December 2012


When we were in Germany I would often ask, if the occasion arose, what my German friends thought were the aftereffects of the war on Germans themselves. Invariably I would get a very mournful response. The Germans I spoke to were horrified by what their countrymen had unleashed on the world. They wondered what was wrong with them as a nation and as a people that could have allowed such things to happen. They vowed that after such devastation and collective agony of self-recrimination that they would never be the authors of such atrocities again. The history of post war Germany seems to bear that out.

Japan went through a similar period of self-examination, leading to an avowal never to possess atomic weapons, although they clearly have the brains and the technology to do so. So where is America’s conscience? How can suffer their nation to be so systemically violent and not see the ramifications of their thinking?

What happened in Newtown is not an isolated incident; it is simply one more tragedy in a history of violence. The nation was born in war and their history is one of conquest of territory and the acquisition of what once belonged to others. Movies, television shows and video games extoll violence as the solution to every problem. There are 300 million guns in America, almost enough for every man woman and child in the country. The United States is the world’s leading exporter of arms to the rest of the world, selling $8.6 billion worth in 2010. Last year the industry topped $30 billion and in a time of economic recession grew by 30% from 2008 to 2011. This year is not yet over and already the FBI have conducted 16.8 million background checks for weapons purchases, some of which will be for multiple guns.

The real tragedy of what happened in Newtown is not that 20 little children died, but that their deaths simply go to fuel the arms and entertainment industries that are quite literally making a killing on the slaughter of innocents. In the first four days following the July mass shooting in Aurora, Colo., gun sales increased 41 percent. On Friday some pro-gun groups took to Twitter urging people to buy guns: Conservative pundit Ann Coulter tweeted “more guns, less mass shootings” in the wake of the event. Where does this insanity end? Are we witnessing the destruction of America at the hands of its own twisted gun laws?

In Scripture we read “Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord; I will repay.” Why? Because only God can administer that kind of justice without destroying Himself in the process. The same passage (Rom. 12:21) goes on to advise: “Do not be overcome evil with evil, but overcome evil with good.” This is not just good spiritual advice, but it is actually the way out of this dilemma. Ann Coulter and the NRA would have Americans believe that if the young woman who confronted the shooter in this tragedy had been carrying a weapon, the outcome would have been different. Really?

Suppose young Victoria Soto had a weapon. Would she have known what to do with it? Chances are the shooter, having just killed two dozen people, would have been a little quicker on the trigger and she would be dead. Not only that, he would have been enraged and emboldened to keep going. After all, there is nothing like a little competition to sharpen the killer instinct. But instead she met him unarmed. She had just hidden all her kids in her classroom and then simply told him they were elsewhere. He shot her, and moments later shot himself. Why? The school wasn’t surrounded by the police. There was nothing between him and several dozen more killings. Was it her innocence that finally overcame his rage; her patent good in the face of his evil? Surely this is how Scripture teaches us to act. Surely this is the way to overcome the violence gripping America. Not more guns.

(For an insight into the psychopathology involved, see:

Nurse capWhen I graduated with an R.N. from the Atkinson School of Nursing at Toronto Western Hospital in 1973, it was about as far as a young woman without any money could go in their education. I was grateful for the opportunity to get out of Lucan, even if my education wasn’t everything I desired. Over the years as I was promoted to managerial positions I took numerous courses – over forty in fact – to keep up with the demands of my increased responsibilities.  Unfortunately, as the courses I took were purpose-driven to meet the challenges of my job, they never translated into a degree, closing the door to further education.

Nonetheless, my career in Nursing Administration and the networking and communication skills I developed turned out to be ideally suited for ministry in Southeast Asia as I was called upon to develop an evangelical outreach through health care in Cambodia. The last five years have been an amazing adventure with God and I have used everything that I have learned over the course of my career to meet the challenges of ministry. However, with every accomplishment, with every open door, there has been a new challenge and a new responsibility. Often I have found myself scrambling to learn the things I need just in order to do my job, which just keeps growing.

My responsibilities have now grown to the place that I recognize the need to document and systematize the process that I have initiated in order that this project may receive the recognition in university and college settings that would allow it to be of practical use in other mission fields.  When Steve and I returned to Asia in July we began investigating the possibility of furthering our education. We were delighted to find a Masters program at Fuller Theological Seminary that would give us an opportunity to put to good use the lessons and hard won successes that God has lead us through in the last five years. This program would also help me to develop the educational foundation I need to take my work in this region to the next level.

The Master of Arts in Intercultural Studies (MAICS) is designed to prepare students for various types of cross-cultural ministry and provides a foundational set of integrated courses from the schools of theology, intercultural studies, and psychology as well as a second set of missiological courses such as anthropology, globalization, mission history, spirituality, and a theology of mission.  Elective classes are available in the areas of mission history, international development, children at risk, and urban ministry.

