Dubai and Pakistan - November 24, 2005

Our dear All,

Will just give an outline of the very good days we have been having since I came to this part of the world, which is so different in one sense to ours, but not so different in others.

So nice to be in Dubai with Durairaj and Grace and their Family there, originally from Sri Lanka.  They have now been living there from Sri Lanka for 12 years and now it looks like coming to an end as Durairaj has no work since June.  You cannot stay in Dubai unless you have work and your employer sponsors you.  We were able to go over old days when we used to visit them in Sri Lanka as a Family when he was a Tea Estate manager there.

Dubai is so busy with new buildings.  You see cranes everywhere and they are building the tallest building in the world right in the heart of the City.  There is the 7 star hotel out on the edge of the sea which is so well lit up at night, all so opulent.  Underneath all this veneer, there are many who are working day and night and being oppressed by their bosses.  Some who come from overseas who work in some profession are well off but have to work so hard and long hours.  There are so many who just do menial work who do not know when they can be free for a meeting as their bosses can just tell them that you are not free now, you need to work another 4 hours.  They hold their passports and cannot go out and get another job so have to work out their contract.  We spent a lot of time in traffic jams as there are so many cars on the roads there now.  No freeways being built fast enough, so to go from one side of town to the other it could take 2 hours. It's a lot of pressure on the friends to come to the meetings.

Convention is two days, starting on Thursday.  There were about 70 gathered from all parts of the world who live in the surrounding Arab countries around Dubai.  There were two ladies from South Africa, who are the only ones working and living in Saudi Arabia.  Another lady who lives alone in Kuwait.  Ram and Mercy are the only ones working and living in Lebanon.  Phillip and Leanne Rowe who live and work in Azerbaijan.  Jarvis and Allison Olsen who live and work in another country nearby.  Laurie Owen was there from Oman where there are 3 families.  The rest are those who work and live in Dubai, some from the States, some from the Philippines, some from India and Sri Lanka.

We had Nicole Tierentijn from Belgium begin the convention, which is held in the home of Mark and Donna Karstad.  She spoke of the first two questions in the bible:  Where art thou?  Then the 2nd:   Where is your brother?  She mentioned that where we are and where we stand will influence where our brother will sit and stand.  We are responsible for where we are and where our brother is.  Do we have enough love to watch ourselves and also to watch over our brother?  Then spoke of the first question in the New Testament:  Where is Jesus?  Where is the Messiah?  Where is Christ?  We need to ask ourselves this question:  Does he have a place in our heart and life?

Then Ray Hoffman spoke.  Ray had arrived from Florida the day before, so suffering from jet lag, but managed well.  He spoke about standing still, and seeing the salvation of the Lord, so much in this busy world to keep our thoughts and mind so active but the Lord wants us to learn to be quiet and there is so much blessing just in standing still.  Spoke of the children of Israel that day, there was nothing for them to do but just to stand still and that is what the Lord wants us to do at Convention, just be still.  Then there is another time in Joshua 3 where the Priests were to stand still in Jordan and they are like the workers today.  They were to act in faith, they were the first to go in and the last to come out, mentioned that it is the call of the workers today to stand in Jordan till the last one is over.  Who will be the last one?  Maybe the aged and the infirm who cannot go too fast, leaning on a cane?  Some who have held back because of fear?  They had to stand till the very last one passed over and this is the mark of Christ towards the weak and the feeble today.  They all stayed in their place even though they may have been tired or weak, they stood still and firm.  Spoke of a young lady 20 years of age, going a long way from home.  She thought there was no fellowship there but that did not matter as she was not intending to go on.  When she arrived, she found out that there were two there having a meeting on their own, a husband and wife.  She felt that she should go to be a help to them.  So, although she was weak and weary and felt she could not go on, she went on for the sake of the others.  This girl gathered more strength every time she went to the meeting.  Then she went in the work.  That was thirty years ago and is laboring in a foreign field still. When she left them, she thanked this couple for being so faithful for, if it had not been for them, she would not have made it.  They said, "No, it was you who kept us faithful for when you came.  We were on the brink of divorce.  Because you were only 20 years old, we said we could not do that so we both stood firm and true."  Then he went on to speak of a personal standing still, speaking this to an individual.  Saul’s father had lost his asses and so sent Saul and his servant to look for them.  They went to several towns and did not find them.  Saul said to the servant, "My father will stop worrying about the asses and worry about us so we had better go home.The servant said, "No, there is a Seir in this town and we should go and ask him and he will tell us where the asses are."  A Seir means a discerner of spirits and so this happened.  Then Samuel said to Saul, "Let the servant pass on but stand still."  Here was a very personal message for Saul.  Then there were 3 things that Samuel spoke that happened to Saul.  Firstly he was anointed and this is what happens to us all that makes us different to all the other people in this world.  The second thing that happened was the asses were found, these are beasts of burden and speak of our service to God.  Sometimes that is lost, the spirit of service, and we can get it back in the Convention when we are still.  Then the third thing that happened was he was changed into another man, no longer the old Saul.  Sad to read that later he lost his anointing and reverted back to the old Saul.  God wants to make us a new person these days.

