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Integrity Challenged


A typical hut in an African Village

Our house in Hartley, Rhodesia was a hive of activity as Glyn prepared to take a trip to the very remote village of Sahai in the Gokwe Tribal Trust land. It was late September 1970, the dry season still had its grip on the parched land; but it was the best time to travel to this remote area, as roads to it were nonexistent. I would not be accompanying him on this trip as it was going to be a rough journey nd I was expecting our first son.

Earlier in the month at our Quarterly conference an elder who ministered in the Gokwe area came to Glyn saying that the villagers in Sahai had expressed to him that a missionary had never visited their village. They asked if the “Mfundisi” (missionary) would come, visit and teach them about his God. During the meeting Glyn shared with the African ministers present, his plans to visit this unreached village. Immediately three ministers indicated they wanted to accompany him. Pastor Chigabadzira, Pastor Mpokatera and Pastor Chakanuka would travel with Glyn along with Richard Llongwe who lived with us and helped us where ever he could.

The Daihatsu truck was loaded to the max with everything the men would need for the journey as there would not be any convenience stores or petrol (gas) stations once they left the small town of Gokwe Center. The road deteriorated fast and eventually was nothing but a dusty, bone rattling, bush track. At one point they came to a dry river bed that was very sandy and it would be easy for the truck to become stuck. So they lightened the load by all the men getting out except for Glyn; then he gingerly drove across the river bed picking his way between deep sand and river washed rocks.

After they crossed the river they encountered groups of people walking; women with babies on their backs and loads on their heads and men carrying bundles of blankets. They stopped and asked where the people were going and discovered that the word had spread that the white Mfundisi was going to visit Sahai and teach about his God!

Finally after a very long exhausting day the village came into view. Mud huts with thatched roofs were dotted in a haphazard fashion across the landscape. The trees consisted of scrub bush, what little grass was left was dry and brown. Scrawny dogs started barking setting up the alarm that visitors had arrived. Glyn subsequently discovered that this village had only ever been visited by a white man forty years before; when a District Commissioner had visited. So anyone younger than 40 to 45 years old did not even know what a white man looked like! The children that had been playing in the dirt outside the huts ran in terror when Glyn got out of the truck. He must have seemed like a ghost to them.

It wasn’t very long and Chief Nenynka along with his counsel of elders arrived to welcome the “Mfundisi” and the three African Pastors. Once the customary greetings were completed the Chief explained that two huts had been prepared for the guests. One hut would accommodate the three African Pastors and the other was for Glyn to sleep in. Richard would make his bed on the back of the truck to protect their supplies.
The smell of the evening fires filled the air as the villagers prepared their evening meal. Great anticipation filled the air, as the Chief had declared that the whole village would gather that evening and listen to the Mfundisi tell them about his God.

As dusk began to fall a large bonfire was started in an open area; a few chairs were put out for the Chief, his councilmen and the visitors. The rest of the villagers brought grass mats and sat on the ground. Richard lit a hurricane lantern and brought it to Glyn so he would have a semblance of light to read the scriptures. All eyes were riveted on him as he began to unfold the simple truth of the Gospel message.

At one point while Glyn was preaching a scorpion ran out of the shadows, attracted by the flickering of the fire. Without hesitation it plunged straight into the fire. The villagers were so mesmerized by Glyn’s explanation about Jesus who loved them enough to die for them, that they did not stir when the scorpion rushed to its sudden death. These villagers were accustomed to bondage and fear of their heathen Gods; now to be told that they could worship a God who forgives and loves them unconditionally was hard to comprehend.
The night was growing late so Pastor Mpokatera announced that they should all go to their huts and think deeply what they heard; the discussion would continue in the morning.

Glyn was bone weary and was more than ready to crawl into his sleeping bag in the hut. Richard had kindly put the hurricane lantern on a bare table in the mud hut for Glyn. Before settling down for the night Glyn decided to make sure Richard was comfortable. As he stepped outside he noticed an African woman sitting on the ground beside the door of his hut. He greeted her and asked what she wanted but she simply dropped her head and remained quiet. Thinking she did not understand him, he asked Richard why she was there. Richard smiled and simple said, “Mfundisi it is this people’s custom to supply an important visitor with a woman for the night, to provide for his needs!” The reality of the situation dawned on Glyn; he was walking a fine line of offending the Chief by not accepting this “so-called honor” yet on the other hand he was not about to compromise his convictions and his relationship with the Lord; let alone his red-headed wife!

He walked over to the hut where the three African Pastors were sleeping; the four men discussed the best way to handle the situation. Pastor Mpokatera was the most fluent in the dialect, he would go tell the woman her services were not needed. Then he would go to the Chief’s hut and explain to him as diplomatically as possible that the Mfundisi appreciated Chief Nenynka honor; but this was not part of the Mfundisi’s custom and he needed to follow the ways of his own people and his God. Thankfully the Chief graciously understood and the matter was closed!

The next morning a great meeting was held, the truth of the Gospel was shared and many indicated they wanted to follow Jesus and his teachings, turning away from their heathen gods. The visit to this remote village had borne fruit and a new church in that village was birthed.

There is a lesson each one of us can take from this experience Glyn had. As children of God who love and serve Him, the one thing we need to guard and protect with all our strength is our integrity. If we lose our integrity by giving into temptation we will become like that scorpion, burned by the flame of selfish desires.

