I AM A MOTHER IN ZION!

“Kings will be like fathers to you; queens will be like mothers… Then you will know that I am the LORD; no one who waits for My help will be disappointed.” (Is 49:23)

I was a natural mother to my daughter for 25 years. On her 25th birthday I knew that my time as a mother came to an end. I prayed for wisdom. The Holy Spirit said that I should lay down my labor of love as a mother to His altar. I did not understand. It was hard to understand. But I obeyed. The sacrifice was accepted. Suddenly, like dew from heaven, a new grace came upon me. From that time on, I became a spiritual mother to my daughter. She lives far away from us. But distance and the passing of time is not a barrier to this ever fresh relationship. We both grow in grace. This unity of the Spirit gets stronger ever day. I have a new vision of motherhood. God has enlarged my heart to accommodate and love many ‘children’ who call me Malia. All these holy fruits grow in the light of His presence and for His glory! This is my story, this is my song!

MARRIAGE IS A GREAT MYSTERY

Marriage “is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband” (Eph 5:32, 33)
 
OUR TESTIMONY AS A MARRIED COUPLE
Marriage is more than a marriage certificate. It is more spiritual than physical. The Bible calls marriage ‘a great mystery’. No one can describe it in human words. But one thing is clear: without God, marriage will fail. My husband and I are happily married for 45 years. God alone takes the glory for our strong and happy marriage. We have made many mistakes along the way and we have learned many lessons from them. The Bible is our ‘marriage manual’. As a wife, it is my duty to know the general principles of life by which my husband ‘operates’. These principles are not legalistic, cold or rigid. As my husband matures spiritually, these ideas change for the better. I have to change too so that there is no ‘gap’ between us. It is like tango dancing… It is my duty to study my husband and analyze his way of life, his strategy of life. I prayerfully listen when he talks. I want to know ‘from where he comes from and where he is going’. I want to know why he says this or that. If I hear something that I consider ‘wrong’, I pray for wisdom, to understand ‘his point of view’. I do not rigidly or blindly insist on my ‘better’ opinion, even if ‘I am right’. What I may see as wrong may be something he considers as good. Many things are relatives. Like my husband says when he preached from Romans 14, these are ‘matters of indifference’. The truth is that family and social background influence our choices.
 
For example, if my husband tells me how he expects me to behave in a particular situation, if I agree with him, then it is easy, for the two of us. But if I see things differently, it is hard for me to submit to what I consider ‘wrong’. What do I do? As a young wife I used to correct him immediately saying: ‘Sorry, I do not agree with you. What about my way?’ Then we argue to and fro for some time, provoking and becoming angry with one another. It will take a long time to forgive and forget the hurt caused by such arguments. But as time went by, I learned to be more patient with him and with myself. I learned to humble myself and to see things from his perspective too. I now know that I do not have to be right all the time. These days, if he says something I disagree with, I keep calm and quiet. I meditate on his proposal trying to find the good in it and ‘a common ground’. Then I go and pray. I ask God to show me why does my husband sees this matter so differently than me. God helps me to understand him. This is great gain! God helps me to submit and to love him even when it is hard. Marriage is work. Lazy people should not marry. Prayer is more important than food or sex. The reason why I take all this trouble to understand my husband is not because I want to submit and please him only for today. I want to understand him as a person so that things will be easier between us in the future. For me, each pain must go to God in prayer and become a seed of love, for a deeper knowing and appreciation of my husband. Submission is my harvest of wisdom and love. To God be all the glory!

THE TESTIMONY OF JACOB DESHAZER

 

Jacob DeShazer (1912-2008) was born in Oregon (USA), in a Christian family. He later rejected his parents’ faith. In 1942, during the World War II, he enlisted in the Air Force. He was on board the ‘USS Hornet’ in the Pacific Ocean preparing for the attack against Japan.  The Easter service was held inside the aircraft’s carrier. All men attended it but he refused. After that, they took off and they threw the bombs on the city of Nagoya, Japan. This attack called ‘The Doolitle raid’ was designed to be ‘one way trip’. The men in the plane were to land with parachutes over the neutral China. Unfortunately, the plane strayed over Japan territory and Jacob was taken as a prisoner of war by the Japanese. The next three years were hell on earth for Jacob and his mates who survived. They were tortured to make confessions and kept for months in solitary confinement. Several were publicly executed. Jacob survived by cultivating an intense hatred against the Japanese. He planned that one day he will avenge himself.  He and others were later transferred to a prison in China. They were given food just enough to survive. The prison officers also gave them a Bible. They shared it among themselves. Because he was so lonely and bored, when it came to his turn to have the Bible, he read it from Genesis to Revelation. When he read Romans 10:9, the Holy Spirit opened his heart and he believed. “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Rom 10:9). This is how he became saved. He repented of all his sins and confessed them to others. He knew the joy of forgiveness and peace with God. He later wrote: “How my heart rejoiced in my newness of spiritual life, even though my body was still suffering so terribly from the physical beatings and lack of food”. In the lowest depth of agony, God has given life to Jacob DeShazer’s soul! Praise the Lord!

