“The LORD said to Isaac in a crucial time of his life. . . Sojourn in this land, and I will be with thee. “
Once more we are in the land of Jamaica, a “little island in the sun” as the song goes accompanied by off-beat Calypso music. We had the singular privilege to be home in the States for about four weeks. These were good days at home, busy days packed with activity. There was not a dull moment. When we set our foot on American soil in Miami, the first impression we had was that we were no longer sojourners abroad. We were home! We were in the land of our birth and earthly citizenship. This was evident from our rapport with the Emigration officers, the customs agents, and the entire atmosphere about us. But what really was home was when our children and grandchildren met us at the Airport in O’Hare Field with placards “Welcome Home Grandpa and Grandma, we love you . . . Welcome Missionaries From Jamaica.”
While at home amidst the churches we might spend a busy and happy time. We preached twice in Loveland, Colorado, once in South Holland, Illinois, and finally twice in our calling church, First Church, Grand Rapids, Michigan. We might speak before a large audience one Sunday evening at First Church, Grand Rapids, composed of the brethren and sisters also of the surrounding churches. We spoke in Loveland, Colorado and in Hull, Iowa (Doon and Eggerton present) and in Pella, Iowa and, finally, in South Holland, Illinois. We rode with our daughter Agatha and Winnie Koole and might cover some 3000 miles in twelve days and speak seven times. And we thrived on it. We were loved, feasted and treated as dear brethren and sisters in Christ. We are only too sorry that we could not, too, have spoken in Isabel, who sent a letter requesting us to come there, too, for an evening. We were in the “land that I love” and we enjoyed it “from the mountains to the prairies.” It was wonderfully thrilling to behold the works of God. Three -times we were feasted with perfect double rainbows after the storms. It was a message of God. And the cloudy pillars of God’s throne were a beautiful sight to behold as we sped across the plains. And the majesty of the “eternal” mountains, Long’s Peak with its beckoning heights, outdoing the other lofty mountain peaks is unforgettable. And then we thought of lowly Zion, and of the heavenly City, beautiful for situation, the joy of all the earth.
Now we have once more left the shores of our homeland. And the first experience in the Pan Am plane was that we were leaving our homeland for a foreign country. We were to be once more “sojourners in the land.” When we showed our plane ticket in Miami we were held up because one stamp in our “Passport” book showed that we had received our visa on June 8, 1970 for one year and another showed the imprint of the Immigration officers at Montego Bay Visas for one year, September 9, 1970. Grudgingly the officer at Pan Am honored our ticket (which was one-way) and warned us that if we were deported we were on our own responsibility and not on that of Pan Am! I had been warned. We proved to be correct that our Visas were good till September 8, 1971. However, we were courteously informed that we should proceed to Kingston to the Chief Emigration Officer in due time and have our Visas extended. We thought of I Peter 2:13 “Submit yourselves to every human ordinance. . . .”
Yes, we often think of the advantage which Paul had in this respect. The Romans had conquered the entire world around the Mediterranean Sea. And all the land was under the Roman scepter. And Paul was a Roman Citizen by birth, born in the city of Tarsus. He did not need to live in the various countries as a “sojourner” with a passport or as one in need of a “Work Permit.” Paul was a tent-maker by trade and freely plied his trade wherever he went to support himself and those who were with him He would live off the land but not off the people of God. But Jamaica does not allow a “sojourning” preacher to live off the land and must control this officially. They have here “preachers” who come “in faith” and then somehow live off the land. This is not permitted. This makes for many bureaus and delays. Twice we applied for a “Work Permit” and as often received no reply, either from the Jamaica Embassy in New York City, or from the Ministry of Labor and National Insurance here on the island. Now we have made a third application and presented it in person to the Ministry of Labor, applied for extended Visas in the Ministry of Home Affairs and are now informed that the matter is being investigated, both the records and the nature of our work from the data which we offered the government. We cannot believe that our request for a “Work Permit” will be turned down.
Unless the Lord shows it differently, I believe that He says to us as He said to Isaac “Sojourn in this land, and I will be with thee!”
We cannot say how long our sojourn will be here. We look forward to another year of work, labor, toil. And soon another year flits by when one is busy and occupied. Tempus Figit.
As we look into the future we see our schedule. The ministers of the “Protestant Reformed Churches in Jamaica” have agreed with the plan that undersigned preach for a few weeks consecutively in each church. This will make for more constructive work by the undersigned and make a better base on which to judge of a sustained interest in the Gospel as we preach it as a missionary minister. There is ever much work here with the Building Program, the poor and the needy. And last but not the least is the labor of teaching students in the school. The Lord willing, school will again begin on September 8, 1971. We do feel that it will be necessary for us to hold school one day per week instead of two days. The drive is really too far for twice per week. It is 134 miles for each trip. So we will try to hold school one day for 5 1/2 hours, instead of two days and four hours each day. It must be remembered that we also’ hold “Discussions” with the ministers every other week here for three hours. So that our teaching would be eight and a half hours one week and five and a half hours the other week. This would free our hands a bit for an occasional mid-week service. I believe that this will meet with the approval of the Mission Committee as well as with the brethren here.
I believe it in order that I say to you “Pray for us.” May all our ministers, professors, teachers, elders and deacons constantly be held up on the wings of prayer. Be assured that we welcome also your letters, cards and all the tokens of your love. You are ever in our minds and prayers. God bless you and keep you all, dear people of God.
Sojourn in the land and God be with you!