Face down

Good Friday, 2018

Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane
Heinrich Hofmann, 1890

Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” Matt 26:39 NIV

I approach the Garden of Gethsesame with a sense of awe. That intense interaction between the incarnate Son and the Father is baffling. I wonder that any mortal mind could make definitive statements about that holy scene.

A popular painting of the scene shows Jesus kneeling, which neither Matthew or Mark depict. Both writers describe Jesus as falling to the ground, and the first adds “with his face to the ground.”

The same verb is used to describe stars crashing from heaven and young Eutychus’ fatal plunge from the third story window. It’s not a gentle action.

We don’t, in our democratic society, fall face-down before authorities to make requests. Only drawn police guns can force a perp face-plant. We certainly don’t do it willingly.

The face-to-the-ground posture is one of both utter submission and desperate pleading. It is the context for the few recorded words, “If it is possible…Yet not as I will” that point into the depths of the inexplicable Godhead relationship which lies beyond the edge of human understanding.

But even if we do not understand, our Savior’s posture should model our most penitent moments. The Creator God invites us to call him “Our Father” but his glory can and should overwhelm us.

Larry Hall
03/27/18

Africa’s Hope 2017 annual report

Kathi and I have been assigned to two ministries, Live Dead Africa and Africa’s Hope for the last few years. The Live Dead Africa initiative is more familiar than Africa’s Hope among our friends. A number of candidates have been approved to join Live Dead in the last few years and, as they’ve itinerated, they have created an awareness of the purpose and scope of that initiative.

But Africa’s Hope is not as well known. I would love to sit across the table and talk to you about it but until I can, perhaps the 2017 annual report will help bridge the gap. I have copies available if you would like one.

In brief, Africa’s Hope was born of a desire to help African AG church leaders reach ambitious goals they set for themselves during the Decade of Harvest—goals to plant tens of thousands of churches across Africa. Those new churches would need pastors, not novices, but biblically trained, Spirit-led leaders. But to train those pastors:

  • many more Bible schools would be needed,
  • quality curriculum written for the African context would be a must,
  • delivery systems (printing presses and electronic devices like Kindles) would be very important and
  • scholarships to help students from impoverished countries would be critical.

Africa’s Hope is addressing those challenges. In the pages of the annual report, you will see reports of those four resources, and others, being supplied. Now, as many national churches are meeting and exceeding the goals they set for planting churches in their countries, Africa’s Hope is partnering to help them fill those pulpits with well trained leaders.

Kathi and I were honored to be invited by the Africa leadership team to work as the development team leader for Africa’s Hope in 2014. The Holy Spirit confirmed that leading and we have been in that role since, working closely with Dr. John Easter, who is the director for Africa’s Hope and the strategic leader for training in Africa.

Larry and Kathi Hall
Live Dead Africa/Africa’s Hope

The Father’s Table Prepared

Kathi and I will feel a rush of excitement soon as our immediate family gathers at our house. “Come kids, we’ve prepared for you. Your rooms are neat, the living room is cozy, the tree is beautiful and in the dining room, oh my!, there’s a feast waiting.”

Our heavenly Father has prepared a place for us, far better than we can imagine. His invitation is all about family, beginning with the endearing term “Father” with which he asks us to address Him. As a father, I feel some of both the excitement and the loss in our Father’s heart. Yes, there is joy that His children are coming. We have accepted His invitation.

But some He loves will not be around His lovingly prepared table. The missing ones have not heard His invitation. Their phone has not rung, nothing is in their mail box. His invitation has not reached their neighborhood and culture sufficiently to give them the slightest chance to hear His invitation. He loves them as dearly as family but they don’t know His Son who paid everything to give them a place at the table. Projecting from my table to His, my father’s heart feels something of His deep sense of loss and it moves me.

Years ago, God clearly and specifically called us to world missions. His call has not lifted in those years nor has the pain eased as I meditate on His love for the lost and unreached. Until the day He lifts that call, we continue working, convinced we are in the center of His will, and grateful for those who faithfully support our ministries at Live Dead Africa and Africa’s Hope.

