Throughout life there seem to come moments of examination. These past weeks have been as such for me.
A few weeks ago, I sat looking at my Father’s coffin. I was in hot, steamy Manila in the middle of honoring the Filipino people that Mum & Dad grew to love & give much to. We were observing a wake Filipino style. It was at this time that I had a profound moment with the Lord. He took me back to a time when as an 11 year old. I sat in the conference room at Wycliffe Bible Translators in Kangaroo Ground Australia, having just heard an invitation to world missions from Joanne Shelter (who interestingly was doing a bible translation in the Philippines). I remember being deeply impacted by this challenge. I responded to God declaring that I wanted to be a part of world missions. Now as I sat there gazing around the Filipino church with Dad’s coffin at the front, 7ft flower arrangements spanning the sides of the room having been sent from many different Wycliffe entities around the world & watching people arrive, I pondered again before the Lord my involvement in world missions.
Barry Borneman (Director of Wycliffe Australia) flew in for the wake. Within moments of meeting my Mum, myself & my two brothers, he shared with us the last email he received from Dad. It was sent hours before his cardiac arrest. Dad had left Barry with one question after his report of what he saw God doing in the Philippines & the needs there. The question was, “What are you going to do about it?” This question was now clearly haunting Barry.
He was not the only one.
During the Australian funeral, my Mum shared some reflections of her life with Dad. She closed with a question. This question I have been repeatedly asking the Lord since. “The question is not why did Geoff die, the question is why am I still alive?”
God gave us something in Europe. He gave us something that has always been the heart of his relationship with man & then man’s relationship to the world. This is the concept that the presence of God would dwell with us & that in this ‘dwelling’ he would transform ordinary men to transform the world. This dwelling is what we have felt to call ‘The Tabernacle.’ Over these last years, God has taken us on a journey in so many ways, but especially historically to understand some of his ways. In taking us to Europe & Israel, we saw what God’s spirit had done when groups of people pray & worship him intentionally & desperately. Bangor Ireland, Herrnhut Germany testify to what God did in Acts 1-2. The world that was in Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles was witnessed to & God’s spirit was given to the Gentiles, Bangor released a wave of Monks that transformed barbaric Europe to Christ, & the people of Herrnhut sporned the Moravian Missions movement. In all cases, ‘being together in prayer & worship’ preceeded a move of God that transformed the world of the then time. Psalm 77 says, “Your way, O God, is in the sanctuary: who is so great a God as our God?” (77:13) Today God’s spirit is stirring again & ‘dwelling places’ exist in Israel, Germany, England, India, USA, Indonesia…
In all the camps that my Dad ran over the 25 years he was with Wycliffe, I witnessed a vital, non-negotiable ingredient in every single one of them. The ‘quiet time’. This is the heart of Tabernacle. This is the dwelling place, the dwelling moment with God & this would always be in the camp program. Other things were not always part of the program, but this always was. This was a fundamental part of Dad’s heart & Dad’s passion. He knew that it was from this place, this time in the presence of the Lord, that the world would be reached. As I have sat with these questions coming out of this time of Dad’s death, this is what I have felt the spirit of God stir in me & answer.
I want to be part of the ‘final sprint’ in world missions & this is the part God’s called me to play at this time.
This is why I am still alive. How about you?