Remembrance Day: War Has Been Written on Me by Ben McLoughlin

“Let it be written upon you as it is written upon me.”

The landscape was drenched in the brilliant orange of an Afghan sunset as our three-vehicle convoy lumbered towards Kandahar city.I was in awe of the beauty before me. Jagged rock mountains shot up like dragon’s teeth reaching for the sky, the green foliage of the pomegranate orchards contrasted starkly with the khaki desert.

I was standing in the hatch of a LAV (light armored vehicle) behind a machine gun, my thumb resting on the safety switch ready to fire at any moment. I’d only been in the country for a month and the novelty of being a Canadian soldier in a war zone had yet to wear off. I chatted with my driver Darren Fitzpatrick over the intercom of our vehicle, reporting anything I saw that might be suspicious.

Remembrance Day. Afghanistan, 2009

Before I knew it night had fallen and the cold of the wind whipping my face surprised me. I looked at my watch through the green lens of my night vision goggles. It was 10:30pm, the 12-hour time difference would mean it was 10:30am back home. It was November 11th, 2009 and I knew crowds would be forming in city parks across Canada for their Remembrance Day ceremonies.

It felt strange knowing that my family and friends were thinking of me at this very moment. I wondered if I would be alive in November 2010 … Or if I would be one of the names added to the list on the stone cenotaph in Kelowna city park. Perhaps, I thought, there might be men living and breathing next to me who would soon only be a memory, etched in my mind for the rest of my life.

We made it safely to our destination that night and slept outside, under the stars, beside our vehicles. Before we fell asleep I talked briefly with Fitz about the peculiarity of being in a war zone on Remembrance Day. He was more interested in sleep than discussion. Little did I know that in a few months a photo of him would be splashed across the newspapers of Canada, mourning the death of our 147th soldier in Afghanistan.

On March 6, 2010 it was his turn to go on a foot patrol of the Zhari-Panjawaii area with ten other soldiers. He stepped on an IED (Improvised Explosive Device), planted by the Taliban, and was wounded horrifically. Like the fighter he was, he lived for two weeks and made it home to see his family before succumbing to his wounds and dying on March 21st.

When we were told he had died, I felt like vomiting.

My friend who had been next to me for so long was now a memory. I could hardly fathom that someone so human was now immortalized in the history of our nation. Growing up, I’d always seen them as faceless shadows, drifting through my mind as we stood during the moment of silence. It now dawned on me that every man and woman we remember, was human too. They had fears and insecurities, they laughed and they loved.

A few hours after being told the horrible news, I managed to find time to sneak away and listen to a song by Switchfoot entitled “Yesterdays.” It’s about losing a friend and remembering them like yesterday. There’s a line in it that captivated me: “Every lament is a love song.”

On November 11, as Canada laments its war dead, she is singing her love song. You see, this day was not born out of honor or respect, but out of love. The love had for these men by their mothers, who cuddled them as children, their sisters, who thought the world of their courageous brother, their fathers, who were so proud, their wives, who knew them unlike any other, and the men who fought alongside them and wouldn’t hesitate to trust them with their lives. I fear that as these men and women become faces in a history book and we bronze their image into that of the brave warrior, we begin to forget their humanity. We cannot forget that they lived and breathed just like us.

If you saw the face of Darren or any other Canadian soldier killed oversees in the news, then you too are a witness to the horror of war. Let it be written upon you as it is written upon me.

Please, Remember

Cambodian Hero Holiday “Break the Cycle” Tour

Poi Pet, Cambodia – Border town on the Cambodian/Thai border.

By Wesley Campbell – President, Be A Hero

This trip to Cambodia has been absolutely amazing!   Arriving November 26th, we landed in Phnom Penh where the Be A Hero team went to minister with Sophal and Deborah Ong.  Sophal is a living legend having gone through the “killing fields” and still be one of few persons to remain alive after months in prison and death camps.  Prior to the fall of Phnom Penh God raised up Sophal and his brothers in powerful ministry of preaching and miracles.  Many, many Cambodian’s came to Christ in the first ever move of signs and wonders movement of Christianity in the nation of Cambodia.