A month ago, so quickly that we barely had time to take it in, Steve was accepted into the program and just yesterday completed his registration for two courses that he will begin online in January. My enthusiasm for my husband’s acceptance was tempered by the knowledge that despite all my efforts to obtain transcripts and provide documentational support, it looked as if I wasn’t going to be accepted. Greatly disheartened I began looking at other options, but there really wasn’t anything else out there that would meet my needs in ministry. Steve continued to encourage me to believe that God would grant me the desire of my heart, but I must confess that my own hopes were dimming.

What a shock it was then this morning to wake up to an email message from Fuller congratulating me on my acceptance into the program! I am staggered by the grace of God speaking His words of hope and encouragement into my heart. We are so excited to be at this stage in our lives and still have the opportunity to be learning and studying courses that will apply directly to our work here.  We have ten years to complete the course work and even if it takes that long it will be well worth the journey. Surely God is faithful to those who seek to faithfully serve Him. I am now a candidate for a Master’s Degree!  How amazing is that!


I had SAT scores in the high nineties coming out of high school. With some proper support and encouragement I could well have had scholarships to the university of my choice. But life is what happens while you are looking for other things; and other things in the late sixties were not conducive to education. When the dust settled from my misspent youth I did finally get my B.A. and B.Ed., but always had a hankering to do more.

But marriage and kids came along, and the years we took on sabbatical were spent serving Another more important than myself. To cut a forty year long story short, here I am at what could be charitably described as the autumn of my years with no more education than what at the time was the bare essentials to secure a decent career.

Now that our kids’ education has been paid for, and two of the three are married and living in their own homes, and we have not only some disposable income for the first time in our marriage, but even some disposable time, would it be alright Lord if I got myself that long sought for higher education? Apparently so; for I merely had to apply for the doors to fly open in my favour. To cut a much briefer story short, I am as of today a candidate for my Master’s Degree; courses enrolled and paid for.

I am not sure whether I am an old fool or not. At my age I could be dead before I graduate. On the other hand I could, like my dear departed mother, live for another 30 years. That would be time for far more than a Master’s! At any rate, fool or no, I am registered for two online courses starting in early January, and I am looking forward to the challenge.

I am also looking forward to seeing New Zealand. We leave on Sunday, and hotel internets being what they are, blogs might be thin on the ground for the next couple of weeks. No matter, you have Christmas puddings to eat and Christmas nieces, nephews and kids to hug. We’ll post some pics if we can. If not, we wish all of our readers the Merriest Christmas ever and the Happiest New Year. May the God of Love and Comfort be your portion!

MW Seaside

My mother had a flair for the dramatic, and carried herself in style. Even well into her old age, she was concerned enough about her appearance that she liked to know well in advance when people were going to visit so she could get herself ready. She had a real keen clothing sense and a good eye for what she could wear. A casual observer could be forgiven for thinking that Mom was all about show; what was easily seen and noticed by others.

MW Flowers in Vase

But there you would be wrong. There was much about my mother that she kept to herself. For all her dramatic flair she was a very private person. The pictures on this page are evidence of that. Of course we knew for years that Mom liked to do needlework; many of her generation did. And of course that needle work had to be based on a picture of something. Needlework often comes with a printed pattern to follow. But what we didn’t know was that Mom actually drew her own sketches, and not all of them appeared in needle work.

MW Kingfisher2

These are just some of the artistic sketches that were found among her possessions when my sister collected them from Mom’s little flat in North Hykeham. None of us knew of their existence until this sketchbook came to light. It shows that no matter how well you think you know someone, there is always more to know. The naiveté and innocence reflected in choice of colour and theme in these sketches strikes me as remarkable for one so weathered in years and worn by physical limitations. Her body may have been old, but her spirit, as evidenced by these pictures, was as young and light as a child’s. What a remarkable find!

MW Daffodils


This week while Steve is in England with his brother and sister to celebrate the life of his mom, I am very grateful for the week at home to get caught up on the many tasks that just seem to pile up. Each year I bring back a decade of photographs to scan and organize and I always enjoy revisiting the memories and the impact these events have had on our lives.  One of the things that I was reminded of was just what a good team Steve and I make we take on a task together.  We began our relationship rebuilding an old MGB in my parents’ driveway and went on to many other more challenging projects.

In 2001 we bought our third fixer- upper, a nasty little house in London which we planned to renovate and resell , largely to pay for our kids post secondary education.  I really hated that house because it was so much work, everything had to be striped right back to the bare bones and rebuilt from scratch.  We were both working pretty demanding jobs and had plenty of other responsibilities.  However, it suited our needs as it was close to the university and had a separate apartment in the basement which Dave lived in most of the time we were there.  When we listed it for sale in 2006, it sold within hours above our asking price.

I came across the before and after photos of the kitchen today and was delighted to be reminded of what excellent work we can do when we work together.  We make a great team.

Old Kitchen

New Kitchen

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