In 1959 Nicolae Moldoveanu was arrested, interrogated and imprisoned for writing Christian songs considered to be “slanderous” to the formerly socialist state of Romania. He was also tortured, his arm torn from its socket, leaving him permanently disabled. Because of this handicap, Nicolae could not do hard labor, and he was denied the monthly package of food and clothing from home. He was forced to sleep on the hard, cold, damp floor beneath the bunk in his cell.
This hardship did not stop the music of inspiration from his lips. He obtained a piece of broken glass and coated it with soap so he could etch the words and music with a nail. After writing a song, he would teach it to his fellow prisoners, commit it to memory and clear the glass for yet another hymn of praise. During Nicolae’s prison years he penned more than 350 songs!
Although sentenced to 12 years, Nicolae was released after six years and told to stop. Writing Christian songs or he would be thrown back in prison. He replied by saying, “Just keep me here in prison and save yourself and me some trouble. I will never stop writing praise songs to my God.” Upon release he published the songs he had memorized during those bleak years, yet fruitful years.The Radio Voice of the Gospel network of Christian radio stations that Reach Beyond had helped establish across Romania play those songs that give praise to the Lord and encourage others to deepen their faith in Christ.
In 1999 I visited Nicolae and his wife in the single room they had called home for 51 years. They shared the kitchen and single bathroom with three other families who live in what was once a large single family home. In the corner he showed me a small box of clothes to keep him warm in case he ever had to return to prison.
Asked about his source of encouragement, Nicolae shared Colossians 3:16, “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”
Application of things learned
Recently I wrote about and suggested ways to remain faithful. There is a three step process that I heard in a sermon while visiting the church our son and family attend. Over the past month I have pondered the steps and have put them into practice. Perhaps you have heard the term, “Practice what you preach!” Well, as my grandson says the information was, “in the front of my brain not the back”. I simply could just not get them out of my mind.
Here they are as a review then some personal experiences.
Three ways to remain FAITHFUL:
1. INTIMACY with God ~ Does your heart break for the same things as God’s? Talk with God about your life.
2. INTIMACY with God’s people ~ Other people are the tools that shape you. People need to know you and this makes you vulnerable. Intimacy is going to hurt yet in the process it is character building.
3. INTIMACY with lost people ~ We are all sent here as a mission. That is to tell the world about the saving grace of Jesus in a dangerous place without God.
First things first, I spend more time with God. During my life I have learned that God wants my attention. He gets it ~ one way or the other and it is always best to pay close attention to what God wants not what I want. In this process God points out to me and I become more aware of the fact that I do not spend quality and meaningful time with God’s people, my Christian friends.
So, to be more tuned in to others I have become a better listener; listening to my friends, my Christian friends; hearing their stories; their lives; paying attention to them.
And to be more aware of the need to be intimate with people who are lost. A Bible verse addresses this. I Timothy 2:1 states, “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people.” Yes, it says, “all people”. Not just the Christian friends or the people we know best and want to spend time with, but all people, especially ones who do not know Jesus.
Here is how this verse appears in the Message translation of the Bible, "The first thing I want you to do is pray. Pray every way you know how, for everyone you know.” Wow, I need to not only listen to my friends more and better, but I need to pray for them as I become more aware of things happening in their lives.
As a commissioned missionary I am open about my faith in God. People around me are aware of this and often I am asked to offer a prayer. This happens at all kinds of events. It can be at a community 4th of July celebration or a birthday party. And even more often when I talk to people and they share something traumatic in their life I offer to pray for them and they always say yes. So I pray for them right then.
This month our neighbor celebrated her 96th birthday. Family gathered from all over the world for a family time of celebration. We know her daughter who lives in Singapore and before we had a meal she came to me and touched my arm to get my attention and asked, "can you offer a blessing?" Then she added, "my mom would like that!"
Last week while at a meeting at a business I walked by the office of a friend and stuck my head in the door to say hi. She asked me to sit down, so I did. After opening greetings she pointed to the door and asked me to close it. She obviously wanted to talk. She told me the sister she had cared for in the past year died the pervious day. She asked me to pray for her and the family. So we prayed for her, right then in her office.
