James Byh: A True Action Hero

“Hey Rev!”, followed by some humorous tongue-in-cheek remark about either the British or my favorite soccer team. This is how Jim would always greet me when we met each other. Anyone who was standing in the vicinity would just give a little chuckle as they realized that Jim and just respectfully delivered a comedic jab as he greeted another brother. Oh, how I will miss the jovial comradery we shared throughout the years.

Everyone who knew Jim also knew that during any conversation, if you either left a gap in your dialogue or if you gave Jim the conversational reins, you would find yourself in the middle of the African bush being regaled with story after story of God’s miraculous work. So many times I couldn’t figure out how I was in the middle of a Francophone Africa in complete awe of what God just did, but this was what Jim did to you. He had the wondrous works of God residing in his heart and he wanted you to know them all. He knew that you were not there in person but he wanted you to both understand and share in the work of the Gospel in Francophone Africa.

Last week I had a couple of calls with Jim and on one of them, due to other schedule conflicts he was the only one on that call. As I sit here today I understand that it was truly a gift to me that we had that call. Because there was no one else on the call, we were able to dedicate that time to discussing his region. With the ‘floor’ being handed over to Jim he 12983399_987124608034332_3553910385525337644_o.jpgdid what he did so very often, he took me on a journey. The joy and passion in his heart as he told me the story of a Voodoo tree that was the center of some dark spiritual worship for centuries was incredible. He told me all about this particular tree that stood inches away from an Assemblies of God church, and how the church had received much persecution due to this tree being so close. However, on April 6th, 2016 this tree came crashing down! Jim’s voice now started to intensify as he marveled that there was not even a storm in sight to uproot this demonic meeting place of worship. He knew that God was at work and he wanted me to feel a part of the work. With every passing day that particular call now grows increasingly more precious.

When we got the news that Jim was not well, we immediately had a prayer meeting at OneHope for him. Oh, the spiritual aroma that must have been lifted up to our Heavenly Father in that moment must have smelt so sweet. The fragrance of those prayers was almost palpable. OneHope truly is a family and in that moment we all needed each other. During that time of prayer, I felt that the Lord showed me a picture of a toy action man. The kind that every boy had when they were growing up. Action men that you could manipulate their stance as you made your impossible dreams and ideas, possible. I felt the Lord saying, “This is Jim”. If ever there was a man that could work in the some of the most impossible places on earth and through the Grace of God make His work possible, it was Jim. Jim was a ‘Man of Action’ if ever there was one. As Philip Mungai mentioned in a previous post, “Jim talked quickly, walked quickly…you got the sense that he was in a rush, and you would understand why; he oversaw one of the most unstable places on the planet”. The Kingdom work was paramount to Jim and as we sat there and prayed for his recovery, we also prayed for the work in Francophone Africa. Jim would gladly receive our caring prayers for his well-being, but his focus was never on himself, it was always on the work of Christ. After all, he was a ‘Man of Action’. Christ was always put first. A lesson that we all should heed and embrace.

You would often hear Jim say, “Hey man, I’m just a simple guy” and there in lay the beauty of the man. Never impressed with the overtly fancy, always practical and fun to hang out with. So many of us have so many stories of how he made us laugh. I remember last year that during some free evening time at Hope Celebration a few of us went out to eat and fellowshipped together. We went to a place that had some pretty great grilled food and burgers. I found out that adjoining this particular restaurant they had a sushi bar. Jim had never eaten sushi before so we ordered some and they were kind enough to bring it through. You could tell that this was not something that excited Jim but in the fun spirit of the evening he was willing to give it a go. He slowly and hesitantly lifted the sushi roll (on a fork) to his mouth and partook. I think sushi fell into the aforementioned ‘overtly fancy’ category for Jim, he was not a fan. What made me crack up so much was here was a guy that had eaten monkey but if he never had sushi again, that would suit him just fine.

