The Invisible Ones Around Us

Gray-haired womanA casual remark by a senior citizen pierced my heart and has stuck with me. Out of the blue, this woman noted, “Being an elderly woman is like being invisible. Nobody notices you.”

This woman was not bragging about a super power. Nor was she a Ninja in training. Rather, she was sad. People didn’t notice her. They didn’t give compliments. And sure, younger folks might hold the door if she was ambling out of McDonalds as they were trying to enter, but they didn’t go out of their way to meet her or to strike up conversations as they might have done when she was younger and more physically attractive.

My acquaintance’s remark sparked a memory of a double-decker boat I’d recently been on. While visiting California, a group of us boarded the chartered vessel for an evening cruise along the bay. The passengers included authors, screen writers, doctors, a physician, people involved in non-profit organizations, and others. Fascinating clusters of people stood chatting all over that boat, and I enjoyed meeting and networking, too. Yet, off to the side sat three elderly women. They kept to themselves, and exchanged few words as they watched the crowd around them. Who were they? How had they ended up on this chartered cruise? I had no clue, but I didn’t approach them either as I discussed writing with “more important” contacts. These three gray-haired ladies weren’t literally invisible, but they may as well have been for the lack of attention they received that evening.

May I make a suggestion? When we cross paths with the elderly or “unimportant” people, let’s keep in mind that they are real people with genuine feelings. They deserve respect even if they don’t walk or think as fast as they once did. Offering a smile or a kind remark requires little time, but simple acts of kindness or sixty seconds of conversation can make them feel noticed and appreciated.

Jesus declared that the second greatest commandment concerned the people around us (even the “unimportant” and aged ones): “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (Mark 12:31). Being caring and others-centered bucks the trend in this self-centered age. Yet, that’s the path recommended by none other than the Son of God.

I think it’s time we stop letting people around us fade into invisibility. Don’t you?

 

 

No, You Can’t Please Everybody

To please, or not to pleaseThere I was, sitting in a writers’ critique group led by a famous author, when a woman burst into tears. The reason? Every time someone had offered suggestions on her manuscript, she rewrote her story. But many suggestions contradicted each other.

“I can’t make everybody happy,” she sobbed.

Truer words were never spoken.

That woman wasn’t yet published and faced frustration in trying to please every reader. But that’s not possible. Amazon reviews for The Methuselah Project, my third published novel, provide amusing evidence that it’s impossible to please every type of person.

To illustrate this point, here are excerpts from reviewers (I don’t know them) who left Amazon comments on The Methuselah Project:

 

How was the writing style?

“I did have a bit of trouble with the writing style, especially in the beginning.” (By Ashley)

“Great book! I really enjoyed this story and the writing style. The progression of the story and characters was interesting. Hope to see a sequel soon.” (By grams)

  

Was this novel the right length?

“Really good read but a bit overly long” (By Janine)

“I really wanted it to be longer….” (By Marali)

 

How was the story’s pace?

“It took me a bit to get into the story.” (By Rebecca)

“This exciting book is fast paced, intriguing and a page turner! I would highly recommend this book to any one!” (By Jennifer)

 

Could you figure out the ending?

“Entertaining, fast moving, but predictable novel.” (By Jude)

“This book was so unique and I loved it even more because of that fact. Books tend to follow the same type of patterns so I can usually figure out what is going to happen before the books end and because this book was so different from anything I have read before I didn’t figure it out until it was ending.” (By Margaret)

 

Did it capture your imagination?

“It held my attention and then it fell flat in other parts.” (By Andrea)

“One of my all time favorite books!!!!! Couldn’t put it down. Finished it in two days. If you like WWII Historical fiction look no further. Strap into your seat in the cockpit and prepare for a wild ride!” (By Rosevine Cottage Girls)

 

Was the story memorable?

“I found The Methuselah Project to just be an ok read. I didn’t hate it, but I closed the covers thinking it could have been better. I am definitely in the minority with my opinion — it has great reviews on Goodreads.” (By B. Burnham)

“This is one of the most awesome books I’ve read in a while. Surprising. Suspenseful. Believable. Reminds me of the movie with Mel Gibson ‘Forever Young.’ I wanted it to be a series.” (By Del)

 

I hope you’re smiling at these contradictions, all by anonymous readers, who gave their unbiased opinions on my story.

