Monthly Archives: March 2015

What Shoes Are You Wearing?

Bare feet - Rufaro Mission 1950

Bare feet – Rufaro Mission 1950

WHAT SHOES ARE YOU WEARING?

Deuteronomy 33:25 (NKJV) “Your sandals shall be iron and bronze; As your days, so shall your strength be.”

While sorting through some of my old photo albums, hunting for pictures that I wanted to convert to digital format, I came across a black & white picture taken of our family when we were living at Rufaro Mission back in 1950. What amused me about the picture is that Dad and Mom was dressed as though they were going to church, my elder sister, Suzanne also had a nice dress on and her hair in pigtails. I too was dressed nicely but there was a glaring omission in the picture. Both Suzanne and me had no shoes on!

I chuckled at the obvious contrast in the footwear between my parents and us two sisters. The picture as simple as it was immediately transported me through my memory’s eye, to the marvelous care-free years of my childhood. Our shoe-less feet actually was a symbol of the freedom we enjoyed in the simple uncomplicated life we led. Our modern age with all of its advancements has managed to rob children of the simple joys of being a child, whose playground in my case, was the African bush and imagination was my companion.

I would not trade the life of growing up in a missionary family in Africa for the most modern mansion today’s world could offer me!

Our mother gave up trying to make us keep shoes on our feet. The only time we would wear socks and shoes was when we went to school and when we went to church.

As I sat looking at this poignant picture a spiritual lesson began to grow in my mind. I began to visualize the different roles shoes would have if we used them as an illustration of faith.

Come with me on this analogy I am attempting to paint.

Faith is the “shoe” of the soul by which we can march along the road that the Lord is leading us on.

Our love for the Lord can make the feet move more swiftly; but faith is the shoe which carries the soul. Faith is also the oil enabling the “shoes” of holy devotion and of earnest piety to move well; and without the “shoes” of faith we drag heavily in our walk with God.

With faith we can do all things; without faith we shall neither have the inclination nor the power to do anything in the service of God.

If you would find those who serve God the best, you must look for men and woman of great faith! Their “shoes” of faith are solid, strong and made to overcome the jagged rocks of adversity.

Shoes that are of inferior quality can be likened to those who have just a “little faith” which will save the wearer, but little faith cannot do great things for God.

Little faith will carry the wearer to heaven, but it often stumbles and is overcome by fear of the battle  life requires it to walk.

Little-faith looks ahead and says, “It is a rough road, inundated with sharp thorns, and full of dangers; I am afraid to go;”

On the other hand “shoes of great faith” remembers the promise; “Thy shoes shall be iron and brass; as thy days, so shall thy strength be;” (Deuteronomy 33:25) and so great faith boldly ventures the treacherous path.

Little-faith stands despondent, mingling their tears with the ravaging flood waters that has to be crossed; but Great-faith sings, “When thou pass through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee:” (Isaiah 43:2) and they forge the swiftly flowing river without looking back!

Our joy and faithfulness in our journey in this sin tossed world rests strongly on the type of “shoes of faith” we are wearing.

My faithful readers take careful note of what “shoes of faith” you are wearing and covet earnestly the best gift – have your feet shod with great faith for therein rests the victors crown!

 

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When God takes you out of your Comfort Zone

Rufaro Mission - old woodstove

Rufaro Mission – old woodstove

WHEN GOD TAKES US OUT OF OUR COMFORT ZONE

In our journey of life and our walk with the Lord there will be times when we need to take a step of faith and follow the Lord’s leading, even if it requires stepping out of our “comfort zone”. This has happened to me more times than I care to count; one such event shall never be forgotten.

Once a year we would have our Annual General Conference for all the districts in Rhodesia/Zimbabwe. We held this conference at Rufaro Mission, at the end of August or early September. All the missionary families from each District attended plus our African Pastors, lay Pastors and many delegates from each church. We usually had around fifteen hundred people in attendance, which is likely leaning on a conservative estimate. Our National Missions Director would also come from the Head Office in South Africa. Some missionaries came with their own campers but those that didn’t stayed in the main Mission house. Every room in the Mission school was used to house African Pastors and then dozens of the attendees set up family camping spots all around the Mission church building. Each family unit would make a small camp-fire, which they cooked on and rolled out their sleeping mats around the fire for warmth at night. There was much laughter, singing and groups of praying through-out the night. I remember how I loved to walk among the camp-fires after the evening service drinking in the unique atmosphere of happy singing, and wood smoke mixed with the delicious smells coming from the cooking pots. It is a treasured memory that will stay with me until I draw my last breath.