King David was known as the “a man after God’s own heart” but because of selfish choices he was denied the privilege of building the temple. He paid a high consequence for indulging himself in his own desires.
My challenge to my readers today is the time has come that those who love and serve God to stand tall and not be ashamed to be accounted as a righteous individual in a debased and immoral generation!

The Apostle Paul teaches this principle in Romans 1:16-17 (NKJV)
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.
For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”


Sunrise at Mana by Ross Sayers PhotographyWhile reading in the Book of Daniel I was struck by Daniel’s total commitment to God even though he knew it could well result in his death in a horrific manner. It got me thinking about the church of today and the climate of total moral decline in our own nation.

I asked myself the question; “Am I willing to stand up and be counted for righteousness sake in this day and age where wickedness abounds? Would I dare to be like Daniel even if it meant extreme persecution?”

This is truly a soul-searching question.

Jesus already demonstrated the answer to this question in that beloved verse in John 3:16.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

If my loving Lord could die for my sin then then surely the least I can do is be willing to resist the moral decay that is spreading through our land like an insidious cancer!

Let me share with you the thrilling testimony of an African Pastor, who “dared to be a Daniel”. His name was Joel Chuma. He was one of the early preachers who worked with my parents back in the 1940’s. We were living at Gobatema Mission at the time. One day Pastor Chuma came to the mission compound and shared with Dad that he really felt the leading of the Lord to travel to Mozambique, East Africa, to preach the gospel and plant some churches. Dad counseled him that the Gospel was not well received in this area and many Christians were being severely persecuted. Dad was not trying to dissuade Joel from going but he felt he needed to be aware that it could well cost him his life. Joel understood but felt strongly that this was God’s leading, so after a time of prayer he left with Dad’s blessing upon his venture.

Many months passed and no word was received from Joel. My parents began to despair that they would ever see this precious friend again. Then one day as the sun began to wane and the aroma of evening meals being prepared mingled with the smoke from the wood cooking fires, a strange but familiar figure slowly walked into the mission compound. He was emaciated but dressed in a beautifully fitted and obviously new suit. Dad studied his face for a moment and then recognized a familiar smile; it was Pastor Joel Chuma! Mom had our evening meal ready so Dad brought him in to the old mission house; an extra plate was set and while we ate together Joel told us his miraculous experience……………..

After a long arduous journey by train and then walking many days through inhospitable bush he finally arrived in a remote village. Initially the villagers welcomed him as a visitor in their midst and daily he began sharing about Jesus and His sacrifice for these people. After three weeks, the witchdoctor stirred up enough animosity toward Joel that the villagers turned against him and told him to leave. This scenario was repeated several times in different villages until one day some government “officials” arrived and arrested Joel. He was taken to a town and without the benefit of legal advice or even being seen by a judge; was summarily thrown into what he described as a dungeon. I appeared to be a large “hole” that had been dug out of the side of a hill; there were no windows, no light, no bed, no blankets; just a muddy dank floor and a pole. The pole had been staked to the floor with chains attached to it. These chains were tightly secured to Joel’s legs. There was a heavy wooden door, which was bolted and the only light he had was what little sunlight managed to filter through some of the warped boards. Once a day, a little hatch in the door was opened by his captors and a small bucket, with what he could only describe as food that would be thrown to the pigs and a small jug of water, would be pushed through for him. Joel said he had no idea how many days or weeks he lay in this black hole of torture. When he tried to sleep cockroaches and rats would scurry across his body and chew on his bare feet. The stench of the airless hole was suffocating and was only made worse when it rained and water seeped in on the dank dirt floor. The chains on his legs chaffed at his skin until they began to cut deep into his flesh. Excruciating pain from the now festering wounds in his chained legs became his daily companion and he began to prepare himself to die alone; with no way to let his family or his missionaries know what had happened to him. Joel said he would sing songs of praise, quote verse after verse of scripture and cry out to God for strength to ease the bleak solitude he was enduring.

Then one day there was the sound of the heavy door bolt being pulled, the door creaked opened and a man wearing “street clothes” entered. Wordlessly he bent down in the gloom and gently removed the shackles that had torn into Joel’s legs. A strong hand helped him to his feet and silently led him out into the brilliant sunshine. It took Joel’s eyes a few minutes to adjust to the bright sunlight and then he searched the eyes of the stranger trying to find a clue about what was going to happen next. The stranger bent down touched the festering flesh on his legs and Joel said that instantly the pain was gone and all that was left of the deep flesh wounds, were healed-over scars. Then the stranger turned, picked up a package, and finally spoke. He told Joel that the people of this place had rejected the preaching of the Gospel and Joel was to return to his missionaries in Southern Rhodesia as they needed help and there were many people who were willing to hear the Gospel. With that the stranger took Joel’s hand, placed some money, a train ticket and the package in it; that would carry him back to Gobatema Mission. Joel said that his tortured mind was having trouble comprehending the events that had just unfolded, he was staring in shocked silence at the money and the ticket in his hand when finally, he regained his composure and looked up to ask the man his name and thank him, BUT THE STRANGER WHO HAD FREED HIM WAS GONE!

Joel discovered that the package contained a set of clothing including the suit and shoes, all of which fit him perfectly. As quickly as he could he made his way to the nearest train station boarded the train that carried him back to the small town of Gwanda and then he walked the 40 miles through the bush to the Mission compound.

