Tuesday, November 22, 2005

"I tell you the truth," Jesus said to them,
"no one who has left home or wife or brothers
or parents or children for the sake of the
kingdom of God will fail to receive many times
as much in this age and, in the age to come,
eternal life."
Luke 18:29, 30.

This Thursday, most people in the United States will be celebrating Thanksgiving. Not being a commercial holiday, advertising pays it little attention. The ads and decorations for Christmas are already in the stores. Thankfully, however, Thanksgiving is still an important family tradition.

It seems the Greek language has a lot of words for our one word, love. Someone once explained to me that the Greek word for family love is Storge. As human beings we are attached to our families either negatively or positively or sometimes both. It is this storge love that keeps us coming together at special times with the hope that we will feel loved and connected with family once again.

On the mission field families are very close to each other. The circumstances of living in a foreign environment increase closeness. The pressure to have children involved in everything from little league to ballet is less. There seems to be more emphasis on family in many other countries. Families are allowed to spend more time with each other. Leisure time is allowed and guilt is heaped on people who refuse leisure rather than on those who work only 40 hours a week. Japan would be the exception to these statements, of course.

This family closeness often gets shattered once an expatriate returns to the states. Family meals are missed because of children's after school activities - because of work - because of church work (See Breakpoint's Beyond Thanksgiving). This is one of the things that makes missionary family reentry difficult. Having people over for a meal doesn't happen much anymore. If there is any hospitality it occurs in a restaurant - see John Mark Hick's latest entry on Samaritan Hospitality. This is another reason Thanksgiving with family is so special in the United States. It's one of the three times in a year when the whole family might get together - when storge love might happen.

So whether you are in the states or you are in another country and can't celebrate this American holiday until Saturday, enjoy your family. Make joyful family memories. Eat together. Invite someone without family to join you. Count your blessings. Bless others and allow others to bless you.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Getting Caught

Tonight at the Summit at Richland Hills, Jeff Garrett, a recovering alcoholic, who knows the Lord well, delivered a wonderful lesson on Getting Caught. Getting caught did six things for him:
1) Getting caught helped him confess his sin. Psalm 32:4,5
2) Getting caught made him want to stop. I Cor. 15:3,4
3) Getting caught helped him avoid more serious consequences.
4) Getting caught helped him begin the road to recovery.
5) Getting caught helped him understand the importance of relationships.
6) Getting caught lead him to a greater understanding of God's love and forgiveness.
Psalm 103:8-14

It was a beautiful testimony. When I taught at Friends University in the adult education program (one of the hats I wore), we had many, many recovering alcoholics in our classes. I loved them all. They were the most honest, most transparent, most real people I ever met. They were a delight to teach. Adult Ed was their second chance to make something out of their lives and they studied and worked hard.

There is one young woman I wish I could reach who has made alcohol and drugs her life. This is the young woman driving the car that struck my son when he was crossing the street many years ago. Today is the anniversary of my son, Paul's death. We buried him on my birthday. I missed him tonight. But tonight, I also thought about that young woman who was drinking and smoking pot and driving. She was only 17 years old that fateful day. Paul was only 21. Jesus died for them both.

If you know this young woman, see if you can get her to come home. Jesus wants her to come home and so do I. I'm so happy Jeff came home. He blessed me tonight.

Love's Prayers,


Sunday, November 13, 2005

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?…No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us"
Rom. 8:35, 37.

The following will be placed on the Missions Resource Network Website soon.

Avian Flu Threat

A major public health concern being raised worldwide is the possibility of a pandemic resulting from an outbreak of avian or “bird” flu. This could have significant implications for missionaries and their families living throughout the world. Dr. Dan Blazer is a psychiatrist at Duke University and a member of the Task Force for Missionary Care associated with Missions Resource Network. Part of Dr. Blazer’s work is with the U.S. Armed Forces. He recently asked Dr. Roger Gibson, Executive Secretary for the Armed Forces Epidemiological Board, several questions regarding concerns about which missionaries and churches should be aware. We want to share his replies in order to raise your awareness about potential responses in the event of worldwide outbreak of avian flu.

What advice would you give missionaries?

