friendship

ENCOURAGEMENT FOR YOUNGER WOMEN

by Debbie Huber

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.  Titus 2:3-5

Time has flown so quickly that I find myself as one of the “older women” to whom the writer of this passage is speaking. It is a passage that I read with a combination of joy and fear. Joy, in that I love to be able to encourage others to love their husbands and children and to serve God in the way He has designed. There is also a little fear mixed in because this can also bring to my mind the regrets that I have, wishing I could do some things over again. But I know that God, in His wonderful kindness to me can still use even my weaknesses for His good purposes. 

I have come to see a “flip side” blessing to this charge to older women. There is a unique and treasured benefit that a younger woman brings to this mentoring relationship. I have witnessed several younger women seek out older women to help them and I have seen beautiful relationships develop and godly fruit displayed in lives. Marriages have been strengthened, mothers have been encouraged to seek God’s word instead of the strong influences of the world, and the Word of God has been the foundation. 

God has used a young mother named Samantha in my life in ways I had not realized were important. Samantha has chosen to make it important to show her care and love for me.  Knowing my children are far away she takes the time to hug me when she sees me, ask questions about me,  include me in family events, and send me pictures of her children via text or Snapchat. These small but very meaningful gestures have helped me when I am missing my own daughters. A cherished relationship of mutual encouragement has grown.  This has also spurred me to stay involved in her life so I know about her and I can pray for her and encourage her.

So younger women, God has chosen to use older women to encourage you in Godliness but in His wisdom He will use you in their lives too!  How do you find an older woman to be mentored by?  Do not wait for an older woman to find you to mentor you. Seek out godly older women and ask questions!  Get involved in service in church or in a small group and get to know the women there. 

And older women, do not feel shy about seeking to spend time with a younger woman.  Find out about their life and care for them!   If God has made this a charge to women than His purposes in it are of eternal value.

 

SOMEONE I WILL DEEPLY MISS

Sunday, August 27, 1978 was orientation weekend for freshman at Taylor University and I fulfilled that category. We were assigned to visit the home of a staff member that day and I was in the group who showed up at the home of the Dean of Students, Tom Beers and his wife Helen.

I remember talking with Mr. Beers and trying to sound both mature and likable. It also caught my attention that they had a lot of pretty daughters (Julie, Laurie, Suzi and Cathy). Later I would discover they had two sons, Steve & Jim who were decidedly not pretty. 

What I could not imagine as I munched on cake, was how often I would be in that home, and that the Beers family would become among the dearest people in the world to me. 

Of the six Beers children, five were so close in age that all but Jim attended Taylor University at some point during my four years there. Steve was a freshman with me and it was our friendship that first brought me back through the front door. 

The Beers family is gifted with the spirit of hospitality and friendship, which I discovered on Easter Sunday when Steve invited me after church to their house for dinner. I was reluctant not thinking his parents knew about it. Steve insisted I was invited. That “invitation” consisted of Steve shouting “Kyle’s here for dinner” as we walked through the front door. I was mortified. What would his parents think? It turned out they thought another plate should be added to the already overflowing tables. 

During those 4 years I spent many Sunday nights having dinner in their kitchen. Slowly walking by their big picture window after church helped spur a couple of those invitations. Thanksgiving became a beloved holiday for me after spending a few of them on McCabe Ave. To this day the Beers have influenced the hospitality of my home.

But their love was not limited to a few close friends. With the Taylor campus only a few blocks away, the Beers house was a haven for many of us far from home. I can remember coming in late at night with Steve and having to step over sleeping bodies because all the beds and couches were full.

By the end of my freshman year all the Beers kids were good friends and Tom and Helen became my parents away from home. Helen always greeted me with a big smile, a warm hug and a listening ear. Tom provided counsel, the occasional Greek vocabulary lesson and even correction when it was needed. 

After graduation, all my vacations until I married Debbie consisted of a week at the Beers home in Upland, IN. Over the past 30+ years I have frequently made my way back to that home so saturated with love and hospitality, you can feel it walking by.

In early 2012, Helen was diagnosed with liver cancer. My trips have been more frequent since then and each visit has been a time of joy – not just in the embrace of friendship, but also in the implicit trust the entire Beers family has demonstrated toward the goodness of God. It turns out their example of trust in God has been as powerful as their example of love for people.

This week, Helen left the dust of earth to breathe the air of heaven. It is hard to think about the space in our lives that she no longer fills. The thought of her delight in Jesus’ presence, and that I am also on my way, are tightly held comforts.

