo-jumbo and buzz words. While this post is strictly about the economy, future posts will be looking into biblical views on money and finances.
- From Weekend Fisher, Did Jesus testify to his identity? posted at Heart, Mind, Soul, and Strength. Have you ever talked to a Muslim who challenged, “Where did Jesus say, ‘I am God’?” or a non-Christian who challenged, “Where did Jesus claim to be the Christ?” Weekend Fisher reviews what Jesus said about what testimony on our own behalf is worth — and what witnesses he called on his behalf.
- Diane R presents What is Masculinity Anyway? posted at Crossroads: Where Faith and Inquiry Meet. A lot has been written about the lack of masculinity in our church men. But is the new men’s movement going too far? And is it really true, especially of the younger men?
- This week at Light Along the Journey John thinks about what to do when you see that red Audi convertible drive past you and feel that tug to make a trip to your car dealer in his post Four Ways to Deal with Desire.
- Jeremy Pierce presents Dover Intelligent Design Design Decision posted at Parableman. An evaluation of Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, a case back in 2005 that declared an intelligent design curriculum in the Dover school district unconstitutional.
- Henry Imler presents An Evil, Bipolar God posted at Hundie Jo [dot] Com. How do scholars interpret Old Testament commands to destroy other cultures?
- Claudia presents Get Out of That Shell posted at Standing Straight. Claudia hates confrontation, even watching it on TV makes her want to run and hide. We can be like turtles, but it may be necessary to stick our necks out on occasion.
- Annette presents All is in Subjection to him posted at Fish and Cans, a study of Hebrews 2.
- ChrisB presents Half a Blue Parakeet posted at Homeward Bound. An unfortunately negative review of Scot McKnight‘s new book The Blue Parakeet .
- Wickle presents Defining the Pharisees posted at A True Believer’s Blog. Wickle was explaining the Pharisees to his sons, and recaps that conversation, along with some other thoughts about who and what Pharisees do today, and why.
- andriel presents The Purpose of the Law (Part 2) posted at ReturningKing.com. This is part five, the latest installation, in an ongoing series examining the question, “how is a believer to relate to the Old Testament Law of Moses?”
- MedicineMan presents Firmly By The Blade posted at Gladio Mentis – The Sword Of The Mind. A look at how Occam’s Razor really works…and how atheists tend to mishandle it.
And that” wrap up this week’s edition. Submit your blog article to the next edition of christian carnival ii using our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 10 so far )
Image via Wikipedia We survived; we’re thankful. Not only that, we’re well, we have a nice cool front to bring the temperatures down, and it’s a full moon to illuminate our evenings. All these things we give praise and thanks to God.
Last Friday we tried several places to buy a propane refill tank to no avail. Everything was sold out; even finding a gas station that still had fule was difficult, but we found one still pumping. I made a last minute trip to Walgreens to buy a propane lighter, and then to Specs for some hurricane pinot noir, just in case. Then settled down to watch the news.
We watched until 12:30am and the power flickered off and on; at 1:30am we headed to bed. We lost power at 2:00am which woke us back up; electronic appliances beeped and complained they were without power, so I got up to shut them off.
Around 4:00am, the full force of Ike arrived, howling and shrieking outside. Thunder, lightning, wind, rain blowing sideways. I went back to sleep; because of a head cold, I took some Nyquil with the achy-stuffy-head-so-you-can-sleep-through-a-hurricane medicine.
Around 9:00am Saturday, without power, we took a walk in the light rain to survey the damage. Widespread flooding around our homes, and several large trees were down. We had abut 4 inches of water in the garage; it was expected and we had raised things up. Some trees had uprooted sidewalks; a chimney was damaged and fences were down. Some kind samaritan drove by in a pickup truck, fired up a chainsaw,and cut up the tree blocking our entrance, then drove off again.
Cell phone signal was sporadic; we sent text messages to relatives, and heard back from most of them. Cell phone service went out for good after that. And in the afternoon, we lost water pressure.
Sunday, the rain returned, and this time we had 6 inches of water in the garage. Any desire to find better accomodations had to be postponed, waiting for the water to drop.
Sunday afternoon, we drove to my mother’s, who had a large generator running. We were able to take a hot shower and feel civilized again and cook a hot meal. Monday morning a very nice cool front blew in, dropping the temperatures to a quite pleasant upper 70’s, and the full moon lights up the evening. We play cards and dice and read books during the day, and the in the evening play by candlelight. We have a laptop with enough juice to watch 1 movie.
