Friday, September 23, 2011

Great missions story: MERV ROSELL and the "4 ships!"


Or... Ato Lakew on the Four Ships

Circa 1973

[NOTE: This article was written originally by Steve Van Nattan... AE]

Merv Rosell was a noted Bible speaker to youth and college students in the USA. He spoke to Youth For Christ gatherings and at Schroon Lake, as well as many Bible Conferences. His reception and the alleged results of his speaking were legend, so it was assumed that if he were to tour the missionfields, He would be a great asset.

Problem: Merv Rosell knew nothing about cultural adjustment. Nevertheless; some well meaning missionaries convinced Merv to visit Ethiopia while we were there as missionaries. Merv came with all his best sermons well memorized, and he gave it his best shot. He was the very picture of zeal, and he truly loved the college students and youth who gathered to hear him.

As is often the case, the students also absorbed the hubris as it oozed from all sides as missionaries and Merv himself talked of his great exploits in former days. So there was a mutual air of expectation in the Addis Ababa Church and Youth Center the evening of Merv Rosell's great super-rally. The house was packed and they were standing all the way out to the street. Many missionaries were there also. There had been much planning and prayer that this event would bear fruit in the Lord, and no one anticipated just how their prayers were about to be answered.

Merv was to speak in English, and Ato Lakew, a leader in the Word of Life churches in Ethiopia, and a fluent English speaker, was to interpret. This was a well used technique, and it had every possibility of working well since Ato Lakew was also a man of real depth in the Word of God.

After some rousing songs, Merv was introduced. He made very little small talk, but got right to his task of preaching his heart out. Merv announced,

"Tonight, I am going to talk to you about the four ships."

That was straightforward enough to Ato Lakew. He translated that at once. Then Merv gave the list of "ships"-- "Fellowship, Discipleship, Stewardship...." and there was one more I cannot remember.

Well, Ato Lakew looked cool on the outside, but inside he was doing a fast and well controlled panic. This linguistic trick of starting with "ships" and then jumping to alliterations of the state of being "........ships" was 100% impossible in Amheric, the language of Ethiopia. The language is 99% mechanical, and these tricks are virtually unknown. The crowd could even have been insulted, thinking Merv was playing a trick on them.

Ato Lakew was a rare man. He was famous with us missionaries for his mastery of, not only our language English, but he had figured out our humor and idiomatic way of thinking. He understood exactly where Merv Rosell was headed. So, Ato Lakew fully realized that it was already too late to rescue the thing. If he stopped Merv Rosell and explained the thing, Merv would get all flustered and possibly lose his train of thought. And the crowd would be partially lost due to the confusion. Furthermore; Merv had preached a number of times in Addis Ababa, and he might not have another sermon he could resort to.

In one of those very special and supreme moments of God's Grace in fast forward mode, the Holy Spirit gave Ato Lakew a sermon. Lakew had only those periods of time in which Merv was talking, but it came out great. Lakew did preach on the four ships also-- The ship Jesus was in during the storm, the ship Jesus used to preach from, the ship Jonah took to flee from God's will, and one more I forgot. What great lessons are in those events, and Lakew was given cross references along the way from his memory and the Holy Spirit's proddings.

The end of the message was a trick, for Ato Lakew had to wind down to the altar call at the same pace as Merv Rosell. God helped him, and both sermons ended with great conviction in the respective hearers. At the altar call a good number came forward to either respond to the English sermon or the Amheric sermon. Some of the missionaries who know both languages were delighted, for they got to hear two great sermons in the same evening.

Merv Rosell never knew what happened. No doubt, he counted all the responses as notches on his gun. Ato Lakew was much too humble to let Merv know the truth. And is there a moral to this story from real life? Absolutely. The Lord knew what Merv would do, and He made sure a man of fast wit and deep knowledge of the Word of God was the interpreter. God got the victory. Do you ever wonder if you can get anything right and give a testimony or teach a Sunday School class?

Next time you doubt God's power to use you, think of Ato Lakew.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Quotes from the funniest man alive!