The last time I saw Helen, we both knew it was our final goodbye in this world. As we hugged I struggled to choke back my tears. Then as I stepped back and saw her shining smile, I could only smile back in return. Her peace and even more – her joyous love in that moment was a balm to my hurting heart.

Today I will return to Upland to mourn with beloved friends and participate in a gathering that I wish was not taking place. Yet I also go with HOPE that is wondrous and secure!

To Helen, Tom and every member of this special family whom I love, thank you for homes and hearts which have always had room for more.

Helen and Tom in July at a gathering of the entire Beers clan

ENCOURAGE THOSE WHO TOUCHED YOU

Last week I received an email from Taylor University where I went to college. One of my teachers, Professor Phil Loy, is retiring after 48 years at Taylor. The school invited those who are interested to sent a note to him. Immediately I knew I should do so because of the benefit I received from him. Professor Loy was a challenging teacher. He made us integrate all we were studying in order to think about it as a whole. He was the most helpful teacher I have ever had; and I gained life long lessons from his classes, yet I have never told him.

I can think of other people who have touched my life in meaningful ways. I am sure you can to. We cherish the memory of how people have impacted and helped us along the way, yet we often don’t take the simple step of letting them know about these feelings of appreciation.

The Practical Shepherding blog encourages us in this article to reach out to those who have discipled or mentored us.

A few years ago I was thinking about someone who invested in me as a young man in ways that still influence me today. On that occasion I decided to try and contact him. Thankfully with the internet it is easier than ever to find people.  I remember how thrilled he was to receive my call and how thankful I was to have taken that step.

There are people in your life who are merely a phone call or a letter away from you. Your contact will not only encourage them, it is fitting that we acknowledge the people who bless us. Remember they go through struggles just like you and most likely question at times whether or not their life has made a difference. Why not let them know today that the difference they made in you is something you treasure in your heart.

 

A GREAT CONNECTION

Students from the Minsk Bible College holding up letters from ILIO students

This week our church is enjoying our Missions Conference week. This week is meant to inform us of how we can touch other lives with the gospel; it challenges us to take a step; and it celebrates the wonderful partnerships God has given us for the gospel’s sake

Our church has strong ministry partnerships with ASELSI in Guatemala, and with the church in Belarus through SEE Global. Each year I have the privilege to teach for ASELSI’s Bible institute called ILIO as well as for the Minsk Bible College operated by SEE Global.

Over the years I have often and excitedly spoken to one group about the other and they just as eagerly ask questions about the other. Last March I had the joy of introducing Eman Perez from ASELSI and Sergei Lukyanov from SEE Global to one another. They were both guests for our Missions Conference. During that week Sergei and Eman got together a few times to share their hearts and learn about each others ministries.

The fruit of this new friendship has been expanding and deepening. Unbeknownst the the other, students from both Bible institutes decided they wanted to become more connected and pray for each other. This has resulted in photos, testimonies,prayer requests, and a lot of love being traded back and forth.

This has been a WOW happening for me. What a great picture of how the church everywhere is “is one body” sharing “one Spirit . . one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4:4-6).

We are all excited about the potential God has for the growth in these relationships, as each side is anxious to be used by God to bless the other. They are also making plans for what seems highly impractical – to find ways to share in ministry. Praise God for the impractical dreamers who are asking God to help them do crazy things for and through Him!

I hope your heart is encouraged by their example and that we are reminded once again that in Christ believers are all eternally bound together as his body.

BELARUS JOURNAL 2.09.12

Before class started Sergei Lukyanov wanted to talk to me about one of my students Vitaly Kuchinskiy. He worked for the Belarusian National Park (few pastors have a salary from the church). Vitaly was fired because he took off for this course. These men have been coming three times a year for three years, and this is the final course. Vitaly told Sergei he was committed to it, regardless of the cost. God was gracious and provided Vitaly with another job the following day.

Immediately afterward, Alexander Shtanko came up to thank us for praying for him and the woman in his church. He added that a woman in his church named Jana has a picture of me and has been praying for the request I shared with the class all this year. She wants an updated prayer request from me.

That conversation was followed by Vasily Chizhikov coming up to me with a bag of cookies shaped like walnuts that are filled with milk cream. Yesterday I mentioned how much I liked them, so the class went and bought some for me.

God began my day with a string of graces that encouraged me and again revealed how He is always working in ways that are great and small, but always wonderful.

Today our theme is Humility. If we are to live out the gospel, humility must be part of it, because pride is a denial of God’s rightful place in our heart; while biblical humility is the desire for God to reign fully in all corners of our life.