Whilst Jim would always light up a room I twice found him in a dark room at the top of a hotel in Beirut. As a few of went up to this roof top room to prepare for the meeting the following morning, who do we find up there with just the light from his laptop to illuminate the room? Jim. When we asked him why he was sitting in the dark, he told us that he decided to come up to a quiet place to listen to some sermons. This was Jim. He was never frivolous with his free time as I am so often guilty of being. If he was not out doing the work or spending time with his beloved family, he was filling that time in communion with God either by prayer or studying his Word. This should challenge us all. Even when you check out Jim’s Facebook page, and you scroll from his last post to the inception of his account you only find pictures and stories about God’s Work or his lovely family. Jim never really spent much energy on anything else. I would encourage every single one of you to visit his Facebook.

Jim, my ‘Man of Action’, has from an earthly perspective departed too soon. We will probably never know this side of eternity the Will of God in this matter but two things I do know. Firstly, we must pray for his family. For his much loved and talked about wife, children and grandchild. And secondly, that the work that Jim has partnered with Christ in must continue. Jim would never want to see the work fade, so we must pray for this special work and its laborers. Jim through his diligent and dutiful work has reached tens of millions of children in Francophone Africa with the Gospel. Not many people have a legacy like that.

James Byh, my friend and A True Action Hero…

 

No Question Is Too Small

Most parents will be able to hear their kids’ voices in this familiar phrase; “But why Dad? Why Mom?” There are times when we find it endearing and, if we are honest, times when we find it frustrating. Most of you, even as you are reading this will have heard these very words already today. Ah! The life of a parent with young kids.
10270804_10152124694381790_72683563344375937_nMy own children are 3rd and 6th graders and over the last 5 years I have been asked questions about a range of different subjects. From historical European battles to current ISIS events; from Adam’s original sin to the opening of the 7 seals in Revelation. I have had to be ready to give an answer to all my kids’ questions. Of course, these usually come in the middle of a soccer game that’s on television or in the middle of a delicious steak plate. Their questions have impeccable timing.

As they have grown I have noticed that in the hectic schedule we parents often keep, these moments are too easy to pass over with a quick answer or even a quick dismissal of the question. This does not serve our children; instead it can actually stunt their growth in knowledge. I am always careful to be diligent in both the quality and quantity of time spent with my kids, but I noticed this area of answering their questions can quite easily slip through the cracks. I am learning to be more deliberate in these moments.

No question is too small; no question is too silly. It is vitally important that our kids feel comfortable enough to ask us anything. Of course, a household that thrives in good, open, and Godly communication provides a solid base for questions to arise. Just as a home that does not communicate well will not reap the benefits of kids coming to parents with life’s difficult questions.

Allow the questions to flow, do not be scared of them. In entertaining and answering these questions, we are equipping our children with knowledge that they may not get anywhere else. And it protects them from something even more detrimental—erroneous information that they believe to be true from others. A child asking their peers for information is not always the best way to gain the truth that they seek. But make no mistake, if we don’t allow them to ask us questions, they WILL ask their peers.

Take time, be brave, and let the questions come….

**This was a guest blog post from the Undeterred Blog. To see more excellent posts on raising kids to be strong in the Word of God, visit; Undeterred

The Greatness of ‘Small’…

Micah 5:2; “But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Too little to be among the clans of Judah, From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, From the days of eternity”.

I have found that there is a common perception that ‘small’ often equals ‘worthless’. I disagree. I have learned both through text and experience that God is at work in the small things. Many of us can tell stories of when God has worked mightily in our lives. Not only in what we perceived to be the ‘big things’, but also in those ‘little things’ that we did not put much stock in at the time. Then, when we looked back, we realized that it was God’s Hand that started the whole thing.

