Ramblings from the Cove...
By Lars Gren
Well, well, well, my tree told the coming story and it came and as of now and is still here until Spring--it too will come with the only question being the date of its arrival? If you are already in a fog as to the tree, it refers to my Ramblings in November with the prediction that the coming winter would be a record breaker. It has been in our area, with the most snow on record since the Pilgrims or whoever was here--doubt it was the Indians-- began noting such in the 1700s. Now we can all say "I remember the winter of '15" to the grandchildren and add, "this year, why its nothing--let me tell you the story when I was your age-------------" and on and on you can go.
Toward the end of January we had a couple of letters asking if we were in Florida or heading that way for a winter's respite. Yes indeed, and we would have been there at that time had it not been for a few delays along the way such as snow seeming to arrive every other day delaying our departure. It only proved one thing, and that was that I could still use both a snow blower and a shovel for a day or several days without collapsing.
There was a plus side to the delays along the way and that was to see some friends from the past. One such spot was at The Deaconry in Liberty Corner, New Jersey, where some of you have been or you may have at least heard of it. The Sisters, who had their roots in Germany as hospital sisters, came to this country in 1929; if you want to know more about it, you can look at the history on their website. Sadly, now there is only one or two under eighty, but still the ministry continues with others doing much of the administration, and it is still a great place to have a retreat for a church group. The sisters are still active in greeting people and love to have people come. They sponsored many retreats there in the 1980s and '90s, and Elisabeth was the speaker for a number of them.
Further south in Raleigh we had a couple of days with the Mikels. Their youngest, Mary, was sadly born without eyes, but is now a vibrant, outgoing 17-year-old who knows no fear in meeting people or going to new places. The Lord gave her a lovely voice with perfect pitch and we have not found one whom she could not imitate to a "T." As a child she listened to Gateway To Joy along with her mother Juana, and we love to hear her mimic Elisabeth's opening of, "You are loved with an everlasting love and underneath are the Everlasting arms. This is your friend Elisabeth Elliot." If you would like to hear Mary singing, you can find her on youtube if you search for "Mary Mikels singing with 3 Tenors."
An unusual interlude in the Mikels family occurred early on in their marriage when Juana decided she no longer wanted part of the marriage and walked away, and separated for 3 years prior to reconciliation. 18 years ago, Elisabeth received a letter from Juana with her testimony, to which she replied, "One day, Juana, you must write your story for the good and use of those who may have made similar decisions or who are wondering about or eying an exit door." So sure was Elisabeth that the writing would one day occur that she wrote a foreword/introduction for Juana while she was still able to write back in 2002, two years prior to Elisabeth's ending her public speaking and writing ministry and thirteen years prior to the book now being in print. "Choosing Him All Over Again," the unusual story of their reuniting, is now available from the many online at amazon.com,
Getting back to our trip, we did make it to Minneola and the AIM retirement center and were warmly welcomed, and as I thought of the inconvenience of travel during winter (since we transport Elisabeth in a wheel chair), it was a mere bagatelle. But I do think of the house and what might possibly go wrong while we are away and the mind can easily raise up a plethora of hitches such as no electricity, then no heat (bad for the pipes), too much snow on the roof with alternating hotter days and frigid nights which can cause ice build-up and then roof leaks, etc, etc, etc. The other horror that is in my mind whenever we are away, no matter what season, is that someone will tell you the house went up in smoke, and my only hope then is that I would not come back to a half-burned house, but one all the way to the ground. Perhaps you have had such thoughts.
Since Monday, I have had those various things on my mind and have not gotten time to return to handling the mail which was brought with us and what I expect to be forwarded to us, and rather have just dealt with some e-mail. So it was on Tuesday that I had a message from Ramez Atallah with the Bible Society in Cairo, Egypt. Ramez's message made my head spin, as it were, and made me say, "How can it be? How can people do such deeds? How do they go on with their life after such an act?" The following is from the e-mail received from Ramez:
“They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated, the world was not worthy of them.” (Hebrews 11:37- 38)
This is a very sad time in Egypt where we are in seven days of official mourning for the 21 young Christian men who were brutally slaughtered by ISIS in Libya on Sunday. The gruesome, professionally-produced video of that execution shocked the country and has united Christians and Muslims as never before. As soon as the video was broadcast on Sunday evening, the President delivered a speech declaring 7 days of mourning for the nation. Shortly afterwards the Egyptian Air Force bombed ISIS targets in Libya.
