Springtime in Ukraine

Springtime in Ukraine

Springtime! —
A cascade of new blooms, pushing their way through the dark soil of winter; 
Bleak branches now ablaze with pink or white blossoms; 
Birds—excitedly sharing their anticipation of new life and hope in one melodious chorus of praise. 
Have we gotten the message yet? 
Winter has been winter defeated for one year more at least!

But, is this how my friends feel in that distant land— 
Searching for mementos in the rubble of past dreams;
Hastily stuffing photos of loved ones past and present into bulging bags as they
Hurriedly begin their harrowing escape to freedom? 
Or does the roar of gunfire drown out the birdsong?
Does the smoke of war dim the hues of springtime flowers? 
And fear!
Is it able to choke the promise of new life?

And back in the cities!
Are the tree lined avenues once more ablaze with white and pink blossoms?
Or are there any trees left at all?
Maybe just a few here or there—
Lone stragglers, 
Struggling for survival midst the smoke and fire of guns? 

And the people!
Oh yes, the people!
People like you and I
Who cannot or will not
Escape to friendly frontiers of fields and flowers!
Are they even aware 
Entombed in their basement shelters, 
That winter is over and the singing of the birds has come? 

These questions nag me,
Plague me,
Disturb me!
I do not know the answers,
For America is not and never will be Ukraine!

What can I do, then?
I cannot send the suffering ones gifts of Spring-hope wrapped up in pretty paper.
I have no power to dispel their winter of despair and death.
And so I simply pray, 
For no enemy can block a prayer by guns:
“Oh, God of all seasons and all lands,
Let the Springtime of hope’s resurrection  bloom once more in every anguished heart. 
Let each one feel, somehow:
That the Enemy cannot obliterate the seasons!
That the winter of hatred cannot forever swallow the hope of Spring!
That the God of resurrection and Eternal life has not been forced to flee to some other universe for safety.
Let this message reverberate:
Through every message winged their way,
Through every dollar sacrificed to relieve their suffering.
Through every stuttering, stammering prayer, uttered from anguished and love-torn hearts.” 

No, hatred!
No, fear!
No, death!
Try as you will, 
You cannot kill Spring-time, 2022!
The God of resurrection and Eternal Life has not been maimed by artillery fire.
He is not curtailed by sanctions,
Or roadblocks,
Or hostile frontiers.

Then take heart, 
Beloved, suffering ones! 
It’s Spring again—in Ukraine!
		—Trudy Harvey Tait.

Call Back

The Call Back series.   

If you have gone a little way ahead of me, call back—
’Twill cheer my heart and help my feet along the stony track;
And if, perchance, Faith’s light is dim, because the oil is low,
Your call will guide my lagging course as wearily I go.

Call back, and tell me that He went with you into the storm;
Call back, and say He kept you when the forest’s roots were torn;
That when the heavens thundered and the earthquake shook the hill,
He bore you up and held you where the very air was still.

O friend, call back and tell me, for I cannot see your face;
They say it glows with triumph, and your feet bound in the race;
But there are mists between us, and my spirit eyes are dim,
And I cannot see the glory, though I long for word of Him.

But if you’ll say He heard you when your prayer was but a cry,
And if you’ll say He saw you through the night’s sin-darkened sky— 
If you have gone a little way ahead, O friend, call back—
’Twill cheer my heart and help my feet along the stony track.
—Lettie B. Cowman.


Reading of saints who had to face uncertainty, trials and fears is so helpful in our present situation.  Today there are many conspiracy theories and end of time prophecies.  They have always arisen in times of trouble because our norms are are being eroded.  Keep yourself looking to Jesus and not distracted by other voices.  And most of all never lose your heart of compassion.  Yes, the suffering in Ukraine is real.  May we not turn a blind eye.  We are commanded to "Love one another," and also to, "be addicted to hospitality."  Never let the enemy steal your warmth of compassion for the suffering of others!  We can love righteousness and hate evil, we can praise and weep.  We need to do both!  Faith just as much as life, is practical and real so read about others who went through times like these and came out victorious.

UNLABELED

Prologue
It happened in Africa
Rahela Morgan tiptoed along the tiled hallway, holding her breath. A hyena howled in the distance. Her dog, Titan, barked in reply. But in the house, no one stirred, not even her old nurse, Deborah, who had ears like a hawk and a nose for sniffing out trouble.
“So far, so good,” thought Rahela, as she slipped into the bathroom and closed the door softly behind her. She fumbled in the pocket of her pajamas for the precious packet she had bought that day at the pharmacy in Mombasa, fifty miles away. Morning sickness for several weeks had made her determined to know the worst.