The bottom line: No, you can’t please everyone in life. Listen to suggestions, sure, but weigh the advice. Act on what’s good; ignore what’s bad. Try to please God, and of course be true to yourself!

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The Power of a Kind Word

Dear friend, did you realize you might have a superpower and not even know it? Simply by opening your mouth and expressing a few thoughts, you might make a super difference in someone’s life today.

Let me be vulnerable and explain. I’ve been going through some tough times lately. No need to delve into details. Suffice it to say that my world has flipped upside down. Changes involving family. Changes involving work. Changes involving where I live, and I plan to move soon to a neighboring state to care for my aging father in his home. Those who study humans and emotions say that every large change in a person’s life becomes a stressor. Multiple changes at once can feel crushing. That’s where I am right now–feeling the heavy weight of many changes and countless decisions, including some fairly sad ones.

Sure, my faith in God is intact. Sure, I pray every day and read my Bible too. Still, it’s easy to bottle up emotions in hard times and not show the world how alone and hurting we feel.

That’s where I was this morning. Then I dropped into a Chick-Fil-a for a breakfast biscuit and coffee. Working behind the counter was a young lady from my church. As it turned out, we had a customer-free moment to exchange a few words. At the end of that brief talk she said quietly, “I want you to know that I’m praying for you.”

I teared up right there. It was a simple statement, but it was from her heart. A reminder that I’m not alone. There are friends who know and care.

Last week a Facebook friend announced his utter shock that a friend had committed suicide. He’d had no clue his friend was despondent. Evidently, neither had others. Yet, some of them wished they had known so they could have expressed some kindness to him and possibly lifted up that sinking soul. But they didn’t know, so they hadn’t said a word. I’m certainly not suicidal, but today’s incident reminded me of the power of even a few sincere words.

We people are such fakers, aren’t we? We don’t like the world to know when we’re hurting. “I’m fine,” we declare when people ask. So we might not know when that friend or acquaintance needs a word of encouragement or appreciation. But perhaps we would do well to practice those kind words even when we’re not sure they’re needed. After all, amidst all the gloom and anger in this world, a kind word is never wasted. And it just might make a super difference!

Deleted Scene — The Methuselah Project

Many fans of The Methuselah Project have wanted to know more about Roger Greene and Katherine. What happens to them next? While my sequel is under construction, allow me to offer a deleted scene as a Christmas gift to you. The original manuscript closed with an epilogue that skipped ahead a few weeks to show an incident involving Roger after the close of the main story. If you haven’t yet read The Methuselah Project, please don’t look the following, as it will be a spoiler for you. (And if you’d like to order the book, simply click on the Bookstore tab above. It will take you to a site where you can order from online vendors.)

 

Epilogue

Forest Park Avenue

St. Louis, Missouri

 

Epilogue - The Methuselah ProjectSitting in the passenger seat of his son’s Dodge Grand Caravan, Frederick Mitchell, Sr., sighed, and not for the first time that afternoon.

Behind the steering wheel, his son, Fred, Jr., said, “I heard that, Dad. Judging by all the sighs you’ve been making, a person would think I’m driving you to your execution, not to an assisted-living center.”

Instead of looking at his son, he focused on the congested St. Louis traffic ahead of them. “Executioner… assisted living… it’s the same thing, isn’t it? It’s still the end of the line.”

“Aw, Dad. Goldie’s Golden Age Retirement Center is a nice place. They’ve got game areas, a botanical garden, private rooms, plus classes on everything from playing the harmonica to photography. Besides, we’ve talked this over. Helen and I just can’t provide the kind of care you need.”

“I’m not griping. I’m just reflecting on life. You’re born. You grow into a little kid, and you’ve got all the time in the world. When you’re small, it takes forever for Christmas to arrive, and then another forever for the next one to roll around. Later, life speeds up, but it still feels like you’ve got plenty of time to live your dreams, to conquer the world. Suddenly, poof! You wake up and realize you’re worthless—an old fogey, ready for somebody to stick you in a pine box.”

“You’re being melodramatic. Nobody thinks you’re worthless, and no one is measuring you for a coffin. Don’t you be in any hurry to check out of life. In case you’ve forgotten, your first great-granddaughter was born last week. Anita deserves as much chance to get bounced on your knee as the grandkids did.”

“My memory is just fine.” To prove his point, he recited, “Anita Marie Mitchell. Eighteen and a half inches long. Seven pounds, eight ounces.”

