Tuesday, January 13, 2004

January 13, 2004

11:27 AM Just finished my morning message. I’m doing two different series this week: In the mornings I’m speaking on “The Cross, the Church and the World” from 1 Corinthians 1-2, and at night I’m doing a series called “The God You Can Trust.” Today I mentioned the Chicago Cubs and how people call them “Loveable Losers.” That’s what we all are in the eyes of God, I said. After the message I discovered there are quite a few Cubs fans among the missionaries. One fellow said his father took him to see the 1945 World Series (the last time the Cubs made it to the Fall Classic), and I met someone who lived in Oak Park many years ago and attended the First Presbyterian Church. I told her to come back to that same church building and she would find Calvary Memorial Church. 7:44 AM Yesterday was as beautiful as it gets in Florida—blue skies, sunny, a little breeze, temps in the low 70s. Having said that, I should add that I didn’t get to experience it very much. I was busy all day long with various details, including doing a lot of work on the computer. I preached twice and shared two meals with the missionaries. Last night I had supper with George and Letha Thomas who spent many years in Liberia. David Jones was there as well. He and his wife Susan served in a mostly-Muslim province in northern Nigeria for many years. He regaled us with stories of his friendship with the Muslim Sultan. John Ockers told me that he first went to Niger in 1949. The accumulated missionary service here at the SIM village must total several thousand years. The average age of the congregation is probably 75 and most of them are career missionaries who served on the foreign field for 40-60 years. It’s very humbling to be around such fine, cheerful, godly saints whose hearts still respond to the call of the Great Commission. They share stories of things that happened in Africa 45 years ago as if they had happened yesterday. They have all known the sorrows of life full well, but there is a joy among them and a peace and a sense of trust in God that outweighs any difficulties they have faced. And since they are elderly, they all face health problems and the knowledge that life is short. So their joy is all the more remarkable and uplifting. I spent time with Ian Hay, the longtime General Director of SIM. He runs the meetings and it is obvious that everyone has great respect for him. Last night I mentioned Dr. Lee Roberson, the founder and president of Tennessee Temple University—the school where Marlene and I met. Afterwards I met an SIM missionary who has been supported by Highland Park Baptist Church in Chattanooga (the church Dr. Roberson pastored for over 40 years) since 1953. He said, “You sound just like Dr. Roberson.” That thought put a smile on my face.

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