Friday, March 30, 2007

Bringing in the Sheaves: Martha's Melody

Missions are bonding. Working together for a common Kingdom purpose, provides a tangible example for the message of being “one” in the Body of Christ. During the first days in Ghana as we waited for the release of the Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes, our team of six American women along with the in-country missionaries had plenty of time to share life stories, life times, and life’s tears. We coped with hours of frustration, days of delays, and time on our hands. We traveled to and from places hard to visualize, but found ourselves continuously amused and encouraged by the road signs which became our “SIGNS”.

To pass the time, we praised. Eight Baptists (past, present and recovering) in a car can come up with a lot of hymns! Martha, our resident wise one, even confessed to playing the piano for her church in a crunch. However, she was limited to those written in the Key of C (no sharps no flats). We got a good laugh on that one because there were only about three standards everyone remembered penned in the simple Key of C. As we belted out the classics: Old Rugged Cross, He Lives, Victory in Jesus, Onward Christian Soldiers, somewhere in the back of the van the comment came “can’t you sing something that’s at least from the 20th century!?” To which Martha replied, “but we were just about to get to Bringing in the Sheaves, that’s one I can play on the piano.” A huge roar of laughter erupted and when the chuckles died down, we started with the more modern “This is the Day.” We grew quiet as the sights and sounds, smells and uniqueness that is Africa, closed in around us. The sign on the taxi ahead read “Perseverance – To God Be the Glory.”

Our final day of distribution was to four of the orphanages I visited during 2004. The children had grown feet, not inches since that time and were eager to hear more stories, and see new “tricks”. Once the program ended and the gifts were handed out, we had time to enjoy the children. We watched them open their gift boxes. Their eyes lit up seeing familiar items like flashlights and of course candy! They proudly donned their new sunglasses, and posed with proud toothy grins.

At our last stop, the children asked if they could sing a song for us. “Of course” we answered and quickly took out our cameras and turned on the video. “This is the Gathering Song”, the leader said and with a one, and a two, and a three, they began: “Sowing in the morning, sowing seeds of kindness… we shall come rejoicing bringing in the sheaves…”

Perhaps it has been explained to these children about sowing and reaping for the Kingdom. They may actually know what “sheaves” are. But when they began the chorus, it was clear – God’s favor was upon us. And for Martha, through her tears of joy, hearing one of the only hymns she could play on the piano from orphans in Ghana, she saw a small portion of her very own sheaves.

Yes, we left rejoicing!