Twenty-five year old Betty Pompell appears as though she's always had a charmed life.
She has a stable job she adores in the admissions office of her alma mater, Lancaster Bible College, where she will graduate in December 2015 with a master's in divinity.
She has two parents that serve God and love each other and their family well.
She is smart, bubbly, enthusiastic, and has a passion for God, theology, and people that is wonderfully contagious.
Upon meeting her, you might be tempted to believe this Hagerstown, Md., native has never known suffering.
But you would be entirely wrong.
Her life began in a dirty and neglected environment with a mom who had four kids from three different men by the time she was 23. The reality is that Betty knew fear before she knew love.
"One of my earliest memories was watching my stepfather take [my birth mother] Kathy's head and throw it into the wall, then move a dresser over to cover up the hole," she said. "She had little desire to be a mom, so many basic skills were not taught and sometimes basic necessities not met."
Betty's grandmother squelched Kathy's desire to put each of the children in foster homes, so she took the oldest three as her own while the youngest moved in with his birth father. It was then when God started moving in the hearts of Kathy's half-sister Karen and Karen's husband Bob.
"They had one daughter already, a 15 year old, and had prayed for years and years for more children," Betty said. "They heard God speak clearly after years of saying no. He finally said yes, and gave them peace and means to adopt my brother David and [me]."
For the rest of Betty's story, download the free July/August edition of RTM Magazine.
By Whitt Madden
I was on my way to work the other day enjoying a nice cup of coffee whenever I felt something quite unusual on my top lip. A quick glance down would confirm my fears--there was something there that simply should not be. I could see the tip of its wings and immediately I knew what it was--a wasp.
My immediately gut-reaction was to spew out my coffee, throw the cup down to the ground, pull over as fast as I could and get out of that truck before it stung me, and that's precisely what I did. Not only that, I did it within about 10 seconds.
I can't imagine what I must have looked like pulled over with both doors open, drenched in my own coffee trying to make sure that the wasp and I were completely apart from one another. I think I brushed off my lip a dozen times just in case my panic-induced senses couldn't detect that I was stung or that it wasn't still there. I looked in my car at the cup of coffee dripping away in the floorboard hoping to catch a glimpse of this evil monster that ruined my trip (and my cup of coffee) to work in a matter of moments, but I could not find it. After a few minutes I cautiously climbed into the truck frustrated, drove home to change clothes and clean up the coffee off of my dashboard and windshield.
I felt like it was a miracle that I wasn't stung. I think my lightning fast reaction helped to save me from being stung.
Later that afternoon I was sitting down at the river front reading my Bible and journaling and I began to think about how the morning had started. I don?t think I ever reacted so quickly to a situation without giving it a second thought.
"The sting of death is sin." -1 Corinthians 15:56
Then it dawned on me. This is how quickly I should respond whenever I am faced with temptations in my life. When temptation comes I should be just as quick to respond. How I wish I was that fast whenever the sting of sin is upon me. Whenever temptations come I wish that I could react as quickly to those kinds of situations as I did with that wasp. What would have happened if I had been passive about the wasp in my truck? Certainly I would have been stung. How much more should we flee from temptation? We cannot be passive whenever we are faced with temptation.
I have to admit a part of me felt cowardly at first in regards to how I handled the situation with the wasp, but there is nothing cowardly about running from sin.
The sting of death is sin. So why don't we take this more seriously in our lives?
First, it might be that we don't trust our spiritual instincts enough to see sin coming. A wasp looks terrifying (at least to me). I've been stung by a wasp once or twice so I know the pain that's involved when you are stung by one. Trust me, I'd rather not ever have to endure that again.
But yet, the sting of sin is so much worse isn't it? I have only been stung by a wasp once or twice but I have repeatedly been stung by sin in my life. The pain of that sin still stings today and it is far worse than any sting from any insect could ever be.
The Scriptures are very clear how we are to fight against temptation. It says we should run away from the things (and the people) that tempt us.
Paul teaches us to flee from sexual immorality (1 Corinthians 6:18), idolatry (1 Corinthians 10:14), love of money (1 Timothy 6:9-11), and from youthful lusts (2 Timothy 2:22).
1 Corinthians 10:13 (NCV) says
"The only temptation that has come to you is that which everyone has. But you can trust God, who will not permit you to be tempted more than you can stand. But when you are tempted, He will also give you a way to escape so that you will be able to stand it."
Sometimes the way out is your own two feet.
May this be a lesson we all learn. When you are faced with a situation and you don't see any other way out, perhaps it's best to walk away, or in my case with the wasp--flee.
Lord, may You give us the desire to instinctively flee from temptation.
Where is the fire?
Where is the power?
Where have all the prophets gone?
What makes a courageous man of God?
For the first time in Mongu history, the three local Baptist churches came together to invite RTM Director and Pastor Michael Durham for a two day conference--The Baptist Family Jubilee--on the theme "The Greatness of the Gospel."
The conference began Saturday morning by singing hymns and after discovering Michael's favorite hymn was "And Can It Be", conference leaders deemed it the conference theme song.
With more than 70 in attendance, Michael taught the first session--The Redemption of God's Glory--with the focus on how God is not obligated to anything or anyone except Himself.
"The ultimate purpose of Jesus coming is not our salvation but to know Him and give Him the glory He deserves," he said. "The Gospel isn't about us; it's about God's glory."
In the seccond session--The Righteousness of God--he explained the holiness of God and how His standard of righteousness isn't like man's.
After lunch, the last session of the day kicked off with more hymns and praise songs before Michael taught on The Wrath of God.
He debunked the popular quote, "God hates the sin but loves the sinner," by giving an example from his childhood.
"When I was a boy and I got in trouble, my dad didn't spank my sin--he spanked me," Michael said. "Sin only exists when an angel or human rebels against God. And because God hates sin, God must be opposed to the sinner."
