Sunday, June 26, 2011

Romance Withered in Their Marriage Mess

The blood red of a rose always speaks of true love
"How did I get into this mess? Why did I marry this man?"

Max didn't seem to understand how lonely I was. He was stationed at an army barracks in Hawaii. I felt like I was on a deserted island. He had his work and his buddies while I had two small children and no one to talk to.

Arguments were the norm when I often demanded he spend more time with his family. He just responded that if he knew I felt like that then he should have remained as a single man. "And who says I have to change, anyway?" he'd yell.

Was I expecting too much? But Max regularly took an overnight 'charge of quarters' duty. He attended plenty of get-to-gethers with his buddies. He played on his unit's baseball team which required daily practices and games once or twice a week. On top of these interests, he also trained for triathlons in nearby cities. It's just that now we were married with children, I expected him to be there for his family. All the courtship and romance we'd once shared had simply withered and died!

To make a long story short as they say, I met another young married woman whose husband was a naval officer. Best of all, she didn't mind that my husband was only an enlisted soldier. And this dear person took me under her wing just when I was at my lowest. Over the next month we soon became fast friends. She invited me over for lunch many times where we shared our interests. And we baby-sat for each other.

Bea always seemed to know exactly what I needed. Whether it was food, treatment for children's ailments, or encouraging words. She shared about her marriage and her role as a wife and mother. As our relationship grew, I opened my heart and described the struggles in our marriage. Bea shared what she knew from God's Word, but I knew I'd done too many wrong things for God to care about me. And I told her that I was sure He couldn't forgive me. But Bea persisted and quoted John 3:16 , "For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him would not perish, but have everlasting life."

Over the following months I learned so much, that when she asked if I was ready to trust God I readily agreed. Now everything would be happy in my marriage and it would improve one hundred percent. But that same night when Max returned, he sat opposite me and demanded a divorce! How could this be happening?
He gave me an ultimatum. "Either I get to do what I want to do, or I'm out the door. I'm not trying to change you, and you shouldn't try to change me."

He was partly right but I couldn't let him go so easily. "Okay, Max, if that's what you really want, but can I share some things with you I learned from the Bible?"He nodded, and I told him where the Bible said from Genesis 2:24 that a man should leave his father and mother and become one flesh with his wife. He sat awhile then said, "What else does it say?" So I read more passages from the Bible about how wives and husbands are to behave. We stayed up half the night talking over these Scriptures and then Max asked me to forgive him. And two months later my husband gave his heart to the Lord.

God gradually taught me how to let go the reins of my life and marriage and trust in Him. And as time passed God restored our marriage and made it whole. We actually fell in love with each other all over again. But it was a different kind of love. It was stronger and deeper than when we were first married and now we're closer than ever. Yes, it took God's power to clean up the mess in our lives...and to make me glad I married that man!
Story by Liz M.

Friday, June 17, 2011

FROM BANGKOK with LOVE - Somchai & Saenthong

Somchai interprets for George - Hmong Tribal New Year celebrations
"I tasted the blood on my cut lip and smelled the sweat of my own fear. The roar of the crowd faded beneath the sound of my own racing heart beat and the grunt of my opponent as I landed the next brutal blow. I knew about the Christian ideal of turning the other cheek, but that was not for me. I was a fighter.

"My name is Somchai - macho man. As a Muay Thai kick boxer, my duty was to deal out and counteract lethal blows while aiming for victory and ruining the career of my opponent in the ring. The satisfaction of delivering vicious, lightning-fast punishment was one way to overcome my own body's agony after the match was fought and won. I owed it to myself, my reputation, and my hordes of faithful admirers to obtain victory. I rode high on their supportive cheers and the excitement I generated as I contended in furious battles of hardened muscles and wits. And I paid my fans back handsomely with the huge amounts of money they made when I won. Yes, I was invulnerable!

After the match I felt their love and concern over my bruises as I jumped from the ring and they touched me for luck. Often hurting badly, I'd only stagger later when no one could see. It didn't matter if the pain made me sick to my stomach, for soon these good fellows would take me out to the best of Bangkok's nightclubs. They would ply me with liquor to dull the soreness of my ribs and the stiffness of my battered thighs. After all, I was the triumphant warrior straight from a glorious battle, or so they continually assured me.

I don't know why it never occurred to me that while they were getting richer and fatter, I was suffering more and more. But popularity is a strong drug; a little is not enough. I was proof to them of what it meant to be a real man. I was making good money, too, and one day I'd buy a big home and a flashy car. I would also be  on equal footing with a man who deals in gold jewelry. And better still, I would have my pick of all those beautiful girls we Thais are so proud of!"

Somchai went on to admit that all the drinking, smoking, and carousing, were softening him up for something really bad. because one night after a long session with his friends, he doubled over with an agony that would not quit. Mercifully, he was taken to the nearby Bangkok Christian Hospital where he was operated on for stomach ulcer perforations. But even through his pain, he believed he would fight again. After all, pain wasn't new to him and his career was his life. But as day followed dreary day without any visits from his "friends", his depression deepened. But still he made excuses for them, until the truth finally sunk in like the venom of a cobra strike. They didn't care! For now they'd be fawning over other young hopefuls.

Somchai continues:  "Right there at the lowest point, God stepped into the ring of my life. A group of young Christians from a nearby Church visited me and told me all about Jesus, and how he died to take away the penalty of all my sins. I didn't need convincing that I was a sinner, and I responded immediately. And after I asked Jesus into my life, the great weights of disappointment, frustration, and bitterness left me. And I felt as fine as I always did in the ring before a match!"