Tears of joy flowed that evening as my parents rejoiced with Joel in his deliverance. He showed my parents the deep holes in his legs that the chains had caused; he would carry those scars for the rest of his days. They became a visual testimony to all who saw them of God’s protective care to those who would “dare to be a Daniel” for the cause of the Gospel.


PHOTO CREDIT: Sunrise at Mana by Ross Sayers Photography (Used with permission)


Circle of Enduring Love

Our family on furlough from Africa in 1956


In my journey of the many paths I have walked in my life, the Book of Psalms has ministered to me over and over again, through every circumstance imaginable.
Looking back over the events of my life I find I can relate to the situations described by the writers of this book.
In my times of heartache, testing and triumphs I find myself constantly returning to the familiar pages of these poetic hymns and draw renewed strength from the written words.

Psalm 150 is the final Psalm in the Book.
Have you noticed that the last Psalm begins differently than the first Psalm?

The first Psalm opens with MAN being blessed BY God, but the last Psalm opens with man BLESSING God.
Psalm 1 says, “Blessed is the man.” The last Psalm says, “Praise ye the Lord.”
Between Psalm 1 and 150 a whole lot of things have happened………….
Come…….. Walk with me and hear the voice of the Psalmist drifting down through the faded corridors of time and dusty roads of life.

I hear echoes of pain in the fields from exploited individuals comforting themselves in the words of the Psalmist saying……. “Fret not thyself because of evildoers……”(Psalm 37:1).
They had run into some crooked folk, difficult dilemmas, and trying situations. Then as they assimilate the comforting words of Psalm 37, the sting of their mistreatment fades as the morning mist with the triumphal final verse which shouts; … “And the LORD shall help them and deliver them; He shall deliver them from the wicked, And save them, Because they trust in Him.” Psalm 37:40

Then heart wrenching sounds of weeping rush over me; leading me to read, “Weeping may endure for a night but joy comes in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5)
This tells me that the Psalmist had run into tough times and that his eyes had focused upon the calendar of time; he was counting the hours at night looking forward to the morning. The pain that was causing such sorrow would be replaced by the healing balm of God’s morning filled with the sunshine of His love.

I hear a voice calling from a distant mountain peak and read the words, “I will lift up my eyes to the hills, from whence cometh my help? My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth.” (Psalm 121:1-2)
Obviously the writer had run into something he couldn’t get out of. He couldn’t think his way out, pay his way out, or trick his way out. He found the answer to his dilemma though, in the One who was the creator of the rugged mountain in his way. He proclaimed his trust in the God of all creation knowing his cries would not go unheeded!

I listened again and this time heard a lament where the Psalmist seemed to say that at one time he had been isolated from the house of God……. Because I heard him say, “I was glad when they said unto me let us go to the house of the Lord.” (Psalm122:1) He does not explain the reason for this separation -it could have been a result of his own poor choices; or a misunderstanding; or a cooling of his fervor for God but he keenly felt the loss of fellowship. The result was when the invitation came he joyfully went to the sanctuary to praise God.

And so from Psalm 1 to 150, the Psalmist had run into a whole gambit of situations. He had experienced intense sorrow, sadness, suffering, deception and even sin. He had been in TOUGH situations, but this Psalm (Psalm 150) says that in spite of what the weary pilgrim has gone through………
The circle of God’s ever sustaining love had brought him through every event, every situation, and every tragedy that he had journey through and with a voice of exaltation he exclaims His joyous praise to his Divine companion!



God’s Daily Provision

Rented Home in Hartley Rhodesia, Africa 1971


Psalm 37:25 (NKJV) Psalm 37:25 (NKJV) “I have been young, and now am old; Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, Nor his descendants begging bread.”

This is a well-known verse of scripture and Glyn and I have seen it fulfilled in our lives over and over again. Through-out our years of following the call of God, there has been so many occasions where we had to look to God to meet our daily needs and each time we called on Him for help, He never let us down! Let me share an example with you of God’s unique provision when we were serving Him as missionaries in Africa. This event took place in May of 1971

Our annual conference at Rufaro Mission in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) had come to a close; the missionary families had left to return to their respective Districts and the last trainload/busloads of African believers had returned to their villages. Glyn and I were finally able to load up and make the journey back to our rented home in the small town of Hartley.
This particular conference had been quite a challenge for me, as it had been my turn to cook the meals for the missionary families that had gathered and I did not consider myself a Master Chef!
Added to that we also had a three month old baby – our first; so I was a brand new mother, learning what it was like caring for an infant under rather primitive living conditions!
I was cooking meals for around 20 people, on the old wood stove that my parents had brought to Rhodesia, when I was but a child. It was amazing that it was still going strong.
I might add that cooking in a rather primitive kitchen over a wood burning stove, in the African heat, gave a whole new meaning to the saying; “If you can’t stand the heat get out of the kitchen”!

A few days after getting back to Hartley I had a very ill husband on my hands. He was running a high fever and was plastered with what appeared to be a bad dose of chicken-pox. I was concerned because of the high fever, so I put a call into Dr. Johan Bower, the only doctor in the small town of Hartley. As soon as he finished his office hours he drove over to our house; (yes, back in the 1970’s a doctor still did make house calls!!).
Concern showed on his face after he had checked Glyn. He took me aside and gravely told me that he was afraid that my husband had contracted Small-pox! He said he needed to call Dr. Mossup, the Government Medical Officer in Gatooma and have him come and give a second opinion.
The next morning both doctors were back at our home trying to come to an agreement on exactly what diagnosis to come up with. Did he have Small-pox or Chicken-pox? Finally they came to the conclusion that he had a bad case of old fashioned “cow-pox”, which he probably contracted from an infected individual at our annual conference we had just returned from.

