In the good providence of our Lord, Christiana and I will be reconnecting with family, friends and acquaintences late-December of this year. In 1994 when we decided to leave for seminary , many, (more than 99%) told us that we were out of our minds to leave, what seemed to be a very comfortable life. Christiana taught at a private Christian school, and I had just celebrated 20 years as a successful computer professional in the Bahamas. Life seemed good to us. And it truly was.
Now that many of our friends and relatives in Nassau, (and we suspect some in the USA) have learned of our transition, many are almost certain that we must be out of our minds. Why? Well, we have heeded the Lord’s call to return to Nassau as MTW missionaries, and at a late stage in our lives. Why would we run the risk of leaving a community that has demonstrated its care and deep concern for us, and go to a place that we no longer know? Why would we leave our children and grandchildren behind?
To begin with, true vision gives a glimpse of the Lord’s redemptive plan for His people! Moses recognized this profound truth after he encountered the Lord at the “burning bush”. At a single point in time, Christiana and I became very sensitive to our Lord’s desire to bless His people. In June 1982, we both sensed His specific call to us in developping young men and women who would lead the charge in transforming their own community. There in the heat of a summer’s sun in Central Andros, she and I knelt down and asked the Lord to establish His vision for us. During that long, hot trek, we became keenly aware that He had begun to communicate a vision to reach young Bahamians with the Gospel in a very wholistic way.
We earnestly began to plan for what we called, “the Andros Project”. During the next four years, we began to prayerfully make plans to build a Christian camp for young people. By late-1988, it seemd that I was living a nighmare. Due to an unfortunate, (or fortunate) automobile wreck, I had become paralyzed from waist down, in May of that year. Having believed lies from the enemy of our souls, by November of that year I had reached the godless conclusion that the Lord no longer loved me.
Before you judge me, hear my side. Christiana was pregnant with our daughter, Jamila Hadiya (“Beautiful Gift”). Andrew and Jason were growing boys who needed to eat, what seemed like every hour. Our combined medical bills were astronomical. We would have less than $50.00 per month to buy food. That ordeal lasted from around August to December, 1988. So, after a sobering conversation with Christiana about selling everything and starting all over again, I finally broke and cried out to the Lord. Boy did He hear me that day! On that red-letter day, I cried for the first time in my wife’s presence, and told the Lord with every fiber of my being: “If You get me out of this, I’ll do anything for You.”
Anything? Yes! Anything, Lord!
That has been the story of our lives – listening to the Lord as He leads us into the “anything”. By 1990, we heard, “Leave Nassau; go to seminary!” After seminary we heard: “Leave seminary; go to Memphis! Leave Memphis; go to Dallas! Leave Dallas; go back to Nassau!” Lord, are we out of our minds??
How can we live with a God who can bring such turbulence into our lives, Who can call us to live in a constant state of journey into an unknown future, Who can call on us to do the most gut-wrenching things? How can we trust a God who would ask of us seemingly impossible things, show us that they are indeed possible, and then close the door on the very possibility that He had opened up? How can we live with a God that we cannot predict and who works in the world in ways that go beyond what we can comprehend?
Moses, a wanted fugitive, was commanded to return to Egypt, after being on the lam for 40 years. He wrote the story of the Lord’s call to Abraham and Isaac in Genesis 22. Katie von Bora listened to her husband, Martin Luther, as he read this story of Abraham’s attempted sacrifice of Isaac and demanded, “How could a loving God ask Abraham to sacrifice His only son?” “Why Katy,” Luther said to her, “He did it himself.” This is an unpredictable God we are dealing with; a God who asks of us everything and then gives His Son in our place; a God who allows in this world everything, and then comes to live with us in it.
This same Son, our Lord Jesus demands total surrender from us. He commands us in Luke 9:23, “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me.”
Lead us, o Lord, in your righteousness!