John the Baptist

“He must increase; I must decrease.”

John, as I remember your birth was an answer to your parent’s prayers in their old age. What was it like for you to grow up as a Nazarite, consecrated to serve the Lord all your life? I guessed you probably didn’t missed the alcohol since you had never tasted any, avoiding the graveyards shouldn’t be too difficult, but never cut your hair, eating bugs and honey while living in the wilderness could be something else! Did you sense Jesus’ presence while Mary was visiting Elizabeth? Was that the reason you jumped for joy in her womb? You were born to be the messenger, forerunner for Jesus, proclaiming the inward repentance of sin for men instead of the outward rituals of sacrifice.

You’ve gained popularity and followers despite of your exotic appearance, life style, and harsh words. All your life, you pointed people to Jesus, the Messiah and you had the honor to baptize Jesus and witnessing the Holy Spirit descending on Him. It must have been like playing the second fiddler all your life, maybe you didn’t mind it but how did you feel when your disciples left you to follow Jesus!? You might be happy for them yet at the same time, could there be a hint of apprehension bubbling within? I am sure you were constantly aware of your life mission of pointing people to Jesus, including your own disciples, that’s why you said, “He must increase; I must decrease.”

I appreciate your daringness to stand up for your conviction John, fearlessly proclaiming what’s right is right and what’s wrong is wrong. You did not succumbed to say the politically correct which landed you in jail. Physical torment along with spiritual isolation might have caused you to doubt and question, was Jesus the one, the true Messiah? I remembered I had doubts like you when I was down and out in the dumps, but each time Jesus would shown His love and blessing to assure me just as He did with you through your disciples’ eye-witness of His deity.

Jesus described you as being: no one born of women had ever been greater, was it due to your character or being chosen by God as the last prophet bridging the Old Testament to the New, the ending of the Law to the beginning of the Promise? You had fulfilled your life mission by preparing the way for Jesus, you did finished well even though ended up with your head on a silver platter as a gift to Salome, the daughter of the one you condemned. You have a new body in heaven now and probably dressed in finer clothing than camel’s hair! Thanks John, for modeled a life of humility and faithfulness while shining for Jesus all your life.

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Abel

I have known a few Abel in my days, but I’ve chosen to converse with the first person got murdered in human history. You were that brother referred to in the familiar phrase “am I my brother’s keeper?” As a shepherd, it could be natural for you to offer a sheep, yet you took the time to select the first-born and the fat portions. This intentional preparation of the offering was accepted by God. It is interesting to me that you were the second born son in the family yet mindful of what was pleasing to God. I’ve searched high and low to see if you have uttered any words in the Bible but found none.

When Cain asked you to go out to the field, you just followed without any question or reservation. Maybe you trusted you big brother; maybe he needed your help in the field; maybe you wanted to console your brother after the Lord had rejected his offering. On Cain’s field, his familiar territory, you were attacked and killed! I wonder were you there when God warned Cain that sin was crouching at his door and he needed to master over it? Cain’s response to that warning was to ask you, his little brother to go to the field! No, he didn’t listen; he was outrageous and sin has taken over him. Cain killed you with his own hands and buried your body to hide his murderous act, but God confronted him by directly asking him of your where about. That was when Cain popped the famous question of denial, “am I my brother’s keeper?”

Abel, under the ground your blood cried out to God for justice. Did you ever wondered why didn’t God stopped this murder in the first place, so you didn’t have to die at such a young age? Didn’t God just accepted your offering? I don’t know if Cain is in heaven, what will you said to him if you run into him? Maybe you won’t said anything since you seem to be the silent type. These are my questions, you might already have the answers. After all, you have been in heaven the longest. Oh, I forgot, time is irrelevant since heaven is eternal, but then you have witnessed many people stepping into heaven’s gate since your first arrival which is a long time on earth.

Vera

Vera, it has been two years to this day that you took your last breath on earth. I still remember how frequently you whispered wanting to be “home” with Jesus lying in the hospice’s bed with such pain. I know you are in a much better place now, actually the perfect place full of love, joy, and peace since you are in the presence of the All Mighty. We were indeed kindred spirits not because we shared the common role as counselors to missionaries, but we’ve connected from the first cup of coffee that lingered for several hours until the sun came down. How time flies when we were engaging in meaningful conversation and that is exactly how I feel for the 10 years we’ve served together side-by-side.

I dare not converse with you sooner for I might not be able to contain my tears. Time might be a healing factor but more so are the grace and mercy of God. I can imagine you are arthritis and pain-free now; are you being recruited to play piano in heaven? I remember how you love to eat, how is the food up there? Do they serve your favorites like chocolate cake and stinky tofu in heaven? As you might have already know, your husband seems to be doing ok, he is keeping himself busy traveling to different fields and planning to go back to Thailand where you and him had served for 19 years after his official retirement. Maybe he wanted to fulfill the plan you guys had made together.

You shared during chemotherapy on how you see time as experiencing four seasons in a day rather than a year. According to your calculation all those days turned into years which allowed you to live a long life in a short time. Long or short is relative, what matter is how we invest the time given to each one of us. I do miss you still, for being such an encourager, the reluctant mentor, and a trusted friend and partner in ministry. Thanks for your life motto of “glorifying the Lord and rejoicing in God” and for being such a unique Mok C Neug (pastor’s wife). I must linger on earth a little longer before we meet again, but that’s ok since according to God’s timing a thousand years is like a day, so we shall see each other real soon!

