Category Archives: Be A Man

Articles relating to and celebrating manhood, being a man in service to others, and to the King.

One (Persecuted) Church

At our home group last Wednesday we paused our study of Hebrews at the end of chapter 11 to look at the persecuted church in our times. I invite you to do the same with me below. We began our discussion with the following little T/F self evaluation and reflection quiz.


  1. I know very little about the persecuted church in the world.   T   F
  2. I have prayed for a persecuted church or Christian personally.   T   F
  3. I can name 3 countries where Christians are persecuted.   T   F
  4. I send money to an organization who helps the persecuted.   T   F
  5. I know what the Bible tells me to do about the persecuted.   T   F
  6. I know what God would have me do for the persecuted.   T   F
  7. I am doing something to help the persecuted church.   T   F
  8. I know a story about a persecuted Christian that moves me.   T   F
  9. I don’t believe the persecuted church is relevant to my life.   T   F
  10. I would like to know more, and what I should be doing.   T   F
  11. I have at least one friend who talks about the persecuted.   T   F
  12. I have heard some teaching in church about the persecuted.   T   F
  13. I can name 2 organizations that help persecuted Christians.   T   F
  14. I want to know what I can do to help persecuted Christians.   T   F

 [WATCH THE FILM, A CRY FROM IRAN]

Personal Notes to jot down from the film after or as we watch:

(What stands out to you personally, or touches your heart?)
(What did you see that you had no idea about?)
(What did you feel, and what would you do if you and your family lived there?)

[Charles Simpson shared with me by email on February 29th, what he would want to get across to the church in our day about our persecuted brothers and sisters around the globe. Please consider his words with me.]

“Heb 13:3 tells us how to regard those who are prisoners for the gospel. In addition, one of Jesus’ ministries and means of judging our works was our involvement with those in prison ( I think that He was referring specifically to those unjustly persecuted.) Injustice is a cause that is on God’s heart.

What I want to highlight is our identification with our persecuted brothers and sisters. There is only One church. If one suffers we all do.

Persecuted Christians should awaken us all to the battle between good and evil and to our role in standing together. When we make the issues known it pleases God and rebukes the enemy!”

Links and Resources:

“Had the book of Hebrews been written in our time, he (Haik) would have been mentioned there.” Robbie Zacharias

A Cry From Iran Trailer
A Cry from Iran Website
Open Doors USA
Open Doors International
The Voice of the Martyrs 
The Insanity of God by Nik Ripken
The Insanity of Obedience by Nik Ripken
The Heavenly Man by Brother Yun
A Story from Libya

You can search the web for other ways to help, and ask the Spirit to direct you to your place on the wall in support of other believers worldwide, many who are persecuted for their faith in Christ.

“Considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward.” (Hebrews 11:26)

“And from the time John the Baptist began preaching until now, the Kingdom of Heaven has been forcefully advancing, and violent people are attacking it.” (Matthew 11:12)

“Remember the prisoners, as though in prison with them, and those who are ill-treated, since you yourselves also are in the body.” (Hebrews 13:3)

Happy Valentines Day

Bell1

A College Valentine

I know Valentine’s Day passed for 2016 last Sunday. But I wanted to share that I had a very enjoyable one, and I pray you did too.

Valentine's Celebration Days Past

Valentine’s Celebration Days Past

On Valentine’s eve eve, we got with a couple of friends who lived a stone’s throw from us on the farm, where we lived for seventeen years and largely raised our families. We had a nice dinner out, then went to their home for some fellowship and Rook playing. 🙂 Good times and good times remembered.

On Valentine’s eve, we dressed up a little and I took the wife to one of our favorite local Italian restaurants for a quiet evening together, just the two of us. Very nice.

On Valentine’s Day five couples of friends converged at our home for a special dinner surprise prepared by the girls for the guys. This was followed by lots of fun, fellowship, and sharing lives, along with a crazy game of “Telestrations.”

Valentine's Day 2016 with Friends

Valentine’s Day 2016 with Friends

Valentine’s Day seems perfect for pointing out the beauty of love and close relationships between couples and friends. On that note I want to end, and share a remarkable message on LOVE delivered on Valentine’s Day to a community of believers in Kansas City Missouri, by a beautiful young woman named Anna Stuckey Newby in her early thirties, married, and the mother of two small children. This young woman grew up in Fort Smith & Van Buren, where her family was our close friends and neighbors for several years. It was her first time to speak in front of her community, and what a blessed, insightful, inspiring presentation it was! I hope you can send it to your phone and listen. Or get somewhere quiet and let her insights and words soak in? Or take a drive and listen, as my wife and I did the following day. You’ll be blessed. You’ll be glad. You’ll feel like you’ve just come to know God a little bit better, or a whole lot better. Godspeed on your journey, and Happy Valentines Day!

Anna looks exactly like Mom a few years ago...

Anna looks exactly like Mom a few years ago…

 

Lilac-Breasted Roller

 

Can You Take It With You?