In addition to the typical preventive medicine measures (wash your hands, avoid crowds and visibly sick people, eat healthy, etc.), they should stay informed by listening to the radio/TV, website. They should know up front that some folks transmit influenza before showing symptoms. Therefore they are not fully risk free if they avoid sick people. And they could intentionally transmit the disease to others. Restricting their movements is very wise.

I would recommend having about a month's worth of food and essentials stored away, just in case. In a true pandemic, you can plan on seeing the country's infrastructure implode...stores closed, buses and trucks not delivering, maybe break downs in water and electricity supplies.

Would you attempt to evacuate missionaries ASAP back to the US? What would be the concerns about them bringing the flu to the US?

Wearing my clinical hat, given the level of care required for those who contract the current virulent version of avian flu, I would recommend return to the US or at least movement to a non-avian flu area where good medical care exists. Epidemiologically, I would prefer everyone stayed in place and have optimal treatment provided for them. The best bet would be to contact the American Embassy and get the latest information on movement restrictions. More than likely those returning to the US from an area where avian flu is being transmitted from human-to-human will have some form of restriction of movement imposed upon them once they arrive in the US. It is possible, but currently unlikely, that they would be denied entry into the US. It is slightly more likely that airlines will refuse to fly to infected areas. They should be prepared for that eventuality and comply fully with the authorities.

Should there be some backup medications, such as Tamiflu, on site for missionaries to begin to take?

Yes. Absolutely. For two reasons. First taking Tamiflu during the first 48 hours of illness has been shown to reduce the severity and length of illness. More importantly, Tamiflu dramatically reduces viral shedding. Finally, if they start taking Tamiflu as a preventive in the face of the outbreak, they can greatly lower their risk of getting infected. So the best scenario would be: Stay informed. Be ready to leave the area at the first signs of an outbreak. Start taking Tamiflu and stay on it till you're back home or the outbreak is over. If you can get out of the outbreak area, isolate yourself for a week. Alternatively, if you can't leave follow good preventive medicine precautions. Take Tamiflu as soon as you become ill. Stockpile. Other meds (both those to treat acute illnesses like bacterial pneumonia and as well as your typical chronic disease meds) should also be stockpiled.
What else would you advise?

The use of N-95 respirators for other than medical and first responders is controversial. While respirators and good hand washing will greatly reduce or eliminate the risk of infection it is hard to maintain these practices for extended lengths of time. It takes a LOT of respirators if you are wearing them all day, every day. Finally, if this bug is true to form, it will travel in waves. Any specific location will see cases for about 6 weeks before it burns itself out. If you can hunker down for that long, you may be OK.

The following link will explain what emergency supplies need to be on hand.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?…No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us"
Rom. 8:35, 37.

We serve at His pleasure.

Love's prayers,


Thursday, November 10, 2005

I looked and there before me was a great multitude
and no one could count, from every nation, tribe,
people, and language, standing before the throne
and in front of the Lamb.
Rev. 7:9

by James Reppart

Africa, a land of indescribable beauty! A place that cannot be expressed through the simple words of our language. A land that can only be expressed through one's own experience. A place that will take away your breath, but give you the first real breath of life you have ever drawn into your lungs. A place that will break your heart with the despair and hurt of its people. But a place that will also give your heart strength and endurance through the amazing hope and joyful spirit of the people that inhabit its land. With scenes of God's beautiful creation painted onto a canvas that stretches to the horizon, Africa is by far the most awe inspiring and beautiful artistic expression of our creator. It is this beautiful land that I am privileged to call home.

, like many of the children of Africa I am not lucky enough to live at home. I am a lost child of Africa. Contrary to my feelings in the past, I no longer despair over the fact that I am no longer living in Africa. For if I had never left, I would never have known how amazing and how much of a blessing it was to have been raised there. Instead, I now see Africa as an amazing place that I wish to share with those that are close to my heart. A place that I hope one day those that I love will be able to experience as I have experienced it. I am thankful for the time I had in Africa, and look forward to and long for the day that I can return. But until then, I will simply remain thankful that I ever had the chance to be there.

James Reppart, 19, is a business major in his sophomore year at York College in York, Nebraska. James grew up in Nairobi, Kenya and Pateras, Washington. He is the son of Jim and Laura Reppart, who lived in Africa 20 years: 4 years in Cameroun and 16 years in Kenya. James states that his outlook of Africa makes him very positive about life. This essay was used with permission by the author.