 

His life now changed. He asks God for gifts to serve Him. The Holy Spirit gave him first the gift of prayer. He spent much of his time in the cell praying for the prison guards and for the Japanese people in general. His conversion included learning a few words of Japanese and treating his captors with respect, which resulted in the guards reacting in a similar fashion. Everybody heard about this prisoner called Jacob. In the past, when the guards beat him he will insult them. Now he will bless them and tell them words of love! After the war, he went back to the US. The American Government decorated him with many medals. He enrolled into a Bible college affiliated with the Free Methodist denomination, preparing himself to go back to Japan as a missionary. He married a wonderful Christian woman called Florence and in 1948 they both went to Japan as missionaries.  In 1959, they moved to Nagoya to establish a Christian church in the city he had bombed. After the bombing, Nagoya was rebuild.

 

He wrote Christian tracts. He later met the Japanese Captain Mitsuo Fuchida who bombed the Americans at Pearl Harbor. He became converted too after reading Jacob’s conversion. Together, they preached the Gospel of Christ in many places.   Theirs was a lifelong friendship. I find that to be especially beautiful…that one of the main participants of the Doolitte raid would befriend the leader of the attack on Pearl Harbor whose actions resulted in the deaths of 2,403 Americans. Fuchida went on and became a missionary to Asia. When he died in 1977 his close friend, Jacob DeShazer led the funeral, gave a sermon and said goodbye to his close friend.

 

DeShazer retired after 30 years of missionary service in Japan and went back to his home town in Salem, Oregon where he spent the last years of his life in an assisted living home with his wife, Florence. On 15 March 2008, DeShazer died in his sleep at the age of 95, leaving his wife and five children: Paul, John, Mark, Carol, and Ruth. At his funeral service it was said:  “At this time in our history, we feel it is ideal to honor a man who was a genuine war hero, [but] who after his sacrificial service put on gloves of peace, and touched the entire world with grace and humility.” God alone takes all the glory for such a wonderful salvation!

 

(In the Pictures, The bombing over Nagoya, Jacob and Florence DeShazer going to Japan as missionaries, Jacob doing evangelism in Nagoya, Japan and the City of Nagoya as it is today)

Doolitle raid over Japan

Jacob and Florence DeShazer

jacob-deshazer-evangelsim

Nagoya Japan

THE CHRISTIAN BUSYBODY

I am a medical doctor and a pastor. From my experience I share with you these words: Many physical diseases are a reflection of spiritual unresolved issues. It is like God is attracting our attention to a deeper problem. The Bible says that ‘each one should carry their own load’ (Gal 6:5). That means you should know what is your load in life and what is not! Don’t carry problems that are not your own! Don’t be a ‘holy busybody’! The truth is that God gives us ‘good, healthy’ loads to carry. They are called ‘life responsibilities’. They help us to mature. But the devil, who tries to imitate God, also places loads on our backs. These are bad loads. They only add to the stress of living. They are designed to slow our progress in life and to give us a feeling that we are slaves, victims of circumstances. Many people are deceived and confused and carry loads placed by the devil. What is the difference? When God gives you a load to carry He will give you the strength to carry on. But when the devil gives you a load to carry, he will not give you strength. Then you become lonely, weak, restless and anxious.
 