The bible is full of scripture that points out that God is in the details, and that something big usually has small humble beginnings. We are told not to despise the day of small things, we hear the parable of the mustard seed, that although regarded as meaningless amongst the seeds, when it is planted and grown it becomes greater than all the other herbs and grows branches to lodge the fowl of the air. Again we read, that if you are faithful in little, you will be faithful in much. This list could be endless. As you know Jesus fulfilled over 300 prophesies in His first coming and this one found in Micah 5:2 is one of my favourites. I come from a small town in England that if I were to mention the name, the majority of people would have no idea where it was or that it even existed, a town that housed no more than 30,000 people is a small place indeed. (Perhaps you come from a town not too dissimilar to mine) So, I relate to the mention of Bethlehem Ephrathah being too little to be even classed among the clans of Judah. Many people may have seen this as a ‘nothing’ city. Only when Christ was born in Bethlehem do we really see this small town come to the forefront of history. I doubt very much that we would be able to find a person in our circles that has never heard of a small town in Israel called Bethlehem. Such was the magnitude of the event that took place there, that the name Bethlehem will be forever remembered at this time of year. I even find the name Bethlehem Ephrathah interesting. Bethlehem means “House of Bread” and Ephrathah means “Place of Fruitfulness”. Wow! To come from a city that means that, now that is a place worthy of birthing the King of Kings.

So when you look at the workings of God in your own life, know that He is in the small things, know that you are in the Hands of One who comes from a ‘Place of Fruitfulness’. Ask the Lord for the spiritual discernment to see when God is working in the details of your life so that you may know His ways better.

I will finish on something that my dad taught us as children, he said, “Big Doors open on Little Hinges”. How true. If we simply scoff at what looks to be a ‘little hinge’ we might be overlooking the magnitude of the ‘door’ that God wants to open for us.

Never overlook those Small Hinges.

Do You Feel Special?

Luke 2:10-11; But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord”.

Have you ever felt special? Have you ever had that moment when everything is about you? Where all of the affection in your world seems to be directed towards you?

Well, growing up I felt special every time December 25th rolled around. Waking up Christmas morning in a home full of joy, love and excitement. Trying my hardest to get to the presents as fast as I could only to be prevented by the Christmas routine of looking in every room but the room with the tree in, just in case there had been presents left in those rooms. This childlike frustration/anticipation only added to the growing glee within my heart. Whether I was unwrapping all of the He-Man Figures that I had asked Santa for, or as I grew older and saw the love that my family showed, by picking out gifts that they knew I would love, I always felt special. Opening these gifts as a child felt like the best time of my life because I felt so loved. I felt special at the dinner table wearing my tacky paper hat, sitting next to my granddad as we would all partake in the meal and Christmas pudding that my mam had made for us. As a child I felt like that day was just for me. Sure my brother and sister also had a great time, and the day was for them as much as it was for me, but, I felt like it was all done for me. This feeling that I have had over the years on this day (which I am sure many of you share) was an overwhelming sense of joy and personal elation.

Now, as the years pass by these feelings find a new deeper root within the very citadel of my soul when I read passages such as Luke 2:10-11. “Today in the city of David there has been born for you a Saviour”; this blows my mind. The angel from the Lord was very specific when he said “born for you”. It tells us of the very deliberate plan of Christ, that He came to this earth as a Saviour for you and for me. Verses such as these only go to add to the already highly personal plan that God has for our lives. You can imagine how special these shepherds felt when the angel came to say these things to them? As we read on in the text we see something extraordinary happen. A heavenly host, a multitude of angels appeared proclaiming peace on earth and goodwill to all men. Around 1264, Thomas Aquinas penned these words in a hymn; “Panis angelicus, fit panis hominum, Dat panis cœlicus”. (Bread of the Angels, Is made bread for mankind; Gifted bread of Heaven). Truly, in this moment the ‘bread of Angels’ was given to us….. Our true Bread of Life, Christ Jesus.

My prayer this Christmas, is that you will feel like the special chosen person in Christ that you are and that you will have great joy this Christmas season because there has been a Saviour born for YOU!