Craig Jacobsen - Martinique - October 14, 2006

Martinique... beautiful island in the West Indies, in the Caribbean sea...

Martinique... mostly African or mixed descent. Europe craved sugar, the price of gold. Sugar for the fine tastes of Europe. Sugar, showing ones wealth. Sugar, high society. Sugar, shared in ignorance. Sugar, the burden on the backs of slavery. Slavery of Martinique and other West Indies islands. Slavery, that sugar could sweeten the tea, the coffee, the pastries. Sugar, sweet to the fine tastes of the ignorant. Ignorant of the  lives given. Ignorant of the pain. Sugar, at the cost of lives.

Then freedom. Freedom to those in slavery. Freedom to live, and to die. Freedom to get and to do and to want and to acquire, and then to die. Freedom to have, or to have not, and then to die. Slavery or freedom,  then  to die.

... home of Mt Pelie, the volcano that blew in 1902. The red hot cone rose, rose 300 meters, 900 feet. Pressure building. The warning was sounded. The volcano expert plead with the newspapers to publish the  warning. Doom, destruction, fire, it was coming. Elections were also coming. The governor wanted the people to stay in the city, to vote. He told them not to worry. Came to the city, gave a speech, look at me, I'm  here, no harm, all is well, don't worry, there will be no problem. Left town.

The one who deceived the city left town. Next day the mountain blew. Not lava, but a super heated ball of flame rolling down the mountain. People saw it coming. Tried to flee to the sea. The water boiled. It was too late.  Too late to flee. Too late to heed the warning. The entire city of 26,000 killed. Gone, finished. One man survived. He was known as the man in the
prison. In the dungeon. Deep down, safe from the fire. The man who was in  captivity. The free were lost. The captive man was saved. A captivity that saved.

Friday afternoon... the cute little chick, chirping away, looking here, and looking there, a little ahead of her watchful mother. Then farther ahead, around the corner, away from her mother, from the mother hen, the watchful  one, from safety. Freedom for the little chick. Freedom, liberty, ignorance. Glowing eyes watched. Glowing eyes considered. Glowing eyes... opportunity. Before we knew, the cat darted in, fastened a quick, firm grip  of teeth around the cute little fuzzy one, and around the shed, it was gone. The cute little fuzzy chick was gone, finished. The chase by the brother worker to no avail.

Soon we were dislodging tangerines from the heights of a nearby tree. Enjoying the refreshing sweet. The  refreshing coolness. Thinking no harm. Perhaps as innocent, or as ignorant, as the cat. Perhaps ignorant as those  tasting the sweet, hospitable offering of sugar in days gone by, not knowing the cost, the pain, the families torn, the lives given.

Saturday morning... 80 degrees in the morning. Cold cup of water. Fan running. Birds singing. Flute in next room playing hymns. The joy of the Lord is your strength. If you know these things happy are you if you do  them. Joy in doing. Strength in doing. I have meat to eat that you know not of. Joy and strength in doing the Father's will, even for one thirsty soul.
Clothes still damp from washing the night before. Humid, tropical. Morning downpour. Mosquito net, forgot to use. Louvered glass windows for air. No air conditioning. Microwave, freezer, piano, clock on the wall. Roof metal  fastened extra secure for hurricanes. Sister's batch downstairs. Sisters offer to wash clothes. I already did by hand last night, should have known. Missed the offer.

Married couple who listened in the early days of gospel work on the island live on this level. Concrete walls, electric lights, flush toilet, hot water, fridge, couch, bookshelf, car, much like USA, with mix of rich and  poor. Tropical flavor. French influence. Bread, cheese, boiled egg, apple, orange, the day begins. Tile floor is cool to the feet.

Breakfast visit... Brother worker came to see what opportunities were on Martinique for the gospel. He was invited to stay in the home of a preacher for a few days. The 60's on Martinique were like the 20's and 30's in the  states. People had time. Time to listen. Time to hear the gospel. Bicycles, no rush to work, no rush to have more than the neighbors, no headlong rush for things. Time to live, time to think, time to be hospitable. Simple  homes. Now so much to do, so much to get, work, need a better car, better house, travel, soccer, music, cars, traffic, vanity, pride, cars, a spirit  in the air that wasn't here when the gospel came in the 60's, need a better home, better car, to be better than the other, never satisfied, need a better car. Hard on the marriage. Hard on the soul. Liberty, freedom, bondage.  
Our friend was visiting with a neighbor, telling of Jesus who has never  changed. The neighbor says, things have changed, oil lamps and now electric lights. Bicycles, and now cars. If Jesus was here, he said, he would change. True, change for the body, but not change for the soul. Our friend  asked him, have you ever seen death change? No, death doesn't change. The need of the soul doesn't change. The remedy for the soul doesn't change.
One of the early brothers on
Martinique had a bad heart, poor health. Still   he was very active. No strength of heart to walk, and talk at the same time. He carried a cassette player. He recorded himself singing hymns and inviting people to Bible studies. Then he would walk the streets, playing  the recording from his cassette player. People heard the singing, and the
invitation to hear the gospel. He visited churches, listened, visited any Bible gathering, listened. Was invited to speak in church. Afterwards he  passed his hat, not for a collection of dollars, but if anyone wanted to hear the rest of the message, they could put their name and address in the hat. There were results. The call of God. The call to souls. The call to liberty.

