Real Heroes

rejectedI was speaking to a group of aspiring writers this week and decided to start with a group exercise.  I asked them all to stand and count to forty-nine with me.  They joined me in shouting out the numbers even though they had no idea why I asked them to do this.  As they sat down, I told them about an author I had just met the day before who had written eight books and was now a prominent journalist.  He told me that his first book got forty-nine rejections and it was not until the fiftieth try that he finally got a book deal.  For most of us getting ten rejection letters would be hard.  Getting forty-nine would be almost unbearable.  Pushing through to send that fiftieth proposal takes a special kind of perseverance.  Solomon is that kind of person.  Life had already thrown him a number of curve balls long before he sent the first query letter.  Nothing was going to stop him from accomplishing his writing dream even though it took six years to get there.  This kind of commitment is truly heroic.

Everyone has their own special people that they look up to.  It could be a favorite teacher, an influential pastor or just aRetirement good friend.  On Monday, I got to celebrate the lives of my personal heroes – my mom and dad.  They were completing forty-nine years of service in our ministry and fifty of their best friends were in attendance to celebrate the occasion.  My brother even flew in from Panama to surprise them and boy was it a surprise.  When my mom first saw him she shouted so loud that I nearly lost my hearing.  I was so glad to be able to capture the moment on video.  In a great irony, God had another challenge in store for them right around the corner.  The very night after the party, my mom got food poisoning and a really bad stomach bug.  It turned out to be so bad, that she ended up in the hospital where I am sitting by her side today.  It is at moments like this that I admire my parents the most.  My Dad has been at my mom’s side nearly the entire time and they are both trusting God in the same way that they have done their entire lives.

Some acts of heroism take a life time, some happen over years and some happen in moments.  Many of the most memorable happen because something went wrong and someone needs to change the status quo.  David Terry became one of my heroes this week.  One of our local churches had an important event happening today (Saturday) and needed two hundred books.  The order was placed and we assumed that the books were on their way.  Unfortunately there was a technology glitch and our sales rep never got the order.  By the time that we figured all this out, it was too late to get the books by any normal method of shipping and it looked like we were going to have to disappoint this church.  David did not let that happen.  He flew to the publisher in Grand Rapids, flew to Philadelphia and delivered our books on the same day, just in time for the big event.  You read that right – instead of making excuses or apologizing for the problem, he decided to solve the problem himself.  Who does something like that in 2016 – apparently David Terry does.  The next time I am tempted to make excuses myself or simply apologize, I will remember that heroes find solutions.

As I look to the future, I am glad to know that not all heroes are in comic books or movies.  Some of them are in real life too.  I hope that I may be able to persevere, trust God and find ways to change the status quo in people’s lives too.  Not that I will ever be a hero, but maybe I can inspire others to pursue their dreams, to live lives of real meaning and to find hope in Jesus who is the one true hero.

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Following in Their Footsteps

 I am not really sure why I did it.  Once when I was a young boy, I dressed up like a waiter and decided to serve breakfast to my mom in bed.  I put on dress pants, a white shirt and if I remember correctly, I even had a tie – a clip on to be sure.  Ironically, I am pretty sure I didn’t know much about making breakfast, but my mom seemed to appreciate the gesture anyway.  All I knew was that I loved her, appreciated everything she did for me and wanted to do something special for her.  I loved her cooking so much that I even tried to get her to consider opening her own restaurant.  Then I could really put that waiter uniform to good use.  That never happened though because she had a higher calling and one that would have a lifelong impact on me.

Some years before this my family had moved to the West Indies to serve as missionaries.  As a little child, I had no idea what a sacrifice this was or why they had made this choice.  All I knew was that we lived in a hot place where most of the people did not look like me and everyone spoke with an accent.  Once in those early years, my dad was getting my bath ready for me.  We lived in a very small apartment with no hot water in the bathroom.  Apparently this was a daily routine for my parents.  He would heat up the water on the stove and bring it to the bathroom and mix it with cold water in the tub to get it to just the right temperature for us.   On this particular day, things did not go as expected.  My dad stumbled on the way to the bathroom and spilled scalding water down one side of his body.  I never knew till much later about the third degree burns that he suffered for me.

