Archive for February 2013

Seminar at Cotton Tree

February 28, 2013

Louis RushmoreThere are many unusual and even provocative names of little villages along the coast of Guyana. Wednesday, February 27, 2013, Michael Hooper, Nigel Milo and I presented the last of nine seminars across Guyana for this year. The Lord’s church in the quaint sounding town of Cotton Tree hosted this final seminar in a four-hour night session. Exceeding expectations, around 100 Christians assembled for three lessons and a Question & Answer period.

We spent nearly an hour following the seminar and snacks transporting church members to their homes. Then, having parted company with brother Michael Hooper, brother Nigel Milo and I headed back to his home in Linden. The three hour-journey put us back in Linden around 11:00 p.m. Along the way back to Linden in the dark of night, we ran over a downed horse in the road. We didn’t see it in time to stop before plowing into it, and oncoming traffic made it impossible to avoid it. The carcass was well destroyed from previous impacts by passing traffic, and it had a horrible, rotting smell – which lingered on the van all the way to Linden.

The rest of the night into the wee hours of the next day, Nigel and I settled financial expenditures by me reimbursing him for expenses above what we had budgeted. We traded camera pictures, too. I packed suitcases, including putting the empty case in which I had brought 48 pounds of books and tracts into the other checked bag. Finally, I showered before retiring for a well-deserved three-hour nap before arising to head to the airport for my homeward journey.

The flights home (three planes) were uneventful. I was a little confused by signs in the JFK airport in New York. I found myself walking back and forth in the same hallway trying to follow what I thought were contradictory signs to my boarding gate. I had to inquire of a security guard to clarify my circumstances. I needed to find “Gate 21” and to distinguish that from “Gate B21,” which was in a different terminal accessed by a shuttle bus. The one gate was for domestic flights, and the other was for international flights; that could make a big difference! I had never encountered a regular gate in big international airports that did not have a letter preceding the number; I had failed to notice the number without the letter. At one point, all I saw were two signs together pointing in opposite directions for what I thought was the same gate.

After arriving in Jackson, MS (via JFK in New York and Atlanta, GA) after 8 p.m. CST, we were still two hours from home in Winona, MS. Happily, Bonnie and Rebecca greeted me in baggage at the airport. I had eaten my first beef burger in weeks between flights in New York, and I feasted for supper on a roast beef sandwich, complemented with a chocolate milk shake, for supper en route back to the house.

It was good to be back home, though I was content and much gratified from the nine seminars, two Gospel meetings, worship preaching, Bible class teaching, teaching high school students at a boarding house and taping a television program. We were involved in up to 12 hours of teaching per day almost every day over three weeks. We taught 1,160 people from 72 congregations for 75 hours. We traveled by land, water and air for 81 hours to bring the mobile seminars within reach of every Christian in the country of Guyana. We have now ensured that every Gospel preacher in Guyana has received a box of books from World Evangelism in Winona, MS; I was privileged to hand deliver several of them into the arms of unsuspecting preachers. These three weeks of seminars, etc. were as personally gratifying or more so than any overseas mission trip on which I have ever gone.

We are already planning on expanding and making even better the Annual Guyana National Seminar in 2014. I hope that Bonnie will be healthy enough to resume foreign travel for the balance of 2013 and into 2014 and beyond.

Seminar Number Eight

February 26, 2013

Preachers' BoxesSeminar number eight is a two evening program (Monday and Tuesday, February 25-26, 2013) hosted by the Kildonan Church of Christ on the Corentyne Coast of Guyana. The anticipated audience of 40 was exceeded by about a dozen for a total of around 52 on the first night. Several preachers from throughout the region supported the seminar with their presence. That also afforded us an opportunity to distribute preacher boxes to some Guyanese evangelists who had not yet received some of the literature World Evangelism in Winona, MS had sent to them; they had no idea that they would be going home with a significant addition to their resources for preparation of lessons. The few preachers in the country who have not yet received such a box will receive their boxes next week by truck or the Guyana postal system. In addition, CD-ROMs of all The Voice of Truth International issues and over three dozen Bible study and sermon outline books were distributed to preachers who would be able to use them. During our travels these three weeks, we solicited and received mailing addresses for many congregations in Guyana who would like to receive future editions of The Voice of Truth International.

