Friday, September 29, 2006

WWJD - School Supplies - More....

IN HIS STEPS, WWJD? – The stimulus for the acronymic question of the past decade comes early on in Sheldon’s book.  As the church “was filled with an audience of the best-dressed, most comfortable looking people” in town, the Reverend Henry Maxwell is eager to deliver his sermon.  Rev. Maxwell is proud of his work, “satisfied with the conditions of his pastorate.”  In describing the esteemed minister, “the First Church also had a similar feeling as it congratulated itself on the presence in the pulpit of this scholarly, refined, somewhat striking face and figure, preaching with such animation…”  You get the point early on that, while a good upstanding bunch of folks assembling regularly together as they should, the First Church is naively all about themselves.  That is, until a vagabond,  “the tramp” arrives (speaking not vulgarly of a woman of loose morals, but the more dated reference to a drifter or beggar…think “Lady and the Tramp”.)  The man appears earlier on, but he is thrust into the story when he silently slips into the back of the sanctuary at the close of the reverend’s fine sermon on “Following Christ.”  The man is down on his luck, jobless, and desperate for hope.   Without irreverence, he delivers a soliloquy that is the impetus to the change to come.  He respectfully repeats to the audience the words out of the reverend’s own address:  

“The minister said that it is necessary for the disciple of Jesus to follow His steps,, and he said the steps are ‘obedience, faith, love and imitation.’  But I did not hear him tell you just what he meant that to mean, especially the last step.  What do you Christians mean by following the steps of Jesus?”

Just before the dirty visitor collapses to the floor (not dead, perhaps from pure exhaustion, but I can’t remember what happens to him), and in response to the refrain “All to Jesus” so delightfully sung by the choir, he begs his question:

“It seems to me there’s an awful lot of trouble in the world that somehow wouldn’t exist if all the people who sing such songs went and lived them out.  I suppose I don’t understand.  But what would Jesus do?”

That’s the end of Chapter 1.  It’s been 15+ years since I read this book, but I remember some amazing things about to happen in the hearts, minds, and actions of the believers of First Church.  More to come . . .

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Yesterday was the final day of distributing school supplies (the new school year starts here on Monday).  We’ve done this since 2001, and each year it is a blessing to give (and obvious that it is a blessing for them to receive).  Because the intent of this offering is certainly benevolent in nature, I always knew that it could be a huge testimony to the pagans around us if the local churches did this for their children.  But I knew even 5 years ago that my time in Benin was not indefinite.  So while I’ve unashamedly pumped money into this offering year after year, for the past couple of years, I have solicited the participation of the Aja church leaders (early on, it was 100% American money…missionaries and my sweet Mom, a former school teacher herself!)  Like I mentioned earlier in the week, the offering this year came in at 51% Aja financing!  So while I wish I could do more, I know that each dollar I might ante up would shift the percentage back in my court and that’s NOT what I desire.  It’s still yet to be seen if such a benevolent effort will continue when we’re not here.  I would like it to, and so would they.  They’ll have to give even more next year for it to be an offering of any substance (this year, because of the growth in churches since ’05, thus a significant increase in the number of students, each child actually received fewer supplies than previous years…but everyone seems happy for what they got).  We buy chalk, pencils, pens, erasers, notebooks, rulers…all the basics (though, we don’t buy textbooks or pay school fees).  In the past, the offering has been paid for by me and then distributed by me.  This year, because of needing to be in Cotonou to take Kelly to the airport, several church leaders stepped in to handle the distribution and they did a good job.  I’m proud of these men, most of whom occupy positions in the newly named organizational committee.  My personal challenge to the students I saw yesterday came from Colossians 3.17:  “whatever you do (going to school as a Christian student surrounding by mentors and peers modeling the ways of darkness!)…do it in the name of the Lord Jesus!”

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Kelly, Tori and Timothy arrived safely last night in Texas!  Praise God!  Haven’t even spoken to them yet, so I can’t wait to hear their voices hopefully later on today.  Of course I’m happy for KTT getting to be there (I’ll get my turn soon) and thrilled for all of our family who get to spend these days with them.  America is a familiar place to Tori…she has made several trips over the years home and has many friends.  Timo was last there at the end of ’04 for Jonathan’s birth (only a few months in ’05), and that was the only time he’s been home since he was born (he wasn’t even 2 then).  So I’m curious how he’ll find it.  I am confident with the outpouring of love coming from grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, that he’ll have a blast!  

We’re well on this side of the ocean.  Jonathan is still into stealing sippy cups, so Lael has developed this lovely gruntlike frustration in response to his antics.  Early this morning, she was sitting in her high chair with a tray full of Cheerios.  Jonathan swept in and, while he managed to pilfer a few, he did not get far before Lael launched a 1-year-old style punch to his face.  Both ended up crying for a few minutes until Daddy stepped in with bananas.  Everyone was happy once again.  So goes Baby Boot Camp….

-Randy

2 comments:

Greg Bailey said...

OK Randy. You have inspired me to read the book. I love books where the main characters are shown living out their faith, especially when it is challenging.

You might also enjoy Francine Rivers books. Her "Mark of the Lion" series is great.

I also love Jan Karon and the "Mitford Series" (althoug some consider them to be "chick books"). Real men ca read that kind of stuff without being insecure about their manhood! (Know what I mean AP?)

I love the tale about J & L. Isn't it great when Daddy gets to step in and save the day!?

Hope we get to see K,T & T. We would love to have them visit our home!

Better close. Mawu a yra mi!
----Gregoire

Chapman 6 said...

hey randy, glad Kelly, tori, and Timothy are safe in Texas.
good luck in baby boot camp, hope you have lots of bananas