Darkness In A Dark Place
Dr. Claudia R. Wintoch
November 18, 2003

 

 

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I tell you the truth, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me. (John 12:24-26)

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Jesus refers to Himself as the seed that died and produced many seeds. These seeds are us. And like Jesus did, we must die. Our carnal nature must die, if we want to produce many seeds ourselves (and we are all called to do so). Dying is not pleasant. Jesusís death was extremely cruel and painful. Yet He so loved us He endured the cross, for the joy set before Him, a beautiful bride, a chosen people, a royal priesthood, friends of the Bridegroom. Will we not love Him in return? He left all His heavenly glory and became one of us, enduring life on this earth. Every day He saw the sick, the hopeless, the desperate, and the proud, the stubborn, the rebellious, and sinners. His heart was broken as He looked at people, and looked at cities. As a man on earth, what He could do was limited. Yet today, having died, He has produced innumerable seeds, all over this earth. The salt of the earth, the light that shines in the darkness, all over this globe.

Yes, I am one of these lights (and so are you). And I am also called to die. Oh how often I have died these past 10 years, and yet, Iím still so alive. I still love this life too much rather than hating it (see verse above). Yes, Iíve given up everything to follow His call to Mali. But those last weeks, discouragement and darkness started overwhelming me. What was I doing here? Why wasnít I enjoying life in Austria? A nice job where I could earn money, a nice apartment with everything necessary, no shortage or difficulty finding food, many friends, entertainment, a good church, etc. But here I was in a third world country, having none of the above, and getting miserable, lonely and bored. After two months in Mali (and culture shock at this time is pretty normal) my worldly nature started acting up, longing for the comforts of the western world. I didnít care about Mali, I wanted my comforts. I didnít care whether God had sent me here, I wanted to lead a normal life. I didnít care about anything, but myself. Had I made a mistake? Wasnít short-term mission more effective? Etc. etc.

My friends on the prayer cover could tell you how bad it was, and I thank those who took time to write back and forth with me. How I need you my friends!

Jesus called us to follow Him as His servants. A servant is one who takes orders, who puts his own will aside to do the will of the Master. I followed my Master to Mali, and Iím here to do His will, not my own. I am here to be a reflection of Jesus for the people of Mali. I am here to be His extended hands. Iím here to advance His kingdom, and to see His glory fill this nation. Yes, I cannot do it. More of Him, less of me. I must be humble, I must be dead, I must be totally usable in His hands, seeing with His eyes, hearing with His ears, and speaking His words.

Iím seated with Christ in heavenly places (Eph 2:6), and yet I constantly leave this place where I am meant to live. Iím a citizen of heaven, seated in heaven, and where my body is on this earth is ultimately insignificant. It is when I am in His presence, when I spend time with Him, when I look at His beautiful face, when I dive in the fullness that is in Him, that I am at home. It is then that I have abundant life, joy, peace, everything. WHY do I forget that too often? Why is it so hard to go there Ė itís really so simple Ė when the darkness closes in?

Yet, after this very difficult time, I have refocused, taken my seat in heaven again, and am focused on my heavenly Bridegroom again. And I have regained the vision without which I couldnít go on. My heart is longing to see the fulfilment of the things I have seen by faith, and in His time they will come to pass.

Friday Night

Friday night we now have a regular meeting at my apartment (though weíve only met once so far). Thanks to a friend in Switzerland, I was able to get a few songs in French, and translated others, so we can worship together. Simeon is very hungry to learn and know God. He believes that he is condemned to follow God because He created him, and therefore doesnít see a need for the redemption Jesus provided. Please pray that Holy Spirit would show him the truth.
I gave Simeon a Bible as a gift, for which he was very thankful. I also gave him a daily devotional to help him understand the Bible.
Last week, my (Christian) friend Emmanuel with his friend were also supposed to come (though they didnít). I havenít really spent much time with Emmanuel yet, but he is eager to come closer to God.
So next time we meet, I hope weíll be several. Si. & E. (Unification cult) have also returned from their two-week trip to Benin. This weekend, however, Youth With A Mission is organizing a conference with an American guest speaker from charismatic background. The topic is Holy Spirit, and Simeon is eager to go there with me. Please pray that he would meet God there. Simeon has repeatedly asked me and my friends to seriously pray for him.

Ministry Possibilities

There is a local church I have been to a few times, who are the ONLY ones to reach out to the street kids Ė i.e. homeless kids that end up collecting money for a Muslim teacher. That church also recently started the only orphanage with 7 or so kids. Iíd like to see their ministry, what they do, and would like you to pray for Godís guidance whether He would want me to go involved there.

School

Teaching German at the High School is going very well. I enjoy my four classes, my students, though they can be pretty challenging at times. They are not used to having to use their brains, since they usually simply copy from the board and repeat and memorize. They complain a lot about homework, and donít participate in class. I have just done a mid-term test which turned out okay. Itís hard to encourage them to study and actually enjoy learning a language. Still, I love it.

My French Colleagues

I spend time with my French colleagues every day, since they are also my neighbors. They are probably the ones I spend most time with. Recently I had an hour-long conversation about God and the Christian faith with A. She considers herself Christian, but thinks every religion leads to God. At one time during the conversation I was on the brink of tears, my heart breaking for her, as I was listening to her words. My other colleague deliberately avoids bringing up the subject.

Aisha

I hadnít spend any time with the seven-year-old girl for a while, but last Saturday she came to visit. In a local church I had found Bible stories for kids, which we were reading together. We also played together, and she likes drawing. She wants to come to church, but so far it hasnít worked out. Her mother works in the nearby hotel in the evenings, in the nightclub, and Aisha has even been there! You wouldnít believe (well, you would) what she told me.

Christmas

Less than five weeks and I will be leaving to spend Christmas in Vienna. Iím REALLY looking forward to that, for many reasons. One thing I realized is that I need some good books to read Ė what a difference that makes! During this recent difficult time, I was blessed to find a book I hadnít read yet Ė Billy Grahamís biography. What an inspiration it has been! So, if any of you have it on your heart to bless me by sending something, books (esp. biographies and Christian novels) are a good idea, as are your read CHARISMA magazines (even NEWSWEEK/TIME), and food.

Finally, if any of you want to be on my prayer cover, receiving additional emails with more details, let me know. And if you have it on your heart to send a financial gift, see the details below.

Having to prepare my classes for tomorrow, let me close with this prayer of blessing for you that I recently read: May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. (Heb 13:20-21)

All for HIM,

Claudia

 

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Ask of Me, and I will make the nations your inheritance. (Ps 2:8)

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Dr. Claudia R. Wintoch
s/c Ecole Biya
BPE 2165
Bamako
Mali

Tel. (+223) 220 0311

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