Women’s online Bible study based on the book Read the Bible For Life by George Guthrie, we are discussing week four in small groups this week. Join us as we discuss the how to read the law and the prophets. Below is an update from Missionary Mom and Ministry Leader Stasis Nielsen as she shares her own experiences bringing the Bible to others. These are her words:
The emotional and physical exhaustion was too much to bear. With a heavy head and arms hanging lifeless at my sides, I finally yielded and let my eyes close. For a brief moment in me there was dark nothingness. It felt so good. It was a glorious peace. Then as if some internal alarm within me began to ring out, I jerked myself awake. As I grasped for consciousness, my left arm reached toward the floor next to where I was slouched.
My wee toddler lay on a stinky suitcase covered with her favorite blanket. She moved her sweaty head to one side and whined every so quietly. I swatted at the malaria ridden mosquitoes that buzzed about her damp hair. I checked her pulse and whispered for the hundredth time, “please Lord.” I flicked a millipede that had crawled up along one side of the suitcase she was laying on. Emotions rose, I could feel myself getting angrier as I reminisced over the events that had transpired during the days that led up to this moment. I verbalized my protests to a cruel world. It wasn’t fair.
Just a few weeks prior to this, we were excited to be going on such an adventure. We intended on going to the exact places where Muslim Guerrillas had captured and beheaded missionaries just a couple of months before. Many felt it was unwise but we knew we had the Word of the Lord to take this journey and we would be obedient to His calling. We traveled by a large crowded boat to a small port on the Eastern seaboard. We were captured, released and after traveling hundreds of miles through the jungles we found ourselves in a quaint village near the sea.
For weeks we had been bathing out of buckets or even fully dressed in the torrential rains when there was no water to be found. We cooked over fires and lived just like those we went to serve did. It was exhilarating. I remember one day realizing that it had been weeks since I had even seen a mirror. We prayed bold prayers and saw the Lord answer them. The lame walked, sick were healed, and the disturbed in spirit set completely free. Over 3,500 souls prayed for salvation. We all experienced the extravagant Love of the Father in new and wonderful ways.
Then came the mice. Dozens of mice every where, all the time. You could hear them in the walls, see them running along the corners of the houses. All of the animals seemed to be distraught over something. It was like they knew of an impending doom. They crawled on our feet, and through our suitcases and on our sleeping bags at night. I pulled my sweet baby into my sleeping bag with me. It was miserably hot and humid but I did not care. Sweaty heat was better than the feeling of those tiny feet crawling over my sticky skin at night. Not to mention that I was concerned about them biting us.
My husband was so exhausted that he would unconsciously grab at the vermin when they crawled on him at night. He would toss them off and you could hear them squeak as they hit the walls. It was impossible to sleep. Animals can sense things we cannot.
Then Typhoon Ruby hit us without any warning and with all of her fury. The storm grew fiercer each hour until the eerie silence that happens during the “eye of the storm”. We naively thought the worst was over when the full blast hit. The bamboo huts were no match for the storm. Everything was decimated in a matter of minutes. Rain, hail, livestock and debris were churned up and tossed all over. We watched the nightmare from the small brick home where we had had the honor of staying.
As the storm raged I cuddled my sleeping daughter only to discover that she was burning with fever. She was completely incoherent. She did not move when I pinched her. I panicked as I pinched her even harder. It happened so fast. There were no phones, no hospital and most of the populous that had survived had begun the arduous task of finding the wounded and burying their dead. We grabbed our things and began looking for help.
Hours later we found ourselves in a make shift clinic. They had no idea what they were doing and explained that our dear baby had “TV”. We thought they meant tuberculosis, for which she had no symptoms, but they assured us that our wee princess had TV. There is no such illness and of course, these were not qualified doctors. Everyone was doing what they could under the circumstances.
The bridge had been washed out so there was no way to get to another town or hospital or even to the port we needed to be at for our voyage back to Manila.
A few days later we were able to make our way to the port in a jeepney. Our ship was not there and a local villager told us that we must find shelter. A kind man drove us through the jungle to a little brick home. We were greeted with rice and coconut milk. We were given a tiny room with a small cot to rest. We had decided to take shifts looking after our sick child. My husband would sleep two hours on the cot while I kept watch over the baby and then I would have a chance to rest for two hours.
And so I found myself brooding over all of these events. I flicked small spider and another millipede off of my sleeping daughter. I took a dirty, stinky wet cloth to wipe the droplets of sweat from her precious brow. I wiped away a tear. Eventually, I cracked under the pressure. I had never dreamed that serving the Lord, being obedient to His call on my life and living the life of faith could be so difficult.
It is during these difficult times in my life that I have been able to find great comfort from the Book of Psalms. Tehillim (Hebrew) or “Psalm” actually means Praise. Every emotion known to mankind is addressed within the pages of the Psalms and yet the meaning of the word is “praise.” It is fascinating that the majority of these “praises” were actually written under the most grueling of circumstances.
Throughout the ages, man has been drawn to the rich poetry and emotion found within the Psalms. We can relate to the authors as they struggle with faith, love and relationships. We find we are standing on common ground when they write about their hopes and fears. Their intimate struggles God’s provision and protection are echoed daily in our prayers. It is as if the authors had read the pages of our very souls before they even picked up the quill to pen each of those precious pearls we call The Psalms.
During the happiness and hardship of my life, I have been blessed to be able to hold some of these precious Psalms within my heart through memorization. You probably have as well. When you were just a child, you most likely hid Psalm 23 into your heart.
As we look at The Psalms this week in our Read The Bible For Life Study, I want to encourage you to begin to put more of them into your heart via memorization. Psalm 119 is actually a very easy one to memorize as it is broken down into 22 stanzas of 8 verses each (one stanza for each letter of the Hebrew alphabet.
On a closing note, I knew a missionary who was once in a Chinese prison for some time. He spoke of the verses that faithfully carried him and gave him hope during his incarceration. He was not allowed a Bible, yet his life was full of the Word of God through all of the verses which he had hidden in his heart. He spoke of Psalm 119 as being one of his most encouraging works of memorization and it was him who inspired me to do the same.
To read more articles about the work we are doing in the missionary field please visit www.StasiaNielsen.com
Assignment For The Week
- Read WEEK FIVE in your Read the Bible For Life workbook
- Download the Answers to the Viewer Guide when you click here
- Optional: Listen to the Read The Bible For Life podcasts or watch the videos
Small Group Questions from the Read the Bible For Life workbook (Post your answers here or share them in a small group this week)
- Explain why you think God still expects us to abide by the ten commandments, or the laws listed on page 73 in your workbook.
- Guthrie writes “The prophets sometimes used drama or poetic language to communicate their messages.” How might this communication style help the receiver of the message it better? Share an example of how we use this communication style today.
- Why is it difficult for us to believe in modern prophecy or modern prophets?
- In scripture, the mixture of wealth, empty religion, and lack of concern for the poor signaled that judgment was coming. How might these dynamics parallel situations today? (page 87)
- When asked which commandment was the greatest, Jesus responded with what we know as the Great Commandment: love God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself (see Matt 22:36-40). What are some practical ways we might live out loving God with all our hearts? (page 92)