On our recent trip west, we were awed by the beauty of our national parks. We fell into bed exhausted each night with little time to catch the evening news. However, we were well aware of the political situation that dominates the airwaves these days. Katherine Lee Bates’s prayerful poem “America the Beautiful” ran continually through my mind, leading me to pause to pray for this country even as I admired the beauty of its scenery.
America! America! May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness,
And ev’ry gain divine!
My husband and I have recently returned from a road trip to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. Usually on road trips a favorite praise song runs through my head, becoming a sort of theme song of the journey. This time the song that kept returning to my mind was “America the Beautiful.” We saw no shortage of amber waves of grain and purple mountain majesties, but it was not the familiar first verse that ran through my mind so much as the later verses.
America! America! God mend thine ev’ry flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!
I recently read American Sniper by Chris Kyle. It isn’t great writing, just an ordinary soldier (make that an extraordinary soldier) telling about his experiences. I’m American, but let’s just say this was a cross-cultural experience for me. The book showed up as available on my library app, and I had heard a lot about it when the movie came out, so I thought, why not? “It’s a really good book,” I was told, and I certainly can’t fault it for excitement. Kyle was definitely an adrenaline junkie.
But I found Kyle’s attitudes hard to comprehend. He is a brother in Christ according to his own testimony; we believe the same things about Jesus, see Jesus as the same highest priority in our lives and yet, Kyle finds war fun? He kills people for a living. How can that be?
[Whew! I haven't been blogging regularly and just found this in my draft box. I think the question is worth asking even now, so I will go ahead and post it.]
I recently opened my e-mail to find a newsletter from an old friend from our Mozambique days whose husband had recently returned from consulting for a Bible translation team in Nigeria. You’ve heard the news stories about Boko Haram, the extremist Islamic group that kidnaps schoolgirls to serve as slaves and slaughters Christian villagers. Boko Haram is active in the northern part of Nigeria and pushing aggressively south in hopes of turning Nigeria into a fundamentalist Islamic state. (Not all Muslims agree with them by any means, and those who disagree are likely to be slaughtered as quickly as Christians.)
I recently discussed the recently popular dystopia genre on International Christian Fiction Writers.
Back in the 1980s when my family lived in Mozambique, then a “front-line state” against apartheid South Africa, I thought the South African government was crazy not to release their long-time political prisoner, a fellow named Nelson Mandela.
“Let the ANC tear itself apart with infighting,” I thought.
I didn’t know Nelson Mandela. His eventual release from prison in 1990 led, not to infighting, but to reconciliation. After twenty-seven years in jail, this great man spoke words of forgiveness and united a nation. In 1994 he was elected president in the first fully democratic elections in South African history.
SIM is not your grandfather’s mission agency! We are in transition as is the whole world of cross-cultural ministry. Founded as Soudan Interior Mission in 1893, SIM has since merged with groups working in Asia and Latin America, as well as our former mission, Africa Evangelical Fellowship. With expanding territory, the name was changed to Serving in Mission. But a lot more than the name and areas of service has changed!
LeAnne Hardy has lived in six countries on four continents. Her books come out of her cross-cultural experiences and her passion to use story to convey spiritual truths in a form that will permeate lives.
If you would like to receive an e-mail when I post a new blog, please fill in the form below.