Eighteen men, three days, one goal

I had the privilege to meet in St. Louis last weekend with 17 men from around the country. We flew or drove there from places as far away as Gresham, Ore., Ovid, N.Y., and Lake Wales, Fla. We are fathers and grandfathers, pastors and conference speakers, lawyers and entrepreneurs, writers and researchers, life coaches and salesmen. We gathered in a hotel conference room for three days to talk about what God is doing in our lives, to share our successes and our failures and to encourage one another. Here are a few favorite words of wisdom I heard, along with a great story.
“Too much Christian ministry goes undone because instead of reaching some, we are waiting for the opportunity to reach all.” Stop waiting and start reaching the few, or the one.
“You cannot be healed from that which you hide.” Does that need any explanation? Stop hiding and step into the light; that’s where hope resides and is waiting for you.
“The heart is made for hope, so whoever offers the most hope gets the heart.” Maybe that’s why the Bible says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick.” One application is for parents: Are we offering hope to our children?
If there was a theme for the gathering, I would have to say it was this: “It is not about me. To live is Christ.” That message was shared with tears, as men confessed failures and struggles, and asked for prayer support. That message was also shared with exciting stories of how God is working in our lives, our families and our jobs for his own glory. We celebrated together the sovereignty of our loving God. This story illustrates it as well as any I have ever heard.
A missionary was traveling in rural Kenya, taking a truck filled with valuable equipment through a territory known for thieves. There were five people in the truck, including two nationals who were part of the Masai tribe. The truck started making noises in the middle of nowhere, in the pitch black of night. Then it threw a rod, and the five were stranded. The missionary said that he thought he knew someone who could come and fix the truck, but it would take him two days to bring the man back. “The rest of you stay with the truck and protect the supplies,” he said, and he was gone. The four pitched a tent, ate a late supper and fell asleep. In the middle of the night, they were awakened by a blood curdling scream. A lion had grabbed the tent with his paws on either side of the head of one of the Kenyans, and was trying to drag him out through the canvas. The tent held firm and the other team members were able to scare the lion away. The next night the team constructed a perimeter around the tent and truck with brush and built a good fire. Again, they were awakened by a scream in the middle of the night as a lion was stalking one of the men who had gone outside the camp to relieve himself. The others ran at the lion with firebrands and were able to rescue their terrified and embarrassed companion. The next day, the missionary returned with his friend, the mechanic, whose jaw dropped when he saw where the truck had broken down.
“You are camping in the middle of the lion’s den in this area,” he said. “If you weren’t, you’d be dead. Robbers would have killed you for your valuables.”
Our hope is in Christ alone.