An Acceptable Year

Its a bright sunshin’ day in Alberta and the year is looking up… unless you read the newspapers,

Subprime virus infects one and all…
Prepare to take a loss, investors cautioned…
Losses set to soar…
Political uncertainty, US data shake up markets…


It seems that some abuses to the system are catching up with us. There is not much grace in the markets and our governments are unable to (and probably shouldn’t) bail most people out.

I had to write a paper last semester and chose to do one on the year of Jubilee. It kind of relates to the current economic uncertainty. Under their law system, once every 50 years a man could go from being a landless slave to a landowning prince. At the sounding of a rams horn (jubal), liberty was proclaimed throughout the land. This happened just before the Day of Atonement and was closely associated with that feast. During the year of Jubilee, those who had sold all their possessions and even their own bodies to hard labour were restored to back to their homes and land. What’s more, this was a year (or two) of rest in which God promised to provide for their every need.

The word used for liberty (deror) carries the meaning of a presidential pardon.

“The word [deror] is a cognate of the Akkadian word anduraru which designates an edict of release issued by the Old Babylonian kings and some of their successors. This edict was often issued by a king upon ascending the throne.”[i]

This was the kind of liberty that only a king had the power to give. The word itself is only found in a couple of places in the OT and always in reference to the year of Jubilee. One of those places is Isaiah 61:1,2; the passage that Jesus quoted when, having left the wilderness, he returned to Nazareth and delivered one of his first sermons. It was a very short message and consisted almost entirely of another mans words yet it far surpasses WHC’s famously short ‘Never give up’ speech for impact.

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty (deror) them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. Luke 4:18-20

With those gracious words the King proclaimed the ‘acceptable year of the Lord’ – the year of Jubilee. Some listening might have recognized that Jesus halted his quotation mid-sentence. Isaiah wrote, “To preach the acceptable year of the Lord… and the day of vengeance of our God” Jesus will finish the quote later.

But for us, for now, in the economy of grace, there is such a thing as a second chance and a new beginning.

There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God… Hebrews 4:9

So it’s a good year ahead after all. Sure, we might all be poor and our money worthless (I am making no predictions here) but in another economy (the one that really matters) we are rich.

Happy New Years!

[i] Levine Baruch A. The JPS Torah Commentary. NY: The Jewish Publication Society 1989, pg 168

Christmas Party – Gull Lake

So here a few pics from our annual youth Christmas party.

Four on a couch – although this was not the game… The guys won that game… twice!

An axe in the wrong hands is a terrible weapon. Those are definitely the wrong hands.

Josh with one of his many princesses…

Mitch and Riley – two troublemakers.

Erica pretending she is shy.

Ellice shows off her festive tie.

I was testing the product to make sure it is safe for my little niece. As the package says, ‘It provides infinite pleasure!’

Yep, I think they need their coffee.

Our falling over Christmas tree

Good Times!

Remembering Yagaso

I thought I would write a little more about Yagaso for those of you that don’t know her.

Yagaso is a very old tribal lady who has been a special part of our lives for many years. One of the first times I can remember meeting her was while trying to dig a garden. Yagaso would come and watch and sometimes help break the ground, I think all the time laughing at the way a white boy used a shovel. Mom would bring out a glass of lemonade for me and also for Yagaso and somehow, in a very natural way, she became a part of our family. In turn she adopted us into hers.

I don’t know much about the life of Yagaso. This is mostly due to the fact that none of us could communicate with her except with the odd phrase of Pidgin. I never met the man she married and only know of one of her sons. To me, she always seemed like a very old grandmother who was pretty much alone in life. I know that life in the Bena tribe was not easy for her. Fear and suspicion run deep. Yagaso probably experienced life before the Australian protectorate (they did not keep track of birthdays in the Bena tribe so it is hard to know). As a very young girl, the only understanding she would have had of foreigners were the navy pilots who flew overhead in strange winged machines that occasionally trailed smoke and went down over her native highlands. The people of the highlands knew little of the great war being fought in the outside world. Armies on both sides did their best to avoid this part of PNG. It was a rugged land intersected with high mountains ranges and deep gorges. The tribes in this area were known to be hostile. As a little child, Yagaso was not concerned with Japan or the Allies. Her life was caught up in a cycle of payback killings and tribal warfare that had probably gone on for centuries. One never knew if a shaman had singled you out as the guilty person responsible for the death of another. It was a life of continual strife – tribe against tribe, clan against clan, husband against wife, son against mother.

This came home to me one day when one of the national men that I was working with told me that Yagaso was very sick. I went to her hut, which was just down the road, and found her curled up on a mat and barely able to move. Her son had beaten her with a tire iron, nearly to death. In the process she lost her only tooth. Since then I have heard reports from Emerson and Miriam Keung and from U. David and A. Sally that Yagaso has been close to death several more times. From the time we have known her, she has always seemed like a very frail lady that could pass away at any time.

