This is my sermon from Sunday, April 20th. It helps lead into the coming messages on the Civil Rights movement, which we shall see was but another manifestation of perverse, anti-biblical Egalitarian thinking. This message seeks to urge believers to view every movement in society through the lenses of scripture, and avoid interpreting all things through the moral lenses of our culture.
Now at last, having overcome the horrible struggle of the garden, Jesus boldly goes forth to meet His enemies. Calmly, He tells the disciples that the hour is at hand in which the Son of man will be betrayed into the hands of sinners. I suppose that even then they did not recognize the full impact of what was taking place. Surely they must have been aware something strange and dreadful was afoot, but all of Jesus’ warnings had not sufficed to have them mentally prepared for the traumatic events at hand.
As He spoke to the disciples, Judas appeared, leading a large band of soldiers hired by the chief priests and elders, fully intent on arresting Jesus. We know from John’s account that they had no power at all to take the Lord’s life, or even to take Him into custody. When they first inquired after Jesus of Nazareth, a simple word from the Lord sent them reeling backwards to the ground. But even that dramatic display of Christ’s power did not deter them from their evil purpose. Judas, the diabolical traitor, boldly approached Christ and kissed Him, tipping off his companions that this was their target. Here we see Jesus in the shining perfection of His character, refusing to bluster out threats and vitriol, even when confronted by such devilish treason. This is the same Teacher Who had taught us to bless those who curse us, and pray for them who despitefully use us and persecute us. Thus, in response to Judas’ token of betrayal, He utters no recrimination, only the calm, pointed question, “Friend, wherefore art thou come?” Another gospel author records that He also uttered a very mild rebuke, in the words, “Betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss?” But even such a heavenly response as this could not melt the cold heart of Judas to repentance, though perhaps the memory of them helped drive him in short order to his despairing suicide.
Peter had not boasted entirely idly when he spoke of his willingness to die with Jesus. Had the Lord been willing to take up arms to defend himself, I have no doubt that Peter would have fought against odds a thousand to one to preserve his Master’s life. Here, he shows himself ready to confront this heavily armed multitude, for he launches himself at them with a sword, and cut off the ear of a servant of the high priest (doubtless he intended to split the man’s head open). But Peter had not yet recognized the spiritual nature of Christ’s kingdom. We do not advance the kingdom of God by swords, guns, or bombs, but by proclamation of the word. Jesus therefore rebukes His bold but erring servant, with the words, “Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.” And thus it has often proven in the case of presidents, dictators, and kings, who sought to advance their power and influence by force of arms. They themselves often perished in battle, or by the assassin’s blade or bullet. Perhaps none deserved it more than those who pretended to be advancing the work of God through the slaughter of their fellow men.
Jesus Christ was in no need of the defense of His disciples. A skeptic might say He deterred them because it was a hopeless task for twelve swords to fight such a multitude. But recall that this is the same omnipotent Son of God that overthrew a vast Midianite host with Gideon’s 300 swords. And Christ had even greater means at His disposal than that. Had He so wished, He could have instantly summoned twelve legions of the heavenly forces to slaughter all His enemies without the slightest difficulty. But He would not do so. And the reason He would not do so is because He held God’s book in sacred reverence: “How then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?” Would to God that all people professing the precious name of Christ held the Word of God in such high regard as did their Master!
February 27. Now at last I am writing from the comfort of my own home, having by the grace of God arrived safely in Oklahoma. Our flight from Houston to Tulsa was made without difficulty or hang-up.
As we came out of the airport, our wives and my children were waiting for us. What a sight for sore eyes! My 2-year old Trudy was a little reticent at first, and Matthew was asleep in his stroller. The smile on Heidi’s face, though, was worth a million dollars. Joy said she was so excited when she saw me that she was literally shaking. It was a very pleasant ending to a long but worthwhile journey, an endeavor which we trust by the grace of the Lord shall not have been in vain.
February 26. We made it safely and on schedule to Trinidad yesterday afternoon. It took awhile to get through customs, but since it was a 17-hour layover we had plenty of time to burn. The taxi driver who took us to our Holiday Inn told us that in these poor economic times it is getting difficult to make a living driving a taxi. I also discovered during the ride that talk radio is not a uniquely American phenomena. The driver had on a talk show, and the content was very familiar; complaining about government mismanagement and crookedness in the economy.
After settling into our hotel room I phoned in an order to Pizza Hut. Trinidadians have the same Creolese accent used in Guyana, and it is even more difficult for me to discern it over the phone than in person. But I finally figured out that before taking my order, the Pizza Hut employee wanted to know if I was from Oklahoma or Texas. Apparently I have more of a distinctive Okie accent than I ever recognized. After I ordered, he also asked if by any chance I was a Sooners fan, a charge to which I had to plead guilty. Apparently the greatest college football program around is known all the way to Port of Spain, Trinidad!
It took over an hour but the motorcycle delivery man finally got the order to our hotel. We enjoyed some good American cuisine, and a hot shower (we had cold showers in Guyana, though the water is warm enough to be comfortable). I turned on a basketball game at 8, but Dad fell asleep during the 1st half. I stayed up to watch the game before turning in. Then Dad ended up rising at about 3:30 a.m. I stayed in bed till 5, then we got all our luggage together and headed back to the airport.
At Trinidad we loaded on time but the takeoff was delayed for about 20 minutes. It was a long 6-hour flight, and the landing was delayed another 10 minutes or so over Houston. Notwithstanding, we made it to Houston in plenty of time, made it through customs and the regular TSA harassment, had our lunch, and now sit waiting on the final leg of our trip from Houston to Tulsa.
