Monthly Archives: June, 2011
Have you heard about the flooding in North Dakota? We just saw it first hand. So far, national news coverage of this record-setting disaster has been little and late. Seems folks who are quick to roll up their sleeves to help each other are less newsworthy than those who hold press-conferences to blame others.
We just got back from there. We were ministering at a church in Bismarck that has become a real home-away-from-home for us and our mission. It was an exceptionally sweet visit, which blows me away, because under the circumstances, I’m still amazed they even had us come…
A month before our scheduled visit, Larry (the founding pastor and a good friend) called to tell me that Garrison Dam, 75 miles up the Mighty Missouri, was over maximum capacity, the highest level in its 57 years. They were bracing for a 100-year-record flood. The inescapable challenge facing government officials was a foreboding one. Which spillways to open, for how long, to flood which parts of the region?
I fully expected, and volunteered, to cancel our engagement. ”No way,” he said. Now mind you, Larry’s a smart-aleck after my own heart, but in this case, he continued in all seriousness, without bragging… “This is North Dakota. We don’t stop going to church just because of a flood!”
By the time we arrived, many neighborhoods were under water.
(Floodwaters aren’t projected to recede until August, although groundwater levels may pose an even bigger challenge.)
When I spoke on Pentecost Sunday, most of the congregation had been sandbagging neighbors’ homes every day for weeks prior to our arrival. No complaining. Thirteen families were already houseless. No “woe is me” stories, no violins.
Quite the opposite. A lady named Karen, a respected healthcare executive and newlywed, had been asked to share that morning. Her story was not only inspiring, but very telling of the entire church-family’s attitude. She and her husband were celebrating their third wedding anniversary in a small, two-bedroom, appliance-less apartment, because their dream-house had literally become an “island,” cut off from all services.
But she wasn’t testifying about their plight, but of God’s goodness! She spoke of His great faithfulness, and the unexpected blessings she and her husband were experiencing, together, in the midst of their trial.
This spring brought record flooding throughout the Midwest. So why single out this one church in Bismarck? Because, as the Word says, “The generous soul will be made rich, and he who waters will also be watered himself.” (Proverbs 11:25)
And with no pun intended, this little church has watered us well.
They took up a special missionary offering for Pentecost Walk, just as they’ve done every year since we first met. Most churches in their position would have cancelled; most people in their predicament would have given little, if anything. And they’d have a valid excuse for holding onto their money. But not this church!
Even though many were stranded that Sunday morning (one family actually rowed in), even though 13 families were houseless, that church-family gave generously. In fact, I believe it was the largest offering we’ve ever received from them.
So here’s what’s on my heart: Since that church supports us, and since you support us, might you consider “watering” those who have “watered” us so selflessly? And might your generous response be a sign and a wonder to these deserving people?
Please pray about it. And then do what the Lord tells you to do.
You might have noticed me saying “houseless,” instead of “homeless.” This made-up word hit me in Bismarck, and I’m gonna use it from now on when referring to God’s people, for in Christ, we can never be homeless. (1 Corinthians 6:19, Philippians 3:20)
In my last email, I shared our IF THE LORD WILLS vision. If you don’t remember, read from the paragraph starting with, “When we get back…” In the 10 years of this mission, this is the biggest faith-step we’ve ever taken. We need your help. Please pray!
We love you. Thanks for hanging in…and thanks for the support.
Tom & Deanna
P.S. My mom grew up in Bismarck, the youngest of 11 children, during the Great Depression. They lived on the south side, or as it was known back then, the “poor side” of town, because before the dam was built, that side of town would flood regularly, often annually. Seeing all this was quite a thing. (Love you, Mom!)