IMG_5062

Kevin with some special youth

People are important to God as demonstrated by The Cross. And people that come to know Christ are immortal. With regard to what we  obtain in life, it’s been said, “You can’t take it with you.”  While that’s true of things, you can take with you those you bring to Christ, and the acts of service and kindness to His sons and daughters,  who also have eternal life.

IMG_5153Last year on this same XMA-led trip to Honduras, after prison ministry during the day we were taken to a Celebrate Recovery meeting that night in an Olanchito church. Unexpectedly at the end of the meeting I looked across the room at a beautiful, teenage girl and the Lord almost instantly gave me a word for her!?  I approached the group leader and asked if I might speak the word to the girl and pray for her. She nodded and summoned our group’s  interrupter who was standing nearby. The three of them listened and the word went like this, “You’re a beautiful girl, with good character, and a big, deep heart. But there is a deep sadness in you that is destructive to your future. The Lord wants to heal you and take that sadness away, perhaps little by little, and He wants to be your Father.” Then I prayed a blessing on her and that the Lord would bring His words and purposes to pass for her life. She stood, hugged me, then stood back with big crocodile tears running down her face, and looked deep in my eyes and I into hers for several seconds. Then we smiled at each other and nodded understandingly, turned and left the building. I felt our hearts were joined forever over that moment and that word. Yet I didn’t know if we would meet again on this side of eternity?

IMG_4445

Our Mission Home in the Mountains of Honduras

A couple days later I met her older brother, a keyboard player and worship leader, who told me their father had been murdered a few years earlier, and that his sister was going through a very tough time. He implored me to pray for his sister, which I agreed to do. Being very touched with their close sibling relationship and their plight, I prayed for them both over the next year. Among other things, I prayed God would bring a good stepdad to care for them.

IMG_5092

Roadside Orange Stand

I didn’t know for sure if I would go again to Honduras this year until the last moment, but felt a strong leading to go and committed just days before the trip began. When leaving the house I saw an unused iPod and iPhone on my desk and felt the Spirit said to take them to the kids as a gift, the phone for the girl and iPod for her brother. If indeed I should even see them again I thought to myself? I’ve been on ten or more short term mission trips and things like this aren’t usually done and are discouraged for obvious reasons. I’ve never done it before. But I didn’t want to reason away what I was pretty sure I’d heard, and determined to follow the Spirit’s leading if He unfolded the circumstances.

Just when it looked as if there wasn’t going to be a chance to meet these siblings the Lord brought the opportunity in an instant during lunch at the pastor’s conference. Before going to lunch, I noticed the items in my suitcase and counseled with a brother on our team who had been to Honduras many times and had a good report with these teens, about the appropriateness of these gifts. His counsel was, if the Lord told you to do it, do it. Just give them in as much privacy as possible and perhaps ask that they not make it widely known. It was counsel that seemed right to me. At lunch, I sat at another table with some leaders and new friends, but toward the end of mealtime noticed that Tim was sitting with the siblings directly behind me. I recognized this as the Lord’s timing, excused myself from my table, and joined them for a very precious and mostly private time of sharing about their lives. With the older brother translating for me and also joining in the conversation, I learned that their mom had remarried a dentist. I asked if he was a good dad to them, and both said yes, with them adding, “He’s very honoring of our mom, and he takes good care of us.” I inwardly paused and silently gave much glory and heart felt thanks to God. 🙂 For answered prayer, for His care for the fatherless, and for His faithfulness to his word. There was talk about a boyfriend, some joking but serious counsel about going slowly in relationships, as I supported her brother’s counsel to her, and added that she was most beautiful and loved. I reminded her that this year I still see a little sadness in those beautiful eyes, but only a fraction of what I saw last year. And I reminded her that the Lord was in the process of taking it all away. She smiled with her big, silent smile that could light up a room, and certainly lights up my heart.

IMG_4682

Kerlin, Dwayne & Alexa

Only God can give a person the opportunity to have a meaningful relationship with teens from another culture and country in two chance meetings during two chance years.! To love and encourage a kingdom son and daughter like that is a privilege and to be invited into their lives is priceless. They are the future of the kingdom of God in Honduras, and the future of Honduras.

Oh yes, the gifts? After our thirty-minute, precious conversation and sharing our lives, and the goodness and faithfulness of God, I told the brother, “I have a couple small gifts for you and your sister. God likes to give good gifts to His children. I felt like He prompted me to bring these to you and your sister. Can you follow me over to the mission house? I’d like to give them to you in private so it doesn’t cause any problems with others.” He smiled in agreement understandingly. I told him as I handed them to him in a clear ziplock bag, that I had in mind for his sister to get the phone and he the iPod, but I knew they were close and could share or do as they wished. It was like he didn’t even hear what I said as his eyes got big and he exclaimed, “My sister has been praying for an iPhone for six months! She will be sooo happy!” “And I and my friends on the worship team can use the iPod to learn songs and help with worship!” “Do you want to give it to her?!” he said excitedly. “Well,” I replied, “I think I’ll just let you give it to her to avoid any attention.” He nodded, but I could tell he didn’t like my idea too much and wanted me to give it to her. So I said, “OK, let’s go. I’ll give it to her.” He motioned her over some distance from the others, and I gave it to her. I don’t even remember what I said, but I was trying to be discreet and quick. She saw it and let out a little scream in excitement, then bounded to me and hugged my neck tight. Suddenly, nothing else mattered. God, you are good. And you love to give good gifts to your children. Sometimes I forget.

