Category Archives: Missionary Memories

Missions is an Open Bible

Backpacks are a pretty common part of daily life in Barrouallie since you do lots of walking, and have to carry things with you.

Mine usually has the following items

  1. A book
  2. A notebook for journaling Scripture
  3. My Kindle
  4. And my carrying around bible

The carrying around Bible is a smaller one (the one above is my study bible) used in ministry during the day. Using a Bible on your phone is more convenient, but I’ve found a physical copy is much better when ministering to people. I like to turn the passage so it faces them directly, then they can read along with me.

My carrying around Bible has proved very useful in not only sharing the Gospel, but sharing devotional thoughts, and answering questions. Some people have begun asking me questions about Scripture as I pass by because they know that I carry a Bible in my bag.

The true reason why I carry a Bible however is because thats what God uses to transform lives….

And Satan hates it.

Monday I sat down in front of church with a man and we read through Psalms 91 together. A gentleman was sitting on some steps nearby, and asked me to speak louder so that he could hear. As we read and discussed, he nodded his head in agreement with what we were saying.

The same man stopped me the next day and after some small talk, started asking me questions about the Bible. It soon became clear that instead of agreeing with Scripture, he felt the Bible was a useless book.

During our conversation he told me

  1. The Bible had no facts in it
  2. The people in it never existed
  3. It was actually written by King James
  4. And the white man (his words) took the black mans story, then wrote the Bible so that they could control the blacks

Many times as we talked for about an hour he told me “I don’t want to talk about that (my open bible), I want to talk about facts.”

Now I have no animosity towards him, and the truth is, he wasn’t angry with me. But throughout the hour-long conversation, his goal was to get me to stop using the Bible.

And each time I refused….

Because if the Bible isn’t my foundation, then my own opinion is

Satan hates the Bible with a passion because it’s the Word of God. So he wants to draw us away from it. This isn’t normally done through false doctrine or complete rejection of Scripture, but using our own ideas and opinions instead of Scripture.

This is why ministry of every kind in my humble opinion must be done with an open Bible.

Though he didn’t say it this way, the man in our conversation was constantly telling me to “close the Bible” and give him “facts” (my opinion). But I reused because he wasn’t the one who wanted a closed Bible, it was Satan.

Missions is truly helping the poor

In April shortly after the La Soufrière volcano erupted, I was cleaning in front of the church one day, and heard a woman begin walking up the street shouting very loudly. At first I couldn’t make out what she was saying, but as she came closer I recognised the same words were being repeated over and over again.

“I’m hungry!”

She was an evacuee staying in a nearby resource centre who got in trouble for leaving without permission, and going to get a bag of bread. Her words actually haunted me because I knew many of the people in Barrouallie were saying the same thing.

They may not be shouting it in the middle of the road…

But they were still hungry

Lack of consistent day to day jobs means parents (usually the father) try to do enough odd jobs in order to buy food for that day. Vincentians aren’t malnourished, but getting money for the food can be a struggle.

The initial response to this problem is feeding everyone we possibly can, but that actually creates more problems .

In 2014, Steven Corbett and Brian Fikkert wrote a book called “When helping hurts.” It is without a doubt the best book I’ve read on the subject of poverty. Their main point is that relief should equip the poor to do work, instead of building dependence.

Relief can easily become a vicious cycle were individuals come for help whenever there is a need. Obviously in a time of great need we should help, but this can become a habit so when a financial need arises instead of trying to meet it themselves, they come to us. In extreme cases, this creates a sense of entitlement where individuals feel the deserve relief, and are upset if they don’t receive it.

Instead of creating a cycle that makes us their “saviour”, relief should be a reward for their effort.

This morning I met with an older man who asks for money every time he sees me. Because he spends all of his money on rum, I refuse to do so. Friday I made a deal with him, if he sat down and read through a psalm with me, I would give him a bag of rice (enough for one meal).

He was standing at my gate early this morning ready for his bag of rice! But after I reminded him of our deal, we went down to the church, and spent some time reading through Psalm 91 which describes Gods as our refuge, and stronghold. At the end I explained how God would meet his needs if he gave the Lord control of his life.

He left very happy (with a bag of rice) and promised to be back next Monday to study another Psalm (and get more rice)

Later this morning I gave some money to three men at a local shop so they could buy chicken to enjoy for supper later that day. In return they promised to help me burn a huge pile of brush in my backyard (we cut back some bushes recently).

In this way the relief encourages and builds them up. Because this isn’t simply charity, but recognising hard work that they are doing for me.

It is true that in times of extreme need we give relief……

But most of the time what people truly need is a reward after a job well done

Missions Teaches Me God Shows Up in My Darkest Moment

Friday morning my bags were packed, weighed, and standing in the garage waiting for my flight to Saint Vincent. I went to have coffee with a missionary friend excited about boarding a plane and going back to the Caribbean early Saturday morning.

