There’s Just Something About That Name

JesusOscar Tejada was a young business man living in Quito, Ecuador, in the early 1960s. One morning as he was walking briskly down a main street, he saw a crowd gathered on a corner of the busy avenue. Many of the folks were laughing at an American girl in the middle of the crowd. She kept saying the name “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus”. People in the crowd were trying to engage her in conversation, but her only response was “Jesus, Jesus”.

Oscar learned that this young American woman felt such a burden to share her faith in Jesus with the people in Ecuador, that she had used her own funds to travel to Quito. She had no mission or church organization to support her. She had been so overwhelmed with a sense of urgency that she arrived in the city alone and didn’t know a word of Spanish. So she stood day after day simply speaking the name of Jesus. Oscar found himself strangely drawn to the street corner for the next several days. He did not go with a sense of ridicule or derision. Neither was it because he felt sorry for her. There was just something about her passion for speaking the name of Jesus that seemed to compel him to go by that corner on his way to work.

What was it about the name of Jesus that captured his attention? Why was Jesus so important to this young lady that she traveled from America to Quito and could only speak His name to passersby? Why would someone do that? These questions and more sent Oscar on a quest to find answers. His hungry heart found more than an answer. Oscar found Jesus as his personal Savior! He finally understood her ardor to share the name of Jesus.

Her passion led to Oscar’s new passion. Oscar’s passion led him to a wonderful Christian College in the United States. I met Oscar at Asbury College in Wilmore, Kentucky.  We were fellow students and became friends as Asbury prepared us for a lifetime of service to the Savior. There’s just something about His name!

Thank God for the faith that took this young lady to a foreign land to simply speak the name of Jesus. The Lord is able to take what we offer in faith and use it to touch lives. Why do so many of us fail to speak the Lord’s life changing name.

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus – there’s just something about that name.
Master, Savior, Jesus – like the fragrance after the rain.
Jesus, Jesus, Jesus – let all heaven and earth proclaim:
Kings and kingdoms shall all pass away,
But there’s something about that name”

 – Bill & Gloria Gaither

~ Brother Roy

Roy and Sue in South Africa

Roy and Sue are visiting their daughter and son-in-law in South Africa this month.  Here is a brief update from Roy:

Slums in Johannesburg

Slums in Johannesburg

We are doing well. The trip is a little hard on us ‘old folks’, but we are surviving. Yesterday, I again had the privilege of working along side Lori in Kya Sands Squatter Camp. It is a heartbreaking, dismal slum. The children, ages 3 to about 9 with a few 1 and 2 year olds mixed in, are beautiful but so needy.We did some fun games and a lesson and then gave each child a half sandwich, a cup of Milo, and an apple. They devoured the food, and I cried. It takes so little to bring a smile to the face of a child. As poor as they are, a hug and a taste of food seems to provide enough to merit a smile.

Lord, please help us at NHIM to continue to try to find ways to serve ‘the least of these’.

~ Brother Roy

The Empty Tomb

empty tombWe most often embrace two foundational truths when we come to the Biblical account of Easter. One is the crucifixion of Christ, and the other is His resurrection.  That is as it should be. But just for a moment, let me direct your attention to another cornerstone of our redemption –‘the empty tomb’.  There may be some variation in the perspectives of the four Gospel writers as they report the early arrivals to the tomb. Who came first, how many initially arrived, and when show slight differences. There is however great unanimity on the fact that the tomb was empty when they arrived.

As Jesus’ followers came to the sepulcher that resurrection morning, they all reported the tomb was empty. For example, Luke reports, “And they entered in (the sepulchre), and found not the body of the Lord Jesus (Luke 24:3).” The empty tomb was no idle tale of grief stricken disciples. Across the ages, some have thought it was an idle tale, but the church says it wasn’t. In fact, the church stakes it existence on the empty tomb.

The society of the day, in the part of the world where Jesus lived, was greatly influence by Greek and Roman cultures.  Almost everyone believed in what was called “the immortality of the soul.” That belief seems to have been held by the women who came to the tomb the first Easter morning. Perhaps that helps explain why Mary’s first reaction was, “They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him” (John 20:2). If she only believed in the  immortality of the soul, then she would have thought the spirit was gone, but there was a body somewhere. But, there was no dead body! The body had been raised to life just like He said. The truth of His teaching depended on the empty tomb.

The difference between the immortality of the soul and the resurrection of the body is no small matter for our Christian faith. That’s why Paul said, “And if Christ be not risen, then our preaching is in vain, and your faith is also in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:14).

The immortality of the soul is about a belief in man’s indomitable spirit and little more. It was the conviction that at death man becomes a disembodied spirit. The resurrection of the body is about God’s unspeakable love. It’s about God’s power to create, redeem, restore, and resurrect  the body. Easter is not about the immorality of the human spirit. Easter is about the power of the Father to redeem your life from whatever it is that keeps you from the fullness of everlasting life with Him. The empty tomb is a symbol that not even the last enemy, death itself, can stop God from keeping His promises.  The bodily resurrection of Jesus is our blessed assurance. I believe in the empty tomb and the resurrection of the body.

“And God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise us up by His own power.”
1 Corinthians 6:14

~ Brother Roy

The Meanest Men Who Ever Lived

crown of thornsAfter a disheartening hour of watching the evening news, I went into my office.  (It’s actually our dining room.)  I sat down and took a few minutes to reflect on man’s inhumanity to his fellow man. Scenes of the horrible murderous raids on the Samburu tribe in East Africa, where NHIM has worked over the last decade, came to mind. I also thought of the atrocities in Syria and a myriad of other places on earth where mean and vicious men torture and murder innocent men, women, and even children. Maybe it’s a quest for power or maybe just a mean spirit that causes some men to take delight in hurting people and hearing their cries for mercy.