Merry Christmas, family!

The Creator’s claim

“The Lord needs it.”

This statement rings of ultimate power, absolute authority. Jesus sent his disciples into the village to untie a donkey and her foal with clear instructions. They were not to ask permission to take the animals—which were not theirs—nor even to notify the owner. Only if an explanation was demanded were they to say these words, and only these words. Nor were they told what to say or do if this rehearsed line was not accepted. There was no plan B because none was needed.

In the mouth of anyone else, the command to take the rightful owner’s property without so much as a “please, may I” or a simple “thank you” to acknowledge ownership would have been theft, and, given the value of these animals, a serious crime.

But the Lord who sent the disciples spoke from a position of authority that transcended all other claims of ownership. This was the Creator speaking. He owned the donkeys as unquestionably as he owned every creature, the world they stood on and the life they breathed. His claim of ownership predated every title and when he asserted his claim, no laws were broken.

The scribes placed their careful trap, “Is it right for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”
“Show me a denarius. Whose image and inscription are on it?”
“Caesar’s.”
“Then give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”

To that conversation, Ravi Zacharias posits a follow-up question, “Whose image is stamped on you?” At creation, God said, “Let us make man in our own image.”

The Creator rightfully claims every aspect of us. When we give back to him what is his—which is all that we are—we die to our own self-ness and live dead in his life.

Then we are sent with the authority to boldly loose bonds and lead men to Christ.

They are his.

Larry Hall, September, 2017

 

Drawing Nearer to the Light

May 2017

And as thy days, so shall thy strength be.” KJV or “And your strength will equal your days.” NIV Deut 33:25

These words lit up the early morning hour as I meditated on them. Frankly, I’ve been tired recently. I’m enjoying my missionary assignment with Live Dead Africa and Africa’s Hope, as much or more than any other, but I needed refreshing. This blessing of Asher focused my thoughts.

When I become weary in well doing, it’s time to check my source of strength and draw closer to the All-powerful One. The Maclauren Expositions commentary reinforced the message:

… drawing nearer to the light, our faces will be brightened more and more with that light which we approach, and our path will be ‘as the light which shines more and more unto the noontime of the day,’ because we are closer to the very fountain of heavenly radiance, and increasingly bathed with the outgoings of His glory.”

The Lord has been blessing this ministry, bringing generous partners alongside and opening doors. It feels like one of those seasons of growth which Pastor David Campbell described in an unforgettable sermon. But in the intensity of that season, it’s easy to not draw close enough to bathe in the fountain of His radiance.

I’m not asking for more financial support—the Lord has blessed us with faithful partners like you and our needs are being met through your monthly support. But I would appreciate prayer for us as the Holy Spirit brings us to your mind, especially if what I’m describing resonates with what you’ve experienced.

How do I say ‘thank you’ adequately? You are much more than financial partners. I have warm memories of times I spent with each of you who support us regularly. You are dear friends.

We send our love and heartfelt appreciation.

To the tomb

“Peter jumped up and ran to the tomb.” Luke 24:12 NLT

I would rather run from the tomb and all thoughts of death but this week I will attend two memorial services for friends I loved who were roughly my age. A third friend was enjoying life Saturday morning; an hour later he was clinging to it. At my elbow is a small, sharp steel pin that exploded my tire instantly as I passed very close to an intimidating 18-wheeler at 70 mph.

Wisdom says “It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of everyone; the living should take this to heart.” Eccl 7:2 NIV

The house of feasting is our tradition. We leave a memorial service and immediately head to the potato salad. Fellowship is good; why is the house of mourning better? Because death is our destiny.

Death is always inconvenient, costly, frightening and ugly. We can drape the coffin in flowers but we can’t cover the pain. My wife and I will often avoid walking past an open casket. Why shouldn’t we avoid the unpleasantness of death? Because death is our destiny.

Death is more than just inconvenient. It is an enemy and it has yet to be defeated. In fact, “the last enemy to be destroyed is death.” 1 Cor 15:26 NIV It is still our destiny, should Jesus tarry.

