Gen 17:16; “I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples shall be of her.”

I am currently on a European flight looking out over God’s creation, and can’t help but think about one of His greatest creations: Hazel Hoskins. I have to be honest with you, as I think upon Hazel and her life, I am struggling to process and cope with the earthly absence that we now have since her passing. It was only two weeks ago that we were laughing and joking together as she thanked an intern for helping to clear out some of the ‘junk’ from Bob’s office. And if you have seen inside Bob’s office these items are more like artifacts than junk. Such was her humor. So permit me to share some thoughts on this marvelous woman.

Anybody who knows me well has probably heard me say these words over the years, “It doesn’t matter what Hazel asks me to do. The answer is always ‘yes’, before she even finishes her question.” Varying from requests of prayer, to dressing up as a gecko, the answer was always ‘yes’. Why was this so? The answer is simple; Respect and Honor. They say that Respect and Honor are ‘earned’, and although this is true, I prefer to say it is ‘given’. Hazel never did things to ‘earn’ respect and honor, she simply received it from others because of how she lived her life.

For those who never knew Hazel, they missed out. In Hazel, God had created a spiritual colossus of a woman. A faithful and prayerful soldier and loving mother. Faithful, because when God asked her to do something her answer was always ‘yes’. I would be surprised if she missed the will of God on any matter during her life. Prayerful, because she not only believed but knew nothing could be built for the Kingdom of God without prayer. My mind is taken back to my early days of working with OneHope over a decade ago. I remember that Hazel decided that we needed more prayer than we had previously had before. She set up a ‘prayer rota’ in the library and the staff would go there, sign in and pray around the clock in 15 minute segments. As a young man this left a deep impression in me that has never left. Hazel was also a loving mother, not only to her own flesh and blood but to everyone she knew.

When I think of Hazel, I think of Sarah. Sarah, which means princess, (and when we speak of Hazel, we do indeed speak of a royal princess of the King) was told by God that she would be a mother of nations. Hazel, who reached over 1 billion children around the world with God’s Eternal and Holy Word, truly became and spiritual mother to a multitude of children. To know that she is not only being blessed by God Almighty for reaching these young souls with the gospel but to know that she will also share in the rewards of the fruits of their ‘Kingdom Labor’ as they fulfill their own destiny, is both mind-boggling and awe-inspiring at the same time. Seldom has there been a ‘mother’ like Hazel Hoskins.

Although I never sat down one-on-one to have mentor-ship time with Hazel, she did indeed unknowingly mentor me over the years. One had to simply observe and learn from her life, her character and her words. Hazel set the bar of sanctification very high for those around her, by simply being herself. Never once did I hear an ill-spoken word leave her lips. Never once did I see a ‘chink in her armor’ concerning her character. She unknowingly challenged me to be better in every way.

No thoughts on Hazel would be complete without a mention of her humor and wit. I’ve already mentioned her humor involved in our last conversation, but this was not unusual. Her humorous spontaneous interjections of wit were a constant presence in all of our lives. Her ability to light up a room with a ‘one-liner’ was a gift and will be sorely missed.

I am well aware that my feelings of loss and depth of memories, pale in comparison to those who knew and loved her the most. And at this time our prayers should be with Bob and Hoskins family. They surely will need our support during this time of grief.

For a lady who loved the Word of God (KJV preferred) and loved to worship Him on the piano, I will adapt the words of an old hymn. “Hazel clung to the old wooden cross in life but has now exchanged it for a crown in the next.”

Beloved By All…

My Favourite Kind of Rejection

Rom 8:28; “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

REJECTION!!! There are not many feelings that we have in our lives that hurt on such a deep level as the feeling of rejection. I would be surprised if there is a reader of this blog who has never experienced the sorrowful and lonely abandonment feeling that rejection produces. Whether it’s as ‘small’ as being the last kid picked at school for a sport, or as soul wrenching as being rejected by a loved one or by one whom you admire. The pain of rejection, put simply, hurts.

Most of the rejection that we encounter does not have a positive outcome, but every so often, when the grains of sand in our journey’s hour glass continue their flow, they reveal a greater purpose. Permit me to tell you such a story:

Earlier this year a ministry friend and I set off on what was planned to be a Vision Casting and Training trip for OneHope in the Balkans. The initial plan was to set off from Albania, head through Macedonia. We’d have our meetings in Serbia, Croatia and Bosnia. We had planned our ‘counter-clockwise’ route through the Balkans and set off as planned. After leaving Albania, traveling through Macedonia, we arrived at our border control check point. After a little ‘tense delay’ on the Macedonian side we arrived at the Serbian border. They looked at our passports, looked at us, back at the passports and told us to pull over. What began next was two hours of, “you’re not permitted to stay here” and, “but, we have the correct paperwork.” Back and forth we went, only to end up being ejected from Serbia. They stamped our passports and sent us back to Macedonia. Carefully trying to discern the difference between ‘Pushing our way into the country and pressing through this opposition,’ we decided to travel back through Macedonia, go north into Kosovo and then try to enter Serbia again through a different border. The night was advancing in its hours and by the time we had arrived at the Kosovo-Serbian border it was already after midnight. The usual drill transpired. We were once again told to “pull over.” Again, after an hour of deliberations, phone calls and conversations we were ejected. Confusion over the last border agent stamping our passports OUT of the country and never IN. Coupled with me answering “yes” to the question; “You were ejected once tonight already and you decided to try and come into Serbia via a different country and border?” meant that we were once again traveling back through Kosovo on our way back to Macedonia.

Leaving out a mountainous amount of details we then got ‘stuck’ between the borders of Kosovo and Macedonia. Neither country was willing to allow us and our materials access into their country. Fueled only by energy drinks and chocolate bars on what was becoming a 21-hour day, we badly needed someone to allow us through. After four or five rejections from several border control agents we were in great need of a reprieve. Finally Kosovo allowed us through on the condition we headed back to Albania. Knowing that we had to be in Croatia for meetings, we had no choice but to change our plan and now go ‘clockwise’ through the Balkans.

Leaving Albania and traveling via Montenegro we arrived at the southern border of Bosnia. Immediately we are told to “pull over.” A directive we were only too familiar with. After another extended period of time that included our car being dismantled, we were finally given our passports back, entry stamps included. As we put our seat-belts on, put the keys in the ignition, we see the Bosnian border agent in our mirror, heading towards the car with his arms aloft (I can’t lie, the temptation to just drive was enticing, but that is not honoring to either those in authority or the Lord.). We got back out of the car and asked him what he needed. What happened next was simply amazing. He pointed to the Biblical material we had for children in the car and said that he has a family and would like some copies. Quickly realizing that in a country that is approximately 0.00025% Evangelical Christian, the chances of this man having the story of Christ in his own language were slim to non-existent. We gladly gave him some copies and carried on our journey towards Croatia with a ‘spring in our step.’bos_17STM_20150331_Cover

Suddenly we understood that all of the previous rejection that we had encountered over the previous days, led us to a border crossing that we never planned on passing through, to have a divine appointment with a Bosnian agent. Only eternity will truly reveal the souls that had their destiny changed due to that day.

I will accept all kinds of rejection that comes my way if the result is the turning of people’s hearts towards Christ. For God does indeed work all things (including rejection) together for good, for those who love Him and are called according to His purposes.

This is my favourite kind of rejection….

**This was just the first half of the journey. There was more rejection waiting for us. But God brought us through those ones victoriously also**