Mines, Prayer, Apple Seeds, Relationship…

Fernando is a 55 year old regional leader of churches in the eastern province of Angola called Moxico.  When we were recently in Luena, Moxico for two months, we traveled with him several times to the interior to visit remote villages to explore the possibility of our visits with the plane health ministry.  He is a beautiful, genuine Jesus-lover and it’s so cool to see someone in a leadership role of his character and passion for God and people.  He reminds me of Clenildo in Brazil.  Last week he was driving a car full of people to minister in some remote villages and he unknowingly drove over a land mine.  Four people in the car were killed and several others sustained life-threatening injuries.  Because they were in the interior, many hours from anywhere, they didn’t receive any help for more than a day and a half.  He was minimally injured and is trying to recover emotionally, and help the others and their families recover, from the whole event.  If you think of it, please mention him to our Father and ask Him to comfort Fernando and lead him in wisdom.

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This happened in a remote area exactly like where the people live that we wish to serve.  The area around Shangalala, for example, is known to be mined, how extensively no one knows.  After this event with Fernando and our recent, unsettling plane trip from Mukuando, the risks associated with working in the interior of post-war Angola have become more clear.  It is estimated that it will take over 100 years to de-mine the entire country and we will continue to fly in the small planes and drive many hours to access the most remote peoples.   We humbly seek our Father’s wisdom and His Spirit’s leading to continue to travel and spend ourselves without being fearful and/or overly cautious.

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We recently had our SIM day of prayer together.  The SIM missionaries (about 20-25 adults) meet together on a Saturday every six weeks for a day of prayer.  We  pray together through the morning and then have lunch and leisurely fellowship together for a couple hours.  In Angola, SIM has missionaries from the US, Canada, Germany and Brazil, and we pray in several languages.  Every missionary voices current needs and praise reports and we divide into groups of 3-4 and each group prays for each SIM missionary in Angola and each ministry work and location in Angola.  There were tears and laughter and much conversation during a sober 4-5 hours of prayer.  Jesus was so clearly among us and the humble hearts of those present encouraged me greatly.

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How often do we, as Jesus-followers, gather only for the purpose of sitting at our Father’s feet in conversation?  We value prayer and yet struggle to pray individually, and we rarely pray together.  As christians, we claim to believe many things that our lives simply don’t support.  Saying we believe is easy and sometimes false (I’ve been there!).  We claim that God is worthy of our worship, yet how often do we worship Him when no one else sees?  We say that we value love, yet cannot abide with (let alone work alongside) brothers with whom we disagree.  We say that we trust only Jesus to provide and then work ourselves to the bone to gain financial security.  We claim to believe all of God’s word, yet devote ourselves to certain doctrines and rationalize away others (two masters, forsake this life, “go”, “I was naked and hungry”, love your enemy, desire spiritual gifts, be thankful always, pray without ceasing, etc).  We claim that God is all we need, yet our bathroom scales indicate that, in fact, we are addicted to food and other “appetites”.  We say that we care about those in need, yet with a world full of the hungry, thirsty and naked, we watch TV.  We say that we value God over money, yet can’t give away even 10% of “our” income to His work around the world.   O Lord, break us, strip us (me) and humble us so that we are completely genuine and never claim to believe anything that our lives don’t support.  We want to glorify You and stop seeking to satisfy and glorify ourselves.  Please make us genuine, Father, inside and out, and eliminate anything false or fake in us…

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I had such a humbling experience recently at Mukuando, the isolated and very poor people group living in the dormant volcano.  We hiked about two miles from our plane to the village, then about two miles up a pretty steep mountain to a water source, back to the village and, after a couple hours of clinic, hiked back to the plane.  The whole time I walked behind Baya, a 25 year old man who was born with one healthy leg.  He had a home-made crutch (made from a tree branch) under his arm on the side of his withered, unused leg and I couldn’t keep up with him as he literally bounded up the rocky mountainside.  He insisted that he carry my heavy medical bag while I carried nothing.  He talked the whole time and was an absolute pleasure, so courteous and humble.  At one point while we walked, I had a vision of him bounding up a mountainside with two healthy legs and an ear-to-ear grin.  I hope to see him one day with “hind’s feet”.  We are here because of people like Baya.

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But my heart-stopping experience with Baya was when we stopped at the top of the mountain to eat lunch.  We sat on some rocks with a beautiful view and I ate an orange, an apple, and some snacks.  As I ate, I tossed my apple core on the ground in front of me.  As soon as it hit the ground, Baya began walking toward us.  He bent over his crutch and picked up the core, separated out the 5-6 seeds and wrapped them in his skirt.  He said the seeds would be planted that day, while it is still raining now and then.  The men in this tribe wear loose skirts and no shirts.

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At about 1:00a last night, I was called in to see a flailing, agitated, unresponsive, 3 year old who has cerebral malaria.  When I saw him again at 6:00a, he hadn’t slept all night and the beautiful mom was still rocking the boy, having done so all night.  This morning, I gave a man a ride 30 minutes to town and on the way back saw a family walking along the road and asked where they were heading.  They said they were going to the hospital at Shangalala to bring their sick, 4 year old little boy to see the doctor.  I introduced myself, gave them a ride, and will see them in clinic this morning.  They were about a six mile walk from the hospital when I picked them up at 6:30a and they’d already been walking “for a while”.