As I arrived at the Bible Society office in the morning, feeling sad and depressed, I met a young coworker who told me that she was “very encouraged.” I could not imagine what on earth could encourage her!
"I am encouraged” she said, “because now I know that what we have been taught in history books about Egyptian Christians being martyred for their faith is not just history but that there are Christians today who are brave enough to face death rather than deny their Lord! When I saw these young men praying as they were being prepared for execution and then many of them shouting “O Lord Jesus” as their throats were being slit, I realized that the Gospel message can still help us to hold on to the promises of God even when facing death!”
This same sentiment is being reflected in different ways by people who watched that gruesome video!
I don’t think I will ever read Chapter 11 of the Epistle to the Hebrews again without seeing in my mind the images of these men dressed in orange jump suits with black-clad, masked executors behind each one of them!
As many of you know, these men were simple, Egyptian laborers who had gone to Libya to make a living. They were captured and executed by ISIS for being - as the video caption charges - “People of the Cross”. Egyptians have been shocked by this news and it is the most talked about event in our country at this time.
The purpose of the video was to foment sectarian strife in Egypt between Christians and Muslims. Those Islamic extremists clearly intended to provoke the 10 million Christians in Egypt to rise up violently against their Muslim neighbors.
But the loving and caring response of Muslims all over the nation softened the blow which many Christians felt. Up till now the Christians of Egypt have responded with restraint, sorrowfully calling out to God.
The President and dozens of political leaders personally gave their condolences to the Coptic Pope. The Prime Minister travelled to the small village where most of these men come from, sitting on the floor with their poor relatives to express his concern. All this sends a clear message that Christians are considered an integral part of the fabric of Egyptian society.
- Pray for comfort for the families of the victims who are in a terrible emotional state.
- Pray for the effective mass distribution of a Scripture tract we have just produced, that God’s Word will comfort and challenge the many who will receive it. [note from Lars: amazingly, over a million tracts were printed.]
- As I write, there is news of more Egyptians being kidnapped in Libya. Lord have mercy!
Please pray for Egypt as we pass through this painful period.
With much thanks,
The Bible Society of Egypt
Ramez included an English adaptation of this powerful poem that is printed on the back of the tracts that are being distributed now in Egypt:
Two rows of men walked the shore of the sea,
On a day when the world’s tears would run free,
One a row of assassins, who thought they did right,
The other of innocents, true sons of the light,
One holding knives in hands held high,
The other with hands empty, defenseless and tied,
One row of slits to conceal glaring-dead eyes,
The other with living eyes raised to the skies,
One row stood steady, pall-bearers of death,
The other knelt ready, welcoming heaven’s breath,
One row spewed wretched, contemptible threats,
The other spread God-given peace and rest.
A Question. . .
Who fears the other?
The row in orange, watching paradise open?
Or the row in black, with minds evil and broken?
While that was going on there, our news has been filled for the last few weeks it seems with nothing but the inclement weather--threats of snow heavy enough to collapse a well built roof--and adults in a panic wondering if there is enough food in the house to "sit out" the storm rush to the grocery stores and clean the shelves to the point that it reminds one of war shortages, though there is no war here in the States. A far cry from the concerns that we learn from Ramez's letter. A final question comes to my mind: If I had been there, dressed in orange, would I have quietly called, "Jesus, Savior, be with me in this final trial," or would I have said to the man in black who held the knife, "No, don't use it; I surrender"? I wonder if some such thoughts also came to those who, though not taking part, were observers of the crucifixion some two thousand years ago. Where do we stand?
God bless y’all and that’s it from The Cove.
Lars & Elisabeth