At work, the building I work with is not yet in service, so I’m in a temporary training room where I can charge the laptop back up and finally see the devastation around me and realize how fortunate I am. I picked up some food to go from Olive Garden last night; some salad and pasta fagioli was tasty. They shut down early, though, because of the curfew still in effect.
Tonight, we can watch 1 more movie, the play games again by full moon and candlelight. We’ve visited more with our neighbors in the last 4 days than we have the last year. All blessings to be thankful for. The water pressure’s back, so we can take cold showers but more importantly we can flush the toilets. It’s sort of funny that everytime we walk into a closet we try to turn on the lights.
Finding gas for the cars is rare; most gas stations don’t have power, but we’re ok for another 4-5 days. Some restaurants are opening up; that’s easier than trying to wait in line at grocery stores that are out of everything except canned good. But power is being restored quickly around the city, so we have high hopes that they’ll get to us this week. Almost a shame, though, because the neighborly visits will end, the romantic card games by candlelight will be over. And I bet my electric bill this month will be low.
Thank you for the prayers; we are indeed thankful for them. Continue to pray for those that didn’t weather the storm nearly so well.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )
As weâ€™ve learned the last few weeks, God has a plan for Jacob. Jacob knows this, too, but heâ€™s still trying to do things his own way and for personal reasons. Jacob was the second son born of Isaac and Rebekah, and God had told Rebekah that the elder would serve the younger. Esau was born first and became Isaacâ€™s favorite. Jacob was Rebekahâ€™s favorite, but he was a deceiver and an opportunist. When Esau came home from hunting and was hungry, Jacob took advantage of Esauâ€™s bad judgment and sold Esau a bowl of stew in exchange for a bowl of stew. If these two brothers werenâ€™t fighting already, theyâ€™re fighting now.
When Isaac approached death, Isaac wanted to lay his blessing on Esau, but his eyesight was so poor, Rebekah and Jacob believed they could trick Isaac. They concocted a plan to give that blessing to Jacob by dressing him up in Esauâ€™s clothes. They lied to Isaac. And when Esau found out, he vowed to kill Jacob.
Their family is now in complete chaos. Rebekah sends her favorite son to live with her father to save his life, and thereâ€™s no indication she ever saw her son again. When Jacob arrives at Labanâ€™s house, he gets a taste of his own medicine. Jacob falls in love with Rachel and gives 7 years of work to Laban for her hand, but Laban tricks him, and Jacob marries Leah instead. Laban gives Rachel to Jacob also, but only in exchange for another 7 years of labor. The deceiver had been deceived.
After 20 years of mutually destructive behavior, Laban and Jacob are no longer getting along, and Jacob flees. Again. God tells Jacob to go back home. Jacobâ€™s caught in a tough spot; Laban and his children hate him, but if he goes home, Esau wants to kill him. Jacob may have gained wealth from working his whole life, but his life is in shambles.
I think we gain some insight into Jacobâ€™s character development at the end of Genesis 31; this is where Laban confront Jacob and Laban essentially agrees not to kill Jacob. Jacob defends his actions with these words in Genesis 31:42,
If the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the Fear of Isaac, had not been with me, you would surely have sent me away empty-handed. But God has seen my hardship and the toil of my hands, and last night he rebuked you.
Jacob acknowledges God is Abrahamâ€™s God and Isaacâ€™s God, but I donâ€™t see that he has acknowledged God is his own God. Jacobâ€™s progression of faith is such that he knows who God is and even recognized Godâ€™s sovereignty, but he has not truly placed his trust in the Lord.
Well, maybe Esauâ€™s no longer mad at him; itâ€™s time to return home. Do you think 20 years away from home has eased the old wounds? Or do you think 20 years away from home has hardened Esauâ€™s heart and made him more bitter? Do you think putting off his conflict for 20 years has fulfilled or delayed Godâ€™s promises to Jacob?
We pick up our story in Genesis 32 as Jacob begins his journey home. The angels of the Lord meet him. This must have been comforting to Jacob and it reminds him that the Lord had promised him back in Genesis 28 that the Lord was with him and would never leave him. Jacob was stressed out, not know what his reception would be like when he returned. In the Old Testament, the appearance of angels offered great comfort but often appeared just before times of great trial, like the appearance to Lot just before Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed. Jacob is about to undergo an ordeal where he has to face up to his own deceitful character. Jacob had put himself in this predicament because he had stolen the blessing from Esau instead of relying on God, and now heâ€™s going to have to face Esau and do things Godâ€™s way.
