ISAIAH 61:1-4

ISAIAH 61:1-4

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me and has anointed me to
Preach the good news to the poor. .
Bind up the brokenhearted,
Proclaim freedom for the captives,
Proclaim release from darkness for the prisoners,
Comfort all who mourn
Provide for those who grieve in Zion to bestow on them
The oil of gladness for mourning
And a garment of praise for a spirit of heaviness

Sunday, March 12, 2006

At left: Pastor Yvon, his wife and children. At right Pastor Bertrand and wife. They have eight children. Pictures were taken in July, 2003.


I've spent the last two and a half weeks mourning the loss of my friend. But this weekend God put things into perspective for me. We received the following letter from a friend we have visited twice in Haiti, in April 2003 and again in July that year. On the April visit, my husband and I along with a friend ministered at a ministers' conference in Mirebelais. In July I returned with a team to work at an orphanage, painting, cleaning, repairing beds and bringing clothing and toiletries for 13 young girls in a city near Port Au Prince.

Not long after our visit, Haiti's political climate became violent and dangerous for foreigners. We were not able to return the next summer as planned. From time to time we have received emails from Bishop Bertrand indicating that things have continued to deteriorate.

Yesterday this email arrived from him:

Dear Pastor Bob.

"Know therefore that the Lord thy God, He is God, the faithful God, which keepeth convenant and mercy with them that love him and keep His commandments, to a thousand generation Deut.7:9"

"The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer: my God, my strength, in whom I will trust: my buckler,and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.Psalms 18:2"

God is worthy to be praised

Greetings to you in the name of the Lord Jesus! I pray this letter will reach you, your family and your ministry well.

It's been a year since security has been very unstable in the city of Port-au-Prince in the other city nearby where they have been kidnapping people and asked a lot of money in USD to release who ever they catch. Unfortunately, a lot of pastors and foreigners missionaries have been victims so far. I have tried my best not to be a victim. As result I have not invited any missionary to come to Haiti since I was being cautious of not going to those Surburbs around Port-au-Prince. Although I have been very cautious, but that did not prevent me from being a victim as well.

On Sunday night of February 18th after the presidential election, there was a gang from another village came in my church as we gathered to pray at our Sunday night service. They came asked for me and for my assistant, pastor Yvon. They came to kill us, but our God was there and He did not allow them to do that. God by His power has protected us by His mighty hands. We were at the church building at that time, my family was there as well, and they could not see us.

As a result they started to shoot at the people during the service. They killed our deacon, and shot our worship pastor twice on his back. In addition, another young man received one bullet on his leg. My assistant pastor and his family are safe. The other leaders and I are in hiding three hour drive away from my village with our family. Our church was closed since then, and some of the brothers decided to reopen last Sunday. I am now in the mountain area where I currently take refuge. I have no access to the internet. I have to go to the nearest town to find a cyber cafe in order to communicate with the exterior. The National Police of Haiti started to make some investigation on that.

Please continue to pray for us because we are still being persecuted. The reason is because the people of our chuch did not vote for the elected president. A voodoo priest and his followers in our village have paid a gang from another village to kill the leaders of our congregation.

I would like to request more prayers from your congregation and yourself for the following:

1) Pray, so God can restore peace in my mind soon.

2) Pray for my proctection with my family as well as the other leaders and their families.

3) Pray for pastor Vladimir Joseph. He is suffering a lot with two bullets in his back. They can not operate on him yet until a month. I will need some financial support for him. Or if someone or an organization that can help to take him to the U.S for the operation that will be wonderful, because I think Haiti may not be able to perform the perfect care that he might require.

4) Pray as well for the deacon's wife who is now a widow. She's only 30 years old with five children. if anyone could help her with some basic monthly support that will be appreciate.

5) Pray for me since I have no place to stay and my children are spread all over now. I need some financial help so I can rent a house somewhere else because I do not plan to go back to that same village. Even though I will not go back but I still have in mind to continue my ministry there.

"Finally, brethren, pray for us that the word of the Lord may spread rapidly and be glorified, just as it did also with you; and that we may be delivered from perverse and evil men; for not all have faith. 2 Thess. 3:1-2'

In His name ,

L. Bertrand.

Please join me in prayer for this pastor, these people and the rest of Haiti. I'm sure this is not an isolated story.