Preachers' BoxesFollowing songs and prayer on Monday, I began the evening’s program with a lesson entitled, “Why Do the Churches of Christ Not Use Instrumental Music in Worship?” Brother Michael Hooper preached, “What Is the Focal Point of Preaching?” Brother Nigel Milo spoke third and last for the night. The lessons were punctuated with more songs and prayers.

Preachers' BoxesTuesday morning after breakfast, brother Hooper met us at the hotel, and we three proceeded to the local television station. There we were met by brother Andrew. The four of us taped three television programs for future broadcasting. Before lunch, we drove to the hospital in New Amsterdam, whereupon I remained in the van to safeguard the bags while the other three visited a terminally ill brother in Christ. A little later, we convened at the Little Rock Suites (where Nigel and I are lodging for two nights) dining room for a lunch meal together. Afterward, we retired to our room to wait for the departure time for this night’s seminar session.

Kildonan Church of ChristTonight, the program got underway at 5:30 p.m., half an hour behind the advertised time. I led off with a presentation especially written for preachers, but containing principles suitable for all members of the church. Attendees kept streaming in through at least 6 p.m. Second to speak was brother Hooper. I also presented the third lesson of the evening, followed by a Question & Answer session, and like usual, though slow to start asking questions, eventually we had to close down the discussion. Several brethren led prayers and songs during the program. Following the conclusion of the seminar, the congregation served refreshments as it had last night, too. This evening, about 72 people were in attendance.

Hotel Room ViewAs at every venue for this year’s seminar, brethren here who gathered from several congregations were delighted for the occasion to fellowship each other. They were equally complimentary regarding the edification derived from the two-day seminar. Every place we have been across Guyana brothers and sisters have praised the lectures, and in several instances they have requested a return and additional days next year.

We are tired. Now we are fed – a late meal at the hotel restaurant. Soon, I will shower and ready myself for a much needed night’s sleep. Tomorrow is another day and another seminar – the last for this year in Guyana – number nine. By the way, let me share the view from our hotel room; just think, if come with me you could enjoy the same!

Last Sunday This Year at Amelia’s Ward Church of Christ

February 24, 2013

Michael HooperMichael HooperSunday, February 24, 2013 found me worshipping with the Amelia’s Ward Church of Christ. Brother Bryan Michael Hooper taught an excellent Bible class without written notes, using his Bible and quoting most verses from memory. He is a fine specimen of a preacher of God’s Word well worthy of emulation. Brother preaches for a congregation in Guyana, but happened to be in Linden at Amelia’s Ward because he, brother Nigel and I are traveling throughout Guyana in a series of seminars. We have been using brother Nigel Milo’s home in Linden as a base of operations. A little baby girl took up with him and was so content that she refused to go back for some while to her family members, including her mother.

Louis RushmoreI was privileged preach the Gospel during both the morning and evening worship periods as well as speak briefly for an evening men’s class. Many were the sisters in Christ who expressed well wishes for Bonnie back in the USA, and several men throughout the day also remembered her in public prayers.

The Amelia’s Ward congregation is exemplary in so many ways. It is one of the largest congregations among the churches of Christ in the entire country of Guyana. Its members go out into their community to evangelize Monday, Wednesday and Friday each week. In addition, several members pay their own expenses to go on two one-week crusades or evangelistic efforts each year throughout Guyana. The church’s local outreach includes repairing or building homes for its elderly Christians. The Amelia’s Ward Church of Christ has an extensive teaching curriculum for all ages.

The combined Bible class and worship Sunday mornings is three hours. Sunday evening the church not only has worship but a men’s class following. Ladies’ class is on another day of the week. The church has Wednesday evening Bible class, youth classes on another day as well as friends and family days. Every Friday night, brother Milo teaches dozens of girls and boys at a high school boarding house, and dozens of them also attend worship at Amelia’s Ward. Some are converted each year and carry the Gospel back to remote villages. Several boxes of The Voice of Truth International are distributed by church members in the local hospital and in the community.

The Amelia’s Ward Church of Christ is one of the most working churches anywhere in the world. It is not a wealthy church in terms of material prosperity, but it is extremely wealthy in souls dedicated to Christian service. At a time when membership in the churches of Christ throughout the nation is diminishing – threatening the existence of some congregations – the Amelia’s Ward Church of Christ is thriving. Yes, it has human problems, but it is thriving in spite of the frailty of mortals because it is devoted to Jesus Christ.

