My Guardian Angel
by Mike Wells
t Golden Hills Church we were challenged to meditate on two verses, Isaiah 40:28-31 and Isaiah 41:13. The first was already on my radar but Isaiah 41:13 was something new for me to consider. It says, “I am the Lord your God. I am holding your hand, so don’t be afraid. I am here to help you” (CEV).
As soon as I saw that verse I sensed that this promise was for me and that I was headed for trouble that I could not yet anticipate. If God is going to have to hold my hand, that means I am going to be having trouble soon, I thought. I winced at the thought knowing that the next day I would be traveling to Cameroon, Africa. I wondered what experience God was about to take me through.
The next day, I boarded the second leg of my flight to Africa. I was in Atlanta, Georgia and as I stumbled over the gentlemen who was my seatmate, I must have looked like a confused old man in need of help. My seatmate was very polite and though his English was not as good as mine, we had a short conversation. He discovered that I had the same connecting flight as him at the airport in Paris, France. He then explained he was willing to be my guide and help me navigate the complexity of that difficult airport.
The flight was long from Atlanta to Paris but we had no further conversation until we were about to land in Paris when I told him I would gladly take him up on his offer to be my guide. Then I indicated to him that for some reason when I was given my boarding passes in Kansas City, I was not given a boarding pass for my final flight to Cameroon. He was concerned about this because he knew I would not be able to go through security and re-board in Paris unless I had a boarding pass.
Our layover in Paris was very short and my guide looked nervously at his watch. “We are really going to have to hurry on this one,” he said as we rushed through the corridors of the airport. Then he suddenly stopped because he saw an Air France service desk. While we waited in line, my guide nervously checked his watch. Time was running out. It occurred to me that this man was willing to risk missing his flight in order to make sure I was taken care of. It was almost as if he had been given a divine commission to be my personal assistant.
When it was finally our turn to approach the service desk, I tried to explain my situation but the language barrier was causing problems and burning precious time. My guide took over in fluent French and got the results we needed. Somewhere along the way I asked him if he was a Christian. His answer was rather vague but it seemed that perhaps he was. I told him that I thought he may be an angel sent from God to help me through the situation where I was obviously helpless. He said “No time for that discussion now, we got to run.”
It was a frantic mad dash to find our next terminal, go through security, and finally find our departure gate. By the time we got to the gate, the boarding process had already begun. My heart was racing. I was boarding a different section of the aircraft, so my angel left me in my queue while he went to his.
I have heard these stories before, the ones where an angel holds your hand during a time of crisis only to disappear at the last minute. Although I looked around for the kind gentleman, I could not find him. I wondered, is it possible...?
I spent the next five hours marveling at God’s gracious care. It was more than obvious that if left alone, I would not have been on my final flight. I had pondered the promise given in Isaiah 41:13 that very morning, but I was not claiming it for this problem because I was not aware that the problem even existed until I was in the thick of it. Then everything was happening so fast I could not really formulate a proper prayer. That was no problem for God, as long before I even knew there was a problem, He had provided the answer back in Atlanta by giving me a seatmate that would be my guardian angel.
It did not really matter to me if this helper was a heavenly angel or if he was a human being that God called to take care of me. Either way, he was an angel. I did finally find my angel towards the end of the flight as I moved to the back of the aircraft to use the restroom. Yes, God had used a human this time to be my angel.
In reflecting on these events, I think of God’s call for each of us to be his human angel in the same way as my seatmate was for me. God has called us to impact the lives of those around us as He daily empowers us by connecting His Spirit with our spirit. It is my daily prayer that I will live a life so connected with God that I will find myself being His guardian angel for someone else when they are in need.
This experience gives me courage to wait patiently on the Lord as I go through my daily life. The more I have these experiences, the more I have become bold in letting go of the reins of life and waiting patiently on the Lord.
God says, “I am the Lord your God. I am holding your hand, so don’t be afraid. I am here to help you.” Will you claim this promise today?
