After almost two years of Covid lock-down, I was finally able to make my first international trip in July of 2021. I’ve been waiting to get back to Iraq to see and minister with some very close friends. My friend, Jamal, has faithfully been going to Iraq, particularly the Northern Kurdistan region, for almost 15 years. I’ve gone with him for 13 of those years. We minister to refugees, many who are still in tent camps even though many have now started re-locating to their former homes near Mosul and other areas of Iraq.
WE ARE FAMILY…
Did you just start singing the Sister Sledge song, “We are Family… I got all my sisters with me. We are family, Get up everybody and sing!” I did!
God created us to live in “family” and I love my family. It’s not always been perfect but I’ve been nourished, encouraged and blessed by my family over the years.
Sharon and I recently returned from a wonderful couple of weeks in beautiful Alaska! We didn’t go there just to get colder or to see the beautiful mountains, whales and eagles… thought we saw plenty of them…. We went to see our family! Particularly the birth of our new grandson, Kellen.
So, I met the notorious preacher and cult leader, Rev. Jim Jones in 1974. He was working in Los Angeles with his new “People’s Temple” and raising money to help the homeless with his “Rainbow” community. A wonderful, diverse yet very poor community. He seemed like a good guy who was doing good things for people. I even “drank the Kool-Aid!” No kidding, after walking 20 miles to raise funds with several hundred other High School students, we gathered at the beach where Jim and his leaders served us Hot Dogs and Kool-Aid. It seems bizarre now to look back on it. To think that he was a pastor helping the poor, doing good…when in actuality he was really manipulating and abusing them. It looked so good from the outside, but for 909 human beings, it was deadly.
We can all pass judgement on the people around us, but we don’t always know the whole story. We really don’t know what’s in their hearts, only God knows. Think apologist, Ravi Z. whom I met and respected, Rev. Yonggi Cho (Korean pastor whose church I attended some years ago; Evangelist, Jim Baker and the many “Mega-church” and “Faith” leaders who have fallen in recent months and years! Not to mention our political icons who we have lifted up as demigods.
Be careful church whom you lift up. Only Jesus is truly worthy. I’ll leave you with some harsh words from God Himself…“It is the Lord your God you shall fear. Him you shall serve and by his name you shall swear. 14 You shall not go after other gods, the gods of the peoples who are around you— 15 for the Lord your God in your midst is a jealous God—lest the anger of the Lord your God be kindled against you, and he destroy you from off the face of the earth.” – Deut. 6:13-15
Just some thoughts.
Peace – RM
WHAT’S UP WITH CHRISTIANS??
I read some pretty interesting stuff recently. I’d love to know what you think… without trying to be exactly what the article is talking about. Here are some excerpts…
Spend two minutes talking to almost anyone outside the Christian faith and you’re almost certain to hear a list of complaints they have about Christians. The problem with many non-Christians isn’t that they don’t know any Christians. The challenge is they do! So what gives?
Many Christians would tell you we have an image problem: we’re treated unfairly, we’re being persecuted, or we’re just badly misunderstood. I’m not so sure.
It’s not so much that Christians have an image problem. It’s far more likely that we have an integrity problem. Do we get misunderstood on some issues? Of course. But that’s outside our control. There are more than a few issues entirely within our control that give us a bad name with people outside Christianity.
Too many Christians come across online as either
- Toxic (Hello angry ranters, trolls and haters);
- Cynical (Yes, we know you’re disappointed with everyone all the time and no one gets it as right as you); or
- Syrupy (So sweet we can’t stand the taste and are not really sure you live in the real world)
Why do so many Christians think their social media feed is a place to show the world their weirdness? It gives the impression that if you’re going to follow Jesus you also need to become socially awkward.
I know people might say “no, I’m just being authentic”. But being authentic does not mean being weird. (I shared my personal criteria for what I share online in the name of authenticity in this post). I think a general rule is if you can’t imagine saying it in real life to a person, you shouldn’t say it online.
