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Changing tracks … Practical considerations

On one of my furloughs I briefly thought to change my ministry and become an Evangelist. I was well received in churches and so was my message – I had only one sermon and so that part was easy. God in his mercy convinced me that I am in the right place, the place where he wants me to be. Remembering my kids removed the last shred of this madness.

We reach a certain age and we want to change tracks. It is a common phenomenon.  Visiting a pastor coming to the end of his ministry as pastor, he said, “I want to become a missionary; I want to go to the mission field.”

I am the last person to discourage anybody, young or old, to do what they would like to do, but before considering this new quest should we not consider our motives? Should we not ask ourselves why we would want such a thing? As I said, I have been there myself and asked myself these questions.

Admittedly “mission field” and “missionary” have a romantic ring to it. However,

“Romance is blind;

Working on a mission field is an eye-opener.”

What do people think the mission field is like? What do they think the task of a missionary is? How did he think he would communicate with people whose language, customs and culture he did not know? Learning a new language is difficult for most people but once you are 60 it becomes even more difficult.

What happens after the excitement, the romance dies? Will love for the people he finds himself amongst, carry him through? When boredom creeps in, as it is sure to do, will he quit? Don’t be deceived by exciting reports from missionaries, yours truly included; unreported go a lot of difficulties, tension, fears, problems; to report those  will not do as some saints, considering your place a 21st century Shangri la, might stop their support.

If married, does he think about his wife?  What about her who worked alongside him or even in a secular job to make ends meet and keep food on the table and petrol in the car’s tank and the telephone working and now looks forward to a time of peace and enjoying some of the things she could not afford as a pastor’s wife. Will he now drag her out of the world she knows into a new world where, most likely she will have a very difficult time to make new friends?

Staying with other missionaries for a prolonged time has its own problems. Some of my old missionary friends dreaded visitors who would visit for longer periods of time as they had to be on their best behavior – for a whole month or two. As the saying goes, “Fish and guests begin to smell after three days”. These days with limited facilities and resources makes it even more difficult.

Our home, although in India, is not really India; it is an oasis for kids, a kindergarten – a garden for children – where they grow till they are strong enough to face the outside world.  Even I live a comparatively sheltered life now. As far as preaching the Gospel outside the compound is concerned “I myself am incarcerated” but – as Paul says in Philippians, “the Word of God is not bound!”. In India and no doubt many other places it is proclaimed by those who can move freely among their own people – though some, in some parts of the country, places where you and I cannot go – at a great price.

Furthermore, in my part of the world, South-East Asia, visas are increasingly more difficult to obtain and if then for 6 months; will he be willing to come, set up his ministry, go back for several  months and return for six months – an endless cycle – Indian Government permitting … Then, what kind of ministry would he envision? How would he support it? I have seen people coming and starting a ministry supporting two or three pastors. Then they drop out of the picture and expect the pastors to continue their ministry. With what?

Still, if your heart tells you and you are convinced this is what God wants you to do – Go! But remember the words of Jesus in Luke 14:28-30

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Nobody to nurture …

Some years ago it was fashionable in India to have tree planting programs during a particular time of the year; schools and organizations vied with each other as to the number of trees planted. One gentleman, the director of several schools, claimed to have planted thousands of trees; other groups offered numbers in the hundreds. Prem Sewa not wanting to be left out invited this director and we too had a tree planting program. It was a great affair with the necessary speeches as to the values of tree plantation etc. It was followed by planting a row of tree which Prem Sewa provided having purchased them at bargain prices from the Government. The kids had a lot of fun and of course planting trees is good and beneficial.

I watched the circus and could not help but observe that no sooner a tree planter had planted a tree that he turned his back to it to plant the next tree and the next tree. I love trees; at Prem Sewa we planted many trees – without the circus and – those trees are still here for anybody and everybody to see. The hundred trees planted during that program one by one succumbed to the disease called neglect. We simply could not manage the daily care they needed. The thousands of trees planted across the city and no doubt across the nation suffered the same fate for not many are in evidence. The problem is there is not a second group of people – the nurturers. The Government simply did not have the manpower to look after all these trees and those who planted them are too busy – planting more trees…

What applies to tree planting applies to church planting. The number of churches planted is commendable. But what is lacking is nurturing these churches. To my knowledge there is no group of “church-plant nurturers” who make it their job to see that these churches grow – not just numerically but spiritually and in the knowledge of the Word of God.

The tragedy is that once the man who initiated these church-plants moves on the greener pastures – the churches die or they get embroiled in turf wars and split in a hundred different directions.

Furthermore the often massive expansion – take it with a pinch of salt – out of necessity spreads money received over an even larger area rather thin. Most pastors of these new church-plants receive wages that would make a dog refuse to bark, leave alone a man to preach or teach. The old adage formerly applied to pastors in Canada or the US, applies here, “Lord you keep him humble and we keep him poor.”

Organizations from the West pour in tons of useless literature, which now rots in storerooms or corners of already overcrowded homes.

