With God, our times of trouble are never wasted

The Making of the Mount Desert Island Guide

Trouble on a rainy day on Mount Desert Island

As we go through life, we will face times of trouble.  As Christians, we somehow think that we aren’t supposed to go through difficult times.  We are made to understand that our lives will be trouble-free and lots of fun once we turn our lives over to Him!

In reality, Scripture makes no such guarantee.  In fact, Jesus warned us, “In the world you will have trouble.  But trust!  I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33, Modern Wycliffe NT)

Last summer, we went through a time of trouble together as a ministry.  We had just started our new mission, called Desert Springs Ministries.  We were praying for wisdom, for ways to grow our team of prayer warriors and partners.

Now, I am known for my crazy ideas, and my willingness to do radical things, even if they are difficult.  While I pursued this idea, I was under the impression that I was obeying the LORD.  And despite the troubles I went through by doing so, I still feel that God was leading me through it.

I have the tendency to beat myself up for doing what God leads me to do, if the outcome brings trouble into my life.  But is that really fair?  Does God’s way always help us to avoid trouble in our lives… or does it sometimes bring it on?

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Safer Than A Roller Coaster!

God takes care of those who "risk" obeying Him

rollercoaster

I hate roller coasters. I can’t handle the feeling of losing control of where I am going.  It is difficult to rush forward without knowing what’s going to happen next.  However, they say that roller coasters are actually safer than children’s wagons or even folding lawn chairs. And I must admit: on the few times my girls ever talked me into riding a roller coaster with them, there came a point before the ride was over that I actually relaxed and gave up worrying about what was coming next.

Last month, because the brakes of my 1998 Toyota Corolla were squeaking, I left it at Quality Tire in Brewer, Maine to get them fixed.  Around noon, they called me back.  “Your car needs new struts and brakes, and it’s going to cost you $1,600.”

Inwardly, I gulped.  “That’s a lot!,” I thought.  Then I asked my mechanic it would be okay to think it over.  I thought about it, then called Sharon.  We both agreed that we needed to get a new vehicle so that I could preach in the churches each month.  But on our missionary salary, what could we get?

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How much is a Bible worth overseas?

A Sunday School Lesson or Sermon Illustration for your church

On the Chinese Black Market, a Bible costs about 34,000 Yuan ($5,000).

How much is a Bible worth where you live?  Petr Jasek is someone who can personally testify to the value of the Word of God. While being locked in a Sudanese prison cell with members of the Islamic State, a verse he had memorized just before he went into prison helped him to endure the brutal treatment he experienced there.
When he was moved into a safer situation in another prison, a visitor slipped him a copy of the Bible. He had gone for so long without a Bible that he absolutely devoured it! Because the cell did not have electric lights, he could only read it during the daylight hours. Despite this, he read through the whole Bible in three weeks! Click here to hear Petr Jasek’s story.

In China, a Bible costs as much as six month’s wages on the black market.  So our Brothers and Sisters in Christ know the value of this amazing Book we take so much for granted.  Now we see why they are taken apart, the pieces passed around and copied into notebooks!

Here is what happened when a village Chinese church received copies of the Word of God in their own language:

I have never held my Bible close to my heart, with tears in my eyes. I don’t know what it’s like to want a Bible more than anything else in this world.
Is there a more worthwhile way to serve Christ than to bring God’s Word to His people who so desperately want it?

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The Search for Ginger Chicken

ginger

This post was written by Sharon while we were in Chad.

Yesterday, it was getting near to sundown, and we couldn’t find Ginger, our new chicken. She hadn’t touched the cut-up tomatoes we had given her, which is extremely unusual, because she LOVES them. We couldn’t find her anywhere in our yard, and so we started searching. We started to wonder if someone had climbed over the wall and stolen her, but decided that’s not likely, because we would certainly have heard her squawk. Then we were trying to remember the last time we saw her, and no one could remember decisively. I wondered if she escaped when Ashta left, but David insisted she couldn’t have. We checked inside the library, the other part of the yard, everywhere we could think of, but to no avail. I stood near the front gate, between the library and the guardhouse, and started to call her; “Here, chick-chick-chick!”

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More Precious Than Gold

Reflections on the 2013 Gold Rush in Chad and the Darfur

Gold mine workers wait to get their raw gold weighed at a gold shop in the town of Al-Fahir in North Darfur [photo by REUTERS/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah]

Our family was there in Chad, Africa for the 2013 gold rush.  A few prospectors had secretly found gold on the southern edge of the Sahara Desert, and everyone got excited about it.

On the Sudanese side of the gold zone, it was easy to find a job in the mines.  It was dangerous work, but Chad is a country full of desperate people.  The mine owners were easily able to find fathers and sons willing to risk their lives in an attempt to rise out of poverty.

Meanwhile, on the Chadian side, the government gave everyone a few months to stake their claim.  If a fortune seeker found gold after the cutoff date, it would belong to the Chadian government.

A gold mine worker uses a detector at Al-Ibedia locality in the River Nile State, in this July 30, 2013 file picture. REUTERS/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah/FilesAs a result, everyone who could rushed up north to join the prospectors!  Normally the road to the village in the Kapka region (where my camel lives) would only see a few vehicles each day. During that time, lots of Land Cruisers would always be passing me, leaving a cloud of dust behind them.

I am far from being a specialist in Mineralogy, but all my friends were coming to me with samples of the rocks they had discovered in their village.  I also ended up becoming the “Go-To” guy for teaching villagers how to use the metal detector their brothers had sent over from the US.

Some of the prospectors were successful in finding gold and of making a fortune.  Most of them were impoverished by the upfront investment.  Once a group of prospectors did strike gold, the struggle wasn’t over.  To succeed, they had to devote themselves to exploiting it before their money ran out, and staying alive long enough to profit from it.

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