“Right. Nothing wrong with your memory.” Fred, Jr., glanced in his side mirror and maneuvered into the left-turn lane. “It’s those falling-down episodes that have Helen and me worried. We need someone there to help if it happens again.”

Sheesh. I got a Purple Heart in Korea, and they’re worried I might trip over the vacuum?

The traffic light turned red, and Fred, Jr., braked to a stop. “I hate this intersection. The light stays red forever.”

Ignoring the comment, the elder Mitchell gazed out his window at the vehicle pulling up beside him. It was a sparkling silver Mustang convertible. The car’s top was down, and the young man at the wheel sported green-tinted aviator sunglasses. Oblivious to the senior citizen observing him, the driver of the Mustang tapped his fingers on the steering wheel and bobbed his head to some song.

The figure in the convertible practically radiated fulfillment and a zest for life. Mitchell was slightly surprised to see the young man’s mouth moving. He was actually singing aloud—in public. Look at him. Sitting there in plain sight of everybody and singing along with whatever music he’s listening to. Not a care in the world.

Jealousy ballooned in Mitchell’s thoughts. Not only had he never bought the sports car he’d often dreamed of, but he never would’ve had the guts to sit in public and sing. In a way, the young fellow beside him illustrated the perfect picture of what he wished he could have been.

What’s that young buck listening to? Probably some of the new-fangled hip-hop, hog slop that passes for music nowadays. Partly out of curiosity, and partly out of the desire to remain in control of something, Frederick Mitchell, Sr., fumbled for the window button, then pressed it. As the glass slid downward, he craned an ear to catch the melody flowing from the Mustang. What he heard caught the senior citizen off guard. Instead of the modern music he found irritating, his hearing aid caught something familiar. Something old. In fact, practically ancient. His memory couldn’t quite place the tune.

On impulse, the elder Mitchell called to the man in the convertible. “Hey, you!”

The figure in the Mustang continued singing and nodding his head to the music.

“Hey, you. Young buck!”

The driver of the Mustang turned and looked. With a deft motion, his right hand turned down the volume.

“What’s that song you’re listening to? I’ve heard it somewhere before.”

The Mustang driver flashed a generous grin. “That’s an oldie that was popular in 1943. It’s called ‘The Hut-Sut Song,’ by Freddy Martin….”

“…and his orchestra! Ha! I knew I’d heard that before. My dad used to play that record when I was a little squirt. Haven’t heard it since my brother broke it.”

Now Mitchell regarded the driver of the convertible with more interest. Something about the young man struck him as curiously likable.

“Ain’t you kinda young to be listening to such old-fashioned songs?”

Once again, the driver sporting the aviators parted his lips in a grin. He shook his head. “Not at all, sir. Just because something is old doesn’t mean it has no value. Good music never dies. It’s always there for people who appreciate it.”

The light above the intersection turned green, and the cars ahead began inching forward.

The Mustang’s driver shared a final smile and then, unexpectedly, popped him a formal salute. “Take care, sir!”

Hurrying to respond, Mitchell saluted back, a motion he hadn’t executed since his Korea days. The simple gesture from the stranger warmed him. Made him feel respected. In his mind he heard the phrase again: Just because something is old doesn’t mean it has no value.

As the Mustang pulled forward, Mitchell spotted a sticker on its rear bumper. It said, “I’d rather be flying.”

Feeling more light-hearted than he had in many a day, Mitchell let his face break into a smile as he powered the window back up. Somehow, the brief exchange had made a difference. “I’d rather be flying, too. Have a good time, young buck. Life is short. Enjoy it while you can!”

 

 

WW II memories: A Yank in the Royal Air Force

Did you know that American men fought in World War II long before Pearl Harbor? Although a sentiment of pacifism and “America First” had kept the U.S. from getting involved directly, some Americans launched out on their own, volunteering to fight Nazi Germany in other ways.