Broken Bread

Broken Bread

Thirty years ago I read, Broken Bread, by John Wright Follette. The following poem has stayed with me all these years and I consider his book was worth reading for this poem alone. But there are other gems too.––R. Barry Tait

Identification

I am a flame born of celestial fire,
I bear a name, Insatiable Desire.
   I wear in heart an image all divine,
   Past human art, not traced by mortal line.
I hear God call to taste His heavenly power:
I give my all to burn life’s single hour.
   So let me burn through fetters that would bind;
   Thus will I learn and freedom will I find.
I shall return to Love’s eternal fire,
There shall I burn─a satisfied desire.
                                      ─John Wright Follette

                                        

The White Yogi

From the book, George Bowen of Bombay, “The White Yogi” by the Rev. J. Sumner Stone, M. D., Dec. 23, 1889:

Two young men just landed from America on “India’s coral strand” started out to see the curiosities and celebrities of a great city on the shore of the Indian Ocean. There were monuments, temples, and palaces by the score; there were princes and princelings, governors and generals and nabobs. But this morning we were hunting a prince, but not among palaces. So we picked our way through the crowded native district till we came to a broad street called Grant Road, and stopped in front of a low, one˗storied building divided into narrow apartments, two rooms deep. This was the office of the Bombay Guardian and the home of its editor and proprietor—one of the celebrities of India.

Americans and English called him George Bowen; natives called him the “White Yogi,” or white saint. To our timid knock the door opened and—I started. It was December, 1880, yet we seemed to be in the presence of a Huguenot, Geneva Calvinist, or Scotch Covenanter of the sixteenth century. The figure that greeted us might have been John Calvin or John Knox. Spare body, thin face, gray beard, narrow, high forehead, surmounted by rimless skull cap, thus the “White Yogi” stood framed in the door, bidding the strangers to enter.

How shall I picture to you that room? It was small, its furniture was of the plainest type and limited. The editorial table was a chaos of books, copy, manuscripts, and periodicals. Among the books, placed without order in the bookcases, I noticed a loaf of bread next to a dictionary, and a few bananas sharing a shelf with some works on theology and sociology. I realized that I was in the presence of a remarkable man, in the sanctum of one of the leading writers of the Indian empire, one of the most distinguished representatives of Christianity in the eastern world. At once there flashed into my mind the words of Jesus concerning John the Baptist: “What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? behold, they that wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses. But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? yes, I say unto you, and more than a prophet.”

George Bowen was a scholarly man; he was by birth and training a gentleman. He was widely read, widely traveled, a thoroughly trained man. When he wrote golden words flowed from his pen; gems of thought fell from his lips when he spoke. He had the brain of a philosopher, the soul of a poet, and the genius of a musician. I wish I could convey to you the impression produced by the strangely˗gifted man when he sat down at the organ to let his fingers “wander idly over the noisy keys.” He lived in poverty, yet he was rich—he had all that the millionaire possesses—sufficient. He lived among the poorest of the people, was a comrade of the coolie, yet he was sought by the cultured and the noble.

How we met George Bowen

The annals of the Church are replete with the names of missionary saints: Francis of Assisi, David Brainerd, David Livingstone, Mary Slessor, Adoniram Judson, Hudson Taylor, Mother Teresa—the list is virtually unending. With Edwin and Lillian Harvey as my parents, it is not surprising that I grew up, as it were, on these saints. They were my heroes and heroines—my standards of devotion, my blueprints of sacrifice.
But it was not until I was in my early teens that I heard about George Bowen of Bombay.

