It is a pleasure to have the opportunity to listen to him and bear his burden. At one time I would not have been able to do so.
After placing the phone on its hook I ask myself, "Is this for real? Am I conversing with Sam, a First Nations man, in his native Ojibwe language? Is he paying for a long distance phone call to tell me his problems? Am I giving him advice and assurance of my deep concern...in his language?"
You see, Sam was born and raised in a small log house beside a lake which is completely surrounded by pine, poplar and birch trees in Northwestern Ontario, Canada. He grew up on a First Nations Reserve, a village in the hinterlands, inaccessible by road. By experience, he became educated in hunting, fishing, hardships, isolation, survival, as well as First Nations' religion.
On the other hand I was born and raised in a foreign (to Sam) country, in the United States, on a farm in Indiana speaking both Pennsylvania Dutch and English. I eventually began to worship the God of the Bible. I did not know one First Nations person and I fully intended to be a farmer as a life-time vocation.
Why then am I so alarmed at this phone call two days ago? Did not my wife and I live in the north for years... and raise our family while living on Sam's isolated First Nations' Reserve? And did I not learn to speak his language many moons ago?
I am alarmed...no, rather I am amazed at God's mercy, His grace, His callings and His gifts to His people! Because of all this, my dreams of farming in Indiana were not fulfilled. Instead, Elva and I with our two children, were privileged to be friends with several hundred of Sam's people.We shared the Word of God with them in the Ojibwe language.We knelt with Sam, his wife Mary Ann and many others and heard them confess Christ as their Lord.We prayed with them and for them, as well as rejoiced and shed tears with them.We taught them.We learned from them.We saw them walking with the God of the Bible. Today Sam is an ordained minister to his people at Pikangikum. It is a privilege and a pleasure to be his personal friend and to share his problems.
I marvel at God and His grace!