To err on the side of safety though, Dr. Mossup wanted us to be in quarantine for at least two weeks! I could not even walk to the town for food supplies! It would mean using very creative ideas for meals and praying our canned goods did not run out. Fortunately our milk was delivered to our kitchen doorstep in the early hours each morning, in glass milk bottles, so I knew wouldn’t run out of milk.
Then usually on alternate days, an African delivery man would arrive on a bicycle with a huge grass-woven basket filled with freshly baked bread of various sizes and varieties. His name was “Sixpence”, he always had a big smile and something cheerful to say. In return, to show my appreciation for his faithful deliveries I would give him a large bundle of Chamolia leaves, (Kale), from our garden to take home to his wife to cook with their evening meal. They loved to make a vegetable relish with it, to eat along with their sadza (stodgy porridge made from maize), which was their staple diet. He was always thankful for my simple gesture of friendship. If nothing else I knew we would have fresh bread and milk for the duration of the quarantine time!

The morning following Dr. Mossup’s decision, I heard the happy whistling of Sixpence coming down the lane behind the kitchen. I was waiting for him with a cool cup of water to quench his thirst and then looked into the large basket to select what bread I needed. Looking back now, I have to chuckle. The bread was not wrapped or bagged – just freshly baked loaves sitting in a large grass-woven basket that had a woven lid. How many hands had already touched those loaves was an unknown question! I can just see the modern day Health Department Inspectors screaming foul! Amazingly enough this was the way of life during this era in Rhodesia and none of us died from plague!

Sixpence was chattering away asking how our baby was etc. so I told him how very ill Glyn was. Immediately his face clouded over with concern and he asked how I was going to buy fresh vegetables or meat if I could not leave the house. I assured him that God would take care of us and for him just to continue stopping by to see if I needed bread.
Two days later I heard the familiar whistle and knew Sixpence was on his bread delivery round. I opened the kitchen door to greet him, a beaming face awaited me and in his hands was a bag of assorted fresh vegetables and tied to the back of his bicycle was a rather vocal, cranky chicken!
Happily Sixpence explained that because I had been good to him when his children were hungry, it was now his turn to make sure we did not go hungry!
I was deeply touched and humbled by this unsolicited act of kindness – God had taken care of our need for fresh food by sending us Sixpence, who over time had built up a friendship of trust with us!

This event took place over 47 years ago and I am here to tell you that right up to the writing of this Nugget, God has continued to be faithful to us in supplying our needs as we trusted in His provision. On the many times that we have reached out to Him in faith; His provision has come right when we needed it the most!
It never ceases to amaze me the unique ways that God will use to care for the needs of His Children.
Let me encourage you today ………..
Never think a kindness you do will not be remember and it could well come back to bless you down the road when you least expect it!

Truly we can say with the Psalmist; “I have been young, and now am old; Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, Nor his descendants begging bread.”


Being A Lefty In A Right-handed World

(Our little Buddy viewing an up-side-down world! )


‘As thy days, so shall thy strength be.’ (Deuteronomy 33:25, KJV)

I met with my Orthopedic Surgeon’s PA today, to have my cast removed and check on the progress of the healing of my left elbow and arm. The news is good and I am doing a “cart-wheels of joy”!
The surgeon had to debride a lot of tissue around my Median nerve that was being compromised by the ligament band, loosen the band and remove the “goose-egg size” lump. He was amazed though, to discover there was absolutely no sign of the longitudinal split in the tendon, that was very evident on the MRI!!! To God be the glory great things He has done.

It should come as no surprise to those of my readers, who are left-handed, that I counted the hours; right down to the last minute, when this cast came off!
Life takes on a whole new meaning when suddenly something that you have totally depended on for as long as you remember, no longer can be used!
Confusion, frustration, inability to do routine simple tasks and worst of all, for this highly independent gal, was having to be dependent on the help of others. This emotional roller-coastal ride has been a part of my world for the past 8 days!
Talk about a mind blowing learning curve, trying to use my right hand and arm!
It can be compared to living in an up-side-down, back-to-front world!
Added to that I discovered some illuminating characteristics of my DNA!
As I promised, are you ready to see what it is like to be a “lefty” (not my political bias, by the way), in a right handed-world?

Try answering the phone using you right-hand, only to discover your arm is not long enough to reach your left ear, when you only use your left ear when you talk on the phone?
Added to that, talking on the phone while holding it up to your right ear, just jumbles your hearing pattern…..or so it has been in “Norma’s world”!

Next challenge…… eating exclusively with a very uncooperative right hand! More food fell off my fork than reached my mouth.
So I resorted to my “little Buddy’s example” of using a spoon with a fist grip, shoveling in my tasty fare as fast as possible; hoping enough would reach my mouth and stave off starvation!

Dressing myself, exclusively right-handed, would certainly win me top prize on “America’s Funniest Videos”!

I challenge my readers to attempt to get into bed using only one hand while your dominant arm had to be held up above heart level. Results…..? ‘Face plant big time’, over and over in “Norma’s world”.
In moments of my total stubborn rebellion, my “loving?????” husband threatened to ‘duct tape me’ to my recliner!
My theme song became…… “Please, release me let me go……..”
Yes, my antics of trying to learn to use my right-hand was the source of much laughter to Glyn and my sister-in-law, Debbie Wilson, who came to help us.