This being intimate with God, His people and the lost who don't know Him is compelling me to be more aware of everyone around me. Perhaps you can do it too.
When we are with family we are blessed. Blessed for many reasons.
One comes from reflecting on the phases or our ministry life. A preparation phase was serving in many capacities at local churches. During these years we grew in our understanding of God's plan for our lives. This was followed by 30 years now of serving full time as missionaries.
When we were called of the LORD to pick up and leave our comfort zone and serve Him full time as missionaries, the ministry phase began. Both of our sons were in high school and college and they never interrupted this call to full time missionary service. Indeed a blessing that helped us greatly to focus on the tasks at hand. We focused on God’s work. Sharing his love with a needy world.
Another blessing is we are sharing time with grandchildren this month during an important time in their lives. The twins graduated from high school. One is going to attend Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. One is going to pursue a nursing career at a local college and just received her CNA certificate.
Our grandson as a junior in high school was first chair tenor saxophone in the all state orchestra. He is a member of the professional SWING FACTORY BIG BAND and we enjoyed their concert kicking off the June musicals in Woodland Park, Colorado.
And our son celebrated a big birthday and it was great to attend because we are not with him very often on his birthday. This was followed a few days later as we celebrated our 55th wedding anniversary. It was nice to be with family this year for these important events.
Perhaps the blessings we enjoy with family is because we have tried to remain faithful in our service to the churches we have attended and our ministry years with Reach Beyond and Reaching People far from God.
Old Testament profit Samuel understood faithfulness mentioning this numerous times in his writings.
1 Samuel 2:6-9
God brings death and God brings life, brings down to the grave and raises up. God brings poverty and God brings wealth; he lowers, he also lifts up. He puts poor people on their feet again; he rekindles burned-out lives with fresh hope, Restoring dignity and respect to their lives— a place in the sun! For the very structures of earth are God’s; he has laid out his operations on a firm foundation. He protectively cares for his faithful friends, step by step, but leaves the wicked to stumble in the dark. (The Message)
ways to remain faithful . . . . .
INTIMACY with God John 15:1-9
Does my heart break for the same things as God’s? Talk with God about my life.
INTIMACY with God’s people John 13:3
Other people are the tools that shape me. People need to know me, I need to know them. Intimacy is going to hurt. In the process it is character building. It makes me vulnerable.
INTIMACY with lost people John 17:15-18
We are sent here as a mission to represent and present God to the world, a lost world without Jesus. And the world is a dangerous place without God. without the saving grace of Jesus.
The Bible flies on the wings of relationships.“I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened, that he considered me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service.” 1 Timothy 1:12 NASB
Or, “trustworthy, appointing me to his service.” As translated in the NIV of the Bible.
Pray, a lot; Listen, (wait); God leads: We follow; God blesses.
This is the last of a five part series about leading a lifestyle that is focused on paying attention to what God wants from us. This month ~ God Blesses.
We followed God to my being at a church missions conference in Florida and I really did not want to go, to go alone and without Sharon. God had other plans for us and following His leading was critical for what is proving to be a blessing for millions of radio listeners across south Africa countries.
What is now formed as Radio Africa Network (RAN), started as a single Christian Radio station in Fish Hoek, South Africa.
From this single single Christian Radio station in Fish Hoek, South Africa now encompasses Christian radio stations in Lesotho, Rwanda, Tanzania, Madagascar, Gabon, Botswana, Burundi, Mali, Burkina Faso and Tanzania.
Thousands of people listen daily to Christian radio programs on these stations. Untold millions of people have heard about the love of God, many for the first time while listening to their radio. And untold thousands will enjoy eternity with God because they accepted Jesus as their Savior.
One of my all time favorite Bible passages is about God leading his people, the Israelites from their 40 years in the desert, into the land promised to them years earlier. It is one of the most powerful lessons about following God’s leading and experiencing his BLESSING.
God chose Joshua to lead them in to the land he had promised to them. Following in the footsteps of Moses as the leader of God’s chosen people Joshua directed the Levitical priests to carry the ark of the covenant of the Lord and cross the Jordan river.
It is an example of God continuing to direct but an incredible focus on the resulting blessing when Joshua follows God’s specific instructions as he leads his people.