William Carey (1761-1834)

“Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God.”

Mr. Carey, you went to heaven 273 years ago yet many missionaries still remember you and are continue to be inspired by your famous quote. No wonder you are called the “Father of Modern Missions.” I didn’t realize the sacrifice and suffering you went through during your 41 years as a missionary in India until now…… How did you deal with the lost of your 5-year-old son on the field? Did you ever feel guilty regarding your first wife, Dorothy’s mental breakdown and eventual death? After all, she didn’t want to go to some foreign land in the first place but somehow you have successfully persuaded her to follow you.

I know you had to be determined when I read the following dialogue from your biography when you tried to mobilize missions, “Whether the command given to the apostles to teach all nations was not obligatory on all succeeding ministers to the end of the world, seeing that the accompanying promise was of equal extent,” Dr. Ryland shouted, “Young man, sit down: when God pleases to covert the heathen, He will do it without your aid or mine.” Having someone in authority telling you “sit down” is equivalent to “shut up” in today’s language. No one was interested in missionary work and no missions agencies existed at that time, yet you went against the current. How could you not give up with no one came to Christ for the first seven years laboring in the midst of oppositions?

“Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God” was not just a slogan you used to recruit people; you actually lived it; you walked the talk! As a missionary myself, I would like to “Expect great things from God; [and] attempt great things for God” also, but it’s easier said than done. As I ponder upon your quote, “expect” regards to my attitude and “attempt” my effort, both have to do with my relationship with God. In another word, do I trust God to give me great things and do I love God enough to follow through? Mr. Carey, you were the man with God in the center of you life regardless of what other people said or think. You did the best of what you could with your family members’ needs and demands, yet ultimately you aimed to please God more than men!

Mr. Carey, thank you for your unwavering determination and sacrifice. Thank you for your vision to disciple a nation through education and medication besides Bible translation. Thank you for setting an example of holistic missionary effort that aimed to uplift our Lord! Thank you, Father of Modern Missions!

Mary

Mary, you were such a fair maiden chosen by God to give birth to HIS only Son. This news came while you were engaged to Joseph; how did you plan to tell him? “Hey, Joe I got pregnant from the Holy Spirit; God called me blessed, so let’s get marry anyway!?” How can you be so submissive when Gabriel (the angel) explained how you shall conceive God’s child as a virgin? I had to look up your response again, “I am the Lord’s servant,…… May your word to me be fulfilled.” (Luke 1:38) Wow! No buts, no what ifs, no let me pray about it.

Mary, were you ever concern that Joseph might not want to marry you when you were pregnant? Maybe your total submission came from your total trust in God or was it seeing yourself as a servant that has no right? I had to revisit your song in Luke 1:46-49, “My soul gloriefies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me- holy is his name.” You were joyful, thankful, and grateful for being God’s chosen one.

Mary, did you witness any miracles prior to Jesus turning water into wine at Cana? Were you offended when he said to you, “Woman, why do you involve me?…… My hour has not yet come.” (John 2:4) Maybe it is natural for a mother to tell her son what to do. You brought Jesus into this world, you fed and bathed him, you saw him became a Rabbi and finally crucified on the cross. I can see how unbearable it was for you to witness Jesus’ physical suffering as any mother would. On the other hand, you must have been so proud of Him in carrying out His Heavenly Father’s mission to the end. Jesus cared for you even on the cross by asking his beloved disciple, John to care for you.

How is it like for you to reunited with Jesus in heaven? Do you get to gazed into his eyes and pad his head like when he was a little boy? I know, once a mother, always a mother! A mother’s love never dies. Thanks Mary, for you joyful spirit and total submission.

Adam

Adam, you were the first man on earth, God had also created a mate for you that was from you. The whole human race came from you, therefore I am one of your descendent. You were the apple of God’s eyes; His beloved even after you and Eve ate the forbidden fruit. I wonder what went through your mind when Eve handed you that fruit? Could it be because you couldn’t resist Eve more than that fruit? Your love for Eve seems to be greater than your love for God?!

After one bite, gone are the innocence and shameless relationship with God resulting in the need to hide. You have chosen the consequences of death with Eve over staying in the Garden of Eden with God! I wonder did you ever feel sorry about disobeying God’s one specific command? I don’t recalled you ever apologize for sinning yet God has forgiven you by killing an animal to use the skin to cover you. What was it like Adam, having to put on clothes for the first time? Did it feel awkward and uncomfortable? How did it feel having to leave home (Eden) and never allowed to return? Such are the consequences of your decision and action.

I trusted that I will see you in heaven when I get there someday. After all, I wanted to ask you Adam, did you ever missed that close intimacy with your creator? Your Abba? Maybe your were too busy having to toil in sweat to provide for Eve and the boys. I can definitely relate to that; the demand of life and ministry can leave us no room for interacting with God in a more intimate level. Oh, Adam, many of us prioritize our time like you, love our mate, provide for our family, and commit to ministry demands over sit silently just to be with our creator.

Now that you are in heaven, you know better God’s heart and desire. How are you enjoying eternity since time is no longer a factor!?