I learnt that my DNA not only possesses a highly independent streak, but also a stubborn will that does not take kindly to being challenged with restrictions. Plus a bull-dog determination to overcome the obstacles life had dealt me!
Thankfully the Lord used this time to teach me some eternal lessons.

We all have times when we are suddenly faced with an issue that we feared we might never be able to handle……..perhaps unemployment, or severe illness, or bereavement, or tragedy.
I am here to assure you that it is possible to find miraculous grace and strength from God for each day.
Thus enabling us not to be just ‘dragging ourselves through’, but experiencing a special sense of His promised presence and help.
Whenever we tap into God’s daily help, we are experiencing the truth of today’s text: that, as the NIV translation puts it……. ‘your strength will equal your days’.
What a wonderful promise of God this is!
He will provide strength for each day and for whatever is needed in that day.
This means we don’t have to sit and worry whether we will have enough strength for tomorrow or for next year or for ten years’ time.

God promises us sufficient resources—Himself!—for each day as it comes.
May I remind you about how God works: He doesn’t give us strength BEFORE we need it; but exactly WHEN we need it.

Most of us prefer to have a spiritual stockpile of resources ‘in case of need’; but it doesn’t work like that! If it did, it would rob us of having to walk by faith and having to trust God day by day.
Being a child of God does not guarantee us immunity from life’s pressures, trials and sufferings. Such things are simply part of living in a sin-ridden world.

I am here to encourage you that it is at such times, when something earth-shattering happens, when the bottom falls out of our world, that we need God’s strength and call out to Him for help; His promises will be there—enough strength for each day and to equal our days!

My friends, whatever you are facing, God’s grace and strength is also here for you today.

‘It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect.’ (2 Samuel 22:33)




Shadows Tinged in Scarlet

Shadows tinged in Scarlet by Rick Orrell
(Used with permission)


There is a gentleman in the church we attend, who has a God-given gift when it comes to photography. He also happens to be our Pastor’s son, so I know he comes from “good stock”!
Recently Rick sent me one of his pictures with a little get well note attached. The picture was stunning! It was so striking in its contrast and beauty that the more I studied it the more I could see the pristine touch of the Master Artist’s Hand! Immediately the title of this Nugget came to mind; I was looking at shadows tinged in scarlet which was a perfect example of my own journey with God.

Shadows are a part of the natural landscape that we see each day. Some are caused by clouds drifting past and blocking the sun’s rays. Others are created by a leafy tree, or mountainside that the sun has not yet risen above. Yes, shadows are part of our daily lives but they are transient and as this picture so beautifully depicts; shadows can become tinged with the penetrating scarlet rays of sunlight.
There is such a spiritual lesson that can be gleaned from this beautiful picture.

We all have seasons in our lives when we are called upon to walk through deep shadows. These are the times when our hearts are crushed, wounded and suffering deep pain.
Examples of these times can be:
The loss of a loved one.
The diagnosis of a terminal illness.
The betrayal by a trusted friend.
Devastating personal bad choices that led us down a destructive path.
These few examples are merely the tip of the iceberg of the multitude of shadows we deal with in our life’s journey.

Yet when you study the picture you will see HOPE in the form of shafts of scarlet sunlight tinging even the darkest shadows!
In our walk with God we have felt the warmth and strength of His eternal love during our darkest hours giving us hope to endure.

I remember keenly the day in Africa, while we were missionaries; that Glyn brought me home from the hospital, after he totally alone, had laid to rest, our newborn son.
There are no words that can fully express the grief and pain Glyn and I were experiencing.
I was laying on the sofa in a weakened condition from complications during the delivery, feeling the intense void of my empty arms. Tears flowed freely from our broken hearts as we endeavored to “understand” this dark shadow we were having to walk through.
Glyn had placed a record of gospel music on our old battered record player, when the humble home of two devastated missionaries was filled with the words of the song: “…..then I heard footsteps walking in the shadows and a Hand reaching out to tell me He was there….”
As we allowed the truth of that song to seep into our broken beings, we began to feel the healing warmth of God’s care and understanding.
Our deep shadow of sorrow no longer was unbearable because it was tinged in scarlet hope and assurance from the Master’s Hand!

God’s loving care will breech and penetrate even the darkest shadows of our lives!
We can cling to these shafts of “scarlet hope” that God uses to intercept the devastating situations that come our way, knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that He will bring us through victorious!
I simply can’t close this Nugget without quoting that well known and uplifting Psalm 23!

Psalm 23:1-6 (NKJV) “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the LORD Forever.


Lessons From His Yoke



In the early years of my childhood in Rhodesia, it was a common sight to see a span of oxen joined together by a yoke, pulling a wagon, or ploughing a field to prepare it for planting. Those were the days before farm machinery became the norm in Africa. The pioneers that traversed many mountains, rivers and thick bush used oxen, mules and if they were fortunate enough horses, to bring civilization to the interior of Africa.
On the Mission Station where I was born oxen were used for a variety of tasks including pulling the Mission truck across the Tuli river bed once flood waters had receded and hauling water in 50 gallon drums four miles from the river each day, as that was our only water source.