How do we face death, this awful, frightening, ugly enemy?

By running like Peter to the tomb. We can’t avoid it; we must prepare to embrace it. But the tomb we embrace is not ours but our Savior’s. We bow our heads, bend our knees and prepare to enter the low tomb of our Lord, knowing there we will find, not horror, but Life.

As we pass, one at a time, through that low passage, those of us who are left behind—temporarily—have the blessed comfort of peering ahead, past the stone that was rolled away. There are angels on that stone, radiant and assuring. They invite us to examine, not avoid, but they redirect our gaze from the tomb to the One was there and now walks among the living.

Death is ugly, He is beauty. Death is frightening; He is peace. Death is our enemy; He is the conqueror.

Death is our destiny; He is our destination, our eternal home.

Larry and Kathi
larry@larryandkathihall.com

Pearl Harbor Day

It was deeply moving to me to stand last week with my granddaughters above the wreckage of the Arizona where over 1,100 sailors and marines lie entombed. One thought from the video will haunt me. Those men had no war stories. They went from peace to eternity in the flash of one bomb, a bomb they may not have even heard.

Kathi’s family and mine do have stories from that war. My brothers survived a Japanese POW camp. AW celebrates his birthday on December 7th and Cecil turned 75 this year. Their birthdays continually remind us of that infamous day. Our generation cannot forget.

But what do my grandchildren feel?

Much of this war-torn world yearns for peace today but only a small percentage of our blessed nation has seen fighting. Can we pass along a heart-felt passion for peace to a new generation? Just asking….

And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men.” (Longfellow)

Even so come, Lord Jesus,

Larry and Kathi
larry@larryandkathihall.com

Thanksgiving in the air

This Thanksgiving, Kathi and I will learn how American Airlines serves turkey. Considering how much we enjoy being with family and friends, it will be unusually lonely but, in the end, worthwhile. Instead of being with family on that special day, we will celebrate with them later.

But Kathi cannot let the thoughts of past Thanksgivings go unremembered. Even though it won’t be used this holiday, our formal dining table has been festively decorated for weeks, evoking delicious memories. This table joined our household before our daughters were born and it stands as an altar dedicated to the goodness of the Lord through all the years of our marriage. We’ve laughed, cried and prayed countless times over it, crafting memories which include many of you. Of such is family.

And we will make up for the missed holiday just days later. Our granddaughters, with Heidi and Randy, will help us make new memories on Oahu, next Sunday which is our 45th anniversary. While we’re there, we’ll see a few island friends including a couple of days with Cecil on Kauai.

So, this table will be empty this season, but the echos of old and new memories will surround us. If we don’t see you, I pray you will feel our love!

Larry and Kathi
larry@larryandkathihall.com

Stand in Silence

This sunset took my breath away. I called Kathi outside and together we marveled how the power of the sun effortlessly painted a vision of beauty and peace on ephemeral wisps of cloud. Power and peace. I began musing.

If you follow our Twitter or Live Dead posts, you know that one of our Live Dead Africa teams requested prayer for protection and wisdom over the last two weekends. They were in mandatory lock-down while rioters made their city streets unsafe. People were violently protesting oppression by those who hold the reins of power.

That seems to be happening all over, doesn’t it?  From villages in China to the neighborhoods of US cities—everywhere that people believe they are ruled unjustly. Violence separates those who want stability from those who call for change.

But we have hope the riots will end. Cries will stop mid-throat. Some day, maybe soon, a hush will fall as the Lord strides across the world stage with great power to bring peace with perfect justice.

When we are guests in other countries, we missionaries are apolitical, unaligned with one group or another. But we do 1) proclaim the coming rule of a King who will bring justice to the entire world, and we are 2) witnesses of His present rule of peace in the hearts of those who already serve Him. In a messed up world, it’s a beautiful message.

We send our love and His peace to all our friends and family,  

Larry and Kathi Hall
Live Dead Africa and Africa’s Hope
“Stand in silence in the presence of the Sovereign LORD, for the awesome day of the LORD’s judgment is near.” Zephaniah 1:7