Tuesday, December 15, 2015

In Memory of Ken Parfitt

Five years ago today a great man from our church was killed in a traffic accident; he stopped to be a good Samaritan during a snow storm near Rochester, NY. Ken was the type of person who would give you the shirt off his back, and go the extra mile to be a blessing to you. The following is an article written by talk show radio host Bob Lonsberry and it recounts the incident as it happened. 

A Column From Five Years Ago

As I ran up to him, the first thing I noticed was the Bible.
It was small, a pocket-sized book, in black leather.
It had apparently been knocked out of his clothing when the car hit him, and had landed beside him in the snow, down off the shoulder of the road.

That was yesterday, a few minutes after 7 in the morning.
It was frigid and there was accumulation and black ice and two cars had slid off the busy Interstate. He had stopped and gotten out to help.

He had been on the way to work, with his son, and he saw the motorists who needed help and he stopped. Countless others of us drove on by. But he stopped.
And got out in the blizzard and was going to render aid when out of nowhere came a vehicle.

He was struck and thrown and he landed where I found him, motionless in the snow, by his Bible.There was a young man standing above him. A nurse from Strong Memorial Hospital was also there, and maybe another man, motorists who had stopped to render aid.

I knelt by the man in the snow. I could find no pulse in his right wrist. The nurse could find no pulse in his left wrist. She felt at his neck and I counted his breaths.They were the breaths of someone struggling to stay alive. It was as if he was snoring.

I asked the young man what had happened and he told me and he told me that the man was his father. He looked to be in his late teens or early 20s. He was well groomed and in business clothes. And his father was at his feet. It struck me what a horror he must be enduring. I asked him if he would pray for us, and he squatted beside his father and we three bowed our heads as he prayed and said “Amen” when he was done.

The exact details of what followed are kind of blurred in my mind, but a lady called 911 on her cell phone and I asked her if I could speak to the dispatcher. I tried to describe the gravity of the man’s condition and I told her we’d need Mercy Flight. It was a foolish request, given the conditions, and she kindly told me that they couldn’t launch in the blizzard. Then I told her that we’d need the county fly car and she told me that it was on its way.

He had a jacket on with the name of his company on it. The ID tag clipped to his shirt said that his name was Ken. Though he was unresponsive, I talked to him and called him by name and encouraged him and told him what was happening.
Traffic was heavy and slow and I kept looking up from the man to see if I could see any emergency vehicles coming.

The first to arrive was a captain from the Department of Environmental Conservation police. His presence was calming and professional. He and the Strong nurse checked the various occupants of the various cars to make sure everyone was all right.

A man from a utility – maybe the electric company or the phone company – came to offer aid. As the minutes passed, various passersby brought coats and blankets from their cars to lay over the man. One gentleman took the coat off his back and covered the man with it. Then he took off his gloves and put them over the man’s hands.

At a certain point, the man’s wife arrived. She had been called by the son and, their home apparently being close, had arrived quickly.

“Where is he?” I heard her say. “He is my husband.”

I looked up when I heard those words, and saw a woman walking toward us. I was dreading her arrival. I did not want her to see or experience this. I could not imagine the pain and sorrow inherent in a situation like this.
She was dressed as conservative Christian women sometimes are, in a long dress, it might have been denim, and I think her hair was long and up on her head.

As she approached us, she was calm and business like. She asked how he was and what had happened.Then she knelt and began to pray.

She may have held his hand, she may have leaned in toward his head. As she spoke, I cast my eyes down and reverently listened. She addressed God. Whether she called him “Dear Lord” or “Heavenly Father” or something else, I can’t recall. But she addressed him, and then she thanked him.
And she offered him praise.

Her words were not words of pleading, they were words of praise and gratitude.
And then she said something like, “If today you wish to call him home and take him from us – thy will be done.”

Thy will be done.The line from the Lord’s Prayer. The hardest part of faith. At a moment when most of us would be begging God to give us what we want – to spare us our loved one – she asked the Lord to do his will, what he wanted. She trusted him, and had faith in him.

