God Will Choose Your Legacy

aryanneAs I work my way through the editing of the John Wesley devotional book, I swing between two extremes. The first is insecurity. “Why do you think anyone would read this? What makes you think you are capable of such a big project?” Then I think to myself, “This could be why I came to Brazil. This could be my legacy to the Free Methodist Church. In fact, this could be my legacy to the Portuguese-speaking world. (I get carried away sometimes.)

The truth is, we don’t always know what will happen with the fruits of our labor after we are gone, but sometimes the Lord gives us a little glimpse. Almost 20 years ago we lived in a poor region of Brazil. We were helping to plant a church and I was trying to teach the women how to have dynamic children’s classes without expensive materials. I decided to put together a manual that could be used in all of the area churches. I wrote up a curriculum and drew pictures to go along with it. I was embarrassed at the cartoon-like figures, but they were simple enough for anyone to copy. I printed booklets for all the churches; as far as I know no one ever used them.

So you can imagine my shock when my sister Grace (a Wesleyan missionary in NW Brazil) recently sent a picture of Aryanne, a young woman from Manaus who is ministering in Mozambique using that crazy manual. As she serves in a very poor area with few resources, the book on “How to Teach Sunday School without Fancy Resources” has been resurrected for His honor and glory.  Only God could have done that!


6 thoughts on “God Will Choose Your Legacy

  1. Cool—super cool. Praise God for that teaching resource you made years ago.

    Do you remember Sheila Tremaine (lived at the Cuiaba center) , a translator who worked with the Rikbaktsa in Northern Mato Grosso for over 50 years. We heard she had massive stroke last week and went to heaven this week. What a wonderful friend she was for 39 years.



  2. Esube

    Nundu, about 1981 Central Africa (Zaire) Congo

    In my first letter home, I described living at Nundu as: “Like living in a terrarium, with sides of living hills”: Lake was Tanganyika below – mountains behind and to the west, climbing higher and higher into the clouds. To the east the dirt/mud/rock road led north to Burundi, making a 3 hour drive out of what should have been 40 min.

    The present hospital was still in the making, and we treated hundreds – and thousands –by the end of the year, in three miserable little buildings of African mud blocks. One – the lab building with consulting and minor treatment areas had a thatch roof: the larger one – a delivery and maternity unit – had a tin roof, through which the heat of the sun’s hot rays was readily transmitted. Down a little slope were the “hospital wards” – 2 wards in another long, long thatched mud brick building, which in my memory is always filled with our mass of cholera patients. But the climate was moderate – high 70’s to low 80s all rear round –MY kind of climate!

    It must have been 1981 when the older nurse, Myra Adamson, who shared the responsibilities with me, was home for the year on furlough. I had a young inexperienced volunteer nurse, plus the African staff of about 15 to keep the place in operation. There were no doctors available most of the time I was at Nundu. Every morning the local hospital chaplain, Rev. Ebasomba, held a little devotional for the outpatients who gathered in early, before the clinic opened. But on Wednesdays, either Myra or I led the staff itself in a devotional time. Now it was left to me, and after discussing it with the staff, I started to give devotionals from the book of Romans.

    I don’t know if you have any parts of the Bible that you just don’t ENJOY and prefer to skip over when you come to them, because they are so confrontational. Well, on Tuesday eve. I found my self faced with such a passage on which I was going to have to give a devotional. Romans 2 – the exposing of hypocrites who proclaim to be Christians, but are living otherwise… It was difficult because I knew that some of the staff were in need of it, practicing the very things written about, especially stealing, while going to church pretending to be right with God. But I didn’t want to be the one to confront. I tossed and turned most of the night, but the Lord kept his thumb down on me to teach it.

    God had a hand in that meeting from the beginning. For one thing, we weren’t able to meet in the outdoor place where we usually had the staff meeting, because it was raining too hard. So we ended up jammed into the consulting area at one end of the maternity building. And I read the passage. I felt the Spirit‘s power as I warned them of the danger of living a life that was a lie in God’s sight. The place was in total silence as I saw the Lord convicting people. Then we got down on our knees and prayed and I asked anyone who had something to confess to come to me later on and tell me. Esube said he needed to talk to me – at noon, as soon as possible.

    He confessed how he had been stealing medicines, and even medical instruments – a precious suture set that was missing. He told me that in church the previous Sunday he had felt so convicted, because he had been brought up in the church. And then he had a grudge against someone who had done him wrong, and he went to a local witch doctor. to have a curse put on him. Part of the requirement for the curse was that he swallow a little gold-color chain. Though he was repenting, he was very concerned about having this piece of evil still inside him. I remember saying, “Esube, I taught you anatomy. You know that what goes in (and doesn’t digest) will eventually come back out. It probably was gone some time ago.” The he knelt and I put my hands on his head and we prayed. He wanted me to take money from his salary to repay what he had stolen, and I was just going to take a portion of his month’s pay. But he said “No, take a whole month. I have stolen so many things.” He returned the instruments and meds he still had, and Esube went out a new man – a trustworthy, intelligent and skilled hospital worker.

    Some years later, I had a very reassuring sequel to the story. In 1982 I went home on furlough and then was transferred to Rwanda for my last 3 years in Africa, returning in 1985 to take some courses at Fuller Seminary – though instead, God diverted me to Seattle to marry Tony.

    After I were married, the Mission Board often used our home as a temporary stop-over for missionaries and other overseas personnel. One of them was a German lady doctor, Elizabeth, who had been at Nundu for a couple of years, coming to us from another assignment that she had finished in Africa. She came to the States to visit and get acquainted with the Free Methodist denomination here, in 1987 or 88. Elmore Clyde, head of our missions department, asked me to introduce her to all our facilities there in Washington: Seattle Pacific University, Warm Beach Camp, etc. She was with us for several days, and two long days were spent away from home at the University and at Warm beach camp, where I had many friends to do “show and tell” for her. On arriving home those two nights we found that Tony had a terrific meal all prepared and ready to serve up. During that time, Dr. Elizabeth was telling me about some of her experiences at Nundu. She talked about going out to out-lying areas to give various vaccines to children, for which the people paid a small sum. She said, “I like to take Esube with me on these trips, because he is so honest.” It was almost like joybells chiming in my heart and mind when I heard those words, because I remembered so clearly the day that Esube had become that “so honest” young man!

    God faithfully brings results of our spiritual labors, and from time to time we would get a glimpse of the work He used us to accomplish. When we leave a land, He does not. I saw so many examples of that in Africa; and to this day, the work continues, the hospital continues under dedicated African doctors. The church continues to grow, and God continues to be faithful. Even when missionaries leave, as is often true due to political upheaval, His holy work goes on, for He is a faithful God.


  3. I recall reading The Prayer of Jabez, which includes the request to “enlarge my territory.” That implies increase my fruitfulness. I prayed that prayer then, and I believe the Lord sent at least some answers, but am still praying for so many more people who need His touch. It’s always a good prayer, and God does answer it.

  4. Thank you for your encouragement, Hope. I’m nearly 81 yrs. old now so I remember those people who were in leadership during that time period long ago. I sometimes reflect and wonder how much good for the kingdom I’ve accomplished. Barb Reber from Lighthouse Ch. Camp, Barker, NY

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