8 … I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of
Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things….
10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the
fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death….
That I may know Him,
The sun rises with the promise of a new start, driving away the darkness from each side-street and backyard in this safe and sequestered neighborhood.
small sequestered neighborhood
It lights a rose-golden fire in every drop of dew on every blade of grass in every neat and tidy yard bounded by sidewalks and driveways. Somewhere off in the next block over, a dog barks. But she barely notices.
She awakens with a dread bounded by grief and fear, remembering that today is the day she has to say it. She has chosen to leave, and today she has to declare it. She has chosen to leave her position of leadership in a Christian organization, a rewarding job where she is loved and appreciated, a position of security and a community full of friends she loves. Knowing she will not be understood, she has chosen to leave all of this because she could not follow the lead of her colleagues and drift away on the whim of the tide of popular culture, because she could not let go of Christ.
And the power of his resurrection…
The Lead Yellow sun of late August, so heavy on the rest of us through the middle hours of the day, lies like a welcome blanket upon her thin shoulders. She still needs a wheelchair to get through the hospital to her clinic appointments. But until she gets very tired, her face is radiant. It has been more than a month now since Kleyrin left the hospital. And each clinic visit marks another milestone on the road of her resurrection. It has now been about 9 weeks since Kleyrin died, or came so close that she couldn’t tell the difference. Her resurrection was slow, two weeks on the ventilator, six weeks in a hospital bed.
Kleyrin on ventilator
But it was a resurrection all the same. If her death was cold and dark, terrifying, hopeless and alone, a sense of loss so painful that you cannot breathe, and it stretches on forever…If her life is now light and joy and gratitude and community and a sense of hope so profound that it goes on forever, then the power of the resurrection looks like Kleyrin.
And the fellowship of his sufferings…
The sun sets, marking passage of the striving and the struggle of another day. It paints a rose-golden light to banana leaves and palm fronds, all growing with an exuberance that can’t be contained, at the end of a rutted dirt road with no sidewalks and no driveways, no boundaries at all. Hardly a thing is neat and tidy here. Somewhere off in the darkening jungle, a Howler Monkey barks, but she barely notices.
She lies down and turns her face to the wall with a sense of grief too heavy for the heart to bear, with a sense of loss too profound to utter in prayer. She has become accustomed to being poured out into the endless Ocean of Need, the need of others, the loss of others. Even when poured out until there is nothing left and the Ocean seems unchanged, she has learned she can get up when the sun rises and face it again. But right now the need and the pain and the loss is her own. Faced with the loss of someone she assumed would always be there, she is torn between the ones who need her where she is, and the ones who need her where she comes from, on the other side of the sea.
Giving up “brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake” is a high price. But doing so again and again when they need you, seems too much to ask… yet He had to do that too. Being made conformable unto his death—we don’t know how difficult that handful of words will be until we have to walk them out.…
The first woman is a friend of mine, an active supporter of this work from the United States. She is making the best choices she can to navigate in a culture that seems to have lost its moorings. She has come to believe that she can’t continue with the work she loved, she can’t stay on in silence, and still “be found in Him.” So she makes the hard choice to leave.
The next is a 12 year-old girl who came about as close as you can to the grave without staying there. Kleyrin was a normal, healthy 12 year-old until she contracted a form of dengue fever which led to acute respiratory distress syndrome, which led to respiratory failure. Two weeks on a ventilator and six weeks in the hospital translates into one very sick little girl…and an extraordinary effort by the medical staff—nurses, doctors and techs. There for a while even the world class specialists at the Oregon Health Sciences University’s, Pediatric Intensive Care Unit were giving daily expert feedback and recommendations. Kleyrin’s resurrection represents part of what Loma de Luz is here for. We recognize the hand of God in this, and give Him thanks.
The third is a missionary I know pretty well. A friend and co-laborer, initiated into the fellowship of His sufferings, she pays a heavy price. But scripture does not promise us that service to our Lord will be easy. In fact, it pretty clearly says the opposite. As our friend in the US could tell you, “the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus” may require “the loss of all things.” Yet we must not lose sight of the power of the resurrection.
It is the suffering of Christ that made the power of the resurrection possible. It is the power of the resurrection that makes sense of suffering. And without both, we cannot truly know Him.
I surely don’t hope for the hard blessing of suffering for you. That dog will come without whistling for it. Jesus stated clearly that in this world you will have trouble…. It is my prayer that in the dark hours before dawn you can remember what He said next: But take heart! I have overcome the world (John 16:33).
