“The Holy Spirit told me”

Posted by Garry Friesen August 23rd, 2015

Family & Friends,

A pastor visiting Kigali asked me about Dr. Charles C. Ryrie of Dallas Seminary.  That brought back two memories: one painful & one wonderful.  Ryrie taught the theology of the Holy Spirit.  One class he explained “types”. Oil and wind are two types of the Spirit.  He then asked a hard question.  “Can you think of a type spoken in the N.T. that is fulfilled in the N.T.?”  My hand went up slowly. “How about Christ cursing the fig tree?  It happens in the Gospels and is a ‘type’ of the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD.”  Ryrie paused, then asked, “Did you think of that yourself?”  I quickly responded, “No, the Holy Spirit told me.”  The class started to explode in laughter until they looked at the stern face of Prof. Ryrie.  He, like queen Victoria, “was not amused”.  Everything went tomb quiet.  After an intermitable pause, he finally said, “The Spirit gets blamed for more things around here.”  Whew, I was not kicked out of seminary.

Ryrie was a scholar who fought the academic current.  He knew that in academe it was “publish or perish” – and “publish” meant only scholarly journals.  He pushed back. Theologians should be writing for the church not just each other!  He forced us to write short clear theological definitions in words anyone could understand.  His book, Dispensationalism Today, is brilliant, but accessible for any student.  His model motivated me as academic dean to adopt “pedagogy and prosper” rather than “publish or perish”.  I will never forget Dr. Ryrie—but, I’m hoping that he does forget my Holy Spirit comment!

Rwandan Rookie,

G

GarryFriesen3335@gmail.com

“Pantheism is sexy atheism”

Posted by Garry Friesen August 16th, 2015

Family & Friends,

I am frustrated as I prepare for three chapel messages on the topic of “Faith”.  My angst is like when I watch a well-written sitcom on TV.  Their humor is brilliant.  Their writing uses great skill to produce a program that really touches my funny bone.  I appreciate the expertise, but usually they use their God-given talents to get the audience to laugh at sexual morality and make a joke of purity.   I now face the same angst with the most well-known atheist in the world.  I am reading Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion.  He is a great writer, skillful debater and replete with one-liners that almost qualify as proverbs if they were not foolishness. My highlighter is zipping while he is ripping.   I want to write as well as he does in favor of theism and the gospel.  I love his, “Pantheism is sexy atheism.  Agnosticism is watered down theism.”  But, reading him is like drinking cool aid flavored poison.  Fortunately, I’m balancing my reading with the apostle Paul and his friends.  Dawkins is an evangelist for atheism.  For the next three chapels I will be an evangelist for biblical faith.  I sincerely want to be as interesting and as clear as my opponent in the far corner.  As I read, I will also remember what the boxing referee says at the start of a match– “Protect yourself at all times.”

Rwandan Rookie,

G

GarryFriesen3335@gmail.com

My Church Pet Peeves

Posted by Garry Friesen August 7th, 2015

Family & Friends,

At church, I have always disliked three things. My church pet peeves are:  1. Singing the same worship song 15 straight times.  2. Prayer when everyone prays loudly at the same time.  3. Preaching with no preparation.  Well, Africa is my new home and I better get used to all three.

I accept almost all speaking invitations since leaving my position as “interim” academic dean. My motto is “Before you ask, the answer is ‘yes’”.  I was asked at 9 pm for a radio program the next morning.  It would be a 30 minute interview on the tabernacle.  I arrived, and the microphone was situated.  “You will be preaching for 50 minutes on the tabernacle”.  With their finger on the record button, they asked, “Are you ready to start?”  Everything within in me said, “Of course not!”  But, my new African blood moved me to say, “I’m as ready as I’m going to be.  Let’s start.”  I created one sentence at a time.  My student then translated into Kinyarwanda.  As he translated, I had a few seconds to form the next sentence.  Where was the message going?  I and my listeners would soon find out.  A lifetime of reading Scripture was my preparation.  So the message was percolating for over 50 years.  I know the message ended with Jesus.  “The Word became flesh and ‘tabernacled’ among us” (John 1:14).  How did it get there?  You will have to ask my listeners.

