Monday, October 16, 2017

A River Flows From Within

Heavenly Question Marks
It was only a little over six weeks ago when the first major Atlantic Hurricane of the season hammered the coast of Texas and wreaked havoc in the Houston area. The wettest tropical cyclone on record in the US dropped over 40 inches of rain in a four-day period. Massive flooding caused death, destruction and heartbreak for thousands of people. Harvey, as the storm was named, started a pattern where over the next few weeks three additional Hurricanes would form and either threaten the United States or make direct contact on Florida and Puerto Rico.
Houston Flooded
As we approach the second half of October, the colorful peace of autumn has settled in as a welcome contrast to the fear filled chaotic atmosphere of early September. The mood in this flood ravaged city is rising due to recovery and the march of their beloved baseball Astros toward a World Series birth. I am reminded of a providential day at the end of August.
It was 6:30am on Wednesday, August 30. I was one of five men sitting around a table at our local Chic Fil A. For about seven years now we have been getting together every other early Wednesday morning. We talk about what is going on in our lives, we read scripture, study devotionals and pray. We call ourselves BIC (Brothers in Christ) Reunion Group. On this particular morning, brother Monte suggested that we engage in some serious servants’ work pertaining to the crises in Houston from Hurricane Harvey. Local broadcasting powerhouse WSB was conducting a -water drive- to collect donations of bottled drinking water for the Houston populace which was suffering for vital clean uncontaminated water.
WSB donation center
Being recently retired, I had time and a pick-up truck available. Brother Monte being his own boss had time. Our BIC brothers ponied up some financing. So we collected enough to stock up my small bed Ford Ranger.  Monte and I surmised we could meet in an hour, stop at the local Costco, deliver to the TV station and be free for the afternoon. But, we learned again the best laid plans of mice and men according to the great poet Robert Burns, "Gang aft a-gley."
Monte decided to post on our Smyrna First UMC and Smyrna Walk to Emmaus Facebook pages what we were doing and invited folks to participate.  By the time I got to Monte’s house he had received notification of support for a second truckload of water! At this point our effort began to take on another feel.  All of a sudden the divine intervention of amazing grace began to rain down and flow through the relief effort. At the TV Station the organizers were overwhelmed by the response. They had to summon additional tractor trailer transport. By the time we had finished delivery of the first load, we had social media commitments for two more loads. Have you ever heard of “Fishes and Loaves?” I now know firsthand the meaning of that story.
Water for life.
Our Creator continued to place little miracles in our path. A couple from our Church called to say they had a bigger pick-up available and we could consolidate the final two of four loads into one. This gift allowed Monte and I to complete our work before the crush of Atlanta rush hour. We delivered enough bottled water to place one each in the hands of 4,000 residents! Perhaps the most gracious moment of the day was during the assembling of our final load outside Costco. As I was handing cases to Monte standing in the truck bed, a kind gentleman approached.
Father Tannous

He asked, “Is this water going to Houston? I have relatives there."
We replied, “Yessir.”
He then began picking up cases to help us. Over the next few minutes this meek man dressed in black showed us another example of the body of Christ. When we asked his name, he told us that he was Father Tannous and invited us to: Father Tannous' Church

I constantly marvel at how God places juxtaposition, contradiction and divine paradox in our lives. Sometimes these are front page news stories, situations, people, places and happenings that dangle a heavenly question mark in front of our eyes. Here was a city, Houston, overrun with water, people flood forced from their homes. But they were desperate for good water, the water that quenches a thirst, water to cleanse the heart. And so it is with all of us. We, the world, desperately thirst for the true Living Water.

Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.
John 7:38
Bradford Bosworth
October, 2017

Friday, September 29, 2017

Sisters, Drivers and Teddy Bears

(Final in a series) 
Angel Guides

Romans 12:2 (NIV)

John Fleming & John McCorkle

Our mission team has arrived back in the USA. For me it happened in earnest this morning waking up in my own bed. Starting with emotional goodbyes to the young men guides we have grown to love, to proceeding through the Haitian side of an endless maze of airport check ins and customs inspections, the journey road felt full of pot holes and speed bumps much like the streets of Port-au-Prince. Then a somewhat bumpy flight followed by the Atlanta side customs process and we were back on familiar soil with traffic lights, paved roads and, most of the time, a right of way. I thought of the atmospheric reentry that astronauts experience when they return to our planet. The pattern of the world we experienced in Haiti does not conform to the pattern of the world we live in here in Georgia.