After the fall of Phnom Penh,  Sophal was taken to the ‘killing fields’ where he miraculously escaped death time after time.  He endured months of torture in a time when most of the church he was part of was brutally tortured and put to death. After the liberation of Cambodia by the Vietnamese the Vietnamese again targeted him, because of his powerful preaching of the gospel. Sophal was put in prison for seven months but this time he was imprisoned under ground where he never saw the light of day for the entire duration. In the end he was delivered through another miraculous intervention.

Today Sophal and Deborah run one of the largest churches in Phnom Penh and they enjoy unprecedented favor with the highest-ranking Cambodian officials. The favor they have gained has come because of their tireless ministry to the widows, orphans, and refugees. The conference we held at their church was powerful and very impacting.

From there we traveled to Siem Reap – the famous area of the Ankor Wat temples of the 11th century.  Some will remember this location as the site of the movie Tome Raider with Angelina Jolie. It was Siem Reap where the Break the Cycle 144-kilometer ride to Poi Pet was to commence. This event was the first of it’s kind in a developing nation, organized by David and Fiona Crawford of Be A Hero Australia. At 6:00 am we gathered the 50 plus cyclers at the entrance of the temple to start the marathon. At 7:40 am the marathon began.

In fear and interpretation I took to the pedals. By the first 20 k’s I felt so much more confident and sure that I could finish the whole ride. Rice paddy after rice paddy, village after the village – the setting was surreal. Pedaling at a steady 20 kilometers per hour rode on and on into the Cambodian countryside in the hot and humid weather – 35 degrees plus humidity.  Drenched in sweat, it was only the wind in our faces that made it beautifully tolerable.

Stopping ever 20 k we began to find our rhythm.  Eat, drink, pedal, rest – eat, drink, pedal, rest. A few riders suffered heat stroke and in a delirious state had to submit to being carried in the ambulance following the pack.  For my part I loved the whole experience and somehow it felt so much easier than I anticipated. All along the road village after village lined the streets – cheering, splashing us with water, and encouraging us on.

Finally, as the sun was setting and dusk was falling we road came to the outer districts of Poi Pet.  In the dark we road into a throng of people who had been waiting for hours. And yes, I completed the entire ride! What a thrill to ride into the ‘Safe Haven’ compound and be greeted by 50 children at risk who have all been rescued from a future of being trafficked in slavery and possibility sexual abuse. These children had laid palm branches across the entrance of their compound as a symbol of how Jesus entered Jerusalem.

The next day hundreds of children and officials marched from the Thai border crossing through the streets of Poi Pet to the ceremony grounds. At this large field full of tents and stage, we were greeted by 2500 people and many government officials of the land. The Interior Minister in charge of all the police and border guards of the country. The Sectary of State – a lady of great authority with a tremendous heart for the poor and oppressed women and children of Cambodia. Governors, Chief of Police, Army Generals, city mayors, magistrates and leaders of every strata of society. I have never seen a nation mobilized like this before.  There in the heat and humidity the people sat for hours listening to speeches directed at stopping human trafficking and the exploitation of women and children at risk.  Chomno and David Crawford spoke brilliantly and the government pledged to work together in future partnership.

At the end of the ceremonies we were able to present the 50 plus bikes to AIDs sufferers and hand out hundreds of sacks of rice and other benefits. Truly Cambodia is a nation in transformation.

Two days later we were privileged to open and dedicate the Hope Transformation Center – a five story facility dedicated to business, CHO offices, convention facilities, and church, all dedicated to the eradication of human trafficking and ending of children for sexual exploitation.  The Hope Transformation Center was mostly purchased by HOPE for the Nations, Be A Hero, and X-Treme Prophetic (Patrica King) as well as few other organizations. Bought and renovated for $700,000 it has now increased in value to over $2 million dollars in just two years.

