Dear friends and family, October 02, 2016
Time and again over the past few months, circumstances have reminded me of how inadequate I am as a missionary. I don’t mean that I can’t do the job I was sent here to do. Managing Grenada Family Network is a challenging but not impossible task, but being a missionary is so much more than editing videos or programming a broadcast computer. There are almost daily encounters with needy, demanding people and their seemingly impossible problems. For many of the locals, a white American is automatically rich, so the appeals for money are annoyingly frequent. As a naturally quiet and reserved person, I would much rather deal with machines than the man on the street, but God is trying to teach me His methods of mission work. Several times over the past few months, the Holy Spirit has reminded me of how Jesus related to people, even unpleasant people. God sees what unpleasant people can become through His grace and what their destiny will be without Him. Sometimes these reminders come in unexpected ways.
Yesterday I was at the house where our radio and TV studios are located. Since it had been several days since I had been upstairs, I decided to walk through just to check for any potential problems such as roof or plumbing leaks. As I walked into the bathroom, I noticed a small bird called a Bullfinch fluttering against the window.
It seemed tired and yet had enough strength to fly out of the bathroom and into the adjoining bedroom. I knew it would soon starve to death if I didn’t help it get outside, so I opened the door to the small 2nd floor porch and using a rolled up map, gently tried to direct it to the door where it could escape. After a couple minutes of flying from one high window to another to avoid the large object moving toward it, the poor, exhausted bird fluttered to the floor. I quickly took a hand towel and gently covered the little creature to pick it up without causing it additional distress. I carried it outside on the porch and a moment or two after I opened the towel it fluttered to the yard below.
Still concerned that it was too weak to survive without something to eat or drink, I went to the kitchen, filled a small plate with water, and carried it out to where the little bird lay motionless. I soon realized that it had died during the 2 or 3 minutes I was getting water.
I must confess that in my surprise and disappointment, I shed a few tears. One of God’s creatures had come so close to freedom after being trapped for several days, only to die from exhaustion or an unseen injury. You might think me silly to become emotional over a little bird and perhaps I was, but the Holy Spirit used the situation to speak to my heart. “That little bird is the whole world of people without Jesus. They are all alone, trapped by sin, and ready to die.” The reality of suffering humanity struck home to me again through the death of a bird.
So often we relate to people on a superficial level. We may be polite, but do we love others enough to really take an interest in their needs? Jesus said: “For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?” (Matt 5:46). Anyone can smile and say “good morning” but it takes a Christian filled with God’s love to spend a few minutes and really look for ways to help a fellow brother or sister.
I had to ask myself, “Do I really care for the young man who rudely badgered me for money for the fourth time in as many months?” The first time I gave in, but after seeing that he is perfectly able to work and has chosen to beg, I had to get firm with him. Rather than hurrying on my way, what if I was willing to patiently talk to him and find a way to help him while not enabling his laziness? What if the Holy Spirit somehow touched his heart through my friendship and he was transformed to become useful for God and others?
What about the man who asked for $60 EC dollars for glaucoma eye drops? One look at the poor man’s eyes told me he wasn’t making up a story. Poor nutrition, age, and the bright tropical sun had taken their toll. But then there is the dilemma of how much money is enough money. If I pay for eye drops this month, he will be back for more next month, and the month after that…
This ministry is supposed to be all about living by faith and yet I’m reminded of Jesus’ command to His disciples (that’s you and me); “Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.” (Matt 10:8). Notice, Jesus didn’t say its money we are to receive and share, but the POWER of God! When will I have the faith to place my fingers on that man’s eyes and pray not just for eye drops, but immediate healing?
“God doesn’t work in that way now days”, I hear some say. Oh, really? I suspect it’s we who don’t work that way, not God. God’s word is still “living and powerful”, but my natural unbelieving tendency is to rely on human resources. I’m ashamed to say I didn’t even think of praying for the man’s eyes until 10 minutes after he walked away, but God did command me to heal him. That much is clear. One touch from Jesus and a man who might never have set foot in a church his whole life would be eager to serve God with all his heart, and I’m afraid to give him money because he might ask for more.
