It was Sunday, July 26 – the third morning of the evangelistic family camp at which Gene and I were ministering in Poland. We’d been awake for a half hour when our cell phone rang. The caller was our son back in Canada, and the news he delivered was sad: Gene’s 90-year-old father had suffered a massive stroke and died three hours prior.
My first thought was, Oh no – not again! Sixteen months ago, my father passed away while I was in Eastern Europe and I was unable to attend his funeral. The thought of experiencing the same thing a second time nearly knocked the wind out of me.
Gene and I hugged and cried together for a few minutes before having to head out for the morning’s staff meeting. As we shared the news with our staff – North American and Polish alike – they immediately covered us in prayer. Later that day, we were able to reach our kids by phone. They said they’d asked the people in their churches to pray for us, too.
With nine days remaining before our scheduled return to Canada, our main concern was that we’d remain focused on our responsibilities and the people to whom we’d come to minister rather than be distracted by our grief. God honored our desire through the prayers of His people, and in doing so, kept the promise He made in Psalm 29:11 – “The LORD gives his people strength. The LORD blesses them with peace.”
Our schedule at camp was rigorous. Each morning began with a staff meeting at 7:15. Following breakfast, we attended a short worship service followed by small group Bible lessons and then English classes. The afternoons were filled with preparation time for the next day’s lessons, crafts, or a trip into town or to a local tourist attraction with the Polish campers. At 5 p.m., Gene and I taught parenting workshops. Each evening hosted games, campfires, testimonies, and more workshops. We fell into bed after 11 p.m. Did we need strength, especially in light of the news we’d received? Oh yes. Did we need peace? Absolutely. Did we receive them? Without a doubt, the answer is yes.
I want to publicly say thanks to the Lord for keeping this promise. He enabled us to finish the camp well. And He blessed us with the privilege of returning in time to attend Dad’s memorial service on Sunday, August 9th.
I also want to say thanks to those of you who prayed for us while we were overseas. May God’s strength and peace be yours today and always.