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Today, Lisa is sharing a piece of her story with us.
Father God, thank You for the gift of these words. We ask that You open our hearts to receive the Word You have waiting here for each one of us individually. Awaken in us a hunger and thirst for more of YOU. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Your Heavenly Father knows
Writing for Breaking Bread this week brought back numerous memories from my life as a missionary kid and as a missionary. Last month, I shared my mother’s and my experiences from China 1947 and 1948.
On December 5, 1949 my mother managed to take us, her five children on the last evacuation flight from Kunming and escape via Hong Kong to Sri Lanka. Dad stayed in Kunming. The city was taken by Mao’s troops within days.
Here is a short account from Sri Lanka (Ceylon) January 1950 (MISSIONARY MOTHER: Around the World with Five Kids, p. 121-123):
Anna (my mother) was alone with her children in a new situation, in a new country across the great waters far from Toimi. How would she manage here? How long would she have to be alone? Would Toimi be able to come out of China soon? Would he survive the dangers of robbers and the war?
She had hardly any money left after she had paid for the night in the Keswick Guest House in Colombo and the train ticket to Kandy. The two Swedish families, Johansson, and Björkenfors, and their teacher Marta Persson were the only people she knew on this island of Ceylon.
The train arrived at the Kandy station. The familiar figure of Einar Johansson stood there waiting to meet her and the children. They piled into his car and were taken to their home. All the Swedish children were there. Their teacher had taught them to sing a song of welcome. For Anna, this song in her mother-tongue was a reminder of every promise God had given her.
Children of the heavenly Father
Safely in His bosom gather;
Nestling bird nor star in Heaven
Such a refuge ever was given.
God His own doth tend and nourish;
In His holy courts they flourish;
From all evil things He spares them;
In His mighty arms He bears them.
Neither life nor death shall ever
From the Lord His children sever;
Unto them His grace He showeth,
And their sorrows all He knoweth.
Though He giveth or He taketh,
God His children ne’er forsaketh;
His the loving purpose solely
To preserve them pure and holy.
Lo, their very hairs He numbers,
And no daily care encumbers
Them that share His every blessing
And His help in woes distressing.
Praise the Lord in joyful numbers:
Your Protector never slumbers.
At the will of your Defender
every foeman must surrender.
Karolina W. Sandell-Berg, 1858.
In October 1952 my mother wrote to her family in Finland about the arrival of new missionaries in Ceylon:
The new missionaries were surprised to see all our children active and in good health. It seemed they expected them to be thin and malnourished. It is certainly God’s grace that all the children have been well and have good appetites.
Last week, I received the following verses which reminded me of the miracles of God in our family.
Exodus 16:31-33 New International Version (NIV)
The people of Israel called the bread manna. It was white like coriander seed and tasted like wafers made with honey. Moses said, “This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Take an omer of manna and keep it for the generations to come, so they can see the bread I gave you to eat in the wilderness when I brought you out of Egypt.’”
So Moses said to Aaron, “Take a jar and put an omer of manna in it. Then place it before the Lord to be kept for the generations to come.”
This is what God is asking me to do. I must gather the stories, in my words, of His faithfulness through the wilderness journey of my life to remind coming generations of His faithfulness.
Recently, I listened to a Bible study about the task Jesus gave to His disciples:
John 20:21 “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.”
Through his incarnation, Jesus identified himself with us in every way.
John 17:18-26 (TLB)
As you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world, and I consecrate myself to meet their need for growth in truth and holiness . . . I have given them the glory you gave me—the glorious unity of being one, as we are— I in them and you in me, all being perfected into one—so that the world will know you sent me and will understand that you love them as much as you love me . . . O righteous Father, the world doesn’t know you, but I do; and these disciples know you sent me. And I have revealed you to them and will keep on revealing you so that the mighty love you have for me may be in them, and I in them.
I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Live within my love. When you obey me you are living in my love, just as I obey my Father and live in his love. I have told you this so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your cup of joy will overflow! I demand that you love each other as much as I love you. And here is how to measure it—the greatest love is shown when a person lays down his life for his friends; and you are my friends if you obey me.
Follow God’s example in everything you do just as a much loved child imitates his father. Be full of love for others, following the example of Christ who loved you and gave himself to God as a sacrifice to take away your sins. And God was pleased, for Christ’s love for you was like sweet perfume to him.
Then Mary took a jar of costly perfume made from essence of nard,
and anointed Jesus’ feet with it and wiped them with her hair.
And the house was filled with fragrance.
