By early grade school Booey and I were inseparable. Together we did all the things that little boys did living in the early ’60s, long before the reign of iPhones and Netflix. In those days, your home phone was a black rotary one that was centrally located in the house. It was an adult-only device used primarily to make or receive the occasional call coming from friends or family. The television, if you had one, was strategically located in the living room, where it stayed indefinitely as it took one reasonably strong dad and three uncles to get it there in the first place. The TV, too, was almost exclusively controlled by adults. This made sense because programs like Groucho Marx, To Tell the Truth and Lawrence Welk had zero allure for kids our age. The only exception was Saturday morning cartoons and Sunday evening Disney. Beyond those few sacred hours of entertainment, the things we did for fun were totally of our own making. Should you get caught whining about having nothing to do, you would either find yourself banished to your room to read or, even worse, slapped with extra chores without any promise of increased allowance for your trouble.
Contrary to what you might think, however, boredom was almost unheard of in those days. Together Booey and I climbed trees, rode bikes, fought wars, had hydroplane races (we lived in Seattle, the home of the Gold Cup Races and Miss Bardahl) and, on the days when other kids joined in, we played wiffle ball in the street or a neighborhood favorite, kick-the-can. No matter the game, we often seemed to wrap things up with a good old-fashioned wrestling match. Somehow it was important to regularly check in to see who was the strongest. Fortunately for our friendship, we turned out to be pretty evenly matched. The important point is that each challenge ended with the begrudging loser being forced to acknowledge defeat by crying “uncle!”.
Spending time wondering how “uncle” became the accepted way to admit defeat ends much like asking how Bruce became Booey. The answer is lost in time. Some say it derived from an old Irish word “anacol,” which means “an act of deliverance or safety,” while others suggest a Latin root. For us, “uncle” was simply the gentleman’s way of allowing your opponent to plead for mercy without actually having to say the word. It’s remarkable that even at our young age, mercy was a word that seemed to stick in your throat. Saying “uncle” was a way you could admit defeat—but only for this round. Asking for mercy, on the other hand, had a certain finality to it. Saying “uncle” was only temporary; asking for mercy meant you had truly come to the end of your rope.
Today, with the stakes much higher, I fear we adults often try to maintain the same subtle distinction. When we find ourselves pinned to the ground by a very bad choice, a runaway addiction, a shattered relationship or an untreatable pandemic, we would much rather say “uncle” than admit we are facing a situation we cannot possibly untangle on our own. Nothing seems to be harder on the human ego than acknowledging that we are helpless. Whether it’s a boyhood wrestling match or a life situation spiraled out of control, the reality is that when you are completely down your options become few. You can keep saying “uncle” in hopes that by some herculean effort you can throw off your opponent, or you can admit your utter defeat and plead for mercy, inviting another to do for you what you could not do for yourself. The first alternative, though momentarily satisfying because it retains the illusion of self-sufficiency, generally comes crashing down in short order. The second alternative, though embarrassing and painful, is often the wisest choice because in reality it represents the only path forward if your desire is to actually get back on your feet again and stay there.
In 2 Corinthians 4:1, Paul is clear about what we need if our desire is to truly stand and help others do the same: “Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart” (2 Cor. 4:1). Paul’s use of the term “ministry” here is not limited to the formal kind of ministry we might think of when we hear that word. He is not talking specifically about pastors or those who might serve us on any given Sunday. He is addressing anyone who has responded in awe to God’s invitation to be reconciled to him. In that moment, when our brokenness comes into contact with his absolute perfection, saying “uncle” would never be enough. Mercy is the only remedy potent enough to rout the disease that permeates our lives down to the bone. In that desperate moment when we cry out “mercy!”, not only are we changed, we also become dispensers of the life we have received and this becomes our ministry. Rather than being crushed under the weight of our own pride and arrogance until we “lose heart,” we are now free to become ministers (a noun) and minister (a verb) the life changing mercy, love and grace we have received.
In my lifetime, I have seen Americans square off against what felt like insurmountable odds and the challenges of previous generations that make mine pale in comparison. Though I am deeply grateful for the amazing heroism and resilience that marks our past, I am equally concerned that as we wade yet again into uncharted waters we might be tempted to only say “uncle.” We readily admit that current circumstances may be beyond our control, but in response we lean into a self-sufficiency that, when pushed too far, can become our Achilles heel. “God resists you when you are proud but continually pours out grace (mercy) when you are humble” (James 4:6 PTP). When it comes to God, whether American, Italian, Iranian or Chinese, may it never be said that in our pride we cried “uncle” when what we really needed to do was cry “mercy.” In Lamentations 3, the writer declares that God’s “mercies begin afresh each morning.” That’s because he knew exactly how often we would need them.