96 dpi 4x6 Nigel MiloBrother Nigel Milo is the dynamo behind the Amelia’s Ward Church of Christ, buttressed by his loyal wife sister Jasmine. Together they are raising a handsome son Zabuel (Zab). Brother Milo has boundless energy, and it is obvious after just a little time around him that he is literally high on Jesus Christ. That degree of zeal is contagious, affecting for good all with whom he comes in contact.

Brethren Hooper and Milo are worthy of any pulpit in any venue in any country, and auditors of their lessons would be much benefited. Brother Nigel shares with me a vision for seeing to the edification of preachers and congregations everywhere in Guyana. It is our intention to help stabilize churches, encourage them, increase Bible knowledge among the most devoted Christians and prompt them to take a personal responsibility for evangelizing their own nation.

I love Guyana. I love my brethren in Guyana. It is a small country of 83,000 square miles and a population of less than 800,000 precious souls, and they speak English. It is a no brainer not only to evangelize Guyana but to equip the brethren for ministry (Ephesians 4:12). In conjunction with that, within a few weeks every preacher in Guyana will have received a box of books from World Evangelism to enrich their personal studies. I hope to continue directing literature including tracts and The Voice of Truth International into the hands of brethren no matter where they reside in Guyana. We plan to grow the church from the inside out, spiritually first, which will permit it to expand itself numerically. We will continue to petition God in prayer toward that end.

At It Again!

February 23, 2013

River PortSaturday, February 23 started way too early for me. I arose at 3:15 a.m. and we were at it again. We traveled from Linden to the Westbury Church of Christ several miles past the Essequibo River. So, we traveled hours by land, spent nearly an hour in a speedboat crossing the river and mounted a taxi on the far shore to continue our trek yet many a mile beyond. Preachers and members from all of the congregations in the area attended the day’s proceedings.

Of course I knew what to expect from our boat ride across the Essequibo River because Bonnie and I had that experience last year for the first time. What I didn’t expect, though, was the strange sensation of feeling my eyebrows blowing in the wind and likewise my mustache blowing in the wind, too. I must be in for a haircut and a general trimming upon my return in a few days to the States; we haven’t been able to pause long enough in our travels to take advantage of a barber in Guyana. I’ve been a little reluctant anyway for fear I would have as little hair as Nigel and Michael when the barber was done.

I had barely walked across the threshold of the meetinghouse and I was asked where was Bonnie. Several sisters in Christ expressed their regret that Bonnie was not present, and they further committed themselves to prayer on behalf of her health.

The ladies outnumbered the men, and they were determined to have ladies’ classes. Therefore, Nigel, Michael and I each taught a ladies’ class, in addition to the men’s classes and the joint classes that we taught.

LunchNaturally, we had a fellowship meal for lunch. The menu may vary from one part of the world to another, but the inclination for brethren to eat together seems to be universal.

The last session was the Question & Answer segment. Also at the end of day, we solicited input for making future seminars even better. As typically the case, among other things, brethren want more lessons on more subjects.

Once unfamiliar faces, now brethren from throughout Guyana are becoming known. I look forward to returning next year, and these dear ones anticipate with joy our eventual return, too.

Another wide river was bridged literally with barges. Somehow things formerly strange to me are becoming commonplace.

On the way back to Linden, we took a short detour to scout the location of a church meetinghouse that will be central to an upcoming outreach effort by Nigel and the Amelia’s Ward Church of Christ; this congregation goes on two weeks annually of evangelization in Guyana communities. Weekly, brethren at Amelia’s Ward canvass their own neighborhoods as well.

We arrived back in Linden completely worn out. That is, except for Nigel who with Jasmine his wife returned to Georgetown to be with a member just rushed by ambulance to a hospital there. After eating, showering and catching up on some work, I must retire to bed for the night – so we can begin anew tomorrow.

Amerindian City: Lethem

February 22, 2013

Church of ChristOur team of three commenced on Wednesday, February 20 a two-day seminar in the Amerindian city of Lethem. We presented three lessons before lunch plus three lessons after lunch plus a question and answer session. About 35 mostly preachers were in attendance. One consistent thing about Christians anywhere we go in the world is that they opt to eat together at gatherings, and eat we did. Brethren came from great distances to attend. One brother rode his bicycle 12 hours through mountains. Others came three hours on motorcycles, also through mountains. One brother who was in a hospital in Brazil had a car bring him to Lethem for the lectures.

