October 2009

Ecclesiastes 11:1, “Cast thy bread upon the waters; for thou shalt find it after many days” is becoming more special to us as we come around the bend and head down the “final lap” of service for Christ. I say “final lap” optimistically realizing that we could be only one step away from the finish line. Whatever the case, in the meantime we enjoy immensely the surprises of the divine “thou shalt find it!”

Throwing good bread on swiftly-moving, erratic waters is hardly an endeavour to be understood, much less appreciated by most. Five dedicated missionaries in South America in 1956 literally threw their lives, like a loaf of bread, upon the jungle waters of Aucan heathenism. They didn’t live to “find it” but others in their steps did. Many an obedient  servant of God has left familiarity and security to “cast his bread” upon a people whom he did not know and perhaps a people who, to all appearances, did not even want him. It seems the height of folly to throw the most precious possession of all, one’s very life, upon uncertain, erratic waters that defy description or destination.

But when we realize that God personally undertakes to direct the surging, erratic waters, the exercise begins to make some sense. “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water: He turneth it (both the rivers and the king’s heart) whithersoever He will (Prov. 21:1).” Humanly, I could never explain how we ended up going to a people we had never seen and whose language was unknown to us.  Lebanon was only a word on the page in our experience. But somehow that word came to fascinate our thoughts and desires and God made it the uncertain “waters” upon which we could have the “irrational privilege” of casting our “bread.”  That decision took place 52 years ago!

Now about the “last lap” that I spoke of earlier, it has become our enjoyable pastime to see how God manages many pieces of bread which surely seemed to be lost in the surging, uncertain waters of our “irregular  circumstances.”  The “puzzle-game” has been even more exciting because of the different continents God has to navigate to direct these separate pieces of bread to a certain destination. I think God really enjoys showing us His great might and literally keeping us children on the “edge of our seats” waiting for the next scene!

Forty years ago we built a conference center in the mountains of Lebanon not far from the famous Cedars of Lebanon. We had a passionate dream that this camp would be a great blessing and opportunity for the ministry of New Testament churches in Lebanon. The camp ministry was greatly blessed but six years later civil war, as it seemed, swept away the dream and the “bread” was carried out of sight by the turbulent, churning waters of civil war. Almost twenty years later some pieces of the “dream” were sighted by Faith Baptist Church of North Lebanon and missionary friends who began restoration work of the camp facility that had been stripped and partially destroyed during the civil war. But God needed another twelve years to gather the “pieces of bread” and direct them into the port destination.

Lebanon Baptist Church, Faith Baptist Church of North Lebanon and Pastor Edgard Traboulsi undertook extensive work this year towards restoring the camp facility and opening it up for a fulltime summer ministry. They named it “The Good Shepherd” conference center. A total of ten camps were held during the summer season this year, representing several churches and groups. Now back to the “last lap” and enjoying the “thou shalt find it” promise. I cannot explain the depth of the passionate feelings which overwhelmed us at this occasion of the relaunch of the ministry vision for this beautiful camp site that boasts the most beautiful scenes of any camp site I’ve ever seen, scenes of the Cedars (Solomon took many of these), the high mountain peaks, the Mediterranean Sea and the plain of olive trees below!

This occasion was not only exuberant thanksgiving to God for His blessing. It was an absolute outbreak of awe at the divine mystery of God’s workings. How a water-logged piece of bread could be found upon the wide ocean of circumstances and divinely escorted into the port of God’s purpose is something that humbles and strikes awe into the soul of the believer who longs to see the dream happen but cannot see any evidence that it could happen!

Other odd pieces of bread have surfaced in the most unlikely places, and we look forward to more surprises as we move (slowly) down the “last lap” of the race! Keep your eyes open for some surprises-you don’t know when your pieces of bread thrown supportively into the water after ours will float to the surface in full view and surprise you! Meanwhile, we’ll be resting and rejoicing in the Hands of The Great Finder!

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