February 25. With nearly 3 hours before our flight departs, I thought I would put down a few more observations about Guyana. All along the highways, almost all the way from Georgetown to Corriverton and beyond, there is civilization. Every little community, most of them designated as villages, has a sign with its name. Many of these are simply numbers; for example, Roadside Baptist Church is in Village # 68, and Living Stone Baptist is in Village # 57. Corriverton Baptist is actually in a little community called Line Path.
Other communities, however, are adorned with very colorful names. Nearly every village or town sign is sponsored by Pepsi. Every O in the lettering, including in the “Welcome To,” is a Pepsi emblem. These communities have such unique names as Glaziers Lust, Letter T, Airy Hall, Now or Never, Quakers Hall, and Rising Sun. Two of the most interesting names are consecutive villages on the road named Catherinas Lust and Lovely Lass.
Back in America, maybe one out of a hundred vehicles has a bumper sticker. In Guyana, probably more than half of vehicles have a word, phrase, or message, usually on the tint at the top of the windshield, but occasionally on the back or side of the car. These messages may say anything. I saw one today on a truck (Guyana is full of Bedford lorries from England) that said Thug’s Life. More often they are religiously oriented, bearing such titles as Praise Allah, or Allah is the greatest.” Once I saw a Hindu sticker that said Praise Krishna. There are more Christian messages than any others, though, bearing such varied titles as Rose of Sharon, and Pastor Terry’s moniker Read God’s Word—It’s Good For you. Other ones I remember: I Love My Life, Jesus is My Boss, and the rather shocking one we saw on the way to Georgetown that said Nigger Tribes. I’m not sure what kind of message they were trying to convey, but according to brother Katryan that word isn’t considered nearly as offensive in Guyana as it commonly is in the U.S.
February 24. We had one more opportunity to be with the brethren of the churches in Guyana today, during the church family fellowship at Corriverton Baptist. Most of the folks from all three churches came, making quite a nice gathering. We gathered in a breezy ground floor room while lunch was being prepared, and enjoyed a good service, started off by singing a few simple songs that everyone save Dad and I seemed to know. Then Pastor Moti spoke for about 20 minutes on the necessity of obedience in our Christian walk. After that Dad and I were called on to lead in a couple of scripture songs that our church uses. The people seemed to pick up on them quickly. Pastor Terry then spoke on the necessity of continuing in sound doctrine and fellowship, from Acts 2:42. Then there was a recitation of scripture by some of the children, and a time of testimony. Pastor Katryan closed the proceedings before lunch by speaking quite powerfully on the necessity of putting Christ’s kingdoms and its interests ahead of our earthly priorities.
Four or five people spoke during the time of testimony, including a dear old lady named Sylvia, who loves to sing, and sang a song of blessing for a safe trip home to Dad and me. A number of people expressed how much they had been blessed and encouraged by our ministry during the past week. Some of the elderly women even gave me a kiss of charity on the cheek before departing. Pastor Terry took several more pictures before we all broke up to go our separate ways. I look forward to receiving those pictures on my e-mail when I get home.
It was bittersweet to say farewell to the dear brethren here in Guyana, without any certainty of when we may be together again. There were widespread wishes for our speedy return, wishes I hope to be able to accommodate in the not too distant future. But who can tell what God has ordained for our coming days? I hope and pray to return and find many of these children having been baptized, taking up the cross to follow Christ, and finding the rest of the saints continuing steadfast in the faith. In short, on such occasions as this, I find the words of John Fawcett to hold true: Blest be the tie that binds our hearts in Christian love; the fellowship of kindred minds is like to that above. When we asunder part it gives us inward pain; but we shall still be joined in heart and hope to meet again.
The final revival meeting during our stay took place this evening at Roadside Baptist Church, which is a central location between the other two churches. Once more the meeting was attended by saints from all three places. One thing that is painfully evident in viewing the congregation is how many more women are present than men. Many of these sisters are unmarried, and others beset with the peculiar trial of a careless or unconverted husband. Perhaps after migration, the biggest problem the churches here face is a dearth of faithful, committed men.
I spoke this evening from Luke 11:31 on the excellent example of the Queen of Sheba, and the greatness of Christ over Solomon. I do believe the Lord blessed the meeting tonight, and our time here all week in general. Our prayer is that good fruit will indeed be borne by our labors here, to the honor and praise of the Son of God.
At the conclusion of tonight’s meeting we had the always touching finale of singing God Be With You Till We Meet Again. As is customary in some Baptist circles, Dad and I were stationed at the door to greet the congregants as they filed out. There were many names and faces I hope always to remember, and, if God is gracious, to see again: Brother Terry and sister Shako, and their sweet little children Jonathan and Akira; brother Moti and sister Ghasmin, who showed us such hospitality during the week; Andrea, who attends faithfully and plays the organ/keyboard—always smiling and cheerful, and singing along while she plays; the 10 and 7-year old girls Isha and Tanisha, an aunt and niece, remarkably cute and quite sweet as well; the elderly lady Joy, who shares the same name with my wife; Shama, a dear sister who drove Dad and I home from services at Roadside three different times this week; Clinton, a soft-spoken young man with a wife and two little girls, who is apparently an earnest inquirer after the truth; Seeamber, who is sending home two bottles of homemade pepper sauce each with Dad and me; Ronald, a farmer whose family gave Dad and I each a hammock; Ryan, a cheerful and pleasant boy who was a member of the class as the skills centre; Andy, 14-year old next door neighbor to the Katryans, who willingly attends all church functions; Anthony, another very friendly young man whom it was a pleasure to meet; and, of course, brother Almond, whose indefatigable labors and unsurpassed faith and dedication to the ministry are an example to all who know him, and sister Nalin, who works tirelessly with great skill and determination for the welfare of her home, her church, and her community. Many others there are as well, whose names I either do not recall or did not learn or record, but the Lord knows, who have shown great kindness and respect to us during our stay in Guyana.