Jacob sends messengers ahead of him to Esau in verse 3.
Jacob sent messengers ahead of him to his brother Esau in the land of Seir, the country of Edom. He instructed them: “This is what you are to say to my master Esau: ‘Your servant Jacob says, I have been staying with Laban and have remained there till now. I have cattle and donkeys, sheep and goats, menservants and maidservants. Now I am sending this message to my lord, that I may find favor in your eyes.’ “
Jacob wants to tell Esau, oh hey, Iâ€™ve been gone 20 years, you probably wondered where I went. I went to see our uncle Laban he says Hi. Iâ€™m coming back now, and Iâ€™m bringing goats! P.S. Please donâ€™t kill me. Verse 6,
When the messengers returned to Jacob, they said, “We went to your brother Esau, and now he is coming to meet you, and four hundred men are with him.”
Oh, this isnâ€™t going to be good. Jacobâ€™s coming with cattle and donkeys and sheep and goats and servants. Esauâ€™s coming to meet him with 400 warriors. Verse 7-8,
In great fear and distress Jacob divided the people who were with him into two groups, and the flocks and herds and camels as well. He thought, “If Esau comes and attacks one group, the group that is left may escape.”
I think Iâ€™d be afraid, too. Jacob is completely outmatched; Esau will have the anger and the manpower to crush Jacobâ€™s little donkey and goat army. Jacob starts laying out his plans; heâ€™s expecting Esau to attack, and Jacob makes plans for half of his party to escape should the other half be destroyed.
Jacob has a decision to make. Doing the right thing means reconciliation with Esau. We all want to do the right thing, donâ€™t we? But doing the right thing is not easy. This is a crossroads that every believer must eventually face. What do I do, and how will I do it? When God calls me to do a most difficult thing, will I do what God wants? Or will I take the easy way, and do what I want?
Unfortunately, sometimes we take the easy and selfish way. In this class, we are closer to our spouse than any other human being on the planet. We should examine ourselves daily to see how God wants us to treat our spouse, but weâ€™ve all discovered (and are still discovering) that being married comes with a few challenges. Will we do what God wants us to do? Or will we find some excuse? Itâ€™s too easy to say that we donâ€™t have to do the right thing because our spouse does this or our spouse doesnâ€™t do that. But God calls us to trust in Him. We face the same sort of decision Jacob faces. Will we do it Godâ€™s way, or will we do it our way?
God has promised Jacob that the land of Canaan will be his. In order to claim this promise, Jacob is going to have to face Esau in an honorable way, in a way that is obedient to the Lordâ€™s will. But the last time Jacob saw Esau, Esau wanted to kill him. Loving God will require Jacob to love God more than he fears Esau. Doing the thing we resist most will gain peace with God. We must show God that we fear Him most in order to prove we love Him most.
What holds us back from experience the completeness of Godâ€™s love for us? Is it fear, like Jacob experiences? Weâ€™re afraid to do something that God wants us to do? Is it anger that holds us back when God wants us to forgive? Is it something worldly God wants us to surrender but we want to keep it selfishly? In Jacobâ€™s case, he had selfishly destroyed his relationship with His brother, and God is calling him to repair it. Jacob had spent 20 years of his life, not wanting to face this moment. If Jacob was going to receive Godâ€™s promise, he was going to have to face the repercussions of his own actions.
And finally we see Jacob start to break, to finally start to realize that the God he knows, the God of Abraham and Isaac, is his God. Jacob has worked himself into a bind that he cannot fix with his usual deviousness and deceit, and now he needs help that no man can provide. And we see Jacob go to his knees in prayer, the first recorded time that Jacob prays . Genesis 32:9-12,
Then Jacob prayed,
“O God of my father Abraham, God of my father Isaac, O LORD, who said to me, ‘Go back to your country and your relatives, and I will make you prosper,’ I am unworthy of all the kindness and faithfulness you have shown your servant. I had only my staff when I crossed this Jordan, but now I have become two groups. Save me, I pray, from the hand of my brother Esau, for I am afraid he will come and attack me, and also the mothers with their children. But you have said, ‘I will surely make you prosper and will make your descendants like the sand of the sea, which cannot be counted.’ “
â€¢ Godâ€™s will
The prayer has many important elements of a prayer that God hears and responds to. He addresses God as God of his father and grandfather again, but heâ€™s added â€œO LORD,â€ Jehovah God, the proper name of the one true God. Jacobâ€™s God, Jacobâ€™s Lord. No longer is God merely the God of his fathers, but itâ€™s the â€œLord who said to me.â€ Itâ€™s Jacobâ€™s God.
