Death of A Missionary

EDITED – If you are interested in helping this family, a GoFundMe account has been set up. Click HERE.

When we departed for Liberia, West Africa in 2012, we had an understanding of the risks. Our family was moving to an area that was 3-hour drive from any other missionaries. We would be living in an old mission house that sat on a hill that was considered to the “Devil’s Hill” due to wicked practices that took place before the first missionaries arrived. Nobody else would live on the hill and many of the villagers would avoid it, especially at night.

To make matters worse, we lived in the heart of what had been rebel-held territory during a very brutal 14-year civil war. The war claimed the lives of approximately 10% of the population of Liberia. The ramifications of that war, which ended around 2004, are still being felt today. Violence and vulgarity were constant reminders of what surrounded us, and ex-rebel soldiers surrounded us on every trip into town.

Our plan involved spending 4-5 years in the jungle training pastors and starting churches. However, that was cut short when one of my 6 year old daughters and I became deathly ill. There were nights that we thought she would not make it until morning and times like that really make you consider your priorities. A few days later, I spent my first night in a mission clinic being tended to in highly unsanitary conditions. As my fever and delirium grew, I would learn later that another pastor had entered the clinic the same day with the same symptoms. Three days later his wife and family buried him.

Less than three months later, I was diagnosed a second time with a completely different strain of both typhoid and malaria. Much of the time is but a dark cloud over my mind, but I remember the times of pain. The chief physician at the Firestone Plantation hospital informed me that my immune system was shot and I needed to get out of the country. If I did not, my next time would probably be my last.

Heartbroken, we began to make the arrangements to return to the USA. I was leaving behind what I loved, but I still could not help but wonder why I had lived when others had died.

The following year, a severe epidemic of Ebola broke out in the area of villages where we lived and thousands died. During that epidemic, I lost some pastor friends and their wives to the disease.

Since then, I continue to keep my finger on the pulse of the missions world, and the news that I read yesterday brought some painful memories to my mind.

The day started with an email from one of the brothers I trained in Liberia. We had been praying for God’s will to be done in regards to the health of Pastor Harrison Margai. He was the pastor of a brand new church that had been planted in an unreached village. The email informed me that this man had closed his eyes in death and left a wife and children.

Later that day, I read the news of what took place with another missionary in Cameroon, West Africa.

Charles Wesco, a Baptist missionary from Indiana, had surrendered his life to serve the Lord. In particular, he and his wife believed they had been called to minister in the country of Cameroon. After raising funds, they departed just over 2 weeks ago and began the process of settling into their new home with their eight young children.

Yesterday, another missionary was taking this man into town for some supplies. A situation erupted between a separatist faction and Cameroonian soldiers. In the crossfire, a “stray” bullet crashed through a car window and entered the head of Charles Wesco.

In a matter of minutes, this man who loved the Lord went out into eternity. Immediately, the news erupted along with the comments. I read several that were hateful, but some extended sympathy. I finally had to stop as the comments began to infuriate me.

The bottom line is not that this man gave his life needlessly. The bottom line is that God is and always will be sovereign. For reasons that may never be understood, this brother in Christ never planted a church, nor saw a Bible Training institute started in Cameroon. This family is devastated as they face a new life. Soon, they will return back to the US and will try to pick up the pieces. Questions will be asked, and many will never be answered.

Today, many hearts are breaking and while I have connections with others who knew this family, I did not ever have the privilege of meeting them myself. However, I know that one day I will, but before that day comes, this brother has already gone to his reward. He was welcomed with the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

We could ask, why, why, why, but it would do no good. There is nothing wrong with seeking the face of God and asking Him for understanding. Where we tend to go wrong though is when we want to question His sovereign purposes. We cannot find fault with the Almighty, but we can learn to trust in His grace and mercy.

In a village close to where we lived in England, there is a cemetery. In the cemetery, a tombstone tells the brief story of a young pastor who lost his infant son and his wife. In the tragedy, this man had inscribed the following words on the tombstone.

“We cannot Lord, Thy purpose see,
But all is well, that’s done by Thee.”

Through what is a tragedy to human eyes, we pray for strength and extreme comfort to be provided to this dear sister, their eight young children, and extended family, friends, and church members.

For those who know the Lord, the Bible is clear that when we become absent from this body, we are forever present with the Lord. The apostle Paul wrote to the Thessalonians and told them to not only find comfort in these thoughts, but to comfort others as well.

May His will be done and may all find peace through this time of turmoil. Our prayers also go out for the people of Cameroon that they will one day learn of the Prince of Peace, who alone brings salvation.

Sermon: Beyond Comparison.

I am pleased to present a sermon by Matt McCullough entitled Beyond Comparison on a Christian’s temporary light affliction in comparison to the coming glory.

This was a truly timely message for me (from 2 Corinthians 4:16-18) and, I trust, for many of you as well.

The sermon is from Trinity Church in Nashville and is described as:

Paul says the problems we face now can’t compare to the eternal glory we’re promised in Christ. He says we get this truth when we focus not on what we can see but on what we can’t see. But how do we compare what we can see to what we can’t see?

Listen to the sermon, Beyond Comparison here.

Infant Baptism Biblical or Unbiblical? (Part 2)

With part 1 we looked at the fact that infant baptism is not supported by the Word of God.  Today, we will learn about the perversions of God’s Word that those who espouse infant baptism use to defend and/or justify their unbiblical practice.  Some folks have a very simplistic way of viewing baptism regardless of the mode, practice, and message behind it.  However, infant baptism is not a mere ceremony, which after it is performed, is an event that is no longer significant, nor is it an isolated ordinance.

