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Showing posts from September, 2009

A Very Early Morning Interruption

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It happened about 3:15 this morning. I was awakened by a strange chirp like sound. It lasted just a split second (as far as I could discern in my groggy semi-concsious state between sleep and wakefulness). I listened for the sound to repeat ... and not hearing anything, began to drift off to neverland. Suddenly out of the darkness the chirp once again pierced the silence. "Ah ha!" I thought to myself. "I think that was the smoke alarm."  Sure enough about three minutes later my suspicion was confirmed - it was the smoke alarm doing its occasional repetitive chirp, telling us that the battery needed replaced! "Yea! Why did this have to happen in the middle of the night vs. the middle of the day?" I asked myself as I stumbled half awake to locate a new battery and the step ladder. After about 5 minutes or so ... I had the project done and crawled back into bed (it was now pushing 4 AM). Fortunately I fell asleep rather quickly, not to be awakened until the …

Murmuring on the Word!

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Yesterday I began our fall study of ten select Psalms (Ancient Songs for Today's Journey). I decided to be creative and begin with Psalm 1! The whole point of the Psalm is that true happiness (as God defines happiness) comes to the person who is DIFFERENT FROM THE WORLD (world being the evil world system that is under the control of the Evil One - see 1 John 1:9) because he or she is DEVOTED TO THE WORD. This is seen in the first two verses of the Psalm which read:

"Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. 2But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he 
 meditates day and night."


The Hebrew word that is translated "meditates" actually means "to murmur." So to mediate on the Bible means to murmur about the Bible ... or in other words, to talk to ourselves about what it is we are reading (and if you are anything like me, you know what it means to talk to y…

Random Thoughts on a Friday Morning

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In this morning's paper, I saw a photo of a woman and her newborn baby. The baby weighed an amazing 19 pounds, 2 ounces!  Needless to say the baby was delivered by Cesarean. Now that is SOME baby!  I am so glad for my wife's sake that all three of our babies were in the 6 - 8 pound range!


Also in today's paper, I read THREE articles on the same page concerning bombing plots that were in various stages of development. And these plots were not overseas plots ... but plots being hatched right here in the United States. This is a reminder that those who hate our country are still determined to hurt our country. But in the midst of all of this hate and anger in our world, it is a comfort to know that our God reigns!

This is fair week at Lampeter. Our church has a Baby Comfort Station at the fair. Moms (or dads) can come and change their babies. And if Mom needs to nurse her baby, we provide a private area for her to do that. But we also offer fairgoers free popcorn and ice wa…

In Defense of "The Church"

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The Church is taking a big hit these days. All you have to do is browse the shelves of a Christian bookstore. There you will find titles such as, Life after Church, Quitting Church, So You Don't Want to Go to Church Anymore, Pagan Christianity and They Like Jesus but Not the Church. All of these (and a number of other recently published books) explore and/or promote the growing mantra among current or former churchgoers, "we want God, not an institution."  


As a pastor of a church, you might not be surprised to hear that this type of thinking bothers me. And it bothers me not because I am a pastor, but it bothers me because I see it as a slam on the "institution" for which Jesus Christ gave His very life (see Acts 20:28). In his thought provoking and biblicaly based (and what I found to be quite refreshing) book, Kevin DeYoung states the following concerning the Church:


"My aim is to present to the body of Christ, and for anyone else who cares to listen, a …

When Giving Counsel to Others - Stop and Pray First!

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One of the books I consulted in my preparation to train the members of CIDEL in the Central African Republic to do biblical counseling is the excellent little book, Transformed in His Presence: The Need for Prayer in Counseling. The book's authors (Roger Peugh, a veteran European missionary and a professor of missions at Grace Seminary and Tammy Schultz, Department chair of the Graduate School in Counseling at Grace College), have done a powerful job arguing for the need of prayer in counseling. Please take a moment and read the following excerpt from the preface to their book:

"Counselors, pastors, teachers, social workers, student development staff, lay helpers, volunteers are deluged daily with overwhelming human need. As the demand has increased, education programs have responded to meet this challenge. Most Christian caregivers have received beneficial training in skills, theories, and practices of counseling. However, exceptional methodology alone doesn't change live…

Check out this GBIM Video on Hand-in-Hand Schools

Grace Brethren International Missions has produced a video on Hand-in-Hand Orphan schools. Please take a few minutes to view the video. What an opportunity to minister to "one of the least of these" (Matthew 25:40).



Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Hand-in-Hand Orphan School

Here is a video from our trip of the Hand-in-Hand orphan school children singing. Enjoy! And thanks for stopping by . . . pj



A Journal Entry from Bangui, Central African Republic

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Below is the journal entry that I emailed to my wife on the evening of our first day of training with the pastors. Thought you might enjoy!