The task of training a span of oxen to walk together in the yoke required a fair amount of skill.
A well trained strong ox would head the team and then an untrained ox would share the yoke with the trained leader. At first the untrained ox would resist the yolk but the lead ox was strong and quickly subdued his errant partner and before long the two walked in harmony.
For me it was a common sight to see a farmer walking behind a plough cutting deep furrows in the virgin soil, being pulled by several oxen walking in unison in their yokes.

Working with a span of oxen was not without its dangers though.
One morning at Rufaro Mission we heard a voice calling in Shona: “Mfundisi please help me, please help me.”
Glyn and I stepped out onto the porch and could hardly believe what our eyes were seeing. Stumbling towards the house was one of the African men who we had nicknamed, “Shumba”. He was holding up his right arm at the elbow and a dirty rag soaked in blood was haphazardly wrapped around his hand. I ran for the kitchen to grab some clean kitchen towels while Glyn sat Shumba down and began to listen to what had happened.
He told Glyn that he was ploughing his field to get ready to plant maize, (white kernel corn), he had his strong lead ox in the yoke, along with a totally untrained ox. The untrained ox was being particularly contrary and the chains from the plough disc to the oxen’s yoke became tangled. Shumba stopped the oxen and reached down to untangle the chains, when the untrained ox bolted, instantly the chain whipped around the four fingers on Shumba’s right hand, dragging it across the sharp blade of the plough disc. In a matter of seconds Shumba’s four fingers were sliced clear through to the bone, just leaving bare stubs. As fast as we could, we removed the dirty rag, cleaned the wound as best as possible and then tightly wrapped his damaged hand with clean towels.
Glyn then raced the suffering man to the nearest clinic which was over 40 miles away, to receive emergency care.

Anyone who has worked using a span of oxen will tell you that it is exhausting work and needed someone with nerves of steel plus be constantly aware of the oxen’s mood; as even the best trained oxen can be unpredictable. Just one moment of Shumba letting down his guard down, cost him the four fingers on his right hand.

There is a spiritual lesson that we can learn from the yolk used in years gone by.
While teaching a crowd of people Jesus uses the yoke to drive home a truth by a common illustration of something everyone listening, would completely understand.

Matthew 11:28-30 (NKJV) “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

Jesus spent a good portion of his life as a ‘working man’. Brought up as the son of a carpenter, He spent many years laboring in his earthly father’s carpenter shop, before starting the ministry for which He had come to fulfill. He probably fashioned yokes as a part of His trade. Over those years, his hands would have no doubt been cut and calloused and his back would have ached. Like anyone involved with physical labor, he would most certainly have known what it was like to be weary at the end of the day.

But, Jesus recognized that there is another weariness that is far more destructive, whatever our task in life is. It is the weariness of soul and spirit; a weariness we feel when life’s pressures and problems relentlessly crowd in and there seems to be no relief from the onslaught that life heaps upon us.
These verses in Matthew that Jesus spoke were referring to this type of weariness.
It would seem that Jesus made an amazingly kind, yet astonishingly simple promise when He said to the listening crowd: “come to me and I’ll lift from your back this load that you have been carrying all by yourself.”
Can you imagine the joy that was flooding the hearts of these life weary listeners! This teacher was going to give them a cure from the cares of life!

Then Jesus says something strange and probably confusing: for not only does He promise to lift their burden from their backs, but He then invites them to pick up His burden instead!
I can just imagine the incredulous response in the hearts of the people!
Seriously Jesus? You just told us to shed our burden and your promise of rest is to pick up your yoke?

I am so thankful that Jesus did not stop there…………… look what He goes on to say: ‘Take my yoke upon you and LEARN from me.’
Jesus was PAINTING A PICTURE of how animals were trained in those days. One new to the job would be harnessed alongside one that had been doing it for years and ‘knew the ropes’. In this way, the new arrival would learn how to do things so much more quickly and easily.

Jesus is encouraging his listeners that this is what He wanted to do for them and the exciting news is that this also includes you and me.
Hear Him saying to us today: “Come alongside me, walk with me, and let me show you how to do things; for as you do, the burden will seem so much lighter.”
YES, He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak

Isaiah 40:29 (NKJV) He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength.

My friends I encourage you to tap into His promise of His indomitable strength today!

Oxen hauling our days water from the Tuli River in 1944




God Is With Us

Russel & Tuffy in Durban, South Africa

In the journey of your life, do you sometimes have, moments, hours, days and maybe even weeks when you feel that God has turned His back on you? I am certain the question rings true for many reading this Nugget!
There have been times in my own walk with God that I wondered if my usefulness to God and His Kingdom was no longer needed!

I remember a period in our son’s growth that he must have been going through what child psychologists call, “Separation Anxiety”.
We had endured the horrific carnage of the terrorist war in Rhodesia and we were now living in Durban, South Africa, running our Missions Bible College.
Sadly right around the time of our arrival in South Africa, the political climate took a turn for the worse. We endured bombings of supermarkets, tribal rioting including burning hundreds of homes of opposing tribal groups. As missionaries we were caught in the cross-fire because many of the places we ministered in were hot-beds waiting to erupt. This fact was not lost on our son, who remembered only too well the events that we as a family had lived through in Rhodesia.

