Saturday, August 24, 2013

Friendship, Fun and Memories

Yesterday I received the visit of an old friend, Erwin Bush.  We were teenage buddies in church together, rode our bikes all over Portland, Oregon together, had our first airplane ride in a light aircraft together, hiked into the woods to pray together, drove in my 33 Oldsmobile to the beach together and even shared a yard-maintenance business together for a while.  Erwin was always big and muscular, so strong he would accidentally snap a shovel handle in two when digging and break off a bolt when tightening it. In sharp contrast I was a skinny runt. This week I invited him to fly in from San Antonio to attend the memorial service in memory of our wonderful pastor, Reverend Noble Ballew, who passed away two weeks ago.  I found one of our old hymn books that is falling apart and the first thing we did when he arrived at my house was sit at my piano and worship the Lord together for an hour or so.  

The memorial service was at 1 PM today and it was delightful, seeing old friends and hearing the many testimonies of lives that had been touched by our pastor over the years.  Death at 90 years old is no tragedy for a Christian.  His son, Pastor Ron Ballew in the Hilmar Church where the celebration was held, preached on 1 Thess 5:16 "Rejoice evermore!"  And that is just what we were doing... joining our pastor who is rejoicing today in heaven.

Earlier this morning we joined my son Tim and his Neighborhood Church worship team to play for a civic event in the Salida City Park.  There was a nice parade with horses, firetrucks and a large marching band, plus dozens of stands displaying and selling their wares.  The city provided us with a platform and professional sound system.  I joined Tim's very talented band with my Hawaiian Guitar as we did some awesome Christian songs.  

Then Tim had me do a show with Perfume and Felipe, who... of course, told a Bible story. 

Parents and grand-parents brought their kids up close to touch Perfume, the skunk.  I noticed them taking pictures of their littlest kids reaching out to pet her.  I hope they don't try that on a wild skunk some day.

It was a beautiful event and while Erwin was sitting in the bleachers, he talked to a woman with a little baby in her arms, who was really needing the Lord.  

After the event I was picking up my guitar and preparing to leave to take Erwin to the memorial service when he told me about this lady's need and how he had promised to pray for her.  He pointed her out to me as she was walking away.  I felt God speaking to me to run after her.  As I suspected... she is from a Spanish-speaking background.  She opened her heart to me, telling me about how she is passing through some difficult times... and then asked me to pray for her right there on the street corner.  I recognized that God had put this together. We didn't make a scene, but God came down close to us and I believe His presence followed her home with her great-granddaughter in her arms.  Tim's church is not far away and I invited her to the services.  I hope she will be able to come.



Sunday, August 18, 2013

Ministry in Riverbank with Anna Droll

I became acquainted with Anna and Raymond Droll at our monthly Sectional AG minister’s meetings.  They have recently initiated an organization called “Kairos Global Missions” and are presently focusing on helping national pastors touch “unreached villages” near the borders of Ghana, West Africa.

This week Anna had organized a children’s outreach near my home, cooperating with Living Grace Church in Riverbank, CA and she asked me to bring Felipe and help with the "kick-off" afternoon service.  I was delighted to be a part of reaching out to children of another community with the wonderful Gospel of Jesus.

Above are tonight's "kick-off-kids".  Anna is the “teenager” standing on the left.  I can’t believe that she has 3 daughters and one of them is 26 years old!  Life just ain’t fair! 

Kids are so delightful!  

Little Ben was a front row kid that had his hand raised almost all the time.  Talk about participation!  Ben was a participator!  He and some of the others were really into it.  

You gotta love a brilliant little kid like this.

I seldom try to sing while playing my lap-steel guitar, since, unlike women, I am not good at multi-tasking.  The steel guitar takes all the brains I’ve got.  So if I try to sing, too, I usually mess up at one of the two... or both.  But I never quit trying.

Of course, Perfume came out and was petted by all… and Felipe did his thing. 

I tried to get a Bible verse into their little heads and something of its meaning into their hearts. It was a feeble attempt, obviously with limited results, but in the next few days I feel sure that Anna and team will see heart-warming consequences.

Amen... and food for all.


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Now it's a Gym! Now it's a Church! Now it's a Gym again!