IMG_5057

Our Team & Friends – Farewell Meal

This was just one of many, many meaningful and touching moments during our week in Honduras, but one that was deeply meaningful and personal for me. God reminded me of the importance of “living loved.” Sometimes we can feel how much He loves others when we cannot feel how much He loves us. That kind of love is stilling and reorienting. That’s seeing His big heart for people, for all people, again. It’s reconnecting with your creator, and your Heavenly Father. 🙂

Special Moments Honduras 2016

IMG_5175January 5-13 I went along with five friends on a spiritual adventure to Olanchito, Honduras. It was my third mission trip to Honduras in the past two years, and the second with XMA (Extreme Missionary Adventures), a para-church ministry facilitating and leading small groups on short term mission trips to countries around the globe.

IMG_5109But the story I witnessed started many years before.

Once upon a time there was a little boy growing up in and around Olanchito, Honduras. His dad was a gifted cattle man and business man who rose to oversee a huge ranch and cattle operation in the area. The boy would in time come to oversee security at the American Embassy in Honduras, a very responsible, respectable, and good paying job.

IMG_5073In time he would come to know Jesus as Christ and King. Later he would feel the desire and call to leave that job and make Christ known to the people in the mountains around his boyhood home of Olanchito. His beautiful and charming wife said, “Why don’t you do that without me.” 🙂 But soon she joined him. For twenty years he labored to that end and prayed for the Lord to send help. Then, sixteen years ago, through chance meetings, relationships and friendships; mission teams from The States started going several times each year, mostly led by XMA, to work with Pastor Dario, and his vision is in full swing with no signs of abating.

IMG_4870On a long 4-wheel drive truck ride to a remote mountain village, I had the joy of sitting in the front seat with Dario and hearing some of his story as I queried him. Our ride was going to take us 3 hours, farther and higher into the mountains than I’d ever been. The village chief (also now the pastor) and his wife sat in the back seat, while others we would drop along the way filled the back of the pickup. They had traveled to the pastor’s conference by foot, and we were taking some of them home, as well as checking on the ministry and church in the village of La Bassa. They conversed with Dario in Spanish about their lives and ministry, punctuated with laughter and smiles. I enjoyed it even though I understood very little. It was a happy and peaceful time.

IMG_4880When there was a period of quiet and looking at the beauty of the steep mountains amid carving rivers, I took the opportunity to ask some counsel from Dario for some friends in my city who are considering starting an orphanage in Honduras. After hearing his sage and heart-felt counsel, I asked him about his personal and ministry journey. With a heart of peace, joy, and gratitude he told me he oversees twenty-seven pastors and churches now in the mountains around Olanchito, in addition to pastoring his own congregation in Olanchito, a city of about 80,000 inhabitants.

IMG_4891I was about to see one of those remote villages myself. We turned off the main road, stopped to lock the hubs and put our two 4×4 pickups, still packed with people, in four-wheel-drive low-range, for the forty-five minute steep, winding plunge into the valley floor where the village lay. I grew up in the highest parts of the Ozark Mountains, driving jeeps and 4×4 pickups as a boy and young man. This was a joyful and peaceful experience for me, albeit impressive! The rest of our six-man team was from flat Louisiana and some told me later they weren’t experiencing the same emotions on our descent. 🙂

About ten minutes from the village, with its thatched and tin roofs in sight from time to time, our lead truck came to a stop. The doors opened, and I was about to have one of the most surprising and meaningful moments of my trip.

IMG_4900During the week, sitting around the dinner table of the mission house we had heard bits and pieces of a story about a man named Larry on a short term mission trip years earlier, hiking six hours into a village for ministry who had experienced a sudden, fatal heart attack. Our second truck pulled in behind us and stopped. I looked at Dario momentarily and he softly said, “We always stop here.” I then noticed off the road up the hill a metal cross with flowers inside a little fenced and well-cared-for plot of ground. It hit me all of a sudden, this is the village and this was the spot where Larry entered eternity. The village chief opened the wire-gap gate and stood back looking at the cross. All was peaceful and quiet in the trucks and with our team who had gotten out by now to see what was going on. After a time, I asked Kevin “Do you want to go up there with me and pray?” He nodded and the two of us stepped through the wire gate up to the cross, knelt on the freshly cut grass and prayed that the Lord would honor Larry’s sacrifice and care for his widow, children, and their descendants forever. We prayed the kingdom work in this village he cared for would flourish as well. It was a somber, sacred moment for us all as we pondered sacrifice and eternity in our own ways.

