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Archive for March, 2013

By Kathy Rock. Photos by Kathy Rock and Skyler Cumbia.

I never thought Christians being compared to sheep very flattering. I think of them as dumb, unable to care for themselves, always needing to travel in a group, and not very clean.

On a recent trip to the Middle East I had an experience that changed my point of view.

sheep

photo by Kathy Rock

calloutDuring our first evening our translator explained that often several shepherds would combine their flocks at night so they could take turns keeping watch. Being a city girl, I asked the obvious question – how do the shepherds separate their sheep in the morning? Are sheep marked with a brand like cattle or do the shepherds just count off the correct number? He explained that each shepherd makes a unique sound in his throat and his sheep recognize their master’s voice and follow him. That’s very biblical, right?

shepherd's flock

photo by Kathy Rock

While traveling to a nomad’s desert site the next morning we stopped while a shepherd and his flock crossed the road. Using my best Arabic hand signs, I asked the shepherd if I could take pictures of him and his sheep. He agreed. As I snapped away, a car door slammed behind me and the sheep encircled their shepherd for protection. But while I continued to take photos, the sheep began to spread out again, away from their shepherd.

It was then that I heard it! At first I didn’t know from where this low cooing sound came, but the sheep knew. They came back to where the shepherd stood; they knew their shepherd’s voice.

camp

photo by Skyler Cumbia

For me the Bible came to life that day: “His sheep follow him because they know his voice.”  John 10:4, NIV

So, do I still think sheep are dumb, dirty, and need someone to take care of them? Honestly? Sure I do. Do I still think it is unflattering, as a Christian, to be compared to a sheep? Not at all. How fortunate I am to be a dumb, dirty sheep in our Lord’s flock! How blessed am I that my Shepherd knows my name, and I know His voice!

Lord,
Thank you for being my Shepherd, a Shepherd who willingly
gave His life for me, His poor, dumb sheep.

In the fullness of my life, when my ears are filled with the harsh sounds
of the world, help me listen for Your voice. Help me hear Your words,
for I know that when You speak life changes. I know that You are truly
the Shepherd who “supplies my needs.”
Amen.

Editor’s note: Debbie Boykin, Skyler Cumbia, Rod Haithcock, and Kathy Rock visited the Middle East in September 2012. They provided medical clinics to open doors for relationships with Bedouins. To participate in a similar trip contact Debbie Boykin.


Kathy RockKathy Rock and her husband, Bill, have four sons and five grandchildren. Kathy is an Exceptional Education Teacher at J. R. Tucker High School. She is a deacon and enjoys working with the Youth II Sunday School Department, leading the Music Makers choir for FBC’s first and second graders, singing in the Church Choir, and playing handbells with the FirstRingers.

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By Stephanie Kim.

I remember the feelings well when my husband of 10 years decided to leave our family – shock, devastation, overwhelming grief, fear, anger, rejection, brokenness, hopelessness. My two daughters, then seven and three years old, were confused, sad, but hopeful of his imminent return.

calloutIt was my faith, the little bit that I had back then, that brought me through that terrible time. Throughout most of my life, I had what I once heard someone call an “accessory” faith, a really nice religion to go with my really nice life. But when my perfect life and the things I held most dear – my husband, my family as I knew it, my friends, my hopes, my dreams of growing old together – shattered suddenly, I realized that my faith and relationship with God were very shallow. It was during this dark time that I truly experienced God’s comfort and love, learned to trust Him like never before, and grew immensely in faith. My “accessory” faith has become a “necessity” faith: I can’t live or even breathe without God.

Even this works together for good.While it was heartbreaking to see my kids go through this, it gave them the opportunity to learn so many lessons that will serve them well later in life. This adversity gave us the chance to talk about things that we might not ever have had the time or reason to otherwise. We had so many “pillow talks” about love, forgiveness, obedience, repentance, healing, grace, and trusting God. We talked about how important honesty is and how the choices we make often have consequences on others.

As I walked through what seemed like the valley of the shadow of death, I experienced Isaiah 43:2, “When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.” While I never seemed to have enough time to read God’s word before, now I thirst for more. I have learned to be quiet, listening for His still, soft voice. I have learned how important it is to share my burdens with friends and to accept their loving help in times of need; it provides healing to me and an opportunity to minister for them. I have discovered my purpose in life and understand the awesome responsibility God has given me to rear my children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. I have learned that I must let go of all I hold dear and only hold on to Christ. As painful as this whole experience was, I am grateful that I have renewed life and have once again found strength and joy, healing and forgiveness. I had forgotten what was most important and was just rushing through life. My younger daughter Julia, who is intellectually disabled, is a daily reminder to celebrate every little success and not to worry about what the future holds because God has a good plan for us. I have learned to seek God’s wisdom for every decision I make.

I was touched by God’s miraculous healing power when I was broken. I met the Great Comforter while in such deep sorrow. I found strength in Christ when I was completely helpless. I understood God’s unfailing love when I had failed and been disappointed. I learned patient endurance for His time when I lost complete control of making things happen in my time. I discovered His peace that surpasses all understanding in the midst of a terrible storm. I learned to place my faith and trust in God after others fell short. As I help others caught in the devastation of divorce using the experiences and skills God has given me, I realize now that He has caused even this to work together for good.


Stephanie KimStephanie Kim is Director of Finance for the Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission. She is an active member of Richmond’s First Baptist Church and often participates in worship services as flutist. She resides in Mechanicsville. She can be reached at flute2tr@comcast.net.

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