At the Conference that was held in 1970 all the missionaries were gathered in a circle in the lounge for our Missionaries in Council meeting, discussing the growth and health of the work. The last thing on the agenda was to choose which couple would be the one designated to cook the meals for the missionaries and stock the little mission store with fresh bread, and basics for the needs of the crowd attending he next conference.  We had just discovered that I was expecting our first baby but had not broken the news to anyone and sure enough Glyn and I were the ones that were selected! Our baby was due in February which meant the baby would be going on for six months old at our next Conference!

Being taken out of my comfort zone was the understatement of the year at this point! Not only would I be negotiating the sleep deprived learning curve of being a first time mother; but my biggest challenge was I had to cook three meals a day in a very primitive kitchen to a group of missionaries, who all could probably cook better than me!

My two sisters love cooking and entertaining guests with mouthwatering meals. I on the other hand must have been hiding behind the door when God handed out cooking skills. I would rather preach a sermon any day than bake a cake! The Lord really was taking me far out of my comfort zone with this task!

Jump forward to 1971, our son Russel was born and it was time for the big annual conference at Rufaro Mission. The thing I feared was about to be unleashed on me!

Glyn and I loaded up our supplies, baby gear and as much as we needed to get things up and running before the crowd arrived. The old Mission House was not occupied for most of the year, except when Glyn and I went down to check on the Mission school, get supplies for the staff and schoolchildren; plus during the planting season we would go down to plant maize (white corn).So it was not uncommon to find bats hanging from the rafters, (the house had no ceilings), and the cold cement floors which had cracked were a haven for an assortment of creepy crawlies.

A group of helpers were waiting eagerly for our arrival and welcomed us with open arms. Swiftly our baby was scooped up by Matakala, one of the grandmothers, who had been part of our family since I was a child. Much excitement filled the air because God had blessed us with our first child.

After the greetings were finished Glyn set about stocking the little store, checking that water supplies were sufficient and a host of other tasks, with our trusty helpers, Tubeho and Champion at his side. Then my team of helpers set to sweeping, cleaning, helping me organize the vegetables, meat and other supplies I had brought for the meals. We had an old refrigerator that ran on kerosene which sounded like it had a bad case of asthma but at least we had a place to store milk, meat and other perishables. Then we turned our attention to the old wood stove that was showing signs of being ready to give up the ghost. Cleaned it well, then wood was loaded into its fire box and we held our breath as the fire began to burn, praying it would not belch smoke into the kitchen! By nightfall things were organized and we ate our evening meal at the bare rough-hewed table, which I had eaten from when I was a child. I commented to Glyn I was concerned about Russel as he was sounding very croupy; that was all I needed to have a sick baby on my hands! Sure enough I was up a good portion of the night with a fussy croupy baby.

The morning came too quickly but there was no time to wallow in self-pity. By late afternoon the house was alive with missionaries catching up on news and a long line of Africans stood patiently at the window of the little store, for fresh bread, tea, sugar and other things they needed. The 1971 Annual Conference had begun!

Matakala took charge of Russel while her daughter, Zillah and I worked all day trying to produce a miracle in the form of an evening meal to feed the group of missionaries. I had chosen to make a hearty beef stew with home-made bread rolls for our first meal. Everyone must have been starved because there were no left-overs! I had managed to pull off my first meal even though I was stretched way beyond my comfort zone!

The days of the conference flew by in a blur of cooking three meals a day in an extremely hot kitchen, thanks to the old wood stove, dealing with a croupy baby, making what seemed like endless cups of tea and coffee and attending the night church services. Finally the last day arrived and the crowd packed up and began their long journeys to their village homes. When the last missionary family headed down the dirt road from the Mission house Glyn and I flopped down in total exhaustion on the porch sipping a cup of much needed tea!

Suddenly it hit me God had helped me face a challenge and pull it off successfully even though it was way out of my comfort zone!

God had not only helped me but there were times He carried me!

Look at the promise that I clung to during those exhausting days:

Isaiah 41:10 (NKJV) Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’

Yes God had strengthened me. God had helped me and there were times that He held me in His powerful right hand!

Even in our times of following God’s leading when it takes us out of our “comfort zone” we can come through victoriously because He is true to His promises to us.

Part of the crowd at RufaroMission

Part of the crowd at RufaroMission