Israel Crosses the Jordan
Then Joshua rose early in the morning and they set out from Shittim. And they came to the Jordan, he and all the people of Israel, and lodged there before they passed over. At the end of three days the officers went through the camp and commanded the people, “As soon as you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God being carried by the Levitical priests, then you shall set out from your place and follow it. Yet there shall be a distance between you and it, about 2,000 cubits in length. Do not come near it, in order that you may know the way you shall go, for you have not passed this way before.” Then Joshua said to the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.” And Joshua said to the priests, “Take up the ark of the covenant and pass on before the people.” So they took up the ark of the covenant and went before the people.
The Lord said to Joshua, “Today I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. And as for you, command the priests who bear the ark of the covenant, ‘When you come to the brink of the waters of the Jordan, you shall stand still in the Jordan.’” And Joshua said to the people of Israel, “Come here and listen to the words of the Lord your God.” And Joshua said, “Here is how you shall know that the living God is among you and that he will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Hivites, the Parities, the Girgashites, the Amorites, and the Jebusites. Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth is passing over before you into the Jordan. Now therefore take twelve men from the tribes of Israel, from each tribe a man. And when the soles of the feet of the priests bearing the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan shall be cut off from flowing, and the waters coming down from above shall stand in one heap.”
So when the people set out from their tents to pass over the Jordan with the priests bearing the ark of the covenant before the people, and as soon as those bearing the ark had come as far as the Jordan, and the feet of the priests bearing the ark were dipped in the brink of the water (now the Jordan overflows all its banks throughout the time of harvest), the waters coming down from above stood and rose up in a heap very far away, at Adam, the city that is beside Zarethan, and those flowing down toward the Sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, were completely cut off. And the people passed over opposite Jericho. Now the priests bearing the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firmly on dry ground in the midst of the Jordan, and all Israel was passing over on dry ground until all the nation finished passing over the Jordan. Joshua 3:1-17 NIV
Over the past 30 years of praying for God to lead us and our commitment to follow his leading has resulted in hundreds and hundreds of stories about how God has blessed. He has blessed time and time again our humble following the leading of the Holy Spirit. Yes, we believe in the trinity; the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
Jesus Promised the Holy Spirit
“If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.” John 14:15-31
When we were led by the LORD to follow his leading us to serve him full time as missionaries we were encouraged by the verse found in the book of Proverbs.
“Commit to the Lord whatever you do,
and he will establish your plans." Proverbs 16:3
This verse set the course for us to make plans consistent with following his leading. That we have done for over 30 years now.
“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
whose confidence is in him.
They will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit."
“Blessed are those who keep his statutes
and seek him with all their heart."
Pray, a lot; Listen, (wait); God leads: We follow; God blesses.
“Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’” John 8:12
Here I am walking in the light in Liberia, West Africa:
It’s an example how you can walk in the light of Jesus day-by-day.
This is part four of a five part series about leading a lifestyle that is focused on paying attention to what God wants from us. This month ~ We follow.
We followed God to my being at a church missions conference in Florida and I really did not want to go; to go alone without Sharon. God had other plans for us stressing the importance of following when he leads.
Because I was alone and not a missionary couple attending the Missions Conference at a supporting church in South Florida, I was housed in a local hotel, not in a private home that was more traditional. After registering and going to my room I met a man in the elevator going to his room. He was a pastor from South Africa attending the same conference. My ministry assignment was helping to establish locally owned and operated Christian format community fm radio stations in developing countries. He was at the conference seeking help to set up a station in Fish Hoek, South Africa.
WOW, I started to realize why God wanted me there. I was glad already I was not bullheaded and going my way and not His way.
Pastor John Thomas needed help because they held an annual evangelistic week of meetings each year and had offered to buy time on the local government radio station for several years; and were denied each time. All radio stations at the time were government. There were no private radio stations at all.
Their persistence was rewarded because they had just received an offer to run a one month test radio station for one month, 24 hours a day and they knew nothing about how to actually set up and operate a radio station. They just wanted to provide a one week evening radio program from their church. God certainly had other plans. I introduced John to our Engineering Center in Elkhart, Indiana and he traveled to Colorado to meet with the International Board of our mission that was in session at the time.