Rwandan Rookie,

G

GarryFriesen3335@gmail.com

“Vuba Vuba”

Posted by Garry Friesen July 31st, 2015

Family & Friends,

Third (& Last) Top Ten More Reasons that I Know that I’m Back in Rwanda

30. Posters and announcements, “Be on time, the world will not wait for us.”  But, who cares.

29. The buzzing of a mosquito is a relief since the mosquitoes which spread malaria are silent.

28. Men’s shoes are two feet long with 12 inches consisting of long pointed toes.

27. Many taxis are bicycles with a nice padded seat behind the driver.  They actually race past my car at great speeds on downhill portions of the highway.

26. If a bicycle is not a taxi, it is used as a wheelbarrow to transport very heavy goods.

25. If you own a car, you should be ready to act as a constant impromptu taxi (and it is fun)!

24. Rwandans are unbelievably patient . . .  until there is a steering wheel in their hands.

23. Men walk hand in hand with each other, but their “orientation” is not what you think.

22. Children tie up banana leaves and use it joyously as a soccer ball. I must dodge school students who are playing soccer in the road with an empty water bottle.

21. Every person in African can work my i-phone better than I can.  They move the “sim card” from one device to another before you can say, “Vuba vuba” (quick, quick).

It is good to be back home,

Rwandan Rookie,

G

GarryFriesen3335@gmail.com

“Mechanical Mosquitoes”

Posted by Garry Friesen July 25th, 2015

Family & Friends,

SECOND Top Ten Reasons that I Know that I’m Back in Rwanda

20. When you change $100 to Rwandan Francs, you need a suitcase to hold all the bills.

19. The line in the middle of the road is mere decoration, but feel free to use either side of the road for going either direction.

18. Seeing cargo trucks piled 20 feet high & several workers precariously perched on top.

17. The Moto taxis are like mosquitoes and swarm erratically around you as you drive.

16. Everyone has a big simile even if they are having a bad day.

15. Everyone has a cell phone even if they can only afford two shirts and a pair of pants.

14. The back of your shirt is the only way to dry hands after washing them in the restroom.

13. Buses are plentiful in Kigali, but they don’t leave the bus stop until every seat is taken.

12. The sun goes up and down at the same time all year.  I love the equator.

11. Group singing is always passionate and changes a bad day into a good day almost immediately!

It is good to be back home,

Rwandan Rookie,

G

GarryFriesen3335@gmail.com

Ten Top Reasons

Posted by Garry Friesen July 18th, 2015

Dear Family & Friends

Ten Top Reasons that I Know that I am Back in Rwanda

10. My car is covered in red dust just hours after getting washed.

9. My room had dead cockroaches on the floor.  “Help, I turned over and can’t get up!”

8. My drinking water consists entirely of bottled water. (I am hiding from the parasites)

7. My students think I’m going to fall over comatose if I walk up stairs with a briefcase.

6. My car brakes screech no matter how many times I take them in for repair.

5. My room constantly has dust balls that form in hours rather than months.  In months, they grow into soft tumbleweed.

4. The roads are filled with thousands of people walking and carrying heavy loads on their heads.

3. The prices double for me, as soon as they see my peaked face and bulging back pocket.

2. Worship turns into dancing before you can say, “God is good, all the time!”

1. My church announces prayer and fasting days and all-night prayer meetings regularly.

Ahhhh, it is good to be back home,

Rwandan Rookie,

G

GarryFriesen3335@gmail.com

Keep Your Boots On

Posted by Garry Friesen July 11th, 2015

Family & Friends,

Before I left Portland for home in Kigali, I had the joy of lunch with my missionary mentors, Norm and Muriel Cook.  We went out for Chinese, of course.  I was interested in longevity and they model keeping your missionary boots on for the long haul.  They asked me how old I was.  68.  “You are just getting started,” they said. Norm said he used three biblical characters as models to encourage faithfulness for the long journey:  John the Baptist, Caleb and Barnabas.  John feared God more than he feared the king.  He lived out the truth, “He must increase, and I must decrease”.  Caleb had a different spirit infused with faith.  He believed God despite hearing a nation grumble and doubt for 40 years.  Barnabas believed that God can work through anyone if they are encouraged.  He redeemed John Mark after his failure and stood up to Paul to do it.  Later Paul wanted Mark with him for “he is useful for ministry”.  John, Caleb and Barnabas.  Fear God, Believe God, Encourage God’s people.  I left the Cooks and the Chinese restaurant ready for the next 32 years.