Heâ€™s approaching the Lord with humility; Jacob praises God for His kindness and faithfulness, and he knows he is unworthy of this favor. When we pray with a sense of pride or a sense that we deserve this favor, our prayers are ineffective. When we know that we cannot achieve anything on our own, that whatever ability we have in itself comes from God, then we realize how much we need God in our lives. God is so much bigger than us, but our own egos tend to inflate our sense of worth. We are important to God, we are very important â€“ but weâ€™re not worthy of the love and grace He gives to us.
And Jacob is approaching God as an obedient servant; God told Jacob to return to Canaan, and as Jacob approaches God in prayer, Jacob tells God he trying to be obedient to Jehovah God. One of the keys to effective prayers is to come to the Lord with a sense of obedience. Jacob has a lot of guilt in his life, being deceitful with his father and brother. As Jacob prays, heâ€™s acknowledging that obedience to the Lord is important.
And Jacob for the first time is his life seems to be praying for Godâ€™s will instead of his own. His prayer to God tells God that Jacob believes Godâ€™s promise that the children of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob will be fruitful and multiply, but Esau is coming to slaughter the mothers and the children. When we pray with Godâ€™s long-term plans as our primary motive, we are far more likely to pray for the right thing and to do the right thing.
Now it is time for Jacob to fulfill his promise to the Lord that he made years earlier, back in Genesis 28:22 that Jacob will do the Lordâ€™s will and return to Canaan. But there is an obstacle. Itâ€™s Esau. The anger in Esau is a direct result of Jacobâ€™s bad behavior, of which Jacob must now repent. In Matthew 5:23-24, Jesus tells us that if we have a gift for the Lord our brother has something against us, we are to do 3 things in order â€“ 1) leave the gift at the alter, 2) go and be reconciled with your brother, 3, come back and offer the gift. Often times our path to the Lord requires us to travel right through the family member we have the most difficult relationship with. Jacob is learning the Lordâ€™s lesson that in his new spiritual growth and being obedient to the Lord, he is going to have to face Esau and his 400 warriors and reconcile with his brother.
Even after praying to the Lord, I think Jacob is still scared. In verses 13-21, Jacob arranges for a series of gifts to be sent ahead of him. Hundreds of goats, hundreds of sheep, camels, cows (my cow), bulls, and donkeys. Each herd is sent separately in waves, and each servant is to tell Esau that they are gifts from Jacob. And Jacob spends the night in the camp before meeting Esau the next day.
This is an interesting paradox. Because Jacob stole Esauâ€™s blessing, this blessing was now a curse. The blessing that was promised by God was now the very thing that might get Jacob killed. The only thing that Jacob has to offer Esau is the very thing he stole from Esau in the first place.
No doubt praying to the Lord has given Jacob some wisdom on how to resolve the conflict with his brother. God gives us a brain and expects us to use it; just because we trust in the Lord doesnâ€™t mean we give up and wait for the Lord to fix things for us. We pray and we act together.
In Genesis 32:22-23, Jacob send his two wives, Leah and Rachel, and all his sons and servant across the river, and he spends some time alone with God. Verse 24-31,
So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.”
But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”
The man asked him, “What is your name?”
“Jacob,” he answered.
Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome.”
Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.”
But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there.
So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.”
The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel, and he was limping because of his hip.
Jacob is wrestling with â€œthe manâ€ and because of the word play in the original Hebew, itâ€™s unclear exactly who Jacob wrestled with. Was it really a man? Perhaps it was an angel, or perhaps Jacob wrestled with his own conscience. The phrasing is probably intentionally ambiguous so that we focus on the wrestling and not the person. Ultimately it is the Lord that Jacob wrestles with, and Jacob realizes this. Up until this night, Jacob thought his struggle his whole life was with Esau or Laban, but itâ€™s not. He realizes that his whole life, heâ€™s been wrestling with God.
