Death Where is Your Sting

I called Mazabuka to congratulate Pastor Tembo on his preaching at the African conference. He ended our conversation with some bad news. Grace Matingaluka had passed away the day before. My last special face to face time with her was when we were in Zambia in March. She had asked for some time to talk. Just like the old days I was receiving guests at our guest house under the tree instead of on our screened in porch of our old house. She showed up dressed in her traditional clothing. I got us a coke and we sat down together. She had no agenda, she just seemed to enjoy being there. Other people would come by, and I would excuse myself, go and greet them, and return to Grace’s time beneath the tree. We had a history. She and her family were the fruit of our first street preaching in Mazabuka. She had just been divorced by a man because she had refused to farm out her children to relatives to save the man money. Grace and her daughters from different men came into the church. Grace had had a wonderful salvation experience and a changed life, when her Christian marriage failed it reaffirmed her and her daughters projections about men. It would be two years later that Grace’s oldest daughter Petronella, would testify at church how God had changed her attitudes about men. She had not liked hearing what the pastor would preach about men and women, but as time had passed by she surrendered to the truth of the gospel and found a sense of freedom and security in Jesus Christ’s words about relationship between the sexes. I could go on, but Grace accepted her place in the church and thrived upon our proper relationship. She had a woman’s meeting where she invited all of the women that she did business with that she knew survived because they had an extra married man taking care of their bills. This was her life, she ministered, they got saved. Now I sit here remembering my time of sitting with her.


This news was followed up with news from Seattle about Barbara Grantham. Barbara had bounced into our church in Seattle and proved to be a point of strength for the people in the church. She would come with her big wooden cross and I had reached that place where I wasn’t going to war over the cross. I remember she went to Israel with Pastor Mitchell and had a wonderful time of fellowship with Mrs. Mitchell. They didn’t go to war over the cross either. The last time I saw Barbara, I was preaching in Everett, and Barbara and a friend of hers were going to miss the last service as they got ready to leave for Israel one more time with Pastor Mitchell. Her husband had passed away and it was good to see her have a friend in church to do things with. This last month she lost 15 lbs. and began to be nauseous. Her daughter took her to the hospital where they discovered cancer in different parts of her body, including a cancerous mass at the base of her scull that could end her life at any minute. She undergoes radical radiation treatment right away but that is just a stop gap measure. We talked to her today on the phone and she is still sounds like the upbeat Barbara we have always known. Getting ready for another trip.


I started asking guys about doing “Pastor’s Email” with me. Jack Gaeta emailed back to let me know that he has an infection in his body that has been bothering him for two years only to have it diagnosed differently now. The drugs he is having to take are requiring all of his attention to take care of the minimum needs of the church while enduring the pain and the side affects.


A request for prayer, certainly. Even as I write this and you read this we are reminded of our own mortality. And when it is all said and done, the only thing that will matter is whether you believe that Jesus died for your sins or not.

About hansston

Pastor a church in Sparta.
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