Does put a different light on things, doesn't it? "God, thank you for reminding me that you have blessed me, indeed."


See also:

Wednesday, March 8, 2006

Deep Water

We stood on this hill in Managua last summer and looked down at a lake. It was very difficult to see from where we were, but there was a thin cable that circled the lake. Hanging from the platform beneath us was a contraption of sorts -- like the kind of harness used to climb mountains -- attached to a pulley that then would roll along that cable. A passenger could be suspended from the cable and for a breathtaking half hour or so receive the scenic ride of a lifetime. A young man tried for several minutes to get one of us to try the ride. There were no takers.

For me, the water was simply too deep, the fall too great, the cable too thin and the harness too flimsy to provide me with enough security to prevent a heart attack from the sheer sense of danger.

Deep water is not something that I approach with joy. Sometimes, however, God takes us on an unexpected journey through deep water. On shore once more, there's opportunity to rejoice in the fact that no one loves us like He does.

Deep Waters
Some of you set sail in big ships;
you put to sea to do business in faraway ports.
Out at sea you saw God in action,
saw his breathtaking ways with the ocean:
With a word he called up the wind -
an ocean storm, towering waves!

You shot high in the sky,
then the bottom dropped out;
your hearts were stuck in your throats.
You were spun like a top,
you reeled like a drunk,
you didn't know which end was up.

Then you called out to God in your desperate condition;
he got you out in the nick of time.
He quieted the wind down to a whisper,
put a muzzle on all the big waves.
And you were so glad when the storm died down,
and he led you safely back to harbor.

So thank God for his marvelous love,
for his miracle mercy to the children he loves.
Lift high your praises when the people assemble,
shout Hallelujah when the elders meet!
Psalm 107:23-32 The Message

Monday, March 6, 2006

This Entry ends the saga of the liver transplant...the reason for which I began this blog.

THOUGHTS: I've received so many comforting and inspiring notes from a myriad of people, it is impossible to acknowledge them all. I will be using them in the album I'll be creating. It isn't quite the album that I anticipated, but it's a story to be told, none-the-less. I'd also like to share a couple of them that struck a particular chord with me.

A friend was explaining her loss a few years ago and her response to the inevitable "Why". When anyone would mention the "why" to her, her response was, "I don't know. That's a management question and I'm in sales."

Then from another friend, "All I could think of was, "What was the use then of the surgery? It all seemed such a waste, but in a flash this paragraph read long ago in These Strange Ashes (by Elisabeth Elliot) comes to mind -- and there was comfort, then, in resting in his far greater purposes.

From These Strange Ashes "...Faith, prayer, and obedience are our requirements. We are not offered in exchange immunity and exemption from the world's woes. What we are offered has to do with another world altogether...

"A story is told of Jesus and his disciples walking one day along a stony road. Jesus asked each of them to choose a stone to carry for Him. John, it is said, chose a large one while Peter chose the smallest. Jesus led them then to the top of a mountain and commanded that the stones be made bread. Each disciple, by this time tired and hungry, was allowed to eat the bread he held in his hand, but of course Peter's was not sufficient to satisfy his hunger. John gave him some of his.

"Some time later Jesus again asked the disciples to pick up a stone to carry. This time Peter chose the largest of all. taking them to a river, Jesus told them to cast the stones into the water. They did so, but looked at one another in bewilderment.

"'For whom,' asked Jesus, 'did you carry the stone?'"

from These Strange Ashes by Elisabeth Elliot

Thursday, March 2, 2006

At the memorial service, I was asked to share amusing moments from Victor's life. The following is a written version of that address.

Those of us who knew and loved Victor, know that he had two speeds: Fast and Stop. He was either all there or not there at all. For example, Marta shares that when she got a positive read on a home pregnancy test; Victor was asleep. She tried waking him; he resisted. In response to her announcement, he grunted. Finally, she got his attention. He jumped out of bed, jumped up and down, danced around the room solo. Then he grabbed Marta and for the next 10 minutes they jumped and danced around the room together.

He was very quick at learning English and wasn't afraid to use his newfound knowledge of language. Victor told the story of visiting an elegant restaurant in Miami during his first week in the U.S. He was with an American couple. They were waiting for the maitre'd to find seating, so he took the time to look around. On the wall he saw a word that he recognized, "Pull". he said to himself, "I know what that means. Pull means halar." So he pulled on the handle above the sign.

