The Bionic Biped

Posted by Garry Friesen January 21st, 2017

Family & Friends,

Fifteen years ago I had a dark night of the soul.  For two years I had been in pain.  No pain killers would work. I had a back operation and when pain continued, another back operation.  The pain worsened.  Finally, a hip x-ray.  The doc said, “You are bone on bone. You are an immediate candidate for double hip replacement.”  My first thought was not “Oh, no,” but rather “I knew that pain was not in my head.”  I reminded him that I only had pain on the right side.  He said, “The x-ray of both of your hips looks really bad.”  I responded, “Treat the patient, not the x-ray.”  He was surprised and said, “That is exactly what they told us in medical school.”  I know, I know.  When I first heard this medical wisdom, I thought it should be a proverb.  Well, 15 years later, there is (1) another bad hip x-ray plus (2) pain in the left hip.  This constitutes the 2-3 witnesses required by Moses.  My short visit to Portland will extend to the end of March to allow time for a hip operation and recovery.    The bionic biped will then return home to Kigali as the bionic man with a smoother metallic gait.

Rwandan Rookie,    G

To help Africa Bible in Community (ABC) with expenses for creating Matthew 4:4 meetings and ABC Pastor Training, Send check to “Imago Dei–Dr G for ABC”.   1302 SE Ankeny St, Portland, OR 97214  Or  on-line giving:  https://imagodei.webconnex.com/GFriesen     Questions? 503-231-5096

To contact me directly:     garryfriesen3335@gmail.com

A First for our Galaxy

Posted by Garry Friesen January 14th, 2017

Family & Friends,

We have just finished the historic “Walk Thru” the New Testament in Kinyarwanda. It was the first in the history of the galaxy.  It was taught to 40 rural pastors.  I was harassed by the pronunciation of “Mirongine” and “Yiyerekana”, but we all learned the “Walk”.  Their favorite part of the “Walk” was The Temptation of Jesus.  It was symbolized by a hand up for Jesus.  Then the fist of the other hand hit the “Jesus” hand 3 times for the 3 temptations.  At each hit, we said a syllable:  Sa – ta – ni (Satan).  Then Jesus responds and hits back three times, “Handitswe, Handitswe, Genda Satani” (It is written, It is written, Depart Satan).  The rural pastors wanted to cheer every time they said, “Genda Satani”.  I reminded them that the Spirit “led” Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted.  In contrast we pray, “Lead us not into temptation.”  From the start, God was determined to show that the Messiah would be a moral victor over Satan.  Israel the “Son” failed during the 40 years of wandering and testing, but the greater “Son” would defeat the old Serpent during 40 days of intense testing.  He was the victor by quoting and believing Scripture.  “Genda Satani” And he did.

Rwandan Rookie,    G

To help Africa Bible in Community (ABC) with expenses for creating Matthew 4:4 meetings and ABC Pastor Training, Send check to “Imago Dei–Dr G for ABC”.   1302 SE Ankeny St, Portland, OR 97214  Or  on-line giving:  https://imagodei.webconnex.com/GFriesen     Questions? 503-231-5096

To contact me directly:     garryfriesen3335@gmail.com

“Whirlwind of hope and goodness”

Posted by Garry Friesen January 7th, 2017

Family & Friends,

Clark Blakeman, 1962-2016.  On the darkest day of the year, Dec. 21, we lost him. Why? As I prayed for the Blakeman family in the Imago Dei prayer space, I read a verse on the wall.  Jesus prays, “Father, I desire that those you have given me might be with me.” (John 17:24)  Jesus wanted his friend with him.  A large service linked by the friendship and love of Clark remembered him.  His father thanked God that we had him so long.  Clark needed a liver transplant at 22 years old.  God gave him 32 more years with us.  Clark’s early wild life took a 180 when he met Christ.  Once he turned to Jesus, he “took hold and never let go”.  He was described as a “tireless worker” for God’s kingdom, and “a whirlwind of hope and goodness.”  His love of Christ “animated” him.  Because he loved people he chose “downward mobility” to care for the “least of these”.   His wife Cathy said the last two years were full of pain.  But, this suffering “drew us closer to each other and to God.”  He started many ministries, but we at Imago Dei thank him most for starting “Refuge”, a ministry to those in need.  It was fitting that the food left over from the reception, stayed in the gym.  A few hours later the gym became a homeless “refuge” shelter and the needy enjoyed Clark’s food.  Clark smiled from heaven when he saw it.