After hearing earlier that someone had died on one of these short term mission trips and getting over the initial shock of it, a thought occurred to me that I shared  with the others as they nodded their agreement. “What a way to go! Serving the Lord one second — seeing Him face to face the next!”

As it turned out Larry had been to this village twice and developed a friendship bond with the chief. Until the time of Larry’s home going, the chief had a still in the area and sold alcohol to the villagers. Being touched by Larry’s sacrifice and death, the chief was moved to destroy his still and change his ways, eventually becoming a Christian and the pastor of the village church.

Pastor Dario had also told me on the steep descent into the deep valley that when he first came to the villages here he found seventeen people living in a one room hut with a dirt floor. Each burrowed out his or her sleeping place in the soil. Pastors, wives and missionaries also educated village households to stop spitting on their dirt floors, as it transmitted sickness, and other hygiene education. Some villagers he told me were still squatting in place for meals and using unwashed hands to eat food from their bowls instead of utensils. He smiled pleased at the quality of life and health changes he’d seen in the villages as well as moral and social changes due to the gospel.

IMG_4917None of us knew what was in store for us that day, but after a little milling around and looking at the village surrounded by smiling children with eager eyes, we were invited to the newest and most beautiful building in the village. It was a concrete block and metal roofed church completed two years ago by volunteer groups from The States and the villagers. A gentle wind blew simple scarlet and gold curtains filing the open air windows as children lined the stage and began to sing worship songs to Jesus accompanied by a man with a guitar and at the direction of the village chief playing a well-worn accordion. What an incredible, beautiful site!IMG_4943

 

Our team was introduced one by one to the applause of the villagers. Then one of our number, Tim, gave a short testimony and message from the Bible with Pastor Dario translating. An invitation was given and the team prayed for the sick and those coming with spiritual needs. The peaceful and joyful service completed, we were invited to the chief’s home for a dinner of rice, beans, and chicken  prepared and served by his wife and daughter. Following the meal we enjoyed a hot cup of home grown and roasted coffee before heading outside to goodbye hugs, waves, and our trucks.

IMG_4931The sunshine had disappeared with wind and clouds threatening imminent rain showers which could render our accent back up the mountains treacherous if not halted. So we quickly got underway and made the thirty minute plus climb to the main road just as the showers began. Driving back to the mission compound, and then to church in the city that night, our hearts were full of joy and wonder at what God had done in that village with those people, allowing us to see it and be a small part of their community.

“This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:14)

“And I saw another angel flying in midheaven, having an eternal gospel to preach to those who live on the earth, and to every nation and tribe and tongue and people;” (Revelation 14:6)

 “And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.” (Revelation 5:9)

 

Honduras 2016

IMG_5105During mid-January I went with a six-man team from Louisiana on a short-term mission trip to the mountains around Olanchito, Honduras. Some on our team have a long-term relationship with a local pastor there, as does our mission-facilitating organization XMA (Extreme Missionary Adventures).

IMG_4530Let me stop and give a shout out to XMA for their service and value to the Kingdom of God, especially the world of short-term missions! In their short history they have developed relationships with indigenous church leaders, pastors, and missionaries around the globe. I’ve seen this wonderful association myself and benefited from it twice now. They serve church groups and individuals like you and me by organizing and leading us on spiritual adventures to serve proven people they know. You can and should read about their organization and opportunities to help you or your group go on an adventure! One of their mottos is “Adventure with a Purpose!” They perform a wonderful service and do a wonderful job! Give them a look!

IMG_2631Honduras is in Central America about a three hour flight from Houston or Miami. It’ s the second largest country in CA, beautiful, mostly mountainous, with both an Caribbean and Pacific coast line. According to Operation World, considered by many the authority  on world missions, Honduras is “one of the Western hemisphere’s poorest countries,” with “widespread unemployment, low wages, and long lasting devastation from  Hurricane Mitch (1998)”… making it a country of great need. “Thirty-seven percent of the population is under fifteen years old.” So there are lots of needs and opportunities to sow into and help children in Honduras.

IMG_4645What you may not know (I didn’t!)  is that Honduras has experienced “five decades of evangelical growth. In 1960, evangelicals numbered 32,000 and were 1.7% of the population. They are now 1,750,000 and 23%, and growth shows little sign of stopping. Some polls show that up to 36% of the population identify with evangelical beliefs.” These statistics and what I’ve seen on three trips to Honduras in the last fourteen months make me believe God’s heart and ear is turned to the people there.

IMG_4629 IMG_4792What did we do there? Two of our number had prepared for and subsequently taught a pastors conference. About 20-30 pastors and some of their family members walked as many as twelve hours through the mountains to the mission compound and camped in the crude dorms. They attended the teaching sessions about six hours each day for three days, in addition to worship and prayer times. During this time the rest of us did construction work, putting a metal roof on a partially completed church building in a nearby village about five miles upstream of the mission complex in the mountains.