– The Traveling Team
Adventist Publishing Efforts in Africa
by Karen M. Phillips
hat would it be like to not have a Sabbath School Quarterly? What if you could not purchase imported books because of hyperinflation? What if you had no hymnals or religious materials available in your language? What if your local Adventist press was too small to keep up with the demand for materials? These are some of the questions our brothers and sisters in Africa face.
Why is publishing so important? Ellen White states in Christian Service, page 148: “Our publishing work was established by the direction of God and under his special supervision. In a large degree through our publishing houses is to be accomplished the work of that other angel who comes down from heaven with great power and who lightens the earth with his glory. I am bidden to say to our publishing houses, ‘Lift up the standard; lift it up higher. Proclaim the third angel’s message, that it may be heard by all the world.’”
Publishing of Adventist materials is so important in Africa because there is little internet access. Imported books are almost always in English and French creating language barriers in some countries. Most African people love to read and they are very hungry for the gospel, yet they lack materials.
These burdens were placed on the heart of an Adventist man, L. Russell Thomas. Russell’s first call overseas was to the Tanzania Union as the Adventist Book Center Coordinator supplying 300 literature evangelists. After five years of growth, their supply of books was cut off. With 618 literature evangelists by then, the little press at the Voice of Prophecy had to be quickly expanded to keep them supplied with materials. When Russell and his wife Beatrice left Tanzania 12 years later, there were 900 literature evangelists. Russell later spent 24 years as the Production Manager at Christian Record Services.
When Christian Record Services downsized and Russell retired, he raised funds to purchase some of the equipment and have it sent to Tanzania. He traveled there for the installation and while in Tanzania, he decided to go to Kenya to see the Africa Herald Publishing House which was started in 1913. He found that they had developed a great plan to modernize their plant, but the plan had collapsed because one section of the funding failed to materialize. Russell volunteered to attempt to raise the funds to restart the project. The Lord swiftly provided more than enough funds.
With the publishing burdens in Africa still heavy on his heart, Russell became an active missionary with HeReturns ministry. HeReturns was the catalyst needed to help with the huge task of transporting equipment and sending funds to various nations.
Implementing publishing projects in every country is different. One of the first challenges is funding. Other issues involve identifying the right equipment or parts, and learning the local political, legal, and economic climate and regulations. In some countries, corrupt officials can lose or confiscate entire containers of equipment or charge exorbitant costs to get them out of customs. But importing printed books, as they are doing now, is just as complicated, and must be done repeatedly.
In response to requests from several countries, in 2018 and 2019, Russell made trips to Uganda, the Congo, South Africa, Malawi, Cameroon, and Zambia. The Southern Africa Indian Ocean Division’s President and Director of Publishing requested help with their three publishing houses (Malawi, Zambia, & Madagascar) and three other countries (Zimbabwe, Angola, and Mozambique) where they desperately need publishing houses but have none. He has also teamed up with Mike Wells with “Print Bibles 4 Cuba” and made trips to Cuba to evaluate and assist with their publishing needs.
Russell believes that we must put tools in the hands of our Adventist brothers and sisters for evangelism. Our commission is from the Lord. What would these countries do without presses?
Think of the great need calling for literature and the small steps HeReturns has taken so far:
With the networking available at the ASI National Convention, HeReturns partnered with Train Them 2 Fish and Light Bearers Ministry to supply and ship a container of over a million pieces of French Adventist literature to the people in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2018. In 2019, a container of French Bibles was shipped. ASI Mid-America granted a funding request to HeReturns to pay for the costs of getting the container out of customs and transporting it to ministry partners on the ground. (Please go to HeReturns.org to view a complete list of all our past and current projects.)
As you can see, it takes a lot of work to help Africa with its publishing needs. There is a great need for workers experienced in fundraising, publishing, and machine repair. Do you have one of these skills? Are you willing to help? Jesus is calling for workers to be His hands and feet in Africa. Let’s evaluate our hearts and see what we can do.