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Phil and Linda Byler, missionaries in Sudan
April 16, 2013 10:46 pm
Published in: Uncategorized

Zande Bible School StudentCentral Africa Republic (CAR) is the small nation in the geographic center of Africa, which recently been in international news related to a brutal coup!  God had given AIM-CR the vision for working with the Zande believers there to reach the unreached Mbororo people.  This past week, Phil was privileged to travel to a quiet corner of CAR with the prospective team leaders!  Here is the TL’s  description of the amazing time there.

Colorful Mbororo WomanLooking out the window at the vast expanse of the Ituri Rain Forrest, we began to get more of a clue just how far away from civilization we were headed. Zemio was our destination—a village of about 7,000 Zande people (not counting the Congolese refugees and the relatively new-to-Zemio, unreached Mbororo people). We taxied down the grass airstrip carved out of the bush 30 years ago and pulled up to a crowd of smiling Zande people. Their music and warm greetings immediately made us feel welcomed. It was humbling to be treated like royalty by these poor people who have been terrorized by the LRA and threatened by the new rebel government and who live in a place where there is no electricity for probably a 300 mile radius and no running water.  Yet here they were welcoming us like kings.

Zemio Leaders Embrace VisionFor the next two days we met with the Zande church leaders to go over our vision and strategy for the proposed team.  We had asked you to pray for a spirit of unity and “buy-in” from the Zande church side. God answered those prayers! Our African brothers had excellent questions, insight and wisdom, which helped give clarity to our thoughts. We felt so warmly embraced. So we believe the foundation has been laid, and now we look forward to getting the team started (February, 2014), Lord willing.   (Written by Steve Entwistle the new team leader)

April 4, 2013 11:00 am
Published in: Uncategorized

zebraReading of fresh snowfall back in North America should have made us more sympathetic perhaps but nonetheless we headed south west across the Uganda Equator for our much anticipated Easter retreat. Lake Mburo National Park which we had not visited before boasts as the only Uganda Wildlife Park with Zebra and Impala. We fell in love with both of these majestic creatures with their beautiful patterns, colors, and shapes.

LeopardAnother first for us was a night game drive with a ranger guide and a megawatt spotlight. It wasn’t at all like spotting dear in PA. Our guide completely ignored the day animals and capitalized on his experienced eyes to know which of those gleaming eyes was an exclusively night animal. We were amazed to be within 10 feet of a large male leopard. Our spotlight interrupted his hunt for a bit but he didn’t seem to mind as he wowed us by  sauntering parallel to our road. In addition we saw a Bush Baby high up in a tree, a Marsh Mongoose on a grassy trail, a Genet, a second leopard, and of course the massive Hippos who leave their all-day submerged status for night-time grazing on land. Day drives give far greater numbers and variety but the specialness of these seldom seen majestic creatures was extraordinary.

EaglesOur accommodations was Eagle’s Nest, a tented camp on the crest of a hill overlooking the park and lake. Recently opened it had few guests and the young staff was eager to cater to our needs.

ImpalaEaster sunrise never materialized behind the dense clouds which gave us the African blessing of off-and-on rain all day. We loved lounging, reading, playing games, listening to sermons on the veranda as the cloudy mist would hide and then reveal the majesty below us.

Our risen Lord Jesus not only created these wonders but he continues to sustain and uphold them and us with His loving, almighty hand.

April 2, 2013 8:03 am
Published in: Uncategorized

Phil sharingOur cell group met as usual on Wed night of Holy Week. We discussed from John 10 Jesus words, “No one takes it (my life) from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.” One of our group wondered, “but how can Jesus say that when not long thereafter his life was taken by crucifixion.”

What was the cause of Jesus death?

As a Family Doctor I used to have to fill out death certificates. Besides all the details of name, place, date and time of death there was the need to list (1)  immediate cause: ___, (2) secondary to: ___ (underlying condition).

Reading through the four gospel accounts of the death of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, I wondered how a Roman coroner would have filled out his death certificate. For a typical crucifixion victim it might have been (1) Immediate cause: asphyxiation (suffocation) (2) secondary to: crucifixion (3) secondary to:  Capital Punishment.

However such a cause of death does NOT fit with the way Jesus died. The eyewitness accounts relate that instead of slipping into a stupor and then a coma and becoming gradually weaker until breathing gradually faded into death, Jesus was carrying on intelligent conversations and then suddenly cried out in a loud voice and immediately gave up his spirit, breathing his last at 3 PM on Good Friday.

Mark records it like this. “With a loud cry Jesus breathed his last…. And when the Roman Centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, heard his cry and saw how he died, he said, Surely this man was the son of God!”  The experienced Centurion was astonished that this man did not die like crucified victims always die.

The obvious  conclusion is that despite the agony of the cross it was not the cross which killed Jesus. He did not die of suffocation. He did not die of massive blood loss. He did not die of dehydration, or a heart attack or any other diagnosis that  has ever been written on a death certificate.

Instead, at the self-appointed time on Passover day, precisely at 3 PM, just at the time for the Passover lambs to be slaughtered at the temple, Jesus voluntarily gave up his spirit to the Father to fulfill the Eternal Plan of Salvation. He was not a victim of the cross. He was not the victim of Roman soldiers or of the religious leaders. Rather, He was completely in charge of the method and the timing and the circumstances of his death. He exercised His authority to lay down his life.

Perhaps his death certificate would be something like:
Immediate cause: Voluntary release of spirit /life
Secondary to: Willingness to pay the awful penalty for sin
Secondary to: Eternal plan of God
Secondary to: LOVE of God for mankind

WOW, to me this minute glimpse into an almost obscure detail related to His death, resounds with volumes of amazement and awe for this incredible God/man JESUS. Oh, the LOVE! Oh, the Authority! Oh, the power! Oh, the precise fulfillment of prophecy!  Once again Jesus, we stand in awe of you! And love for you.