I left the Bena tribe before Rich and Dawn Foster arrived and put in many long days, year after year to learn the Bena language – a language that is tremendously complicated. Now, over 10 years from that day she was so badly beaten, Rich along with Heti, a national believer, have had the opportunity to sit down with Yagaso and teach her through the Bible lessons one on one. Both Yagaso and Rich and Dawn Foster have traveled very different roads. It can only be Gods grace that their paths would intersect at this time, only a short while before Yagaso has left us.

This time of year we celebrate the gift of a child who came into our world of strife to bring us life. Often we are not allowed to see how God continues to draw others in far off lands to himself. But sometimes we do get a glimpse. For the many who have known and prayed for Yagaso over the years, we have had the great joy to see God preserve her life and bring her to himself.

Yagaso will be dearly missed.

Yagaso has passed away

As of today, December 16, around 2:15PM, dear old Yagaso is no longer with us.

She died very peacefully, which is significant in a culture that until recently has had no hope beyond the grave. The fact that she went peacefully was commented on by the tribal people to Miriam, who arrived at Yagaso’s home just minutes after she passed away.

Here is a recap of the last week of Yagaso’s life:

Sunday: Swelling begins to occur in Yagaso’s legs and feet, a sign that the end is near. Rich Foster, missionary to the Bena, had been teaching Yagaso in her home one-on-one. Beginning in Genesis, he had taught up to Abraham.

Monday: Realizing that her days were numbered, Rich and a tribal believer named Heti, taught on the story of Abraham and Isaac and how God provided a substitute for Isaac. They then shared how Jesus Christ is our substitute. Heti gave a very clear salvation message that day. God answered our prayers that Yagaso would have the strength to stay awake for this entire lesson. She listened intently, but was unable to verbally respond.

Tuesday to Thursday: Yagaso continues to decline.

Friday morning: Yagaso was sitting up and alert, so Rich taught another lesson, this time on Moses and the Passover, showing how Christ’s blood can cover us, just as the blood of the Passover Lamb covered the Israelites. This time, Yagaso answered all the review questions correctly, expressed that she understood and declared “Manaka” (it’s true!) several times.

Friday afternoon: Miriam and Emma visit Yagaso. She is unable to sit up or speak to us, although she knows we are there.

Sunday after lunch: Rich and Dawn Foster go to Yagaso’s house as the end was imminent. When they entered, she sat up for awhile, cried a few tears, but was unable to communicate with them. After she laid back down, she looked as though she wanted to say something a couple of times, and then died peacefully.

Some late night ramblings on economics and the like

Just got to thinking about a few things, especially since being in China this last time. I guess this is my place to get them off my chest.

Its such a strange world we live in. Massive industrial cities in China (and elsewhere too) springing up overnight, built with riches of the west in order to supply cheap goods to the world. The rise of capitalism combined with advances in communication and transportation technology have allowed for trade on a massive scale. This in only the last 50 years or so.

But as my taxi wound its way through the streets of Xian (the driver was lost) I wondered how much better off the people in China really are. Xian is an incredibly dirty and smoggy city in inland China. Had Mao really screwed things up so badly that there was no opportunity for a good life in the countryside? Was the city really the only place to get ahead and make a living. I have heard that most of these people are saving for a TV and then maybe a motorbike. But what a difficult life many of them live in these large industrial cities! And what a environmental catastrophe! The smog was so thick, I could barely see the hills that flanked the highway.

And what about us? Are we better off? The corner grocer has all but disappeared. We have to drive to a box store to buy milk. The small shop owner has been replaced by a store manager who answers to the board of a corporation – a corporation whose goal is to maximize shareholder wealth. The corporation hires designers who do studies to discover the best ways to decorate their stores to make people buy and then they apply this same design to every store in the country. Yep, it looks nice, and makes me want to buy and I become one with the modern culture I live in. For a society that prides itself in individualism, we look much alike.

I guess I am probably sounding like a socialist right about now… I don’t think I am. Maybe it is some aspects of modernism I have problem with. Anyway, enough for tonight. Now I can sleep peacefully on my bed… made in China.


I just got this update from Rich and Dawn Foster, missionaries in the Bena tribe, (where we used to live). Yagaso is a very old lady who has always seemed very old. Somehow, by the grace of God, she has lived far beyond what is considered a normal lifespan in the Bena tribe. She is failing now but Rich Foster has been taking opportunities to teach her individually. It has been so neat to get these updates from the Fosters,

In our last update, we shared that Yagaso (yah-gah-so) was enjoying the teaching and looking forward to being taught. She is still with us, though her health continues to decline. She is, however, beginning to show signs that she is understanding some of the principles that are being taught instead of just being able to retell the story, so we are encouraged. Please continue to pray that God will give her understanding of what she is hearing and that He will prolong her life in order for her to put her trust in His finished work. The last lesson Rich taught her was the story of Noah. Rich has begun to accelerate the teaching and yesterday she was sleeping sitting up by the time the lesson was finished. Please pray that she will have the energy needed to listen to the lessons. We love this old woman dearly and we will miss her tremendously when she is gone.

Please pray for Yagaso that the light of Christ will break into her world.

Thanks to Emerson and Miriam Keung for this latest photograph of Yagaso aka ‘One Tooth’