Where could there be a truer test or demonstration of faith than in the snow beside the broken and near lifeless body of your sweetheart and spouse? In that situation, there can be no pretense, no show, only the heartfelt honesty of a soul in direct communion with its Creator.

And in her moment of test, in her own Gethsemane, she literally prayed, like her Savior before her, not my will, but thine, be done.
But if it was not his time to die, if the Lord did not want to call him home, she asked for his life, for her and their children, and strength through the weeks of hospitalization and recovery.

And then she asked that this event would be turned to the glory of God, that somehow it could touch the heart of someone, that someone might find Jesus, that someone might come to salvation.And that was her prayer.

While I listened for this man’s breaths, and rescuers sped on slippery roads, and neighbor helped neighbor. Soon I saw a deputy and a trooper, and then a fire truck in the far lanes, and then firefighters around us and finally an ambulance.

They were angels in turnout gear.They came with such a competence and earnestness. One medic, a younger man, had an Avon patch on his uniform. He quickly worked to help the man breathe. Another medic, slightly older, had a Livonia patch on his uniform. He worked on the man’s body. Another medic soon came, directly from home, in office clothes, and with the help of the firemen the three of them loaded the man first onto a backboard and then onto a gurney and up into the Avon ambulance.

In a minor and unskilled way, they needed an extra set of hands, so I climbed into the ambulance with them as the doors closed and the rig pulled out.
It may have taken most of an hour to get to Strong Memorial Hospital. We stopped at one point to pick up the Livingston County paramedic. He was a stunningly professional man, and watching him and the others work was like seeing a nuts-and-bolts miracle.

It was high science and true compassion, a moment-by-moment tending of an injured man’s needs. Each medic attending to different tasks or coming together to achieve one. Like a choreographed dance or a loose symphony. I was grateful such people and such technology exist.

In his own way, the ambulance driver performed his own miracles. In stalled bumper-to-bumper traffic, over miles and miles of snowy highway, he pressed forward, moving between and around any obstacles that presented themselves, using his resourcefulness to get the patient where he needed to go.

In the back of the rig, I noticed in the pocket of the man’s shirt six or seven little tracts, religious pamphlets, about the true meaning of Christmas. The sort of thing that religious people pass out inviting others to get saved. As they pulled the gurney out of the rig at the Strong ED, the tracts fell to the floor of the ambulance, wet from the melting snow and stained with the man’s blood.

Later, I would recount this story on the radio, and receive e-mails from coworkers and church members. People who knew him and loved him.
He always carried the Bible and the tracts, they said. And he was the nicest guy they knew. He would do anything for anybody and he and his wife had eight children.

And for the past three years, he and his sons had built with their own hands a house for the family. A house for which they had only recently been granted a certificate of occupancy – a permit for the family to move in and begin its dream life.

He was a good man, doing a good thing, and that didn’t surprise anybody. He came to be hurt because he came to the rescue.
When I went to bed last night, his condition was very grave and prayer requests were echoing across the Internet.And I couldn’t help but think of the verse from the Gospel of John.
“Greater love hath no man than this,” it reads, “that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

That happened on a cross once, and on battlefields countless times, and sometimes it happens on the side of the road.
I saw something sacred yesterday, and I hope I have communicated it adequately.
I hope I have done my part to help answer a good woman's prayer.

- by Bob Lonsberry © 2010

Unrealistic Expectations Put on the Minister's Family and How You Can Help

After spending numerous years in the ministry I have come to realize that people forget that missionaries, pastors, their wives, and children are just normal people like the rest of us.

Recently this was brought to my mind as someone I had tried to help was inadvertently hurt by something they misunderstood that I said. I didn't say anything hurtful, and my only intention was to help them, but sometimes these things happen. We all get misunderstood at times, and no one likes to be falsely accused.

When trying to explain myself to someone involved in the situation, they replied "Don't take it personally."

I didn't respond to the comment, but I felt like saying something to the effect--do you think pastors and their families are made of stone? Are we somehow cut out of a different piece of cloth than the rest of humanity that we don't get our feelings hurt, or when people don't show us the same sensitivity that they expect us to show them?