Because Roger Greene, the star of my current novel, The Methuselah Project, sailed to England to fly fighter planes for the Royal Air Force, I especially enjoyed coming across memories of a real-life American who mirrors the exact same spirit as my fictional character. At age 19, James Goodson was positive that America would eventually jump into the battle against Nazism. He decided not to wait. He packed his bag and set sail for England. On the Atlantic, Goodson’s ship was torpedoed and sunk. He arrived in England with just the clothes he was wearing. Here’s what happened next:

“I found a RAF recruiting station and immediately asked if any American could join. No one seemed to know at first if I could but later was told I could but would probably lose my American citizenship when I swore allegiance to the King of England. I told the recruiters that if the king needed my allegiance, he had it. The question of pay arose and I think the fellow said it was seven shillings and six pence a day (less than $2.00). I was heartbroken. I said, ‘I’ve lost everything I have. I don’t think I can afford it.’ The fellow said, ‘No, no, no. We pay you seven and six.’ I remember thinking, ‘These lovable fools. They could have had me for nothing.’ To be able to fly a Spitfire and be paid for it was just beyond my wildest dreams.”*

Goodson flew with the 43rd Squadron of the Royal Air Force. Later, he became a pilot in the Eagle Squadron [composed of Yanks who flew in the RAF before America entered the war]. He never lost the thrill of flying.

Have you ever known someone who served during the world’s biggest conflict? Did he or she share any memories that stick with you to this day?

*Source: Astor, Gerald. The Mighty Eighth, New York: Dell Publishing, 1997. pp. 20-21.

For Veterans Day ~ “Long Walk to Freedom”

Mike Billey2During World War II, Mike Billey of Elkhart, Indiana, never imagined that he would have to walk 800 miles at gunpoint. He’s glad he only had to do it once.

Billey’s saga began in 1941. Before war broke out, he was planning to marry a Christian girl named Laura from his church. But then the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, and the military was calling young men to service. Billey enlisted, completed basic training, then married his sweetheart before shipping out. Trained as a radio operator, he was assigned to a B-17 nicknamed Johnny Reb with the 452nd Bomb Group in England.

Within a month of arriving in England, Billey and the crew of Johnny Reb began participating in bombing missions over Hitler’s Third Reich. On each raid, Billey carried a pocket-sized New Testament. Inside its front cover was a metal plate that included President Roosevelt’s wishes for safety. Whenever he had some spare moments, Billey would read portions of God’s Word.

However, during Billey’s ninth mission, on August 9, 1944, enemy gunfire damaged Johnny Reb, knocking two of the plane’s four engines out of commission over Regensburg, Germany. The bomber limped away from the battle on its two remaining engines, but couldn’t keep up with the group. Worse, no fighter escort was available to watch over stragglers.

“It was a desolate feeling to see everyone leaving,” Billey recalls. “Everyone did a lot of praying.”

From bad to worse

Johnny Reb

Johnny Reb

The airmen heaved overboard everything that wasn’t bolted down, but the wounded bomber continued losing altitude. Over Holland, when the plane was down to 5,000 feet, German flak guns peppered it, and the remaining engines caught fire.

“I’m going to count to five,” the pilot announced by intercom, “and you guys better be out of here, because I’m leaving!”

Excited, Billey jumped up from his radioman’s station and headed rearward to bail out. Fortunately, one of the waist gunners shouted, “Hey, where’s your parachute?” Billey had left it atop his radioman’s post and hurried back to snap it onto his harness!

“We all got out safely,” he says, but as he drifted down, his problems weren’t over. He could see soldiers on the ground running toward the spot where he would land. They were carrying guns, knives, and one man even brandished a pitchfork. “I wondered what he was planning to do with that.”

“They took my pistol and slapped me around. Then they put me on a truck. One of them took out my New Testament, and they had a big laugh about Roosevelt’s wish for safety.” But then they handed back his only copy of the Scriptures.

In nearby Eindhoven, Holland, Billey’s captors locked him in a schoolhouse that had been converted into a jail. Seeing him at the window, Dutch children would risk flashing two fingers in a “V” for victory, which inspired the tech sergeant.

After ten or twelve days of interrogation, Billey and other captured airmen were crammed into train cars for transport. Of course, railroad yards were targets for Allied bombers. “At night they left us locked in the trains in the marshalling yards. When bombs started dropping around us, we bounced around pretty good inside those box cars.”

Eventually the airmen reached Stettin, Germany, where they were imprisoned in Stalag IV.

“I’ll never forget,” Billey says, “we had good chaplains who committed us to God before each mission. Even in prison camp at Stalag IV we had religious services. We knew that we had people praying for us. The Lord watched over us.” (Interestingly, Billey’s bride Laura didn’t receive word that he was missing until three months after he bailed out. It took another month for her to learn that he was a POW.)

