Young doctor/team-leader of missionaries in rural Uganda,

just diagnosed with colon cancer.   All of World Harvest is in shock.  I’m copying his letter to his Pray-ers below, because it will point you to Jesus.  This is for your benefit, not his.  He has plenty of folks praying for him.

–WeakDave, trying to promote the Jesus-dependency this friend is requesting

 

This past Friday I was diagnosed with adenomcarcinoma of the colon- colon cancer.  When the GI specialist told us he found a suspicious mass on a colonoscopy, tears fell down my face.  I was hoping he was going to show me a 12 foot long tapeworm that he pulled out of my gut.   I feared maybe some sort of inflammatory bowel disease.  I did not expect cancer.

I am thankful for how Africa has given me a chance to walk closer with Jesus. There are three things that I have learned these past three years that He has reminded me over the past several days.

First, suffering is a part of this life.  It is not an anomaly.  We all suffer.  Most of the world suffers much everyday.  If you have not read “Insanity of God” by Nik Ripken, please do.   We live in a broken world in which suffering is as assured as the sunrise.  So, my reaction is not “why me” but more “why now?”

Secondly, Jesus is in the depths of suffering.  He purposely does not prevent suffering.  He purposely draws near to us in our suffering.  The believers I know who have suffered much, know Jesus deeply.  Instead of praying daily, they converse with Jesus continually.  I have learned this from some of my dear Uganda friends.

Jesus is in the midst of this newest trial/adventure/curveball/scare. It is amazing to me that we are near my family with a caring church and some of our closest friends.  This was planned before I had symptoms.  We have already been showered by these dear friends and family with prayers, help, words of truth and ministry of presence.  I am in the US and not in the jungles of Africa.  I am near a fantastic medical center. We have a place to stay, a job that allows me to be available for appointments, and a mission that is praying for me from all over the world.  I had a colonoscopy because of symptoms similar to amebiasis.  The symptoms are not necessarily related to the mass I have, especially given the smaller size of the mass.  These symptoms have largely resolved over the past week since my colonoscopy.  It could be that my symptoms are from an infection or the strange fever I had last fall and only related to the mass by the hand of God, who wanted the mass to be found.

Sometimes I find myself stuck on a passage and meditate on it for days or weeks. This month, I have been camping out on Psalms 16.  I wasn’t sure why Jesus had me there, until after the diagnosis.  I re-read it that afternoon and the words seem to jump off the page as if the Holy Spirit was speaking directly to me.  In all of these I am thankful to say that we have seen and felt profoundly Jesus’s presence and His tender care to go before us.  I have another chance to walk with Him grasping His hand tightly.

Thirdly, prayer moves the heart and hand of God.  Over and over again in Uganda we saw how your prayers seemed to change outcomes, overcome fears and open up doors for Jesus to be worshiped.

So, once again, I ask you to pray.  I know God hears.  I know He cares.  I know He acts when His people ask.

Please pray for the following:

Pray that we can listen- that we may be able to take the time to see how Jesus is present and working around and through us.  We do not want to be so rushed in “fixing” the problem to miss an opportunity to walk with Him and hear what He is saying.

Pray that we will know the right treatment plan of cure for me.  There are a couple of surgical options and chemotherapy options that are available.  We want to be wise and correctly treat the cancer I have.  We want to be aggressive.  We do not want to walk in fear and take an approach based on fear of what might happen down the road and could lead to unneeded side effects or outcomes.  I don’t know what is best at this time.

Pray that God will protect our minds in Christ Jesus with a peace that passes all understanding.  Today I can honestly say I do not fear the cancer. I do see this as a chance to walk with Jesus.  I also know this will change daily as news causes me to vacillate from confidence to being disheartened.

Pray for Amy and I as we walk this together.  She will be bearing the brunt of the changes and consequences.  Pray for encouragement for her. Pray that we can communicate well.

Pray for our children.  As always, my prayer is that they will know and love Jesus more because of my life.  Pray that we go to Jesus together constantly and I know how to include them in this chapter of our life.

Pray for our team, friends, and ministry in Bundibugyo.  We will certainly be delayed in our return which will impact a lot of people.  Pray for wisdom as we try to sort out what the plan forward should be.

Thanks so much for your friendship and love.  Thanks for your prayers and words of encouragement.  Keep them coming.  We are desperate for these.

Thankful for you,

Travis

Chaplain leads resident to Jesus.

For the past twenty years I’ve mentored this former pastor, now chaplain of a large nursing home.  Jesus is growing him wonderfully as an example of what GospelFriendships is attempting.

