Sunday, November 28, 2010

I buried my youngest brother today.

Gara ndichawuya – wait I am coming – was a name Bob had earned from the leaders with whom he served in Zimbabwe. I told Zebedee that Dad and Mom often said of Bob as he grew that he would be late to his own funeral. The gathered found the fact that the hearse was 20 minutes late both humorous and fitting.

Makusha was there with Jimmy and Joyce his children – Bob had filled in for Mabona to preach Makusha’s wife’s funeral – Mrs Bungu says she thinks back now and believes it was his goodbye.

Mabona said Sekuru died in America and was buried in America. John Mark died in America and was buried in America. Bob died in Zimbabwe and it appropriate that he be buried in America. He also said that Sekuru never said follow me but follow Jesus – and he called on the churches to stop being divisive over who owns what and begin to be generous in supplying the needs of the church. He was very passionate about this and told the crowd that the Zimbabwe churches were lame – it was rather funny hearing that word from his mouth – for not financing their ministries. He said the people in America are not all rich and yet they send missionaries to Zimbabwe.

Bob’s love of children came up many times and Stephy presented her challenge to fathers similar to the one she gave at Grayson.
Tessa led some songs and had the women dancing and the three of them sang Mark’s special “Oh how He loves.”
The filing past the open casket was well done and though the partial embalming did not permit a repeat at Mashoko the people was so pleased with the decision to bury this son of the founding missionaries on the first mission station that it was not a problem.

Zebedee James spoke from James 4:13-17 – very approproiate.
13Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 16As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil. 17Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.

He concluded with Psalms 139:14-16 – we likely disagree on specific points of theology (Pam will understand) but the message was clear non-the-less – God made Bob for a purpose and Bob did it. We need to as well.
14I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. 15My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, 16your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. Fearfully and wonderfully made.

Spike (the Jack Russell terrier met us at Tshovani which was a mystery as it is a good two miles from the house. Turns out the intern staying in the cottage decided to walk to the church and Spike invited himself along. He was with us for a while and then someone took him home.

The number of people gathered was stunning. Well over a thousand and they had been there since morning worship singing and dancing. We were warmly welcomed by the Department Heads (Dr. Bungu was at the service at Tshovani and Mrs Bungu was at Mashoko) I renewed acquaintance with many friends of childhood. A young man told me he was the brother of the male leader of the dancers at our wedding. He remembers he tried to eat all the sweet cakes.
I met former fellow Boy Scouts, preaching club members and soccer friends.
I brought greetings from Mom for the women and asked them to dance for Mbuya as she would have danced had she been with us. Oh Wow how they danced – for a good 30 minutes.
Chief Mabika (who is presently one our former teachers from Chikomo who used to tutor Bob from time to time – spoke long but well bringing in the theme of the afternoon which could be best stated, “Now we have history on our station.” Zebedee referred to the command of God to the Israelites in Joshua 4:5-7
5and said to them, “Go over before the ark of the LORD your God into the middle of the Jordan. Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, 6to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ 7tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.”

The casket did not fit the bricked in crypt prepared while we sang and talked but with some adjustment and muscle Bob’s remains were finally laid to rest. Mark and Stephy remained behind for some personal time and the rest of us made the 2+ hour journey over the rutted road back to Chiredzi. Had this funeral been one Bob had performed he have reached home and hugged his children a little closer and this wife a little more tenderly before going to his favorite chair to pick up his favorite book. May I learn to practice these simple but powerful actions.

In my final remarks I said that Dad taught me to preach, Mabona taught me passion, but, Makusha taught me Patience. Let add here that we need the desire to preach the word in season out of season with passion for the lost but patience as we watch His Spirit move in the hearts of the lost.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Do I trust the one who entrusted his gift with me?

Last night, at a memorial service for my “little” brother Bob, the Pastor talked about trust. In the last eight years my family have been to four funerals for men of God serving on foreign fields. My father had lived a full life and we celebrated his life while grieving his loss to us. My younger brother died at the age of 53 having accomplished more in that time than many do in a lifetime. My brother-in-law, voted less likely to serve cross-culturally, planted a strong church network and bible college in Kiev and was doing the same in Kyrgyzstan when he was taken suddenly after a relatively few years on the field so we celebrated all he did but were hurt by this strong man’s passing. Last week my youngest brother died in Zimbabwe while serving the lost, lonely and least in the region in which he was raised.
It is very natural to ask, “Why him? Why now?”
The Pastor pointed out that since the giving of the commission God has entrusted his highest priority to his church. So I wonder if He is saying to us, “I have intervened in the past to save a life for my purposes but in this case, I know you can do what I have entrusted to you without this particular person who succumbed to the natural falseness of life.”
If I follow this path of reasoning then I am forced to ask myself if I trust God who has entrusted me with his precious promise.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

