When it comes to the subject of the biography I’m working on, this surprisingly fit former football coach with the southern twang, teasing manner and unassuming servant’s persona who has some amazing stories to tell—remarkable stories… stories that sound unbelievable—I had to make a decision pretty quick. But as this venerable missionary is prone to say, echoing the Apostle Paul, “If you don’t believe me, believe me for my works sake,” and in the words of Jesus, “You will know a tree by the fruit it bears.”
So let’s review our options in a logical, C.S. Lewis manner: My new missionary friend is either:
a) A liar
b) A lunatic
c) Who he says he is
When I first met him, the middle option was removed within two minutes of hearing him speak. His is a razor-sharp mind that, like a master computer, retrieves data from his eight-plus decades of living, reciting snatches of poetry, describing names, faces, shared jokes and shared pain with precision.
But could he be a liar, a shrewd huckster tricking susceptible followers to hand over their life savings for false aims or convincing them to bestow honor for feats he’s never accomplished? Again, the evidence to the contrary is immense: the newspaper clipping showing him walking with Mother Teresa, the photos of numerous churches and orphanages, all painted his trademark blue and gold, a faithful wife of more than five decades, children and grandchildren who are upstanding, dedicated members of society who attest to the absolute veracity of his claims, honorary degrees and awards from his alma mater, Sam Houston State University, for being a highly decorated and distinguished alum. Plus—and here’s the kicker—his missionary excursions are primarily self-funded.
But wait a minute. If we’re approaching this logically and our only other option is to believe this man is exactly who he says he is, that he has been guided from childhood by heavenly music and heavenly messengers, that these same heavenly messengers bow to him in recognition of Jesus, the Christ, who dwells within him, that he has been beaten, stoned, marked for murder, imprisoned on numerous occasions, held hundreds of dying children in his arms as they drew their last breath, and laughed with and worked side-by-side with Mother Teresa, then we have a new paradigm to embrace. It’s a worldview where a common Christian who decides to take God at His word, do the works Christ did on Earth and, with constant peril to life and limb, use the years he’s been given to spread joy and light in the darkest of places, gets to live the sort of life recorded in the gospels.
For his entire life, this missionary has kept a low profile, has tried to give the honor for his accomplishments to others in order to, as he says, “stay below the radar” and even protect his family and co-workers from the ramifications of his deeds. He firmly believes, and is living proof, that one can accomplish so much more by dodging notoriety.
But the day came, as he was boarding a plane for another missions excursion, that a heavenly messenger met him to relay this message: “It’s time for you to tell your story.”
That’s where I come in, and why I’m asking for your prayer support. As I dig through hours of interviews and try to shape this huge story into a project worthy of such a life, it’s also a struggle against intimidation. But I’m honored beyond belief and, dang, I’m learning a lot–about prayer, faith and the seismic, revolutionary effect of a life that’s fully GIVEN to Christ and a heart that’s broken daily by what breaks Our Father’s heart.
All this to let you guys know I haven’t fallen off the face of the planet, I’m just spending some time in the land of “Overwhelmed But Grateful.” Please pray for wisdom to share this story in a way that will reach and affect our jaded, desperate world.
Chana is a wife, mom of four and author. She and her family reside in Southern California. Her first novel, THE FALL (Rapha Chronicles #1) recently topped Amazon’s Hebrew/Old Testament Bestseller Category and hit #9 in Science Fiction/Fantasy. Chana brakes for homemade chocolate chip cookies, old barns and anytime one of her kids suggests watching “Pride and Prejudice.”