"Don’t Lay Any Certain Plans for the Future ..."
Not the most Biblical quotation I have used in writing newsletters over some twenty years, but quite amusing and sums up the
last few months. I have put in inserts with news of past travel and events since my last news update headed
‘India’, ‘Africa’ and ‘Book’ and trust you will be encouraged by them. These pages are for a more general update of
... it is like planting toads and expecting to raise toadstools! (John Billings)
Why quotations about plans? Simply because mine have changed so much... and that is not an excuse for such a long delay in
writing. I honestly have not known what direction I am taking and where I am going! Now I know!
The best laid schemes o' Mice an' Men gang aft agley
Having nearly completed a very successful and very tiring trip in Africa (see insert) I was feeling very tired Now I was sitting in a
small church on the slopes of Mount Elgon in Kenya waiting to start the final seminars on Unity. Out of the door I could see the west
of Kenya spread out below – Kitale, Webuye, Bungoma, Busia and in the distance was Eldoret. Even now I am not sure if it was just
tiredness but it seemed the ideal place to announce my ‘retirement’ from missionary travel. So I did!
... (The best laid schemes of Mice and Men oft go awry – Robert Burns)
When I arrived home I announced my plan and began looking forward to a ‘normal’ life style – after all I have been
on the road for twenty years and am getting close to sixty! I had almost got my new flat in Erith to feel like home. Retirement?
... Humans have a thousand plans;
Retirement? Certainly not!
Heaven has but one. (Chinese proverb)
I decided that by the end of 2006 I would have everything nicely confirmed but for one thing. Over several years I have been
working with the Congolese refugees waiting for their return home. My visits to the Lugufu and Nyaragusu camps in Tanzania
were to that end. In December I heard that they were returning home. I was (and I still am) very strongly drawn to them. And
I began to feel unsettled about not following through with my plan.
At the same time I got an e-mail from Pastor Ludy in the Philippines saying:
"I think REFIRE is what you need not RETIRE ... Anyway the mission field is for YOU
so traveling is already a part of YOUR life."
He was right and so I amended my plans again. Missionary travel is my calling and my life. A new itinerary
was drawn up which looked something like ...
| Early April || USA |
| || Early May || || Spain |
| || May/June || || India |
| || Aug/Sept || || Africa |
... Africa with a plan to a permanent move to either Nairobi or Congo to be in a good place to work with the
Congolese. Simple. New plan!
A man's heart plans his way ...
I have a friend (I have more than one friend). This friend is a man who has been a great support, inspiration and encouragement to
me over many years. Many of you know him, but I will not mention him by name.
... but the LORD directs his steps. (Proverbs 16:9)
For three or four years he has had an unbelievably difficult time. There has been one great joy in his life in that time but on balance
I would not want to share in the fellowship of his sufferings. He is a pastor. In these years of struggle many friends have
abandoned him and now he is a broken man and it was difficult to believe that his circumstances can (or could) get worse. But they did!
"A friend drops their plans when you're in trouble ...
So much so that he is to take a break from the church. He has asked me if I will go to America and help him in his difficulties and
also to take care of his church while he is away. I know the church and the people and also know that there will be much pain and
... shares joy in your accomplishments, feels sad
when you're in pain" (Doris Wild Helmering)
Suddenly my plans have changed again but I am confident that the Lord is guiding my steps. I have given notice in
the part time work I have been doing to help support the ministry and now I have given notice to the landlord of my flat. Personal
gifts and mementoes are going back into store and everything else, including the car, are given away again. What freedom there is
in not being tied to possessions!
20th March sees me on the plan. What next? Watch this space… and pray for:
My pastor friend
His church and, I guess,