IMG_4560

 

We also ministered one afternoon in the Olanchito state prison, sharing the gospel and our testimonies. There we saw five men come to faith in Christ for the first time. Others came forward so we moved among the prisoners, laying our hands on them, praying for them and their families as the Spirit gave us impressions. We didn’t have translators, nor were they needed. It was a special time.

One of our team had shared with the group at devotional time the day before, “Last year this time I was in prison myself, and I haven’t been a Christian very long. This is my first mission trip and I don’t know the Scriptures like the rest of you guys so I’m a little nervous.” We said in response, “Are you kidding? You are the sharpest tool in the Lord’s pouch! His saving grace is very fresh to you, and they will be able to relate to you fully.” He did a great job sharing his testimony, with the prisoners hanging on his every word! 🙂 All the while the Spirit bore witness to his words. 🙂

IMG_3301 IMG_4400To keep it brief I’ll stop for now and write again about a couple more special Honduran experiences in separate blogs. In summary, pray for Honduras! And consider going! The people and country will be blessed eternally, and you more so!

Photos 🙂

Foster Care Summer Camp 2015

SONY DSCFriday morning at 6:00 a.m. I had the pleasure of attending the 44th annual Fort Smith Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast downtown. The event is hosted by the CBMC (Christian Business Men’s Committee) and was very inspirational. Some inspired prayers where offered up to the Lord by area pastors, and among the honored guests was Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchison, who briefly addressed the crowd before the main speaker, NFL running back William Green, took the podium.

DSCN1617

SONY DSCT. Ray Grandstaff, Arkansas Director of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, introduced Mr. Green saying that he had arrived in our area a couple days early and addressed several area high school football team members resulting in 59 young men professing faith in Jesus Christ. He was an outstanding man, an excellent speaker, with a great story. (When his talk becomes available digitally, I’ll include a link here!)

SONY DSCGov. Hutchison was brief with his remarks praising the committee for their efforts in hosting this event and underscoring the value and need for prayer in the political and government arenas. He went on to passionately promote two initiatives asking faith based groups to come along side the State of Arkansas in service and leadership with their help and support. He  framed the need and opportunity by asking churches and faith-based groups to help in giving some Arkansans a much needed 1st chance in life, and by giving others a much needed 2nd chance in life.

DSCN1672The two groups of Arkansans, he went on to say are (1) prisoners being reintroduced into society after they’ve served their time. And (2) foster homes for kids. He said that there were presently 500 foster children in Sebastian County who were in need of a place to stay with only 125 homes currently serving. Please pray about these situations and act as the Spirit leads you. Foster children need a 1st chance in life, while released prisoners need a 2nd chance.

SONY DSC

SONY DSCOn Father’s Day this year, a local faith-based organization hosted their 11th annual summer camp for foster kids  with volunteers from four area churches and  their children. The organization, Matthew Eighteen, is organized and lead by a local couple who have served foster kids in their homes for several years, and adopted foster children.

SONY DSCThis 2015 Matthew 18 camp saw 25 volunteers serving 23 children. And according to Curtis, the director, there were eight baptisms at camp’s end. He said, “This year’s camp was characterized by healing. The camp’s theme was, ‘You are more.'” For a photo album of this year’s camp, click here. For a short story of this year’s camp by video, click here.

*****************************************************

If you’re interested in Governor Asa Hutchinson’s call for faith based help, attend and talk up the Restore Hope Summit explained below.

“This morning, Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced a call to action for faith-based leaders to discuss solutions to two seemingly disparate issues facing the state: the shortage of foster homes for children in Department of Human Services custody, and the lack of services for former prison inmates reentering society. The “Restore Hope Summit” will be held on August 25 and 26 at the Marriott Hotel in Little Rock. Those interested in attending can register online here.” Arkansas Times

Another Camp Hope Video

Video “A Day at Camp Hope”

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:8–9)

 

 

D-Day 2015

Dad Hogue in the SE Arkansas Delta where he lived most of his life

Dad Hogue in the SE Arkansas Delta where he lived most of his life

Remembering my father-in-law, Russel Hogue, from a book written by his daughter, Elizabeth Hogue Bell, titled  “My Dad – No Ordinary Man” 2007.

I really had no idea of the extent of dad’s service in World War II. The hardship and the danger and the courage required as he served; he really never discussed. We just knew he served in World War II. It wasn’t until my husband, Dwayne, and brother, David, began traveling to his war reunions that we begin to learn about his 0630 Russel Hogue 80thexperiences. While traveling to one of those reunions dad was in the airport in Dallas and ran into one of our friends. The friend was introduced to dad and told where we were going. The friend asked dad what he did in the war? “I drove a 2 1/2 ton truck full of 5 gallon gas cans to refuel tanks most of the time,” was dad’s humble reply. The friend quickly remarked, ”There’s a country song out there called, “What were you thinking?” Dad’s quick comment was, “Yeah, I didn’t have many hitchhikers.” I think that was the first time we realized how dangerous his job was!  A stray bullet or tracer around, and kaboom!