Ironically, this was not the hardest thing my dad had to endure.  During those same years in Jamaica, he learned that his sister needed a kidney transplant.  Despite the radical requirements of this need and the experimental nature of the surgery, he agreed to be the donor.  He still carries the scars of that surgery on his body today and yet I never heard one complaint in his entire life about making that choice.  Making hard choices was what God called him to do and he obeyed.

When it came to their children, both of my parents consistently put our needs ahead of their own.  In fifth grade I nearly bottomed out academically.  For an inquisitive child who was an avid reader, I was doing poorly and my mom wanted to know why.  After discovering that my problems centered around a teacher and her abusive treatment of me, she made a choice that would alter my life.  Rather than let this continue, she volunteered to be my teacher the next year.  This was a huge sacrifice as it meant that she could not be with my younger sisters who also needed her attention.  In the end her teaching rekindled my love of learning and all of the other kids in that school as well.  I would go on to earn an academic scholarship to college and graduate with honors.  In truth all the accolades I earned were due that that choice she made in sixth grade.

A week from Monday, I get to host a party for my mom and dad.  They are retiring from ministry after forty-nine years of service.  For the last twenty years, I have been following in their footsteps and serving in the same organization.  As a young adult, I was determined to chart my own course in life, but God had other plans.  Little did I know at that time that He was calling me to a life of service and sacrifice just like them.  When I did join CLC in my late twenties, I knew one thing for sure.  My parents had already set an example that I wanted to follow.  Very few people get to work alongside their parents for as long as I have.  I consider it one of the greatest privileges of my life.

As they come to this important milestone, they have set an example once again of faithful service to the end.  My mother often says that they are not retired but “retreaded”.  They will not stop serving the Lord until he calls them home.  Whether it is in their local church, taking care of their many grandkids or trying their hands at some new ministry opportunity they will continue to set the pace for all of us who know them.  I look forward to dressing up once again to serve them both at their party and maybe this time I will be able to wear a tie that I can tie myself.

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Laughter from Heaven

stan jacobsThey still don’t know what really happened to him.  My friend went into the hospital for eye surgery and something went wrong.  He was put into an induced coma and then seemed to recover when they brought him out of it.  He was eating and talking and then … he died on March 31st.  When I first heard the news, I didn’t think it was possible that this vibrant, funny and active man who was younger than me had actually passed away.  Stan Jacobs was now home with his heavenly father, but he left a lot of people here on earth in shock and grief.  These kind of things just don’t make sense.

On Saturday, I made my way down to Chester for his funeral.  It almost seemed like the heavens were crying as big flakes of snow were falling in April.  My heart was heavy and my mind was having a hard time conceiving what had actually happened.  As I arrived at the church, I noticed that there were a lot of cars already there despite the inclement weather.  This was going to be a big event.  As I entered the church, I was ushered to the front with one last group for the viewing.  I hate viewings and had hoped I was going to miss this part of the service.  As I walked past the casket, I looked at Stan’s earthly body and could not accept what I was seeing.  How could he be gone?

Following the viewing, I turned around and realized that the church was packed with people.  There were no empty seats, so I made my way the balcony.  Even the balcony had no seats and I had to find a spot to stand that had a view of the front.  One thing I knew for sure, Stan would have loved this.  Standing room only even at his funeral.  During his lifetime, Stan was an amazing performer and had hosted many events as a Christian comedian.  In this final act, so many people came out to show their love to a man who had made them laugh that it almost seemed like a party.