But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples
—the one who would betray him—
said, “That perfume was worth a fortune.
It should have been sold and the money given to the poor.”
Not that he cared for the poor,
but he was in charge of the disciples’ funds
and often dipped into them for his own use!
Marilyn Gardner says in her blog post, Creating Place:
In coming to us through the Incarnation, Jesus attached himself to time and place. He was a human who lived during a specific historic time period. He was son of Mary and Joseph, a carpenter. He was John’s cousin and he lived in Nazareth where he inhabited a physical home. I like to imagine that Mary delighted in creating earthly space for this son of hers; the one who was present at the creation of the world when God the Father created our physical home; the one who would dramatically bridge the gap between heaven and earth for the rest of us so that one day, we would have a permanent home.
Before my wedding to a missionary, who was in Thailand already, I wanted to prepare something for our future home. I loved to cross-stitch, and found an idea I could use, something that might fit in a kitchen anywhere we lived. There was an empty space in the center of the picture, so I decided to choose a familiar verse from the Bible. It proved to be a prophetic word for us. Amongst many other “feedings” we were granted the privilege of sharing our home with a number of orphans.
But then this God-birthed privilege, Bethany Children’s Home, was on the verge of being closed down in March 2018, after having served over 300 children during the 43 years since we took in the first children. However, yet again God provided a solution beyond anything we could ask or think. A new Foundation was ready to step in and continue feeding, not only the physical hunger of the children, but also to share with them the Bread of Life that was sent down from heaven.
Luke 9:13 Living Bible (TLB)
But Jesus replied, “You feed them!”
“Why, we have only five loaves of bread and two fish among the lot of us,” they protested; “or are you expecting us to go and buy enough for this whole mob?”
John 6:33 Living Bible (TLB)
The true Bread is a Person
—the one sent by God from heaven,
and he gives life to the world.”
Instead of Ashes
A Poem by Lisa Enqvist
She was starting her journey of faith.
Her Guide showed her a glimpse of what lay ahead. He asked,
“Are you willing to walk along this path, in spite of obstacles along the way?”
In youthful eagerness she replied.
“Yes, I’m willing!”
She thought she had given all to follow her Guide all the way.
Before reaching that point of surrender, she cried over again,
“The road is too hard. I’ll never reach the goal.
The price is too high! I’ve given my all.”
Her Guide said, “I will supply all your needs.”
The years passed by. Again her Guide said the road ahead would be tough.
“Will you go on? Even when losing all you have done before?”
She heard words of a beautiful new song.
Would that be her song in the days to come?
“You touched everything I owned
all that I held dear
You reduced it to dust and ashes
revalued my life and held me near.
In awe I see how my hands
that clung tight to all I had owned
open softly like lily petals
to the light from a cloudless sky
You touched everything I owned
Earthly treasures have lost their charms
Now my life depends on Your precious will
I will rest in Your loving arms.”
Again the years passed by.
A wild wind of chaos seemed to destroy everything around her.
Was this the price of following her calling?
Was it this her Guide meant when he showed her the pile of ashes many years ago.
She tried to understand the symbols at the time, but now she could see some meaning.
He showed her a pile of ashes
What had the fire consumed?
Was it all the achievements of a lifetime?
Or had the debris of dreams all burned?
Was her lifework reduced to nothing?
She saw a nail-scarred hand searching
carefully sifting through the ashes
looking for shards of a burned clay vessel
now purified by the blaze
The vessel – once formed by the Master
Was marred over and over again
by grains of rough mutiny – of stubborn rebellion
sometimes by harshness of unfeeling foes
In the hands of the Master the crushed vessel
was re-formed, renewed, and made whole
Scorching flames had burned all the rubble
The Master raised the clay pot up high again
Covered now with purified gold
and filled up to the brim so love overflowed
The hungry and thirsty now reach out
For heavenly treasures untold.
Jeremiah 18:1-4 (NIV)
Isaiah 61:1-3 NIV
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
May I pray for you?
Thank you for letting us call you Father. Thank you for loving us so much that You sent your Only Son to die for our sins and shortcomings. Thank you for showing us through Jesus the greatest love that anyone can experience.
You know the need of each person who reads this message. May they also learn to trust you to feel their personal needs. May Your Holy Spirit guide each one of us to understand what it means to follow your example and to love you in such a way that our lives too may be a fragrance that draws others to your love.
You understand the suffering some reader is going through. You will never leave your child alone in her anguish. You hear her prayers and you are working out your plan through each situation.
We thank you,
In Jesus precious and holy name.