Thursday, March 10, 2011

After a sermon at Epiphany Cathedral, a church member and close friend said she needed to tell me something in private.
After I greeted the congregation, she said, ¨Bob as you were preaching I looked at your face and, and this thought came to me -   You are heading into a period of great difficulty.  Christ wants you to know that you have the faith required to come through this period.  This will be a time of spiritual.¨
Throughout my life, I have received and accepted prophecies coming through fellow Christians, and my own dreams and meditations.  After several dramatic instances when these prophecies became reality, I began paying even closer attention to these pronouncements.  Ellen and I are in the mission field, because of a very strong message I received when we were in Honduras in 1989.    
In my ministry of prayer, the Lord has given me the gift of discernment.  As a deacon who tries to walk among and serve the people of the world, I am very grateful for this gift.  Discernment was essential when I was a prison chaplain, and it has certainly allowed me to be a better missionary in the Dominican Republic.
Frankly, I debated whether or not I should share this in my blog. But most of you reading this have touched our lives in someway.  Several of you have visited us in the Dominican Republic.  Some have included us in their church or personal prayers.  Others have financially invested in our ministry.  So, as a partner in ministry, you need to know what is happening in our lives.  With this knowledge you will be able to discern our prayer needs.

 Rejoice in the Lord Always – Again I Say Rejoice
Thirty-five years ago when I was struggling to find my spiritual identity the words to this revival hymn was always on my lips.  When an Epiphany Cathedral member told me that she received a message that I was entering a period of difficulty, this hymn once again came to mind. 
Even so, there have been many times in the last two years when I failed to focus on the ministries the Lord had placed in my care.  The following events are not excuses for my inefficiency.  They are what they are.  Times when life´s problems challenged my commitment to the gospel.
Car Accident - Most of my difficulties started with a car accident a year ago last July.  After dropping Ellen off at the airport, I was heading back to Santo Domingo.  It was a rainy Saturday afternoon and my car hydroplaned and slammed into a concrete barrier.  Even though it was a busy Saturday there were no cars on my right or behind me. (Rejoice in the Lord).  The car was severely damaged, but I got out of the car on my own.  The airbags and seatbelt saved me from severe injury. 
For several months my back was ached, and I had difficulty walking.  About 9 months later, an x-ray for another problem showed that I actually had cracked vertebrae.   When I went in for my annual physical, I discovered that I lost an inch in height due to an increased curvature in my spine.  For many years, I have had arthritis of the spine.
Infection – For nearly a year, I struggled with a urinary tract infection.   Three days before Christmas, I had minor surgery to remove two urinary tract obstructions..  Ellen and I flew back to the DR on January 2, but complications forced me return to the Nebraska about 16 days later.  In early February, I once again flew back to the DR.  Rejoice in the Lord Always.  The Lord truly blessed me, because I was able to spend more time with my daughter Tracey´s family.  Oh, and my granddaughters were out of school for two days because of snow.
 In the Red - In December, Ellen and I were told that our mission account at the Nebraska Diocesan Office was $8,000 in the red.  Earlier in 2010 we announced that we were planning to work part-time near the end of the year.   Apparently this premature announcement had an impact on contributions to our mission fund.    
The bottom line message of this blog is – During the last two years, I have at times lost my focus on the mission the Lord has given me.  There have been many other events that have caused Ellen and I to wonder if it was time for us to leave the mission field.  Age certainly has played a role in all this.  But my conclusion is that we have been under spiritual attack.
Ellen and I want to leave the mission field, because we have heard a call to do so.  We have several chinks or weaknesses in our spiritual armor.  In some of these cases, I do believe Satan has not only distracted us from our mission, but has planted seeds of doubt.      
I have asked for the Lord´s forgiveness and help on several occasions when failure seemed close at hand.   As a result, I have grown spiritually.  I am regaining my focus on the ministries which are before me.  And, I praise the Lord everyday for Ellen who is my life and spiritual partner.  She not only prayed for me, but kept our mission efforts on solid ground.
So my friends, I asked that you keep us in your prayers.  Specifically, I ask that you pray for:
  • ·         The discernment we need to determine when it is time for us to leave the mission field.
  • ·         For the energy and desire we need to carry out those mission projects you have given us.
  • ·         To provide us with the good health we need to joyfully complete our mission projects.