Jacob has made a spiritual journey that we all must travel. Often Christians will talk about â€œwrestling with God.â€ The struggle between our own will and Godâ€™s will is a daily battle. We want to do one thing; often God wants us to do something else. Some people struggle with addictions; others struggle with trying to keep their words and actions in harmony with what Christ wants from them. Sometimes God wants us to do something, but we donâ€™t. And we wrestle with God. Or another time God wants us to stop doing something. And we wrestle with God.
Something that impressed me about Jacobâ€™s struggle is that God will let us win. If we are so set in being disobedient to God, God does not force us to be obedient. C.S. Lewis once said, “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done.'” If we are so determined to have our own way, God will let us have it. Non-christians who want nothing to do with God, who want to have no relationship, nothing, zero. God will let him have his way, to spend eternity without God in his life.
God will also let Christians have their way. Christians that want to believe that their own special disobedience is ok can, indeed, continue their disobedience. One can be a Christian and continue to find they still have within them the evils of the heart listed in Matthew 15:19; evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, lying, slander. We are all unclean, and like it or not, we are probably guilty of one or more of the things on that list. We continually practice deceit like Jacob, and we continue to be disobedient. In fact, we have been disobedient so long, we no longer hear God calling to us in that area of our lives. We continue and continue to sin until we can no longer hear God, and then we wonder why God doesnâ€™t hear our prayers. But we know that an effective prayer begins with obedience and humility; that is why David prayed in Psalm 139:23,
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.
David knew that praying to God to show him his own sin leads God to reveal his own offensive character to him, and that it would be painful and uncomfortable but would eventually lead to a closer relationship with God.
So Jacob wrestles with God, and God does not overpower Jacob. God is so much more powerful, but yet God is gentle with us as we wrestle with Him. God with a mere touch cripples Jacob. We think we can wrestle with God and win, but we really canâ€™t. A mere touch from God is all it takes for God to win. God has control of the situation all along.
When Jacob wrestled with God, what was he wrestling over? What choices did he have?
Jacob is wrestling with the sin in his life by seeking to reconcile with his brother who he had defrauded when they were 20 years younger. This reconciliation is the right thing to do and Jacob knows it, but it places his life at risk. Esau wants to kill him. Will Jacob trust in himself and save his own life? Or will he risk his life doing Godâ€™s will? Jacob and God are wrestling over who gets to control Jacobâ€™s life.
Once itâ€™s clear to Jacob that God is in control, Jacob finally submits to God. His life of disobedience has come to an end. This is what God longs for, for each and every one of us, for us to give up selfish control of our own lives and seek Godâ€™s will in our lives. Jacob finally submits and does not ever want to lose the presence of God in his life. Jacob says, â€œI will not let you go.â€ Jacob thought by fighting with God and doing it his own way would yield the best possible outcome, and instead ended up fleeing from his father-in-law and afraid of his brotherâ€™s wrath. Perhaps he thought if he could fight God and win, he could fight anybody and win. But only by submission to God does Jacob finally begin to see that true strength lies in submission.
Jacobâ€™s plea to God to never leave him is rewarded two ways. One is by Godâ€™s changing his name from Jacob to Israel. Jacob means â€œhe grasps the heel;â€ Jacob was a heel, a deceiver. But now his name is Israel which means â€œstruggles with God.â€ Jacob will continue to have days where he struggles to do Godâ€™s will, but gone are the days Jacob takes pride in his deception. The second sign is his limp, a sign of Jacobâ€™s humility. Heâ€™s no longer the arrogant and prideful man, but a humble man whose strength comes not from himself but from his faith in God. Physically, he was weaker, but spiritually he was stronger.
One of the most important blessings one can receive from God is the promise He will never forsake us, that he will never leave us. When we are resisting God, we are walking in darkness. When Jacobâ€™s life was darkest, family members trying to kill him and all alone in the camp along the river at night, he needed God to show him the way. Once Jacob wrestles with God and submits, daylight comes. Psalm 119:105 says,
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.
When we submit to God and seek Him, we walk out of darkness and into the light, just like Jacob.
God says to Jacob, â€œLet me go, for it is daybreak.â€ This is an important event in the Old Testament, because in Exodus 33:20 God will tell Moses that no one may see Godâ€™s face and live. God protects Jacob by withdrawing from him before daybreak and not showing his full glory to Jacob, but even so, Jacob does not come away unscathed. His limp will forever remind him of his struggle with God and remind him where his strength comes from. Paul had a similar struggle with the Lord when he pleaded for the Lord to take away his thorn in his flesh, but God tells Paul that Godâ€™s strength is made perfect in weakness. Itâ€™s only by submission and asking for Godâ€™s will that we get out of His way and let Him accomplish what He was going to do, with or without us.