If you go to post something and you think, well, that would be braggy if I said that to someone, that’s a healthy check. It means you’d be bragging. So don’t post it. Similarly, if you think “Well, people would just walk out of the room if I said that in real life,” then maybe don’t say it.
If you’re always angry or cynical or all you do is complain online and you think “well, I wouldn’t want to be friends with someone like that in real life,” then that’s a clue that maybe you shouldn’t say it, or be like that.
And if you think “well, then I’ll have nothing to post,” then you’ve likely put your finger on a deeper issue.
Christians, let’s just stop being so weird online, okay?
There’s much more on this subject. If interested, go here for the full article.
One quick thought that continues to remind me that others are watching us, especially our children and grandchildren…
I was sitting on the couch in my boxer shorts watching a basketball game, when my then, 6 year old son, Justin, comes into the room. He sees me so he strips down to his underwear and sits by me on the couch. He acted like he knew what was going on with the game so he could be like me.
A few minutes later, Justin looks up at me and says, “Dad, you’re just like God… only bigger!” He was quite serious and it was hard for me not to smile. He had heard about a loving Father God and he saw me, his father, who was loving to him but I had skin on and was “real” to him. Just like God… only bigger.
Of course, I can never live up to that comparison, not even close, but I strive to live like Jesus and when I fail and fall, I hope and pray that my family and friends see my heart and forgive me! I pray that Justin will return to the Jesus who I tried to exemplify for him and I pray that my daughter Amanda, who walking with the Lord today will remain strong also. And now, I have a beautiful 6 year old granddaughter, Afton, and brand new grandson, Kellen, to whom I can be an example of the love of Jesus as well!
Justin’s words to me inspired me to sing the song, “I Wanna be Just Like You.” See the lyrics below and the video link to the song and story as told to the MOPS National Conference (Mothers of Preschoolers).
I Want to be Just Like You – Phillips, Craig & Dean
He climbs in my lap for a goodnight hug He calls me Dad and I call him Bub With his faded old pillow and a bear named Pooh He snuggles up close and says, I want to be like you. So I tuck him in bed and I kiss him goodnight Trippin’ over the toys as I turn out the light And I whisper a prayer that someday he’ll see He’s got a father in God ’cause he’s seen Jesus in me.
Lord, I want to be just like You ’Cause he wants to be just like me I want to be a holy example For his innocent eyes to see.
Help me be a living Bible, Lord That my little boy can read I want to be just like You ’Cause he wants to be like me.
Got to admit I’ve got so far to go Make so many mistakes and I’m sure that You know Sometimes it seems no matter how hard I try With all the pressures in life, I just can’t get it all right. But I’m trying so hard to learn from the best Being patient and kind, filled with Your tenderness ’Cause I know that he’ll learn from the things that he sees And the Jesus he finds will be the Jesus in me.
Lord, I want to be just like You ’Cause he wants to be just like me I want to be a holy example For his innocent eyes to see. Help me be a living Bible, Lord That my little boy can read I want to be just like You ’Cause he wants to be like me.
Right now from where he stands I may seem mighty tall But it’s only ’cause I’m learning From the best Father of them all. Lord, I want to be just like You ’Cause he wants to be just like me I want to be a holy example For his innocent eyes to see. Help me be a living Bible, Lord That my little boy can read I want to be just like You.
‘Cause he wants to be like me.
Lord, I want to be just like You ’Cause he wants to be like me.
It was November of 1989 and Sharon and I were in Frankfurt, Germany. I was singing for a renewal event in a church that was made up of mostly American military from the Rhein-Main Air Base, a United States Air Force air base near the city of Frankfurt am Main, Germany. I also had the privilege of singing on the base.