We had never known or realized that history reveals dad’s unit, The Third Armored Division, did more to win the war in Europe for the allies than perhaps any other unit. They have records for many firsts among US forces, including the first across Hitler’s famous Siegfried line, and the first to capture a major German city, Cologne. They were in the Battle of the Bulge and in some of the fiercest fighting of the war after crossing into Europe at Normandy.

Dad served in the CCC in North Dakota two years preceding WW II

Dad served with the CCC in North Dakota two years preceding WW II

Dad never made a big deal out of carrying a Thompson sub machine gun and driving a truck full of gas and support of tanks for 18 months in one of the most dangerous times and places in history, to defend our country and freedom for the world. In mud, rain, snow, daylight, and dark he served, many nights sleeping under that same truck.

After attending a few reunions with Dad, and having the light of these truths slowly dawn on him, my husband once asked Dad, ”Why have you never told this to me or any of our family?” His humble reply was,”It’s something I never figured people were much interested in, and it’s something we’d just soon forget.” Yet when at these reunions, with men who had experienced the same things, they would talk, laugh, love, and remember the bond that extreme adversity, courage honorable conduct, and sacrifice mold. They seem to know the value of each person. They seemed to love good and hate evil, and see it a little clearer that people do today. They loved freedom and appreciated it more, having seen the cost. This in small part is the fabric of what is been called the ”Greatest Generation.” This was my dad’s generation, and in our eyes he was one of its most noble parts.

Dad Hogue as a young boy  with his father SE Arkansas

Dad Hogue as a young boy with his father SE Arkansas

It was so fitting that his funeral service was held on the anniversary of D-Day. Dad participated in the build up and crossed the Normandy beaches a few days following D-day to fight the rest of the war, freeing Europe and the world from tyranny.

Dad’s service began because he was drafted into the army on March 5, 1943. He could tell you quickly from memory that he was in the service for two years, nine months and twenty-seven days. He was, however, offered a deferral to stay out of the war due to his job making torpedo triggers. What a man! He could have taken an easy way out but no, to him it was an honor to fight for his country. Yes, my dad was a noble part of a great generation.

 

Dad with grandson, our son, Joshua

Dad with grandson, our son, Joshua

Dad with grand daughter, our daughter, Amanda

Dad with grand daughter, our daughter, Amanda

Dad's son David who played football at the University of Arkansas

Dad’s son David who played football at the University of Arkansas

Dad's Daughters Elizabeth & Susan

Dad’s Daughters Elizabeth & Susan

Dad raised a family of four, each of which have children

Dad raised a family of four, each of which have children

Dad's Love and Wife of 46 years, Janie Jo Whitaker Hogue

Dad’s Love and Wife of 46 years, Janie Jo Whitaker Hogue

Papaw.Gerlie 2.07 (9)

Dad, or Pappaw as he was called by his grandchildren, in his 83rd and last year, pictured with his daughter Elizabeth, my wife, and the author of this article.

 

Shout Out to Dad

Ponca AR 2015

Ponca AR 2015

Recently I spent a Saturday with two good friends, Justin and Joshua, taking a drive through the Ozark mountains of Northwest Arkansas. We were driving just to catch up on our friendship, look over the beautiful countryside, and pay a short visit to our families who live in Harrison Arkansas. Our agenda also included buying some boots at the Harness Shoe Store on The Square, visiting friends at the Buffalo Outdoor Center in Ponca, and driving up the beautiful Boxley Valley to view the elk herds and the limestone colored Buffalo River. It seemed everywhere we stopped local people were coming up and asking, “How’s your dad?” Then various comments were added like: “He was the best game warden we ever had.” “He is a good man.” “Glad he’s doing well!” “Tell him I asked about him.”

Dad by and old Model A like one he owned as a young man

Dad by an old Model A like one he owned as a young man

Fred Bell is 90 years old. I think it remarkable and an honor to still be remembered and thought of so fondly by so many. Yesterday, a couple weeks after the weekend mentioned, Dad and I took a drive to see my cousin Carol Chaney, M.D., at her home near Lead Hill Arkansas. After our friendly and enjoyable visit, doctor, cousin Carol was saying goodbye to Dad as he got into his truck, and said something like this. “Whenever I meet people I don’t know around the county, and I mention that you’re my uncle, everything changes, as they become warm and friendly to me, saying, ‘Oh, you know Fred Bell?’”. Dad spoke up quietly, and said with a smile, “Well I worked for the Game and Fish Commission for forty years.” Carol smiled and said, “I don’t think that’s the reason Uncle. I think it’s because you’ve cared about them and because of your character.”:-)

Fred Bell on one of the horses he worked of during his first years of service

Fred Bell on one of the horses he worked off of during his first years of service