It is my hope that the image of Kleyrin’s resurrection encourages you, that in the days of trouble you would remember the fellowship that Christ suffered too and suffered alone. But here is the main thing: it is my prayer that you would never lose your hold on the Power of the Resurrection. To paraphrase Paul in his letter to the church at Corinth, if Christ did not rise, then “we above all men are most miserable.”
But He did.
So… WE SHALL RISE.
Jefferson C. McKenney, M.D.
Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us.
–II Corinthians 5:20
Liz and Iain McKenzie
If you are looking for something upbeat and inspirational to introduce an announcement about someone retiring from, quitting, leaving, or completing some calling in this life, well, good luck. That job usually falls to me, and I was struggling with it. Particularly I guess because this time I’d be writing about our friends, Iain and Liz McKenzie. In a bit of desperation, I searched online and quickly found “10,” “15,” and “20 encouraging Bible verses about retirement.” Well, they weren’t. That is, they weren’t very encouraging, and they definitely weren’t about retirement.
So it was with great relief, in more ways than one, that we all sort of caught the vision at the same time—that is, Iain and Liz aren’t going to be really retiring. They are going to continue on in the work, but in a different role, the role of ambassadors for Christ and the work that they were first called to.
After beginning the work of the Sanctuary Children’s Centre 10 years ago, then faithfully working through all the scraped knees, broken hearts and crazy social situations, all of the pageants and bus runs and government requirements, guiding and directing it through each long hot day, Iain and Liz McKenzie are planning for a change of roles. Sometime in 2017, they foresee the time to change roles and change stations. They will continue on as Ambassadors for the work, primarily in Europe, but also in North America, visiting Loma de Luz as needed. But they are planning a change of station.
First, though, God must call someone or some four or five people to step into these shoes. We were already looking for another one or two missionaries to work there full time… and now we see the need for several full time missionaries called to work with the children, and with the administration of the Children’s Centre at Loma de Luz. So please pray with us that God sends the workers we need for 2017 and pray for and rejoice with the McKenzies as they prepare for work as Ambassadors out there in the wide world for the Casa de Niños Santurario, and for all of the good work our Lord is doing at Loma de Luz. -JCM
Supplies: We are in need of twin-bed size white flat sheets (lots of them).
Medical Personnel Volunteers: We are in need of volunteer physicians for December and January to work in clinic and take call. Needed areas are general medicine and obstetrics.
School Personnel Medium-Term and Long-Term Volunteers / Missionaries: We are in need of teachers and other educational workers at the El Camino Bilingual School. We are looking at the possibility of implementing a program which would provide recently graduated teachers with a modest stipend to help them pay a portion of their college loans debt while they work at El Camino. Although Spanish is helpful, it is not required for working in the Bilingual School.
Children’s Centre Volunteers / Missionaries: We need additional Missionaries / Long-Term Volunteers for the Children’s Centre, as Liz and Iain change gears. Please contact us and ask questions if you are interested or know someone who might be.
Children’s Centre Celebration: And, speaking of the Children’s Centre, there is cause for celebration. I’ll let Iain tell you about it in his own words….
A Cause for Celebration!
July 2016 saw us pass the huge milestone of 10 years of service to the children on the North Coast of Honduras. Over that time period, we have looked after new born babies and children all the way up to 19 years old—children who are disabled and others who are fully functioning. Children who have been malnourished, sick, abandoned, abused and just in need of a little support. We have literally seen the lame walk and the blind see. During this first 10 years we have served 117 children, all of whom have experienced the love of our great and mighty God. What a privilege to serve the needs of these little ones. Thank you, Jesus, and thank you to all who have and continue to support this part of the work.
Children’s Centre Celebration
With Those Who Mourn: We grieve with the Kassenbrock family for their loss of Dr. Michael Kassenbrock in the waters near Loma de Luz. Please pray for them.
This newsletter began with stories—in varying settings—of the principles of loss, suffering, death, and resurrection. We are reminded that while weeping may last for a night, joy will come in the morning (Psalm 30:5). And what a morning it will be. For our God is a God who keeps our tears in a bottle and has our names inscribed on the palms of His hands (Psalm 56:8, Isaiah 49:16). And no matter what happens to us now or in the days ahead, He gets to write the end of the story. And it will be a very good one.
Sally Mahoney for Cornerstone