Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Saddened and Distressed

I think these two adjectives best describe my experience this week (more about the saddening part in a minute).

July is usually a very busy month in our offices. A lot of things have to get done before the "Summer Hole" in August (at least this is what we would say in German). In particular, I have been quite busy with a rather complicated procedure, which has to be adopted before the end of this week. The thing is that I have a hard time working with one of my deputy heads of unit, who is the manager of this particular case. She has this Southern European temper, and she just yells at me (or at whoever else working under her) whenever she is stressed out. She is not a mean person at all, but she just can't control the volume of her voice. What especially bothers me is the fact that she apparently doesn't like people to be proactive. Today, I took an initiative that she disliked, and again, I got yelled at (although I had done nothing wrong in that sense). Now I better ask her before I do anything on my own, or she will be angry again. I really don't like being restricted in such a way, and of course it's very hard to deal with this kind of temper-outbursts in a Christian manner. I don't know if I have reacted as I should have, but I pray that the Lord will guide me in this matter.

So I'm definitely ready for vacation now - and thank God it's very close! A week from Monday, our annual "hoffnung weltweit" (hope worldwide) camp meeting will start. It promises to be a blessed experience again. This year, our speakers will be the Nebblett family, Frank Fournier from Eden Valley, and Alberto Treiyer, a theologian from North Carolina. I look forward to the seminars and to the whole experience, which is certainly one of the high points of the year.

However, this year our camp meeting is unfortunately overshadowed by a very sad event. It is not even 3 months ago when Thomas, one of our team members, was diagnosed with a malignant non-hodgkins lymphoma in his throat. Thomas used to be our treasurer and his wife Sonja the clerk of our ministry. In 2009, after their first child was born, they decided to resign from their offices, yet still remained involved in the ministry work (that's why I was asked to take over Sonja's office). When Thomas found out about his disease, he decided to go the non-conventional way and found a naturopathic doctor to help him treating this. He also got a lot of support from his father-in-law, who knows about natural healing methods, and who also gave him some fever treatments. When it became evident that the tumor wouldn't shrink properly, they decided to have surgery done. This took place at the end of June and it was successful. Things apparently started going better for him, although he was still weak. Ten days ago, Alberto and his wife Patricia from our team visited them and an anointing service was held in their home. We were all prayerful and very confident that the Lord would heal him. Last Saturday though, he had to be admitted to the hospital again. He was in very bad shape and the doctors didn't think that he would survive the night. On Sunday morning, Thomas passed away - only four days after the birth of their second child. Of course, this came like a shock to all of us. Nobody would have ever expected such a sudden demise. I feel so sorry for Sonja and the rest of the family. Of course it's also very hard on Thomas' parents. How do you comfort somebody who has to go through such an experience? I think there are no words that can take away this pain. I just pray that the peace of our Lord and Saviour may surround them in this difficult time. It shows me again that there is absolutely nothing here on earth we can take for granted. Things may happen in our lives that we may never fully understand, yet the Lord is still in control, and there is nothing that He doesn't allow for a reason.

Anyway, I spontaneously decided to travel to Germany on Thursday afternoon, in order to attend the funeral on Friday. It will take place about 5 hours up north from my home town, but since I have family (of my father's side) living very close, I decided to visit them over the weekend. It will be a 6 1/2 hours train ride from Brussels. Please join me in prayer for Thomas' family.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


Lately, it has been rather fast-paced for me at work. About two weeks ago, it was particularly stressful. Things went crazy in one of our cases, and the assistant in charge was out of office. So they had to draw on every resource possible, and one evening, I even got home only after 8 PM. Since the end of last week, the workload has become lighter again, but this is only the peace before the next storm. Now another one of my colleagues is on leave, and we will have to replace her with two huge tasks. Bottom line: I really look forward to my vacation in August!

I've been praying for the leadership of our church in Belgium. At the beginning of June, there were elections for the next 4-year term of the Conference officers. The Pastor of our English-speaking church, who is also the Conference President, didn't want to continue in his office, but they absolutely didn't manage to find a successor. Each eligible person declined. In the meantime, our Pastor also accepted a call to Quebec. So in principle, him and his family will leave Belgium in the fall. However, a replacement for him is still to be found, as well as somebody who could become the new pastor in our church. But who shall take over these tasks? I think our church in Belgium is facing a big challenge, and I've been praying that the Lord may establish a leadership according to His will. I'm sure He has a plan for this little country, nonetheless this appears to be a very difficult time.

I keep receiving not-so-good news from the US. While I was staying at Uchee Pines, we had a lovely elderly couple helping out for a while. Dr. Jackie worked as a physician and her husband Duane helped on the farm and with maintenance, until they decided to finally retire. I just learned that he died from cancer last week. I'm sorry for Dr. Jackie. I'm also very concerned about Dr. Strachan, the psychiatrist at Uchee Pines. Back in February, him and his wife Lou Ann were in an automobile accident on icy road conditions in Oregon. Lou Ann didn't get a scratch, but he was severely injured with complicated neck fractures, which left him paralized. The last thing I heard is that he is finally home in California, but is still in critical condition. He still needs a ventilator to help him breathe, and he is very weak. Nobody knows if he will ever fully recover from this injury. I've been praying a lot for him. He was such a blessing at Uchee Pines, and now it looks like he will never be able to do this work again. I really don't know why the Lord allowed this to happen. But He who does all things well, He knows.

I recently came across a very beautiful song. It's about how the Lord comes through to us in our trials. Click here if you would like to listen to it - it's definitely worth 5 minutes of your time!

We pray for blessings, we pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering

All the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things

Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops?
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near?

What if trials of this life
Are Your mercies in disguise?

We pray for wisdom, Your voice to hear
We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt Your goodness, we doubt Your love
As if every promise from Your Word is not enough

And all the while You hear each desperate plea
And long that we'd have faith to believe

Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears?
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near?

And what if trials of this life
Are Your mercies in disguise

When friends betray us, when darkness seems to win
We know the pain reminds this heart
That this is not, this is not our home
It's not our home

Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears?
And what if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near?

What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst
This world can’t satisfy?

And what if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are Your mercies in disguise?