Wow… what a summer! Teachers came back to work this week as we prepare for students to return Monday. Our leaders have worked diligently these last three months to provide the safest environment and best educational opportunities in a different world. We would all appreciate your prayers as school begins.

There was no travel to distant lands this summer, but we did stay connected with brothers and sisters across the world. Through Zoom, we were able to visit and be encouraged by friends in Israel, Ecuador, Brazil, Greece, Thailand, Namibia and several states in our country.

Many nations have experienced the COVID pandemic without some of our modern health benefits. Pastor Manuel’s family suffered terribly in Ecuador as both Paula’s parents and a brother died of the virus. Mayra, Marco’s wife, is mostly recovered after being hit by a truck while riding her bike to work. We’ve cried and prayed and longed to be with our friends.

Such trials can create feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. And though we know that God is with us, the pain of loss can be overwhelming. So where can we go but to the Lord? He is faithful to encourage us with words such as these: “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” (Romans 12:12) God sees and understands every circumstance.

Jesus did not treat death or suffering in a flippant manner. He entered the pain of His friends and saw death as the enemy only God could defeat. Jesus wept with Mary and Martha after the death of their brother, but He challenged them to believe in Him — the Chosen. “I am the Resurrection and the Life. He who believes in Me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26)

I’ve been healthy this summer, though I did spend a lot of time at Emory. The attempts to trick my bone marrow into producing essential blood cells have not worked, so I continue to get periodic transfusions. The good news came from a clear bone marrow biopsy and PET Scan. My blood still shows no cancer and we praise God for His care. Two years ago, I entered a cutting edge CAR-T cell trial. Out of twenty-four initial patients, I am the only one still cancer-free.

“Why me?” is a question I cannot answer, but I tell God I want to live boldly and not take His gifts for granted. I can say things from experience that people need to hear, but I want to share with the heart of Jesus. He is perfect. Let’s pray that each of us will be filled with His compassion, understanding, and love. Our world needs such blessings.

“When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, He had compassion on them and healed their sick.” Matthew 14:14

“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” John 15:12

“Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” I John 3:18

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