A Happy Man

This last week we said goodbye to a wonderful young German couple who have been renting our downstairs apartment.  They are strong Christians, well versed in the Bible, and they have been ‘stuck’ here in Australia for over a year because of COVID. We believe that God sent them to us because the timing of their coming was such a blessing! Tony had been suffering from severe back pain (He’s only just now getting over it after five months of misery), and was unable to do even the simplest tasks, like mowing the lawn. Paul saw his predicament and said, “I would consider it a privilege if you would let me mow your lawn.” Tony agreed, so from that day on, Paul handled the lawn while Tony and I looked on and thanked God for this answer to a prayer we hadn’t even put into words.Sadly, their time here has come to an end. They have decided to try and “escape” Australia. First up to Cairns, where they hope to enjoy the beach for awhile and then pick up an airplane ticket to some country where they will be able to “hop scotch” around until they reach their homeland. We’re trying not to pray that they will be unable to leave and have to come back, but I know God will guide them wherever they go.But a comment that they mentioned several times about us brings to mind another hero I want to post below. His name was Billy Bray.  Here’s J. John Philo to talk about him:
“One of my heroes is the Cornish evangelist Billy Bray. Billy was born in 1794 in Cornwall. Despite growing up amongst a Christian faith, he soon began living a life filled with drunkenness and violence. He married a woman who had been a keen Methodist but who had let her faith lapse. Nevertheless, his wife’s memory of a happy former life challenged Billy and in 1823 he became desperately aware that he needed to ‘begin again’. He eventually found peace through Christ, and not long afterwards his wife returned to her faith. Billy’s conversion was radical and profound and a sense of wondrous deliverance never left him. In the next four decades, Billy’s life was marked with an extraordinary and exuberant joy that he continually expressed in spontaneous jumping, dancing and shouting, whether at work down the mine or in preaching. He lived simply and served his needy community. Billy gave away money without any concern for how it was to be replaced, raised orphans and built chapels. Many people came simply for the spectacle of seeing him, only to return home converted.”Billy Bray died in 1868, and the final word on his lips was ‘Glory!’”I find four things that speak to me about Billy Bray:

1. I’m challenged by Billy’s joy. Life was tough in the mining communities of early nineteenth-century Cornwall and Billy was always a poor man living amidst bitter poverty. Yet every mention of him speaks of his extraordinary joy, happiness and cheerfulness.

2. I’m challenged by Billy’s witness. For many Christians, sharing the faith is something that has to be encouraged. There was nothing of that with Billy Bray: he was a man who simply couldn’t help telling other people about Jesus.

3. I’m challenged by Billy’s simplicity. Literacy and learning are good and I’m all in favour of theological colleges. Yet, in thinking about Billy Bray, I can’t help but wonder if we have not paid too high a price for the pursuit of academia. Billy preached the simple gospel: because Jesus died for us, we  should put our trust in him. It served him well in his day; I see no reason why it shouldn’t serve us as well in ours.

4. I’m challenged by Billy’s authenticity. I think it was the secret to much of his fruitfulness. Authenticity attracts and encourages trust.

J.John While Tony and I didn’t grow up illiterate and drunken, somehow, Paul and Isabella have observed that we’re happy people!  We don’t dance much these days, but they said they saw in us a love for God, for each other, and for life in general.I thought their observation was interesting. We’ve been told that kind of thing before (Praise the Lord!), but lately we’ve been having some trying times, mostly in the form of aches and pains which I supposed are associated with increasing age. But then last week, our son Nathan was diagnosed with Viral Meningitis. He’s slowly recovering, but it’s been so hard to watch him suffer, and also to see his wife and children watch him suffer. And yet the Germans think we’re happy.Well, truth be known, we ARE happy, when you get to the heart of the matter. God is still on His throne and we are so very blessed, how could we be anything but joyful? It might be my prayer, what is noted further down in Billy Bray’s story, “Many people came simply for the spectacle of seeing him, only to return home converted.”Hope this finds you happy as well.  Marsha

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