The major cities of the United States are changing both in their belief systems and ethno-cultural makeup. How should the Good News be presented to them in order to be Good News? Besides sharing biblical inspiration plus stories of God's grace at work through our ministry in various parts of the world, I hope to address this and many other issues important to our Christian faith.
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No Room in the Inn...21st Century Version
It is the Christmas season 2009. Like Joseph and Mary 2000 years ago, a young couple are on the virge of the birth of their first baby boy. Although they are doing everything to prepare for the big day, it still catches them by surprise. Instead of the regular 40 weeks, the baby is arriving six weeks early.
Because they are not expecting it this early, their bags are not packed nor is the nursery fully furnished. Safe for an early morning warning in a dream to the father to prepare to be in a delivery room and with assurance (from the Lord) that it would be o.k, the day started off as any other day.
At 6:00 AM, the couple prays together for about 40 minutes in their home in Victoria. They take showers. At about 7:30 AM, the husband goes to work briefly from his home office while the wife prepares something for their breakfast together. Within a couple hours they will have a routine prenatal doctor's appointment. Later in the evening the wife's sister and her two beautiful girls are supposed to visit for a new year's watch together.
At 9:30 AM, they take off for the ten minute drive to the hospital for the doctor's appointment. Unlike Joseph and Mary with their Bethlehem boy, the ride is not on a donkey. It is in a nice Honda CRV. Of course modest by every count. They are excited about the baby and count-down ...forty three days to go and...he will be here! But then the husband reminisces once again with his wife about the dream he had last night about being in the labor and delivery room and the baby-boy being born healthy.
Everything at this point feels really good and normal for the mother and she has no anxiety whatsoever. For the moment, they think it is because of their high anticipation for the baby that dad is having such dreams. They chuckle about it as she presses him about the labor and delivery room details. Even so they pray and ask God to protect the baby and themselves.
A few minutes later, they are visiting with the doctor. As the she examines the mother and the baby, the routine checkup that should have taken a few minutes turns into an hour, then two, then three. Eventually the doctor determines that the mother must be admitted for further observation and tests. The hours have turned into a full day.
But before the day can be over, the doctor determines that the baby boy has to be delivered immediately due to a potentially serious medical condition for the mother..pre-eclampsia. The mother's blood pressure is reading something like 195/110 and has stayed that way for over five hours. What a surprise and quick turn of events!
They are at one of U.S's top 5 % Medical Centers in the nation. For a moment, although surprised by the quick turn of events, they are calm and collected. They are confident that everything will be alright given the high-end quality of care available to them at the Suburban hospital.
But then the nurse comes around and informs the couple that although there is room for the mother, like the first century baby in Bethlehem there is no room in the nursery for the premee baby to be born. It is full. The couple needs to be transferred to a different hospital.
Lucky for them, in spite the absence of a room at the best hospital, there is an ambulance to give them a quick ride to another facility 45 miles away. Definitely a luxury that Bethlehem's new parents could never have afforded. The paramedics load the young pregnant wife onto the truck. The young man climbs into the co-driver's seat. The flashing emergency lights turn on. The sirens start blurring.
The roads are icy and slippery from all the Christmas snow fall. They still cruise at 75 miles an hour down the highway. Rush-hour trafic gives way and within forty minutes, they arrive at the alternative hospital.
Although the facilities are not the same first rate as the previous hospital, they would make for one in most other countries. They are quickly settled in. The mother's blood pressure is stabilized. The doctor starts the inducement. Because the cervix is pretty much at zero, it is expected to be a long night...and day...and possibly another night. A great friend of the wife named Elizabeth (Beth) arrives to wait with the couple. They patiently wait for the safe and joyful arrival of their little bundle of joy.
It is painful. It is excruciating. It is ...well...labor for the mom. The husband stays with her. He speaks comforting words of encouragement and rubs her back as necessary. All night. All morning. All noon-day and then some. Finally at 4:30 PM on New Year's eve, little baby boy is born born at a whooping 5 pounds, 171/2 inches. On the third day while the boy continues to receive neonatal intensive care, the young parents name him Samuel David Jr. saying, "For the Lord hears His beloved and answers him with a mighty thunder (Ps 29:3-4; 1 Sam 3:9). They reflect on a prophetic word they received concerning the boy before the ultra sound confirmed it would be a boy, "The child shall be a boy and he shall stand hand in hand with his dad in ministry!" and, "The boy is going to be a great vessel in God's hands." Wow, what an amazing development.
That is our true developing Christmas and New Year's story! Pray with us for the baby's development as he is premature. Thankfully he has started breasfeeding and scoring high scores on just about every front. The mom is doing great! Glory to God! The best thing to happen to us all year takes place the last day of the year. Blessed be our Lord!
Yes, I want to tell you all about what God is doing here in Muhanga but my body fails me. I want to tell you how He is moving through our Kinderroots team where already several thousands of children have been ministered to over the last two days on hills, plains and valleys surrounding Muhanga. Where hundreds have already given their lives to Christ. I want to tell you how God is moving through our Prisoners of Hope outreach program to where three thousand prisoners were reached with the love of Christ earlier this afternoon with hundreds of them giving their lives to Christ. Where we delivered supplies worth several thousands of dollars to the delight of the prison officials following a devastating fire at the facility that gutted much of what they had beyond salvaging. How God worked to open doors so our team could go in and bring the Good News of Christ. How doors to another prison with even more inmates are wide open for the gospel tomorrow morning. I want to tell you of s
World Evangelist Sammy Wanyonyi preaching in Adiedo, Kenya Orphaned by HIV/AIDS, she rarely speaks, not even to her visiting school sponsor Pam Craig who traveled as part of our team to Adiedo from Spokane Washington. But last Saturday afternoon in the closing moments of the evangelistic festival, Everline walked over to Pam and asked if she could be introduced to the preacher (me). For once, she had a smile on her face. The eleven year-old had just asked Jesus Christ into her heart as Lord and Savior. Several hundreds of people respond to the invitation to follow Christ on day two of Adiedo Festival All across the soccer-field were stories like Everline's. I cannot forget a ten year-old young man named Ochieng. On Friday night, he waited backstage patiently for me to leave the stage and then boldly walked up to me extending his hand to greet me. Although his clothes were torn here and there, I could tell that he had worn his Sunday best to the meeting.
None of us wished for it. But COVID-19 delivers to our doorstep what is, perhaps, the greatest evangelistic opportunity of our lifetime. It is an unusual opportunity in the Twin Cities, North America, Europe, Asia, Africa and around the world. A scared world is open for spiritual business. The masks are off. People are open to hear that there is hope through Jesus Christ. For the church, the times we are in may have changed, due to COVID-19. But the mission we are on has not changed . The need to share the hope Jesus provides is now more urgent than ever. Our nation is now the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic. Severe cases and deaths are mounting from coast to coast. Doctors, general medical workers and other essential service providers continue to do all they can to stave off the pandemic. 3 million Americans have lost their jobs. Children across the nation and worldwide are out of schools. Our economy and other global economies remain on shaky ground. All professional s