A daily, Bible-based perspective of hope, encouragement and exhortation.
Friday, September 18, 2020
Yesterday morning we stopped by the Pumpkin Wagon on Ronks Road, purchased some straw bales, pumpkins, gourds and Indian corn for our fall decorating.
"A Victorious Ending"
Message summary: Although you can't go back and make a brand new start, by God's grace you can start from now and have a victorious ending.
Listen to this message on your audio player.
"Mordecai had raised his cousin Hadassah (also called Esther) because she had no father or mother" (Esther 2:7).
Yesterday, after our first chaplain visit, we ate breakfast at the Hershey Farms Restaurant next to the Sight and Sound Theater. Afterwards we met a couple with a very interesting story. They were near the pond behind the restaurant when we caught up with them. Tony and Kim pictured are visiting our area from Georgia and were up in Lancaster County to see Esther at the Sight and Sound Theater.
Tony and Kim are both followers of Christ and each has an amazing story of God's redemptive love and overcoming power in spite of a very hard beginning.
Tony (American name) was a three year old in a Vietnamese orphanage when an American soldier who, along with other soldiers, regularly visited the children in the orphanage bringing candy. The soldier was already a middle-aged man from Georgia with grown children but managed to gain custody of three-year old Tony and bring him to America where he and his wife later adopted and raised him. Tony is presently a pharmacist and has an impeccable southern Georgia accent which one must reconcile upon hearing it with his Vietnamese appearance.
Kim (American name) is from Cambodia. She was abandoned as a baby but adopted by a Cambodian family and became a Christian when she was 13. In 1979 during the horrors of the Khmer Rouge regime and the killing fields she escaped from Cambodia with a group of Christians into Thailand. Initially Thai soldiers tried to force them back but they managed to stay. She found out later her adoptive parents were killed in one of the most horrific periods in human history. She also eventually made it to America, met Tony and later married him.
Hopefully we can meet them again sometime and fill the blanks in their story but, oh my, what a life experience so different than most of ours. Our friend, Doug, has a quote in his email sig line that states, "Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending."*
Today's Bible text is probably rather easily overlooked in the grand scheme of the Book Of Esther. But it provides a necessary background to the story. "Mordecai had raised his cousin Hadassah (also called Esther) because she had no father or mother" (Esther 2:7). Previously in reading this text I had focused on Mordecai's role in the book since he is a key figure all through the book.
But let us stop and just consider the painful explanation of why Mordecai raised her, "because she had no father or mother". Presumably both her parents had died leaving her an orphan. No details are provided as to how they died nor how old she was when they died. But the description "he raised" likely indicates she was young when Mordecai assumed his duties. Her parent's deaths were surely a very sad and confusing time for her which could have set her on the path leading to bitterness and brokenness.
But God placed Mordecai in her life for such a time as this and the story with such a sad beginning has a victorious ending. Later in the book we read what is probably the most memorized verse of Esther when Mordecai challenged her, "And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?" (Esther 4:14).
Many reading this, like Tony and Kim and Esther of the Bible had a very rough start or have experienced a major life altering change in your life story. God remains in the redeeming business and, although you can't go back and make a brand new start, by God's grace you can start from now and have a victorious ending!
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, You delivered us from the dominion of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of Your beloved Son in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. How thankful we are for Your mighty deliverance; deliverance from our sinful way of life and for many deliverance from a life of hopelessness and despair. You ordained followers of Christ to reach out to us with hands of compassion, mercy, healing, and hope when we were hopeless. How good You are to meet all our needs, both spiritual and physical. Thank you, Father, in Jesus' name. Amen.
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
"Orphans Of God" Video Avalon
"Orphan" Video John Waller Inspired by the Waller's adoption story. The little girl in this video is actually our adopted daughter, Anna playing herself. I had my sister and brother in law step in to portray Josee and me. Adoptions of older children and teens are often called "rescues" because kids "age-out" at 16 years-old. They're usually left homeless on the street and may become addicted to drugs and/or involved in the sex trade.
"Planting Trees" Video Andrew Peterson
The Killing Fields Estimates of the total deaths resulting from Khmer Rouge policies, including death from disease and starvation, range from 1.7 to 2.5 million out of a 1975 population of roughly 8 million. In 1979, Vietnam invaded Democratic Kampuchea and toppled the Khmer Rouge regime, an act that is viewed as having ended the genocide.
* Today's quote is variously attributed. (see here)
Today's story, especially Tony being from Vietnam, reminds us of our friend at church named Suzanne who was also brought out of Vietnam as an orphan as part of Operation Babylift. Read here.
Coming up for those who may be interested: We are joining a group from our area going down to Washington DC on Saturday, September 26 for a prayer march called, "The Return, National and Global Day of Prayer and Repentance". See here for info. America is in deep trouble so letís call on Godís power and a movement of the Holy Spirit to bring Repentance and Revival to our land! You can do this wherever you live.
There's a back story to our encounter with Tony and Kim. After we had breakfast Brooksyne wanted to visit the gift shop (of course) so I went out and saw a group sitting in front of the restaurant and introduced myself. They are from Virginia and came up to attend the show last night at Sight and Sound. After visiting awhile Brooksyne came out of the gift shop and we visited some more! They were also followers of Christ and Marty told us about a "Holy Ghost moment" she had when meeting Tony and Kim which prompted my searching them out.
From L to R, Bohae, Ray & Marty, and Steve, a Vietnam Vet -such delightful, friendly southern folks made us feel like we were visiting folks back home where we were raised.
A skirt, shirt, and mask coordinate for the woman who wants to look like she's got it altogether, available at the Hershey Farms Gift Shop! Ladies, it's not hair or jewelry fashions but it's face accessories that are the item of our day.
Yesterday afternoon our friend Jesse stopped by and introduced me to 19 year old James, a new employee in his masonry business. James' parents are from the Congo but were refugees in Uganda for 20 years before coming to the states 3 years ago. James is a Christian, something that Jesse had been praying about concerning his need to fill a position in his company. So James will be learning the stonemason trade from an Amish craftsman! In light of all the strife our country is enduring this is a great story.
The farmers at the Pumpkin Wagon making Indian corn bundles.
The Pumpkin Wagon is located here (google map). Pumpkins are just a dollar!
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