By Rev. Ralph A. Pontier, referenced in Winter 2010
The Old Testament book of Judges contains a little known love story – that of Othniel and Acsah. It is part of the story of the conquest of the land of Canaan when Joshua led God’s people into the Promised Land. It reads: 
From there they went against the inhabitants of Debir. (The name of Debir was formerly Kirjath Sepher.) 12 Then Caleb said, “Whoever attacks Kirjath Sepher and takes it, to him I will give my daughter Achsah as wife.” 13 And Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother, took it; so he gave him his daughter Achsah as wife. 14 Now it happened, when she came to him, that she urged him[a] to ask her father for a field. And she dismounted from her donkey, and Caleb said to her, “What do you wish?” 15 So she said to him, “Give me a blessing; since you have given me land in the South, give me also springs of water.” And Caleb gave her the upper springs and the lower springs. Judges 1:11-15
Although this story is not well known, the divine Author of Scripture saw fit to include it twice, both in Judges and in Joshua 15. The setting is a city called Debir, located near the Canaanite stronghold of Hebron. Debir means “word” and its other name, Kiriath Sepher, means “city of books”. It was a library city, a city of important records. To destroy Debir would be to destroy one of the foundations of Canaanite culture – a culture God had judged worthy of obliteration, in part because it practiced child sacrifice.
Caleb was one of two faithful spies sent out by Moses. Ten other spies had put fear in the hearts of Israel and made them want to go back to Egypt. Caleb and Joshua were the only two who encouraged the Israelites to enter the land. Because the Israelites were frightened by reports of giants, they rebelled against God. For their lack of faith, God made them wander 40 years in the desert. When Caleb finally got to enter and take his allotted share, he chose Hebron, the land of the giants.
By faith, Caleb conquered Hebron and slew the giants. Caleb’s faith was remarkable considering he was not an Israelite but a Kenizzite, a descendent of Moses’ father-in-law. His presence in Israel was a sign of the grace of God, foreshadowing the later inclusion of believing Gentiles among God’s people.
After conquering Hebron, Caleb turned to Debir. Here he saw an opportunity to find a suitable husband for his daughter. His offer to give her to who ever would conquer Debir was a perceptive plan. He would not only get help conquering his inheritance, but also a worthy husband for his daughter. Debir was well fortified and could not be conquered easily. To be able to conquer such a foe, one would not only have to be brave and strong but also trust and rely on the Lord.
Othniel loved Acsah and was willing to risk his life to win her hand. Inspired by love and trusting God’s promises, he defeated God’s enemy and won his bride. No medieval dragon slayer ever fought harder to win a royal bride. This love story is an emblem of the Gospel, for it was the Greater Othniel who, for love, gave His life to destroy an even greater foe and win His holy bride, the Church. He destroyed a foe whose lying words are the foundation of a culture increasingly opposed to what God has revealed as holy.
The similarities of this love story to the Gospel of God’s love do not end with the victor winning his bride through the defeat of an enemy. The son-in-law obtained from the father a potentially fruitful inheritance though it lacked water. So they went to her father and she asked for water. He gave abundantly, eager to enrich her. So too the heavenly Father stands ready to enrich those who ask Him. The Bible says, “If you ... know how to give good gifts ..., how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” Luke 11:13. The Holy Spirit is the water of life, springing up in believers, enabling them to be fruitful in their inheritance from God, secured by Jesus through the defeat of their enemy, Satan.
The Bridegroom who gave His life to obtain us as His bride, obtaining for us a glorious heritage and showering us with the riches of God’s grace, now calls us to show forth His love by deeds of love and kindness to all who are in need. His apostle writes, “Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share” 1 Timothy 6:18.
Rev. Ralph Pontier is pastor of Emmanuel Reformed Church in Neerlandia, Alberta.

