Marines.Together We Served

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Resolution

It’s that time of year again! We are the only creatures on earth that feel he need to improve ourselves. So each January 1st we set about making what is more often than not a comical attempt at some sort of self-improvement. It’s time for the New Year’s Resolution! Usually by mid-January, or at the latest, February 1st, we’ve failed again.

We swear off chocolate; commit to exercising more regularly to rid ourselves of those unwanted pounds; quit smoking for the umpteenth time; finish that degree you’ve always wanted; finally sit down to write that book that has been in your head all these years; or be more patient with my ________ (fill in the blank).

Here’s a resolution I’d like to challenge you with if you’d care to accept. Commit to going to church on a regular basis. Now hang with me! You say you have difficulty making it to church? Too tired? You often have to work on Sundays? It’s your only “down time”? Haven’t found a church you like?

The reason I’m challenging you with this is because I want to share a story with you I received this week from one of our Free Methodist missionaries in Nigeria, Africa. If you think you have challenges making it to church, wait till you read this! I will let missionary Phyllis Sorter tell you the story. . . .

Let me introduce you to the Ogor family: David, Christiana, their children and two grandsons, Gold and Wisdom. This family has been faithfully attending the Free Methodist church here for about two years, coming to Bible study on Thursdays and to morning worship service every Sunday. David and Christiana are elderly. David suffers from arthritis but still manages to farm and fish, along with taking primary care of Gold and Wisdom who attend Hope for Little Shepherds School, never missing a day.

I was unaware of the unique story behind their attendance until last Thursday. Apparently around here no one thought their situation unusual - rather - their particular way of coping was just a normal way of life in this part of the country. But to me - it is simply amazing!

On Thursday morning Pastor John told me all of us would go out to the Ogor's compound for Bible study, as Christiana wasn't feeling well. I was happy to add my Jeep to the van as a means of transport. So at 4:45 pm we loaded up as many members as possible then followed Clement across the main road onto a dirt track leading off in the general direction of the Niger River.

I'd never been to their place before so was surprised as we drove farther and farther into a desolate, uninhabited area, soon leaving the road and crossing stretches of barren hard pan - the dried out flood plains of the river. Finally we parked the vehicles and after a few minutes' walk came across the Ogor's small compound. It was pitifully poor - only a tattered tent with an old thatched roof held down by driftwood. The family lives in that tattered tent in the flood plains of the Niger.

As we walked across the hard pan of the dried flood plains I began to wonder how this family managed in the rainy season. Well, I found out.
The Ogors SWIM to church, to Bible Study and to school. David and Christiana showed us two big plastic wash basins into which they put the children and their Sunday clothes. The adults float the basins on the water, pushing them in front of them as they themselves swim the kilometers necessary to get to dry land and church.

When they get to dry land they change into their Sunday clothes. After church they change back into their wet clothes and swim back home.
Amazing! I chatted for a few minutes with David and Christiana after Bible study.
"What is it," I asked David, "that would push you to go through this kind of suffering, day after day, week after week, to get to church? What is it that makes it possible for you to endure this kind of hardship?"

         "It's all for Christ," David answered. "What else can we do? Our canoe was borrowed by a neighbor who had an accident with it. As someone died in the incident, the canoe was confiscated by the police. We have no means of acquiring another.

"We must attend worship, no matter how difficult. We do it all for Christ."
Will I ever be able to give ANY excuse for missing church again?

Thank you, Phyllis, for this cogent reminder of what’s really important!

Now, dear reader, what was that reason you say you had for not being able to make it to church?

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