I acknowledge that to be in the ministry you must have thick skin. You can't take things personally, and you do have to learn to have a lot of grace with people. I think anyone who has been in the ministry for any length of time would acknowledge this. Most missionaries, pastors and their families are not serving the Lord for selfish motives. I would venture to say that most do what they do because they love God and want to please Him. They have a call on their lives, and are examples to the flock. There are qualifications of an elder and bishop which includes high standards for his family. We can not excuse bad behaviour and attitudes.

My point is this, try to remember that people in the ministry will disappoint you sometimes. They aren't "perfect" people with "perfect" families. Give them a little grace to be human. Forgive them when you feel overlooked--perhaps they had something on their minds that day, or have a burden that you don't know about.

Pray for them, and don't be afraid to approach them either if you feel they have offended you--most of the time when someone has asked me if I was offended by something they did or say I am genuinely surprised as I had no idea they felt that way or that they were feeling such things. A word in private can correct a lot of misunderstandings.

Try to have realistic expectations of what you think a missionary/pastor's wife should be. Let her be herself and don't expect her to run every ministry in the church that needs filled. We often to try to fill in the gaps because that is something we do as a help meet to our husbands--but unless the pastor's wife wants to the nursery coordinator, the Sunday school teacher, the Junior church leader, in charge of the woman's Bible study and soul winning ministries, the church custodian, bus driver, and church pianist (I think you get my point) don't dump these on her. Let her choose where she feels the Lord can best use her gifts. She has her hands full being a wife, mother, and in many situations a home school teacher. On the contrary, try to see a need and ask if you can help.

Sometimes people have said to me "Our church needs a youth ministry, or we need a junior church, or more women's ministries ....." and my husband will consider the requests and see if that is what the Lord is directing him to do, but more often than not, what they really are saying is that "you need to start a youth program, you need to start a woman's Bible study and prayer group, etc. "

How about coming to your pastor and saying, I think the Lord has put on my heart to start ..........you can fill in the blanks.  This would be music to his ears! And don't be discouraged if the pastor doesn't respond as enthusiastically as you think he should--maybe he needs time to consider and pray about it.

Recently a lady in our church asked my husband for some John and Romans so she could pass them out to her neighbors. This delighted Doug beyond measure. Nothing encourages a pastor or his family more when they see the congregation participating wholeheartedly in unity.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Words of Wisdom

I recently saw a Facebook post on a friend's timeline that made me think. It said, "You don't own all the problems in the world." It was a poster with seven rules for life.

It reminded me to stop worrying about things you have no control over. Sure, we can pray for people, their situations, and try to bear each others burdens, but there comes a point where we have to leave things in the hands of God. Watching the evening news was dragging me down as I found myself contemplating all the world's problems.

I am an empathetic person--I feel the pain of others. That can be a good thing, to a point, but when you find yourself overwhelmed with care it can rob your joy. As long as we live in this world there is going to be human suffering, sickness, pain, loss, death, injustice, and on it goes. I firmly believe we are to weep with them that weep, but the Bible also says to rejoice with them that do rejoice. Like everything else in life, there is a balance.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

What Missionary Wive's Wish You Knew Article by Alison Wood

I came upon this article on facebook and it was so well written and said so many things that I have experienced here on the mission field that I thought it would be nice to share it here on my blog. You can click on the link and read it on the author's blog, or I pasted it on my blog for the sake of convenience. The author's name is Alison Wood, and she is a missionary to Cambodia. She has also written several ebooks about the home. Here is the link to her website.


 In Alison's words:

I’m a missionary wife. My husband and I have been living overseas for seven years now, and I want to let you sweet readers know that there are some things that every missionary wife wished you knew. However, many of them don’t get the chance to tell you these things, or sometimes they don’t know you well enough to trust you with their personal struggles or victories.

Even though that is the case, I think you should know.

In fact, I think your pastor’s wife should know. 

 (This is Carolee adding a comment--personally, I don't necessarily agree that this should be added--I don't think the pastor's wife should bear any more burden in contacting a churches missionaries than any other member in the congregation. We have to be careful about adding unrealistic expectations to our pastor's wife--she has enough to deal with as it is and just because she is the pastor's wife doesn't mean she has the responsibility of this as well--just my thoughts.)

