Pastor's Blog

Welcome Home, Buttreys! Posted 7.18.2014

This is a very significant Sunday morning.  Today I will celebrate a family of heroes.  They won’t like it very much, but that’s ok, people don’t always like what I do and say.  Hey, even I don’t like it some of the time.


But this morning we have back “home” a seasoned and dedicated missionary family.  Last week, Paul and Mary Jeanne finished packing up thirty years of life in Taiwan and either gave it away or whittled it down to what they could bring home on an airplane.  As I have watched Facebook this past couple of months, I could see the emotion etched their faces as they prepared to make this life-changing transition.  I am reminded of a sermon illustration from years ago.

An old missionary couple had been working in Africa for years and was returning to New York to retire. They had no pension; their health was broken; they felt defeated, discouraged, and afraid. As the trip began, they discovered they were on the same ship as President Teddy Roosevelt, who was returning from one of his big-game hunting expeditions.


No one paid any attention to them. They watched the fanfare that accompanied the President's entourage, with passengers trying to catch a glimpse of the great man. As the ship moved across the ocean, the old missionary said to his wife, "Something is wrong."


"Why should we have given our lives in faithful service for God in Africa all these many years and have no one care a thing about us? Here this man comes back from a hunting trip and everybody makes much over him, but nobody gives two hoots about us."


"Dear, you shouldn't feel that way," his wife said. He replied "I can't help it; it just doesn't seem right."


When the ship docked in New York, a band was waiting to greet the President. No one noticed the missionary couple. They slipped off the ship, disappeared in the crowd, and found a cheap flat on the East Side, hoping the next day to see what they could do to make a living in the city.


That night the man's spirit broke. He said to his wife, "I can't take this; God is not treating us fairly." His wife replied, "Why don't you go in the bedroom and tell that to the Lord?"


A short time later he came out from the bedroom, but now his face was completely different. His wife asked, "Dear, what happened?"


The Lord settled it with me. I told Him how bitter I was that the President should receive this tremendous homecoming, when no one met us as we returned home. And when I finished, it seemed as though the Lord put His hand on my shoulder and simply said, "You're not home yet."


None of us are home.  Yet.  But let’s spend some time in the months ahead making sure that Paul and Mary Jeanne and Gail know that even though the ultimate reward is still pending – we love them and appreciate them!  And this is home.  At least for now.  Today, I say WELCOME HOME!

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