Continuing to explain verses like Psalm 7:12, "If he does not turn back, He will sharpen His sword; He bends His bow and makes it ready," Michael shared how the worst thing God can do to a person is to leave them alone in their sin and how they will always stay the same unless God in His mercy envades their life.
"God so loves His Son that if you don't, you're out," he said. "God's love is holy, but giving mercy allows the sinner a chance to repent.
"If you're shocked by this, you need to get to know the God of the Bible."
Saturday was supposed to end with a session of question and answers but the Spirit was so dealing with people that conference leaders decided they would rather end the conference than continue as scheduled and disrupt what the Spirit was doing in the hearts of the people.
Sunday started with Paul Rikel teaching a Bible study from Isaiah 30 as the people trickled in. After the Bible study, time was spent singing praise and worship before Michael began the first session of the day and the last session of the two-day conference.
"Only in the Gospel is the righteousness of God proclaimed," he said to begin the session, "and it is the righteousness of God by which we will be judged."
Recapping Saturday's messages, Michael explained again that the judgment of God that is now revealed from heaven is when He leaves men alone in their sins. But in glorious truth, God is merciful. He wants to forgive and take His wrath off people, He wants them to turn to Him and live (Ezekiel 18:32, Micah 7:18).
"How can God be just and yet forgive and pardon sin?" he said. "If you don't understand how God can do both, then you don't understand the Gospel."
The two attributes come together in Christ.
Michael posed the following questions to the churches:
1. If Jesus' death is only a demonstration of God's love then why did He have to die? Couldn't He have shown His love another way?
2. How does God killing His Son demonstrate love?
3. How does the cross save us?
He spent the rest of the time answering those questions by defining propitiation, the difference between belief and trust and emphasized that only in the cross is the wrath of God satisfied.
"You won't find the full wrath of God displayed in the Old Testament," he said. "And the only way to be free of the wrath of God is to surrender not only your sins but yourself.
"If you're not amazed by God you aren't a Christian, because all of God's people stand amazed by Him. The more they discover about God the more astonished they are."
Some of the pastors reported some of their members were under heavy conviction and many said they were greatly encouraged and strengthened.
One of the pastors said the word came so clearly, reminding everyone of the greatness of the Gospel and the greatness of salvation.
"I was telling Paul and Velda (Rikel) they are very blessed," another pastor shared, "and we thank them for sharing their blessing of Pastor Michael with us."
In a humbling invitation, another pastor said they wanted Michael to return and they would organize a conference for all the Baptist churches in the entire Western Province of Zambia, something that has once again never been done.
Tomorrow we pack up and head to Lusaka, an 8-9 hour drive, with some scheduled meetings over the next two days before beginning our flights home on Wednesday.
Thank you for your continued prayers and support. We pray God continues His work of redemption in the people of Zambia and is pleased to bear much fruit for His glory.
The roads are rough and the holes are big. Sand covers the earth in a beige blanket as the wind blows and the black and white crows violently squawk and flap their sizable wings around the land. Despite it being the winter season, the intense sun beats down and reflects off the sand. The mosquitos carry malaria, chickens freely roam the area and rats are a common sighting. The people walk sometimes miles for clean water as the women carry heavy loads on their heads and small children carry babies on their backs. They live in grass huts or clay buildings with cement blocks or bags of sand holding the tin roof on. Trash litters the roads and yards and if the locals have a refrigerator, it's not stocked.
Their poverty doesn't prevent their kindness. They enthusiastically smile and wave as you pass them on the street, and in humility and honor they welcome you to their homes and villages. The children learn early to work hard and provide food for the family, which includes extended relatives and almost everyone around you, as the people have a heavy emphasis on community life, and for good reason.
There are more than 800,000 orphans and vulnerable children in the area and more than half the country's population is under the age of 17.
Such is the life in the western province of Zambia.
The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few.
Yesterday we went to a churchless village about an hour and a half from Mongu. We drove through miles of sand to finally park and walk almost a mile down a sandy path into the village on the edge of the Zambian floodplain.
Sitting under cashew trees, Michael Durham shared with the people who had barely heard the Gospel about the Jesus who came to save their body and soul. The crowd listened as he proclaimed to them the one true God of heaven and earth, although a lot of the village were absent from the meeting due to drunkenness or chores around their hut.
At the conclusion of the service, many came to talk to Michael, Joseph, our missionary Paul and a pastor from Mongu, and be prayed for by them. Some were under conviction and the Lord was dealing with their hearts, but some were coming as if they were would to any of their witchdoctors--they wanted immediate healing.
This is the mindset of most people, if God doesn't heal them or work immediately as they desire, they turn to a witchdoctor.
The culture is filled with darkness and oppression from the enemy. They need the God of light and holiness who came to set free the captives and rescue the oppressed.
Michael and the guys explained they could not save or heal, but God could. So they prayed and didn't pressure, spoke truth and gave love, then left the results with the only One powerful enough to save.
May He be pleased to do so.
Yesterday evening we went to a Kids Alive orphanage and spoke to a room full of children ranging in ages from 5-18 as well as their caretakers, encouraging them to have faith to believe the God of the Bible. The God who will never disappoint them. The God who loves them beyond their wildest imaginations. The God who crushed His Son for them.
Speaking from Mark 10 and the story of the blind beggar Bartimaeus, who, though discouraged by others from following the Lord, wasn't swayed by others' words but had the faith to cry out multiple times to Jesus for healing.
And healing came.
After the service once again almost all the children came to Michael, Paul, Pastor Lubinda and Pastor Kahuma for prayer, many who were crying out to God for faith to believe in Him for salvation.
Oh, may the Lord of the harvest honor the Lamb who was slain and bring redemption to this land.