I think your best friend should know.

Why? Because many missionaries are leaving the foreign mission field because the missionary wife is beyond lonely, discouraged and has given up on the ministry overseas.
And maybe, just maybe, if you knew what the missionary wife really needs, thinks and experiences, then you could encourage a missionary wife to keep going.

It’s possible that you have no idea how much a fellow Christian can influence a missionary wife for good. It’s possible that you have no idea what your phone call, email or care package meant to her. It’s even more possible that you don’t know how many weeks she has spent in tears because she felt worthless, lonely and discouraged.

But, someone encouraged her in the Lord. Someone took her by the hand and helped her get up and brush off her knees. Someone encouraged her to keep being a soldier of Christ. Someone’s words brought cool water to her soul and helped her smile in the midst of unexplainable difficulty. Someone’s small token of love helped her sing the praises of God in the midst of loud monotonous chanting to a false god. Someone’s battle in prayer for her that morning helped her look to her Anchor once again while she watched her tiny child lie painfully sick without dependable medical help nearby. Maybe next time, that someone will be you.

I asked a group of church-planting missionaries to share with me what they wished people knew about the missionary wife. I want to share those with you today so you can get the “inside scoop” of what really goes on behind those prayer cards, prayer letters, and status updates you briefly read on Facebook.

It’s not that the missionary wife is seeking to hide anything from you, but most of the time it’s because she doesn’t get an opportunity to share her struggles and discouragement.
But today, I thank you for taking just a few minutes to read some honest, real and very transparent things that every missionary wife wish you knew. May you use this knowledge to encourage the missionary wife who is in your life! And if you talk to her, please tell her I said “thank you” for serving Christ!

What Every Missionary Wife Wish You Knew

We wished you knew that we’re not super-heroes. Just today I was chatting with another missionary wife about how going to a foreign field makes you realize how frail you are as a Christian. Sometimes missionary wives get put on a pedestal for being “brave, committed and dedicated,” but on the inside we all know that we are all just human beings who have to trust and depend on the grace of God with each every step we take. We learn that it is only Jesus Christ who is worth to be praise — and we truly are only people who have the privilege of serving Christ in a foreign land. We feel privileged to be honored to work for the one true king!  

We wished you knew we get very lonely. I never viewed myself as a woman who needed her “girlfriends.” I loved staying at home with my kids and spending time with just my family. However, I didn’t realize that I was spending time with my “girlfriends” every time I went to church and even at other events. I would also run into friends at the grocery store. But in Southeast Asia? I didn’t have the friends. It would get very lonely. The phone wouldn’t ring, the doorbell wouldn’t ring and no one would invite us over for Christmas. It was just our family for a long time and sometimes the world seemed almost silent. But someone, somewhere would listen to the prodding of the Holy Spirit and would take time to send me an email or write me a short message on Facebook. I would find my smile and laughter once again as I began to feel like a loved human.
  • So what does this mean for you? It means you can encourage the missionary wife by just writing her a message on Facebook, sending her a short email or even better — calling her!

    When I got to hear the sound of an American, Christian voice, sometimes I would have to refrain my tears. It had been so long since I had enjoyed a conversation with an American, Christian friend and I was overwhelmed with happiness of familiar sounds, laughter and sayings I grew accustomed to in my native land.

  • Go ahead, send that email or call that missionary wife today. Psst! You can find most of her personal information on her family’s prayer card or website! You’ll be so glad you did, and she will treasure that communication for a very, very long time!

    We wished you knew we want you to say “hi” when we visit. When we come to a church or group, sometimes people walk right by our display and never say a word to us. Even if we’re busy looking after small children, it makes us feel more welcome if you just take a few minutes, say hello and check out our missionary work. It makes all the traveling and late nights much more pleasant!

    We wished you knew that we’re not all created equal. I’m a missionary wife who loves to sing and play the piano. However, that does not make me a better missionary wife than missionary wives who do not feel gifted in the area of music. There are many other talents and qualities a missionary wife can possess! Each missionary wife is hand-crafted by a loving Savior who knows just how to use their special, unique talents to bring glory to His name. Even their personalities, strengths and weaknesses are all different. Love the missionary wives for who they are and don’t expect all of them to fit in the typical missionary wife bubble!

