The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC, formerly known as Zaire) might be the poorest country in the world. It’s a place of both abundant natural resources and abject misery. Located in the heart of Africa, the DRC is surrounded by ten other nations, including Angola, Tanzania, Uganda, South Sudan, and Rwanda. Africa’s second-largest country (by land area), it’s home to 80 million people.
The DRC should be a prosperous nation, with its flowing rivers (and their ability to generate hydroelectric power), fertile soil, and rich mineral resources. It is not.
Read this: Passport through Darkness: A True Story of Danger and Second Chances, by Kimberly L. Smith.
For perhaps most Americans, their faith consists of going to church on Sunday, sending up an occasional prayer, and being nice. Some volunteer at church, or for a local ministry. Some read their Bible on a regular basis. A few go on short-term mission trips. But for Kimberly Smith, none of that was enough. She and her husband sensed God calling them away from their comfortable lives and onto the mission field.
Are you wearing green? Eating green food, drinking green beer? Stores are selling shamrocks, leprechauns adorn decorations, and we’re all hoping for a pot of gold. What is St. Patrick’s Day about, really? Just as Frosty and mistletoe have little to do with the true purpose of Christmas, and Easter holds far more significance than a bunny bringing baskets of jelly beans, St. Patrick’s Day has a rich heritage far beyond our cultural celebration.
Patrick was born in Scotland 385 AD. He was abducted at age 16 and taken to Ireland, where he lived in bondage as a shepherd. During that time, his Christian faith became real to him, sustaining him for six long year. God then rescued him and he returned home, where he became a priest—only to be called as a missionary back to the very country where he had been enslaved.
Consider someone whose life is filled with incredible hardship. Danger and disease. Sacrifice. Doubt. And yet amazing faith. Grace. Intense joy.
I’m not usually big on biographies. Many of the ones I’ve tried to read have seemed to muddle along, the story filled with inconsequential details the author just couldn’t bear to leave out. But I make an exception for Christian biographies, especially those of cross-cultural missionaries. People who obey God’s call rarely live boring lives!
This true story about my husband is appropriate for today, Veteran’s Day, a day we honor the heroes who defend our nation. Pete isn’t a veteran, but in this age of glorified sports figures, media stars, and fictional super heroes, it’s good to stop and ask ourselves, “What is truly heroic? Who is my greatest hero?” This is a story about Pete’s.
A number of years ago, Pete traveled to India to participate in some strategy and training meetings on unreached people groups and church planting. His role was technical, dealing with computers and data. As a Silicon Valley consultant, this was his comfort zone, and he excelled in it.
God must take special pleasure in evicting us from our comfort zones. (Maybe He prefers that we depend on Him rather than our own expertise?)
I’m married to a man who loves the truth. It shows in his deep commitment to God. It pops up in his appreciation of civil but “vigorous” discussion. And it definitely appears in his penchant for researching and analyzing complex problems, be they technical or social. He has a compulsion to dig in and uncover the facts on any controversial issue, rather than simply going along with whatever hype the news media is currently pushing.
Of course, facts are always subject to interpretation. But one thing I appreciate about Pete’s approach is that he tries to separate the two—making a distinction between what is known to be true, and his opinion about it all.
Every day we read about more violence in the Mideast. Everyone seems to hate everyone else. In spite of decades of negotiations, cease-fires, and truces, the battle continues. Palestinians, Jews, Arabs, Christians. Can they live in peace? It seems that no matter what we do, the problem is unsolvable. We pray for the peace of Jerusalem, but do we really expect an answer?
Pete and I enjoyed a real treat this week—getting to sit down with some long-time friends to hear what God has them doing now. Bob and Kathryn Carlton are the kind of people that you can’t resist. Meet them for the first time and an hour later you’re best friends. Perhaps that’s because no matter where they go, they fall in love with people. Put them in Tibet, and they love the Tibetans. Put them in Burkina Faso, and they love the people there. That kind of love is irresistible!