Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Recognizing Jesus: Sunday School Lesson

International Sunday School Lesson
For Week Ending October 11, 2009

Purpose: To emphasize the importance of recognizing and being a witness to what God has done for us.

Scripture Text: Mark 5:1-13, 18-20 (NRSV)

Mark 5:1-13, 18-20
(1)They came to the other side of the lake, to the country of the Gerasenes. (2) And when he had stepped out of the boat, immediately a man out of the tombs with an unclean spirit met him. (3) He lived among the tombs; and no one could restrain him any more, even with a chain; (4) for he had often been restrained with shackles and chains, but the chains he wrenched apart, and the shackles he broke in pieces; and no one had the strength to subdue him.

(5) Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always howling and bruising himself with stones. (6) When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and bowed down before him; (7) and he shouted at the top of his voice, ‘What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.’ (8) For he had said to him, ‘Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!’ (9) Then Jesus asked him, ‘What is your name?’ He replied, ‘My name is Legion; for we are many.’ (10) He begged him earnestly not to send them out of the country. (11) Now there on the hillside a great herd of swine was feeding; (12) and the unclean spirits begged him, ‘Send us into the swine; let us enter them.’ (13) So he gave them permission. And the unclean spirits came out and entered the swine; and the herd, numbering about two thousand, rushed down the steep bank into the lake, and were drowned in the lake.

(18)As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed by demons begged him that he might be with him. (19) But Jesus refused, and said to him, ‘Go home to your friends, and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and what mercy he has shown you.’ (20) And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him; and everyone was amazed.

My Thoughts by Burgess Walter

Today's lesson offers many different possibilities for teaching, but I am choosing to take a selfish one, and I am dedicating this lesson to a friend Walter Smith and his wife Edna Anne (Eddie) Smith, who just succumbed to a dreaded demon we call cancer on October 3, 2009.

There are many things to glean from this passage, but let's look at the very last verse (20) “And he went away and began proclaiming in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him; and everyone was amazed.”

Walter Smith and I grew up in the same rural area of Indiana; Walter was as much of a city kid as you could be in a town with one stop light. I was a farm boy with very little of the sophistication you can get from being a city kid. When our one room school was forced to join the city kids in the seventh grade at Butler, Walter and I became classmates. Walter, when I first met him seemed shy and maybe a bit of a class clown, he was not as athletic as some, but you could always count on him for a laugh. As we progressed through High School, Walter became an amateur magician, and in our senior year got the lead in our class play “A Man Called Peter”. Walter played Peter Marshall, the Chaplain to the United States Senate. That changed Walter's life, and he started preparing for full time Christian service, where he met his wife Edna (Eddie).

Eddie grew up in a missionary family and was called to the mission field as a young girl when she heard the story of the five missionaries that were martyred in Ecuador. And that is why I have selected just the last verse of our text to talk about. The entire lesson takes place in a foreign county, which it is not in the Jewish part of the world at that time but rather in the Greek or Gentile region. It was across the sea from where Jesus and the disciples grew up and lived; the Decapolis was a ten city area on the other side of the Sea of Galilee. The demon possessed man would become the first Gentile missionary.

As you read the story, it is almost heart breaking when Jesus tells this young man he can not come with them and proclaim the message in Galilee and Judea, but rather he should go and tell his story of how Jesus worked a miracle in his life, to the Gentiles of the Decapolis.

I recall when Walter was first in college he would visit other churches and put on his magic show and work into the message, how “Jesus had changed his life.” I am sure there were times when he thought he might become a Minister to a nice church in our area, but God called him and his wife “Eddie” to go across the sea and minister in a land that did not know much, if anything about Jesus. Walter and Eddie served on the mission field in Nigeria for over 40 years, most of that time with no dependable electricity or things like health care, that most of us take for granted. Walter and Eddie became responsible for many native missionaries becoming local ministers and teaching their own people about“what Jesus had done for them.”

About a year ago Eddie realized a former problem had returned and she knew there was a good possibility she would have to give up the work that meant so much to her in Nigeria. Walter and Eddie returned to the States to fight the demon that had taken over her body. But Eddie was not content just fighting the demon, she also chronicled for her friends and family everything she was facing both heath wise and spiritually. She called it “The Chronicles of a Shorn Lamb” This week we received word from Walter that the “Shorn Lamb was with the Lord.” Eddie was a gifted writer and her chronicles put most of us to shame for the way she faced the demon of cancer unwavering in her faith. She knew where she was going and faced it unafraid.

Eddie and Walter lived the lesson that our text teaches, we are called to share the message where we can and God knows the best place for each of us to serve.

If any of you would like to help in a worth while ministry, you can do the following:

Memorials for Eddie may be sent to: Walter C. Smith, Missionary to Nigeria, Forwarding Agent: Betty Hafey, 329 Glenmont Ave., Columbus, Ohio 43214
Help train Nigerians to preach the Word and to build the Christian Memorial Hospital. Checks must not have my name on them. They should be marked "special offering," and should be made out to: ACM International

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