That was on November 8th and the next day, on Nov. 9th, the Berlin wall came down! So, off Sharon and I were to Berlin the next day to join in the celebration! I bought a couple of smaller chunks of the wall that the newly free German entrepreneurs had cut out and were selling on the street. One guy even tried to sell me about a 20 lb. chunk of the wall and I told him no thanks! I had no idea how I would get it into my luggage back to St. Louis! When I got back to the states and very saw small fragments of the wall being sold for $10 each, I realized that I could have made a mint off that chunk of the Berlin Wall! Several small “Wall” chunks are still being sold in the US for anywhere from $40 to $400 and much more for larger segments. I think that if they connected all the pieces of the “Berlin Wall” that have been sold to date, you could build the great wall of China. Not sure how one could tell that their piece of concrete is real! I know mine are, I was there and saw them chopped off! (Yes, I’ll sell you a genuine piece for $1000!)
I’ve also seen several full segments of the wall all over the world (even in the Men’s room at a Vegas hotel!!) But there are several segments very near us in Fulton, Missouri on the campus of Westminster College where Sir Winston Churchill delivered his “Iron Curtain” speech in March of 1946.
And who can forget US President Ronald Reagan’s famous, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” in 1987.
Randy has been producing video interviews to keep members of Central Presbyterian Church up to date with the activities of our missionaries. Please take time to view and share them.
On December 5th, 2019, Randy Mayfield and a mission team of six members of Central Presbyterian Church left St. Louis on a twelve day mission trip that included visits to Erbil, Kurdistan in northern Iraq and Amman, Jordan. This was Randy’s 12th annual trip to Iraq. With the recent influx of many new refugees from Syria, it was a critical time to help those with many needs. By God’s grace, the team returned home two weeks before the recent hostile incidents with Iran.
The team taught art classes, shared in music, crafts, and games with children in the refugee camps. They participated in training classes where youth and adults learn a trade such as sewing, electrical, hair dressing, art, music, and computer skills. Graduates of the classes received certificates and the tools need to practice their new trade, i.e., sewing machines, barber tools, computer, etc. Our team also met with a group of widows, some of whom shared very heart-wrenching stories of losing their husbands and children to ISIS and in the ongoing wars.
The team also delivered aid to many refugee families including food, clothing, and household goods. Randy also worked alongside the NGO, “Hand of Help” run by our missionary, Jamal. In the Mosul area, Hand of Help is currently rebuilding homes that had been destroyed you ISIS. The families are retiring to Mosel after living in refugee camps in Erbil served by Jamal’s ministry.
As with many of the previous trips to Erbil, the team met with members of the Kurdish Parliament. This time, however, they were presented with a plaque giving thanks and recognition from the Vice President. The team also visited and took supplies to the Peshmerga Army who are guarding the borders between Iraq and Turkey, Syria and Iran.
If you would like more information on Central Missions or would like to be a part of our Mission team, please call or email Pastor Randy or his assistant, Carol Mulick at Central Presbyterian Church at (314) 727-2777 ext. 133. You can email Randy at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you & God bless!
Above: Randy Mayfield sings for the Thanksgiving Day Festival in Kiev, Ukraine
Central Presbyterian Church has been ministering in the country of Ukraine since 1991. We have helped the local church with children and youth camps, trained pastors, planted new churches, provided encouragement and aid to those in need.
The September 2019 trip was focused on evangelism and outreach as pastor Randy joined with local Ukrainian musicians in outreach events in areas where people are really hurting due to the ongoing border war with Russia. Hundreds came to listen to the music and message, and many gave their lives to Christ. We did similar events in churches, town squares, and parks, and at every occasion, there were many who came forward to receive Christ as their Lord and Savior.
Randy also had the opportunity to perform in the annual Day of Prayer and Thanksgiving in downtown Kiev where over 100,000 people packed the main street, Khreshchatyk, to hear music, sermons and experience a time of worship.
Click here to view video of Randy performing with the Ukraine Gospel Orchestra.
Shots around Kiev, Ukraine — Thanksgiving Day Festival on Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019
The Orchestra was excellent and Randy enjoyed rehearsing and performing with them! A crowd of over 100,000 people gathered to celebrate Thanksgiving Day and pray for Ukraine. Leaders from many Protestant Churches shared in music and the Word.
Beautiful Kiev… or KYIV as they now call it!