By Rick Postma, referenced in Winter 2010
Just recently, the world stood by with baited breath as the Chilean government, with assistance from the USA, Canada and various European countries, raced to rescue 33 miners trapped far below the surface of the earth. Did the technology exist to reach them without causing another cave-in that would kill them? How would they survive in the mean time? Each of us likely shuddered to think what the struggle to survive would be like in a dark hot hole, far below the surface of the earth for months with the likelihood of rescue hanging in the balance.
The rescue of the miners was a celebration of ingenuity, teamwork, and the high value placed on an individual life. It was wonderful to hear or read of the credit given to the Lord as well by many of the rescued.
I can’t help but contrast the high value placed on human life with the heinous slaughter of unborn children which takes place in almost all areas of the world. God brought judgement on the Israelites and surrounding nations for sacrificing their children to Molech. The growing challenges faced by the western world with an aging population are but one outcome of this horrific practice. Small changes such as raising the age of retirement from 60 to 62 years of age in France have resulted in massive strikes from an unthankful and increasingly dependent populace. Do the mindless tactics of countless citizens in France and Greece provide a glimpse of our future?
In this issue, we highlight the sponsorship program. This program makes a major difference in the lives of many children and their families. Each child is a precious human being, made in God’s image, with an eternal destiny. If God wills, we can be the instruments in His hands to bring a child into a saving relationship with Him, to nurture that relationship and to help him or her face a very tough and often disappointing life. Nidia De López tells us how the program has impacted her life in Guatemala and Mike Sosola, now a policeman, does the same for the orphan program in Malawi. We join Everton Kamangire, the director of the Lizulu Orphan Care program in celebrating the 10th anniversary of that program. Various articles explain more about the sponsorship program and highlight the need for sponsors in Ecuador. The Miskins introduce a new home for the aged in South Africa.
In the meditation, Pastor Pontier, reminds us of a beautiful love story in God’s Word. May the love of Christ for His bride, the Church, compel us to reach out in love to many precious children, and their families, in the developing world.
Rick Postma is Director of Public Relations for Word & Deed Ministries.

Softball Tournament: by Harry Kooistra

The first Annual Word & Deed Softball Tournament of West Michigan took place on September 19, 2009, at the Christian Reformed Recreation Grounds in Grand Rapids, MI. The event opened at 8:00 a.m. when the first players straggled in and got underway at 8:30 a.m. with the first three opening games.

The weather was perfect: we were blessed with abundant sunshine and a cooling breeze. The contests were fierce but the spirit was jovial as the morning progressed. The little ones were kept busy on the inflatable amusement centers under the supervision of some very patient volunteers. Hot dogs and homemade sloppy joes were served up by another set of very experienced volunteers.

After lunch it became obvious who the leading teams were and the contest became more focused. Apparently, lunch did not slow the players down. In the semi-finals, Pastor VanMaanen of the Little Farms OPC team demonstrated his talents. Besides preaching, he ably demonstrated a “pitch” of a different kind – although slow, it was well-aimed (as usual), but fell a little short of the mark. The co-ed division finals went to VanKempen Electric vs. the Dutton Diggers. The VanKempen leader cut quite a figure in his natty blue and grey uniform, a little different than his board meeting attire. He had the distinction of being the oldest player, but by no means the slowest. VanKempen Electric won in hard-fought contest.

M&S Siding covered itself with glory by winning the men’s division and was considered the tournament champion. Harvest OPC finished second but deserves an award for heart, as they lost by the slimmest of margins even though several of their players were limping around the bases by the end of the final game.

Judging from the moans and groans toward the end of the day and certainly on the Sabbath morning following, the more seasoned players had underestimated the ravages that years take on the body. Maybe next year we can get the analgesic manufacturers to sponsor a team or two. Several casualties should be mentioned: Al Moss suffered a twisted ankle and had to be carried off the field after being deemed unfit for further combat. Roelie Byker’s car suffered a major dent to the driver’s side door due to a spectacular but somewhat misplaced line drive. And the third incident nearly took out a player who was beaned in the noggin by a base umpire’s totally misguided throw. Talk of possible lawsuits stemming from this incident was quickly squashed due to the inaccessibility of intimidated witnesses. There was a doctor and a lawyer present that day and both reported that business was brisk.

90 players participated, at least that many more formed the cheering section, and all had a very good time (with the exception of the injured). The camaraderie, fellowship and sportsmanship displayed by the players from area churches were gratifying to see. All agreed that this is an excellent way to raise funds to support a worthwhile cause.

