We live in a dark world...a world that suffers the affects of sin and evil. Yet this is the world God send his Son, Jesus Christ who is the light of the world bringing us deliverance from the darkness of sin and evil. But Jesus also gives us his Word to light our path, to guide us, and to take to the far reaches of the earth. As His word says, "The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned." Isaiah 9:2 (NIV)

Thursday, December 7, 2017

The Gift

Snow has already been flying in some places.  Fall is falling behind with winter knocking on our doors.  Thanksgiving (both Canada and the US) is fading quickly into the past.  And the season of Advent in preparation for the season of Christmas is upon us.  One of the traditions of Christmas is the giving of gifts.   In a way, it’s a celebration of the ultimate gift that God gave us in His son Jesus, who became one of us, to live the perfect life, to take on the sin of the world,  providing for each of us redemption from eternal death and a resurrection to eternal life.   That is quite a list of gifts that all of us have received through faith in Jesus Christ. 

Yet the Lord continues to give us gifts throughout our lives.  Some are quite profound such as His Holy Spirit given through the Word in Scripture, our baptism, and the Lord’s supper.  We have also received other gifts in our lives such as loving families, good health, and our physical needs met through the fruit of God’s creation.   More specifically, there are gifts you and I have received this past year that have probably been quite a blessing to us.   I know this year I received a special gift in the form of a place.  And it’s called Sioux Lookout, Ontario.

What makes Sioux Lookout such a gift?   A number of things actually.   Out of the 16 communities that I am responsible for, 10 of them are in Ontario and 6 are in Manitoba.   Sioux Lookout also has the advantage of more services available at the airport.   We were able to have access to free parking for both the aircraft and car, along with a company who provided routine service and maintenance for the LAMP airplane.  In addition, Sioux Lookout is served by 3 different airlines.  This allows me a backup to fly into most of the Ontario communities I serve in the event of bad weather or a maintenance issue with the LAMP aircraft.  Finally, 90% of the teams traveling to communities in Ontario travel through Sioux Lookout.  This gives me the extra opportunity to meet with teams on their way to and from communities.   All of the above came into play as the first week of VBS teams going north, we had an issue with the LAMP airplane.   The place we kept the plane could work it in later in the day, but I still needed to get to Sandy Lake.  Within 15 minutes of calling the LAMP office, I had a round trip flight booked leaving 3 hours later and returning the next afternoon.  Mission accomplished.   I was able to meet with a half dozen teams on their way to and from the communities which allowed me to update them on current situations and to debrief with them after their busy weeks in the community.  Another mission accomplished.

But a surprise gift came this fall.  People in these northern Ontario communities come to Sioux Lookout for medical care since it is a major hospital hub for so many of the northern communities.  Therefore, they come for doctor appointments, surgeries, and emergency medical care.  So, one evening, I got a text message from one of my friends in Weagamow Lake that her brother was flown out on a medivac flight and would be in the emergency room at the hospital.  I drove into town and met with him in the E.R. and was able to pray with him.   I met his sister at the airport the next day and took her to the hospital hostel where her brother was staying while undergoing tests.   Then a couple of days later, I received another text that a man from Sandy Lake had fallen and cracked his hip.  He also had been air lifted from the community to Sioux Lookout.   Again, I drove up to the hospital and met with him and his wife, visited with them, read Scripture and prayed with them.   This gift was that I had become hospital chaplain for First Nation people in Sioux Lookout!   That was a true blessing and allowed the ministry to expand even more beyond the boundaries of the communities.

The gift of a place called Sioux Lookout, Ontario has allowed the ministry of LAMP to touch the lives of the volunteer missionary teams and the people of the communities in ways not previously possible.   And as relationships develop more broadly and deeply, it’s only going to become a vital ministry the Lord will use to serve His people up north.   This is what LAMP is all about… to not only take the Gospel message to the people up north, but to tangibly live out the Gospel of Jesus Christ so that His people can experience his love and care personally.  And this would not be possible without the support of LAMP’s many donors and partners in ministry.   As God’s Word from 2 Corinthians 3:3 says, You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.”

As you celebrate the gift of the Christmas Christ, celebrate gifts God has given to each of us to serve His people, especially so that the Gospel can touch the lives of more and more people in northern Canada.