Wednesday, December 21, 2005


The value of a person or thing is not intrinsic or built in. Its value arises from how others feel about it. The evaluation, esteem, appreciation by others and their desire to be connected to it determine its worth.

The value of my ragged soul—and every other soul that has ever known or will know life—was determined at Calvary. Maximum-value-Jesus invested His total self into our lives. He added divine value to each of us.

Here in Africa our days are filled with encounters with hurting, dying, hungry, crying children who have little or no hope for things to ever get better. Many youth have told us they are growing up “half-people.” “I am worth nothing,” they have said.

Amazing and wonderful to see the change when the Children’s Cup Team invests value into their little lives.

Every smile,
Every loving pat,
Every kind word,
Every word about Jesus,
Every school lesson,
Every morsel of food,
Every item of clothing,
Every medical treatment,
Every dollar sent to help them adds value to their lives and changes how they think about themselves.

How often we think, “It truly is ‘More blessed to give than to receive.’”

And, in perfect symmetry, the children’s smiles and hugs give us a wonderful sense of value added to our own lives.

Only God could have designed such a beautiful plan.


All lines not in perfect parallel eventually must come to an intersection—-a cross.

Likewise, all paths not in perfect parallel with Truth (whose name is Jesus) will and must meet Truth at the cross.


“Juanito has hired a hit man to kill you!”

A man sitting behind me in church leaned forward and whispered this in my ear. Juanito was the opposition lawyer in a lawsuit in which our mission was the defendant. I was managing the case.

You can be sure it made me think.

I asked myself if it was worth it to die over a building. No it was not.
“This isn’t just about a building—it’s about ministering in this country. If you don’t hold onto something you’ll let go of everything.”

A line was drawn. I stayed. God’s work was much bigger than this silly lawsuit and threat.

The corrupt attorney fell ill and in a short time he died. I pray he found peace with God in his last days.

* * * * * *

“Lord, if you’ll give us the life and strength to raise it, I’d like to have another child—a girl.”

I was driving alone in the poorest, most dangerous place in Manila called the Tondo dump. I had no thought of having more children. Our two boys were great—they were enough.

When I heard myself pray that out loud it startled me, but right then I knew I meant it even though I didn’t start the thought..

About nine and a half months later Susan Jean was born. As I write this Jean and I have just spent the morning in Susan’s missions house here in Swaziland babysitting her three children—our grandkids—while she and Ben attended a ministry event.
Is that wonderful or what?

“When I found out I was pregnant I started praying for our child’s future spouse.”
Jean was four months pregnant when our friend, a Japanese born missionary to the Philippines, told this to us.

We thought it was a great thing to do and started praying for Susan’s future husband.
Catch the significance of this: Ben is four months younger than Susan.


If I am not walking in daily awe of Jesus—with a feeling like I’m into a relationship far beyond my capacity and ability—then I’m not close enough to Him!

Yet, if I am walking timidly—-taking hesitant, insecure steps—-then I’m not acknowledging His presence in my life.

This then is the ultimate mystery:


Like the Psalmist said, “Such knowledge is too wondrous for me.”

Friday, December 16, 2005


Why the tears that catch me unaware? I’m the one who would not—could not—cry. Even personal attacks are set aside with no bothersome tears.

Yet, the simplest things like a child, a thought of worship—holy things in some profound way slip past my controls and bathe my eyes in tears.

My voice that has held steady before captors and debated clearly before courts and rulers, this same voice tightens and breaks at gentle things of love. A fiery knot strangles the sound.

There’s a burning—yes, that’s it. There is an awesome kind of burning that Holy things ignite. Its blaze brings tears and parches my vocal cords.

Oh, the force of it, this burning in my heart.

Shall I be consumed of it?

Ah, the comforting thought, I remember that Moses’ burning bush was not left a pile of charred twigs.

That fire sparked events that would bring a nation out of slavery.
And, yes, I remember the cloven tongues of fire did not destroy the ones who tarried in the Upper Room.