Consider the following Scripture:  “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.  He that believeth, and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:15-16).  Dear reader, do you see it?  The order of the Great Commission is imperative and is to be observed, followed, and practiced.  First of all, one MUST believe and secondly, baptism comes after, and this is known as “believer’s baptism.”

Biblical baptism is a result of an inward change upon the lost sinner becoming born again.  Because the Lord now dwells within a new convert there is a new character as well.  To baptize an infant is to do so regardless of the inward change and therefore though still an infant remains in the spiritual status of a lost sinner.  The infant cannot make a public profession of faith in Christ Jesus nor does the infant have any ability whatsoever to repent and trust Christ as Savior.

One of the explanations given by those who practice infant baptism is:  “For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call” (Acts 2:39).  A supportive verse given by those who practice infant baptism is:  “For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy” (1st Cor. 7:14).  They believe that there is a sense in which the children of even one believing parent are made holy; and that they are set apart from the world by God.

Let’s take an expository look at these two verses.  “For the promise is unto you, and to your children…”  The Greek translation of “children” in this verse is:  τέκνον, ου, τό (teknon) and is defined as:  a child, descendent, inhabitant.  The use of this term by Peter, is in the sense of posterity.  Another perversion of this passage is that the promise related to the blessings pledged in the “covenant with Abraham.”  The “promise” as stated by Peter, was the gift of the Holy Ghost to believers.  With this perversion they maintain that the “gospel” covenant is a continuance of the covenant of circumcision.

They will quote Genesis 17:7 which says, “And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.”  One other perversion of this passage, is the claim that Peter means by “the promise,” that infants are to be baptized, receive the Holy Ghost, and be taken into the church.  Some parents who become members of the church will ask, “what about my children?  Shouldn’t they be allowed to become members as well?”  These ministers will quickly say, “why yes, indeed they should be included and by all means that great promise of God’s being to you a God, is as much to you and your children now, as it ever was.”

The Presbyterians are widely known for their practice of infant baptism and in accordance with the Westminster Confession of Faith (1647) Chapter 28 titled: ‘Of Baptism,’ para. #4 states: “Not only those that do actually profess faith in and obedience unto Christ, (but also the infants of one or both believing parents are to be baptized”). The Presbyterians also believe that the New Testament texts commanding baptism are always more, and not less, inclusive than circumcision.

 
Regarding baptism Presbyterians believe that there is 1) continuity of the covenant of grace, 2) that there is a parallelism between baptism and circumcision, 3) the setting apart of believers and their children, 4) the expansion, rather than the contraction of that covenant, and 5) Jesus’ willingness to richly bless children brought to him by parents who trusted in him. Furthermore, they believe that those who are children of Abraham by faith, just like those who were once children of Abraham by birth, should give their children the sign and seal of the gospel, and pray that they will come to understand and believe the gospel their parents hold to.

Presbyterians also believe that to withhold or neglect the baptism of an infant to be a “great sin,” although they don’t consider it to be so critical in its importance that grace and salvation are inseparably annexed or joined to it.  Remember, the term “children” does not biblically refer to infants.  Presbyterians strongly hold to the circumcision being a sacramental sign that sealed a righteousness which the patriarch already had, by faith, as an uncircumcised man.

More to come…

 

 

 

 

Beginning With Moses

Our family sat together this evening and found this gracious message from Dr. Steve Lawson. What an incredible testimony of the grace of God that points clearly and unequivocally to the centrality of the Lord Jesus Christ in the entire Scriptures.

Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment 5

c. It is the frame of spirit that shows the habitual character of this grace of contentment. Contentment is not merely one act—just a flash in a good mood. You find many men and women who, if they are in a good mood, will be very quiet. But this will not hold. It is not the constant tenor of their spirits to be holy and gracious under affliction.

— Contentment is a gracious frame, opposed to natural quietness. Indeed, in contentment there is a compound of all graces. But now the gracious frame of spirit is in opposition to three things:

a. In opposition to the natural quietness of many men and women. Some are so constituted by nature that they are more still and quiet. Others are of a violent and hot constitution, and they are more impatient.

b. In opposition to a sturdy resolution. Some men through the strength of a sturdy resolution do not seem to be troubled, come what may. So they are not disquieted as much as others.

c. By way of distinction from the strength of natural (though unsanctified) reason that may quiet the heart in some degree. But now I say that a gracious frame of spirit is not merely a stillness of the body that comes from its natural constitution and temper, nor a sturdy resolution, nor the strength of reason.

You will ask, “In what way is the grace of contentment distinguished from all these?” Where contentment of heart springs from grace, the heart is very quick and lively in the service of God! The difference is very clear: The one whose disposition is quiet is not disquieted as others are, but neither does he show any activeness of spirit to sanctify the name of God in his affliction. But, on the other hand, he whose contentment is of grace keeps his heart quiet with regard to vexation and trouble and at the same time is not dull or heavy, but very active to sanctify God’s name in the affliction that he is experiencing.

I will give you just one mark of the difference between a man or woman who is content in a natural way and one who is content in a spiritual way: Those who are content in a natural way when outward afflictions befall them are just as content when they commit sin against God. When they have outward crosses or when God is dishonored, it is all one to them whether they themselves are crossed or whether God is crossed. But a gracious heart that is contented with its own affliction will rise up strongly when God is dishonored.

— by Jeremiah Burroughs