Life as a prisoner in Stettin was dreary and depressing. But one day a particularly memorable event lifted the prisoners’ hearts. The sound of a struggling aircraft came over the compound. Looking up, the POWs spotted a shot-up German fighter. The Luftwaffe plane passed overhead and crashed in a ball of flames. Cheers erupted from thousands of voices, but the commandant was grim: “Keep it quiet!” he ordered. “They have their guns on you!” Evidently he feared a spontaneous uprising.

Frozen feet on frozen roads

In the frigid February of 1945, the German guards ordered the prisoners to prepare for a march. Allied troops were approaching, and the Germans weren’t going to surrender the prisoners, even if no trains or trucks were available. “We had to walk,” Billey recalls. “Eight or nine thousand of us. All airmen.”

Walk they did. For eighty-six days the German guards marched them south over frozen roads, veering first one way and then another to avoid Russians in the east and the Americans and British in the west. By the time the prisoners had tramped eight hundred miserable miles, Billey was too ill to go on. Rather than drag along sick prisoners, the guards left him and many others at a Czech hospital. Two days later, Russian tanks rumbled into town.

At last, Billey was free. The Russians promised to help the former prisoners. However, the Soviets’ plan was to send them home via the Black Sea, which sounded like the wrong direction. Talking over their options, Billey united with four Americans and three British airmen, two of whom spoke German. “We left and started walking. People [German citizens] begged us to stay with them because of the Russians.”

A close call

One night the little band asked a German couple if they could sleep in their barn. “Nein,” the lady insisted. “You must sleep in the house.”

The next morning the group was glad they had asked first: at dawn they noticed a squad of armed German soldiers exiting the barn. “The Lord was looking over us. We waited, then left a different way.”

Ironically, when Billey finally reached the last bridge that separated him from American lines, U.S. soldiers wouldn’t let him pass. “I had lost my dog tags, I was wearing Hitler Youth boots, and I had on a Soviet cap with a red star. They wanted to know who I was and why I was dressed that way.”

Finally, Billey persuaded his fellow Americans that he really was just an Allied POW. For two weeks he stayed at Camp Lucky Strike, where he rested and tried to regain some weight. From there he was sent to the States aboard the U.S.S. Billy Mitchell. He was home by the time Hiroshima was bombed.

For obvious reasons, “freedom” is no longer just a word for Mike Billey. He notes that back home, “People were not really aware of what war meant. There were drives for material, but life went on as usual. We were not being invaded ourselves.” On a brighter note, he is able to rejoice, saying, “A lot of believers came out of that situation. A lot of men turned to the Lord.”

That, too, is a form of freedom. After all, Jesus said, “Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin…. If the Son, therefore, shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed” (John 8: 34, 36).

Postscript: Mike Billey lived to see this article, which was originally printed in Horizons. He rejoiced for this chance to share his faith in the Lord. See you again someday, Mike!

Question–Do you have a relative who served in World War 2? If so, share with us in the comments below!

Does The Methuselah Project Rip-off Captain America?

When I wrote the initial draft of The Methuselah Project in 2009, several friends commented, “That reminds me of the Mel Gibson movie, Forever Young.” Now that my story has finally been published, a number of reviewers surprised me by declaring it reminds them of Captain America.

When I noticed a book review site called “The Minister’s Wife” had posted a review comparing the two heroes, I requested permission to repost it here. Lois (evidently the minister’s wife) agreed, even though it was her husband who actually penned the review. (I’ve never met or communicated with either of them before.) Here is his objective assessment:

 

A Fantastic Novel ~ The Methuselah Project

Methuselah Project - Novel“Before I opened this book, I turned it over and glanced at the description of its contents. Roger Greene, an American soldier presumed dead in a plane crash during World War II, actually survives and, as a result of a secret scientific project designed to maximize human potential, returns many years later to our modern world. His amazing abilities leave him a man out of his own time: he must cope with technology and culture unfamiliar to him, while facing enemies with roots in Naziism.

“So, before opening this book, I reacted to its back cover. This sounds like a Captain America rip-off!

“I learned that the old adage is true. Don’t judge a book by its cover.

