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Meeting Christ at 83.
am a Soldier for Christ"
15 year old dies for his faith
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Last year (1999) I was asked to assist in running an Alpha course for retired people. On the first day I found a group of some 16 people in their 60’s to 80’s. To my shame, my first thought was: "what am I doing here… is this a youth group for folk in their 80’s". Then on the first day of the course a lady aged 83 gave her life to the Lord and received the Holy Spirit. Friends, I would like to share Susan’s story with you - to encourage our interest in the eternal destiny of others the Lord brings across our path. Here we can see the Lord Jesus at work…
Susan relates: "I do believe in the Christian faith, but this wasn't always so.
I was born during the first World War, in 1916. There were two brothers and a sister before me. My mother died when I was born. I did have a father, but I think he didn't return from the war. I don't know anything about him. I was brought up with my sister by my aunty. No one seemed to bother sending me to school, I didn't start until I was seven and a half. The other kids were all so little to me. I had never had a book in my hands, but I was reading in a week. I left school at 14 and I always wished I'd been better educated.
When I was a girl I went to the Church of England. In England you couldn't talk to clergy - the church pews were bought by the lords' families. I wasn't on that level. I went to Sunday School, but I only went to play. I spent my church money on lollies. I didn't give it to the church. I wasn't a friendly kid. I shunned other kids.
When I was 28 I went to a church meeting. The man asked people to go forward to give their lives to Jesus. But I didn't. I wasn't ready.
When I was younger everyone I knew seemed to die. My friends, and my aunty. And my husband. He was my boyfriend before the war when he proposed to me. But Hitler was playing up. I didn't want to be a widow, but later I was one.
We got married after the war. We emigrated from England to Australia and came to live in Melbourne. I was a trained nurse, a registered midwife. My husband suffered badly from asthma, and that's what killed him. We had two young children when he died. I lost my husband in July.
Before Christmas I found I couldn't walk properly. I was falling all the time. I fell over at Spencer St Station in Melbourne, and was taken into Emergency. They operated and removed a tumor from my spinal cord. I was in hospital six months and I had to learn to walk again.
I wasn't easy to manage before, but afterwards I started going worse. I never bothered with friends after my husband died. I thought 'What is the point. They only die.' If you don't know the Scriptures, what can you think? I didn't realise about eternal life. I would keep people away, even by swearing at them. I'd say something nasty. I didn't swear before.
Over the years I changed house many times. I didn't make friends. I couldn't settle. I had no satisfaction. I lost a lot of money moving house. I would have died a pauper if I kept going. I knew there was something wrong. I said 'I can't do anything about it.'
I used to go to church on Easter and Christmas, and when I was sick the minister visited me. But people didn't tell me about the Lord… they just left me to go on…
Last year I saw the name 'Jesus' on the Alpha sign outside the local church and thought I would like to know more about him. I knew he'd lived. I knew he was good. I'd heard about him in my childhood. It was the Alpha that started me off.
Nicky Gumble (the Alpha course video presenter) had a great influence on me. He asked me to pray the prayer asking Jesus into my life, and I did. The Holy Spirit spoke to me and told me to follow the Lord and forget my ways, and I said… 'Alright!'
I remember it was the last Friday night in October, 1999. I was praying to the Lord. I got a flash through my body. I went next door to a friend and said I didn't know what happened. 'I think I've received salvation'.
I was very ashamed of my life. I cried bitterly one day in church. I couldn't follow the service, and put my head down. I hid my face and didn't want to meet the minister. A friend was with me. She said 'The Lord will forgive you.' After that I didn't have shame anymore… I got another vision of beauty and love... and I started to go forward.
After this, the only thing left was that I worried... But the Holy Spirit has shown me that this is a sin as well. I've had some steps back, but I've gone forward each time. I used to worry about leaves on the path. I'd be tidying up the leaves, and I'd be grumbling. Now I don't care about the leaves any more.
I've got to go forward now. Now my love for Jesus far outweighs the sorrow and shame. I know it is true because I have changed. My whole being has changed.
There is a lot missing without the Lord Jesus. With Jesus there is so much more to life. Before I had no friends. Now I love to mix with the friendly people at St Mark's, my local church. Now my life is much happier.
When you've gone so far with the Lord, you can't go back. People say you can, but I can't. I died to myself in October 1999 and started a new life.
Joy is a form of love.
"I am a Soldier for Christ"
The teens could tell that the shouts and chanting were getting closer. An older teen looked nervously at his friend: "The Muslims are coming, we'd better hide the kids" he said.
Others followed his lead, helping the smaller children to find hiding places in the nearby buildings. Then they hid themselves. It was January and a crowd of mostly Christian children and teenagers had gathered for a Bible camp at the Station Field Complex of Pattimura, a University on the island of Ambon, Indonesia.
When the camp was over cars came to take the laughing rejoicing children back to their homes, but there were not enough cars to hold the young people. Mecky Sainyakit and three other Christian men had gone to Wakal village to try to rent additional transportation to take the rest home, but they had not come back.
What the kids waiting for the rides home did not know was that on their way to the village, the men were attacked by a Muslim mob. They were pulled them from their car and onto the road. Mecky and one of the other men were stabbed to death and later their bodies were burned by the mob. The two other men escaped with their lives.
Before long, the mob reached the University. They found many of the teens and forced them to come out of hiding. Roy Pontoh was forced from his hiding place and made to stand before the mob…
"Renounce your Jesus or we will kill you!" they threatened.
Roy was terribly frightened. Though trembling, he answered, "I am a soldier of Christ!" At this, one of the Muslims attackers swung a sword at his stomach. The sword hit the Bible Roy held and ripped into it, knocking it out of his hand. The man's next swing sliced open Roy's stomach. His last word was "Jesus".
The mob dragged Roy's body out and threw it in a ditch. Four days later, his family found it. Even though they are wrecked with grief, Roy's parents stand proud of their son, who stood strong in his faith to the end.
Click here for the Airborne forum on the Persecution of Christians.
Christian Nurse Murdered
On 21 November 2002, when volunteer nurse Bonnie Witherall answered a knock at the door of the Unity Centre in Sidon, a lone militant Islamist shot her three times in the head. At the funeral, her husband Garry said, "So many people think my wife's death was a waste ... but we believe that coming here with the message of Jesus would never be a waste. It is a message worth laying our lives down for. Whoever did this crime, I forgive them. It's not easy ... but I can forgive these people because God has forgiven me."
The centre and its workers had recently been threatened because through the centre's humanitarian service, Muslims were learning about Jesus. Rev. Sami Dagher, director of the Center and head of the Christian and Missionary Alliance churches in Lebanon said, "If they want to kill us all, we are ready to die. But we are not going to close either the clinic or the church." Pray for wisdom for the Church and for safety for Christian witnesses in Lebanon.
"...and the time is coming when those who kill you will think they are doing God a service. This is because they have never known the Father or me." Jesus to his disciples"