Ezekiel adopted this biblical name after he became a follower of Jesus, gladly letting Handinawangu fade into the background. You see, it means, "I have no people and no place." Now, however, Ezekiel H. Guti is recognized by at least a million Christians as their leader.
I relate this because of something I have noticed about myself. As I journey, I watch and hear others long to return or go to what they consider "their place." Perhaps it is a place of birth or growth or a place that provided some now-missing pleasure. Teary eyes and a far-off look usually accompany the plaint.
No such longing grabs my emotions, not for my birthplace or any place I have lived however much the enjoyment. No state flag or anthem brings tears to my eyes. At the same time, no state seems eager to claim me as its son. This is not a complaint, so don't offer any sympathy – but, let's take this further.
If you happen to know one of the few Erwins remaining out there and inquire if they are related to me or know me, you will hear a unanimous "Who?" or "Never heard of him." No Erwin empire or name-heritage oils my way. Handinawangu inches its way into my consciousness as an appropriate name – "You have no place and no people."
Once again, waste no sorrows; this is not a complaint. Being a pilgrim has distinct advantages. Jesus explained it this way, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel's, But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life. (Mark 10:29-30) Though I travel much and thus forgo some of the joys of surrounding family, everywhere I go I find brothers, sisters, cousins, aunts, uncles, and mothers whose fellowship overloads my capacity for joy.
Once, in Durban, South Africa, after I finished speaking, a small, aged woman of East Indian descent approached and asked for prayer for a sickness. My arms fell naturally around her shoulders and I began to pray, "Lord, heal my sister." The prayer was abruptly interrupted with, "I am not your sister!"
I released my embrace and stepped back in shock and a rare state of speechlessness. She looked up at me impishly and said, "I am your mother!" I chuckled, admitted it was true, regained my composure, embraced her again and prayed, "Lord, heal my mother!" I still chuckle at the memory.
I spend great lengths of time with dear brothers in the Lord around the world working through the great themes of the kingdom and reveling in the grace of God. Oh, I have blood relatives I gladly spend time with, but those times are rare and they are largely unaware of what I do. So, yes, I do have a people. No shortage there.
What about place? Well, I can thrust my chest out and inform you that I own a whole half of an acre. Not exactly a ranch spread, I know, but one-tenth of it has a roof that gives us good shelter. I have no attachment to prevent its sale. If sold, I join the landless mass. No problem. Here's why:
God designed his servants to be loosely attached to this world. When the tribes of Israel received their lands, the Levite, those who served at the Temple and Tabernacle, received no inheritance because "God is their inheritance." Jesus prophesied our disadvantaged status as a persecuted people but more than covered for it when he said, "I go to prepare a place for you…."
Well, he was a good carpenter and he has been working for 2000 years (He did this universe in seven days, to give you perspective.); I figure it is something to behold. So, who needs a half acre. In the meantime, the way I journey, everywhere is my place.
I do have a people and a place – I can't adopt the name "Handinawangu" except
an earthly sense. Guess I will have to stick with Gayle.
— Gayle D. Erwin
Servant Quarters, Vol. 21 #2
Published about six times a year.
Available by request.
PO Box 219
Cathedral City, CA 92235
Web site: www.servant.org
Thanks so much for helping to make the SW Pastors and Leadership Conference in Tucson such a blessing to my wife and me. As an "assistant" pastor ( no abbreviations please), these times of refreshing are a welcome oasis.
The following Want Ad ran in our local paper this past Wednesday (the day we got back from the conference). Our area is known for the flocks of sheep that find pasture here in the winter and early spring, but it seems from the wording that maybe a local church is looking for a new pastor with the right qualifications. I did check the phone number, it's not the number of any of our board members.
needed to tend/move flocks of sheep grazing on the range; prevent animals from straying; protect flock from predators and bad weather; and assist in lambing. Worker(s) will be on-call 24 hours a day and 7 days a week, including Sundays and Holidays.
David Landry, "assistant" pastor
Casa Grande, AZ
I attend a Church of Christ near Corpus Christi, TX and on Sunday mornings several of us are asking each other "Did you hear Gayle yesterday?" You have quite a following down here.
Corpus Christi, TX
In a personal story, you shared about a time playing hide'n seek with your children. Worn out, you let your "eager" children hide for an extended period of time while you found the joys and comfort of the nearest recliner. After awhile though, they became restless and waved hands or feet beyond their camouflage. Your point was how after hiding in sin, we become restless and want to be found by God. A spiritually simple and beautiful truth. Here is a salvation story that I believe parallels yours.
I was on a missionary trip in Mexico with others from Calvary Chapel of Sacramento. Ours was a mission of seeking the unfound through the silent but effective ministry of a mime skit.
After a performance on a park basketball court near some homes, the mime team huddled together reasonably celebrating how well the skit went. The children swarmed near, of course, but adults lingered further away. The excited children of one particular woman named Yolanda kept taking their gifts we had given them to their mother. Yolanda would take them into their home that bordered the park, yet would curiously come right back out, staying quietly at her fenceline bench.
I realize she was probably just perched over her children's welfare, but I believe God called me to see that she wanted to be found. Not fluent myself in Spanish beyond food and bathrooms, I took Erma, our host pastor's wife, over to speak to Yolanda. While they spoke together, I prayed and prayed and prayed. I cannot express to you the joy of not knowing a tongue, yet understanding when someone is repeating after another, and knowing what's being repeated.
Our mission goes beyond the curtain while the audience is still waiting. If I had been consumed any further in celebration, I may have missed the blessing God called me for – the greater reason for going.
Perhaps this is why Jesus told the disciples, excited about their success when sent out in twos, to just remember that their names are written in the Book of Life.
Bill Stonebraker weaves the Bible and experience together to give us another worthy book on marriage entitled "Spiritual Warfare in Marriage." For many people, the title could have been "Warfare in Marriage," but Bill leaves us with excellent understanding and application (104 pages).
From a singing group called Scarlet Hope comes a most listenable CD called "Were You There." The words are clear, the voices are great (a bit of "Second Chapter of Acts" sound), the message is clear and the music lives on in your heart.