So the secret is out. I’m a mediocre missionary, but Praise God! He specializes in using mediocre people like me!
Last Sunday I was driving the GFN Toyota Noah home after a short 15 minute trip to take one of our local volunteers home. As I was driving through the backroads of Grenada between Westerhall and St. Paul’s, I was reflecting on the lecture I had gotten from a neighbor about how I needed to get out more and socialize with the people around Mt. Airy where we live. Even though I felt a bit annoyed at the unsolicited advice, I had to admit he was right. Working with the radio and TV station 9 – 10 hours a day left me with little time for social calls, and Jesus was all about ministering to people by socializing with them. It’s pretty difficult to convince people of the truth when they have no idea who you are or where you came from!
As I started driving up the long hill on Hope Vale road, I saw a local man up ahead. He motioned to me for a ride and realizing he would have a 1 mile walk up hill in the heat of late afternoon, I quickly pulled over. I am usually careful about who I give rides to. There are often dirty and sometimes drunken men out walking in the late afternoon, but this man looked friendly enough and didn’t seem to have that hung-over look that would cause me to keep driving.
As he got into the van, my nose told me that although his clothes didn’t seem excessively dirty, the rest of him, dreadlocks and all, probably hadn’t seen soap and water for several days; but before I had time to regret my decision, he struck up a conversation. “You Mennonite?” he asked. (The most frequently seen conservative looking white people in the countryside are Mennonite missionaries.)
“No”, I said, “I’m Seventh-day Adventist”.
“Oh!” he exclaimed, “I like the Seven-day Adventists! They are good people; good good people.”
Before I could think of a response to the unexpected commendation, he said, “I like the radio station, uh, 93… uh…
“91.3?” I interjected.
“Ya, that’s it” he said. “That’s a nice radio station! I like listening to the preachers they play on that station – Joe Crews, and Doug Batchelor, and some of the other ones that I don’t know names of. And Seven-day Adventists stick to the Bible. Saturday is the true Sabbath, you know? They talk about how the Pope changed the day, but I think we should follow the Bible. And health – they talk about how we shouldn’t be eating all kind-a animals that aren’t clean.”
And so it went for a couple minutes as we drove up the hill, with him talking in glowing terms of what he had learned from listening to 91.3 FM and me hardly getting a word in other than, “Uh-huh, that’s right”. At the top of the hill I dropped him off near the bus stop and went on my way with joy in my heart. I hadn’t even had a chance to tell him that I was managing the station which was such a blessing to him, and it’s probably just as well. Jesus must increase and I must decrease, and if that can happen every day then God can be glorified despite the weakness of the missionary. May that be the prayer of each one of us!
- Regular monthly gifts of $10, $20, $50 or more to cover our $3,000 USD/month budget.
- The Great Controversy and Steps to Christ books for sharing.
- $7,497 for new radio broadcast and editing computers. (Our current hardware is 7 years old and beginning to fail which could soon take us off the air. See: http://www.bsiusa.com/systems/s110/s110.php )
- $650 /month for volunteer stipend. (Join us in prayer that God will abundantly supply for our new volunteers the Burishkins.)
- $500 for maintenance and repairs at the station house. (Ants, termites and tropical weather take their toll all too quickly.)
- Prayers that the promise of Matthew 24:14 will soon be fulfilled.
How to help:
You can donate online: http://gospelministry.org/donations/
Or by phone at: 423-473-1841
Or you can send a tax deductible donation to:
Gospel Ministries International
PO Box 506
Collegedale, TN 37315
Kindly include a separate note that it is for Grenada Family Network.
Contact us directly:
Steve and Samra Shedell
PO Box 2747
St. Paul’s, St. George’s
Grenada, West Indies
1 (473) 435-4297