Again, a vast of array of civil and government dignitaries came to stand in solidarity again the evils of exploitation. At the dedication the Minister of the Interior, Chomno, Wesley Campbell and Ralph Bromley spoke. Government ministers, generals, army officials, local government and business leaders wept openly as Manna a young 10 year old told of her plight of being beaten, abused, and then being intercepted from being sold into slavery. In her case she had the beautiful privilege and then being adopted by Chomno and Kim the leader of CHO – Cambodian Hope Organization.

Of the six nations of the Mekong peoples – Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, and China – only Cambodia shows the will to eradicate human trafficking and become the example of how a to transform their nation. I believe Cambodia is poised to become the beachhead for social justice in South East Asia.

In closing I would like to thank everyone who supported all the riders and Be A Hero/HOPE for the Nations, as we have endeavored to do our part for suffering humanity. A big thank-you for those who have prayed, and those who continue to raise their voice on behalf of the children.  Jesus is our leader, and his commandments are our battle cry. This is not an end . . . it is only a beginning. Consider coming on the next Hero Holiday in Cambodia as we ride to “Break the Cycle”. A special thanks to David and Fiona Crawford – Australian directors of Be A Hero for their superb job in organizing “Break the Cycle” and their leadership in this movement.

 

Blessings to you all,

Wesley Campbell – Poi Pet, Cambodia

This Time I Will Praise the Lord, by Francis Frangipane

We cannot pass through life without getting hurt. Pain and disappointment in this world are inevitable. How we handle our setbacks, though, shapes our character and prepares us for eternity. Our attitude is the pivotal factor determining the level of our protection from strife.

Regardless of the hardships we have faced, and in spite of the mistakes we have made, the end of our lives can either be full of praise and thanksgiving or full of misery and complaint. In the final analysis, what we have experienced in life will be as rich as the desires we have had fulfilled or as painful as the things we regret.

The Bible tells us, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick” (Prov. 13:12). Deep disappointments in life have a way of never leaving us; they enter our hearts like fire and then harden into our nature like lava. Setbacks can leave us cautious about new ventures and suspicious of new friends.

Our woundedness restrains our openness. We are fearful we will be hurt again by new relationships. Gradually, unless we learn to handle heartache correctly, we become embittered and resentful cynics. We lose the joy of being alive.

The Source of Fulfillment
It is our own desires and the degree of their fulfillment that produce either joy or sorrow in our lives. Even basic desires for marriage or friends can enslave us if they consume our attention. Are these desires evil? No, but if having our desires fulfilled is the main reason we have come to Christ, it is possible our lives simply will not improve until our priorities change.

The Lord is concerned about fulfilling our desires, but to do so He must pry our fingers of our lives and turn our hearts toward Him. Indeed, the reason we are alive is not to fulfill our desires but to become His worshipers.

Personal fulfillment can become an idol; it can develop into such an obsession that we are living for happiness more than living for God. Thus, part of our salvation includes having our desires prioritized by Christ. In the Sermon on the Mount, He put it this way: “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself ” (Matt. 6:33-34). God wants to, and will, satisfy us beyond our dreams, but not before He is first in our hearts.

A wonderful example of this can be seen in the life of Leah, Jacob’s first wife. Leah was unattractive, unwanted, and unloved by her husband. Jacob had served Laban, Leah’s father, seven years for Rachel, who was Leah’s younger sister. On their wedding night, however, Laban put Leah in the nuptial tent instead of Rachel. Although Jacob actually did marry Rachel a week later, he had to work another seven years for her. So Jacob had two wives who were sisters.

The Scriptures tell us that Rachel was loved by Jacob, but Leah was hated: “When the Lord saw that Leah was hated…” (Gen. 29:31 KJV). We must understand this about the nature of God: The Lord is drawn to those who hurt. “The Lord saw … Leah.” What wonderful words! In the same way water descends and fills that which is lowest, so Christ reaches first to the afflicted, to fill the lowliest and comfort them.