The material to be used by young or even older pastors must be attractive simple and very brief. They won’t read a book. A detailed Bible outline with some introductory material to each book would be ideal. I prepared outlines for all the books of the Bible which came to 101 double-sided pages. (sample attached) To survive the rigors of village living I laminated each page which makes it expensive for an individual. I am sure publishing houses could come up with a process which is just as durable and cheaper. Translation of the material in different languages should prove no problem. Then even in the absence of nurturers and or church planters these churches can survive spiritually on their own; not only survive but thrive.

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The Altar to an Unknown God

“For while I was passing through and examining the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, ‘TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.’ Therefore what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you.” (Saint Paul in the book of Acts speaking to the men of Athens.)

I am afraid most Christians are still worshiping at the Altar of the Unknown God and are ipse facto idol worshipers. The God they claim to serve and worship is not the God of the Bible. They actually have no clue as to who he is and are not willing to spend the effort to find out. They suffer from an overdose of indifference.

I would suggest a careful reading and meditating on the Athanasian Creed. It certainly will bring you face to face with the Triune God whom we are supposed to serve and worship; the awesome, majestic God hidden behind a veil of mystery which we cannot penetrate; we can only stand adore and serve.

One of our staff phoned me the other day and said, “We are in a park near by the grotto of Mother Mary and felt like praying for you.” I felt like screaming; surrounded by the glorious handiwork of God: trees and shrubs and flowers and birds and squirrels – and he needed a statue, never mind how beautiful, to inspire him to pray.

God in Psalm 46 encourages us, “Be still – cease from striving – and know that I am God.” What will make us still and cease from striving? To meditate on a piece of stone, or wood, or metal, or clay – things that have eyes and cannot see; ears and cannot hear; feet and cannot walk?  Should we not meditate on his power and wisdom and splendor as displayed by nature? Should we not meditate on the attributes of God which like precious stones are scattered throughout the Bible or listen to the hymn writers of old as they extol them:

To know who our God is, the God who demands our allegiance and has the power to still our heart; we should meditate on the attributes of God like …

Immortal, invisible, God only wise,
In light inaccessible hid from our eyes,
Most blessèd, most glorious, the Ancient of Days,
Almighty, victorious, Thy great Name we praise.

Unresting, unhasting, and silent as light,
Nor wanting, nor wasting, Thou rulest in might;
Thy justice, like mountains, high soaring above
Thy clouds, which are fountains of goodness and love.

To all, life Thou givest, to both great and small;
In all life Thou livest, the true life of all;
We blossom and flourish as leaves on the tree,
And wither and perish—but naught changeth Thee.

Great Father of glory, pure Father of light,
Thine angels adore Thee, all veiling their sight;
But of all Thy rich graces this grace, Lord, impart
Take the veil from our faces, the vile from our heart.

All laud we would render; O help us to see
’Tis only the splendor of light hideth Thee,
And so let Thy glory, Almighty, impart,
Through Christ in His story, Thy Christ to the heart.

To shake us out of our indifference it might do us good to heed the warning attached to the Athanasian Creed:

“Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the catholic (universal not Roman Catholic) faith; which faith, except every one do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly.”

 

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Are all religions the same?

I tend to agree with C. S. Lewis who wrote that he feels he has more in common with a person of another religion who truly believes and is truly devoted than with a nominal Christian. A nominal Christian after all is not a Christian.

Nevertheless to claim that all religions are the same simply cannot hold true. It is just not possible. Just look at what different religions teach about God, eternity, sin, salvation, afterlife, heaven, hell, creation and those are but a few. The Lord Jesus Christ says, “I am the way, the truth and the life; nobody comes to the Father except through me.” That nobody includes Mary, Joseph, Peter, Paul and everybody within and outside Christianity. Saint Paul makes the same claim about Christ: “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” You may reject this, and no doubt many do, but for a Christian this is nonnegotiable.

The above two statements brings Christianity in direct confrontation with others religions which stake the same claim i.e. that their way leads men and women to God.

Who is right? We must make choices: “We can all be wrong but we cannot all be right.” Furthermore, “He who believes everything believes nothing.” Some boast about being broadminded when all they are is being ill-informed. As somebody pointed out, “It is not that people don’t know anything it is just that they know a lot which is not true.” And that all religions are the same is just not true; just not tenable.

While I too probably know a lot of things that are just not true; and know these things without harm being done to me; this does not hold true when it comes to the eternal

The old Bible College from whence my quest began…

destiny of my soul. I dare not be wrong! Are the claims of the Lord Jesus Christ and his followers really true? Saint John, another disciple says this of the Lord Jesus Christ, “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched–this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.”

“Truth can be investigated”! And from the beginning of my life as a Christian this is what I set out to do; through deeds great or small to prove that the claims and promises of the Bible are true.  I had no interest in a godless religion, where prayers prayed in meaningless rituals promised no answers. I wanted a God to whom I could relate. I wanted to walk and talk with Him. He would listen to my prayers and answer me in one form or another. I wanted more than just a God who let it rain on the just and on the unjust. I longed for a God who was personal and showed me in a multitude of ways, large or small, that he loved me. I wanted nothing less than to know that God was both real and personal. The irony is that the quest was impossible without the help of God Himself. God needed to do something for me before I could do something for Him.