Sure enough, I came for a funeral and a party broke out.  Right from the start, it was clear that this was going to be a joyous event and no somber affair.  The band was in the house, the choir was ready and the place had an air of expectation.  After introductory remarks, it all started with the blowing of the shofar.  With the sound of this ancient instrument ringing in our ears, we were encouraged to break out into spontaneous praise.  There was not a silent voice in the room.  A little bit later, a youth choir came up to sing and “brought down the house”.  A little boy, who could not have been more than ten years old, was the lead singer.  This was clearly not his first performance and he was amazing.  I could not help but think how praise was the antidote to grief and just what we all needed at this particular moment.

I first met Stan many years ago when he came to our bookstore as the host of the Gospel Poetry Slam that we began holding on a monthly basis at that time.  This event was designed to highlight Christian poets, psalmists, spoken word artists and musicians.  Stan would start things out and within just a few moments had everyone laughing so hard we were nearly crying.  He found humor is the smallest things in life and loved to poke fun at the “pomp and circumstance” that surround so much of the life of the church.  He would later move on to host events with some of the best known gospel music artists of the day and even made it on television.   Every time I saw him, he always had a smile on his face.  He was such a great comedian that he often didn’t even have to say a word and I would find myself laughing.  All it took was a certain look.

As the little boy in the youth choir was belting out the song, I couldn’t help but think that Stan was smiling down on all of us a laughing himself.  He knew we were grieving, but that the God he served would wipe away every tear.  I can’t wait to see Stan again one day and hear his melodious voice as he tells one more funny story.

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Taking the Donkey

donkeyI heard her tentative voice at the front counter.  She was an older woman about to finish her purchase when she asked the question.  Do you have a King James Bible with large print at a good price?  It was not the first time that I had ever heard this question as I had served many customers in the years past who asked the very same thing.  This time, however, she was not asking me.  She was talking to Van Hayes, one of our dedicated team members who was following in my footsteps and serving with excellence.  It didn’t take Van long to find a couple of Bibles that fit her criteria.

We did have King James Version Bibles that were in large print and were reasonably priced.  She showed them to the woman and listened to her questions.  As this senior saint was about to make a choice, she asked if we had this Bible in a black cover.  Unfortunately, we did not.  Van quickly pointed that the lavender one she was holding in her hand “looked good on her”. With that remark, a decision was made and the Bible was purchased.  As she was finishing the transaction, the woman mentioned that her old Bible was just getting worn out and she needed something new to replace it.  I could just imagine all the highlighting, underlining and writing in that old Bible and the many trials and triumphs this woman had seen as she read it every day and trusted in the promises it contained.

Bibles are the lifeblood of the Christian experience and the core item sold in our stores around the world.  Most of our teams start the day reading a passage of scripture and considering its meaning for their lives.  Recently, I had the joy of being a part of these devotional sessions with our team in Sierra Leone.  It was close to Palm Sunday and the team was reading about Jesus’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem.  They discussed many aspects of this famous story and focused in on what it must have been like for the disciples to “take” the donkey from its owner just as Jesus has asked.  Sometimes our Christian life requires obedience when we have no idea how things are going to turn out.  Just like these disciples we are called to do our masters bidding and trust him for the outcome.

I could not help but see the irony in studying this story in our bookstore in Sierra Leone at this particular moment in time.  We had just been discussing how difficult it was to serve in a country that “does not have a reading culture”.  It almost seems like the height of foolishness to be operating a Christian bookstore in a place where people do not like to read, it takes weeks if not months for books to arrive from America or England and sometimes these books are not affordable for the average person.  Yet here we were, reading the Bible together and agreeing that God calls us to do things that we might not understand.

