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This excerpt is from The Prince of Sumba, Husband to Many Wives.
Copyright 1998 Don Milton All Rights Reserved.
All Copyright Laws Apply


Chapters: [Prologue] [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [12] [13] [14] [15] [16] [17] [18]  [19]  [20]  [21]  [22]  [23]  [24]  [25]  [26]

Chapter 4 - Sisters in Need

   Mary and I had spent the week busily sprucing up our apartment so Sunday came quickly. Tony drove up as scheduled and dropped us off in front of Sam's church.   Sam's church was referred to as a "startup" church. Some startup church; It had over 1000 members and an assistant pastor; a local native, with more degrees from western seminaries than the entire mission board put together. It was our first experience with this language group so we were surprised when, in perfect English, pastor Sam delivered a fire and brimstone sermon.[1]
   It happened to be mother's day so toward the end of the service there was a special time when the mothers in the church were honored. Each mother walked to the front to have a freshly picked orchid pinned on her by her husband. It was at this point that I noticed those left sitting. The back 20 pews of the church were filled with women! I learned later that most of these women were NBSB "No Boyfriend Since Birth," their way of saying that they were single and pure. Off to one side were a few straggly looking single men; recent converts one would hope from the looks of them. I found out later that "all the best men were taken." So I'd been told, but I'd not realized the profoundness of that saying till now. I wondered, what would become of these single women? Would God provide new men converts?
   Pastor Sam told me later that this was of great concern to him. The single ladies had a great need for fellowship that neither their own families nor the families at the church were providing. Their own families were still locked in the clutches of the "Great Whore of Babylon" yet the families of the Born Again churches shunned them. The married women of the church felt threatened by the presence of the single ladies since there truly were no Christian men available for them.[2] Some claimed the single ladies "had eyes" for their husbands.
   The only fellowship with families that the single ladies were allowed was to attend the coffees after the service. The coffees allowed them to mix with the married members and their children. You could see the covetousness in the eyes of the single women for the children of the women who already had husbands.[3] A covetousness I didn't begrudge them. What healthy young woman wouldn't want to be mother to such delightful children. How many times had godly women of the Bible thanked the Lord that He had "taken away their reproach" by giving them a son?[4] Not only did these single ladies have no children, they had no husband nor hope to find one. Many had already been taught the false doctrine of "the gift of singleness" in order to stop them from wondering why the Lord had forgotten them. This only led them to feel guilty for their natural desires.
   I don't know why they called the after service get-togethers; coffees. The members put more cream into those cups than coffee. One of the young ladies joked with me,
   "Do you take coffee in your cream or do you drink it white?"
   "Black," I said.
   "Black cream!" she giggled, "Whoever heard of such a thing?
   She grasped my hand as she poured the hot coffee into my cup, not wanting to scald me with it. You could tell how much this opportunity to mingle and kid around meant to her. Was she flirting with me or was it simply my fertile imagination that noticed a slight wink as she turned to serve the others?
   Pastor Sam noticed my look of concern and took me aside.
   "I'm at wits end trying to deal with what has become 'the issue of the single women.' More than one of the single women has even proposed becoming a second wife to me."
   Not surprisingly, I expressed shock.
   "Tell me you're kidding me."
   "I'm not, in fact, my wife Sarisa was at my side when she brought it up."
   When Mary approached, Sam changed the subject.
   "So what are your and Ish's plans for Tigas View, Mary?"
   "Ish and I hadn't expected to be greeted by such a huge church and we've been wondering whether this is really where the Lord wants us. You've obviously been very effective in your evangelism." Mary grasped my hand.
   "Now let's not have any of that kind of talk. I have just the job for Ish. I'll discuss it with him in my office after the coffee."
   "That's great Sam," Mary said with excitement, "Ish and I had begun to wonder what we could do here. Everything looks so successful. I'm reassured now that you've told us you have a special task for Ish."
   "Yes, special task. That's what it is."
   Normally Mary and I were on the same wavelength but she made no comment whatsoever about the huge numbers of single women. How could she not notice that over two thirds of the membership of Sam's church were single women? Had she noticed but was shocked into silence? I was certain I'd find out later.
   I was glad to see Suni. I wanted to return her hospitality and maybe get to know something about her. All she'd done at her sari-sari store was ask about us. It was our turn to ask about her. When Mary noticed Suni, she bubbled.
   "Suni! You've got to let us return your hospitality! Come over to our new apartment with a few of your friends after the service and we can all prepare dinner together."
   Sam put his hand on my shoulder.
   "Ish, why not have Mary go back to the apartment with Suni and some of her friends right now and you and I will have that chat we talked about."
   Mary answered for me, "Great! Let's go Suni."
   Sam and I went back to his office. We began our meeting with a prayer. Listening to Sam pray made me painfully aware how little I'd known love in my own life. My wife loved me with all her heart as did my family but how much had I loved. This precious man, after praying for my wife and me, prayed for dozens of the single ladies by name. He'd taken it upon himself to take headship for these women, not as their husband but as their pastor.[5] They knew he loved them even more than the wives of the married women reviled them.
   I began weeping uncontrollably as did Pastor Sam. We prayed in the spirit for guidance and the Lord's will in dealing with what seemed like an insurmountable problem.[6] Then I felt the shame. The shame, for I knew my own church, back home, had women in it like these. They were told to wait upon the Lord and He would give them a husband and all the time no head, no shepherd, no man to pray with them and for them. The Lord is our shepherd we shall not want but what if the Lord's own messengers stand in the way of the Lord, what then?[7] Does not Paul say to avoid immorality every woman should have her own husband?[8] I realized now that I had not even spent sufficient time praying for my own wife let alone spent any time praying for the dear single ladies in my church back home. Pastor Sam had inspired me. I asked him to pray with me about this too and he did.
   After Sam's prayer I remembered the "special task" he'd mentioned and asked him,
   "What's your special task for me?"
   He replied,
   "I have just seven tasks for you."
   I thought to myself, seven tasks! He told me he had a special task but Pastor Sam was serious and I'd never met such a kind and thoughtful pastor before. This was my mission so I accepted without knowing what he was going to assign,
   "Sure, no problem."
   I know now that it was the moving of the Spirit that prompted my response. Sure, no problem, seven tasks! Never in my inward looking life would I have accepted a request like that before meeting Pastor Sam. I'd never prayed for so many people in one sitting before this day either. Curious now, I asked,
   "What are these seven tasks?"
   Then Pastor Sam said,
   "I have seven bios here with information about seven of the single women in the church. Will you take headship over them until they find a husband? I ask that you do this in all humility and purity of thought.[9] Will you encourage them to flee fornication?[10] Will you pray for them? Will you love them? Will you ask the Lord what is His will for them?[11] When the Lord answers you, will you believe Him and will you guide these women in accordance with what the Lord has laid upon your heart? Will you guide them in their prayer life? Will you explain scripture to them? Will you lay down your life for them if needs be as Christ gave His body for the church?[12] Will you do all this?"
   All I said was,
   "I will."
   I thought to myself, am I nuts? I just became everything a man can be to these women short of actually marrying them.
   Barely had I finished answering when Pastor Sam took out another list of seven women and asked me the same questions.
   Again, I answered,
   "I will."
   This he repeated until he had asked me and I had responded seven times. Seven lists, each of seven women, over whom I would have all the responsibilities of a husband but at a distance.
   Sam handed me the lists. There were no names, just a picture of the back of each woman's head and a "handle". TinkaTwist read one, another, SweetieWinky, and so forth. Then Sam explained to me.
   "This was put upon my heart by the Lord that you should pray neither knowing the name nor the face of the woman you were praying for. You'll receive her requests, her thanksgivings, and you'll share her sorrows but you shall not meet any of them in person until the time that the Lord will reveal to you."[13]
   This sounded kind of wild to me, Baptist that I am, but I felt the moving of the Spirit and couldn't refuse. Sam logged me into the system that I would use to communicate with the women. It reminded me of one of the programs I'd installed for one of my favorite ministries.
   I left our meeting not fully understanding what Pastor Sam meant by "headship" but he assured me that over time I would come to recognize my role in the lives of these single ladies. I knew that none of the things he had asked of me was sinful so why was I doubting? Was it a sin to pray for blessings upon single women? Had the Western Church so slanted my views on women that I couldn't allow myself to love them as sisters in the Lord for fear that I might go against taboos not found in the Holy Scriptures?[14] In fact, all of the things he'd asked of me had already been asked of me by Jesus when He said, "Feed My sheep."[15] Certainly I loved the Lord and I would feed His sheep. These ladies were His flock and they needed special prayer and special attention. As I thought on these things, peace came upon my spirit.[16]
   When I arrived home, Mary could see that something had changed in me though she didn't know quite what it was, nor did I. She liked it though. She said I had a sparkle in my eyes and gave me a huge smooch.