Our mission to Haiti was about healing. Yes, it was medical in substance with the subscribing of fungal cream and blood pressure pills all of which provide corrective physical healing over time. This is the healing of our worlds whether Port-au-Prince or Atlanta. The true healing that took place on this trip was expressed in a young sister, another of Abba’s daughters, who could not hear or speak, teaching us to sign “I love you”. It was healing played out watching our adept driver learn to swim in the Caribbean and opening his eyes under salt water for the first time. For this writer, it was a big hug from a three-hundred-pound misty eyed teddy bear who would be a security guard.

This week was about the healing that is born of the Holy Spirit. It is a healing that cannot help but to travel both ways. It is the healing that transforms the giver into the recipient and the student into the teacher. It is the renewing of our minds. It is the testing and approving of God’s will for us. And we know for certain we are abiding in His good, pleasing and perfect will.  Se’ yon bil bagay!

Father thank you for always being present and ready to heal us when we conform to the pattern of the world. Amen

Bradford Bosworth

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Have No Fear

(eighth in a series)

1 John 4:18-19

Patti Cox & Brad Bosworth

Yesterday for the first time in seven days our Haiti Mission Team took a day of rest and relaxation. We traveled to a distant beach where we lounged, frolicked in the salt water of the Caribbean Sea. Our Haitian guides, the translators, security guards and driver came with us. Gel, Achka, Jhon, Benson, Blanc, Eric and Patrice had the day off in a place they would not normally visit. Today our team ministered to them and thus ourselves and it was glorious.

There is a bond between the team and these Haitians. It is a connection through our Maker. God is Love and we speak to each other in the language of God without fear. On this day with no duties or responsibilities to distract us with doubt and petty fear, we come closer to perfection in love.

I have witnessed extreme conditions of poverty this week. Our medical mission team has attended to about three hundred patients who otherwise most certainly would not have had access to any kind of treatment. In many a religious circle, there is some belief that God punishes for the sins of humankind. But God is Love! Therefore, being perfect His love is infinitely certain. There is no doubt here that God loves his children who are, in total, humankind. Since Abba’s love is perfect, there is no fear for God does not punish His children.

Since arriving last week we have had two sizable gentlemen displaying badges and wearing “Security” splashed across their backs. They possess a solemn demeaner and holstered firearms. Their presence is to first give the team distance from danger and threat. In truth, they are here to help assuage any fears we have in this very foreign, but not hostile environment. At first they remained distant, in the shadows, almost out of sight. As they witnessed the Grace of God raining on their fellow Haitians, Patrice and Eric came gradually closer, smiling more and more until it was the perfect Love of Christ moving between them and us allaying all of our fears. We have loved each other because He first Loved us.

Father, we long for the certainty of Immanuel filling us with His perfect Love that drives out all our fears, Amen
Bradford Bosworth

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Find Your Gifts

Wednesday, September 27, 2017
(7th in a series)

Haiti Missionaries

1st Peter 4:10

Jeannette and Ryan Karstensen

It is a monumental responsibility to lead a mission trip to a foreign land. The people who will be the recipients of your charitable efforts will most likely gain a lifelong impression from the team’s comportment. If there is a language barrier, then our demeanor and body language speaks for our faith. On this Haiti Mission trip, there are eight folks from three different Churches with two on their very first excursion. The bottom line is “God has given us some special abilities,” and it is up to us to make them blend and become faithful stewards of God’s Grace in all its forms.

Our repasts together, breaking bread, are always a time to coalesce once again. Tuesday our team was having lunch together and I presented them with Jeanette and Ryan’s scripture passage from 1 Peter. We went around the table and each member of the body reflected on how the Word spoke to them. I took notes as they shared. The Holy Spirit translated as follows:

The mission becomes our great commission when the true goal is “to make disciples of all nations,” (Matt. 28:19).  As the “Body of Christ,” each one of us is a single chapter in Yahweh’s epic novel of grace titled “Humankind.” The mission now becomes a gifted quilt made of individual scraps, throwaway fabric that now stitched together warms each soul it comforts. Our unique gifts manifested become a tapestry of colors woven into Abba’s glorious creation of Love in His Son Christ Jesus.

Often it is through our willingness to serve and at the point of our Christian action where we begin to discern what are the gifts we have received from our heavenly Father. Surely for us to keep and maintain those gifts we must give them away.

Father, may we always remember your precious gift of grace can never be earned and we will always be engulfed by it as we give it away. Amen

Bradford Bosworth

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Bougainvillea Beautiful

Tuesday, September 26, 2017                                                                                                              (6th in a series)
Better Bougainvillea

Isaiah 55:12-13

Ed Hogg

Over the past week I have asked myself, “If this is what Haiti looks like now, what must it have looked like after the 2010 earthquake?” The answer begging for acceptance is, “Not much different.” There is no apparent infrastructure in and around the huge steaming municipality that is Port-Au-Prince. Basic amenities like bathrooms, plumbing and consistent electrical wiring exist in a dark ages time warp. It is a city of razor wire and rebar, cinder block and barred windows. Around every corner I expect we will be entering a “nicer” neighborhood. That district never appears.  There is no apparent sanitation initiative. The only word that appears an appropriate descriptor is desolation.