–WeakDave, trying to get us believers to do the impossible, operate with Jesus-power — Jesus-humility and Jesus-love, so we will fruitfully love pre-believers into the Kingdom

To receive my weekly updates, email me, or search for GospelFriendships (one word) on Facebook, and “like” the page, or subscribe to my blog: dumbsheepdave.com

I received paperwork on a new resident who went to church when young, but with an alcoholic father.  Never went as an adult.  I picked up my Bible and song book and started down the hall to “bring her to Christ”.  Half way down the hall, I had a strong sense something was wrong.   I sat down on a chair in the hall, repented of being in the flesh, and asked God the Spirit what He wanted me to do.  A song came to my heart from a popular movie, not a church song!  I left my Bible and song book on the chair and went to this 86-year-old lady’s room — with no “righteousness” of my own, and no agenda but to love her.  I knocked, she answered and I told her who I was and she rolled her eyes in disgust.  “Are you going to read the Bible and pray?”  “No,” I replied.  And after a moment of awkwardness, I said, “Where did you get all these wonderful paintings?”   She said, “I painted them!”  And proceeded to tell me about all her paintings over the next half hour.  “I have to go,” I said.  Then she asked, “Are you going to read the Bible and pray?”   “No,” I replied, “But I think God wants me to sing you a song.”   I proceeded to sing If I Were a Rich Man, from Fiddler on the Roof, with blushing gusto.   I obeyed but I did not understand.   She laughed and said, “You are an odd minister, but I like you.”  Two weeks later we had a heart-to-heart talk about family pain, God, etc., and she gave her life to Christ right there.  She still comes to my services today, three years later.

Tormented by bad decisions.

My flesh demands that I be perfect in every decision I make.  Sometimes I’m tormented by bad decisions, even tiny ones, but I always get LIFE from good ones, big or small.  It’s easy to extend grace to someone I like who makes a bad decision, but I struggle to extend that same grace to myself.  My joy is robbed.  Why?  Pride.  A humble believer is not tormented by a bad decision, and easily extends grace to himself as he experiences failure.

Fresh humility is impossible without the convicting work of the Holy Spirit in the soul of a proud man.

–DumbSheepDave, taking baby steps in enjoying others, himself, ShepherdJesus, and circumstances, just as they are, because folks have been praying, hoping pre-believers are noticing

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Butch, the town drunk.

This is a email prayer update I received last Thursday from a pastor I’ve mentored for twenty-five years, has an inner-city church in a store front, and lives next door.
–WeakDave, trying to get Jesus to be so contagious in us believers that we love pre-believers into the Kingdom
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Praying Friends, I am writing to ask prayer for an unusual opportunity that the Lord has literally put right on our doorstep.  There is a guy — he goes by “Butch,” who is a fixture in town.  He is the town drunk.  He has been for years, long before we arrived here over twenty years ago.  He is always on the street – and always intoxicated.

In recent weeks, a couple of things have happened.

First, Butch began to “camp out” on our doorstep.  He literally spends hours there, sitting, taking in the sun.  Each morning as I come out to walk over to the church, I greet him and he returns the courtesy.  We have had a couple of more lengthy conversations as well.  I began to open the door to finding out how Butch became Butch (please pray for that right now if you would!).  A couple of times, Butch left his trash on our step, and my wife said, “If he does that again I’m gonna kick him in the teeth!”  (Oh.. my Tina!)

So one day I went out, and told Butch, “My wife says, you leave your garbage on our step, she’s gonna kick you in the teeth!”  He chuckled.  But he hasn’t left any trash out there since!  I told him that we expected him to show us the same respect that we show him — and he has.  He even moves away from our door when he smokes so that the smoke doesn’t end up in our house.

The follow up to this has been that Butch started to come to church.  He showed up one cold Sunday a couple of weeks ago, and we all kind of thought that he was just coming in to get warm.  But he stayed for the entire service.  Not only did he stay – but he stayed awake, even attentive!  There are people in our congregation that don’t do that! J  I went up to him afterward and thanked him for being there.  Last Sunday, he came again – with a friend.  My wife noticed that he had showered before he came (his hair was still wet, and the fragrance that we had come to know was missing!). That may seem incidental, but it’s huge for Butch to show that kind of consideration.

When I talked with him yesterday, he said that he and his friend really want to get their lives on track.  They want to sober up…they want to LIVE.  Now – we all know that without the Lord that just ain’t gonna happen.  So – that’s where you all come in.  Please pray for Butch!  Pray that the Lord will change his heart from stone to flesh and bring him into His family.  Pray that the Lord would give me the right words to speak – especially that I would be sloooowwww to speak and quick to listen – pray that our congregation would show the love of Jesus to him.

In Mark 5, Jesus encounters a man with a legion of demons – this guy had been this way as long as anyone could remember.  Everyone stayed away from him.  Jesus delivers him, and we read in vs. 14, “..people came to see what it was that had happened.  And they came to Jesus and saw the demon-possessed man, the one who had had the legion, sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid.”

