Wednesday, August 29, 2007


We had been on the missions field in Kenya, East Africa for almost three months and our shipment of household goods (which was supposed to have arrived the week after we first landed) still had not come. I called headquarters to find out what happened. "Sorry. The shipment got delayed because we tried to economize by changing your shipping plans." As a consequence of this delayed shipment my 50 year old wife and myself were sleeping on a four inch sponge on the floor of our apartment. We were cooking and keeping house out of my backpack. For two weeks, even for three......camping out is fun for me. I had had to call headquarters through a phone which actually worked sometimes, to find out that my funds were not sufficient to pay for the new car I had already taken possession of by virtue of my personal check! Arrrrrrrrrrrrrgh!
That night I decided that I would get up the following morning and call headquarters to tell them to stop my shipment wherever it was. My intent was to go back home to the US. I said to Frances, as we lay down on the sponge to sleep, "Frances, I'm sorry for the horrible mess I've gotten you into. But in the morning, I am calling headquarters to tell them we are coming home!" Her response was, "Oh Fred, you know I wanted to be here just as much as you did."
I was boiling with anger inside. I knew that what I was feeling was not a fruit of the Spirit. So I prayed and asked God to help me. I whined, I cried, I complained, I tried to forgive ...... but then I would wake up mad. Why would they treat me like this? Why did they act like they needed me so urgently, but now were acting as if it was my fault that I had left for Kenya before adequate funds had actually built up from the itineration we had done in over 50 churches? It was an awful feeling. The lump in my throat, the load on my shoulder, the growl in my stomach all told me that my world had fallen apart.
During the wee hours of the next morning as I drifted in and out of sleep, I dreamed. In the dream I was on the platform in an African Church. A young girl, about 9 years old, dressed in a beautiful white pinafore dress which stood out around her knees, with her hair braided with two "dog-tails" attached, came out to me with a lei of flowers in her hands. As I bent over to allow her to put these flowers around my neck she kissed me on the cheek and said, "PUMZIKA!" [Pronounced poom-zee-kah, with emphasis on the middle syllable] at that moment I sensed that I was waking up - and that an unusual sensation of relaxation - beginning at the top of my head and coursing down and through my body all the way to my feet - was taking over my body and my spirit! Whew! Oh! I can almost feel it now - even as I type.
I shook Frances awake at 5:30 a.m. and said, "Frances, I don't know what this means. I just know that everything is o.k. and we are not going home. Every thing is alright!" PUMZIKA. Meaningless to me - except that I knew God was giving me peace over this situation. We had had no classes in language. Besides we were told there were 23 languages and 17 tribal dialects in the country.
Next morning, I was riding around with Jack Morris, outgoing missionary, as he oriented me to the location of some of our churches. I asked, " all of the 23 major languages and the additional dialects making forty languages in this country - have you ever heard anything like PUMZIKA?" I shall never forget his answer. He said, "Yes, Fred. That is a Kiswahili word, and it is in the simple imperative form, meaning simply, YOU REST!" Now I am not a sissy, but The tears coursed down my cheeks. It over-whelmed me that God showed me His compassionate and loving care for me with such a revelation in the language of the country to which we had been sent to minister.
That is why this cabin, this deer-hunter's shack, this spot which God recently helped me to acquire has a sign in front called PUMZIKA ACRES.

Friday, August 10, 2007


(This was the original version of this story, which I had saved as a draft, and could not find this morning! It contains the picture of me on the porch of the cabin.)

"Oh, God!" I prayed, "Please, God! I know that the anger and resentment I am feeling towards my leaders and towards my church is not right. This is killing me, Lord! Please give me victory in this situation." We were now in Kenya, trying to adjust to the drastic move we had made from being pastor of a quiet country church to now being missionaries in a city of 2 million people on the extreme eastern side of the continent of Africa.