An Ultra Brief Account of the History of La Habra Christian Church Part Two

In Accordance With Our Heritage We Publish This Description Of Who We Are:
We Are A Christian Church.
Our message is "Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God.” We require no other creed than this one. He alone is Lord and Savior.
We Are A Church Of Christ.
The church belongs to Him. We have no authority to change the teachings, rewrite the rules, offer altered membership requirements or usurp His authority.
We Are A Church Seeking Unity.
We seek to be one in Christ with all others whom He calls His own
We Are A Church Seeking "Restoration."
As much as possible we are trying to imitate the New Testament precedents. That is why our baptism is by immersion, our communion is every Lord's day, our leaders are called Elders, our preaching is about Christ, and our prayers are in Christ's name. Even our church’s name is an attempt to imitate the earliest disciples who were called Christians first at Antioch.
We Are A Thinking Church.
The Christian faith demands the best of our minds, so we are a studying church wanting to know what the Bible teaches and how we can intelligently apply its teachings in today's world.
We Are A Worshiping Church.
Ours is not a dry intellectual approach to God. We rejoice in the Lord; we praise and pray and love and serve from the heart.
We Are A Free Church.
Like the earliest New Testament churches, ours is an independent congregation. We have no denominational bishop or superintendent nor national headquarters to determine the policies here. As a congregation, we elect our own leaders, call and support our ministers, decide where our missions money will go and locally determine the outreach programs of the church.
We Are A Growing Church.
We want to grow numerically because we are under Christ's commission to disciple the whole world. We want to grow spiritually because we know we cannot achieve all Christ wants of us without striving for maturity.
Because we believe we are not the only Christians, but seek to be Christians only, and because we desire to speak where the Bible speaks, and be silent where the Bible is silent, and because we have no book but the Bible, no creed but Christ, and no law but love, we believe La Habra Christian Church should be your church. If this common-sense approach to God's word and His teaching is what you are seeking, we sincerely desire your fellowship.

An Ultra Brief Account of the History of La Habra Christian Church Part One

La Habra Christian Church is from the church heritage referred to as The Restoration Movement (also known as the Stone-Campbell Movement) which is a Christian movement that began on the American frontier during the Second Great Awakening of the early 19th century. The movement sought to restore the church and "the unification of all Christians in a single body patterned after the church of the New Testament."
The Restoration Movement developed from several independent efforts to return to apostolic Christianity, but two groups, which independently developed similar approaches to the Christian faith, were particularly important to the development of the movement. The first, led by Barton W. Stone, began at Cane Ridge, Kentucky and called themselves simply "Christians". The second began in western Pennsylvania and Virginia (now West Virginia) and was led by Thomas Campbell and his son, Alexander Campbell; they used the name "Disciples of Christ". Both groups sought to restore the whole Christian church on the pattern set forth in the New Testament, and both believed that creeds kept Christianity divided. In 1832 they joined in fellowship with a handshake.
Among other things, they were united in the belief that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; that Christians should celebrate the Lord's Supper on the first day of each week; and that baptism of adult believers by immersion in water is a necessary step in the new birth. Because the founders wanted to abandon all denominational labels, they used the biblical names for the followers of Jesus. Both groups promoted a return to the purposes of the first-century churches as described in the New Testament. One historian of the movement has argued that it was primarily a unity movement, with the restoration motif playing a subordinate role.
The Restoration Movement has since divided into three main branches in the U.S.: the Churches of Christ, the Independent Christian Churches/Churches of Christ, and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). La Habra Christian Church is associated with Independent Christian Churches/Churches of Christ. Further information can be found by reading the Stone-Campbell Journal (
The congregation now known as La Habra Christian Church came into being as a result of an evangelistic meeting held in July 1923. Clayton C. Root was the evangelist. The meeting was financed by the Clark Fund of Cincinnati, Ohio - a foundation to help start new congregations. The monies from this fund were under the oversight of the Christian Restoration Association.
On Sunday, October 14, 1923 after morning services and a basket picnic on the lawn, evangelist John LeGrande called for Charter Members and thirty-six responded. The first building was erected at Cypress and First Avenues, an old tabernacle style, with a chapel added to the back lot in 1934. It housed the congregation until the move to our present location in the spring of 1973.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

One of the questions that I was asked about the lesson from the outward movement of the church had to do with the millennial question. Revelation 20:1 – 6 refers to the thousand year reign. There are three different interpretations of what this means.
Pre-millennialism reap first of the believe that Jesus will come before the beginning of the thousand year reign. Before he comes there will be famine, wars, earthquakes and great apostasy. When he comes the antichrist will be slain and seated at the battle of Armageddon and Satan will be bound. Attached to this in most cases is the belief that there will be a final tribulation before his return and the rapture of believers.
Post millennialism holds the position that Christ will come after the thousand year reign of peace and righteousness. Life will get better and better until it's perfect and then Jesus will come. Along with this goes the belief that eventually the entire world will proclaim the name of Christ as a result of the missionary efforts of the church.
A-Millennialism considers the thousand years to not be literal in time but rather figurative in nature. Most believe that the thousand year reign began when Jesus inaugurated the kingdom of God and that he will return to perfect the kingdom.

I am a pro/pan-millennialist because I believe that I'm for what ever God wants to do and it will all pan out to his glory. I believe that the book of Revelation tells us two very clear things; Jesus is coming again and when he does good is going to win and evil is going to lose.