Rather, that fire ignited the early church so that it spread the Word of Life even to the heads of the oppressive government. Thousands were added daily.

Dare I believe that just like the burning bush and cloven tongues of fire started new and grand things, that this fire now raging in my heart will give new energy to the call of God on my life?

Can it be that the events compare?

I do, I do believe that God is giving me the Holy Spirit’s fire to energize a deeper level of ministry.

I purpose now to let that fire take hold of me, even if it were to char my flesh, to take the Word to a needy world.

O flaming tongues that danced
On Moses’ burning bush
And filled the Upper Room
With a mighty sounding rush,
Ignite my ready heart
And set my soul ablaze!
Come prompt my willing tongue
And fill my voice with praise!



“The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.’’

Let’s demonstrate the foolishness.

First draw a circle. Let the circle represent total knowledge of everything.

Second, place a dot somewhere inside the circle. Let the dot represent the God-denier.

Third, let the God-denier draw a circle around the dot that represents the portion of knowledge he has attained. Even the most egotistical will draw a small perimeter leaving large areas of confessed ignorance.

To disprove anything one must prove all to the exclusion of the possibility of the disputed matter, or, one must prove conclusively the existence of something that totally precludes the existence of the debated subject.

“The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God,’” but Job said, “I know that my Redeemer liveth!”

Wednesday, December 14, 2005


One of the great blessings of Christmas is the beautiful music. Like the Red Sea did for Moses, this time of the year the thundering decibels of secular sound roll back and allow the beautiful, Christ exalting music to be heard.

Pay special heed to the words of the familiar carols this year. They proclaim the birth of the Messiah--the birth of hope.

As I’ve traveled in the neediest places of the world--some far too bad to fix by human means--I’m always aware that everyone reaches for hope.

Hope’s name is Jesus!

Away In A Manger is a favorite of mine. We all know its verses by heart. My wife Jean added a verse to it--maybe it will bless you, too.

The Saviour is coming
Is coming again
But not to a manger
In small Bethlehem.
The sound of a trumpet
Announcement will bring
The coming of Jesus
Our Glorious King.
That Coming Again is indeed the world’s Blessed Hope!

Titus 2:13,14 says, “While we wait for the Blessed Hope--the appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.” AMEN!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005


I've never seen such delight!
At Children's Cup Care Points around Swaziland we are having Christmas parties for hundreds of kids at each site.
Food--including that rare thing for them called meat. What kid doesn't like fried chicken?
Gifts for every child.
Skits by the kids--pretty amazing how they have grasped the Gospel!
Christmas message.
Decisions to live for Jesus.
I wish the donors that have made this happen could see their faces and hear their giggles.

Monday, December 12, 2005


“Give us money or we’ll turn you in for having these drugs on you—you’ll go to prison.”
The two captors showed me a packet of what looked like drugs—I’d never seen them before.
I showed them my wallet—I had a $20 bill and a 20 peso bill.
“My mission made me sign an agreement that they’d never pay ransom for me. It would put a price on every missionary’s head if they did.”
My answer angered them.
They continued to threaten me and drive me around the back alleys of Intramuros, Manila and finally dumped me out—unharmed.

* * * * * *

“Tell me why you think the new constitution of the Philippines should allow foreign missionaries to live and work here.”
The Philippine secretary of State had called me into his office and posed the question. Certainly, I was not the only one who had input but the new constitution did preserve a welcome for missionaries.

* * * * * *

Some short, pungent sermons our children preached to me.
“Daddy, it’s dark there—you go first.”
“Hold me, I’m afraid.”
“Please don’t leave me alone.”
“Will you fix this for me—I broke it.”
“My arms are too short. Please help me reach it.”
“I don’t know how.”
“I can do it if you’ll help me.”
Now I’m watching as our grandchildren preach those same sermons back to their daddies and mommies..