While browsing in a secondhand bookstore in Belfast, Northern Ireland, my father struck up a conversation with the owner who mentioned the author, George Bowen. “If you ever come across one of his books,” he told my dad, “grab it. It’s a prize.” Some years later, my father remembered this advice when he visited a skid row mission in Chacago. After preaching to the men, he was browsing in their library and stumbled across Love Revealed by Bowen—devotional meditations on the upper room chapters of St. John’s Gospel. Borrowing it from the mission, he took his treasure back home to England, read it to his family and fellow mission workers, digested it from cover to cover, reprinted it, and mailed several copies to the mission in Chicago.
This, then, is how George Bowen entered my life and our publishing. But it was not until after my dad’s death that my mother obtained the unabridged biography of George Bowen. I remember my husband reading it to her day by day as she sat in her recliner, by then well into her nineties and diagnosed with dementia. It was probably the last book we read to her, bar the Bible, of course.
As the years have passed and an increasing number of our readers have been blessed by Love Revealed, it has been our intention to make Bowen’s remarkable life-story accessible to them. At first, we attempted to abridge it but that attempt never materialized. And yet although this biography is very lengthy and written in Victorian English, it is a gripping and inspiring portrayal of the “White Saint” as Bowen came to be called. His intellect was mind-boggling in its scope and depth as anyone reading his books soon discovers, and his sacrificial life-style was virtually unparalleled in the history of missions. Christ and Christ alone was his passion, his consuming love, and his inseparable Friend.
While proofing the manuscript several times during the past months, I have become increasingly aware that George Bowen was entering the inner sanctums of my heart. In fact, I found it almost impossible to describe my emotions as I closed the book for the fourth time several days ago. What was there about this man, I ask myself, that has moved me so deeply? His rare combination of genius and spirituality? His faithfulness to his missionary call whatever the cost? His humility and sacrifice? All this, admittedly, has greatly influenced me, but it is something more that makes me, even now, want to fall down and worship my Redeemer. It is, in fact, nothing more or less than George Bowen’s obsession, and I use that word deliberately, with Jesus Christ! This humble and eccentric missionary has made me fall in love afresh with my Lord and Savior. And that is recommendation enough, is it not?
Trudy Harvey Tait
trudytait@gmail.com
October, 2021

Writings of George Bowen available from Harvey Christian Publishers:
Love Revealed — https://harveycp.com/?product=love-revealed
Daily Meditations — email harveycpbooks@gmail.com for a digital file.
The Amens of Christ — email as above for a digital file.

George Bowen of Bombay by Robert E. Speer $24.95 — available by November 1st.

The Christian’s Daily Challenge–Nov. 1st.

Increase through trial

“Thou, which hast shewed me great and sore troubles, shalt quicken me again. . . . shalt increase my greatness, and comfort me on every side” (Psa. 71:20-21).
“O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest . . . behold, I will lay thy stones with fair colors, and lay thy foundations with sapphires” (Isa. 54:11).

If by the enlargement of my life I let in human sorrow I also let in divine consolation. A big, holy purpose makes me more sensitive toward the sin and hostility of man, but it also makes me more sensitive toward God. If the sufferings abound, “so our comfort aboundeth also.” If I said nothing more than this, this alone would suffice: if we suffer with Christ, Christ Himself becomes a great reality. When life is a picnic we play with theology: when life becomes a campaign we grope for religion.
—J. H. Jowett.

The tears we shed are not in vain;
Nor worthless is the heavy strife;
If, like the buried seed of grain,
They rise to renovated life.
It is through tears our spirits grow;
’Tis in the tempest souls expand,
If it but teaches us to go
To Him Who holds it in His hand.
Oh, welcome, then, the stormy blast!
Oh, welcome, then, the ocean’s roar!
Ye only drive more sure and fast
Our trembling bark to Heaven’s bright shore.
—Thomas C. Upham.

Now, as I look back over my own life, I can discover that some of the richest mercies my heavenly Father has ever bestowed have come in the shape of bitter disappointments. It has been truly remarked that “disappointment never means wreck when God’s hand is in it. There is often a lift in that ugly thing.” Disappointment, like fire, has a double power; it may scorch and crisp and blast a man, or else it may thaw out his blood, and quicken his life.
—Theodore Cuyler.

Inspiration

Jesus infallibly knew that when words were spoken and actions
performed in accordance with the blessed attributes of God, though
such actions were done on the lonely seashore, or such words were
whispered in the soundless ravines of Galilee, they would in due time,
under the fertilizing and cultivating power of the Holy Ghost, come
forth in the gigantic forms of mature history, and be uttered in peals
louder than seven thunders, when the proper hour had arrived. All great
characters are first made in secret. ― Our Own God by G. D. Watson

Robert Murray McCheyne’s Diary Entries

“Two things that defile this day in looking back are love of praise running through all and consenting to listen to worldly talk at all.  Oh that these may keep me humble and be my burden, leading me to the cross.  Then, Satan, thou wilt be outwitted.”

“When I was laid aside from the ministry, I used often to say, ‘Now God is teaching me the use of prayer.’  I thought I would never forget the lesson, yet I fear I have grown slack again when in the midst of my work.”

“Private meditation exchanged for conversation.  Here is the root of all evil―forsake God, and He forsakes us.”

“Sabbath―very happy in my work.  Too little prayer in the morning.  Must try to get early to bed on Saturday, that I may ‘rise a great while before day.’” “Rose early to seek God, and found Him Whom my soul loveth.  Who would not rise early to meet such company?” ―How They Prayed, page 52.

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