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[1] Revelation 21:8
But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
[2] Mass conversions of women to Christianity began in the 20th century. By the beginning of the 21st century there were more than double the number of Born-Again Christian women in the Philippines than Born-Again Christian men.
[3] Genesis 30:1
And when Rachel saw that she bare Jacob no children, Rachel envied her sister; and said unto Jacob, Give me children, or else I die.
[4] Genesis 30:23
And she conceived, and bare a son; and said, God hath taken away my reproach.
[5] 1 Corinthians 11:3 But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman [is] the man; and the head of Christ [is] God.
[6] Romans 8:26 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
[7] Psalms 23:1 [[A Psalm of David.]] The LORD [is] my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 Chronicles 36:16
But they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against his people, till [there was] no remedy.
[8]  1Corinthians 7:2
Nevertheless, [to avoid] fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.
[9] Philemon 4:8
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things [are] honest, whatsoever things [are] just, whatsoever things [are] pure, whatsoever things [are] lovely, whatsoever things [are] of good report; if [there be] any virtue, and if [there be] any praise, think on these things.
[10] 1Corinthians 6:18
Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.
[11] Hebrews 13:21
Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom [be] glory for ever and ever. Amen.
[12] Ephesians 5:25
Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
[13] Matthew 25:44-46
Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when did we see thee hungered, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did [it] not to one of the least of these, ye did [it] not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.
[14] Isaiah 5:20Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!
[15] John 21:17
He saith unto him the third time, Simon, [son] of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.
[16] Galatians 5:22&23
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

Note: This excerpt is from The Prince of Sumba, Husband to Many Wives.Copyright 1998-2009 Don Milton All Rights Reserved.All Copyright Laws Apply

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