Frank

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Saint or Aint?

“The letters to the Saints and Aints” defines my worldview: You are either a Saint belonging to the Lord Jesus Christ or you are an Aint which means not belonging to Him; the fence belongs to the devil. Saint is a Christian term meaning belonging to God. to the Lord Jesus Christ and does not denote somebody especially good – though he ought to be. Don’t be upset with me; I did not place you in either category – you chose it. Furthermore my worldview is mine and you can hold whatever worldview you chose.

I disagree with Mahatma Gandhi who is quoted as saying, “I am first an Indian and then a Hindu.” No doubt in him the two fused and he cannot be understood apart from this fusion. I consider myself first a Christian and my faith and the tenets of that faith will influence the citizenship I hold be it German, Canadian or Indian. As with the Mahatma I cannot be understood apart from my belief.

Furthermore we cannot grow above that which we worship. The Romans worshiped Mars, the god of war and Bacchus the god of wine and partying. No doubt he was one of Rome’s most favorite gods. As a result the Roman society was created in the image of its beliefs; of its gods.

I am not saying that all the “Saints” are good and all the “Aints” are bad: far it from me. That some of the “Saints” are bad just shows that God can get along better with some people than you or I can. If you want prove of that live in a Christian colony or in a compound with other missionaries; I frequently exclaim, “Oh what a day it will be when we meet with the Saints there in glory; but to live here below with the ones we know – that is another story.”

To further illustrate my point; some of the kids of our neighbors were definitely better than my father’s kids – of which I am one; the point is they were not my father’s kids and so were excluded from sharing the joys and sorrows of the family Juelich which included sharing in a meal of potato peels after WW II – we had the potatoes the day before.

Follow my post – I am actually a nice guy

Frank

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My Literary Efforts

To continue from my last blog which actually is my first blog … I want to introduce my books.

My autobiography, “Fearfully and Wonderfully Mad – the life of a living Epistle with a few pages missing” and The “Letters to the Saints and Aints” an Anthology consisting of more than a 100 letters written over the past 40 years.

The e-book format of the autobiography was published in April by Amazon.com; the paperback copy came out in May 2012. It was also published by Amazon.com

The “Letters to the Saints and Aints” also became available on Amazon.com in May 2012. It is a companion book to the autobiography filling in some gaps left in the autobiography. The layout is attractive and makes reading fun.

I had been working on the autobiography since 2007; I finally completed it in June 2011 when circumstances brought me to Bangkok Thailand for one month rest, and finding myself totally alone, that I finally completed the manuscript encouraged by my editor, Sue Carlisle and my friend Dr. Roger Stronstad.

The “Letters to the Saints and Aints” was except for the layout easy as I did not edit them but left them the way I wrote them over the years. After all you don’t edit your grandmother’s letters to make them more appealing and readable. The layout is attractive to ensure reading pleasure.

The autobiography received raving reviews. (To blow your own horn is my hygienic). Below are two worth reading.

“The narrative almost reads like a novel with literary flavor and humor. If literature is a reflection of life in language that is beautiful, here is one such piece. The only difference is when most literature is imaginary this is real. It is not just interesting but very inspiring.”

George Arackal, Retired Professor, St. Francis DeSales College, Nagpur, India

“If laughter is proverbially like good medicine, these memoirs are an antidote to any false perceptions that to follow God is boring and humorless.  Much less is it the easy choice.  Frank Juelich’s epic journey into India and into the lives of hundreds of children is one that chronicles the hardships, the obedience, the possibilities and ultimately the profound satisfaction that what the Spirit of God inspires in the heart of a man, God is abundantly able to complete.  And when the pen rests, God too smiles!”

Kelvin Honsinger, Director of International Programs – ERDO

So, pick up a copy from either Amazon.com or from Errol and Myrna DeSouza erroldesouza@gmail.com,

Phone: 1 604-859-8083

You will enjoy the read.

Frank

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Introductory Post

Nagpur, Central India – it is hot; 45° Celsius – with the promise of hot weather ahead. Writing my first blog – ever – under these conditions is a daunting enterprise. But being German by birth (Canadian by nationality) presupposes me to stubbornness; at one time I was called a square-head which stipulated four aspirins for a headache – one for each corner … Of course, like many Germans abroad I also have been called a Kraut; never having been a hippy I escaped being called a flowerkraut. Though I am away from Germany since May 1958 I still have this wonderful German accent which, by the way, only is a German accent in Canada – in Germany everybody speaks that way. While attending Bible College in British Columbia, Canada, my English teacher groaned, “He even writes with a German accent.” Why burden you with all this? Well one lady who gave a review about my autobiography, wrote: “Your grammar is different.” So, when you come across some of that different grammar and exotic spellings you know why.

My blog is sort of a kitchen sink affair where I share my experiences, gripes, opinion and advertise my two books; my autobiography and an Anthology of some 100+ letters writte over the past 40 years while in India.

Follow my blog; it will not be boring

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