November 22 2019
I found out that
my friend had died when an email bounced back. Knowing her age, I had the
immediate sense of "knowing" the reason why. It takes time for
those email inboxes to either fill up or come to an end. So, I googled
obituaries for my friend's name and state, and there it was, her obituary with
her photo. She had passed away over a year ago, but the news didn't reach
me overseas until nearly one year later. The news was old, but the grief
is fresh for me.
This is not the
first time I have had belated tears. Finding out after the fact, finding out in
unexpected ways, not having an opportunity to share in the celebration of life
and the telling of stories, that is part of missionary life. Belated
tears shed in the presence of Jesus, a bittersweet celebration of the gift of a
friend, coworker, supporter, and sister or brother in Christ.
go back home, we have to catch up not only on the happy events but the sad
ones too. For us, it might be the first time to see that empty chair at the
table. So, if you see a tear well up in a missionary's eye, and there
seems to be no reason for tears, perhaps it's a belated tear.
By OMS Ukraine missionary, Colleen Weaver
November 20 2019
have been some contrasting stories over recent days. The impeachment hearings
are moving along with efforts by many in Washington to grab the attention of
the cameras and those determining the content for news feeds. A highly
politicized and rancorous conversation with carnal elements on all sides, I'm
wondering what God must think as he sees and knows all, even the hidden motives
of people's hearts?
Cleveland, with only seconds left in a football game already clearly decided,
there was a huge conflict on the football field played out in front of a
stadium full of people and national TV, and later seen on screens by millions
around the world. Disdain and destructive deeds were on display. What are God's
thoughts about so many worshiping sports instead of him, and then seeing this
sad demonstration of brokenness by professional athletes?
an old farmhouse in Noblesville, Indiana, another story was playing out. A man
took his last struggling breath and then slipped quietly away. Compared to President
Trump, Speaker Pelosi, Garrett, Pouncey, and Rudolph, whose names are now known
by so many, this man's name is known by only a few. Some in Pakistan where he
poured out his life for Christ and others, some in Indiana, a few prayer and financial
supporters here and there, but relatively speaking, this man was little known
on this earth. Compared to all the persons known through the impeachment and
NFL conflicts, Russ Irwin stands out as truly worthy of emulation.
is his dear wife of over 60 years, Phyllis, who as a missionary physician used
her medical skills to demonstrate the compassion of Jesus to thousands upon
thousands of Pakistanis. Russ and Phyllis have given their lives for what
really matters, making disciples, bringing healing and hope, and training
leaders for Christ in a difficult place where the resistance was often
intimidating and overwhelming. Russ was a missionary, a theologian, a Bible
teacher, and a trainer to many. With Phyllis at his side, he died a few days
ago with praise to God on his lips and in his heart.
a privilege for Esther and me to be with Russ and Phyllis just days before Russ
left this world. What does God think of people like Russ and Phyllis Irwin?
From Scripture, we know: "Blessed is the man (or woman) who trusts in the
Lord, whose confidence is in him. He (or she) will be like a tree planted by
the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat
comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and
never fails to bear fruit" (Jeremiah 17:7-8). May we all be challenged by
Russ and Phyllis’ example of loving and serving Christ and others.
OMS Global President, Bob Fetherlin