I cannot imagine what the impact of seeing Butch “clothed and in his right mind” would be on our community of Phillipsburg.  But I am going to keep praying, looking to our God Who does abundantly beyond all we can ask or imagine, to do just that.  Will you join me?

Thanks!  By His Grace, Pastor Bill Slack

These are not Dave’s circumstances,

but Jesus’ circumstances.  Designed by Him to perfectly meet my needs, His plan, His glory, and my good.  Dave is not sovereign over his life; Jesus is.  My flesh doesn’t agree, nor the devil, nor the world, and prefers me thinking of them as my circumstances, for Dave to encounter by himself, as an orphan/shepherd/CEO/arrogant/self-reliant.  Why?  So I am robbed of the joy and peace that’s mine in Jesus, and run around acting like one who doesn’t follow Jesus, doesn’t depend on Jesus.  Why?  To neutralize me, so the Jesus in me is not contagious to the pre-believers around me.  Or believers.  He who underestimates his enemy is a fool.

These are not my circumstances, but His.  Ahhh.

–DumbSheepDave, having the time of his life, because folks have been praying

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Paul Tripp’s story.

I mentor lots of pastors, and Paul Tripp’s story is not an unusual one, though many pastors are as clueless as Paul was.   I have not mentored Paul — just read his story.  We have come to expect/demand that our pastors be the together ones, and they had better not disappoint us, and this encourages them to — want to believe the lie, live in denial.  Everyone loses, especially the family.   Just because churches are growing, doesn’t mean they are growing by conversion growth.  Kingdom re-arrangement doesn’t require supernatural power, supernatural humility.  Human power will do.  Christian leaders are the weakest links in the Church being the Church — the ones most needy of further overhaul by Jesus, no matter how much He’s overhauled us to date.  Seems to me.

http://www.christianitytoday.com/le/2013/january-online-only/calling-killers.html?start=1

–DumbSheepDave, taking baby steps in Jesus-dependency, because folks have been praying, hoping the pre-believers around him are noticing the difference

To receive my weekly updates, email me, or search for GospelFriendships (one word) on Facebook, and “like” the page, or subscribe to my blog: dumbsheepdave.com

Whenever I’m trying to prove myself,

to myself or others, that’s an indication that I’m ashamed of who I am, don’t feel good enough as a human being, or believer, or hubby, or dad.  Prove myself?  Winning, achieving, noticing the failure of others as a strategy to feel better about myself, and if the others are successful, any little chink in the armor I can find, will suffice, will fill me up with a sense of being more worthy than they.  Opposing team, politicians, somebodies, nobodies, Christian jerks, whomever.  Ahhh.  My hungry-needy flesh loves feeling superior.

Jesus has compassion on me, just as I am, because I belong to Him, but when I don’t have compassion on myself, just as I am, my pride is exposed.  A humble believer confesses his pride, but is not bummed by it.  A humble believer has wonderful compassion on himself, just as he is, just like Jesus has wonderful compassion on him.  A humble believer is completely satisfied with the imputed worthiness of Jesus, and is liberated about having none of his own, or some, or a lot: makes no difference whatsoever.  And because a humble believer is completely satisfied with Jesus, he has wonderful compassion on others, even enemies.

–DumbSheepDave, having more fun than ever, because folks have been praying, hoping the pre-believers around him are noticing the difference Jesus is making

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The idol nobody confesses.

The idol of different.  Huh?  Wanting a change of scenery, different clothes, different car, different motorcycle, different home, different location or vacation, different/newer technology, different job, or more success or different twist to my present job, different experience, different arrangement of furniture, different wall color, different church, different self.  Be somewhere else, doing something else, that could bring me joy, even for a bit.  Why?  I must not like myself just as I am.  And I must be bored with Jesus.  So I keep trying, hoping something different will sooth the hidden pain in my soul from childhood, that energizes my idol/addiction.  Never does, but hope springs eternal for the insane/independent/confident/adultlike/shepherd/idolator/addicted, who don’t like themselves just as they are.

Satan has been successful for years, in keeping me from seeing how dysfunctional I am.  I’m naturally self-deceived.  Just like the Pharisees.  I used to think I was superior to them.

–DumbSheepDave, beneficiary of the prayers of others, freshly convicted of the sin of independence, freshly aware of the wiles of the devil to keep the addicted from admitting their addiction, and freshly hoping the pre-believers around him are noticing in him a surprising contentment with everything just as it is, sometimes

To receive my weekly updates, email me, or search for GospelFriendships (one word) on Facebook, and “like” the page, or subscribe to my blog: dumbsheepdave.com