Rwandan Rookie,   G

To help Africa Bible in Community (ABC) with expenses for creating Matthew 4:4 meetings and ABC Pastor Training, Send check to “Imago Dei–Dr G for ABC”.   1302 SE Ankeny St, Portland, OR 97214  Or  on-line giving:  https://imagodei.webconnex.com/GFriesen     Questions? 503-231-5096

To contact me directly:     garryfriesen3335@gmail.com

Revere & Resemble

Posted by Garry Friesen January 1st, 2017

Family & Friends,

I have the joy of giving the New Year’s service “call to worship”. Sneak preview below:

One of my former classmates has written what might become an instant scholarly classic on idolatry.  Greg Beale’s book is called, We Become What We Worship. His big idea is, “We resemble what we revere, either for ruin or restoration”. “We resemble what we revere, either for ruin or restoration”. Psalm 115  likens idols who cannot hear or see to the people of Israel who hear, but do not really hear or perceive.  They see, but do not really see or perceive. The Psalmist summarizes, “Those who make [idols] will become like them.” (115:8).

How could nations around Israel cruelly burn their babies to death? They became cruel like their god Chemosh or their god Moloch whom they worshiped by sacrificing their babies.  If you worship Chemosh you will become cruel.  If you worship power, you will become oppressive.  But, the reverse is equally and wonderfully true.  Worship Christ and you will slowly resemble Jesus.  In Paul’s words, You will be conformed to the image of God’s Son (Rom. 8:29).  You will be transformed into the same image from glory to glory. (2 Cor. 3:18)  “We resemble what we revere, either for ruin or restoration.”  Imago Dei, Let us Choose this new year, this day, this service to worship and resemble One who is worthy.  We choose to worship Jesus, we choose to resemble Jesus.

Rwandan Rookie,  G

To help Africa Bible in Community (ABC) with expenses for creating Matthew 4:4 meetings and ABC Pastor Training, Send check to “Imago Dei–Dr G for ABC”.   1302 SE Ankeny St, Portland, OR 97214  Or  on-line giving:  https://imagodei.webconnex.com/GFriesen     Questions? 503-231-5096

To contact me directly:     garryfriesen3335@gmail.com

“You will not die until . . .”

Posted by Garry Friesen December 24th, 2016

Family & Friends,

On Christmas I have the joy of giving the “call to worship” at Imago Dei church, my sending church.  Here is a sneak preview.  May you join us in worship.

A few years ago I walked a long way across Oxford, England for the Sunday morning service at Holy Trinity Church, the parish church of C.S. Lewis.  I got there late.  Very un-British-like.  A back row was filled except one seat in the center which I took.  I learned the row was all occupied by one family with the father manning one end and the mother the other as they corralled their kids.   During the service the father passed his baby down the row to his wife. Now When the baby arrived in the center I decided to make friends, and held him in my arms for a while.  A sideways glance in each direction showed that neither Mum nor Dad were concerned.  An old dude holding a baby that did not belong to him. One of my favorite Christmas story images is just that – the old guy is Simeon and the baby is of course Jesus.

Mary and Joseph enter the temple area for the first time since the miraculous birth.  Old Simeon makes a prophetic bee-line toward them.  He knows something.  And he wants to see that 40 day-old baby and hold him in his arms.  The shy couple don’t know the back story.  This man is righteous and has been waiting a long time for God’s Messiah.  The Spirit revealed to him that he would not die, WOULD NOT DIE, until he had seen the Lord’s Messiah.  Now, his ancient eyes are dancing with delight.  He reaches out two old arms to receive the baby.  The awkward newly weds were amazed as Simeon blessed God.  Then, his eyes leave the baby and lift to heaven.  “Now Lord, you can let your servant depart.  My eyes have seen your salvation.”  Simeon goes on to say that the baby Messiah is for everyone.  A “light for the Gentiles” and the “glory of Israel.”  The kingdom of God is at hand.  There is a reason for living.  The kingdom of God is in Simeon’s hands.  He can die in peace for his Messiah will rule and He won’t stop until the last enemy, death itself, is defeated.