At that point, Alie chimed in with a comment or two about the passage and I was delighted.  You see, Alie, comes from a Muslim family.  He had joined our team several years ago and was captivated by the truths of scripture found in the meager books and Bibles that we had in stock.  He also asked lots of questions of our team and began to be drawn to a new found faith.  Determined to follow a different path, he asked his father for permission to become a Christian and was graciously granted his request.  Today, Alie helps others to find answers to their questions in the pages of the only book that will satisfy the longings of their hearts.    It is for people like Alie that we have bookstores in this predominantly Muslim country. IMG_2800

This week, I found myself browsing our Bible section after overhearing Van serve her customer.  It was a little overwhelming to see the breadth and depth of selection of Bibles we had to offer.  No wonder we had the Bible this woman was looking for.  Unfortunately, the same could not be said for our team in Sierra Leone.  Despite the lack of a “reading culture”, the Bible is actually required reading in schools.  When I asked what Bible the kids were using, our team said it was the RSV version, but they did not have any in stock.  There is such high demand for this one particular Bible that the Bible Society could hardly keep it in stock themselves and did not have any to spare for us.  Twice during the recent Ebola crisis, our team ran out of Bibles.  My heart skipped a beat as I thought of all the hoops it would take to get more Bibles to Africa and then I remembered my Lord’s simple instructions to take the donkey.  My job is simply to obey and to ask for what God has already prepared.

 

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The Long Way Home

IMG_2803It all started with some terrible news on Tuesday morning.  Just after breakfast, I learned that there had been a bombing at the Brussels airport and then a little while later one at a train station.  As my colleague, Gerardo, and I were thinking about the many people who had lost loved ones and had their lives changed in an instant, we realized that we had a problem too.  We were in Freetown, Sierra Leone and were scheduled to fly on Brussels Airlines through Brussels the very next day.  It quickly became apparent that it could be a long trip home.  Little did we know how long it would be.

On Wednesday, we got up bright and early, checked out of rooms and waited.  Our Sierra Leonian teammate was supposed to pick us up and he was late.  Waiting for him would be good practice for what was to come.  When he did finally arrive, we learned that he had been struggling with a bout of Malaria overnight and had just taken some medication.  In checking the airline website that morning, it indicated that our flight was still scheduled to leave that afternoon, but that seemed impossible with all flights to and from Brussels grounded indefinitely.  Our assumption was that the computer must not have been updated.

We quickly made the decision to visit the Brussels Airlines office downtown and see if we could be re-booked.  Given the reality that very few international airlines flew into and out of this particular African country (particularly during the Ebola crisis), we were prepared to have to stay a few extra days.  At the airline office, we were pleasantly surprised to see only a handful of people waiting to be helped.  When it was our turn to be helped we were delighted and surprised to learn that a flight was already on its way to Freetown to pick us up, but we were being re-routed through Frankfurt.

After a quick visit to the Bible Society and a final lunch with our teammate we made our way to the water taxi terminal and waited for our boat to take off for the airport.  We were scheduled to leave at 3:30PM and looked forward to getting the journey started.  Then things began to take a strange and almost comical turn.  At about 3:45, we were informed that the boat would actually not depart until 4:30 as there were some passengers still on their way from the downtown area.  They assured us this would not be a problem for getting on our flight.  Finally around 4:25, we headed off into the afternoon sun and got about 3 minutes away from the dock when a call came in for the boat pilot.  How he heard anything over the roar of his engines is still a mystery to me.  We then learned that one more passenger needed to join us and that he was going back to boat dock.  Not a very auspicious start to the trip.

When we finally arrived at the airport, we went through two different screenings for Ebola where the primary concern seemed to be our temperature as they were using external electronic detectors.  Given the heat of the afternoon, the frustration over leaving so late and the uncertainty that lay ahead, I was actually surprised that we didn’t get flagged for being overheated.   As we entered the airport itself we saw a large crowd of people sitting in what would normally be the departure lounge at any other airport where loved ones would say their goodbyes.  In this particular case, it looked like a doctor’s waiting room where no one was getting any attention.  As we sat down, we began to hear that rumors had been flying around all afternoon that the flight was not actually coming.  Fortunately, we knew that was not true, but what we didn’t know was that the flight was actually going to Zurich, not Frankfurt now.