96 dpi 5x7 12 hour bicycle rideThat first evening we had over 170 in attendance; about 50 of those were children of all ages. One grandmother rode a bicycle 14 miles to attend, and she brought her 9-year-old granddaughter with her. As we were leaving by taxi to return to the hotel, this pair was about to begin their journey home in the ebony dark night. One man came forward after the first of two lessons, acknowledging sin and requesting encouragement; a young woman also responded and requested baptism. It was a full, rewarding day, and we are exhausted – with contentment in having served our Lord today, exalting His name and edifying our peers.

LunchThursday was a carbon copy of the day before. From 8 a.m. until after 4 p.m. we devoted to lesson after lesson, and then we concluded the afternoon with a Question & Answer session. As is usually the case, no one wanted to ask the first question, but then after the ice was broken it was difficult to turn off the questions. We held over some questions to the next day – the day of our departure.

For two nights in a row we had a non-paying guest make his or her appearance unexpectedly in our room. Having only paid for two occupants for that room, we had to usher the unwelcome guests from the room. Each of two successive nights, a silver colored snake resembling aluminum sheathed coaxial cable slithered across the floor. One was about six inches in length and the other was a little longer, but still less than a foot in length. Happily for me, my roommate Michael stomped each of them to death – with much difficulty. The first we gave a burial at sea in the toilet, and the second we handed over to management – which professed that they had never seen snakes in their hotel before.

LunchFriday morning early, Nigel, Michael and I rented a taxi to take us the short distance to Brazil. It was kind of anticlimactic since there was little to see at the border crossing. We took some pictures of some signs and of the Takutu River on the border with Guyanese mountains in the background.

Brazil BorderNext, we returned to the hotel for breakfast. Essentially, the choice is whether to have eggs and toast or nothing. It was amusing to be asked if we wanted our eggs fried or scrambled, because the day before, between the three of us, we requested both fried and scrambled – all three of us got fried eggs anyway.

Brazil BorderBefore heading for the airstrip, we returned to the church building and proceeded to answer questions held over from the night before. Just like at Monkey Mountain, we taught all day in the seminars for two days and had a Gospel meeting with two speakers nightly. Just like at Monkey Mountain, brethren regretted that they didn’t have more days to attend.

Finally, we convened at the humble airline office across the narrow street from the runway. Eventually, the plane arrived, passengers disembarked, luggage and cargo was removed, and we boarded the little plane. Our little bird did not take to the skies easily, but it flew a few feet above the airfield its entire length before gradually climbing above the surrounding scenery. I was about to lift my feet to see if that helped when we became airborne.

Upon return to Ogle, we recovered the van and headed to a Georgetown meetinghouse. There we picked up several packages of preacher books that had come from the USA on a container ship. Interestingly, I had helped pack some of those boxes in March of last year, and they had finally arrived and cleared customs. We would deliver some of the boxes to preachers personally as we traversed Guyana in these seminars.

The days run together, and the purposes of our movement overlap. Nigel multitasks and applies himself to the work of the Lord so that he opts for little sleep. There are no idle moments with him. If nothing else (besides driving down the highways), he constantly checks on members and encourages them with his phone calls. In addition, every venue to which we went for these seminars was called several times and blanketed with written correspondence to help ensure the success of our efforts.

Brethren are discouraged. Hinterland congregations are declining in membership. The numerous congregations represented at Lethem look forward with earnest to our return next year, and so do we.

From Coast to Border

February 19, 2013

GeorgetownMonday evening, February 18, this years’ Guyana National Seminar convened in Georgetown in the meetinghouse of the Northwood Church of Christ. Lessons by Michael Hooper and me were punctuated with prayers and hymns. Following the three presentations of the evening, brother Michael and I comprised a panel, soliciting religious questions from the audience for which they desired biblical answers. Brother Nigel Milo directed the program and moderated the panel discussion.

Michael HooperThemed “Value-Added Lessons for Christian Servants,” the mobile seminar has already assembled at Monkey Mountain, Linden, Port Kaituma and Mabaruma. Georgetown was the fifth of nine seminars this year. The purpose of the seminars is primarily to encourage and strengthen brethren throughout Guyana. Therefore, the seminar sites have been calculated to afford most of the congregations and their members in the entire country to attend one of the seminars closest to where they live.

Georgetown Grocery Bulk FoodsOne of the days passing through Georgetown, we stopped by a grocery store. The bulk foods section intrigued me.