Jim Gaffigan Quotes

Jim Gaffigan's comic timing is impeccable. He knows how to tickle your funny bone. Jim Gaffigan's self deprecating humor brings out the best response from his listeners. Enjoy the unbridled humor in these Jim Gaffigan quotes.
  • Pie can’t compete with cake. Put candles in a cake, it’s a birthday cake. Put candles in a pie, and somebody’s drunk in the kitchen.
  • I come from a very big family... nine parents.
  • I love everything about bacon. Even the sound of bacon cooking sounds like applause!
  • Whenever I'm out of town for at least a week, I feel like I should write a postcard or something, but you can be a genius, you try and write a postcard you come across like a moron anyway: "This city's got big buildings. I like food. Bye."
  • Actually, the reason I look like this is because my father was from Sweden and my mother was Elton John.
  • The only advantage to wearing glasses is that you can do that dramatic removal.
  • But in Indiana it's not like New York where everyone's like, 'We're from New York and we're the best' or 'We're from Texas and we like things big' it's more like 'We're from Indiana and we're gonna move."
  • I was watching the Animal Planet. Did you know that the male seahorse has the baby? Why don't they just call that one the female?
  • We’re never satisfied when it comes to food. "You know what’d be good on this burger? A ham sandwich. Instead of a bun, let’s use two donuts. That way we can have it for breakfast. Look out McGriddle. Here comes the donut-ham-hamburger!"
  • There is the vegetarian Hot Pocket for those of us who don't want to eat meat, but would still like diarrhea.
  • I love how New York is so multicultural. I wish I was ethnic. I'm nothing. Because if you're Hispanic and you get angry, people are like, "He's got a Latin temper!" If you're a white guy and you get angry, people are like, "That guy's a jerk."

R.S. Beal: "Radiant In Old Age"

Not many pastors serve effectively for fifty-one years in one pastorate!

Dr. Richard S. Beal was pastor of the historic First Baptist Church of Tucson, Arizona, [now sadly re-located from its mammoth facilities at 5th and 5th in the downtown Old Pueblo] from 1918-1969. Under his leadership this church grew from 200 members to more than 3,000 members. Also, twelve churches in the community are the fruits of the church's local outreach. During that busy half century, over 200 young people entered the ministry and mission fields.  

Dr. Beal was a leader in the formation of the Conservative Baptist Association.  He was among the pastor who originially left the old Northern Baptist Convention to form the CBA in 1947. As a boy growing up in a small AZ CBA church [Sonoita Bible Church] I would often hear him spoken of the way celebrities are spoken of today. He was a true denominational legend.  

He authored several books including his annual volumes of his collected Tucson pulpit entitled Rivers in the Desert (ten volumes total with 52 sermons in each).

And get this: Dr. Beal died in 1989 at 102 years of age!! So his advice about growing old is probably well worth hearing. He and Mrs. Beal had five children who are all active in Christian work.

Radiant In Old Age

  By R. S. Beal

    Judging by the enthusiasm with which Paul writes concerning Timothy and his loved ones, I am constrained to feel that his mother and grandmother were radiant Christians, full of faith and devotion: "When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also" (2 Tim. 1:5).
    While this is the only passage in the Bible containing the word "grandmother," nevertheless it stands connected with a testimony that is striking concerning the life and labors of this elderly woman. She has found the Saviour precious to her own heart and in faithfulness taught her daughter who in turn instructed her son in the things of God. It is apparent that this grandmother’s faith was bright and virile to the end of her days. Instead of the years causing a dimming of lights, hers shone even more brightly at eventide. This grandmother is an illustration of what I believe God wants in all of us as we face the advancing years.
    God’s respect for old age is expressed in these beautiful words, "Hearken unto thy father that begat thee, and despise not thy mother when she is old" (Prov. 23:22). We praise God for the faithfulness of the elderly whose labors continue until this good hour. Their hearts are alive to the needs of others; they are alive to the bubbling joys of little children; they are ever ready to offer words of encouragement to our youth who would do well to take their advice and thus save themselves the experimental pain and loss of time of the trial-and-failure method.
    These patriarchal saints have kept themselves abreast of the needs of this old world and have inspired all to press on in the cause of evangelism. The flame of youth has been transformed into the radiance of age just as seemed to be the case with grandmother Lois.

The Fear of Old Age

    As men travel along with seemingly increasing speed on the downward slope of life’s trail, some seem to gather fears which become an awful burden. That peace of mind, the abiding rest of soul, and the measure of wisdom gleaned from the sweet, the bitter and the perplexing experiences of life are not theirs. There are fears of physical helplessness, of mental lapses, of poverty and of disease. Some have expressed to me the fear that in the end their family will not want to be burdened with them in their infirmity.
    We may not have come to the place of the Apostle Paul where he said, "For I am in a strait (literally, dilemma) betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better" (Phil. 1:23). Whether or not we have a desire to depart, we as Christians should have the fortitude to face old age and death with the full assurance of faith knowing that God our Father will care for us to the very end.
    "But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus" (Phil. 4:19), and we can praise God there is no age limit to this glorious promise. The failure is always in ourselves and not with Him who has made the promise.
    Of all the seasons, I believe autumn is most beautiful. Instead of it being a time of decline, does not autumn mean golden harvest and the gathering of luscious fruit? Surely the year comes to its own in the autumn. We have sown in the spring, cultivated and worked through the summer, all for the glory of autumn.