    We wished you knew we don’t get acclimated to being separated from family. Oceans and thousands of miles separated us from people we dearly love — and times does not make it any easier. Sometimes people assume that you grow hardened and even callous to being separated from your loved ones, but it’s simply not true. We don’t cross the ocean to leave our family and friends, but rather we cross the ocean with tears and precious memories of the faces of people we may never see again on this green earth.

    We wished you knew we want you to love our children. It means the world to a mother’s heart when someone loves her children. Missionary kids travel from place to place and rarely have enough time to make close-knit friends. How can you encourage the missionary child who looks totally confused when you ask her where she’s from? It’s simple, really. Talk to her when she visits you. Read up on the country where she lives so you can actually engage in conversation about the foreign place she calls home. Another simple thing? If you know a missionary kids is coming to visit your church, you could prepare a small bag for each kid that has some well-loved kid snacks, coloring books and small toys that just seem to shout, “HEY MISSIONARY KID! WE’RE SO GLAD YOU’RE HERE!” When someone makes a dedicated effort to show our children love and affection, we don’t forget it. We treasure that, and so do our children. And when you encourage our children, you encourage us.
    We wished you knew we don’t care what time of day or night you call us.
    If it’s night, our phones will be on silent. Don’t hesitate to call and leave a voice mail. We love hearing form you and we also know that sometimes people forget the time differences. We forget about those pesky time zones too!
    We wished you knew we need your patience when we’re on furlough. After leaving overseas for several years, we pick up unusual habits, phrases etc. And our kids? They pick it up even more! We also forget some manners that don’t apply in our new home country. And, most likely, America has changed quite a bit since we have visited. We may have forgotten how to work the credit card machines, the soda fountains and even how to order our favorite cup of coffee. And just one more thing. We may be a basked of emotions when we’re on furlough. Try to imagine hearing about 5 divorces, three deaths and wayward children in just a few weeks. While everyone else has moved on and already come to terms with those situations, they are all thrown on us at once and are fresh wounds. Then, add in the joy of reuniting with loved ones, learning how to function again in a completely different culture and you have a woman who is bound to burst into tears over the silliest of things. Yes, we need your patience, grace and time to adjust to our “homeland” once again. Give us a few months and we should be semi-normal again! :)

    We wished you to know your prayers really, really matter. We know when our family has faced some ginormous battle that relief and help came because people like you were on their knees begging God to help us. Remember Peter in Acts 12:5? He was put in prison, and would have most likely been killed by
    Herod, but the church prayed for him WITHOUT CEASING. And what happened? An angel came and rescued Peter out of prison. That’s just one biblical example of how God uses your prayers to work in people’s lives. Please pray for the missionary wife in your life!
    We wished you knew that the money and time you spend on packages is not wasted. It’s amazing how we are quick to assume we’re not materialistic. We live without air-conditioning, carpet, Wal-mart, Target, dishwashers, clothes dryers and other conveniences we were accustomed to in America. But when we see that unopened box sitting at the post office, we bubble over inside with anticipation of seeing Butterfingers, Crystal light, Crayola crayons, Yankee candles and Kool-Aid. Who knew that those small things meant so much to us and gave us sweet glimpses into our native lands. You see, to you it’s just a box filled with ordinary things that costs an exorbitant amount of shipping. But to us? It’s a rare, tiny taste into the land we grew up in. ut lost of all? It’s a tangible reminder that people are still thinking of us in America. That people still love us, believe in the work we are called to do and count the sacrifice of money and time worth the investment if it cheers up a missionary on the field. Yes, those packages are priceless to us an remember every single one — and our kids do too.

    We want you to know that we love being a missionary’s wife. Though our paths our often fraught with difficulty, we count our sacrifices very, very small when we think of what Jesus Christ has done for us. We are excited that we get to travel to foreign lands that do not have the privilege of hearing the gospel on radio stations, televisions or in churches. We are excited to be able to be the first people to tell others who never knew about Jesus Christ and the salvation, hope and peace that only He can bring.