The Lord saw that Leah was unloved. He saw her pain, loneliness, and heartache. Leah, though unloved by Jacob, was deeply loved by the Lord, and He gave her a son. Leah’s reaction was predictable. She said, “Surely now my husband will love me” (v. 32).

Worse than living your life alone is to be married to someone who hates you, as was Leah. How Leah wished that Jacob would share the love he had for Rachel with her. Who could blame her? Leah’s desires were justified. She had given him a firstborn son. In her mind, if the Lord could open her womb, He could also open Jacob’s heart. But the time was not yet; Jacob still did not love her.

Twice more Leah gave birth to sons, and each time her desire was for her husband. She said, “Now this time my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons” (v. 34). Yet, Jacob’s heart still did not desire her.

For Leah, as well as for us, there is a lesson here: you cannot make another person love you. In fact, the more pressure you place upon others to accept you, the more likely they are to reject you instead. Leah’s concept of fulfillment was based on attaining Jacob’s love and now her problem was worsening. Not only was she unattractive to Jacob, but also her jealousies were adding to her lack of loveliness.

Three times we read in this text that the Lord saw and heard that Leah was unloved. He had seen her affliction. Through all her striving for Jacob and her disappointment with her marital relationship, the Lord was tenderly wooing Leah to Himself.

As Leah became pregnant a fourth time, a miracle of grace occurred within her. She gradually became aware that, while she had not been the focus of her husband’s love, she was loved by God. And as this fourth pregnancy drew near to completion, she drew nearer and nearer to God. She became a worshiper of the Almighty.

Now as she gave birth to another son, she said, “This time I will praise the Lord” (v. 35). She named that child Judah, which means, “praise.” It was from the tribe of Judah that Christ was born.

Leah had been seeking self-fulfillment and found only heartache and pain. But as she became a worshiper of God, she entered life’s highest fulfillment: she began to please God.

It is right here that the human soul truly begins to change and enter God’s stronghold. As she found fulfillment in God, He began to remove from her the jealousies, insecurities, and heartaches that life had conveyed to her. A true inner beauty started growing in Leah; she became a woman at rest.

Likewise, we each have character defects that we are reluctant or unable to face. Others have seen these things in us, but they have lacked the courage to tell us. Both physically and personally, these flaws in our nature are what leave us anxious, threatened, and unfulfilled.

It is not counsel or classes on success or self-esteem that we need; we simply need to discover God’s love for us. As we begin to praise Him in all things, we simultaneously put on the garments of salvation. We are actually being saved from that which would otherwise have destroyed us!

Disappointments and heartaches cannot cling to us, for we are worshipers of God! And, “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God” (Rom. 8:28). If we continue to love God, nothing we experience can ultimately turn out harmful since God takes all we pass through and, in His redemptive power, works it for our good!

The Tree of Life
You will remember the verse we quoted, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick” (Prov. 13:12). The verse concludes with, “But desire fulfilled is a tree of life.” As our desires are fulfilled, we are fulfilled. Since it is the fulfillment of our desires that fills us with satisfaction, the secret to a rewarding life is to commit our desires to God.

Let Him choose the times and means of our fulfillment, allowing the Lord to prepare us for Himself along the way. The truth is that in ourselves we are incomplete; but in Christ we have been made complete (Col. 2:10).

You say, “That’s easy for you to say. You have a wonderful wife and family. You are blessed. But you don’t understand my problems.” Yes, I do. My wonderful marriage was very difficult for the first few years. We struggled with many things in our relationship. My wife and I both came to the place where we were unfulfilled in each other. But, like Leah, we both looked to God and said, “This time I will praise the Lord.” In fact, we named our second child the very name Leah gave to her fourth — Judah.

For us, as for Leah, our lives were turned around as we chose to delight in God in spite of being unfulfilled with each other. As we became His worshipers, He began to work on our hearts until we were not only more pleasing to Him, we were also pleasing to each other! What I am relating to you is the very thing that saved and blessed our marriage!