I began to wonder who the meanest men that ever lived might be. I was soon compiling a list. Perhaps it was because of the influence of the Easter season, but I have arrived at a group that I want to put forward as candidates for “ The Meanest Men Who Ever Lived”. It’s the Roman soldiers who crucified Jesus. First, let me speak a word on behalf of these hard and violent men. It is terrible that they brutally beat Jesus. But the scourging was ordered by Pilate, and the soldiers were carrying out orders (John 19:1). When they crucified Him – nailed His hands and feet to the cross – they were doing their job. They were assigned executioner duties; they followed orders because they had no option.

Oh, but they didn’t have to plat a crown of thorns and jam it on His head. They intended to torture Him and inflict indescribable pain for the sheer joy of making Him suffer more. They knew that the skullcap’s skin was thin and filled with very sensitive nerves. They knew that ramming the sharp and hard thorns into His skull would cause unbearable pain. Matthew 27:29 tells us the soldiers also mocked Him and spat on Him. They didn’t have to do that. It was not part of their orders. Then, Matthew informs us that they “struck Him on the head”(v.30). Undoubtly, this was to drive the thorn spikes deeper and inflict even more suffering and pain. They didn’t have to do that!

I thought these men would be my nomination for “Meanest Men Who Ever Lived”. Then a sobering and unnerving scripture came to my mind. “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to open shame(Heb. 6:4-6).  It seems there are as many explanations of this passage as there are commentators who attempt to deal with it. I am willing to let every believer wrestle with this passage as I have. But, it says to me that if I continue in willful sin I am a crucifier also. Perhaps it has something to say to you.

Friends, we must understand, “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make a way of escape, that you may be able to bear it” (1 Cor. 10:13). We don’t have to keep on hurting Him. We must not continue doing things that we know are wrong and thus “crucify Him afresh”. We must not claim to be Christian and then live like the fallen world around us lives. To do so brings “open shame” to the name of Christ. We do not have to be ‘persistent sinners’ and wound Him. If we choose to, are we not then candidates to join the ranks of the meanest people that ever lived?

The point I wish to make is simply this, the meanest thing any of us is capable of doing is to continue sinning and excusing that sin by a presumptive response such as, “Oh well, I’m only human,” or, “everybody sins everyday in thought, word and deed”. While weakness of the flesh is a continual problem for us all, it is not an excuse for continuing in sin. God forbid that we should continue sinning because we are now under grace. The meanest thing we can do is to take for granted His love and grace. We don’t have to shove that crown of thorns on His blooded brow.

~ Brother Roy

A Tree by the Water

old oak treeStanding less than a hundred yards from the water’s edge on the coast road just outside Bayou La Batre, Alabama, is an old live oak tree. There is nothing between the old tree and the water to break the wind and waves. The old tree is battered and gnarled from many storms and hurricanes across its lifetime. There are limbs missing and the clumps of leaves have been blown away. Yet, there it stands as if defiant of all the storms that have assaulted it across the years. It is a survivor. It has taken the blows and is still standing.

Our days here on earth are often marked with major storms that can change the landscape of our lives. Catastrophic illness, family breakups, financial failures, and other crises may topple our plans and dreams. Is there something that can help people like us stand up against the storms that sweep across our lives? That old live oak stands as a testimony to endurance. God can help the things He has created to stand against adversity.  Here are a few lessons drawn from the old oak on the shore:

  • Believers are a planting of God. “That they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.” (Isaiah 61:3b)
  • As a planting of God, believers may prosper under His hand. Those who are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God.” (Psalms 92:13-14)
  • God’s planting can withstand the storms because of a deep root system. “For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots…”  (Jeremiah 17:8)
  • Through faith believers can be “rooted and grounded in love(Ephesians 3:17). They can “be rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith…” (Colossians 2:7). This rooting and grounding can enable believers to withstand the storms of life.
  • The plantings of God can stand against the storms across a lifetime, even into old age. It seems to me at this point in my life, 71 years old and under assault from cancer, that the storms often increase in number and intensity with age. My comfort is in Psalm 92:14: “They shall still bear fruit in old age; They shall be fresh and flourishing.”

My mind hearkens back to a chorus I used to sing in youth group so long ago:

“Just like a tree that’s planted by the water, I shall not be moved.”

~ Brother Roy

Samburu Update

kenya flagLast week I heard from Michael Lolwerikoi in Samburu, Kenya. There had been a recent robbery attempt on him as he traveled north into the region where we have drilled wells. Highwaymen shot the rear tires on his Land Cruiser. He kept driving on shredded rubber and the rims reaching safety when a group of vehicles headed south came to his aid. Michael is safe, but suffered the loss of very expensive tires. Since NHIM helped with the first water well in the area, Michael reports that there are 16 wells now in operation. We are thankful that a couple of other like-minded missions have taken up the cause.

The Minister of Parliament in the Samburu region was shot recently. He was a friend of NHIM’s work in that region. I met with him the last time I was it the area. I do not have an update on his condition.  Pray for the Lord’s protection as Michael ministers in this unstable and dangerous area.

With the help of Sam Powdrill and Tenwek Hospital, NHIM sponsored the first eye clinic in the region. Sixty-five people who were blind due to cataracts and/or trachoma received their sight. Now more than a year later, the Tenwek team has taken two more clinics to Samburu. Approximately two hundred and fifty people can now see. Praise the Lord!

Catherine, Michael’s niece who graduated from Asbury University in 2012, will receive her Master’s Degree in May. Her degree in the area of Community Development in Third World Countries will be invaluable as she works among her  people in Samburu.

~ Brother Roy