Hold out your arms in faith Imago Dei.  Your eyes have seen God’s salvation.  You are ready to live.  You are ready to die.  You, like Simeon, have reason to worship.   Come, come let us adore Him!

Rwandan Rookie,

G

To help Africa Bible in Community (ABC) with expenses for creating Matthew 4:4 meetings and ABC Pastor Training, Send check to “Imago Dei–Dr G for ABC”.   1302 SE Ankeny St, Portland, OR 97214  Or  on-line giving:  https://imagodei.webconnex.com/GFriesen     Questions? 503-231-5096

To contact me directly:     garryfriesen3335@gmail.com

An African “Thank You”

Posted by Garry Friesen December 17th, 2016

Family & Friends,

One morning while praying in Kigali, an idea hit me.  It was an African way to thank a church that was supporting Africa New Life and the ministry of ABC to get Bible training to rural pastors.  The unexpected trip to Portland gave me a chance to run the idea up a flagpole and see who saluted.  Why not give a very African gift to the American church?  Why not say to a supporting church, I’d like to pray all day for your church, its finances, its staff and its ministries to say “Thank You”.  Sonrise Church in Hillsboro thought it was a wonderful idea.  I arrived in the morning.  They had a room for prayer, a list of their ministries and requests on the board, they set my computer to their website staff page so I could pray for each of their pastors, and last, but not least, a bathroom close by.  What more can a praying African ask for?  It is churches like this one that make local and global outreach possible.  The American church can be inward focused, but when a congregation has its eyes on the whole world, it is time to pray and say “Thank You”.  And why not do in an African way?

Rwandan Rookie,  G

To help Africa Bible in Community (ABC) with expenses for creating Matthew 4:4 meetings and ABC Pastor Training, Send check to “Imago Dei–Dr G for ABC”.   1302 SE Ankeny St, Portland, OR 97214  Or  on-line giving:  https://imagodei.webconnex.com/GFriesen     Questions? 503-231-5096

To contact me directly:     garryfriesen3335@gmail.com

Reverse Culture Shock

Posted by Garry Friesen December 11th, 2016

Family & Friends,

I had heard of “reverse culture shock”.  I now have its baptism.  I just returned to Portland for raising funds for rural pastors and for some urgent dental and medical appointments.  My culture shock?  I was shocked that everything did not run as smoothly as I remembered.  In Africa you think, “This would run smoothly in that country where I was born.”  Not always.  I had real trouble simply flushing the toilet.  In Kigali, I save all the water that I use and re-use it to flush the toilets.  I had the good shock that the toilets actually work when you push that handle.  I was shocked at what frustrated Americans.  Quietly, I kept thinking, “That is a first world problem.  Nobody else cares.”  I was pleasantly shocked that drivers are polite and had to suppress the urge to cut people off African style.  My frustration with few or no choices in African stores was replaced by too many numbing choices.  I was shocked with common luxury in place of bare necessity.  I was shocked that no one wants to pray for more than 2 minutes.  But, none of this changed the fact that I love Portland and it is my favorite place in the world to visit . . . until I get to go back home.

Rwandan Rookie,  G

To help Africa Bible in Community (ABC) with expenses for creating Matthew 4:4 meetings and ABC Pastor Training, Send check to “Imago Dei–Dr G for ABC”.   1302 SE Ankeny St, Portland, OR 97214  Or  on-line giving:  https://imagodei.webconnex.com/GFriesen     Questions? 503-231-5096

To contact me directly:     garryfriesen3335@gmail.com

Weeping over Onesimus

Posted by Garry Friesen December 3rd, 2016

Family & Friends,

Last week at the rural pastor training in Kaborore, Rwanda, I told the story of Onesimus.  It is not recorded in one text, but must be patched together from the cloth of Acts, Colossians and Philemon.  Nearly everyone was enthralled as the story unfolded.  I say “nearly” because one student fell asleep.  Another student went over and poked him.  He jumped, the crowd laughed, and the story continued.  Africans feel a story like no other culture (when they are awake).  They were rejoicing over the fact that “Onesimus was running away, looking over he shoulder when . . . . . . . he ran right into the arms of God.”   They cheered when he got saved through Paul’s testimony.  The big idea was “When God forgives us, he not only gives us a forever family, but a spiritual family here and now.”  I told them about sharing the same story in a U.S. church.  Soon into my narration, I saw a woman weeping.  Every time my eyes swept across the large audience, I saw her tears again.  After the service, she said, “Those were tears of joy.  I became a believer just before you preached.  I was weeping over the fact that I was in a forever family and in a new church family on the same day.”  The Africans felt for Onesimus.  They also felt deeply with the woman.  They concluded, “When the story was over, we wanted to weep for joy with the lady and with Onesimus.”