In case you suspect that you are a Christian busybody, please answer these questions:
1. Is this any of my business? (1 Timothy 5:13)
2. Has God given me this assignment? (Ephesians 6:19)
3. Am I qualified to involve myself with this? (Romans 14:10)
4. Is my true motivation to bring help, or do I only want to feel needed? (1 Corinthians 13:1)
5. How much of my “discussion” about the situation could be classified as gossip? (Proverbs 11:13)
6. What was the result the last time I intruded in a situation that was not my problem? (Proverbs 26: 11)
7. Has my opinion been sought by those involved? (Proverbs 27:2)
8. Am I motivated by love for this person or by a sense of my own importance? (1 Corinthians 16:14)
9. Am I basing my “help” on Scripture or on my own opinion? (Proverbs 16:25)
10. Do I respond with anger when my “advice” is not accepted or found to be flawed? (Proverbs 17:10)
 
What do you do then? Pray that God forgives you for your foolishness in allowing the devil to use you as a donkey for his useless errands! Then shake off everything that is oppressing your soul! In the name of Jesus, the devil’s load will fall off! God’s good load will stay! After that prayer, you will feel much better, lighter, stronger, wiser and happier! Be healed in Jesus’ name! I hope that these words will help you to draw closer to God! I wish you well!

MARRIAGE UNDER LOVE BANNER

“He brought me to the banqueting house,
And His banner over me was love!” (SS 2:4)
 
The Bible has clear marriage guidelines. These commands apply only to the believers. An unbeliever may read them and try to apply Biblical precepts to make his marriage better, but he cannot really obey the Word of God. For us, the children of God, the Bible is our Life Manual. The Word of God is written to us, sinners who are saved by grace.
 
“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be bitter toward them” (Col 3:18, 19). In the marriage set up, there are two basic rules: The wives submit to their own husbands (as Christ submitted to God the Father). Secondly, the husbands must love their wives, not their own way, but ‘as Christ loves the church’ (Eph 5:25). The husband and wife are equal before God. Their salvation experience is the same. But in the area of marriage these simple rules must be obeyed: wives submit and husbands love! Both these actions are first of all spiritual and they must glorify Christ! The submission and the love are inspired by Jesus Christ and must give Him alone the glory! The Holy Spirit gives both the husband and wife the power to obey.
 
In the scripture above there is another element. It says that the husbands should love their wives and ‘do not become bitter towards them’. This is a special warning giving to the married men. Please pray for understanding! It means that the husband must recognize the tendency to become bitter against their loving wives. They must fight the strange temptation to become bitter as husbands at home. This is warning!
 
Bitterness is a terrible thing. It is an emotion very difficult to bear. A root of bitterness ‘defiles many’ and fights against the grace of God in marriage (Heb 12:15). Marital bitterness poisons the home and makes everybody miserable. A bitter person makes others sad or angry. When you see a man or a woman afraid to marry, it is because they have experienced this bitter taste in a previous relationship. To them, marriage is like drinking poison every day, like having with an incurable disease, with no hope of being happy ever again. That is why they prefer staying single. Bitterness causes piercing, sharp emotional pain, like the sting of a wasp. The wounds of bitter words are long lasting and difficult to forgive or forget. In particular, a bitter husband is harsh, hot tempered, holds grudges, is mean, greedy, hard hearted, stubborn and difficult to teach. In Nigeria people describe disappointed love as ‘soup when sour’. As a pastor I counsel many women who suffer terribly in a marriage with a bitter man who discourages them to be happy. Only God can help!
MY TESTIMONY
I am a woman. I am a wife. I am a mother and a grandmother. By the grace of God, my husband and I are married for 45 years. I had to study this subject of submission because I need to fight the demons that will attack my husband. He does his own fight. But I am his helper. I should not be ignorant of this temptation. I must help him fight bitterness and not foolishly add to it. As a wife, I have tried to keep close to my husband, spiritually in particular. It pains me when he quotes a Bible verse or teaches me something new, and I am totally ignorant of that subject. I challenge myself to study the Word of God so that when my husband needs somebody to talk to about the Bible, I am ‘current’ with it. I have learned many things about subjects that I do not like in particular. I know much about politics and current affairs in Nigeria. I am not a politician, but I need to know these things, if they are good or bad. Ignorance has never helped anybody. I need to know my husband’s plans, dreams and God’s purpose for his life. I need to pray for those. I need to grow as he grows. We are not competing one against each other. But we must complement each other. To complement my husband I need to grow too. As the vision for our lives and ministry increases with time, so we must grow with it. To be left behind spiritually, to be a passive wife, it is sin. If I am lazy or careless with our relationship, and I just walk too slowly behind him with nothing new to add to our marriage, that sin is almost like spiritual adultery. My husband will be tempted to be worried, angry, disappointed and bitter against me, his wife, helper and friend. As a wife, I should not be found to be too fast and lead my husband. I should also not be found to be too slow and leave him alone. Marriage is two people learning to be one. Each one of us must grow in grace towards God and towards one another. I should not take his love for granted. I should be watchful for any virus of disappointment towards me that I sense in my husband. I must be filled with the Holy Spirit so that I will help him be the man God wants him to be. We both work hard at making our marriage a success. But the hard work is bringing a greater than expected harvest of peace, joy and ministry to those who call us parents in Christ. I boldly declare that in Christ alone, our marriage is free from the virus of bitterness! Love has won the battle! May these words challenge you! God loves you! God loves your marriages! Glory to God!
 