When Jacob was in darkness, afraid and alone, he probably felt like God was very far away. How far away was God? When we wrestle with God, God is closer to us then than at any other times in our life. It feels like weâ€™re alone in the dark, but God is there with us. It feels like a great struggle we face all alone in the dark, but itâ€™s because we are not in submission to God that we feel we are alone. God is with us in our struggle. Once we turn from our rebellion and to Him for our strength, we walk out of the darkness and into the light and begin to see Godâ€™s blessings in our life. We, too, wrestle with God, and when we are submissive to his will, we see the day break.
Jacob finally begins to receive Godâ€™s blessings in Genesis 33. Jacob must have confidence that the Lord was with him the next day, but still fearful that Esau wanted to kill him. But the Lord was at work on Esau; Genesis 33:4 says Esau ran to meet Jacob and embraced him, threw his arms around his neck and kissed him, and they wept together. God can do great miracles if we only submit to His will and let Him.
Effective prayer depends on our obedience and humility and a focus on Godâ€™s greater plans. When we wrestle with God, we often feel alone and in the dark, but God is closer to us when we wrestle with him and submit than at any other time of our lives. And when we submit with humility, we walk out of that darkness and into the light.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 2 so far )
Something I read today I thought was very interesting – western medicine doesn’t work as well as fake non-medicine, at least for lower back pain. A study found that fake acupuncture worked nearly as well as real acupuncture, and both of those were nearly twice as effective as western medicine.
In the largest experiment on acupuncture for back pain to date, more than 1,100 patients were randomly assigned to receive either acupuncture, sham acupuncture or conventional therapy. For the sham acupuncture, needles were inserted, but not as deeply as for the real thing. The sham acupuncture also did not insert needles in traditional acupuncture points on the body and the needles were not manually moved and rotated.
After six months, patients answered questions about pain and functional ability and their scores determined how well each of the therapies worked.
In the real acupuncture group, 47 percent of patients improved. In the sham acupuncture group, 44 percent did. In the usual care group, 27 percent got relief.
To me it seems obvious that much of the pain relief comes from just *thinking* you’re going to get relief. The next question I’d have is, if you know that going in, do you need treatment at all? Or just think about getting treatment?Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 6 so far )
January 2, 2006
Today’s Swahili phrase: hakuna matada, which means “Disney marketing phrase.” No wait, it means “no worries.”
I’ve received a lot of encouragement to continue this series – we’re about halfway through – but this next day was a very important day, full of eye-opening experiences, and frankly, just hard to get a grasp on everything that happened and put it into words. I probably started and stopped this post a half-dozen times in the last month, and I think you’ll see by the end why it took so long. While bathing the orphan children was a revealing experience 2 days ago, today really impressed upon us the great need and problems of the people of Kenya.
Today we went to visit Sister Freda and her hospital, and I met one of this planet’s finest women. Sister Freda runs a hospital near Kitale, Kenya, as well as an orphanage and a school. She told us that only 2 of every hundred patients can afford to pay, so she provides most of the care for free and operates entirely on faith. We had come to serve Sister Freda for the day, but she waited on us hand and foot and humbled us by showing us what a real servant was like. Here is Sister Freda; click the thumbnail to get a full size view.
Sister Freda first gave us a tour of the hospital. In the US we’re used to gleaming stainless steel so the concrete building didn’t appear exactly state-of-the art, but it was very clean and sterile. Plenty of care was taken to keep things clean and neat. We met some of the patients. A woman with AIDS and malaria who had had an allergic reaction to the drug combination and who’s skin appeared to be disappearing; in her case, the rich black skin of a Kenya had turned an off-white color. We stopped to pray with her. We met a pregnant woman; pre-natal care is almost non-existent here, but this woman had stopped in for a checkup and some vitamins. We met a little girl with sickle cell anemia. Another young child, perhaps 2 years old, was asleep; her mother lived in the nearby forest and had carried her baby in a backpack for so long her legs were folded under and misshapen from the lack of use, and Sister Freda was providing the physical therapy to help her walk. The baby was taken from the mother by other villagers when the mother drowned her eight year old daughter.
