Thursday, December 4, 2014

“God put us here, on this carnival ride. We close our eyes never knowing where it'll take us next.” ― Carrie Underwood

Many times I have questioned my willingness to live and serve in Africa for the rest of my life.  These times of doubt and indecision usually accompany times of financial uncertainty and fear of not being able to complete my mission.  I say “my” mission because we each have one.  Karen has hers, John has his, and I have mine.  Most of the time they work in concert with each other, but there are times when one or more has to give way the one that seems the most important to God’s purposes.  I wrote the other day that there is much that I can no longer do thanks to my age and physical infirmities and, I admit, there are times I want to use that as an excuse not to do anything, but I never succumb to that temptation.  Then there is the lack of consistent money.  We are not funded by any denomination, organization, or even a combination of large churches.  We are here officially as “Individual Volunteer Missionaries” the term assigned to us by the United Methodist Church Board of Global Ministries.  This means we have the blessing of the church to be missionaries, but we receive no funds of any kind, not even insurance.  We are on our own.  Our money comes from Karen’s and my combined Social Security and retirement.  It is not enough for us to live in the United States even in the cheapest retirement home.  We would qualify for food stamps and would be hard pressed to live much of a life, especially with no insurance.  We are both past MediCare age, but we opted out of paying for medical insurance so that we could have more money coming here every month.  However, we do get enough to run our mission and take care of almost all our needs.  Other funding does come in from individual churches (we are in the budget of two churches for about $3,000 per year), and a few small churches will send funds from time to time.  Individuals also support us.  A couple of individuals send money every month by Paypay in small amounts.  During our first four years here, American mission groups came at the rate of three or four a year bringing money for mission projects and buildings.  Sadly, as the American economy collapsed, no more mission groups came.  We have not had a single group from the United States in five years.  A church in Arkansas began providing money for scholarships for students at the local teachers college, and we started in 2007 with eighteen per year but are now down to eight per year and can really only guarantee four students for next year, but thanks to that church, we are still providing that support.  We have the One Book Foundation which receives donations from churches and individuals to help support our work here, and without them, we could have done almost nothing.  Yet, they supply over $7,000 a year just to maintain one school here (we have two) and to help with our diesel costs ($7.00 a gallon), and, frankly, I don’t even know how they do that, but they do.  They have come through for us time and time again when we have had special needs.  It seems that what we are doing, although it doesn’t seem like much to us, is very important to God, and if God is behind something, it doesn’t fail.  I worry about money, but God always provides.  What little I can still do is to write a daily blog that informs about our activities, preaches on occasion, calls attention to needs that we all have, and sometimes changes a life here and there.  I never really knew how many people I was reaching with my blogs, Facebook posts, Google+ posts, emails, and other internet related reaching out until I saw what you can see in the picture at the right.  According to Google, while I only have 150 faithful followers on Google+, over 7,000,000 (that’s seven million) people have viewed the posts, pictures, and comments I have sent out over the internet.  You can check this every day by going to my “profile” on Google+ which also includes a nice picture of a lion that wouldn’t fit on the blog.  No matter how badly I feel (unless I am in the hospital) I can almost always produce a daily blog, Facebook post, and Google+ post.  This may be why I am here, but only God knows.  What I do know is that 7,000,000 views is impressive, at least to me.  I’m sure celebrities have many more than that.  I know for a fact that Lewis Hamilton, the current Formula One world champion has 22,000,000 views.  Still, for an overweight, physically challenged, and underfunded missionary in a small bush area of East Africa—seven million views seems to be God saying “Keep it up.”  And so I shall, and even if only one person a day reads something I posted, it will be enough.  As I say over and over, it’s about being available and obedient.  So far, I am just that and will continue to be till God calls me home.
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