Dying and Being Reborn

This week I was checking something on the website of our lifetime employer, the International Mission Board, and I came across something I hadn’t noticed before.  It was sort of like the “column 8” of a newspaper.  There it was: a full color, carefully crafted Obituary page (and pages and pages) of all of those amongst our more than 4000 missionaries who have “Gone Home” this year.

Talk about interesting!  And here I am writing about Heroes.

I was mesmerized for almost an hour, just gaping at all the names. There were so many that I knew from our long history with the Board; people who had stood alongside with us in Africa and Thailand, Taiwan and Hong Kong and of course so many in Japan. Added to that were the people we’d met in passing on our Stateside Assignment years, when our paths crossed while speaking at different churches.

It’s hard to explain the ‘camaraderie” that one feels when you find someone who’s walked a similar path with so many shared values and experiences.  I chuckled to myself as I remembered some of the unspoken ‘foibles’ that were left out, so that nothing but true saints in the Lord shown down from my screen.  But then, maybe that’s the way God sees us.

Anyway, I decided NOT to further this distraction by adding up the accumulated years of service, years those precious folks had dedicated to sharing their faith with the world.  Suffice it to say, it left me proud to have known these guys, and proud of the God who sent them out, and then took them back into His Loving arms. Some had served for decades, some for only weeks. I remembered reading somewhere that the average life expectancy of a missionary to Liberia, West Africa in the 1800s was only about four months. (Now it’s much longer thanks to medicine). And yet when each arrived at the throne of God, each heard those wonderful words, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant”. I must add that even though most of these folks lived in various forms of difficulty and privation, the average age of the bulk of them were in their late 90’s.  I’m sure someone could think of an appropriate comment …

As we continue along on our journey here in Australia, just living life as we can, we’re pretty sure we’ll be welcoming grandson #4 into the world this week. Be sure to look at all the “Letters to Schnicklefritz” on Tony’s Facebook page. Google Facebook, Tony Woods. It should be right on top. Or, drop me a line and we can send them to you.

I was happy to come across the following verse below in my Bible reading this morning.  I know it’s out of context; actually God is telling the Israelites what they missed out on, but anyway….  This is the version from my “Message” Bible (which I’m sure will raise a few eyebrows!), but it spoke to me, reminding me of the HOPE we have for the heroes of the future.

Isaiah 48:19 in the Message says, “Children and grandchildren are like sand, your progeny like grains of sand.  There would be no end of them, no danger of losing touch with me.”

I’m reminded that we are all ‘progeny’ of great heroes who have shown us the way.  Aren’t we blessed to have known them, and now we send that love down to our kids and their kids and their kids…….
God bless us all.


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