I had been pastoring "the best church in the movement" (that was a phrase used by Brother Brady Hux, one of the older members of the Cedar Hill, Tennessee Church of God and after 7 years of being the pastor there I had come to agree with Brother Hux. After all, they had a beautiful sanctuary located on the banks of the Cherokee Lake in East Tennessee in the heart of bass-fishing, deer-hunting, coffee-drinking people who were mostly like us. The church owned a 5 bed-roomed 2 story brick parsonage with central heat and air which we called home. The church owned a 15 passenger van. All bills were paid and no monthly payments had to be met except the electricity, water, and insurance which were easily paid out of the surplus funds. All of the pastors expenses to state and general meetings were paid. Since this was an urban area and members had farms and gardens the people kept the pastor's two freezers full of beef, pork, and garden vegetables. I had begun to say from the pulpit that I planned to stay in that church until time for me to retire. I would tell the people frequently from the podium how much I loved them and thanked them for loving me and my family and allowing us to be their pastor. They talked like us, they dressed like us, they looked like us! I spoke and read and understood the language used in East Tennessee as much as the members of the church did. But here in Africa it was "difficult" to say the least.

When God had shown us un-mistakably through dreams, through His Word and confirmed it all through circumstances by both colleagues and leaders above us that now was the time for me to fulfill the desire God had placed in me at the age of 16 years to minister among the Bantu tribes of Africa, we said, "Yes! Here we are God!"

Now, only three months into our assignment I was angry and upset and ready to go home. I had carefully arranged my shipment of some essential furniture and personal items to be sent by air-freight and had been told by the company it would arrive withing three weeks of our landing in Nairobi - but someone had a better idea and set out to "help expedite" our shipping plans after I had left the US -- which had resulted in our shipment being delayed and we were still sleeping on a sponge on the floor of our apartment, living and cooking out of my back-pack carried with us on our initial trip. Further, I had called the General Director and after approval from my boss on the phone, had just written a check for $25,000 to pay for our new Peugeot station wagon, only to receive an overseas phone call the next day from the accounting department, saying that my funds would not support that check. I had been hit with the hard cold fact that I had written a check based on a verbal agreement. My leaders had dis-appointed me.

Before sleeping on that fateful night I had apologized to Frances for getting us into this "mess" and promised her that next morning I was going to call the leaders at Headquarters and tell them to stop my shipment - and that we were not going to remain on the field. I felt betrayed. I felt I had been lied to. I was filling up with hurt and anger and bitterness. I knew that these feelings were not righteous ones, therefore my prayer, "This is killing me, Lord! Give me victory!"

Let me say that I do not believe that everything I dream comes from God. In fact I urge caution when people tell dreams they have had and try to apply it as though it were from God. I've seen too many of what my Dad used to call "Pork and Bean Dreams". However, sometime in the wee hours of the next morning after I had decided I would just go home, I dreamed that I was on a platform in an African Church and was being welcomed to Africa. I can still see the lovely child of about 9 years with her beautiful hair tied into "dog-tails" and her beautiful stand-out white pinafore dress, looking into my face with a captivating gleeming white smile, while reaching up to place a lei of flowers over my neck, kissing me on the cheek and saying, "PUMZIKA!" I had never (to my knowledge) heard that sound before. I only knew that when she said, "Pumzika!", I felt the sweet relief of blessed assurance that all was well.

When I awoke I shook Frances awake and said to her with tears streaming down, "I don't understand this. I don't know what it all means. But - we are not going home. I know that all is well!

Next morning, while the former overseer was taking me around the city to see the location of churches and to help orient me to the places I would need to know about I asked him, "Jack, in all the 23 languages of Kenya, and all the additional dialects that make up the 40 languages spoken in this country, have you ever heard something that sounds remotely like, Pumzika?" I shall never forget his answer. He looked across at me and said, "Yes, Fred. That's a Kiswahili word in the simple imperative form and it means simply, YOU REST!

So now -- if you come to see me and I talk to you about "Pumzika Acres" you will know that this means "Restful Place". It's something God did for me that I never want to forget nor to allow my friends and family to forget.