Saturday, November 16, 2013

Typhoon Haiyan

I'm sure that most of you are aware of the typhoon that hit the Philippines a week ago today.  It is the strongest storm ever to make landfall.  Ever.  In the history of the world.  Ever.  It was called "Haiyan".

The devastation is amazing.  An estimated 10,000 dead.  An estimated 10 million adversely affected.  As I followed the news stories I was deeply moved by the suffering represented in the pictures and descriptions.  That's not unusual for me.  I'm a sentimental, emotional guy.  But this went beyond sentiment.  I felt that I, personally needed to do something.

On previous occasions I have felt that way, but allowed myself to use excuses.  I'm already a medical missionary, serving the poor and needy in a developing country.  My work here in PNG is important.  This time, somehow it was different.  My work here is indeed important.  But at the moment, maybe not as urgent. And besides, I already work for an organization that is active in the relief effort in the Philippines.  Couldn't they just shift me around a little?

So, on Wednesday afternoon I picked up the phone and called my "boss"--Field Strategy Coordinator Harmon Schmelzenbach.  I just told him that if the church wanted me in the Philippines, I'd be willing to go.  There.  I'd done my part.  I had expressed availability.  Isn't that, after all, all God asks of us?  Just to be willing?  Harmon and God didn't apparently see it that way.  By that evening the first of what became a barrage of emails began to come in.  From the Regional office in Singapore.  From the Philippines.  From around Kudjip Station.  This continued through the day on Thursday, and by that evening I was scared.  These people, and this God are taking me seriously!  Now I was really in trouble.  It would take a pretty big excuse to back out now.

Scared, but I really wanted to do this.

There was just one big problem.  The work in PNG.  Two of our doctors have been away.  There have been two volunteer docs doing a great job of filling in, but when two of the regulars are away, you can feel it.  But they will both be back within a few days.

Would my colleagues support this plan?  Would they resent the added burden that will be on them while I'm away?  By this morning (Friday), enough of my immediate leadership has given their approval for this plan that I felt safe sharing it with my colleagues.  So this morning in our regular medical staff meeting, I shared what is unfolding.  And held my breath.  Immediately, they started speaking up.  With support.  With encouragement.  With ideas.  With offers of items that I'll need for the trip.  With a plan to build support of the entire Nazarene Hospital staff.  This was the "fleece", the "litmus test", the "open door" that I needed.  I have committed to go to the Philippines to serve in the relief effort for about 4 weeks, starting within a few days.

Technically, I'm still waiting for an invitation from the Philippines Field Strategy Coordinator, but he's tied up in the affected area.  Everyone who knows him says that he will be happy for me to come.  So I won't say for sure just yet, but there is a good chance that I'll arrive in Manila Wednesday evening, and be in Tacloban City by Saturday.  From then on, I have little idea what I'll be doing.  I'll probably be living in a tent.  I don't know what I'll be eating.  I'll be sipping water from one of those filter bottles that y'all take camping.  I'll be working long, hard days.  Longer and harder than we ever work in Kudjip.  My arthritis will be acting up.  I'll be very tired.  I'll be happy.  Well, at least part of the time.  I'll touch lives as best I can in the name of Jesus, and trust Him to work.

Do you want to help me?  I'd love for you to.

First, please pray.  Pray that all the arrangements will fall into place.  Pray that we will have the supplies we need there in the Philippines.  Please pray for the people we will interact with--other aid workers, government officials, victims.  Pray that Judy and I all have wisdom as to whether she should accompany me.  Please pray for the other doctors I'll be with (I know of one at this time).

Second, if you are a doctor, come and volunteer with me!  Message me, and I'll put you in touch with the folks at Nazarene Disaster Relief.

Third, give some money to our deputation account.  The money in the account had other plans.  The things we were planning to use it for are still important.  The cost of the air fare is going to be covered by various funds (I don't honestly know which ones, but I've been assured that it will be covered), but there will be many "incidental expenses" (a tent to live in, a couple of tarps, a mosquito net, other equipment and supplies that will come out of our deputation account.  To give, follow this link on the left-hand side of the screen.

We'll be in touch!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

New Clubfoot Braces!

Here are a couple sample photos:

For the full story, see our Facebook page at this link.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Our colleague, Dr. Becky Morsch is leaving PNG to take a new position with Nazarene Compassionate Ministries in Lenexa, Kansas.  Because of her father's failing health, she had to leave earlier than originally planned, so we couldn't have a big farewell party.  Instead, she and her roommate Steph Doenges came to our house for supper, then after supper all the other missionaries came for dessert.  Her flight was early the next morning, so we didn't have our traditional Kudjip circle time.

Becky and Steph having dinner at our house.
The missionary family praying for Becky
Steph and Becky saying goodbye.
Becky saying goodbye to Brutus.

Please pray for Becky as she spends time with her dad, and then as she begins a new ministry role.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Deputation Schedule, 2013

The following is our speaking schedule for our upcoming home assignment.  If you are anywhere near, we'd love to see you at one of these services.  If you attend a church that would like to have us speak when we're in your area, please contact us.