We spent a bit of time (more than I intended) to define pride and humility. Belarusians like to have very specific definitions and they usually want specific Bible verses to go with every statement. I explained that the Bible usually does not give us our answers in a single verse. We gain our understanding of truths through bringing together the “whole counsel of God”. Those who base their doctrines on single verses tend to have unbalanced beliefs.

We started slowly, but did manage to finish our material in enough time for me to release the men early. Students never argue with that. Several of the men told me that today’s teaching was especially helpful to them. I try to use personal examples from my own life and ministry. They connected with these each time. Although our cultures are different, the human experience is fundamentally the same, because we all come from God, we all share the same sin problem and our answer is the same gospel.

Dinner was a relaxing time at the home of Sergei and Zoya Lukyanov. They always invite visiting teachers to enjoy their hospitality. I have been watching their daughter, Aleena, grow up since she was a preschooler and now she is becoming a young lady at 13 years old. My photos of dinners at their home are a record of her growth.

Zoya was very concerned about my health and that she not make anything that would send me into relapse. So every course of my meal was a little different that the others. Our main dish was an old traditional Belarusian preparation. Meat with mushrooms, onions, potato and sour cream is slowly cooked in individual ceramic pots. It is delicious! Mine pot did not have all the ingredients, but it was quite good.

Much of our conversation was about the church in Belarus. It was a chance for Eric to learn more about the Belarusian Church from Sergei. We also spent some time finishing the two pages of discussion points for Sergei that I had brought with me to Belarus.

Part of tonight’s conversation was discussion of the September Retreat for Pastors and their wives which Debbie and I will lead along with George Hopper, who is a pastor in upper New York State. George is strongly committed to SEE Global and the church in Belarus. We have worked together a couple times and we always have a great time working together. This retreat is simply a thrill to be part of because it is so meaningful to dozens of couples who serve our Lord sacrificially. Outside of visiting pastors in their homes, this retreat may be the most satisfying project I have be involved with through SEE Global.

Tomorrow I finish teaching at the seminary. Pray for these final hours with the men. After spending an intensive week with them for three years in a row, it will be a little sad to see it end.

In the evening Bethlehem Church begins its regional Youth Conference. Viktar brought this idea to me over lunch two years ago and invited me to be the main speaker. The theme is 1 Timothy 6:12 “Fighting the Good Fight of Faith”.  I will speak once Friday and a few times on Saturday. Please pray for this conference. Ask God to bring many young people to the conference and that their hearts would be deeply impacted.

Eric will be teaching a “Changing Hearts” conference at our sister church in Gatovo. He would appreciate your prayers for him as well. We finally feel as though our trip is starting to wind down, although we both still have a full schedule ahead of us. We are grateful for every time you have lifted us up to God. Please do not tire in this. We need your prayers; they are a precious gift and blessing to us.

FRIENDSHIP

We all are experienced with friendships, we may not necessarily be good at them, but we have been engaged in friendships on a variety of levels. However as in many (most?) areas of life, we rarely think through how friendship should work. “The Gospel-Driven Church” blog has a post titled Thoughts on Friendship. You can read the whole thing here.  Or you can read the author’s bullet points on friendship, which he calls the “real meat” of his article.

And yes, the kitten photo is not my typical style – but you have to admit it is cute and all the lady readers will like it..  However, here is a more “manly” representation of friendship for the guys.  I am with my dear friend pastor Vladimir Bukanov in Belarus, enjoying some shashlik.


– Friendship is grown, not negotiated.

– Friendship happens; it’s not requested.

– Being a friend to someone can be unilateral; being friends with someone cannot.

– It is okay to have concentric circles of deepening friendships. Jesus apparently did.

– A friend picks up on nonverbal cues that indicate fatigue or the need to be alone.

– Real friends can enjoy silence together.

– A friend is someone you can’t wait to see again, not someone you need rest and recovery from after visiting.

– If someone makes you feel guilty for not spending time with them, they are not your friend.

– If someone makes passive aggressive comments about your lack of availability, they are not your friend.

– Relationships between needy “me-monsters” and need-to-feel-needed “fixers” are not friendships, but co-dependencies.

– Real friendship is kinship.

– One of the reasons the Bible refers to the church more often as “family” than as “friends” is because you don’t pick your family — God does.

– But I think God picks our friends too. There is a chemistry involved there that goes beyond similar life stages, interests, hobbies, and temperaments.

– If some of these thoughts bug you and you want to insist that everybody ought to be friends with everybody, it’s possible you’re “that guy” and that’s why you don’t have any friends.