The words cut through centuries of turmoil and doubt. Penetrating through cynicism, atheism, and apathy. They are the spark of prophecy, the first hint of the church, the sword that divides those who have experienced glorious saving faith from those for whom death holds desperate fear and the most dire consequences. These words which have echoed down through the centuries will pierce every human heart.
They formed on the lips of Jesus in a private moment with his closest followers.
“but who do you say I am?”
In response to His previous question they had told Him the varied answers of who everyone else thought He was. He really wanted to know who they thought he was.
I remember my own 8 or so year journey away from Christ that culminated in an encounter on my crumbling porch steps…”but who do you say I am?” It is funny how, if you are a believer and you wander from the faith, the Holy Spirit, pretty much makes sure your life is miserable. In the end I found the world really didn’t have anything to offer and I found truth in the words of Peter in John 6:68,69; “Lord to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that You are the Holy One of God.”
“but who do you say I am?”
It is the question that cuts to the chase, the stumbling block. Some have come to the conclusion that Jesus was a great moral teacher similar to Gandhi. Some say he was a prophet. Some really smart people have tried to disprove His very existence only to realize that, being honest with the historical and literary evidence, it is not possible that Jesus was a great moral teacher or prophet. He was either a raving lunatic or the Son of God. There really isn’t any space for a middle ground. His claims about himself were just too … well …out there. So far out there in fact that he was killed for them.
Mt 16:15 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven.”
And this is the sticking point. The answer won’t be found by scientific investigation, archeological digs, or extensive pondering by members of the intelligentsia. Such questioning may be used by God as part of His “process” but in the end, like the disciples on the road to Emmaeus (Luke 24) finding and believing the true answer requires a revelation, a spiritual awakening, and this is a work of God Himself.
The timbers of the cross, the nails, and even His blood have have long ago decayed and become part and parcel of the soil. Yet His tomb remains empty and His question to each of us lingers.
“but who do you say I am?”
It is the most crucial question ever asked. It is a question we cannot avoid.
And so we are still in Africa trying to do our small part so that this question is heard, understood, and answered by all people in ever corner of the African continent.
Melinda and I spent the Easter weekend at a small log cabin near the town of Eldama Ravine. The above words came out of this weekend of reading, praying, and pondering. We enjoyed spending time with our missionary friends who run this oasis for missionaries. I’ve attached a few pictures of our friends Roy and Helen Stover and Pat Barnett. We were also blessed to attend Easter services at the Eldama Ravine AIC Church.
After Easter Melinda traveled to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania where all of the Africa Inland Mission’s Personnel Officers worldwide gathered for a week of meetings. She returned on May 3rd and then on May 6th we departed for the US to celebrate with Natalie as she graduates from Houghton College. So as I write this I am sitting in a Houghton dorm room where we are staying. Tomorrow we will be joined by all of Natalie’s grandparents and siblings. After spending some time with our parents and children we will leave the US on June 4th to return to Kenya.
I have been working to reconcile AIM AIR’s inventory for the yearly accounts auditing. It certainly is not a very exciting task but needs to be done. My co-worker Joe Wagnell just returned from Liberia where he was helping Samaritan’s Purse with some required avionics tests on their aircraft. We are also in the beginning stages for planning an upgrade of the avionics equipment on our Cessna Caravans. We will be installing a “glass” cockpit into these aircraft. This means that the standard instruments will be replaced with digital computer screens. This should help with the reliability of our aircraft as many of the existing systems are sensitive mechanical units and the African environment is not very kind to them.
Olivia continues to work at the Fort Wayne Library and is considering moving into her own apartment. She also is looking to buy a economical car. We hope to help her with these plans while we are here in the US.
Natalie has had some encouraging and affirming responses to her artwork at the Houghton Senior Art Show. Her plans are to relocate to San Antonio with her roommate to try to ply their art trade there. She will be initially staying with my sister Rene and her family.
Christine is enjoying the fact that the polar vortex seems to be over! Her plans to teach in English in China this summer are still ongoing. If you are interested you can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We would appreciate your prayers for the above as the Lord leads you.
Many blessings in Christ,
Steve and Melinda