A total of $11,500 was raised for agricultural projects in Guatemala and Nicaragua. Our heartfelt thanks is extended to all the players, supporters and sponsors. Thank you for your generosity and we look forward to seeing you next year, the Lord willing.

Harry Kooistra is a member of the Word & Deed USA board and attends Trinity United Reformed Church in Caledonia, Michigan.

By Pastor Hans Overduin
In Ephesians 3:18-19, the Apostle Paul prays for God’s people in Ephesus with this petition, “that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and [so] to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge…” This prayer shows both how very much Paul cared for the Ephesians, and even more it shows how caught up Paul was with the unending dimensions of God’s love in and through Christ Jesus, the Saviour of sinners.
Oh, if we only understood more, and lived more out of, the infinite love of God for us in Christ Jesus! Dr. M.Lloyd-Jones said about these verses, “We must never fall into the error of imagining that because we are Christians we therefore know all about the love of God. Most of us are but as children paddling at the edge of an ocean.” Which Christian won’t admit that is so true! Therefore it can be very wholesome to dwell on the immeasurable love of God in Christ Jesus, both in reference to the believer’s comfort and to the believer’s calling to reach out to others around us in Christian word and deed ministry.
While we must not read too much into the four dimensions of God’s love that Paul gives, yet we should not discount the different dimensions either. Thus, the breadth of God’s love surely may have us think on God’s love being so wide it reaches out to all sinners of all kinds from all over the whole world! We may not exclude anyone from the free offer of God’s grace and lovingkindness in Christ Jesus. Consider John 3:16!
The length of God’s love, without question, tells us something of its endlessness, from eternity to eternity. God’s love in Christ is an everlasting and never-failing love! (See I Corinthians 13:4-8a.) When Paul goes on and speaks next of the depths of God’s love, he is thinking about the earlier gospel-saturated chapters in Ephesians. That section deals with how God gave His only Son for the salvation of sinners like us, and to what depths of suffering Jesus Christ went to deliver His people from the depths of misery and to bring them to the heights of glory. Consider too Romans 11:33-36, as well as Paul’s reference to “the unsearchable riches of Christ” in Ephesians 3:8.
Paul then goes on to tell of the height of God’s love in Christ Jesus. No doubt, Paul wants us to contemplate here the ultimate and final purposes of God in all His gospel promises. The gracious reality of the gospel proclaims there is just no end to all the good things God promises for us in life and death for body and soul for now and forever in and through Christ Jesus! “But as it is written, ‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither has it entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for them that love Him” (I Corinthians 2:9).
In summary, Paul is saying that we just cannot know all there is to know about the love of God in Christ Jesus. “It passes [or surpasses] knowledge.” How good and important for Christians always to remember this, and to reflect this too. The gospel tidings are, as someone put it, “the best of news even for the worst of sinners.” Without question, when you are gripped and guided by this amazing gospel of the astounding, immeasurable love of the Triune God in and through Christ Jesus, you want to reach out to others with the same in word and deed. You need to do so, by God’s grace, and you keep wanting to do so, because the love of Christ compels you so. How wonderful when this love is behind all our ongoing support for Word & Deed Ministries. To God alone be all the glory for whatever may be done also through this faithful ministry!
Rev. Hans Overduin is pastor of the Calgary Free Reformed Church.

2010fallsmall

Click on "Read More" to see the table of contents.

2010summersmall

Click on "Read More", below, to select articles from the table of contents.

By Tanya Byl
From the Spring 2010 Magazine.
Letters to Colombia
Way, way back in the Fall 2008 issue of this magazine, I invited you to write a letter in Spanish to a student your age in Colombia. Many of you responded, and now we’ve received responses! Yes, that’s right! Everyone who wrote a letter received one back from a student in Colombia. (Thanks to the translators who converted all those letters into English.)
Toy Challenge

In the Winter 2009 issue, I challenged you to build a toy from garbage, starting with a milk carton. It turns out that Martha de Visser’s Grade 2B class from Calvin Christian School in Monarch, Alberta, met that challenge head on. Miss de Visser writes that “besides some blisters after using the glue gun, we had lots of fun!”

Non Profit Organization Website by Pronk Graphics (MT)