Rwandan Rookie,

G

GarryFriesen3335@gmail.com

Bibliophile Heaven

Posted by Garry Friesen July 4th, 2015

Family & Friends,

I walked into the storehouse cavern and thought “iboombo”.  Not only, “candy”, but a huge “candy store” for a bibliophile.  And this book lover was in awe.  The rafters had international flags including Rwanda with its yellow star on sky blue background.  That was the sight as I trekked from the offices of Theological Book Network into their book storehouse in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  I met Wayne who vetted which books were good enough for the shelves.  Greg explained how they made sure 300,000 books went yearly from TBN to the majority world Bible colleges and seminaries.  Justin showed me the huge board that chronicles how many books to which countries.  They pick a “hub” college and send high-end theological books to a group of 10-15 schools in a region.  Then the schools come to the hub to pick up the library candy.  They first interviewed me to learn about Africa College of Theology.  Then, they sent me out with a rolling library cart to select books that will be a part of our gift from TBN to ACT.  They are only 11 years old, but already scholars are donating their books at retirement and key Christian publishers are sending them extras of new books.  The receive donations of books and amafaraga to buy books to give them away.  I’ve already tried to say “thank you” to them by donating a box of Decision Making and the Will of God.  In August, a container will be leaving Grand Rapids and heading for Kigali and I will be in bibliophile heaven all over again.

Rwandan Rookie,

G

GarryFriesen3335@gmail.com

Elder on Mission

Posted by Garry Friesen June 28th, 2015

Family & Friends,

What do you say to a church after 15 months in Africa and four minutes to report?  (1) Four minutes is enough since if you want more there is the “Friesen Fortnightly”.  (2) I am “elder on mission”.  It is a good title, but also embodies a paradigm shift.  I am sent and my final authority is the local church.  The mission agency is our facilitator on the ground. (3) Keep your missions theology simple.  The great commission is a clear call and no second “call” is needed.  Every believer is under the commission and must ask, “Where do I best fit in?”  (4) According to mission experts, the future strength of Christianity is in the south (Asia, S. America, Africa?).  My money is on Africa.  It has evangelism, full churches, bold faith, prayer and fasting.  It still needs those strengths united to Scripture truth.  (5) My role is in Scripture for Africa at ACT (Africa College of Theology) under Africa New Life Ministries where I am the main Bible teacher.  (6) The tragic death of our principal, Dr. Gerald, moved me to academic dean and the creation of our new academic programs for a year.  (7) My goal is to wipe out biblical illiteracy in the nation of Rwanda.  Thank you for making it possible.  I am thrilled to be your “elder on mission”.

Rwandan Rookie,

G

GarryFriesen3335@gmail.com

 

 

Theologian of Genocide, part 2

Posted by Garry Friesen June 20th, 2015

Family & Friends,

My last posting called “Theologian of Genocide,” raised a question for some readers.  What is a “theologian of genocide”?.  The conundrum of how a good God could allow evil has always been with us.  It is quickly on the lips of those who think that belief in God is a harmful deception.  Genocide is evil, so evil, that it is hard to conceive.  A genocide of nearly one million people killed in 100 days is almost impossible to understood.  A genocide using mainly crude machetes rather than bullets is too gruesome to ponder.  A theologian of genocide must tackle straight on the questions every Tutis had before his demise.  “Where is God?”  “Why me?”  “How could people be so evil?” “I believe in God, why does He not rescue me?” “Are we cursed?”  “Is there any hope for my family and nation?”  As we look back, we further ask, “How do forgiveness and justice fit together?”  “How does a nation heal from a gash this large?”  “How can we avoid another genocide?”  God is Redeemer.  Someone must rise up with Scripture in hand to give us hope that He can Redeem anything.

Rwandan Rookie,

G

GarryFriesen3335@gmail.com