Deputation Schedule, Andy and Judy Bennett


24 Sunday, AM Snohomish, Washington


Canada West Mini Tour (Alberta only):
2 Tuesday          Red Deer First
3 Wednesday     Rocky (?Rocky Mountain House?)
4 Thursday         Claresholm
5 Friday              Medicine Hat
6 Saturday noon Lethbridge
7 Sunday a.m.    Calgary East
7 Sunday p.m.     Sedgewick
8 Monday             Fort Sasketchewan
9 Tuesday           Edmonton South
10 Wednesday    Innisfail
End of Alberta tour
11 Thursday NA
12 Friday NA
13 Saturday NA
14 Sunday AM     Nampa, Idaho First
14 Sunday PM
15 Monday
16 Tuesday
17 Wednesday
18 Thursday
19 Friday NA
20 Saturday NA
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Tour:
21 Sunday AM      Ebensburg
21 Sunday PM      Homer City
22 Monday            Indiana
23 Tuesday           Kenwood Penns Manor
24 Wednesday      Pittsburgh Lincoln Place
25 Thursday.          Kittanning
26 Friday               Nanty Glo/Portage Churches (inNanty Glo)
27 Saturday           Windber & Boswell (in Windber)
28 Sunday AM       Somerset
28 Sunday PM       Norwin
End of Pittsburgh District Tour
29 Monday NA
30 Tuesday NA


1 Wednesday NA
2 Thursday NA
3 Friday NA
4 Saturday NA
5 Sunday NA
6 Monday
7 Tuesday
8 Wednesday
9 Thursday
10 Friday NA
Washington Pacific District Tour:
11 Saturday           Lakewood New Hope
12 Sunday AM      Tacoma First
13 Monday
14 Tuesday
15 Wednesday       Port Orchard
16 Thursday
17 Friday                Pleasantview
18 Saturday            Pleasantview
19 Sunday              Marysville
20 Monday
21 Tuesday
22 Wednesday        Vancouver Fourth Plain
23 Thursday
24 Friday
25 Saturday
26 Sunday AM        Kent First
26 Sunday PM NA
End of WaPac Tour
27 Monday NA
28 Tuesday NA
29 Wednesday
30 Thursday
31 Friday


1 Saturday        New Bridge, OR
2 Sunday          John Day, OR
3 Monday
4 Tuesday
5 Wednesday
6 Thursday
7 Friday
8 Saturday
Intermountain District Tour:
9 Sunday             Valley Shepherd (Meridian, ID)
12 Wednesday    Ustick Road (Caldwell, ID)
13 Thursday
End of Intermountain District Tour
14 Friday NA
15 Saturday NA
16 Sunday AM        Butler, Indiana
17 Monday NA
18 Tuesday NA
19-28 June General Assembly and Conventions, Indianapolis, IN
29 Saturday NA
30 Sunday AM
30 Sunday PM


7 Sunday AM        Castle Hills (Boise, ID)

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Did You Really Know What You Were Doing?

Daniel (by the way, I don't usually use real names) is a young man who came in yesterday with a broken arm and a small laceration under one eye. He had been beaten up by someone using a piece of pipe or metal rod. I didn't ask what the dispute had been about. There was a heavy odor of alcohol on his breath. I don't know if drinking had been involved at the time of the fight, or if he had been
drinking afterwards to try to ease the pain.

He needed a cast on his arm, and a few stitches under his eye. The fracture was a bit out of alignment, and I wanted to try to straighten it a bit before placing the cast, so I gave him a dose of a sedative, stopping to pray briefly for him before I gave the injection. People are often still able to talk while sedated, sometimes to the great amusement of all those who hear, but they seldom can remember the events. I wasn't surprised that Daniel carried on a conversation with his relative, and I explained to the family that he wouldn't remember it. I was surprised, however, when he turned his head toward me and said "I want you to pray for me, and I want to repent." Whoa! I've heard people say some pretty unexpected things while sedated, but never this. I assumed that he didn't really know what he was saying, and that he certainly wouldn't remember it afterwards.

But what could I do? I continued working on the cast, and I prayed for him, and then led him is a simple prayer of confession and repentance. He followed me word-for-word.

I finished the cast, put a couple of little stitches in the laceration under his eye, wrote for some meds and sent him on his way, telling him to come back in the morning for a follow-up x-ray. In the evening I shared with the missionaries at our weekly prayer meeting what had happened. This morning I was thinking about him, and worrying when it was late in the morning and I still hadn't seen him. Finally, just before noon, there he was at the door of my exam room with his x-ray in his hand.

I got him into the exam room, and settled on the table. The first thing I said was, "yesterday you asked me to pray with you and said that you wanted to repent."


"But you were drunk, and I'd given you the medicine to make you sleepy."


"Do you remember that?"


"Did you sincerely repent?"


Praise God!

Daniel had more to tell me, though.

"When I got home yesterday, all the brothers [that includes cousins, uncles, nephews and people who aren't sure exactly how they are related, but are part of the family and about the same age] were talking about going and beating up the guys that did this to me. I told them 'no', that I'm a Christian now, and I don't want to do things like that."

In this culture, that is a strong sign that a person is determined to follow Christ. He was saying in short, "I'm putting Christian values ahead of the demands of my culture and family. That's a big step for a highlander.

Please pray for "Daniel". There are other Christians in his family, and they are involved in a local evangelical church. Pray that the church and family will faithfully disciple him, and pray that he will grow in his faith. Pray for his unsaved relatives, that they will see his example and want to follow him in repentance.


Sunday, July 1, 2012

More on Samuel's Wheelchair

Here's a quick update on the story about Samuel's Wheelchair.  The folks at Project S.A.V.E. are trying to contact the family that donated the chair.  Sadly, the occasion for the donation was the death of their son, and not his outgrowing the chair, as I had hoped.  Here's what Project S.A.V.E. posted on their FB page.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Is It Safe?

Since I coordinate volunteers and students at Nazarene Hospital, I am often asked questions about safety in PNG.  Well, to be honest there are some security concerns, but we do our best to be careful and prudent.  In any country, including the US there are certain places you shouldn't go at certain times or in certain company.  It's no different here.  We try to follow some practices that we think will help avoid unnecessary risk.

But ultimately, our security isn't in policies, or procedures, or avoiding danger.  Our security is in God.  Here is a link to a blog by John McHoul, with HeartLine Ministries in Haiti.  It says it far better than I can.

Haiti Can Be A Dangerous Place