Somewhat remarkable as well, is the fact that Dad is still showing up in magazines and videos at the age of 90. I don’t think that’s common for ninety-year old men. There was a two page article about Dad in the latest edition of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission magazine, (page 91 and 92 if you’re interested). The commission also recently published a hardbound table coffee book entitled, A  Century of Conservation, which contained quotes by Dad. And to top that off, there is a recently released YouTube video from the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission with the same title (A  Century of Conservation) that contains information about some of Dad’s life’s work with his picture (at two minutes and forty seconds if you’re interested.:-)). Again, this is not normal for a 90 year old man who’s been retired for 44 years.:-)

Wildlife display at Elk Center in Ponca AR

Wildlife display at Elk Center in Ponca AR

Maybe this is what’s most remarkable? I’m glad this man is my dad. My brother and sister are too. All his friends seem very glad they know him. They love him and would do anything for him. Perhaps because he lived his life that way towards them.

Dad at brother Gene's home near Bass AR

Dad at brother Gene’s home near Bass AR

He still lives at home and enjoys looking out at the blue Ozark Mountains to the south, Newton County, where he lived much of his life. Lots of birds frequent the trees in his backyard and his deck. Even though he lives in the city, deer and raccoons also frequent his backyard which brings him a lot of joy. He remains gentle, humble, and kind. He’s always been a leader. And he is still leading the way, demonstrating to us all how to age with humor, dignity, kindness, and grace.

I love you Dad! Thank you for being a man of noble character, sacrifice, and service. A leader, a role model, and a hero. Thank you for fearing God, honoring God, and serving God in front of us. I’m glad you’re my dad! Happy Father’s Day 2015, a month or so  early!

Dad after a recent plane ride at 90 years of age

Dad after a recent plane ride at 90 years of age

The righteous man walks in his integrity; His children are blessed after him.” (Proverbs 20:7)

Vindicate me, O Lord, for I have walked in my integrity, And I have trusted in the Lord without wavering.” (Psalm 26:1)

Behold, for thus shall the man be blessed Who fears the Lord.” (Psalm 128:4)

A good name is to be more desired than great wealth, Favor is better than silver and gold.” (Proverbs 22:1)

Dad's Father and Mother on or about their wedding day

Dad’s Father and Mother on or about their wedding day

Dad & Mom's Wedding Day Photo

Dad & Mom’s Wedding Day Photo

Dad with a Son & Daughter

Dad with a Son & Daughter

One generation shall praise Your works to another, And shall declare Your mighty acts.” (Psalm 145:4)

And even when I am old and gray, O God, do not forsake me, Until I declare Your strength to this generation, Your power to all who are to come.” (Psalm 71:18)

Honduras 2015

Honduran Coast at Tela

Honduran Coast at Tela

Honduras, about the size of England, is the second largest country in Central America after Nicaragua, it’s neighbor to the south. It’s  home to about 8 million people. According to Operation World, Seventh Edition, about 50% live in cities, and about 37% are under the age of 15!  It’s one of the poorest countries in the Western hemisphere with an average income per person of $1,826 (4% of USA), and 28% unemployment.

New Guitars Put to Use

New Guitars Put to Use

Commenting on the religious landscape Operation World states, “In 1960, evangelicals numbered 32,000 and 1.7% of the population. They are now 1,750,000 and 23% , and growth shows little sign of stopping. Some polls show that up to 36% of the population identify with evangelical beliefs.”

Beautiful Young People

Beautiful Young People

Moon’s travel guide reports the religious landscape according to a 2008 poll as 47% Catholic, 36% evangelical Christians, and 17% “other.” They also note that, “A belief in magic and witchcraft is common among Hondurans in both rural and urban areas.” And commenting on it’s history they note, “For reasons not entirely clear, Copan (in Honduras) was the greatest center for arts, astronomy, and science among the Maya.”

5 Hour Drive to Olanchita

5 Hour Drive from San Pedro Sula to Olanchita

From January 7th to January 13th, sixteen folks from Louisiana, California, and Arkansas went on a ministry and friendship mission adventure to Central America organized and hosted by Extreme Missionary Adventures (XMA) and initiated by my friend Robert Lindsay, our leader at age 75, making his 10th and perhaps last mission trip to Honduras. He’s passing the leadership torch and mantle to others he’s trained along the way.

 

Prison Ministry

Prison Ministry

During the week long adventure we did prison ministry, a three-day pastor’s conference, construction at the mission complex, and visited two villages, praying for the sick, sharing the gospel, distributing Bibles, tooth brushes, and clothing.

Bunk Bed Construction

Bunk Bed Construction

If you’d like to view some photos of those activities, places, and people click here.

XMA exists to help groups of friends, individuals, or church groups go on mission adventures and make a difference in the lives of others while broadening their own perspectives, fulfilling the great commission given by Jesus to disciples of all ages until He returns. You can get a feel for their philosophy and hearts to serve from visiting their website, as well as a look at opportunities for future missions. I’ve been on ten short term mission trips now, and I can attest to the fact that they are experienced, organized, and excellent in all phases of making such trips meaningful and successful. It was a pleasure.