About two hours later, (yes I did say two hours), we finally got word over the loud speakers that they would begin the process of checking passports, doing a security check and giving us our boarding pass.  It all sounded so orderly.  Then they told us that they were forming two lines, one for British and American passport holders and one for African passport holders.  Everyone else would have to wait.  My colleague, who has a Uruguayan passport was not amused.  Shortly after getting my passport checked, I was standing at the bag check table when I heard the officer next to me say to the passenger next to me, “Sir, you know that you can’t take fish on this flight.”    As they began to discuss this dilemma, I took a quick look into his suitcase and realized that my dirty clothes was the least of their worries.  I cannot even begin to describe the color and odor of the other items.

After that extraordinarily thorough check, I thought things might be looking up until I turned around.  Behind me was an ever growing line of people waiting to get their boarding passes and to have their bags tagged.  Apparently whatever process their computer was using to re-book all of us to our final destinations was taking longer than expected.  When I finally did get to the counter (thanks to my friend with the Uruguayan passport and business class access), I was quickly given my boarding passes and my luggage was taken away.  Now I could breathe a sigh of relief – or could I?  As I looked at the boarding passes that I had been handed, I learned that I was now going to Boston before landing in New York and that was going to take place two days from now.  That’s right, I was boarding a plane on the 23rd and was not scheduled to land at my final destination until the 25th.

My colleague seemed to be having difficulty being re-booked to Miami and suggested that I go on ahead through security and wait for him on the other side.  At around 11PM, nearly three hours after we were originally scheduled to leave, they told us to get ready to board the plane.  As I got in line to board the bus to get to the plane, Gerardo was nowhere to be seen.  He had never come through the security check point.  This friend who is my colleague is also my boss and this was his first trip to Africa.  Now, I was about to get on a plane without him.  As I sat down in my seat on the plane, I had a moment of panic as I realized I might be leaving him in Africa.  As the plane doors were closed for takeoff and after a quick check with a stewardess, I learned that he had just made it onto the plane.  He may have been the last person to leave the terminal.

With my heart pounding just a little less, I settled in for the six hour flight to Zurich.  Upon arrival we were greeted with the expected Swiss efficiency and a help desk right inside the airport doors.  My boss, friend and colleague had not actually gotten any boarding passes for the rest of the trip and would need extra time to sort things out.  The gate agent looked at my boarding passes and suggested that I go to the gate area for the flight to Boston and see if they could get me on an earlier flight to the US and maybe even New York.  Optimistically, I told Gerardo where I would be and even the exact gate I would meet him at and I took off.

At the transfer desk near my departure gate, I learned the sad news that all flights to the USA were heavily booked that day and that there was nothing they could do to help me.  All I could do was settle in for the eight hours until my flight was scheduled to leave.  At least I would be able to chat with Gerardo and compare notes on how the trip was going from his perspective and do some debriefing about our trip to Africa.  Three hours later, there was no sign of Gerardo.  How could this be possible?  Had I lost my boss twice in the space of 24 hours?  What kind of traveling companion was I anyway?  Then it dawned on me.  Maybe he had been successful in getting a flight to Miami and was already on his way – I sure hoped that was what had happened.

After lunch, I dutifully worked on some reports and did some reading and walking around.  With only three hours until my flight now, I took a quick glance at the departures display board to confirm my gate location and saw something disturbing.  Right next to the listing for my flight were the words “technical problems” and “delay”.  My flight would now be leaving three hours later.  Clearly, I needed to learn some more patience.  At about that point I also got a message that Gerardo had made it on a plane to Frankfurt, but he would have to stay overnight and leave the next morning for Miami.

As I got onto the flight for Boston, I sat down in my seat and prayed that I would have an unremarkable seat companion next to me and that I would be able to sleep.  Then Alex sat down.  He was a young college student from the USA on his way home from Budapest with his two friends who had been on spring break together.  As he removed a bottle of beer from his back pack, took a swig and greeted me, I knew this was going to be an interesting trip.

God knew what he was doing too.  It is possible that all of these delays were for the purpose of my ongoing education.  The next two hours were a surprising and wonderful opportunity to hear about music, philosophy, social justice and life for this millennial generation.  Alex was engaging, funny and probably a little surprised that an old guy like me cared much about his life.  I was able to make a few book suggestions and he seemed to appreciate it.  He even invited me to stay in touch and gave me his contact information.