Sunday, December 11, 2005


Why are you so excited about that man’s promise to make a major donation for your missionary budget—I already promised you’d have it?"It had been a rough couple weeks of itinerating to churches to raise our missions budget. I had driven all day to one service and the offering was just over $13. Now a different church was really going to help.
“Forgive me, Lord, I feel like such a fraud. I’m nice to the preachers so they will commit to helping me.”I was praying as I drove our Kayot Mini-home camper to the next church where I found little to respect about the pastor.
Then I heard God speak to me—not an audible voice but much louder than a thought.
“I know you, Dave, and I’m going to use you. You aren’t raising funds for you—they are for me!”

* * * * * *

“Will you accept appointment as business administrator for our mission in the Philippines?”The Foreign Missions Board opened a whole new world to us.

* * * * * *

“If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;
Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.”
Psalms 139:9,10

* * * * * *

“Get in the car!”
Six days after we arrived in Manila, Philippines, two thugs posing as police hustled me into their car—I was hostage to their evil plans—but God had other plans.

Saturday, December 10, 2005


For a while some of my blogs will be an ongoing dialogue with the questions and statements that have shaped my life.
Maybe just a few at a time and perhaps even in random order, they will mark some formative moments in my walk with God.

First I heard them.
And since then I keep feeling them in my heart.
They are questions and statements that have become measuring points and way markers in my life and career as a missionary.

“Will you take the place of my son John that died in Tibet where he was helping me tell people about Jesus?”
I was sitting on the lap of missionary Victor Plymire in our Wayne, Michigan, living room when God called me to be a missionary.
“I will, Brother Plymire,” I answered.
I was four years old and I knew something important had just happened.

* * * * * *

“Life is just a mass and duration of confusion and hurt.”
I listened to this lie from hell in my late teenage years yet my merciful God has let me live a joy-filled, jam-packed life in service to Him.

* * * * * *

“The fool has said his heart, ‘There is no God.’”
My young wife and I had just had a fight about my needing to serve God. She had reminded my about my “Plymire promise.” I swore and declared, “My kids will never be preacher’s kids!”
But from that moment on--subtle and sure--under my anger I knew that one day I’d stop trying to tell God He didn’t exist and serve Him.

* * * * * *
“Will you trust me with your life?”
Many times I heard the Holy Spirit whisper this appeal deep in my soul.
I finally said, "Yes!"

* * * * * *

“I’ll go where you want me to go, dear Lord…”
And then I heard my voice and my heart sing these words many times at the altar. Again, God knew I meant it.

* * * * * *

“Jean, I made a commitment tonight.”
I told my wife on the way home from a missions service at our church. I had promised God I’d answer the call He gave me on Brother Plymire’s lap.
“So did I. Is yours about missions?” she answered.
That old blue 65 Chevy van was filled with electricity as we drove on home knowing our lives had just made a dramatic turn.

Thursday, December 01, 2005


Indecision is a thief.

It robs us of effective, timely action—it can be deadly like the old adage that says, “He who hesitates is lost,” indicates.

I’ve had to deal with difficult decisions—often.

Usually the action-stealing debate is whether to take a certain action or not to take it,

Well, here’s a sure-fire muddle-buster for me. This question has helped me over and over again.

“Do I have God’s permission NOT to take the action?”

It’s amazing how much clarity this prayerful question brings to the matter.

God will not hide His will from us.

Sunday, November 06, 2005


As a child I lived in constant fear of committing the “Unpardonable Sin.” Every time I failed I prayed real hard that I had not crossed the line.

One kind friend told me, “If you are worried about having committed the unpardonable sin that means you have not.” Those words settled me down a bit because I stayed worried.

Later as an adult I became very secure in my relationship with God but I still probed around for the answer to what that sin is.

Matthew 12: 31,32
Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.
And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.

It said “all manner of sin” except speaking against the Holy Spirit. I had used the Lord’s name in vain—wasn’t that an act of “speaking against the Holy Spirit”?

The answer came so very clear. The terminal act of speaking against the Holy Spirit is to reject His drawing us to Jesus—the forgiving Savior.

I knew that was it.

The only sin God will not and cannot forgive is the sin of rejecting the Holy Spirit and not asking for forgiveness of our sins!