Rwandan Rookie,   G

To help Africa Bible in Community (ABC) with expenses for creating Matthew 4:4 meetings and ABC Pastor Training, Send check to “Imago Dei–Dr G for ABC”.   1302 SE Ankeny St, Portland, OR 97214  Or  on-line giving:  https://imagodei.webconnex.com/GFriesen     Questions? 503-231-5096

To contact me directly:     garryfriesen3335@gmail.com

Repair Roulette

Posted by Garry Friesen November 25th, 2016

Family & Friends,

 

In Rwanda, as in America, transportation is the name of the game.  Your wheels matter.  Kigali buses are cheap, but they don’t move until the bus is full.  Moto drivers are thick like gnats, but you risk using your body as a fender.  Taxis are available, but will drain your back pocket.  So I praise God every day (or should) for my imodoka (car). Learning to drive in the Kigali chaos is an acquired taste.  But learning how to get your car repaired takes the wisdom of Solomon.  In Rwanda, cars are not really repaired, they are massaged to run for another month.  Finding a trustworthy mechanic is like finding a needle in a haystack.  Finding a trustworthy one who can actually fix your car is like looking for the eye of the needle in a haystack.  Mechanics will repair your car and then un-repair another part so you are forced to return.  Or they will repair one thing and then remove a good part and replace it with a defective one.  When you must return to fix the new issue, they will take your former part and put it back on your car! – and of course, charge you for the repair and the “new” part.  But I’d rather play repair roulette then wait for the bus to fill up.  So I am still praising God for my imodoka!

We leave for rural Rwanda to teach 40 pastors the Walk Thru the New Testament in Kinyarwada on Sunday.  Please pray for a great five days.

Rwandan Rookie,

G

To help Africa Bible in Community (ABC) with expenses for creating Matthew 4:4 meetings and ABC Pastor Training, Send check to “Imago Dei–Dr G for ABC”.   1302 SE Ankeny St, Portland, OR 97214  Or  on-line giving:  https://imagodei.webconnex.com/GFriesen     Questions? 503-231-5096

To contact me directly:     garryfriesen3335@gmail.com

Sovereignly Stuck

Posted by Garry Friesen November 19th, 2016

Family & Friends,

The volunteer group we call ABC has two of the best young leaders in Rwanda.  They are in Rwanda because they are both “sovereignly stuck”.  Both Fred and Andrew are passionate about Rwandans personally reading the Scriptures and about training rural pastors.  They are perfect for ABC.  We tried to get rid of them, but God sovereignly said, “Not now”.  By this I mean that both are excellent theologians and have won full scholarships to excellent seminaries.  But here is where the “stuck” part comes in.  Both are not able to get a visa to leave and use their scholarships.  Recently the US embassy turned down Andrew twice without giving a reason.  His scholarship at Dallas Seminary cannot be used.  Until this changes, we are trusting God’s wise sovereignty.  Until this changes, we are trying to educate them here through an expensive process of on-line courses.  When the door opens, they will have made progress toward their degrees.  I don’t know God’s sovereign reasons, but I know Rwanda needs these theologians trained.  Would you consider, supporting them through my ministry fund?  If so just add a “2” to your gift and I will make sure it gets to the “2″ of them.  Example $102.  Giving instructions below.

Rwandan Rookie,

G

To help Africa Bible in Community (ABC) with expenses for creating Matthew 4:4 meetings and ABC Pastor Training, Send check to “Imago Dei–Dr G for ABC”.   1302 SE Ankeny St, Portland, OR 97214  Or  on-line giving:  https://imagodei.webconnex.com/GFriesen     Questions? 503-231-5096

To contact me directly:     garryfriesen3335@gmail.com