When we first arrived in Durban, South Africa we lived in the home of a missionary family who had returned to the States for a furlough. It was a double story home with the Master bedroom on the main floor and two bedrooms and a study upstairs. Glyn and I slept downstairs and Russel and Donna-Mae upstairs.
It took us several weeks before it became evident that night after night, our son would slip out of bed, grab a blanket and sit at the bottom of the stairs, close to our bedroom. In the morning I would find him curled up, sound asleep on the bottom stair. It broke this mother’s heart that our son had been so emotionally traumatized just because he was a “missionary’s kid”!
No matter how much we assured him that we ALWAYS would be there during those dark frightening nights, he just couldn’t FEEL THAT ASSURANCE.
You see his memories of nights of terror in Rhodesia were engraved so deeply in his sub-conscious that he needed more than promised platitudes! He desperately needed the PHYSICAL security of knowing that his Dad and Mom, who were his trusted protectors were close by, thus explaining why he would sleep on the hard floor outside our bedroom door!
We tried everything thing we could think of to allay his genuine fear but nothing seemed to help. While praying over this troubling situation I believe God supplied the answer, in the most unexpected way.

Not only were we caring for our missionary friends’ home but we also were keeping their Pug dog, called Tuffy. Both our children adored the dog, who fast would “dog” their every footstep and they became inseparable pals. Tuffy had been trained to sleep in his basket in the kitchen at night, so we continued this practice.
One evening as I was tucking the children into bed, “Tuffy” had followed me up the stairs, while we were saying our evening prayers, Tuffy took the opportunity to squirm his way under Russel’s blankets with just his flat nose sticking out!
The reality of God’s visual answer to our prayers flashed like a shooting star in my heart!
From that night on, Tuffy would snuggle as close to Russel in his bed as was physically possible and it was the last night that a frightened missionary’s son’s deeply entrenched fears, were conquered!

Donna-Mae & Russel with Tuffy in Durban, South Africa

In the journey of life too often, we as children of God, have the same experience as we had with our son. We wonder if God is “with us” in our difficult situations! The good news is that GOD IS WITH US – He promised “never to leave us or forsake us.”
Look with me at Joseph’s experience:

“The Lord was with Joseph, and he was a successful man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian.” Genesis 39:2 (NKJV)


We often pray for God to be with us and others, but what do we mean?
God is everywhere, isn’t He?
So this begs the questions…………. How could He NOT be with us?
The Bible says God was with Joseph. This is especially significant, considering Joseph’s situation……think about it for a moment.

His father assumed he was dead.
His brothers had sold him into slavery.
His mother was dead.
He had no friends.
He was in prison on a false charge.

WOW! Could his circumstances get any worse?
Joseph must have felt awfully alone………. Where could he turn?
The answer to that question is found in the fact that through the “eye of faith”, Joseph discovered that even when everyone else abandoned him, GOD REMAINED BY HIS SIDE.
God made his presence with Joseph obvious through what he did in Joseph’s life.
Now not by any stretch of the imagination did Joseph have an easy life, but God blessed him nonetheless. Think about it…..

When Joseph was a slave, God made him chief slave.
When Joseph was a prisoner, he became the assistant to the jailer.
When there seemed little reason to have confidence, God gave Joseph courage.
When he had the opportunity to wreck revenge on his brothers who had betrayed him, God gave him deep compassion and forgiveness.

God’s presence doesn’t mean that you and I won’t experience hard times.
It DOES mean that no matter what we are going through, WE will know that He is with us, just as Joseph knew he wasn’t alone.
God’s presence will give us peace when everything is going wrong. His love will be obvious to us even when it seems no one else cares. God’s wisdom will guide us to make the right choices in the confusion of life.
The Bible says Joseph prospered because God was with him. In other words, God’s presence made a VISIBLE difference in Joseph’s life.
Let me assure you my friends………..God’s presence will make an obvious difference in your life as well. No matter how tough your circumstances, you can have confidence, because you’re not alone.



No Regrets

Bags of maize meal -Gobatema 1939

My Dad, Willard Wilson & brother at Gobatema Mission, S. Rhodesia Africa


Last week I posted a nugget describing a memory from my childhood living on a remote and extremely primitive Mission Station in the bush of Southern Rhodesia, Africa. This nugget elicited a few comments from friends wondering how my parents ever adjusted to the unrelenting heat and total lack of civilization, having grown up in the civilized world and adjusted to the harsh bitter winters of northern Maine.
This set me thinking and I sat for several hours going through black and white photos of what life was like when Dad and Mom arrived in Africa in 1939, to serve as Pioneer missionaries. Then I went back to some of my mother’s early writings that I have, describing what they faced on a daily basis.

I began to muse about the quantum leap they took when they left the comfort of the family farm in Mars Hill, Maine (USA), boarded the ship and set sail for Africa. Two young missionaries with an infant son, barely a year old. They set their faces to an unknown land in response to the “call of God”.
They had no visions of grandeur, no pre-conceptions of a life of luxury; just two humble hearts with a passion burning in their souls to touch the un-reached tribes in Africa with the good news of the Gospel.
Follow me as I answer the questions some of you asked and reflect with me what it was like in those years of being Pioneer missionaries……………

Imagine what a struggle it must have been for my young parents arriving from the frigid climate of Northern Maine, enduring a month long rough ocean journey on a freighter. After arriving in Cape Town South Africa, they rested, got their bearings and geared up to make that torturous weeks long journey of 1,300 miles from the southernmost tip of South Africa to the unreached parts of Southern Rhodesia.
It would prove to be a journey that would test the mettle of even the strongest explorer!
The entire trip was travelled over uncared for dirt roads and eventually bush trails.