“This isn’t a superhero story. Roger Greene is a basically decent guy, as was Steve [Captain America] Rogers, and a dedicated soldier. But his physical transformation occurs after his plane is shot down over Germany and he is captured and used as a subject of a Nazi program to radically lengthen the human lifespan. When he escapes, circumstance do not make him a colorfully costumed crusader. Instead, he must go on the run from both his enemies and the authorities.

“Barry does not surprise the reader with gratuitous violence or high-stakes drama – in other words, this isn’t paced or plotted like a comic book. He does present characters and situations which make sense, placing his unusual hero in a very believable world. Some of the Nazi characters are surprisingly “human” instead of being shallow representations of unmitigated evil.

“I found the sequences which take place in Indiana especially enjoyable, because I have visited some of the places described in this book and could tell that the author [who lives in Indianapolis] has experienced first-hand the settings he deftly describes. But the scenes set in Atlanta, Georgia, seemed very convincing as well, and while I’ve not been there, they seemed every bit as real as the “local Italian eatery . . . along Highway 31 in Kokomo” where I’ve actually dined.

“After the opening chapter there is not much action in the first two-thirds of the book, but I found that the slow pace did not become boring. I was also surprised at how certain Nazi characters were presented as misguided but reasonable, rather than shallow monsters. [another contrast with the tales of Captain America].

“One trait shared by Roger Greene and Steve Rogers is a basic old-fashioned morality. Greene’s values are presented in an unapologetic way that make his stereotypically “boy scout” displays of virtue, perseverance and loyalty seem at the same simultaneously outdated and laudable.

“Read this book. With all the similarities to the adventures of one of my favorite comic book characters, this is no rip-off. It is a well-written story, and I finished hoping that the future holds more tales of its hero.

“By the way, if you’re a die-hard superhero fan who remembers the 1990 Captain America film, there’s a moment on page 219 that will surprise and delight you.”

Find the original posting of this review at…

http://theministerswifestampsandsaves.blogspot.com/2015/10/a-fantastic-novel-methuselah-project.html

Georgi Vins: A Shining Example from a Former Prisoner of the USSR

Georgi Petrovich Vins

Georgi Petrovich Vins

For 11 years I worked as Assistant to Georgi Vins. He was a the internationally known Russian evangelist who spent 8 years in Russian prisons and labor camps before being exiled to America in a dramatic 1979 exchange. (The U.S. swapped 2 captured Soviet spies for 5 well-known prisoners in the Soviet gulag—4 human rights activists and Vins, a Christian preacher.)

During those years of laboring alongside Georgi Vins, I often interpreted his Russian to English at church services and Christian conferences. He was always a popular speaker, who spoke out about the then-persecuted church in the USSR. During Q & A sessions, there was never a shortage of hands. I well recall how one man, after learning details of the persecution, asked, “Isn’t there a way for believers to live peaceful lives and avoid the oppression and harassment?”
After a pause, Georgi Vins replied, “If a Christian stayed home instead of going to church; if he didn’t pray openly; if he didn’t let others know about his faith in Christ; then yes, he could probably avoid persecution. But that’s not the Christian life.”

Georgi Vins - Argentina

Georgi Vins in 1989, at Instituto Biblico Palabra de Vida in Argentina to share about persecution of believers in the USSR.

Mr. Vins died in 1998, but over the years, that answer has often resurfaced in my thoughts. In western nations, the ridicule and harassment Christians sometimes experience may not be as hard-hitting as it was in the USSR, yet certain forces in society try to suppress our outward expressions of faith. They attempt to quash our Bible-based convictions. Some believers might be tempted to decide, “Enough already. I’ll still be a Christian, but just a silent one.” In other words, to avoid mockery or making waves, they try to be “secret agents” of faith. But that’s not the Christian life.

Jesus was crucified. His apostles endured arrests, chains, prisons, sentences of death. How did they respond? They rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer for Christ’s name. In Philippians 1, the Apostle Paul writes from prison to gladness that other Christians were emboldened by his example: “And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear” (v. 14).

If you’re ever tempted to go undercover with your faith, tempted to dim the source of light in your life so as to not “offend” someone, my encouragement to you is this: Don’t. Jesus Himself says, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). A dark, burned-out light bulb may still be a light bulb, but it’s useless. Don’t try to be a “secret agent” for God. Let your light shine!

Георги Петрович Винс

Visiting the grave of Georgi and Nadezhda Vins, Prairie Street Cemetery, Elkhart, Indiana.