As I finally arrived back in Philly the next day, I realized that this was now officially the longest one way trip I had ever taken in my many years of flying.  I made my way down to the train platform to head home and was nearly about to get on the train when I got the call.  God was not done yet.  A representative from the airline was calling and asked if I was “Mr. Almack”.  When I responded affirmatively, she told me that she had my passport.  How could that be possible?  Then I remembered that I had put it in the seat pocket in front of me during the flight and I must have forgotten it.  So you can guess what happened next.  I did get my passport back, but I also missed my train.

An hour later, I got on the right train and headed to the train stop that I had told my wife to meet me at.  As the train conductor came around to sell me a ticket, I checked with her to confirm that we would actually be going to that train stop on this particular train.  Sure enough, the surprises were not done.  They had recently changed the train schedules and now only went to the stop before the one I had been expecting to arrive at.  I looked down at my phone, realized that my battery was almost dead and prayed that it would have enough “juice” for one last call.  God has a sense of humor, but He is also merciful.  The call went through.  Deb met me at the train and I was never so grateful to be home.

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A Tale of Two Trees

IMG_2569It was a hot afternoon in Liberia when I first met him.  A very dignified man was introduced to me at the Providence Baptist Church in Monrovia and he asked me if I wanted a tour of the small church next door that was the first location of the famous church.  Given that this church is known as the cornerstone of the nation and is the place that the country was founded, I quickly said yes.  As we entered the building it was easy to imagine what it might have been like in 1847 when the returning American slaves took this courageous and controversial step to form an independent nation.  It was very interesting to learn of the pivotal role that the church played in the lives of these early settlers and not surprising that the first church was a Baptist Church and the second was Methodist Church.

As it turned out, our humble tour guide was a pretty important person IMG_2596named Emmanuel Bowier who had served as a Minister of Information in the Liberian Cabinet in the 1980s and is a widely respected historian.  He seemed interested in showing us more important sites in the capital city and asked if we had time for a tour later in the week.  Upon learning that one of these sites would be Providence Island itself, we quickly agreed and set a time to meet on Friday.

Providence Island should be the primary tourist site in the nation, but as Emmanuel told us, “people have to be able to eat before they can dance”.  Consequently, we had some difficulty finding parking nearby and actually walked across the bridge to the entrance point onto the island.  As we arrived at the gate, we noticed that it was locked and that a couple of young girls were keeping watch.  They recognized Emmanuel and quickly went to find someone with a key.  The young man that let us in was delighted to see Emmanuel as were the other caretakers on the island who knew him from his time as a government official that used to bring many foreign dignitaries to the island for tours.

IMG_2648As we soon learned, Providence Island is a part of a complicated story of the modern origin of the nation of Liberia.   In 1822, eighty eight returning American slaves chose the island in part because it was uninhabited and was at the mouth of a river.  They had tried to settle in Sierra Leone to the north, but were rejected because their ancestors had fought on the wrong side of the American war of Independence with the British and Sierra Leone was a “crown colony”.  Upon arrival on the island they learned that it was uninhabited because it was a ceremonial place of religious importance to the indigenous tribes that lived on either side of the river.  They initially bought supplies from these tribes, but after their well on the island ran dry they went to the mainland with an armed party and seized one of the watering holes for themselves.  This began a period of armed conflict with the tribal people.  By 1847, they had established a permanent settlement and declared themselves an independent nation.  The nation was then ruled by descendants of these first settlers for the next 130 years.  The conflict that first began in 1822 with the seizing of that watering hole never really went away and ended with a military coup and the overthrow of the elected government in 1IMG_2655980.