It happens every Sunday morning!  My son, Tim, who is one of the pastors on staff at Neighborhood Church Modesto, gets up at 5 AM.  His son, Evan, accompanies him.  Can you imagine a 16 year kid getting up, wide awake and ready to go at 5:30 AM!  Now one of the two Chinese boys, Tyler, decided to come along last Sunday.  They first dash to a Starbucks for their wake-up breakfast, then go to the Modesto Christian School gym to complete its transformation from a gym into a church.  

Already the only paid help will have covered the entire delicate gym floor with huge rolled out plastic sheets of floor protection and the stage will have been set up.  Now at dawn a large backdrop curtain is raised in place, all the chairs have to be set out in neat rows, then about 10 huge bins on wheels are rolled in with all the complicated electronic set up with what seem to be miles of cables to be connected and sound equipment put in place, special lighting arranged, the video screens lowered, the music stands and keyboard put together, platform skirts and decorations… and the list goes on and on.  Evan always helps his dad at this colossal job along with a team of about 5 faithful volunteer men from the church. Tyler, only a week or two having arrived from China, was right in there helping this time. 

Then at 8 AM the music team arrives to begin practice.  Tim has served Neighborhood Church as worship leader for 16 years now, at first as a volunteer with no financial assistance.  Now he gets a stipend, but earns his real family support by working as translator for the criminal court... English-Spanish, Spanish-English.  His life as an MK in Argentina prepared him for this.  He has done this kind of work for at least 25 years… while always been involved in ministry as well.  

Service starts at Neighborhood at 10 AM and ends around noon, but Tim and his faithful volunteer team, including Evan, stay to take down the entire scene and store it all away.  The final step is to roll up the plastic floor covering. Whenever I stay to help we are usually finished by 1:30 PM. Once again the school has their gym... and we are ready for a hamburger and a shake. 

This past Sunday I took my Hawaiian lap-steel guitar for the first time to join in with the Neighborhood Church band.  Tim had invited me to practice with the band on last Wednesday, so I was well acquainted with the music already.  He has some very talented musicians that dedicate themselves to the worship service.  I don’t know what we are going to do without 18 year old Michelle at the keyboard, since she is going off to university in a few weeks.  Anyway I truly enjoyed worshiping while playing my instrument, just like I do in most services in Argentina. 

By the way, I asked the Lord to let me take my Hawaiian lap-steel guitar to heaven with me.  I think I heard Him say, “No way, man!  We’ve got a lap-steel guitar waiting for you up here that will make your eyes pop out and will produce heavenly music like you have never heard!” 


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

"Giving the Charge"

To me it was a big deal and a great honor.  

Yesterday, Tuesday, August 6 was the opening day of classes at Modesto Christian School.
Modesto Christian is a truly great school that was initiated in 1967 by the late Pastor Roy Blakeley, a true visionary and founder of Neighborhood Church Assembly of God where my son, Tim has served on staff for 16 years now. Many years ago Pastor Blakeley was able to acquire 40 acres of choice land in northern Modesto for building the school.  More recently the church, which now uses the gym for services, has purchased an additional 15 acres.  

This school has grown into a wonderful instrument of the Lord touching the lives of hundreds of children.  Both of our grandchildren, Michelle and Evan started in kindergarten here and Michelle just graduated from MC high school with honors.  Evan is now a junior, while Michelle will start at Azuza Pacific University next month.  

On the night before classes start it is customary to gather all the teachers, staff, board members along with their husband or wife for a kickoff celebration.  Doug Wesson, the chairman of the board invited me to be a part of this event, to eat with them at a restaurant and then to “Give the Charge” and to lead them in prayer.  

So Monday night nearly 100 of us gathered in a crowded room of the restaurant.  

The “Charge” from the Lord was not only to provide excellence in education, but to be “passionate” about leading these children, adolescents and youth to a genuine relationship with Jesus Christ, while modeling that Christian life before them.  

Yesterday 65 new students stepped onto MC’s campus.  Many of them come from non-christian homes.  Some are foster kids.  Some are international students.  

In fact Tim and Cheryl are now hosting two 14 year old Chinese boys straight from China for the entire year.  So 16 year old Evan will have two new brothers, Tyler and John.  

I just called Tim and found  him helping the boys with their homework. 

Welcome to the world of being the "daddy" of three boys!  I think I know something about that... and wouldn't trade it for anything!