Next, we went outside to visit the orphanage and school. In Kenya, they don’t have public schools funded by taxes like the United States; instead, each parent has to provide money to pay for their children’s education. The result is that many children from the poorest families and all orphans remain uneducated. Sister Freda not only has 30+ children she feeds and educates, but she’s been doing this such a long time that some of the earliest orphans have grown up and now work in her medical clinic. Here we visited the children while they were having breakfast.
When breakfast was over, the children returned to the classrooms. I think there were three rooms, each about 20’x20′ with a door, a window, and a blackboard, and not enough chairs for the children. That didn’t seem to be a problem for them, though, as the children happily sat on each other when necessary. The children sang “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” and “If You’re Happy and You Know It” in English and were genuinely surprised that we knew the words, too.
Sister Freda also has a fruit orchard and we toured the bananas, papayas, and avocados growing there. Many of the medicines prescribed are supposed to be taken with food, and for many of the patients food can be difficult to come by. Sister Freda solves that problem by growing her own food and cooking in her own kitchen. We were blessed by lunch with her as she served a meat stew with ugali and some of the most wonderful bread I’ve ever had called chapati, made by rolling whole wheat flour and salt into a circle, browning in a pan, then held briefly over an open flame to puff up.
Sister Freda was a fabulous host, and we found out the reason our day of service in the town of Mbasagan was cancelled was because of a funeral being held that day. On a moonless night, dark black men are hard to see, and such a recent night saw the murder of six people in town. Possibly in retaliation for a tribal disagreement, the six were murdered in their homes. We were reminded that we were far away from home and not necessarily as safe as we felt. Sister Freda instead served us lunch and presented each of us with a rungu, an African fighting stick. (I’ve tried to look this up on a web search, but the rungus I found don’t look like the ones we received. Ours look more like a samburu war club.)
After lunch, we went to Mbasagan town to visit. When Mzungus like us visit, we cause a stir, and all the children turn out. The children are incredibly friendly and have none of that “stranger danger” has ever been taught to them. They walked right up along side and took our hand – those that were brave enough to come so close to a mzungu, that is. They ask for nothing but their needs are great. Some of the children would hold our hands for a while as we walked… then would also help us hold our water bottles. One by one we relinquished all of our water to the children, for we knew we could just get fresh water bottles later. What were the children drinking? The children save their bottles and walk to the river daily to refill it. Take a good look at the color of the water in this water bottle this young girl was carrying. How could we refuse? We only had maybe 6 or 8 bottles among us and there were two dozen children and I didn’t know how to choose, but that was my western materialism at play again. It didn’t matter which child we gave the water to, all the bottles ended up in the hands of a single, older girl. We were told once they had collected all the water, she’d divide it among the children fairly so they could all have a taste of fresh water.
One of the women we met showed us some maize that was at the foot of her house. It didn’t look like much, and it wasn’t. She told us that it was all she had to eat until October, but she wasn’t going to eat it. She was saving it for the rainy season to plant. She was an educated woman with a university education, and then married a local Mbasagan man. There was no opportunity to use her education and said matter-of-factly that this was just her lot in life. Her husband provided the living, carrying fruit from the market to the highway for about 35 shillings a day, about 50 cents. With that, they bought food daily. It was her job to collect firewood and water every day.
She told us of the needs of the town; many of the adults and children were dying of dysentery, cholera and malaria. The town shared a latrine, dug by hand 30 feet down, then covered with a board with a hole in it. The only well in town was also dug 30 feet down, and waste seepage had long ago contaminated the well. As if that wasn’t bad enough, there was no cemetery, so people buried their dead on their own land, about a 20′ x 20′ piece of land. They only buried them two or three feet deep, so heavy rains would wash remains into their neighbor’s yard where they cooked. They asked to get word to a group like Living Water who could drill water wells 200 feet, well below the contaminated layer of ground.
We walked back to Sister Freda’s in a somber thoughtful mood, but our day was just beginning. When we got there, a man on a bicycle had carried a woman to see Sister Freda. The woman was in obvious pain; her ankle was very swollen, she could not move her arm, and she was bleeding from one ear. She had been riding on a boda-boda, a bicycle, and had a bicycle accident. She had leaped off at the last moment. Sister Freda took her inside, cleaned her up, but said she needed x-rays, something Sister Freda could not provide. We had a van, so we split into two groups. One group went back home, picking up groceries for the night. The rest of us gave the injured woman – her name was Rosa – a ride to the Kitale hospital. Our experience here convinced us of two things. One, I would never complain about US hospitals, and two, if we became injured in Kenya, please ship us to England for emergency care.
