Alpine Echo Newsletter from January,1991
This reprint of our Alpine Echo newsletter, January 20,
1991 (without photos and graphics) gives an idea of how exciting missionary
life can be!
What a difference a two-letter word can make! Take that
little word "IF" for example.
Locate the "letters "I" and "F" in the alphabet. Now,
move from the "I" one position to the left and you have an "H". Next, move
from the "F" one position to the left and you get "E".
There is little difference between "IF" and "HE", is
"IF only that person was not so impossible!
"HE delights in doing the impossible! (Luke
"IF only the Dollar exchange would go up instead of
down all the time!"
"HE shall supply all our needs." (Phil
"IF we could only… "
"We can do all things through Christ; HE
strengthens us!" (Phil. 4:13)
"IF we just had..."
"HE owns the cattle on a thousand hills"
(Psalm 50:10); "All things are ours; we are Christ's; Christ is God's." (I
IF we had known back in 1964, what we would be facing
as missionaries, would we have made the same decision? IF we had known of
all the difficulties, heartaches, separations, trials and Problems?
What IF we had known about all the blessings, fruit,
answered prayers, joyful experiences and victories that awaited us before
we entered those times of difficulties and problems?
Our decision to follow the Lord's leading to Austria
was not a step in the dark, but a walk in the light. It is not OUR light,
but HIS. Many times it appears dark to us, but the Lord sees very well and
tells us to walk in faith. Like the infrared light that helps cameras focus
and changes TV channels, we don't need to see it to know it works. We knew
and still know the LORD in whom all power , knowledge, grace and comfort
subsists. IF we know HIM, that is sufficient!
Still, it bothers us sometimes that the Lord sheds his
light so "sparingly" upon our path! IF only we could see what lies at the
end of the road, or at least a few steps ahead! But there are times when
only HE sees the path on which we trod. Because we are human and cannot see
things through God's eyes, we are prone to doubt. Time and again, we catch
that little word "IF" trying to sneak into our thinking and vocabulary. "IF"
would gladly usurp the position of authority in our hearts that only "HE"
should occupy. "IF" is a child of doubt; HE is author and finisher of faith!
"IF" tries to seduce us into questioning God's love, his wisdom, his
knowledge, his authority, his very existence! What a world -- no, what an
eternity of difference there is between these two small words!
Often, after going through times of discouragement,
stress, financial difficulty, poor health or spiritual adversity; we thanked
the Lord that all these problems didn't hit us at once! Certainly, we could
not take that!
During 1990, the Lord seemed to allow that to happen!
Like the ruthless fury of the hurricane that hit Austria in late February,
storms of life have been battering us all year. Verna was already in America
helping Becky move when the hurricane came through. Electric was out a total
of 13 hours. High winds ripped the siding off the back of the school
building. After working feverishly to repair the damage, complete the Bible
Institute bookkeeping, pack suitcases and put together two slide
presentations, Ralph set the alarm for 3:00 a.m. and crawled into bed. When
he set out for the airport at 3:30, all major roads from Ampflwang were
blocked by fallen timber. One resident was killed when a tree fell on his
car. Ralph managed to get to the airport, using back roads. Winds began to
subside however, and the plane was cleared for takeoff.
Our short two-month furlough brought more turbulence,
including expensive car repairs and the death of Verna's mother. All year,
the exchange rate for the Dollar continued to fall. In June, Verna underwent
a complete hysterectomy. We could go on and on, but don't want to bore you
with "our" First Corinthians eleven!
Although we have received a few battle scars, we are
amazed at how the Lord brought us through 1990! It was no more difficult
than in other years with God's grace.
In Numbers 11, Moses complained that the entire burden
of responsibility for Israel rested upon his shoulders. "IF I only had a few
helpers…" he must have grumbled. So God told him to select 70 men. HE then
took of the spirit that was upon Moses and distributed it among the seventy!
(verse 25). The Bible is full of such illustrations of God's sufficiency
under adverse circumstances.
We have often found ourselves frustrated that the
owners of the leased Bible Institute property refused to consider our offers
to buy. "IF" they would only agree to sell….
Suddenly, the owners have agreed to sell -- on our
terms! At the same time, two other suited properties have been offered to us
for reasonable prices. What IF we make a wrong decision? IF we sign a
contract, can we raise the money? IF we opt to buy one of the other
properties, what should we do with the complex we are presently leasing? IF
we only knew! IF we just had the money… Say, haven't we been here before?
As a teenager, I owned a noisy pink convertible that
must have annoyed the neighbor's dog, because it would chase my car until
all of its energy was expended. One day, I decided to see what the dog would
do IF I allowed him to catch my car just once. I applied the brakes,
bringing the car to an abrupt halt. The dog at first looked puzzled, but
then tucked its tail between its legs and ran for home!
We have asked you to pray, and God has answered. Should
we run away now? ...or ask you to stop praying? Absolutely not! Answered Prayer and
attained goals are often the greatest tests of faith. A servant who is faithful in little, is
entrusted with much. But it is the all sufficient grace of God which gives
victory in any case. We call upon you again to pray for us. Even IF it means
more work, more responsibility or more problems. It also means that HE gives
us more of His grace!
You belong to those whom the Lord has chosen to help us
in our work. He has endowed each of us with his Spirit according to our
involvement in his work. Some of us are sent while others give and pray.
Lets place all those IFs behind us and discover what great things HE can do
with and through us in 1991!