There was just one thing left

A negative Covid test

For obvious reasons that I totally understand, the St. Vincent Government requires a negative Covid test before entering the country. This test, referred to as a PCR, takes twenty-four to forty-eight hours to complete. This test must be taken no more than three days before leaving.

Thursday morning I took the test, and began checking my email, as well as the clinics website for my test results.

When they weren’t there by 12:00 Friday afternoon I started getting nervous…..

When they weren’t there by 6:00 Friday evening I got really scared.

in hindsight, it would have been better for me to go to a clinic that guaranteed results within 24-hours. By Friday evening there was nothing I could could do about that however. Before going to bed that evening I made plans with my parents to go to the airport at the regular time, and if the PCR wasn’t there, reschedule the flight for next Saturday since the SVG flight only happens once a week.

I woke up early Saturday with a pretty bad attitude to be honest that didn’t have a lot of faith. After checking the email for results (there were none) I decided to check the clinics website one last time.

To my incredible joy, it came in during the night!

I personally believe the Lord allowed me to use a clinic that didn’t guarantee 24-hour results (though I definitely will use one next time). He did this to give me yet another illustration of His redemption.

The Lord takes great joy in redeeming us in our darkest moments, when we have given up hope. This way the glory is given only to Him, because we ourselves have lost faith.”

I’m reminded of the disciples when Christ sent them out onto the sea while He prayed. During the night, a huge storm came up that threatened to kill them, then in the early morning Christ came walking to them.

The disciples thought they had already died and said “it is a ghost!” But then they heard the voice of the Saviour saying “it is I, be not afraid.”

I’m also reminded of another storm Jesus calmed for the disciples. Then He turned to them and asked “where is your faith?”

It is sometimes the Will of God that we endure setbacks, and we should be prepared for them. But I was reminded (and convicted) yesterday morning on the way to the airport that its in the darkest moments God shows up.

And we should be looking for Him.

Rediscovering Fellowship

One of the things I miss during the medical furlough is the cooler evening hours. Actually it isn’t the cooler weather that’s missed, but what happens in Barrouallie when the sun starts to set.

Around 6:00 every night, people will start either putting chairs out in front of their house, or going to one of the public areas like a park. By 6:30 the whole community is filled with people sitting around talking bout their day.

There isn’t a lot of serious conversation going on in the evening. Pretty much just small talk about the weather, current events, and whats going on in your life. Yet it develops strong relationships as you spend day after day just spending time together.

This gathering every evening makes the me think about fellowship.

Fellowship for a Believer should mean spending extended periods of time during the week with other Christians. The busyness of life makes this incredibly difficult, so we enjoy fellowship with one another during church services.

This is better than nothing……

But fellowship should be something we do more than twice a week.

One thing I love about the Vincentian culture is it makes time with friends a priority. There will always be more tasks to accomplish, but they will set those aside, in order to spend time with friends. Because the Vincentians know that having strong relationships is more important.

The thing about fellowship is it has to be a conscious choice

  1. You choose to take the initiative in developing relationships
  2. You choose to set aside time for that relationship to grow
  3. You choose to enjoy the quiet moments of “small talk”
  4. You choose to share more and more or yourself over time

For many of us we only have time for a Sunday or Wednesday fellowship because so much is going on. But others choose that fellowship because its easier, or safer.

As someone who has experienced both let me tell you….

Twice a week fellowship is a poor replacement for daily fellowship.

Grace for the New Day

One of the most beautiful things about Saint Vincent is their sunsets. Almost every night I can turn towards the sky around 6:30 in the evening, and taking a breathtaking picture. One of the best spots is in a community just over the hill called “Peters Hope.”

The sunsets do more than just give something beautiful to look at though….

They remind me that God gives grace for each day

Scripture teaches us that Gods mercy is “new every morning” (Lamentations 3:23). If the Lord tarries, we will be blessed by God with a new day to serve Him.

This gives hope every day, but especially on those days when we fail the Lord.

On Easter Sunday morning 2017, we had a sunrise service at our church. While walking to that service the sun actually began to rise early, creating an incredible sight.

That sunrise was especially meaningful to me because I’d had a rough week. Everything just seemed to be going wrong. Seeing that sunrise was Gods way of saying to me, “yes you made some mistakes, but today is a new opportunity to serve me.” (Editors note: The mistakes didn’t deal with sins, just foolish decisions).

When we fall (and we will) Satan wants to cripple us with shame. A feeling of embarrassment that keeps us from ever trying to serve the Lord again. But God calls us to pick ourselves up, and try again.

The Lord never called us to be perfect, but He did call us to be Faithful.

So we must allow even our failures to draw us closer to God

  1. Own your failure (don’t sugar-coat it)
  2. Confess any sin that needs to be confessed
  3. Repent (turn from) sinful habits, and make things right if necessary
  4. Turn to the Lord for restoration
  5. And move forward

May the Lord never allow the failures of the past to affect our present service