His old "friends" weren't interested in the new direction his life had taken. They believed Christianity was a Western religion and shunned him. But Somchai discovered he now had a hunger for spiritual things and he joined the same church as his new, young Christian friends. He even entered Bible College to discover all he could about the Bible. With his proficiency in English, he began translating for missionaries. And it was while he preached the Good News about Jesus in Phuket that he met Saenthong. She had been brought up by missionaries and as a teacher in Maths, also spoke English. Well, it didn't take too much convincing her that this enthusiastic young man was the right man for her. They both had a longing to share the Gospel.

Nowadays, and after their two sons were grown, she teaches children and young people, while Somchai reaches adults. Saenthong also answers correspondence from the thousands of Thai Gospels of John that we hand out to school children, prisoners, hospital patients, and in open air situations. They make a wonderful team, and George and I are privileged to work together with them each year during Nov/Dec. We travel out from their home in the heart of Bangkok, to every area of Thailand, and continually praise the Lord for bringing them together.

Friday, June 10, 2011

PEN PALS...Sharing Dreams with Words

If you asked a young person today what a Pen Pal was, I don't think they'd know. After all, apart from rare enthusiasts, who

writes letters today? Before emails and texting came into existence, you actually put pen to paper! You popped it into an envelope, stamped it, and waited for your precious words to reach their destination. Then you waited with growing anticipation for an answer.

Don't you think that's kind of lost today, with an immediate reply? No time to wonder what the other thought. No delicious sense of looking forward to reading every word written in your special friend's handwriting. And once it was ink, not biro! A mistake was carefully crossed out, and you'd try to see what it was. And the style. Sloped; scrawled; scratchy like bird's tracks; perfect copperplate. They say our writing reveals a lot about us. Hm, maybe untidy? And last, how was it signed off. Sincerely? Faithfully? Or best of all, With all my love.
I wonder if young Canadian, Isobel, studied her Australian pen pal, Keith's hand writing in this way? Keith had begun their long distance friendship when he saw her picture on his friend's mantlepiece. His friend's wife happened to be Isobel's cousin, Margaret. Now as Keith was an enthusiastic aviation enthusiast he'd naturally fill his letters with his interests. But Isobel wasn't quite sure how to take this young man and felt a little reserved at how much she should share with this brash Australian. However, they went from writing to actual sharing of tape recording each others' comments. So from then on, reels began their travels across the Pacific. He already knew what she looked like, but how wonderful to actually hear her voice!

Cousin Margaret was pregnant at the time, but because they'd recently moved from the country to the big city, she didn't know anyone well enough to care for her other young children when hospitalised.  Why not cousin Isobel? With mid-winter in Toronto, a trip to sunny Australia beckoned. So, when the P&O liner, Oronsay, docked in Sydney Harbour, who should be there to meet her, along with with her cousins, but Keith, with expectancy written all over his handsome face.

 From the moment they met, they felt that they'd known each other 'forever'. Events took place at lightning speed and two weeks after Isobel's arrival, the pair were engaged. Three months after that on May 10, 1957, the marriage ceremony took place in Hurstville Brethren Assembly, followed by their honeymoon. They never went through a period of adjustment because they were at ease with each other. And they knew that God had blessed their marriage.

After looking after her cousin's three little girls, Isobel applied for  teaching position. But after about a year passed, her parents were anxious to see their new son-in-law, so they packed up and returned to Toronto, spending part of their time there and part in Australia. Two of their children are Canucks and two are fair dinkum Aussies! ( Just kidding.) Keith & Isobel continue to thank the Lord for bringing them together and for all the blessings, far too many to count, that have been heaped upon them.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Are Our Dreams Really the Desires of Our Hearts?

Ah, castles. We've all dreamed of living in one, or at least visiting, after all, they do figure in a lot of fairy tales.

College student, LeAnne Hardy, felt exactly the same way. So much so, she applied to work in a castle in the Austrian Alps. It now served as a Christian youth hostel and conference centre. And she waited expectantly for her acceptance.

It came, and with heart pounding, she tore open the envelope. But it wasn't good news, as they'd already filled all positions for the summer. She tried not to show her disappointment, but what could be better than a castle in Austria? Still, she thought that even if her dream wasn't realized, maybe God had better things in mind for her. So she made plans to attend a month-long leadership camp run by Intervarsity Christian Fellowship at Cedar Campus in Michigan. However, she was especially determined to avoid any romantic entanglements that would distract her from deepening her relationship with the Lord. (But as they say...famous last words!)

It happened that one evening after dinner, a group gathered around the piano and began singing songs from popular musicals, and a tall guy with curly hair caught her eye. He was turning pages and singing confidently. She loved singing and often sang lead in school musicals.Well, her friend wanted to see if she could sing as well as ever, so she thrust LeAnne to the piano. And sure enough, she joined the tall fellow in a duet...A Stranger in Paradise. (Sometimes a pushy friend is a blessing!)

Although very attracted to him, it didn't distract her from growing spiritually, as she'd listen attentively to all the visiting missionaries sharing their experiences. Also, she knew that after each session, he'd ask her opinion about it. That's when they discovered they were of the same mind with both desiring to serve the Lord on the mission field. LeAnne now admits that God knew what He was doing when she didn't get her dream job in an Austrian castle, for He really understands the desires of our hearts. Psalm 37:4,5.

Did she miss out on a wonderful adventure? Hmm, you tell me. To date, along with her husband, LeAnne has lived in six countries and four continents. She has sipped tea in Oxfordshire, eaten stewed goat (urk) at a Mozambican wedding, and slid down rocks in a Mato Grosso river! (I hope her jeans were Levis.) Her books for children and young adults come from her cross-cultural experiences, and her passion to use story to convey spiritual truths. Maybe you'd like to encourage her by visiting her website at