Then the next day, Craig Wilson brought out the same thought, saying in Isaiah “Your strength is to sit still.”  He spoke of the danger of being strong in ourselves, which is not good, but being strong in the Lord.  So nice that God is able to speak through his Servants a message that meets the need of the convention.  Dubai is a place where you need to really persevere to get quiet or to sit still, as it is a place of activity.

Sheila spoke in the last meeting of the blessing of those who eat bread in the kingdom of heaven.  There is no doubt that this is so much a great privilege that gets more real with the passing of time.  She spoke of those who rejected the invitation that they missed out on so much.  They were self sufficient and had no need of what the King could provide.  Then those who were gathered out the blind, the halt, the maimed.  They were not perfect but the Master was perfect, the fathers house was perfect, and all that belonged to the Master was perfect, perfect provision.

One thing that impressed itself so much to me in this convention.  It was so settling.  Our Father was right there trying to get us to focus on Him and be settled in Christ.  Thought so often of those words in 1 Peter 5:10.  The God of all grace would strengthen you, settle you.  This is one of the things that God wants to do for us is to have us settled where we are not disturbed by our surroundings, or things that are happening in the world.  The hymn is so nice:  “If but thy presence Lord be mine, then undisturbed I’ll be.”

Ray told us of a Workers meeting in Virginia which he has just attended where there were 150 workers gathered, some from all parts of the world.  Ben Crompton from England, Bob Kerr from Scotland, and many others from all parts of the United States.  What was outstanding to Ray was the spirit of service.  He said they all did the catering and cleaning, etc.  You could hardly get a job as so many wanted to serve.  He said that there was a complete absence of any person big noting themselves or thinking that they were in authority.  He felt there was an unseen presence there and all were under authority to Him.  He said that this was the closest that he has ever been to Heaven, as this is what it will be like in Heaven, all under the authority of Christ, all serving.

Friday night all scattered back to their places again to various countries to be a light there.  Clifford told us that we are the salt of the earth and lights in this world, spoke of salt that it is a product that is God made.  It is only the eternal truths of God that can bring true satisfaction.  Unlike sugar which is processed, the sweetness from a plant.  One time there was a bag of sugar put beside a bag of salt.  It was not used right away but later they wanted to make some tea.  They put sugar in and, when we began to drink the tea, it was salty.  What had happened?  The taste of the salt had gone into the sugar.  The salt did not become sweet.  No, it was still salt.  It is because sugar is man made, but salt is made by God.  It has an affect on other things.  If the right thing is in us, we will have an affect on other people.  If there is a mixture in us, then it is not salt.  Pure salt will never lose its savor.  So often we are so mixed up, we are affected by our environment, so unrighteous because we accept the values of the people who are around us.  In the olden days, salt was so precious.  It had the same value as gold, people traded it like gold.  We think of the eternal truths of God.  It is more valuable than gold today.

