Monday, March 14, 2005


"I lift up my eyes to the hills --
from where will my help come?" (Psalm 121:1)

He arrived in America ten years ago, coming from Cameroon to be a college student. As he prepared to transfer from one airport to another to catch a flight to Cincinnati, he discovered that someone had stolen all his luggage, including the cash and travelers checks he had hidden in them (because someone had warned him about the potential for being kidnapped for his money in America).

But, in faith, he journeyed on to Cincinnati, where he encountered the usual problems so many immigrants do with a new language, a new culture, a new educational system, a new life. But he persisted, in faith, because he knew God was good, and God was faithful, and God would be with him in every circumstance.

He worked hard, he studied hard, he sought to be a good person, a good Christian, a good husband, and eventually, a good father. But the stress of dealing with so much newness, so many struggles caused him to have a stroke when he was in his early 20's. He went home from the hospital to find that his wife had left him, because she didn't want to have to deal with a person with a disability.

But he continued in his journey, in faith, seeking to improve his health, seeking to find the jobs needed to pay off his educational and medical bills, seeking to be a good father to his son. And when his fiance in Cameroon encouraged him to find a good Presbyterian church before she arrived, he came to us. And he and his almost-five son have been a true blessing and gift to us.

Yesterday, he met with the Session of our church to become a member, and as he told his story, of his struggles, his pain, his faith, over and over we heard the phrases, "God helped me, God led me, God was with me, God was faithful."

And then I asked him the three questions we ask new members:
Do you believe in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior?
Do you renounce evil and place your reliance on God's grace?
Do you promise to particpate actively in the life of the church and be involved in its worship and mission?

Not passive "I do's" or "I will's" but strong, strong affirmations from a life that has discovered the answer to the question of the Psalmist:

"My help comes from the Lord
who made heaven and earth." (Psalm 121:2)


(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

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