In a way, that means every sin that we do not ask God to forgive is an “unpardonable sin.”

The days of my youth would have been a lot less troubled had I known this then.

How magnificent God’s plan of salvation is!


"Why I am not a Christian" is the title of a book written by Bertrand Russell

"I would be a Christian if I had never met one," is a troubling statement of the great Gandhi.

These two indictments of my faith have demanded my attention and probed my deepest beliefs for many years. They have forced reevaluation-and reaffirmation-of what I believe and what shapes my life.

I have read some of Russell's book about why he is not a believer. He missed the point.

What I read was a clearly written critique of failures by the church and individuals. Some of them were gut-wrenching-but there was no failure of the Gospel. How foolish to think that pointing out the faults of people struggling toward the ideal somehow diminishes or discredits the Sent One, the Son of God.

I've studied Gandhi's life. In the formative years of his youth he lived in South Africa. He had a compelling quest in his heart to know God. Sadly, church leaders abused his spirit so profoundly he wanted nothing to do with Christianity.

Yet he cherished the principles the Bible teaches. Thus his statement, "I'd be a Christian if I had never met one."

Gandhi went to India and led a nation in countrywide resistance to oppression. The Biblical message of non-violence was the foundation of his movement.

The oppressor was vanquished in shame.

It has been harder for me to deal with Gandhi's statement than Russell's litany of human failures.

I must always deal with questions I hear in my own spirit.

"What if Ghandi had met me?"
"Are there others that have met me and decided not to be Christians?"
"Does my life encourage others to follow Jesus?"

Perhaps you'd like to join me in this prayer.

"Lord, please help me to never be the cause of another one to turn from you. Rather, help me to live the way and communicate the things that your Holy Spirit can use to draw people to you."

Thursday, October 27, 2005

“If God Doesn’t Help Me I’ll Be Dead Tonight.”

I remember his panicky eyes.

His whole body was trembling.

The meeting was about to start. The man had asked to talk to one of the ministers.

I shook his hand and felt him grab hold to keep from collapsing.

“If God doesn't help me I’ll be dead tonight.”

I knew this was serious. “You came to the right place—God will meet you here tonight.”

“I don’t know if He’ll want to help me. He knows what I did to my neighbors eleven-year-old daughter.

“If I’m alive tomorrow I must face her father and the police.

“I used to serve God. I knew it was wrong, but I looked God in the eye and did it anyway.”

He collapsed against me.

I found him a seat near the altar by an altar worker. “You are doing the right thing,” I encouraged him. “Just open your heart to God during this service and I’ll meet you at the altar after the altar call."

But at the end of the service I couldn’t find him or the altar worker.

“Oh, no he’s gone—He didn’t make it.”

I wept as I pushed through the crowd to find him. Then I saw him making his way to me—he was calm and had his arms open to embrace me.

“You were right. God took me back. I know it will be hard tomorrow, but I can do it because He’ll be there to help me.”

The peace in his heart--that peace that passes understanding--was deep enough to conquer his fear of prison.

Monday, October 24, 2005

I Want You To Meet This Man

Kevin Donaldson, President of Mission of Mercy, recently spent some time in Swaziland and Mozambique with the Children's Cup Team.

Y'all know Jean and I cry a lot about our AIDS orphans. Well, I watched this man who funds the care of thousands of orphans around the world have the same emotions we have.

Check out his blog here.

I Know Things I Wish I Did Not Know

I guess it's normal for a man my age to look back and take inventory of his life.

Gifted wordsmiths have penned great and lofty words about their lives. Biographers have written great prose and even poetry about famed men's days and deeds.

The words this keyboard is beckoning my soul to write onto this computer screen won't be like that.

From the beginning I want to acknowledge that the most wonderful knowledge I have is a daily, intimate walk with Jesus. The Psalmist said it this way, "Such knowledge is too wonderful for me-it is high, I cannot attain unto it." Psalms 139:6

Then I delight--with an intensity that almost becomes an ache--in the years of knowing my wife Jean and watching our children and our children's children grow into committed service to God.

