|Summer 2006 ~ Introducing my kids to heroes of the faith|
It's a scrapbook dedicated to a long summer road trip our family took in the summer of 2006. We visited Gettysburg, Washington D.C., Charleston, SC, and Lancaster, PA's Amish Country, and Philadelphia. It was sort of a Civil War/American History tour. Our trip began at Gordon College, though, where we've spent a week at CrossWalk youth camp nearly every summer we've been in Massachusetts.
It had been about 5 years since that lunch with Elisabeth and Lars in Hamilton, MA, but we'd been keeping in touch all of that time through the exchange of Christmas letters. I'm sure hundreds of people receive these letters summing up the year of ministry and travels for Lars and Elisabeth, but what astounds me is the personal note at the bottom of each one ~ in earlier years from Elisabeth herself, but in recent years from Lars. As I've looked back over these letters in the last couple of days, I've been in tears due to the personal nature of each one. Lars mentions Cooper and his diagnosis of Celiac Disease in 2003, our Golden Retriever, Buddy, our ministry at church here in Amherst, my reading of Ann Voskamp's book and counting 1000 gifts, Kory heading off to Baylor, etc. Almost every letter includes an invitation to visit them at #10 Strawberry Cove and a hope of also visiting us in Amherst sometime.
This intimate nature of their correspondence is explained by only one thing in my opinion: the sweetness of fellowship in Christ. During that first meeting in Hamilton, I asked them if they were constantly being bombarded with requests for meetings. I was surprised by their answer. They said no, not at all. They explained that not many people in this part of the country know their story, know Elisabeth and Jim's story, and so whenever they get a chance to be with folks who know their history, they take it, because it is such an encouragement to them. They blessed us greatly by saying that they never tire of meeting with other believers, that it is as much a privilege for them as it is for us.
Reminds me of something Paul says in Romans 1:
For I long to see you that I may impart some spiritual gift to you, that you may be established; that is that I may be encouraged together with you while among you, each of us by the other's faith, both yours and mine. v. 11-12
With all of this in mind, I reached out to them again for a lunch date in 2006. We would be at Gordon College for camp again, and their home is only about 15 minutes from the campus. I told them I would really love for my children to meet them, as we had recently read a children's biography of Jim Elliot and watched the documentary "Beyond the Gates of Splendor."
Lars called and said they would love to meet us, and would come to us at Gordon College. I was not comfortable with this, because there would be 400 teenagers cycling through the cafeteria for lunch that day, and it just didn't feel like the best accommodations for them. He insisted it would be fine, but I talked him into meeting at Gordon-Conwell Seminary just down the road instead. Turned out he needed to return some books to their library anyway. We ate lunch in the cafeteria, which caused a bit of a stir among the handful of students also eating there. Nothing bad, just a few poses for photos with admiring seminarians before we had them all to ourselves.
We had our questions all planned out ~ the biggest of which was from six year old Kayla who was thinking about being baptized. She asked Elisabeth how old she was when she got baptized. Lars answered for her and said she had been baptized as an infant, but then again at age 12 or 13, much to her parent's concern. Seems they didn't feel it was necessary, but Elisabeth did, since she had, at that age, truly understood her need for forgiveness and tasted of God's grace for the first time.
We also asked them if they had seen the movie End of the Spear, a feature length drama re-telling the events that led to the murder of Elisabeth's first husband, missionary Jim Elliot. They had not seen it, and did not have plans to. This way they could avoid media attention and efforts to get a quote from them about the actor, a gay man, who played Nate Saint. The movie also dramatized the revelation to Steve Saint, the son of the missionary pilot also killed, regarding the identity of the Auca man responsible for his father's death. It was a very powerful portrayal of the forgiveness that was extended to the tribe, but not true to life. Lars and Elisabeth cleared this up for us, telling us that Steve had known his whole life who had killed his father, which makes his ministry among the same people group so powerful.
(The documentary version, Beyond the Gates of Splendor, is a MUST SEE above the feature film in my opinion! Watch it yourself! Show your kids! Really!)
It was a wonderful visit over lunch, and they were gracious enough to pose for a picture with the kids in the rain. Here is the note I received from Lars after our meeting and upon returning home from our long summer journey.
And the "limited edition" card Lars refers to was of an original drawing by Cooper. I had made notecards out of it and had given a stack to Lars and Elisabeth as a little gift during our lunch. That he used those cards in his ministry correspondence was such a sweet gesture and an encouragement to Cooper at the time.
|Isn't she lovely in blue? I could hardly take my eyes off of her, of them. What a joy.|
To be continued...