The island itself used to be a beautiful place where people would come on the weekends to dance and listen to musical performances in the bandstand.  Today, all that remains are the “ruins of empire”.  A half-finished monument dominates the lower half of the island and buildings that once sold handcrafted items and souvenirs are all boarded up.   Remarkably the story of Liberia is on display in the interesting location of two trees on the island.  One tree is all too reminiscent of the recent history of war and devastation.  It is called the Peace Tree and made entirely of old guns, bullets and detritus left from a period that nearly destroyed the nation in the 1990s.  It is a hopeful statement that the designers of the monument intend that all who see it would desire never to return to war again.

IMG_2659Just down the pathway from this monument is a far more interesting site where two cotton trees have merged into one.  No one really knows how it happened, but two trees that were fighting for limited space on the island decided to flourish by becoming one tree.  Emmanuel told us that this tree symbolizes what had been hoped for – that the arriving American slaves and the indigenous people would work together to form one prosperous nation.  The long civil war seemed to be in stark contrast to this image before our eyes.  Today, however, it is clear that the country is tired of war and yearning to be prosperous again.  Maybe one day all Liberians will see this tree as symbolic of a true union of its peoples.  I hope to be there when the people of Liberia can dance again and talk with pride of a restored nation that has fully recovered from its violent past.

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Little is Much When God is Involved

IMG_0143Bob was excited to show me his pictures. As I looked at them, I was reminded once again how God can use even the smallest things to accomplish His greater purposes. Deb and I were in Lancaster County again this weekend at Westminster Presbyterian Church’s annual mission’s conference where we host a mega book table. Bob is on the Great Commission Committee of this church and has been a fan or our ministry for some time. These pictures were the proof that CLC really is a unique organization and that our partnership with this particular church had reached a new level.IMG_0146

Several months before, Bob had contacted me about a problem he had and wanted to know if we could help. A Burmese refugee named David had been attending their church for a while and Bob had been getting to know him. As David’s English improved and their friendship developed, he began to tell Bob about the courageous work that his sister was doing in Myanmar (Burma) with orphans and how she was a Christian with very limited resources. Eventually, Bob decided that he and the church would do something to help David’s sister and discovered that she really needed Bibles in the Burmese language and Christian books. His first thought was to connect with Multi-Language Media as they likely had Burmese Bibles in stock and then he realized that this might not be the best plan after all. These Bibles were going to be very expensive to ship to Myanmar and they would probably never make it through customs.

This was when Bob called me. He had suddenly realized that I had mentioned CLC’s work in Myanmar on our last visit to the church. It was a long shot, but he wondered if we could have our local team deliver the Bibles and books to this woman if they provided the funds. After contacting Jacob, the leader of our work, it became clear that this would not be a problem. In fact, by purchasing these items through CLC in Myanmar itself, Bob and his church were able to fund a far larger number of books and Bibles. Just a few weeks ago, I got confirmation that these items had been delivered and Bob was delighted. His pictures showed the large number of titles that she had received in addition to 50 Bibles. David’s sister was very happy too and was going to be able to use these resources immediately in her ministry.

Jacob-Mung-600As I reflected on this story, I was reminded once again that “little is much” when God is involved. Jacob and his team have done a remarkable work in Myanmar over the last twenty years and have been directly involved in publishing over half of all the Christian literature available in the Burmese language. Today, he and his intrepid team are embarked on their biggest project to date. They are involved in a multi-year partnership with the Langham Literature Publisher Development Program in the UK to produce the first ever Burmese Study Bible. This will be a real game changer for the church in Myanmar when it is finally completed.

Being a link in the chain to get the books and Bibles to David’s sister in Myanmar is small part of my job and yet it some of the most important work I do. It is my joy and privilege to connect people to Christian resources in nations all over the world. Who knows how what impact these items will have for eternity. This next week, I am gearing up for my fourth trip to West Africa and I know that God is going to open doors once again. CLC is sponsoring a pastor’s conference in Monrovia, Liberia with hands on training and resources being provided to every attendee. I can’t wait to see the faces of my brothers and sisters who value Christian books so much, because for some, this is the only seminary training they will ever receive.

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