The Faith of Old Age
    Instead of faith growing weaker as we grow older, it ought to grow stronger because supporting it is not only the plain statements of the Word of God but also the confirmation of experience. When we were young we might have wondered if God were as good as His Word, but now that we have come near to the end of the journey the genuineness of Christianity should be very real to each of us.
    It is blessed to read, "But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day" (Prov. 4:18). This being true, none of us need waste time and fritter away faith by living in the past. Mourning over the failures of yesterday and the mistakes and errors of long ago will not help matters. Paul wrote, "…forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 3:13-14).
    We must be on our guard lest we repose faith in ourselves and confidently boast of our accomplishments. The warning has been sounded in these words, "Behold, Thou hast made my days as an handbreadth; and mine age is as nothing before Thee: verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity" (Psa. 39:5).
    Do we believe our Bibles sufficiently concerning God’s daily care for us that we can live free from worry? Do we accept in simple faith what is revealed about the life to come so that we actually find ourselves homesick for heaven? Nothing is so inspiring to me as to find elderly people full of faith and hope and love, never sounding a sour note, but always singing God’s praises and looking forward with sweet anticipation to the time when they shall see Him face to face.
The Firmness of Old Age
    Instead of feebleness, God decrees there shall be strength. While it is true that our steps may falter and we find ourselves limited in many ways, yet there is not indication that weakness need prevail within. "For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day" (2 Cor. 4:16).
    I often fall back upon that wonderful little statement embedded deep in the first Psalm: "…his leaf also shall not wither…" [literally, fade] (Psa. 1:3). And I take it to mean that God is providing perpetual springtime for His children so far as the inner man is concerned. "Those that be planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing" (Psa. 92:13-14).
    No matter how old we are, we can keep a heart full of love toward everybody. We can learn to be patient with those who may try our patience. If we cannot love them with complacency, we can love them with compassion and pity. God gives definite instruction to the elderly. Because the years have increased is not reason that any of us should grow to be indifferent, or to feel that we have reached that station in life where certain laxities may be enjoyed which are denied to those who are younger.
    We read, "That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience. The aged women likewise, that they be in behavior as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things" (Titus 2:2-3).
    Paul spoke of himself as "Paul the aged" (Phm. v. 9), yet he was firm and true to the day of his martyrdom. He accepted the bitter with the sweet and rejoiced in both. He knew that the bitter may be better for God’s children than the sweet. No matter how old we get, there can be no letup in our Christian development.
    There is something better than growing old gracefully and that is growing old graciously. We are not to spend our time talking about failures, and we are not to boast about our success. Let us be careful to maintain a strong testimony for our Savior until the day He calls us to be with Himself.
    Let us also be faithful to the work the Lord continues to entrust to us. Have you ever stopped to think of what God said to Joshua? He was an old man a year past being a hundred, when we read of him, "Now Joshua was old and stricken in years; and the Lord said unto him, Thou art old and stricken in years, and there remaineth yet very much land to be possessed" (Josh. 13:1). God did not put His servant on the shelf but reminded him that even though he was old, there was still much to be accomplished.
Joy in Old Age
    We usually connect pleasure with youth and think they are the only ones who have a good time, but the child of God knows that "in Thy presence is fulness of joy…" (Psa. 16:11). And "these things have I spoken unto you, that My joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full" (John 15:11).
    The happiest people in the world should be the Christian aged. It is to be expected that their type of entertainment would be different than it was when they were young. Nevertheless, none need go about with a long face. When the Holy Spirit led Paul to write, "Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord…" (Phil. 3:1), He did not intend that this should belong to youth alone, or to those who were well and hardy, but to all those who were the recipients of God’s grace.
    Nothing ever happens to a child of God without it being under the supervision of his heavenly Father. He brings things about so that we can say, "We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to His purpose" (Rom. 8:28).
    Often the happiest and most contented folk are those who are nearest Home. The hope of the Christian makes light the heavy burdens of life.
    Thank God, there is a Friend who sticketh closer than a brother and it is in Him that we find salvation and satisfaction. This Friend makes life worth living down to the last breath and in the end takes us Home to be with Himself.
    – Christian Victory

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Bob Jones, Sr. "The Most Interesting Civil War Story I Ever Heard"

"The Most Interesting
Civil War Story
I Ever Heard"

by Dr. Bob Jones, Sr.

