Thursday, April 18, 2013

Easter & Ecuador

Another guest post from my Dad...

Twenty years this October, my son Andre entered into heaven and all its glory, with Christ forever.  Finally he gets to meet grandpa Alford, Grandad and Grandmother and Oma as well as so many other friends and relatives (Matt 8:11). But it’s because of what Christ did on the cross, which we celebrate as Easter.  Christ gave his life for mankind that Andre and all our family have the Hope (confident anticipation) of being together for eternity.

At Easter a few years ago I was very struck by how young men Andre’s age looked up to their fathers as Andre did to me.  I wish all sons and dads had the hope (confident anticipation) from God’s word of being together forever.  It’s one thing to know about Christ, but to actually have Christ indwelling is the answer. 

There are many people I admire and thank for what they have meant to me over the years.  My grandfather, who never learned to read or write, once said to me, “You know Gary that tree,” the old willow in front of Gramma and Grampa’s house,  “it sure didn’t just make itself.”  He would talk about the cows and the beauty of the farm. I don’t think Grampa ever got farther than Owen Sound, about 400 miles from home, but he was impressed by Gods handiwork and he gave credit to God for all he had.  He was Anglican, and used to say he could not understand why people always read the same prayers each week from the prayer book.  Gramps was a talker and he thought we should pray like we talk.  “Just say to God what ya have t’say.”  And he did.  I used to be impressed just to see him on his knees in prayer every night. I guess that’s why I think keeping the gospel simple is important and also why I know that education alone is not an answer.  “Education without salvation is damnation to creation.”

I also admire my brother, who argued, talked, discussed and finally proved to me the truth and the trustworthiness of the Bible, and what it said I needed to do to be saved.  Did accepting Christ make me perfect? No, not in man’s eyes or in my eyes, but yes, in Gods eyes, perfect to be “able to be used for the purpose intended”.  Perfect that I might glorify God . Even the angels rejoice when one person becomes born again.   (Luke 15:7-10).

Andre made that decision too, and because of that (and the fact that Aaron and Josie have also made that decision) we are promised from God’s word to spend eternity together in heaven.  This is a promise from God and His own written word. Not a church leader, not just a wish we have, not because we gave money, and not just a feeling . I know I don’t deserve it but Christ paid my price on the cross (Romans 5:18).  Adam caused us to be separated from God by the one sin (since I and all mankind was created in Adam). Likewise, one Man, the Man Christ Jesus, paid for my salvation by willingly taking my place on the cross (Romans 5:12)

In the garden it was ‘God with man’ and sin caused him to separate from us.  But when we now accept Christ for salvation it is no longer just God with us, or alongside of us, it is actually Christ in us, the hope (confident anticipation) of glory (Colossians 1:27).  We gain more in our salvation than we even lost in the garden.

Christ not only died for mankind but also for all of creation.  Even if life was to be found on other planets it is covered by the blood of Christ. Christ the great redeemer.  Don’t sell him short.  There is none better or more powerful than Christ.

As years go by I’m more and more interested in seeing others come to a knowledge of salvation.  It’s been 20 years since Andre went home to be with the Lord, and I can honestly say that barely a day has passed in all those years that he hasn’t crossed my mind.  Andre loved cars as I do, and when I wanted a way to do something in memory of Andre one of the first things I decided was to do a car in memory of Andre . 

I’ve enjoyed showing the Mustang (“NVR DRTY”) at shows.  Because of the display board with Andre’s car and the Mustang on it and the words there, I get a chance to brag not only about my car, but about a good son.  I’m able to let others know that they can look forward to eternal life with loved ones if they choose too follow God’s Word.

Recently I have had the opportunity and been blessed to spend time with Aaron on two mission trips; one to Thailand and most recently with I-TEC in Ecuador.  I should mention that Josie was planning to go on both trips, but when we had booked the Thailand trip Oma was ill, and when we booked Ecuador another dear friend was ill, so Josie chose to stay home to be available if any need arose.  (Josie is a whole other story: a gift from God that I can’t live without.)

Like showing the Mustang and then telling about Andre, when I show pictures of our mission trips I get to brag about Aaron.  (As well as tell people how much he is like his dad. Talented, edukated, smart, good-looking, etc., etc., etc.)  As I have experienced Aaron working with the homeless or street kids, I see that people all over the world need to know what Christ has done for them and how Christ can make the difference in their life too.  Aaron could be making a lot of money in the secular world as he has many talents whether singing, acting, writing or many other areas, but I know (and he knows) God’s will for him is to be with the homeless and the down-but-not-out.  Josie and I have met people who are the results of Christ working in the lives of people, people who have been touched by God’s gift in Aaron. 

On this last trip, Aaron and I helped and fitted 15 people with new glasses– older folks and kids as well– through I-TEC’s “I-SEE” program.  Others on the same team pulled 12-14 teeth (“I-DENT”), some repaired equipment (“I-FIX”), and even more gave medical attention to those in need (“I-MED”).  All this was done to help people see the hand of God at work.  I hope I am able to continue to promote what I-TEC,  Aaron, and others are doing.  I’m not begging for money but if anyone is interested, I’m very impressed with I-TEC as a mission, and would encourage you to give to them either with your time or your finances.

I’ve got to say how impressed I was with the group we were with on our trip, too. The young people were so dedicated to the Lord’s work.  Respect was present at all times. I’d be so proud too have any of these guys or gals as a son or daughter.  I’d love to be able to write a few pages about each person I met on the trip . Each was special in their own way.

Josie and I plan to go together on another mission trip next year.  I would like to purchase an I-SEE kit as well as an I-DENT kit and be able to leave them with a group we would visit so they can be used by the people in their own village.

If I can be remembered for anything in my life, I hope I’ll be remembered as a “rope holder” for at least one person.  In the story in the book of Acts, when Paul was let down over the wall, we never found out who was holding his ropes.  But if that person had not done their job, Paul may not have been able to do his job either.

                                                                LOVE IN CHRIST
                                                                          Gary Alford

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