Thursday, January 20, 2011

This "born again" thing

I read today the wonderful story of a lady who had been kidnapped as a 19 day old baby, but after 23 years had managed to trace and meet up with her real mother. Carline White (her real name) said, "I'm so happy. At the same time, it's a funny feeling because everything's brand new. It's like being born again."

Wow! We know that in the West we have an epidemic of broken homes, "blended families" and countless fatherless children. But hang on a minute - they are not fatherless. If only they could get to meet up with their real Father, they too would have that born again experience. In my darker moments I wonder if Christianity really has much to offer the people of the world - and then I come across a deep truth like this, and i can only say - thank you father God that you are still the ultimate answer for today, and tomorrow. And I also need to say - sorry for doubting you, and for keeping you to myself.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Final Northy

As she looked back on her life and ministry, Sister North was able to say "I can think of no other way that I would rather have spent my life, and I would have exchanged it for any other."

How wonderful to be able to assess one's life in such a positive way - no regrets, no omissions, just satisfaction and celebration. Many of us don't lack opportunities, but we struggle to know which ones to take. Those of us who follow Jesus, seek his guidance, others weigh up the options and consult with family and trusted friends. Perhaps one way of making big decisions when faced with more than one choice would be to ask "what might I most regret NOT doing?"

Sister North was from a different generation - but her sacrificial, committed wholehearted, risk-taking service of Jesus is a model we can all try to emulate.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Northy 7

After a while in Church Army HQ, Northy was asked to undertake work among the Maori people, for which she felt ill-equipped. "Well of course one said yes...you don't say I'm not going to do that, but it scared me stiff. I had hardly ever seen a Maori person, and I felt that I didn't know how to approach them - how to talk to them."

It seems to me that most of us feel that way about haring our faith with anyone - we basically don't know how to do it without causing offence, or putting people off. So we don't bother most of the time.

Sister North persevered, too the risk of rejection or 'failure', and had an amazingly effective ministry that is still remembered with affection and appreciation today. She concludes "they did seem to love me and we got on well together; and that is really the secret."

It really is that simple - being friendly, not being ashamed of Jesus, sharing the words and actions that together express the Christian faith.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Northy 6

Another young evangelist who benefited from Sister North's gentle apprenticeship training was Eileen Brady, who enlisted for a "Cycling Bike Hike Mission" without mentioned the fact that she could not actually ride a bike!
"Really, the falls that poor girl suffered, it was dreadful." But Northy's approach was persevere rather than surrender, and that is what happened "she had the most dreadful falls but although she fell down, you couldn't down her." Perhaps that was a reflection of New Zealand at the time?
Many of my faith heroes have that same belligerent, stubborn, never-say-die attitude, in contrast to many who claim God's call to ministry, but return from the mission field - at home or abroad - after a few years or even months. "I couldn't cope with the heat/food/people/loneliness/hard work/stress/boredom(???)/language/rejection etc. etc." Or the vague "it just didn't feel right." So what happened to God's call?
I have to say I have loved ministry in every place God has called us to - but nobody can say that for the Clark family it has always been easy - indeed, at times, it was only the certain knowledge that God had called us, that enabled us to carry on. Maybe that's just my stubborn Yorkshire streak - but if you are thinking of giving up, why not pray for strength and determination from God instead?