Robert with Leo

Robert with Leo

Speaking of a pleasure, meeting the other fifteen team members, all but one for the first time, was a real pleasure. We bonded immediately and had a great time together, building memories that will last a lifetime and beyond.

I found Honduras a beautiful country, with beautiful, warm hearted people, who were generous, gracious, and truly appreciative of our help. XMA has a ten year relationship in Olanchito with a pastor who pastors a church in the city while mentoring pastors from several neighboring villages. We partnered with Pastor Dario, helping his ministry while he made many of his relationships available to us. Working with him gave us meaningful and immediate entrance into communities and lives there, opportunities to really see into the culture and into people’s individual lives that simply being a tourist can’t replicate. I can’t say enough about it. It was truly another life event and memory, as most short term mission trips are. Go! Soon! You’ll be glad you did.

Honduras!

Honduras!

Bill with Bear Wittness and an armed Guard

Bill with Bear Wittness and an armed Guard!

Youth Leading Worship

Youth Leading Worship…Honduras’ Future

 

Finishing Well – Kings of Judah

DSCN8674There has been a lot said recently by Christian baby boomers about finishing well.  It’s also a recognizable theme in the Bible among historical figures, some of whom finish well and some do not?

Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall.” (1 Corinthians 10:11–12)

IMG_0069Recently, while reading through the Bible in a year, my plan covered the time of the kings of Judah and Israel.  After the first three kings of Israel, the kingdom divided in  931 B.C.  Two of those three Kings did not end well including Solomon!  And there are some good lessons to be learned therein. But I was thinking of the kings of Judah.

I remembered that in the ten northern tribes of Israel there were no good kings. There were nineteen kings and all were evil!  They with their tribes were judged by the LORD and carried away into captivity by Assyria in 722 B.C.

IMG_6426In Judah  (the name given the southern kingdom, the tribes Judah and Benjamin), there were twenty kings and eight did “what is right before God.”  I remembered that, and a lot about their lives. But what I didn’t remember was that they didn’t finish well!

What a shame! To have lived your life mostly right before God, experiencing his protection and provision, and yet in your later years finish poorly, away from God and His purposes.

Don’t let this happen to you! Don’t let it happen to me! Let’s purpose together not to let it happen to each other, to the best of our ability.  I propose we look at these kings of Judah and learn from their mistakes.  We can look at their successes too! That’s really what gives light to their mistakes. Their lives are given to us for an example as the above Scripture tells us. Their lives are an open book. And so are ours, before God.  Let’s consider their ways, and ours.

Live Above the Fray

Live Above the Fray

Thus says the Lord of hosts, “Consider your ways!” (Haggai 1:7)

Names like Asa, Jehoshaphat, Joash, Amaziah, Uzziah, Jotham, Hezekiah, and Josiah? Are you as shocked as I was? Look them up. Read and learn, asking the Spirit to be your guide to insight, wisdom, and obedience. You’ll be blessed by wisdom from the LORD. Wisdom to help you in your journey, and to finish well.

I’ll give you a little insight into Asa’s history here, but the rest are just as fascinating and instructive.

IMG_6504

With Friends In Community

He [Asa] gathered all Judah and Benjamin and those from Ephraim, Manasseh and Simeon who resided with them, for many defected to him from Israel when they saw that the Lord his God was with him.” (2 Chronicles 15:9) “And there was no more war until the thirty-fifth year of Asa’s reign.” (2 Chronicles 15:19)

At that time Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah and said to him, “Because you have relied on the king of Aram and have not relied on the Lord your God, therefore the army of the king of Aram has escaped out of your hand. “Were not the Ethiopians and the Lubim an immense army with very many chariots and horsemen? Yet because you relied on the Lord, He delivered them into your hand. “For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His. You have acted foolishly in this. Indeed, from now on you will surely have wars.” Then Asa was angry with the seer and put him in prison, for he was enraged at him for this. And Asa oppressed some of the people at the same time. Now, the acts of Asa from first to last, behold, they are written in the Book of the Kings of Judah and Israel. In the thirty-ninth year of his reign Asa became diseased in his feet. His disease was severe, yet even in his disease he did not seek the Lord, but the physicians. So Asa slept with his fathers, having died in the forty-first year of his reign.” (2 Chronicles 16:7–13)

A forty-one year reign! Mostly good! But it ended like this. Don’t let this happen to you.

IMG_6442The second king of Israel, David, did finish well! Even though he wasn’t perfect and went through a lot of trials; mostly self inflicted or sin inflicted. The Scripture eventually says of him that he accomplished the purposes of God in his generation.  May we give ear to the Scriptures, and our hearts to God, so this may be said about us.

“For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep, …” (Acts 13:36)

Godspeed on your journey! May the King of Heaven grace you to serve Him all your days. [a prayer]