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Dane Skelton is the Pastor of Faith Community Church and the author of Jungle Flight: Spiritual Adventures at the Ends of the Earth, a book of true stories from the ministry of JAARS (formerly Jungle Aviation and Radio Service). His second book, Papua Pilot: Flying the Bible to the Last Lost Peoples, co-authored with the late Paul Westlund, is now available on Amazon.com and Christianbook.com.
Acts 17: 26 From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. 27 God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.
We passed and nodded to each other as I excited the Bo Jangles restaurant, the WWII veteran I’ve written about before, who stormed Normandy on that longest day long ago. He must be near ninety now; the one who raised two sons here, one of whom helped start FCC, and the other whom I met in Georgia, who connected me with FCC. Then there’s the Korean War vet I know, whose daughter I married, and the Vietnam veterans I’ve come to know over the years, some of whom became dear friends.
Query: Why was I born between the wars, after Korea, just before Nam? Why did I come of age after that conflict ended, before I could be drafted? I think often about those men and those wars and though I honor the men I am thankful that I did not have to take up arms.
A photo from 2005 rests on the shelf in my office. I’m surrounded by Papuans, reading a Ketengban Bible. A mere thirty years prior they were still stone-age cannibals, living naked in the mountains, killing and being killed, scared of the spirits inhabiting every shadow.
Query: Why was I not born six thousand feet up the side of an equatorial mountain, child of spear-wielding cannibals? I think often about my Ketengban friends, about how far they have to go, generation’s worth, before they will ever have anything like the life I’ve known.
I could go on and on, but I think you get my drift. I was born in the best country on earth, at the best time on earth, to some of the best people on earth, in one of the best climates on earth, in the most prosperous economy on earth, under the best health care system on earth, equipped with the best Bible scholarship on earth in order to have what I have and do what I do on earth. And so were most of you.
What are we to make of all of that? Only this: Give thanks for the providence of God and let it cause you to seek him and help others do the same.