Immediately there was a loud commotion. Restaurant employees were running frantically, obviously searching for something. Victor tapped his friend on the shoulder and whispered, "I think I did something wrong. I pulled that handle over there. "

"Why would you do that?" puzzled his friend.

"It said pull," replied Victor. "I knew that meant halar. So I pulled."

It was a fire alarm. Apologies were made and accepted. No arrest; no cops.

Victor was fortunate that way. It was probably his charming smile. On a singles outing several years later, he was pulled over for speeding. While the cop was examining his license, several black-and-whites went by, sirens blazing. The police radio summoned this cop to the scene too. Victor was simply told to slow down.

He loved staying up late. Sometimes they'd watch horror movies at Rodney's mom's house until the wee hours. Or they'd drive to Chicago on a whim at 1:00 a.m. to try an ethnic restaurant.

Victor was also patient. Marta says that on their first date, he waited three hours for her to get ready. They first met September 27 when she was 15 and he was 26. Sixteen years later they were married.

Marta reports that his patience was called on after marriage because she couldn't cook. For several months she says that he was here guinea pig while she practiced cooking. She also ruined his favorite shirt with bleach.

Speaking of housework, Victor joined our household in Elgin in 1982. He was appalled when I showed him how to use the washer and dryer. He said he didn't think he could learn to use them. Our household was full; I was working fulltime, going to school, and we were pastoring the church. So I told him he could wash his clothes by hand in the bathtub if he preferred that to the machines. He learned to do his laundry in the machines!

But he didn't enjoy housework and avoided it whenever possible. A few years he joined a friend who had purchased a house. The deal was that Rodney would cook; Victor would wash dishes. But Victor wouldn't fulfill his part of the bargain. Finally Rodney just wouldn't wash the dishes. They piled up for a week before Victor decided to do them. After that he washed dishes regularly!

I also showed him how to cook: He never got past a hamburger and rice. Except that he discovered he could pan fry a steak just like a hamburger. After that I had to change my habit of buying steaks on sale and freezing them for an appropriate moment or Victor would eat them.

Victor loved meat. One summer I was on a salad kick. We had chef salad, cobb salad, taco salad, spinach and beef salad, etc. Then one night I cooked a pot roast. Victor whispered in an aside to Rob, "Finally, a real meal."

One year, we took the Youth Group on a trip to Mexico. Victor was one of the adult sponsors, but at that time he still had a Peruvian passport. We discovered at gate that he needed a visa from the Mexican Counsulate in order to board the plane. So Vic stayed in Chicago an extra day to get his visa. We arranged to meet him in Guadalajara.

However, he didn't make it for 36 hours and by that time we were on a very bad bus ride to a Rancho somewhere in the mountains between Guadalajara and Mexico City. We returned four days later to Guadalajara. Victor had been at the hotel where I had made arrangements for him to stay. But since he had spent most of his pocket money obtaining a Mexican visa, he was able to buy only rice and beans for the three days in Guadalajara. When we were all together again and sat down in a restaurant to eat, I asked the group what they would like to eat. Victor's reply became a cliche' at JCC: "I wanth meath."

Victor was an exemplary Couch Potato: King of the remote control and a master at Channel Surfing. It was an Olympic Sport with him. He could watch more programs at one time than anyone I've ever known. It occasionally got him into trouble. One cold winter morning he started the car to go to work and came back in the house for his two minutes of Channel Surfing. When he stepped back out to the curb, the car was gone, stolen! It was found perfectly intact in Chicago a week later. Someone had just taken it for a joy ride.

He was also competitive. He had been a young phenomenon in Peru, playing professional soccer while still a teenager. That drive to do his best followed him his entire life. He taught Rob and Brad to play soccer, showing them tricks, scrimimmaging with them. Rob says that he rarely let them make a goal and never would let them win a game against him. They were four and five.

That drive served him well in other areas of his life. He served God with all his heart; he preached fervently; he sang passionately. He loved family and friends wholeheartedly, and he was completely devoted to his wife and son.

Victor, we miss you. We miss your quick wit, your sense of humor, your joyous smile, your quiet spirit, your loyalty. We'll always have with us the intensity of your love for family and friends. Our lives are richer for having known you.