I just sat down in Vukovar, Croatia, and opened my Bible to Psalm 46. I am reminded how wars may come and wars may thrive and continue, but it is God Who oversees all, who makes the weapons to fall. And in the midst of war He says, “Be still and know that I am God” followed by the assurance of His exaltation throughout all the earth, within all the warring nations. Even now I am looking out among the buildings that have been poxed with shells and bombs. What would take a lifetime to see are the stories which have become the lives of these people. War-deaths, blood-feuds, depression, suicide, alcoholism, grief that is worse than death – all these lay behind the hospitable coffee-visits and cheery faces. Do not look too closely, though, because the eyes are fuller than a glass of water that has formed at tenuous dome above the rim. They have seen too much and have bourne under an hopeless situation. And yet Yawheh’s word still echoes in the heavy air: Be still. God is our refuge. He Who created all the universe brought land out o sea, formed people and divided nations, made a throne of a mangerč this same God looked at the children and said, “come unto me”, beheld the harlot and pronounced, “your sins are forgiven”. Are not the lives of these people not only known to Him, but come near to His heart in the tears of this widowed land? Have not the screams of the orphans pierced His ears? And have not the faithful among these entered into the sanctuary of rest which is His bosom?
It would be farthest from my desires in writing this to pretend that I know the hardship of war or the ocean of grief that comes in its wake. My only desire is to extol the God Who is both merciful and just. The God who delivers His people as He did in the time of David. David cries out to God time and time again in desperation, fear, and grief but his voice can also be heard in the shout of triumph, the song of praise, and the prayers of faith. My prayer for these people of the former Yugoslavia is that they may raise their broken hearts and voices to the God Who created them and find solace under the shadow of His wings.
Please see: Psalm 57; 47; 49; 55; 56; 59; 91.
“For who is Lord but the Lord? Or who is God save our God? O highest and best, most powerful, most all-powerful, most merciful and most just, most deeply hidden and most nearly present, most beautiful and most strong, constant yet incomprehensible, changeless, yet changing all things, never new, never old, making all things new; bringing the proud to decay and they know it not: always acting and always at rest, still gathering yet never wanting: upholding, filling, and protecting, creating, nourishing and bringing to perfection: seeking, although in need of nothing. You love, but with no storm of passion: you are jealous, but with no anxious fear: You repent, but do not grieve; in your anger calm; you change your works, but never change your plan: you take back what you find and yet have never lost: never in need, you are yet glad of gain: never greedy, yet still demanding profit on your loans: to be paid in excess, so that you may be the debtor, and yet who has anything which is not yours? You pay back debts which you never owed and cancel debts without losing anything. ”
St. Augustine: The Confessions. I.4
This sign is from my pilgrimage in the UK:
This sign is from my work in Croatia-Bosnia-Serbia:
Just a quick note. We are currently in Croatia, but have been through Hungary, Serbia, and Kosovo in the past bit. It has been so wonderful to be working with a few other missionaries again. I am able to unload some of the memories and burdens of the past year with people who can understand on a missionary level, and that has been such a blessing. The other thing that God is allowing me to re-learn is how to laugh. To share a sense of humour with people from my culture has been very freeing in a way. Perhaps this doesn´t make sense, but know that I have been surrounded by the comforting embrace of the Lord as I have embarked on this transition.
“I will praise thee, O Lord, among the people; I will sing unto thee among the nations. For thy mercy is great unto the heavens, and thy truth unto the clouds. Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens; let thy glory be above all the earth”
The past five days have held within them some of the deepest pain and the nearest peace I can recall in my life. The day I left my South African home there were some extremely painful circumstances that I’ve considered writing about, but every time I sit down to do it, I can’t: they are too near to me. These things have been a heavy burden to carry with me, but even my first day away I was penetrated by the peace of the Lord. I know that many of you are to be thanked for that, because you were in faithful prayers for me that day. But greater than our prayers united was the mercy and grace of our God to grant me a peace which truly passed understanding. Such peace, I found, requires ultimate trust and confidence in Him Who bestows it, which in turn offers assurance. What rest I have been granted in the Father of the nations!
For the great part that you have played in this peace and rest, I thank you. It is a blessing to serve with brothers and sisters around the world and be united in prayer before that ever-ready Helper.
For those at NSA, good luck on this graduation day. May your time with family and friends be a blessed reunion.
I have arrived safely in England. I will be making a short pilgrimage around the country and then leaving for Eastern Europe on the 19th.
Yesterday I said goodbye to part of myself. It’s hard with children: they are so dependent upon you for everything that it seems their very existence is linked to yours, so leaving is not possible. It was a very hard day, but our gracious Lord filled it with such thankfulness that I was quite overwhelmed by the honor I was given for the past ten months to care after these children who, though abused by the world, were created according to His good purpose. And part of that purpose involved me – in over an hundred children. Our God is truly amazing. After many tears and hugs and kisses, I saw the dust of Africa no longer beneath my feet, but beneath the clouds.
As I make this trip in the UK over the next ten days or so, I will have time to reflect and write and meditate on the good things of the Lord in my life over the past while, so I hope that shortly I can share those things with you. Until then, thank you for your continued prayers and love. I would ask that you keep Ntombifuthi also in your prayers, as she has found my leaving particularly difficult.
In Him Who created the expanse, Nicole