Psalm 37:4 reads, “Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart.” As you delight in God, you change. The negative effects of disappointment and grief fall off. As love and joy from God begin to fulfill us, our very souls are restored and beautified. Yes, delight yourself with Jesus and your self-destructive tendencies will actually begin to vanish. Christ will beautify your life from the inside out.

The Outcome of Leah’s Life
What happened with Leah? Well, the long years came and went. In time, Rachel and then Leah died. Jacob, on his deathbed, spoke to his sons: “I am about to be gathered to my people; bury me with my fathers in the cave … which Abraham bought … for a burial site. There they buried Abraham and his wife Sarah, there they buried Isaac and his wife Rebekah, and there I buried Leah” (Gen. 49:29-31).

Jacob had buried Leah in the ancestral place of honor! Oh how those words, though few, say so much! They tell us that God had, in some marvelous inner way, beautified this afflicted one with salvation. After Leah found fulfillment in God, God gave her fulfillment in Jacob. Over the years, inner peace and spiritual beauty shone forth from Leah; Jacob was knit to her in love. It is not hard to imagine that when Leah died, she left smiling, with the praises of God upon her lips.

Become a worshiper of God! As you surrender your desires to Him, as you put Him first, He will take what you give Him and make it beautiful in its time. He will take what has been bent and imbalanced within you and make you stand upright in His light and glory.

Therefore, this day speak to your soul. Tell the areas of unfulfillment within you that this time you will praise the Lord!

Lord, I am a Leah, unlovely and always seeking the love of those who have rejected me. How foolish I have been. How blind. There is no love, no fulfillment in this life apart from You. You are the Tree of Life that satisfies all desires; You are the Healer of my heart. I love You, Lord Jesus. Amen.

Thoughts from a Volunteers Heart

Hello my name is Marie and I would like to share what it is like to be a volunteer in the ministry of Pastoral Care at New Life Church.

Welcome Centre

One of my favourite places to serve is at the Welcome Centre on Sunday mornings. What a privilege it is to greet the newcomers, to extend a hand of welcome and give them a free C.D. They may not come back but I hope they remember the love of God offered and the smile they received. Each newcomer is followed up by Pastoral Care to ask if they felt welcomed and to answer any questions.

Pastoral On Call Team

The On Call ministry is such a blessing to us who serve there.  By reaching out with telephone calls to those in the church’s directory we come in contact with some very extraordinary people of faith. Our calls tell them we care about them, that they’re very important to us and we are ready to listen, pray and bless.

If we call and no one is home we write them a note, send an e-mail or leave a message. People have told us they sometimes keep a prayer message on their answering service for days because it gave them encouragement or inspiration. And although we, on the On-Call team phone to reach out and pray it is not uncommon to receive prayer back from them because of their thankfulness that someone was there to talk, pray and listen.

Prayer

Prayer is our link to God and His mighty power. When we pray with someone on the phone we believe He hears and will answer according to His will and purpose for that person. Prayer is the vehicle by which we can come along side someone and combine our faith with theirs. Our desire is to be encouragers in God’s Kingdom but only He can optimize the timing of our calls.

I remember the time I was connected with a frantic father, left In charge of his young preschoolers and at “end of his rope”.  He had only just called out to God for help when the phone rang and I asked if I could pray for him. The TIMING of the Lord !!!  I prayed and we rejoiced together for God’s faithfulness to give him strength to cope and the peace of heart he needed.

Scripture

The Word of God is old, yet it is ever new and relevant to all of life’s circumstances.  Have you ever noticed how many scriptures are listed in your concordance under prayer (and other forms of the word )? My concordance lists over 120, which says a lot about the importance of prayer to the LORD we serve.

I’ll end with one of my favourite scriptures Jeremiah 33:3 “ Call to Me and I will answer you. I’ll tell you marvelous and wondrous things that you could never figure out on your own.” (from the Message, the Bible in contemporary language.)