Radio Ministry, Children, and other Blessings
On this Tuesday, we arose to sunshine, which began to quickly warm the air as we would enjoy a mid-80's day here in Iraq. For some reading this blog, you're doing so with fresh snow on the ground or ice covering all horizontal and vertical surfaces. Come to Iraq!
We began this day at the church compound, first visiting the radio station. The station broadcasts approx. 50 km (30 miles) in all directions, making it nearly to the Kuwait border and well into the desert in the other three directions. The station is quite popular, even with Muslims as it plays "gentle" music and other programming. Many of the other stations are at odds with one another, and it comes through in their broadcasts. Thus, the Christian station has gained popularity. In fact, it is a favorite with the ubiquitous taxi drivers! Much discussion has occurred about how best to expand the radio ministry, and we are in prayer for the church on this important outreach tool.
Our hearts were further buoyed when we visited with and created total mayhem in the pre-school and kindergarten classes. Innocent, smiling faces greeted us as we went from room to room. Some classes shared their English skills by reciting their ABC's or singing songs, including one class that is preparing a song for their Mother's Day program. Little voices sang gleefully "Sugar is sweet and so are you!" In this evening's team devotion, Tom King lifted up Matt. 18:1-6 as Jesus speaks about little children being the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. These sweet, humble and loving children truly reflect His Kingdom.
With difficulty we extricated ourselves from the school so the children could focus on their classes. We headed over to the old Arabian Mission of the Reformed Church in America compound. This was of particular interest to one of our travelers, Chuck Gosselink, who was born at the Basrah mission. His parents were missionaries there from 1920 until 1966, involved in the School of High Hope, which served the education needs of local Iraqis until private schools were nationalized in 1969. Today, it is quite dilapidated but still is educating-- it is a teachers' school. Chuck has been a Godsend for us during the trip, a veritable treasure trove of information and stories.
This post would not be complete without again mentioning the special people of the Presbyterian Church here in Basrah. Many people have asked us "What will you be doing while you're there?" As Paul said to the Romans in chapter 1: "...that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith." Our friends here are truly encouraging to us. They take time off from their work to be with us, they take boat rides with us, they sit and drink Turkish coffee with us, and they simply "show up," as we did for them. Today was no different. Their presence with us was uplifting and encouraging-- just being our friends. Our prayer is that we can be as encouraging to them as they are to us.
Blessings from the Outreach Iraq Team