Remember, my young mother was travelling with precious cargo – my eldest brother, Lawrence, who had his first birthday while they were on the voyage across the Atlantic Ocean.
Daily they endured oppressive heat, which in itself must have been a shock to their systems, as when they set sail the temperature was 30 degrees below zero, Fahrenheit!
They experienced encounters with wild animals, venomous snakes, and hostile tribes, plus endured being bitten by an assortment of unknown bugs and fending off tropical illnesses!
Frankly, the hardships of the trek inland is really hard to put in comprehendible words that my readers can relate to!

There was no “quick stops” to get supplies on that long trek………..
There was no safe water to drink, everything had to be boiled………..
There were no disposable diapers for their baby, so stops had to be made by running streams to wash the cloth diapers and baby clothing by hand……………
There were no comfortable Motels in which to lay to lay their weary heads at the end of a long day of travel………
There was malaria, dysentery and other tropical diseases to be wary of…………..
There were snakes, scorpions and dangerous wild animals to watch out for as they edged their way deeper into the African bush………..
Then added to all this there was the adjustment of cooking meals over a fire on the ground with stones placed to hold the pots, not to mention having to adjust to the foods that the indigenous people ate.
Plus trying to communicate with people whose language they did not understand!

I wonder if at any point in what seemed to be that brutal journey from South Africa to Southern Rhodesia; my parents might have had “second thoughts”. As, they could not possibly have mentally been prepared for the hardships they were dealing with.
Yet turning back was never an option!
How can I say this with such assurance? Because, once I was born, I witnessed with my own eyes that they were totally committed to the task that God had called them to, no matter the hardships they faced.

Now walk with me and feel the excitement rising in my parent’s hearts as they forged the Tuli River, which separated them from the last meager form of civilization, which was the first “out post” called Gwanda.
The Tuli River had no bridge or concrete causeway, so could only be crossed during the dry season. Once the wagons and battered old truck gingerly negotiated their way across the rocky river bed they slowly made their way up the ascending four mile bush track to their new home – Gobatema Mission.

Mission workers came running to welcome the new missionaries, many hands willingly helped unload the boxes, trunks and supplies, and then my parents stepped into their new home, which was a battered old house that was in various stages of disrepair.
An antiquated wood stove, that had seen better days, was the only sign of “civilization” in the dilapidated house. The cement floors were bare and cracked, plus the walls had cracks so deep that you could look through them to the outside and they had not seen paint in years.
The bedrooms were no better but my parents set to work; sweeping out the hanging cobwebs and accumulated dirt from the floor and assembling makeshift beds for their first night. Then with the assistance of one of the resident missionaries wives; Mom wrestled some semblance of life into the old wood stove to cook their first meal, while Dad was lighting Hurricane lanterns for light.
The Mission had no running water, no electricity, no indoor plumbing, and no phone contact to the outside world and the nearest point to get water was the torturous 4 mile track back down to the Tuli River! It could hardly be considered to possess even the bare necessities for comfort!
Yet, mother told me that both she and Dad felt jubilant joy and gratitude that God had brought them safely to their destination. No pity party was going to be held in that humble home that night! No regrets, no turning back!

Dad, Mom and Lawrence at GobatemaDad, Mom and my brother Lawrence at Gobatema Mission 1939

The years slipped by and the little family of three grew to five. My sister Suzanne was born in 1941 and then my parents were blessed with a fiery red-headed daughter (me) in 1944. Mother had her hands full but she took it all in stride. I remember her telling tales of trying to keep Suzanne in a home-made play pen with no floor in it. She would put the play pen on a grass mat in the shade of a tree while she was busy holding the morning clinic. Next thing she sees Suzanne, who now was walking, slip her legs between the slates of the play pen, stand up and off she went play pen in tow!

I presented new challenges for mother. I had the strong will that went along with my red-hair, plus as I grew, I was totally fearless in exploring my world. She caught me one day trying to “scare” a deadly Cobra out of its hole with a stick! I collected bugs and an assortment of creepy crawlies and would happily race to wherever mother was to show her my latest trophy! Mother despaired that I would ever turn out to be a “proper lady” – I definitely was a child of the bush.

Once my brother Lawrence and my sister Suzanne were school age they had to be sent to the city of Bulawayo to attend Boarding School. Bulawayo was about a 100 mile drive from the Mission. I can only imagine the wrench it must have been to my parent’s hearts to leave their precious young children at a Boarding School, knowing it would be months before they would see them again. Yet they never wavered in their calling or complained about the hardships of life.
Once my elder siblings went to boarding school I became my Dad’s shadow or would go with mother on the long walks through the bush to visit villages in the surrounding area. These were my formative years – I only knew life on a remote primitive Mission Station in the bush of Africa and it was marvelous!
I would not trade the lessons I learned for anything this world could offer!
Our lives growing up were filled with laughter, excitement, many challenges, but most of all our parents were role models to us of finding good in the most difficult situations and radiating the love of God in all that they did.
What a heritage they passed onto us children!

Just as my parents had a huge learning curve to adjust to life in Africa, I on the other hand grew up and served along with my husband in Africa for years and now have had a “reverse” learning curve to life in America!
My heart will always beat to an African drum and I assure you if I was 20 years younger, my feet would be walking the African trails without looking back.
I can say without fear of contradiction that a day does not go by that I do not long to feel the embrace of our “African children” and blaze a trail for God in the land of my calling!