How blessed I am. What greater joy could a man know? How could any mortal "attain" or contain such knowledge?

I have also been blessed to know many good and great people whose trust and honesty with me have helped shape my life and made our ministry possible.

Tears come easy as I stand in awe of God's great mercy to me.
Yet, unbidden tears of another kind come as I think about some other things I know. Like the (to say it in a wordy way) ubiquity of iniquity and the pervasion of perversion and perfidy that envelops the world today.

As a child I knew poverty-meal after meal of pancakes because that's all the money we had. There was a lack of money, but never a lack of love in my home. But now I live with the personal knowledge of thousands of homeless, helpless children--some have never even been given a name, children who have never known a loving hug. The only time others have touched them has been to hurt them. Some only eat one or two meals a week.

I watched in Zimbabwe as Pamela and Daniel's mother-a perfectly beautiful lady died of AIDS. Her husband, a religious leader had knowingly infected her with death before he died of AIDS.

Children's Cup has continued to care for Pamela and Daniel and every time I look into their eyes my senses go awash with an impossible swirling of love and anger and desire to "fix it."

Recently I preached in a church for Mozambicans in Swaziland. A young mother-barely out of her teens-brought her infant baby Fernanda up to be prayed for. Both mother and child are dying of AIDS. The baby's father infected the mother and then kicked her out.

They don't know which one will die first.

As Jean and I laid hands on her and prayed, the emotion of it overwhelmed us. What a responsibility to be the ones whose prayers she hoped would reach God. When you are praying against AIDS it is like you are face-to-face with hell.

Can God heal AIDS? Surely He can. Will He heal Fernanda and her mother? Will He heal Thembe? Is it too shameful of me to admit to you that right now I don't know if He will? Lack of faith? Negative confession?

I have no personal knowledge of a person being healed of AIDS, yet it has to be true He can. Is it on such a level of spiritual battle that my own life lacks the spiritual authority to defeat the disease? I'm sure the devil knows who has the spiritual authority to invade his realm. Or is it really about Jesus' authority and not mine?

Does it all depend upon my faith? Is it my fault if she is not healed? Even in the scriptures there is precedent for God to hear a feeble human prayer and intervene with His sovereign power. Fernanda's mother placed their hopes for healing on our prayers.

How inadequate I feel right now. I know things I wish I did not know about me.

I just received an invitation from USAID to consider setting up a relief project in Iraq. I can tell myself that it's impossible because Children's Cup demands more hours than days have and more days than weeks have. I can decline because we are opening a major work in Mozambique-I'm needed there.

I can tell that to myself and others, but I also know fear speaks with a very loud voice right now.

I am shamed by the knowledge that fellow believers around the world live in daily peril for the Gospel. The Word calls it "peril by choice."

Things I know about life and things I must admit about me make me crave a whole new level of intimacy with Jesus. And even as I typed that last sentence I felt God reminding me of Paul's prayer, "That I may know Him…"

Even as this thought now comes it is rebuking me. Instead of focusing on knowing Him and His power, these words have been a journey into knowing myself and my limitations.

"Lord, help me abandon what I know about my weakness and cling to what I know about your unlimited ability. Help me get so close to you I can, indeed, do as Peter did for the lame man at the gate.

"Help me to be that instrument you use to bring life to hurting people like Fernanda and her young mother.

"Stun the world with Your power to heal AIDS-for Your Glory. Amen."

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Hurricane Katrina

Hurricane Katrina

Jean and I have shared the grief and horror of our Gulf Coast neighbors as we watched the international news reports here in Africa about Hurricane Katrina.

We have close friends in New Orleans that we have not heard from.

Children's Cup can not stand by and do nothing. Jean and I are returning to America to coordinate 'Cup's Hurricane Recovery Mission.

We can not stop feeding children here in Africa to help America so we are appealing for the "extra mile" response from our friends.

We will use 100 cents of every dollar you send to bring relief to America's neighbors in the Gulf Coast.