Clifford and I traveled that night to Lahore in Pakistan where we went to the Sisters' batch, Heather Mowat and her local companion Shehnaz Khalil.  Clifford had to gather many things to get ready to go to Jhelum Convention grounds on Monday morning. That afternoon, Harrison John arrived by train from Hyderabad, so we met the train. Saturday evening, Clifford, Harrison, and I traveled out to the Khalil Family who I had met before, and so nice to be in their home again.  Johnson and his wife made the evening meal, Arif also helped in the serving.  These brothers know a fair bit of English, so was good to be able to converse.  Mother Khalil now has a room built which is the meeting room where she sleeps.  There were 3 beds put in there for us as we slept the night there.  At 9.00 Sunday morning, we had the meeting and there were 22 to take part there and many more children who all sat on the floor in the middle of the room.  There are two churches in Lahore and so nice to see so many more who have been added since I was here last.  So nice to have the same testimonies as in other places and feel the same spirit in the meeting.  Then we had 3 visits after the meetings.  The first in the home of Shimoon, first met him when I was here in 1993 and so nice to see him grown up with a nice Family.  He has been able to build a nice home where he lives, as well as his brother Marcus and Family.  Then to Mahmood and his family, he was able to tell his testimony.  He has just professed since 2000, they and their children have such a love for the truth of God.  Then to another Mahmood who is Mahmood B where we had lunch.  So nice to be with them and share in their hospitality and to see their love for the truth.  This man is building a new home where they have a workers' room, which is so nice.  Then, back to the batch, where some of the other workers had gathered.  Karen Schofield and her companion had come, also.  The two nephews of BabuLal were also there now, so nice to see them in the work and not hard to see that they are his relatives.  Then, us three brothers went off to do some more visits, have to drink some tea at each place, and have a little word.  They are all so willing to share their testimonies with you.  One man was not in the Sunday morning meeting as he was with his mother in hospital so he wanted to share with us what his thoughts were.  One man here is getting married at the end of the year to another professing girl, and so he wanted to show us his room where they will live. Then had a meal with one couple and their children, and then to another home to stay the night.  These folk got out of their bed so Clifford and I could sleep there.  They slept on the floor with the 3 children, they have 3 nice young boys.  I had met this man also in 1993, as there were several young men learning English with Keith Olsen and Babulal and also coming to the meetings.  About 6 of these boys professed and are married now and have homes where we can visit, they were all single then.

Monday morning we left by a 15 seater bus, had about 12 of us to travel and lots of luggage as a lot of things have to be brought for the convention here. A three hour journey, so was nice to get to the convention centre which has been used for many years.  I have been twice before and nice to see that the same standard has been kept up.  It is like a little safe haven here in the north of Pakistan.  When we arrived, it was a joy to me see Babulal here.  So nice to meet all the other staff who are here for preps.  The rest of the staff are with the visitors in both Bangladesh and Nepal, so they arrive later.  Then we have spent the time cleaning out rooms and getting washing lines up, getting the meeting tent up.  It had to be repaired first, as it got a hole in it last year, but now it is up.  Just now, all the visitors have arrived, so it is nice to meet Keith Olsen and the rest of the staff with the visiting workers.  We are all here now and the convention starts tomorrow night, so will put the speaking list here for you to see.

 

The Jhelim speaking list is as follows :

 

Thursday   8.00 to 9.00   John Watt, Liaquat Ashiq, Faheem John

 

Friday    10.00 to 12.00  Anthony Hodgkinson, Nicole Tierentijn, Elaine Parsons, Shehnaz Khalil

 

Afternoon  3.00 to  5.00  Ray Hoffman, Esther Penny, Marvin Tschetter, Nazia Suba Khan

 

Evening    6.00 to  7.00  Babulal, Heather Mowat, Harrison John

 

Saturday morning          Craig Wilson, Clifford Fedirchuk, Elaine Parsons, Dolly Inayat

 

Afternoon                 Anthony Hodgkinson, Nicole Tierentijn, Stephen Ghani, Beverley Walker

 

Evening                   Keith Olsen, Karen Schofield, Andrias Ashiq

 

Sunday Morning            Ray Hoffman, Esther Penny, Jari Davidson

 

Afternoon                 Craig Wilson, John Watt, Baila Lal

 

 

Now will close off here and send it off.  Nice that we have a connection here that, although it is slow, it is possible, which is nice.

 

All good wishes and love as always, 

Bram