As Samuel Johnson remarked, the prospect of hanging concentrates the mind wonderfully. This week I discovered that turning 70 is a wonderful stimulus to concentrate the mind. After all, according to the Bible, it’s the marker that one has reached a full span of life, and anything further is a lucky bonus.
Psalm 90, Verse 10, says: “The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.”
That’s the poetic King James Version. The Message says it more bluntly: “We live for seventy years or so (with luck we might make it to eighty), And what do we have to show for it? Trouble. Toil and trouble and a marker in the graveyard.”
So my time is short, which translates into an increased sense of urgency in fulfilling my purpose here on earth in active service of Jesus. And yet rather than feeling downcast about the prospect of having perhaps only ten more years on this earth, I feel positively elated to have reached this milestone. I thank God that he has preserved my life thus far and am grateful for every single one of my years despite their many failures and regrets. And while I still enjoy good health, the threat of looming death feels somewhat academic – and, in any case, nothing to be feared.
I went through a time, back in my 50s, when I eagerly wished to depart this world and escape its burdensome sorrow and anxiety. I struggled greatly and leant on God urgently. While I no longer yearn for such a release, the memory of that time reminds me that to die offers the fulfilment of a promise that death is not the end, but a doorway to new life with Jesus, washed clean of my many sins.
In the meantime, I have so much to cherish. As have generations before me, I have discovered there are certain joys in getting old. Chief among them is the prospect of becoming a grandmother and seeing my beloved sons become loving fathers. The miraculous pregnancy of my daughter-in-law has made my heart sing and made me determined to stay fit and active for as long as possible.
Having worked for four decades in my profession has given me freedom and enjoyment in my craft that is the reward of endless hours of sweat and determination – not to mention dealing with difficult, demanding bosses in newsroom settings. Such experiences shaped this once timid creature into a calm, resilient and forthright professional – and helped me appreciate the collaborative atmosphere of working in a Christian workplace.
And how blessed am I to have been married for 32 years to someone who has shared my pilgrimage from agnosticism to vibrant faith in Jesus and whose love never wavers even when my emotional health does?
It is risky to hope at every stage of life.
Yes, life is precarious and we hang by a thread of God’s grace. I am grieved that a good many of my former colleagues have already had their obituaries written. I know that thread can break at any time, and I could become frail and infirm or, worst of all, widowed. It is risky to hope at every stage of life. I feel the anxiety of my son and daughter-in-law about the progress of their unborn baby. Yet it is axiomatic that one of the hardest things in life – giving birth – can also be the most marvellous thing in the universe. Suffering at any time is never welcome, yet we know it is not pointless because God can and does use it to draw us closer to him. Speaking for myself, when my dark days had passed, I felt a new capacity to comfort and care for others. Now that my mental equilibrium is restored, with occasional wobbles, I am left with gratitude to God for the days he has allotted me and an increased sense of urgency to make those days meaningful in his service whether I feel well or not.
What would we do without the ability to trust the Lord Jesus in all things? With COVID continuing to thwart our instincts to hug and kiss and be close to our loved ones, one thing remains sure: this is God’s world and he will have the last word. And surely one day, he will welcome me home, leaving my children and future grandchildren with – hopefully! – fond memories.
You make known to me the path of life; in your presence, there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Ps 16:11 (ESV)
Head of Terrorist Group Sentenced to 15 Years for Bali Bombing
01/20/2022 Indonesia (International Christian Concern) – The mastermind behind the deadly Bali Bombing, where more than 200 people were killed, has been sentenced to 15 years of imprisonment.
Commonly known as Arif Sunarso, Zulkarnaen, Daud, and Abdullah Abdurrohman, Sunarso was found guilty of committing a criminal act of terrorism on January 19. He was arrested by the anti-terror police Densus 88 on Dec. 10, 2020, after being at large for 18 years.
The months he spent behind bars awaiting trial will be applied to his actual sentence. Although the public prosecutor demanded life imprisonment for Sunarso, he only received 15 years.
According to Asia News, Sunarso not only masterminded the Bali attacks, but was also responsible for attacks on Jolo Island (Philippines) and was a key asset for the Jemaah Islamiyah terrorist group, teaching in its training camps. For at least seven years, he oversaw the training of Islamist fighters in Afghanistan and the Philippines.
Police had detained Sunarso previously in connection with a series of attacks against Indonesian churches in several cities between Christmas and New Year in 2000-2001, Indonesian police spokesman Ahmad Ramadan said in 2020.
He was also allegedly involved in the bombing of the Philippine ambassador’s residence in Menteng, Jakarta, in August 2000.
For interviews, please contact: [email protected].
Mozambican Terrorist Declares Intent for Global Jihad
01/20/2022 Mozambique (International Christian Concern) – A video has surfaced on social media depicting Juma Saide Mussa, a captured rebel leader in Mozambique, confessing jihadist intent behind the country’s ongoing insurgency.
“I was captured in Pangane village more than a year ago…” Mussa said in the video, speaking Kiswahili. “The core purpose of the fighters is to ensure that Islam rules (Mozambique) and help in creating a global Islamic rule.”
According to Zitamar News, Mussa was forcibly abducted by insurgents less than two years ago and rose to a position of leadership before the date of his capture.
Sources who knew Mussa prior to his recruitment say that he had never been linked to radicalization and worked as a sailor in his village.
Beginning in 2017, armed militants, bearing the Islamic State flag, have wreaked havoc primarily in the northern Mozambique province of Cabo Delgado. Calling themselves Al-Shabab, the group espouses radical Islamist propaganda, however the amount of ideological motivation has been debated.
In March of this year, Al-Shabab killed dozens in a coordinated attack on Cabo Delgado’s capital of Palma, an area where believers are often kidnapped, forced to flee, or killed at the hands of extremists.
In a statement after this attack, IS boasted that its affiliate had killed dozens of security personnel—and Christians, including westerners from what the statement termed “Crusader nations.”
Pray continue to pray for peace in Mozambique, as well as for the hearts of those who persecute the church, that the love of Jesus would bring them from darkness to light.
For interviews, please contact: [email protected]