We stepped up to help them in 30 short days to put a private test station on the air that had been authorized by Parliament. Following the 30 days a statement in Parliament proceedings indicated the effort was a success; “we should allow private community radio stations and Fish Hoek is the best example to follow.”
What is now formed as Radio Africa Network (RAN) started as this single Christian Radio station in Fish Hoek, South Africa. RAN is a non-denominational, multicultural, Pan African effort with stations across Africa.
RAN has adopted the Lausanne Covenant as its Statement of Faith.
God Leading and our following are intertwined terms.
Following God—two words that sound easy but in actuality can be very difficult to live out. In the Old Testament, God gave the law as a roadmap to help mankind come to Him. His desire was always to show humanity the route to pursue Him.
Why do we follow knowing God leads us? Well, it is because we know that Jesus came to share the incredible love of God his heavenly Father. In case this is news to you consider these verses found in the Bible.
Abram followed God’s leading from Haran when he was seventy-five years old. “Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” Genesis 12:1-4
Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God.” Ruth 1:16
“. . . fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John 1:1
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14
Jesus said follow me and I will give you rest. The exact verse in Matthew 11:28 is, “Come unto Me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
The Bible states that God is love (1 John 4:7-11) so when we follow the way of love we are actually choosing God’s laws and ways. Jesus, His son, led by example, and He lived out loud the law that was given by His father. There was the written word before Jesus came, but then He was born and became the living law. Loving and developing a relationship with the triune God, will bring us indescribable joy, blessings and “life” that comes from going where God leads us. Consider what following decisions will you make today?
Pray, a lot; Listen, (wait); God leads: We follow; God blesses.
When we pray for God to lead us as we serve him we Listen and that means we wait for him to Lead.
“But as for me, I will watch expectantly for the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation My God will hear me." Micah 7:7
The promise is that the God of my salvation will hear me. Although this is not our nature it is much easier because waiting for his Devine leading we know there is a promise in the waiting process. And by faith, we live knowing he hears us while we are listening, yes waiting, and he will answer. He will lead us.
Knowing he hears our prayer must have encouraged Ernest W. Blandy to write the gospel song Where He Leads Me that I sang as a lad and as a young man with a growing family. Blandy, a Salvation Army officer, wrote this song after choosing between a comfortable post at an established church, and an alternate assignment to the New York City waterfront and slum called Hell's Kitchen. He chose the latter.
Where He Leads Me
“I can hear my Savior calling,
Take thy cross and follow, follow me.
Where He leads me I will follow,
I’ll go with Him, with Him all the way.
I’ll go with Him through the waters,
I’ll go with Him through the garden,
I’ll go with Him to dark Calv’ry,
I’ll go with Him to the judgement,
He will give me grace and glory,
And go with me, with me all the way.”
Perhaps one of the most quoted passages of the Bible is the 23rd Psalm. “The LORD is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; He leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to His name. Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid . . . . ” Psalms 23:1-6
To follow God’s leading takes faith. Faith that following the paths He creates is worthy of our paying attention and following.
God Leads is the midpoint of this five part series. It is the midpoint yet the first of the final three segments of the series. This example of God leading will conclude with God Blesses after we Follow Him.
My wife Sharon and I were committed to speak at a Reach Beyond mission donor dinner in South Bend, Indiana and she needed to return to Colorado for a week of meetings because she served as a member of the Candidate Orientation Committee of the mission. I was committed to represent our ministry at a missions conference at a supporting church in South Florida and simply did not want to go. The previous year we had been involved in helping move the Reach Beyond headquarters from South Florida to Colorado Springs, Colorado and I thought I needed to get back with her to continue setting up operations. We prayed and felt the Lord wanted me to go to Florida.
What did we do? Sharon went to Colorado, I went to Florida. Sound interesting? Tune in next month for the next step; We Follow.
It is healthy to follow God and not do things in our own way. A note from one of my favorite Bible characters; “Far be it from us that we should rebel against the LORD and turn away this day from following the LORD by building an altar for burnt offering, grain offering, or sacrifice, other than the altar of the LORD our God that stands before his tabernacle!” Joshua 22:29
David M. Kealy
1 Timothy 1:12 is a life verse that led to our creating Reaching People far from God