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Please know that these posts are chronicles of some of our experiences and my processing of these experiences.  They are written as much to me as they are to you.  Some of my recent statements may be misinterpreted as expressing a lack of love and appreciation for God’s most precious communication to man.  I love God’s word and am so grateful to be able to drink daily from His rich, deep well.  My point is one of emphasis.  What we emphasize in our lives is a pretty good indication of where our hearts and passions lie.  Is our passion and priority knowing God, or knowing about God?  Jesus indicated that love of God will always cause love of His word, but we can love His word and have no relationship with Him (the pharisees, for example).  We must remember that we are quite capable of idolizing good things at the expense of our relationship with our Father.  Jesus said that many will tell Him all the good things that they did/emphasized in their lives and He will accept or reject them based on His relationship with them (“I never knew you”), rather than on what they did, what they knew, how they lived, etc.

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The spiritual disciplines are beautiful, God-given tools to help us walk more closely with Jesus.  They can, however, become idols as we can try to receive life from them rather than from Life Himself.  Jesus said, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”  This applies to intake of God’s word, worship, prayer, evangelism, serving, learning, solitude, fellowship, fasting, etc.  These spiritual disciplines are gifts to man, to draw us closer to Him in relationship.   None of these is to be our primary focus.  They are means to the end of walking out our lives in union with Jesus (His passion and prayer for relationship with us is recorded in Jn 17).  God’s beautiful, rich word to us is a God-given means to know about Him and His Kingdom and to learn to walk with Him more closely, more surrendered, more humbly.

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God’s word is not Life but it points to Life (“You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me!  Yet you refuse to come to me to receive this life.” ).  Learning and knowing His word can enhance our relationship with Him but our union with Him is Life.  After He rose, did Jesus say He must go away so that we could study and know His words, principles, stories and do’s and don’t’s (the law)?  Or was it so that we could personally know Him and be known, for eternity?  We must remember that our unseen God is alive and interactive and is not promises, commandments, principles, and stories.  WWJD, imitation and living by rules and principles are cheap imitations of walking with the living, interactive Spirit of God.  Our joy is walking with and following after our living Lord.

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If the enemy can keep us studying and focused on our own spiritual growth, we become beautiful, shiny tools in the carpenter’s shed.  If we focus on loving our Father and those around us (their lives having more value than ours), we become scuffed, dented, and bent tools in His belt and in His hands, used by the carpenter in His pursuit and molding of those He loves.  The cost is great.  To love and to be used is so painful to self.  To follow rules and gain knowledge will help you feel good about yourself.  To love (nothing to do with emotions or feelings) Jesus and people will daily cost you your life and everything you hold dear.

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Our house in Shangalala is simple, but now functional.  It’s hot here (90-100+ days and 80+ nights) and we’ve had so little rain.  Would you please ask God to send rain to this region, for our drinking water and for the people’s crops?  They plant little and desperately need a small harvest and some green grass for their few cattle.

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The language is a challenge as less than half of the folks at the hospital speak Portuguese so I am constantly speaking with the help of a couple translators.  I will soon begin to daily study Cuanyama and try to tackle what we’ve heard is a pretty complicated language.  Learn another language when we may only be here a year?  Yet any Kingdom conversation is so much better in their “heart” language.  To love isolated people just isn’t easy, natural, or “fun”.   I don’t think I could continue without my sober conversations with our Father on my early walks, where, sometimes with great effort, I renew my vision and desire to love these rural folks, to stay the course, to consider their lives as more important than how I feel, their relationship with my Father a greater priority than mine, and their health of more significance than my enjoyment of life.

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Jesus was clear in His call for us to love Him and others and that there is always cost and risk for the one who loves, but others benefit!  Our sacrifices and yours are so worth it if only a few might realize the joy of knowing Him who so passionately loves them.  To be participants in our Father loving and drawing men to Himself is such a privilege, though we will become bruised, dented and bent.  Despite the cost and risk, we must be about our Father’s business of loving, serving, and introducing people to the Way, the Truth and the Life.  Thank you for helping us…

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Let’s renew our vision today to together run hard after Jesus, with disregard for our time and leisure, passionately and energetically using every tool He has provided (His word, worship, prayer, our brothers…), to love Him and our brothers more…

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For those who have inquired about sending simple toys, thank you!  So many little kids will be blessed.  Simple is best, for example frisbees, matchbox cars, balloons, balls, etc.   Please unwrap all so they don’t appear new and send to:

Tim Kubacki
IELA 
CP 222
Lubango, Angola
Africa

2 comments

  1. Oh Tim, how could your testimonies be misconstrued as anything but love for these people. I have read and re-read your postings and I see nothing but genuine love from our Father. I find myself almost envious of your mission. You bring to life the real struggles of people we never would give a thought to. A passing thought maybe, but you have made them real to me and I thank you for that. I hungrily await news from Africa with your every post.
    Thank you for your love of God and His people. Linda Walker

  2. O dear Lord, I pray for Fernando. I am so sorry for that. I am praying for rain. I am praying for your mission there and all of you; praying that someday somehow God might open up opportunity to come visit. Love, Tracy

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