Today’s scripture is speaking to me here this way: Instead of a prickly thornbush, look for the juniper tree, and instead of briars find myrtle.  Old Testament Profit Isaiah, ever the eternal optimist, is showing me how to make chicken salad out of, oh well, I better not go there. You get the drift. Seriously though, you and I will find what we look for. It has happened that way for our mission team here in Haiti. In spite of the oppressive heat and spartan surroundings where we set up our clinics, we experience almighty grace and beauty because of the presence of the Lord in the humble nature of these remarkable people.

When we have stopped to catch our breath and look around, in the midst of the ruts and rubble, there on top of a razor wire covered cinder block wall is a beautiful bougainvillea bush with vibrant red and white blooms! Surely, we know this allure is for the Lord’s renown.

Sunday, we worshipped with the locals. The experience was a piece of heaven on Earth. Then we set our clinic up on a second floor overlooking a small valley that held another large open-air house of worship. The land burst into song before us and we were reminded that His Love endures forever!

Abba, may we go out in joy and be led forth in the peace of your precious Son. Amen.
Bradford Bosworth

Monday, September 25, 2017

A Universal Language

(5th in a series)

The Language of Love

John 15:1-7

Randy Pettit 

Even with a cursory glimpse or review of Haiti’s history one can glean that there has been and still is a continuous thread of corruption and greed in the upper echelons of the political power base. Slavery has been ever present on this tropical island since Columbus literally stumbled upon it in Christmas of 1492. Thusly he named the place he found “La Navidad” and then his settlers turned around and forced the native Taino people into slavery. Today almost 600 years later the Haitian people are still enslaved, now by poverty.

How do we apply today’s scripture to these people? To the untrained eye there is little or no fruit here. To eyes of the world the deforested infertile land here is not suitable for growing ragweed! I want to ask Abba, the vinedresser, “Why these people”? I find myself searching for branches that bear fruit. Now I am in the vineyard closer to the Vine. On the third day I saw four young men already clean because of the Word spoken to them. These members of the “priesthood of all believers” have been our interpreters. On a Saturday morning upon arrival at the Haiti Deaf Academy their role changed.

We saw them bear a glorious fully ripe and sweet fruit with the young children who, without words, spoke the universal language of Christ, a quiet language of Love. As all who were present joyfully remained in him and he in us, the young men, who at first thought they could do nothing, suddenly were able to do everything in service to these beautiful ones. It was a miracle, a beautiful thing. The teachers became the students as the youngsters gleefully taught us all about sign language. If the children could have spoken they might have said, “Se’ yon bil bagay!”

Father may we be ever mindful that none of us can bear fruit by ourselves. May we desire always to abide in your precious Son. Amen
Bradford Bosworth

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Not Forgotten nor Foresaken.

Sunday, September 24, 2017 (fourth in a series)

Haiti Deaf Academy

Deuteronomy 31:6 and Hebrews 13-5

Joyce and Michael Newsom

I often subscribe to the belief that we, the American people, are the same as the Israelites, God’s chosen people. Our ancestral pilgrims settled in a promised land, a land flowing of milk and honey. Oh how evident it is that we have forgotten from whence we came. But, you know what? These Haitian people, they too are God’s chosen people. Maybe they have just not found their Moses yet nor crossed through their Red Sea. Do you want to know something? These people are strong and courageous!

A few days ago our team arrived here on the heels of four ferocious hurricanes that passed by this island also known as Hispaniola. It is as if God has said to these people, I will not forsake you, my children, you have enough on your hands now and I have some of my other children who need a wake-up call! I’m not sure if Joyce and Mike intended it? A link exists that ties these two pieces of scripture together across a millennium or more. Moses’ exhortation, “Be strong and courageous.” is repeated by his successor (Joshua 1:9). In Hebrews, the writer is reminding his audience - Jewish Christians- that the covenant of Moses, carried forward by Joshua, has been superseded by the new covenant of Christ Jesus. Our presence here is now about the Love of Christ.

Our mission team’s humbly joyful interpreter/guides are mere boys content with what they have. Gel, Achka, Benson and Jhon are the vines bearing fruit that brings daily the new covenant Love of Christ to the poor. The chosen people of Haiti know the Lord has said to them, “Never will I leave you.”

Yahweh, through all the storms of our lives may we remember that nothing can separate us from your Love which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen

Bradford Bosworth