Monday, August 31, 2009
Today has been a very wet day here in Bangui. My guesstimate as to amount of rain … I would say in excess of 3 inches. It has rained hard off and on since about 330 AM. It is now 330 PM and it is not raining at the moment. SO there is a LOT of mud around. BUT it is cool! So that is a worthwhile trade off!

We had 14 pastors in the training. It went very well. I was asked some good questions (like: What does a pastor do if he is in a church that is not supporting him when the Word of God commands those who receive truth from teachers to share their material goods with him? – Gal 6:6. Another question ran along the line of a pastor was asked to leave his church – he did not, so the congregation split and it became so divisive the government came and locked the building – what should the pastor have done? And what should a past…

Our Trip by the Numbers

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I thought a good way to summarize our trip to the Central African Republic would be to do so "by the numbers:"

90 - the approximate number of pastors, government workers, professionals, chaplains trained
90 - the number of those trained who showed appreciation for our ministry
17 - the total number of days of our trip
9.5 - the number of hours we were late getting into Bangui due to being diverted due to fog
6.5 - the number of hours we were on the ground in Brazzaville, Congo while waiting to fly to Bangui (the first time I have ever been south of the equator!)
12 - the number of consecutive days of teaching/training
7 - the number of V.I.P. visits we made (including the Prime Minister and Minister of Finance)
10,000 - the number of potholes we had to maneuver around while driving
1 - the number of times I drove while in Africa
100 - the number of meters I drove
3 - the number of shirts we each (Ryan and me) received as gifts from CIDEL
1 - the number of times either one of us got sick…

Another Point of Light in the Central Afican Republic

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Yesterday I wrote about Dr. Augustin Hibaile and his ministry organization, CIDEL. Today I want to tell you about another powerful point of light that is beginning to burn brightly in central Africa. It is the Hand-in-Hand schools. During our last full day in the C.A.R. we visited one of these schools. These schools are for orphans ... and there are many orphans in the country. AIDS is a big problem in Africa ... and the Central African Republic is no exception. As a result, many children are left childless when their parents succumb to AIDS. So the Hand-in-Hand schools are sorely needed!

Here is how a Hand-in-Hand school works: A Grace Brethren Church in the C.A.R. (and there are about 2500 in the country) fulfills the requirements to become a Hand-in-Hand school (I am not sure what all the requirements are, but I do know the church has an application and screening process to go through. Every African church must demonstrate that they will be able to do the following: assure that each…

Points of Light in the Central African Republic

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Yesterday I mentioned that I would share with you what I consider to be some of the points of light in the C.A.R. One of the brightest ones is CIDEL (the Center International for the Development of Ethical Leadership). This ministry organization was founded by the man who invited us to come to the C.A.R. - the Rev. Dr. Augustin Hibaile (the photo is of Dr. Hibaile, his wife Marie-Helene and me). For many years, Dr. Hibaile was on the faculty of one of the Grace Brethren Bible institutes in the C.A.R. Five years ago, God led Dr. Hibaile out of the classroom and into secular society - and CIDEL was born. The C.A.R. is ripe with corruption. And the pervasiveness of this corruption is one of the many obstacles hindering the fight against the horrendous poverty of the country. Dr. Hibaile, through his ministry with CIDEL, is striving to encourage and equip Christians in leadership to lead with the highest standards of biblical ethics. And God is blessing his work!

During our time in the C.A…

Reflections on Africa

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According to the United States Ambassador to the Central African Republic (We actually had lunch with him on the back patio of his home. He and his wife invited a certain number of Americans for a Labor Day picnic. We were among those invited.), the C.A.R. ranks #137 out of 138 countries on the United Nations Misery Index. Bottom line, that means living one's life does not get much worse anywhere on the planet than in the C.A.R. From what I observed, I am not surprised by the U.N.'s ranking.

For starters, the country has no infrastructure to speak of. There are a few paved roads in the capital of Bangui, but many of the streets are dirt. And given that during the present rainy season when it rains it pours, you can only imagine what erosion does to these roads! In addition, the paved roads are littered with cavernous like pot holes. All of this makes travel by car quite a challenge (eg: we traveled about 65 miles outside Bangui to the city of Mbaiki - it took us about three hou…

I Will Return to my Blog Tomorrow (TUESDAY)

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The effects of jet lag are still upon me (I think I am about 2/3 of the way across the Atlantic ... so I am making progress!). I hope to give an initial report on my Africa trip tomorrow. Until then . . .

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Home!!!

I arrived home from Africa last evening (Friday). I will resume posting this upcoming week - and will do so with some reports on our trip.

Thanks for stopping by (and praying for us while we were in Africa),

pj