Tuesday morning, Nigel, Michael and I flew to the border city of Lethem. We have been approaching these seminar sites as expeditiously as possible to cover as much ground as possible to afford the most opportunity for teaching within a period of three weeks. Consequently, we have been making good and frequent use of not only land transportation, but air and water travel, too. Today’s airplane was bigger than the others we flew domestically already, and it seemed to need little runway for takeoff or landing. Whereas the other flights were two persons abreast, this plane seated three bodies side-by-side. Though it was a bigger plane, it was no more spacious for passengers, and it may have been some tighter of a fit inside.

Takutu HotelWe were met by the preacher’s daughter and escorted to a quaint hotel not far from the airstrip. Her father is away gathering precious souls who will attend the two-day seminar, starting tomorrow. The program will consist of five hours of lesson presentations and a panel discussion during the day. Each night, we will present two evangelistic lessons. On Friday, we will return by plane to ready ourselves for activities Friday night and Saturday.

Up in the Air

February 17, 2013

Nigel, Louis & MichaelSeveral of our jaunts around the country of Guyana for these seminars that we are teaching are expedited by way of commercial flights aboard small aircraft. Our first flight between Ogle and Monkey Mountain began haltingly. Finally when it was our turn to board our flight, the cargo and baggage had been loaded and we three (Nigel Milo, Michael Hooper and Louis Rushmore) were joined by maybe four or so others.

However, try as he would, the pilot could not get the right engine to start. So, we had to depart the plane and head back to the waiting area. After a while, we boarded once more for our journey. Nigel remarked from time to time that at least the engine broke down while we were on the ground. That truth is obviously true, but neither would there have been any place to make an unexpected landing along our route since most of the country is impenetrable rainforest.

CockpitOn one of the flights, I got to be copilot, but I determined not to touch any of the controls. One of the interesting things about flying these small planes is that in additional to weighing the luggage, the airlines weigh the passengers, too. Then, the passengers sometimes are assigned seating in such a way as to evenly distribute the weight.

CargoWe found out through experience when leaving Monkey Mountain, “You can’t get there from here.” We had flown to Monkey Mountain nonstop. We expected to fly from Monkey Mountain nonstop as well. No one realized that the flight dropped passengers from Monkey Mountain at another mountain village of Mahdia. Then, the plane would ferry cargo to various sites before returning late afternoon to retrieve its Monkey Mountain passengers to complete their journey to Ogle.

Busy Little AirstripOur schedule was too tight for that to be a workable since we had another seminar in Linden on Wednesday evening. Hiring a taxi would not have gotten us to Linden in time as would have taken longer than waiting for the plane to return. We were told that it was not safe making that long journey by car since the road was slow going and extremely rough, plus we could be ambushed along the road. Nigel managed for us to buy new passage for the three of us to be flown from Mahdia to the defunct landing strip at Linden. He then called ahead and had a member of the church pick us up in his taxi.

Those plane engines, single or dual props, are extremely loud – especially upon takeoff. Instinctively, I shoved an index finger deep in each ear. Later, I learned to wad toilet paper (which we always carry) and press it in my ears. Still later, I carried along my noise canceling headphones for the same purpose. However, sometimes nothing seems to deaden the roar sufficiently. I remember that after the first trip, upon deplaning I could hardly hear anything for some time.

Some of the airports are beyond simple and rustic. At some locations we use every bit of the runway before the plane must make the choice to soar or plunge down the upcoming ravine. Dirt and gravel runways stagger the imagination as the blue bird on which we were passengers pushed through well enough to thrust itself once more in the air.

GuyanaClouds and fog abound. Happily, fog and clouds at least permitted observance of the cliff past which we flew below its crest. The pilots apparently calculate the altitude required to clear other mountain tops so that though we fly high above the lower elevations, we are not all that far above the jungle canopies atop the mountain peaks.

As I write this, we have only just begun. A few more jaunts by air await us in the next two weeks of seminars. Jesus said “Go,” but He did not specify how we were to go. His wisdom and foreknowledge provided for means of travel beyond ships, animal powered and walking. Planes make it possible for us to travel expeditiously to Guyana and throughout this tropical nation. We are teaching, baptizing and teaching (Matthew 28:19-20) with an emphasis on edifying fellow Christians (1 Corinthians 3:6; Ephesians 4:12).

We are going with the help of dear brethren. They have sent the light of the Gospel and we are taking the light of the Gospel to Christians and non-Christians alike.