One man moved to this island from an English speaking island. Martinique is French speaking, an extension of France like Hawaii is to the USA. People here are citizens of France. This man stayed home Sunday morning while his  room mates went to the Baptist Church. They were from another English speaking island. On the way home they met and visited with our white-skinned brothers on the street, to talk English. Invited them home. Workers  met the man who stayed home. They returned the next Sunday for a Bible study. Soon found a batch nearby to live. The man who stayed home became the first to make his choice on Martinique.

His future wife was in another city across the island of Martinique. She was searching, praying. Later the workers moved to the city nearby. Her mother came home one day saying she saw a door with a sign telling of  the Bible being shared with no denomination name. Her father said it is just like all the other churches. They had become dissatisfied, and were
staying home from churches.

This future wife, the daughter, thought different. She prayed God would help her find the door with the sign. She went to the city, to the area  of town where her mother told her, without a street name, or address. Right  away there was the sign. The door with the sign. She knocked and the brother workers answered. She told them she believed God led her here. She
felt a spirit about them she hadn't found, a spirit she longed for, she was  searching for. The spirit of peace. The spirit of liberty. She returned once a week for Bible studies, not telling her parents. She was in her late teens, and soon made her choice to serve God. Later her parents received  the servants.

Now interest in Martinique is hard to come by. The thorny soil, cares of  life, deceitfulness of riches, lusts of other things, pride of life, desires of the eye, the ear, the nose, the mouth, all overpowering the  great longing of the soul for reality, for liberty. Pills to lose weight, and no control to eat less. Bondage. Proud, and nothing to be proud of. Sounds like our country. Sounds like modern times. Sounds like the nature of man. The evil one, the deceiver, the enemy of our soul, saying all is well. Don't worry. Stay in the city. Indulge yourself.
Wonderful to see a few called out. A few sanctified to the Lord. A few who love peace with God above gratification of the flesh. The entertainment  world is no joking matter. It's the portrayal of all that would consume a life, consume the thoughts, the heart, the desires, for what is vanity, leaving an empty shell when eternity calls. The entertainment world,
kindling the lusts of the flesh, the pride of life, the consuming desire  for things, for place, for recognition, encouraging the honor that comes from man more than the honor that comes from God only. Distracting the soul from the creator, who would fill the soul with eternal riches. The gospel  brings substance, brings reality, brings contentment, brings peace, brings
the presence of God, brings eternal salvation. A few called out. A few, captives to Christ, liberty of soul.  
10:30:  "Respondiendo Jeszs, dijo: Un hombre descendma de Jerusalin a  Jerics, y cays en manos de ladrones, los cuales le despojaron; e hiriindole, se fueron, dejandole medio muerto."  In man's hands everything is taken, in Jesus' hands everything is given. In man's hands we are wounded, in Jesus' hands we are healed. In man's hands we are forsaken, in Jesus' hands he draws near. In man's hands, we are left hopeless; in Jesus' hands, he pours out his soul for our eternal sake.

Sonia was with us this summer for some of our conventions. Martinique is the island of her nativity, with her folks still in the same home. Her father has Alzheimer's, and neither of them are professing at the moment.  However, her mother has become very friendly lately, as Sonia has been part of a threesome to be free to help with her father some, and her mother has seen the care and love she has for him. Sonia didn't live at home after she  was 15, when she went away for high school. Her mother invited us workers to stop by for a visit, and was quite cheerful and hospitable. Served a tasty juice and Pringles. Sonia is our hostess while here.

Saturday lunch... our friends were married on
Martinique. Later lived in   French Guiana. He worked with a crew of men. One man was ridiculed. Ridiculed for his beliefs, for his sanctified life. He took it well.  He ate lunch alone. Our friend was watching. Our friend was drawn to him, went over to visit with him, risking being ridiculed himself. Visited with the man eating alone. Learned the man had God in his life. Our friend wanted  God in his life. He and his wife made their choice to serve God.

Tomorrow is convention, Sunday, meetings in a home of one of our friends, with the one small church of the island. Workers here use a car. Public transportation is expensive, shuts down in the evenings, shuts down on  Sundays. The car allows visits in the evenings, allows keeping in touch with scattered friends and contacts. An extra rental car for a couple days
allowing us 9 workers to visit others during these few days we are here before the Sunday convention. Hilly island. Beautiful island. Lush vegetation, flowers, bananas, coconuts, pineapples, sugar cane, ocean. White beaches for tourists. Black beaches from the volcano.

Love God with all our heart, mind, soul, strength. Love him with our choices. Love him with our desires. Love him with our thoughts. Love him with our words. Love him with our deeds. Love him with our tears. Weep for  what is worthy of weeping.

Greetings from Martinique,
Craig (Jacobsen)