Greeting from Budapest! As you read this, I am serving in Hungary. I am glad so many of you are following along with me. I miss my wife, my boys and their wives, but most of all, I miss those two little boys who call me Poppy.
When I started leading mission teams 45 years ago, we didn’t have cell phones, computers or even internet. If I wanted to connect with my family while overseas, I had to go find a big box with a little box inside. Dropping a few foreign coins into a slot, I would wait for an operator to start speaking in a language I didn’t understand. I would respond loudly (which always helps bridge the language barrier), trying to tell the operator I wanted to make a collect call to the U.S.
With God on your side, you had a 50/50 chance of connecting with an international operator, and even then, you were limited to three minutes of talking. Just as you were getting deeper into the conversation, you would hear a faint click, and the line would go dead. Your call was over. When you got home, you discovered the money you had spent on a three-minute conversation could have taken you on a nice vacation.
I am grateful for today’s technology, which allows us to connect through emails, texting and of course, Facetime. I was training some students when my phone made the gobbledygook noise signifying someone was trying to Facetime me. From the number that appeared on my screen, I knew my grandsons were calling. I hit the “connect” button, and there was Titus the Honorable, grinning like an opossum. “Poppy, guess what we’re doing?” he asked.
I could tell he was in my car, but I played along.
“We’re in your car!” While I am out of the country, their dad borrowed my car, and Titus thought it was extremely cool that they were taking it on a joy ride. I hope this is not a forecast of times to come.
Titus kept talking, telling me all the exciting things he had done over the past few days. In the background, I could hear a little voice, “Poppy, where you at?”
Cohen the Goodhearted could hear my voice, but he couldn’t see me because his big brother still had the phone. The more Titus talked, the more frustrated Cohen got, yelling louder, “POPPY, where you at?”
Finally, I heard their mother: “Titus, pass the phone to your brother.” Cohen’s round face appeared, and he didn’t say a word—he just smiled. All he wanted was to see his Poppy.
I know how Cohen felt that day. There are days when I spend time in God’s Word, I understand what He is saying, and I even hear His voice, but I need more. I cry out, “Father, where you at?”
I find great comfort in knowing even Jesus has felt this way. “About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eli, Eli, lemma sabachthani?’ (which means ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’) (Matt. 27:46).
God also reminds me of the following:
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go” (Josh. 1:9).
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isa. 41:10).
“Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you” (Deut. 31:6).
“The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing” (Zeph. 3:17).
“And teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matt. 28:20).
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:38-39).
“Father, where you at?”
He is here.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: In case you missed it earlier, I invite you to come along electronically on my final mission journey to Hungary. If you and your children, grandchildren or mission group would like to follow us daily and pray for us, you can join me by texting “@hungary18” to 81010. Each day, we will send pictures and testimonies to your phone of what great things God is doing in Hungary.