Taking the Word to the World

Archive for April, 2015

When Pulpits Preach – Guest Post by Paul Records

“Mop water and pray,” she said. “Mop water and pray.” I listened, mesmerized by her words. Sister Laura Long stood and recounted what it was like to endure the magnificent power of a category five cyclone. It hovered directly above the Bible school, where many sought refuge from the wind and rain. For hours, mothers clung to their children and flinched as the storm pounded the doors and windows. The shrill of the wind was deafening. Sister Long’s husband used his body to brace the door. Water shot in through the bottom. Both AIMers, the Long’s were stationed in Port Villa, Vanuatu to serve with missionaries Peter and Robyn Gration. At the mercy of a storm raging at 200 miles per hour, all they could do was “mop water and pray.”

But that was over a week ago. Along with two others, I had landed in Port Villa to form a CSI response team. Over the coming days, our job was to assess the damage done to the national church infrastructure and develop a disaster relief plan. After being briefed by the Long’s, our team hired a local pastor and together we drove around the island. On day one, we counted three churches that were either completely or mostly destroyed.

CSI Truck

Talking with local pastors and saints, we discovered that the cyclone had destroyed Vanuatu’s system of crops. Because it was a country built on subsistence agriculture, the lack of crops was the most devastating result of Cyclone Pam. Even if families planted new crops immediately, it would be 6—9 months before sustainable harvests were available.

Analyzing the situation, the CSI team decided to create strategic locations to store food, tools, and other goods. Just as Joseph in Egypt stored goods in the seven years of plenty in preparation for seven years of famine, we established “The Joseph Project.” In time, we were able to stock multiple pallets with rice, flour, dry noodles, canned meat, and crackers in expectation of national food shortages.

Into the Bush 1

After hearing of damage done to other islands, the CSI team along with a local pastor and missionaries Long and Gration chartered a plane to establish multiple Joseph Project sites on Epi Island. After a shaky plane ride, we landed on a bumpy grass runway. A truck met us onto which we loaded our gear and supplies. While sitting on bags of rice in the back of the truck, our delegation drove an hour into the bush before arriving at a village called Nuvie. There, we presented dry goods along with hammers, nails, saws, and tarps to the village. Before flying out later that day, we presented resources to a second village.

During our two week stay in Vanuatu, the CSI team worked alongside men in Port Villa’s churches to demolish the destroyed church sanctuary located on the Bible school’s compound. Lastly, we were glad to provide the necessary materials to help rebuild two homes.

Pulpit 2

In all of the damage done by the cyclone, there was great beauty to be seen. I will never forget the pulpit that I saw after walking into the mangled sanctuary of the headquarters church. Though covered in debris, wires, and metal beams that had fallen from the roof, it stood ever so stalwartly. As we began to cut down the twisted beams and shovel the sheetrock and insulation moistened by the rain, I kept looking back to the pulpit. Like a soldier tired by battle, it was bent but not broken. To me, it stood as a testament to the church. What a sermon it preached. Yes, the church in Vanuatu was weakened by winds and rain. It was weakened, but not destroyed. Like the pulpit which stood and preached in the sun that day, it holds true. As the pulpit was bent but not broken, the church in Vanuatu will continue to shine reflecting Christ and his magnificent glory. In the end, after the ceiling had fallen it landed and found a resting place on top of the pulpit. In like manner, God’s great church scattered among the many islands of Vanuatu will hold together a nation and be the hope that rises in the remains of the storm.

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On Grabbing the Pen Again – Guest Post by Melinda Poitras

Were you to open my journal you would see it all throughout. You could not fail to notice all of the places where the stiff necked soldiered lines of proper words standing at attention turn to jagged, fluid flops of gibberish. What formerly held the promise of prose slumps off into scribble. The thoughts I have been rushing to ink out onto paper are cut short. The paragraphs I meant to pile up into pleasing turns of phrase have turned another direction entirely.

Why?

Because a tiny hand keeps grabbing hold of my pen.

I could take it back. I could pry that pen straight out of those pudgy hands by force of my own superior prowess.

But I don’t.

Instead, I teach her how to pass it back to me.

I am in control. I can give commands but I with all my power, I wait with open hands.

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She tries to create for herself. Even now. Even early. She tries to create while she cannot possibly comprehend what she is crafting. She scribbles for a little while, observes her craft and then, weary of her writing work she hands me back the pen. And that, that very instant is the moment when I with all my knowledge can begin to write again.

I write words beyond her imagining. Words she cannot possibly begin to understand.

The story begins to make sense once more, when the pen is in my hand.

It is this mystery miraculous that He who crafted space waits for us to make room for Him.

He sits enthroned on high, yet we can knock Him off of the throne of our hearts any time we feel like it.

He created time, and sometimes we manage to spare a bit for Him.

He can chase the east wind at the speed of light but He waits with wild tenacity for us to be willing to walk with Him.

It is a mystery miraculous, this mystery miracle love.

As you go on in my journal you will smile much now and then when you see all of the places that she grabbed the pen again.

But greater still the times she placed it back into my hands, so I could write the harder words, so I could etch out plans.

She will grow. And she will know that all the time it seemed

That I took from her

That I cheated her

And did it with a smile

On every page

At every age

I was writing all the while

The rhyming and the rhythm of things she’s never dreamed.

photo credit: Fuji X100S Macro via photopin (license)