The most interesting story I ever heard was told me years ago by a man over eighty years of age. We were sitting together on a projecting rock of a mountainside in Arkansas. Here is the story:

“I was down in this country during the Civil War. Across on the other side yonder there were hundreds of tents where our soldiers were encamped. Measles broke out and many of the brave young men died. The epidemic got so bad we stretched some tents farther down the valley and moved all the measles patients into these tents. This, of course, was done to protect, as far as possible, the health of the healthy soldiers. I was wardmaster in charge of the tents where the measles patients were located.

“One night while I was on the ward, I passed a bunk where there was a very sick young soldier not more than seventeen years of age. The boy looked at me with a pathetic expression and said:

“‘Wardmaster, I believe I’m going to die. I’m not a Christian. My mother and father aren’t Christians. I never did attend church. I did go with a boyfriend to Sunday school just once. A woman taught the Sunday school class. She read us something out of the Bible about a man who went to see Jesus one night. Jesus told this man he must be born again. The teacher said all people must be born again in order to go to heaven when they die. I have never been born again, and I don’t want to die like this. Won’t you please get the chaplain so he can tell me how to be born again?’”

The old man hesitated for a moment. “You know, in those days I was an agnostic—at least, that is what I called myself. So I told the boy, ‘You don’t need a chaplain. Just be quiet now. Don’t worry, you’ll be all right.’ I went around the ward, and in about an hour I came back to the boy’s bed. He looked at me out of such sad, star­ing eyes as he said, ‘Wardmaster, if you won’t get me the chaplain, please get me the doctor. I am choking to death.’ ‘All right, my son, I’ll get the doctor,’ I said. So I went off and found the doctor. He came and mopped out the throat of the lad so he could breathe a little easier. I knew the boy was going to die. I had seen many other cases just like his. The doctor and I went away from the bed.

“In about an hour I came back expecting to find the boy dead but he was still struggling. He said, ‘There is no use, Wardmaster. I have got to die, and I haven’t been born again. Whether you believe in it or not, won’t you find the chaplain and let him tell me how to be born again?’ I looked at him for a moment and said, ‘All right, my son, I will get the chaplain.’

“I walked away a few paces and then turned and went back to the boy’s bedside. I said, ‘My boy, I am not going to get you the chaplain. I am going to tell you what to do myself. Now, under­stand, I am an agnostic. I don’t know whether there is any God. I don’t know whether there is any heaven. I don’t know whether there is any hell. I don’t know anything. Yes, I do. I know one thing. I know my mother was a good woman. I know if there is a God my mother knew Him. So I will tell you what my mother told me. You can try it and see if it works. Now, I am going to teach you a verse of Scripture. The verse is John 3:16.

“‘God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.’ ‘My mother said that I cannot save myself, but if I will believe in Jesus, He will save me.’

“I asked the boy to say the verse with me. I started and he followed with a weak and trem­bling voice. ‘God so loved the world,’ ‘God so loved the world’; ‘He gave His only begotten Son,’ ‘He gave His only begotten Son’; ‘that who­soever believeth in Him,’ ‘that whosoever belie­veth in Him’; ‘should not perish,’ ‘should not perish’; ‘but have everlasting life,’ ‘but have everlasting life.’ ‘Now, my boy, my mother said if a person will trust Jesus, he will not perish but have everlasting life.’

“He closed his eyes, stretched his hands across his breast and in a whisper he quoted slowly, repeating some of the words several times: ‘God so loved the world...He gave His only begotten Son ... that whosoever, whoso­ever ... whosoever believeth, believeth in Him, believeth in Him.’

“Then he stopped and said in a clear voice, ‘Praise God, Wardmaster, it works. I believe in Him! I shall not perish! I have everlasting life! I have been born again. Wardmaster, your mother was right. Why don’t you try it? Do what your mother said. It works, Wardmaster. This thing works! Wardmaster, before I go I want to ask you to do something for me. Take a kiss to my mother and tell her what you told me, and tell her that her dying son said, “It works.”’”

The old man, wiping tears out of his eyes and tears out of the wrinkles of his face, said, “The lad was right. It does work. Whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish but now has everlasting life. It works. I know it works!”

“I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16).

Bob Jones preaching, circa 1928