A Great Visit to the East Coast

A Beautiful Fall Day in New Jersey

Keith spoke for a few minutes at Abundant Life Church on Sunday morning. Then we enjoyed a soup dinner and shared our story with the congregation. The people of God here were encouraging and prayed for us. They have been longtime supporters of Appu, and they will support us now when we go to Bahrain.  We were pleased to meet Dr. Corrine Overkamp, a medical doctor who served in Bahrain for 32 years.  Again, we were reminded of the long and faithful track record of people like Corrine in their work with the mission to Bahrain.

 

Keith and Doug

Keith and Doug, pastor of Second Reformed Church in New Brunswick.

 

State Line Diner

We enjoyed dinner at the Stateline Diner in Mahwah, New Jersey. Thank you, Doug.

 

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The Nassau Suffolk Classis met at The Community Reformed Church in Manhasset.

 

Joanna

We were able to see Joanna and hear her tell about the work she and her family do among the Daasanech people in Ethiopia.

 

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We also visited the elders at New Life Community Church of Sayville, New York. They listened to us share our call and the work God is doing in Bahrain, and they prayed for us.

Here is Scott, the pastor of New Life, with Keith and Ken Bradsell, in front of The Community Reformed Church in Manhasset. Keith used to work with Ken on denominational staff.

We continue to be blessed and humbled as we meet so many wonderful people supporting the mission in Bahrain.

 

Posted in RCA

A Rich Legacy

When I joined the Reformed Church in America at Emmanuel Reformed in Paramount, California, I was an 18-year-old college freshmen, excited to be part of a church that encouraged me to think, as well as feel. I was never afraid to ask hard questions of my college and career pastor Rev. Jerry Sittser. I was challenged from the pulpit each week by Rev. Harold Korver to study and discuss scripture and its relevance. It was a rich time to grow as a new disciple of Jesus.

It was at that time that I began to hear about the work the RCA was doing in missions. Emmanuel had a rich relationship with missionaries in Chiapas, Mexico, and Ecuador and India, as well as Bahrain. I loved hearing what God was doing around the world. It was the first time in my life that I actively prayed for, supported, and even met amazing people of God who were doing his work around the world.

Now fast forward almost forty years, and I am humbled and grateful to God that he has called Keith and me to join in this rich history. We recently spent a week in Bahrain, and the legacy of the Reformed Church is permeated in the mission there.

Medical mission has deep roots in the RCA. American Mission Hospital in Bahrain was started by RCA missionary Samuel Zwemer over 100 years ago. Christian Medical College and Hospital in Vellore, India, now one of Asia’s foremost teaching hospitals, was started in 1918 by Ida Scudder, a third-generation RCA medical missionary.

That quote, taken from the RCA’s Medical Mission page, speaks volumes about what we experienced when we went to visit. The American Mission Hospital is respected in Bahrain. Men and women of different faiths and nationalities work together to bring healing in Christ’s name to people of all walks of life. While we were there, Appu introduced Keith to many of the people who work in many different departments all around the hospital and clinic.

I too was able to meet many of these doctors, nurses, receptionists, couriers, office and maintenance workers, and more.

Ida S. Scudder as a young woman 1899

One such introduction stands out to me. There were two doctors from India who met Appu, Keith and me in the hallway outside the hospital chapel. Keith had already had a chance to meet one of the doctors earlier. She excitedly introduced her colleague to Keith and me by saying these words, “These people are from Dr. Ida’s church.”

This was Dr. Ida S. Scudder they were referring to, the doctor–along with generations of her family–whom I had heard so much about as a young person. These two Indian doctors, now working in Bahrain, had studied medicine at the Christian Medical College and Hospital in Vellore founded by Dr. Ida.

Praise be to God that the Reformed Church in America (Dr. Ida’s church) has faithfully served in global missions for over 200 years. We were so proud and humbled at that moment to be members of the RCA.

This morning we worshiped with the people of Newkirk Reformed Church. Their women’s chorus sang these words, “Raised in His power, the weak become strong…”, and I was reminded yet again how humbled we are to be asked to join in this work. We can’t do it on our own, but God is good. God is faithful. And is there anything too difficult for God?

History and Hospitality

Denise and I had an amazing time in Bahrain, September 17-22. We kept feeling this deep sense of history and hospitality as we were introduced to this beautiful place.

In the desert in ancient times strangers depended on someone else’s hospitality for provision of food, shelter, and protection. When you were traveling through the desert and needed water, food and shelter, there was no place to go except to the inhabited towns and tents of those who dwelt in the land. Hospitality, the welcoming of the stranger, was deeply woven into the culture.

This sense of hospitality is still deeply woven into the culture of Bahrain. Denise and I were warmly welcomed by Appu and Lali. Our guest apartment was stocked with delicious food. Lali made our bed with her own special blanket. They personally introduced us to the staff of the American Mission Hospital that was started by Samuel Zwemer back in 1903 for provision of healing and shelter.
Enjoying Paper Dosa and Filter Coffee
Families from the American Mission Hospital and the English Language Congregation hosted us for our noon and evening meal every day while we were there. We experienced the food and culture of many different countries and customs of welcome.

Paul says to the Romans, “Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God” (Romans 15:7 NRSV). The world needs living examples of what this welcome, this hospitality, can look like. The American Mission Hospital offers such a living picture. This quote is on the wall outside the Samuel Zwemer Chapel at the American Mission Hospital: “The glory of medicine is not its scientific attainments, but, fundamentally, its outlook on all humanity as one family, with medicine as humanity’s universal servant.” -Paul W. Harrison, M.D. 1916

Medical care is a way the people of Bahrain are welcomed and served. The hospital’s mission statement says, “We are here to serve the people in Bahrain in the Spirit of Christ who went about doing good to all who came to him.” We are humbled to be called to serve in this place where this spirit of service has been deeply honored for over a hundred years.

Jesus said that when we welcome the stranger, feed the hungry, and take care of the sick, we are welcoming the very presence of Jesus who is giving us an entire kingdom that we may inherit and possess. (Matthew 25:31-46).

We experienced this taste of the kingdom in worship at the English Language Congregation. People from forty different nations came together to worship. We celebrated the Lord’s supper together. We caught a glimpse of Christ’s church in Revelation 5:9: “…every tribe and tongue gathered before the throne of the Lamb.”
Communion
As we go forward, we are grateful for the ministry that has gone on before us, for the rich history and hospitality of the American Mission Hospital and National Evangelical Church. We are humbled and grateful that we are being called to join in this work.