The Strange Track of God’s Blessings
Did you ever consider that the manifold blessings of the Creator chart a distinct and unanticipated path through the wilderness of life? For the very first time in my life, after eighty years, I invited myself along to go on a missionary endeavor.
My son-in-law was invited to preach for several days in Papua, Indonesia. Dr. Mark Howell’s ministry of teaching and preaching with a strong mixture of good theology in remote locations around the globe has escalated to incredible new vistas. Recently he was invited by Dr. Ronnie Sewewora to preach on the island of Papua, made famous by Don Richardson’s scintillating missionary classic, Peace Child. Half joshing, I told Dr. Howell, “I have never been to Papua. I will go and carry your bags, and be your Amen Charlie!”
To my surprise, a few days later, Mark called back and said, “you said you would go. You are on, and I will even let you preach and teach!” What can even an old codger do? There was nothing to do but go! As a double unexpected blessing, my daughter, Carmen decided to go along to cradle her aging father in case he needed emergency aid. So here we are in Papua, a tangle of vines, poisonous critters, surreal oceanic beauty, inhabited by some of the sweetest saints of God living on the earth today.
Oh yes, and I was recounting blessings! Watching my son and daughter move effortlessly among these people as though they had been born in Papua, listening to Dr. Howell proclaim the endless mercies of our Lord as skillfully as any I ever heard in my long life, watching my daughter embrace a hundred little children as though she had given birth to every one was worth every cramped second of the twenty hours of air travel to get to Papua. How could a father with half a brain in the game ever complain to God about anything “bad” in his life?
Then listening to the preaching of my former student as Dr. Sewewora circled the stars in his magnificent sermon in a language I could not even understand! Acts two is still a reality! The Spirit of God spoke profoundly to our souls as he preached.
And did I mention the people? Smiles, laughter, tears, the kindness of Christ radiated in the eyes of these saints. Not rich by contemporary global standards, perhaps lacking some of the access to care characteristic of modernity, they excelled in happiness, joy, and the presence of God.
Precious reader, has life been difficult recently? May I humbly invite you to count your blessings and see what the Almighty has done! And next time someone proposes a mission journey, volunteer to go and prepare for a demonstration of the power and presence of God. Oh, and Mark did have me preaching also!
Paige Patterson, President
Sandy Creek Foundation