Dorothy has been diagnosed with Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension (PAH - a rare and serious lung disease) and most likely has Pulmonary Veno-Occlusive Disease (PVOD - an extremely rare lung disease with no known treatment and doing a lung biopsy to confirm PVOD is dangerous to someone with PAH). Dorothy is on oxygen at all times and is unable to walk more than short distances. The Hazards are working with a specialist care center at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. There are no plans for them to return to Africa or take on other overseas appointments for now.
Dwight is using his gifts and skills to minister in the SIM USA Office. He has joined the Information Systems group to assist in the setup of SIM USA's internal intranet, training returning missionaries in the risks and proper care in dealing with e-mail and Internet risks, documentation of policies and procedures and other duties while Dorothy's ongoing medical needs are being addressed. They are still on missionary support with SIM and plan to continue to minister through SIM as the Lord leads.
Our recent update:
HOPE FULFILLED (2020-11-08)
Today was a hope fulfilled that started more than 26 years ago. Our home church had its first service in our new building! And what a glorious service it was. On the way to church (I love how that word denotes both a building and a people), we were recalling all the places this church plant had met.
We started renting a room from a satellite college. When we had to move from there, the only place that would allow us to meet was the local American Legion, which had a distinct beer smell following their Saturday night activities. We then moved into what had been a post office turned into a print shop. We all worked together to clear out left behind supplies, clean and paint. We were so happy to be in a building where we did not have to set up or take down chairs and where it did not smell like beer! When that property was sold, we were offered to share space with a Presbyterian Church of USA (PCUSA). They let us meet after their service. And then we bought property and put a double-wide trailer on it, where we have met for the last 12 years.
So, now, 26 years later, we are in our own building that looks like a church on the outside. We are on our third pastor, who has been with us for over 12 years and a community that expanded as the Lord has graciously given us consistent growth, not just in width, but also in depth. Pastor Michael Dixon faithfully preaches and teaches from God’s Word week after week, teaching, correcting, training and rebuking us in His righteousness.
Dwight and I are charter members of what is now Christ Ridge Presbyterian Church of America, formerly, Christ Cornerstone PCA, having joined when we were in-between our time in Liberia and our time in Nigeria (1993-1996). This church launched us like ones shot from a cannon when we went back to Africa in 1996. They have continued their faithful prayer and financial support of us throughout the years, even when the membership was less than 10 people. We were always welcomed when we returned to the States, whether it was a short stay or a longer home assignment. And now they support us in more practical ways since we returned to the States in March of 2017.
As I was wheeled into this new building today, I burst into tears, sobbing at God’s faithfulness displayed. And those tears continued as I looked around at us all worshipping together after months of being separated into two services due to growth and then COVID. From the first Scripture reading to the final blessing, it was a time of thanking the Lord for what He has done and trusting Him with the future. Pastor Michael ended his sermon based on Acts 2.42-47 with these words: “Maybe, just maybe, this is just the beginning for God’s glory and the growth of His Church.”
I felt like those words were the intersection of what I have been reading in Hosea, in John and in 1 Corinthians. Hosea tells of God’s impending judgment against the Israelites because of their rejection of Him and following false gods. But, in the midst of His judgment, are the words of His heart in 10.12. “Sow righteousness for yourselves, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the Lord, until He comes and showers His righteousness on you.” Can’t you just hear His love, His desire for His people to follow Him? If we are His, we will not face His judgment or His wrath. Jesus Christ did so on our behalf. But, His love doesn’t stop with securing eternity for us. He has also secured today.
When Jesus starts teaching harder things in John 6, many of His followers leave Him. Jesus turns to the twelve and asks them if they want to leave, too. Peter answers in verse 68, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”
Paul, in 1 Corinthians 14, the chapter after the great chapter of the superiority of love over all the other spiritual gifts, lays out some guidelines for worship. Three times in this chapter he says, “that the Church may be built up.”
I don’t know where you are in your walk with Christ or how your specific church is doing in these strange days. But, maybe, just maybe, today is just your beginning for God’s glory and the growth of His Church.
God is good. All the time. All the time. God is good.