The hospital had an admission room where they grudgingly admitted Rosa because of Sister Freda’s letter, and that’s where the hospital care ceases. There are no orderlies, no nurses, nobody that comes to help. Injured people must be accompanied by friends or relatives to move them around or… they just die. There’s a payment for admission, and all transactions are handled up front with cash. If you don’t have cash… well, I guess you die. We found a metal gurney and lifted Rosa onto it and she yelled in pain; it had been several hours since her accident and she had no painkillers. Then we waited for a doctor to arrive to take the x-rays. He was traveling among other hospitals at the moment, taking x-rays, and nobody was sure when he would arrive at this hospital.
After two or three hours, Rosa lying on the metal gurney in pain, we decided we had waited long enough. It was getting dark and Rosa was getting cold, so we went back into the ward. Beds were available back here, but there were three times as many patients as there were beds, so injured and ill people shared, 2 or 3 to a bed. When we brought in Rosa, one woman moved her injured child into another so three children shared a bed, making room voluntarily for Rosa to have a place. We wheeled her as close as we could, then lifted her to the bed, cringing because she yelled in pain. We felt hopeless, unable to compensate for her hurting.
And 2 minutes later, we found the doctor had arrived. And we lifted Rosa again in pain onto the gurney, bumped her across the concrete walkway back to the x-ray room. Then we lifted her for the 4th time that day onto the x-ray table. The doctor looked at us seriously and asked us some direct questions about whether we were missionaries. I don’t know if that would have been a problem, but we answered truthfully that we were visiting sister Freda. One of us was a pastor, the rest were engineers, accountants, miscellaneous. Not full time missionaries. The doctor looked at us for a while longer, then asked for payment. We paid the doctor and waited outside.
After a few moments, he told us her foot was merely sprained, but her clavicle, her shoulder was broken. The blood from the ears indicated some head injury, but his equipment could not x-ray a skull. There would be no way to tell if her head was damaged seriously, nor any way to treat it.
We lifted Rosa for the 5th time back onto the gurney, wheeled her along the bumpy path, then lifted her for the 6th time back into bed. We now had a prescription for a painkiller, so again we divided up, half walking down the street to get the medicine, the rest staying with Rosa for comfort. We could pray for her, but she spoke no English. Jason translated for us that we had been visiting a local church and would stay with her as long as we could. At a nearby store before they closed we bought a shawl for Rosa to stay warm, milk and fruit for when she became hungry, and made a quick trip home to grab some personal pillows we had brought from the US so she would have something to rest her head on.
In the meantime, the rest of our group, waiting in the van, had spent the afternoon witnessing to the security guard. I didn’t get the whole story, but he was Muslim and afraid of what would happen to him, but then gave his life to Christ. I hope one of our group gets the courage to post in the comments below what happened out there. :)
That was all we could do for Rosa that day, so we left, vowing to come back and check on her when we could. Her brother was with her so her needs could be met. The needs of the Kenyan people showed so greatly in even this hospital – no assistance, no food, no medicine, and you had to pay first or you didn’t receive care. The Lord had opened our eyes today on many things, things we would never forget.
Again, I apologize for the length of time it took to write about this day, but it was such a powerful day, and I haven’t had the time at lunch lately to write like I did earlier in the year. If you thought our day of bathing the orphan children was the most emotional experience, today was exponentially more powerful. And tomorrow? In Day 8 we will find that there’s even more needs than we could have possibly imagined. That’ll take a while to write as well, so I hope you’ll be patient. And those of you that went to Kenya with me, and especially those friends still in Kitale, please comment and correct anything I didn’t get quite write, I’ll be happy to fix it. Just comment below or email me.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 8 so far )
Dang dogs. I’m pretty sure Patch jumped up on the furniture tonight and got my wife’s thyroid medicine off the end table. When I got home after exercise, it was Bella that was happily chewing on the child-proof (but not dog-proof) plastic bottle.
ASPCA poison control had a nearly incomprehensible technical paper on thyroid overdose. Basically, except for possible vomiting and diarrhea, the dogs should be fine. Dogs don’t absorb thyroid medicine well.
After I’m sure they’re ok, I’m going to kill them. Bad dogs.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 2 so far )
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