(My husband, Pastor Richmond Leigh and I. We took this picture about 10 years ago under a palm tree in Israel).
Tali and I 14

DR. OSEOLA MCCARTHY

This is a wonderful story and testimony of a Christian woman who, from her humble life gave glory to God like few others do!
In 1995 the nation was stunned when news broke that an elderly woman named Oseola McCarty had donated $150,000 to the University of Southern Mississippi for their scholarship fund. This eighty-seven-year-old woman had been forced to drop out of school in the sixth grade to care for her family. For more than sixty years she made a living washing clothes in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, saving as much as she could from her meager pay. She wanted others to have the opportunity for the education she never received, so she gave away the money she had saved for so many years.
 
Oseola McCarty (1908-1999) was born in Wayne County, Mississippi and moved to Hattiesburg as a child. In her sixth grade, her aunt (who had no children of her own) was hospitalized and later needed homecare, so McCarty quit school, never to return. She later became a washerwoman, like her grandmother, a trade that she continued until arthritis forced her to quit in 1994.
 
Even before dropping out of school, McCarty was taught to save money by her mother. She opened her first savings account at First Mississippi National Bank, and over the years, she opened several other accounts at various area banks, including Trustmark National Bank, which she appointed trustee of her trust and executor of her estate.
 
McCarty never owned a car; she walked everywhere she went, pushing a shopping cart nearly a mile to get cheaper groceries. She rode with friends to attend services at the Friendship Baptist Church. She did not subscribe to any newspaper and considered the expense an extravagance. Similarly, although she owned a black-and white-television, she received only free broadcast transmissions. In 1947, her uncle gave her the house in which she lived until her death. She also received some money from her aunt and mother when they died, which she placed into savings as well.
 
Over time, Trustmark Bank personnel noticed McCarty’s accumulated savings and began to assist her in future estate planning as well as be unofficial guardians for her. (Bank employees and other friends convinced McCarty to purchase two small air conditioners for her house and cable television service.)
 
With the assistance of a local attorney, for whom she had done laundry, and the bank’s trust officer, using slips of paper and dimes, to represent 10% shares, McCarty set out the future distribution of her estate. She set aside one dime (10%) for her church, one dime (10%) each for three relatives, and the remaining dimes (60%) for the University of Southern Mississippi. She stipulated that the funds should be used for serious students, preferably those of African-American descent, who could not otherwise attend due to financial hardship. When news of McCarty’s plan was made public, local leaders immediately funded an endowment in her honor. She signed an irrevocable trust, allowing the bank to manage her funds from which she received a regular check.
 
In 1998, a year before her death, she was awarded many honors recognizing her generosity. . She received an honorary degree from University of Southern Mississippi, the first such degree awarded by the university. President Bill Clinton presented her with a Presidential Citizens Medal, the nation’s second highest civilian award, during a special White House Ceremony. She stayed in Washington DC for three days. It was the first time in her life that she flew in a plane and the first time that she slept in a hotel She also won the United Nations’ Avicenna Medal for educational commitment. In June 1996, Harvard University awarded McCarty an honorary doctorate degree. She who could not finish her primary school became a Doctor at Harvard University!
 
The Lessons? First lesson: God exists! God rewards! Give thanks to God! Secondly, as they say, ‘do not judge a book by its cover’. Do not make friends only with ‘big men’ who have money on display. Look for God’s servants in all places, even in the poor kitchens or the rooms where clothes are washed. Thirdly, generosity of spirit should be practiced by all. It is a royal stamp, a sure proof and a sweet fruit of the Holy Spirit! Our society values how much a person has; God values how much a person gives! Finally, whatever we do, let’s do it well, giving glory to God! If not in this life, then in heaven, but be sure of this: each good deed is rewarded by God who sees all people, no matter how humble they are. God alone takes the glory for such a humble and wonderful fulfilled life!
Oseola MCCarthy 2