– Gordy McDonald
On November 24, 2018, our dear friend and co-laborer, Gregg Scott, gained eternity. He touched thousands of lives in his lifetime and is missed around the world. We echo what we’re sure the Lord is saying to him now: “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
In 1994, leaving behind successful careers in their home country of New Zealand, Gregg and his wife Alison joined Youth With A Mission. Gregg spent 10 years at YWAM Kona, Hawaii, in an executive leadership role in the area of operations and campus development. He was known not only for his excellent work, but also his leadership and mentoring skills.
While in Kona, Gregg met Rus Alit, a highly respected world leader with Appropriate Technology, which dealt primarily with providing clean water in developing nations. Gregg went on to work with Mr. Alit for 20 years, helping to bring clean water to villages in Indonesia and later, Tanzania, Africa, opening the door to what would become known as the Maji Cooperative (maji means water in Swahili).
After moving to Lakeside, Montana, in 2006 as part of Mission Builders International, Greg met a Tanzanian priest, Father Hugo Lungu, who was serving in rural Montana. Father Hugo expressed to Gregg the need for clean water in his own village in southwest Tanzania. They had only 4 working wells in a village of 8,000!
Working with various Christian agencies, Gregg spearheaded a program to drill wells and install water pumps as well as train local teams to maintain and service those wells. In partnership with Lifetime Wells, Maji Cooperative installed more than 60 water wells in Tanzania, having an extraordinarily positive affect on the quality of life in the area.
In addition to the clean water ministry, Gregg established a pipeline for medical supplies and equipment between Montana and SW Tanzania. He solicited, collected, stored, packaged, and shipped donated excess medical items from hospitals, clinics, veterans agencies and so on in the Flathead Valley. Items such as wheelchairs, hospital beds, hospital supplies, crutches, diagnostic equipment and machines, and operating equipment were all donated and shipped in 40’ containers. The positive affect on the local African communities has been staggering.
Gregg was always community-minded, demonstrated by his involvement in local fire-fighting, speedboat racing, and business startups. He had a huge capacity to love and to serve others and remained active for as long as he could until Parkinson’s disease made it too difficult for him to travel. Gregg was diagnosed with cancer in the fall of 2018 and finally succumbed to the complications of surgery on November 24.
Gregg is survived by his wife, Alison, three children—Kate, James, Peter and his wife, Joanna—his grandson Blaine and unborn granddaughter, a tribe of relatives, and countless friends.
Gregg is greatly missed by his family and all the people he loved and served around the world.
MBI is helping defray expenses for Gregg’s family, and if you’d like to help, you may use MBI’s Donate tab at www.missionbuilders.org, or contact MBI by mail (PO Box 406, Lakeside, MT 59922) or phone +1-406-844-2683.
Our first container of medical equipment and supplies, shipped in 2016, was received gratefully by Mwanamonga villagers, three hospitals and many village dispensaries.
The Mwanamonga dispensary had no beds or gurneys, and now have all they need for the size of their facility. While I didn’t get to visit every hospital and village dispensary, I did get to pass out a few wheelchairs. To be able to share some hope and dignity with folks who are Polio survivors but who have crawled on their hands and knees for the past 30 years was a highlight of my life. Esther, on my left in the photo below, had done just that. To sit alongside her in her wheelchair the following week at a church service was an incredible joy for me.
I was able to travel to Bugando Hospital and help Dr. Masala’s team unpack and install the women’s mammography biopsy machine. Dr. Masala had completed 7 years of oncology training in Italy on an identical machine and then returned to Tanzania, never dreaming that very soon the same machine would be delivered to his workplace. One of the engineers said to me during the installation: “Do you realize just how impossible it would be for us to even hope for a machine like this? Do you realize how many Tanzanian shillings it would cost?” The average villager’s income is about TZS 10,000—$5.00 USD per day—that’s if they can get work.
Please pray for our efforts as we pack and load two more shipments. We need God’s favor in every area. We’ve taken on a seemingly enormous task, but, one day at a time, sweet Jesus.
Go Fund Me: Help us ship two more containers! https://www.gofundme.com/medical-supplies-for-tanzania
My wife Joyce and I are involved with MBI as field staff in and for South Africa. We work with YWAM campuses in South Africa as well as HuntSA, a hunting and safari operation that encourages Christian sportsmen and women to come and have an adventure in God’s playground and then serve the marginalized children of South Africa.
There are an estimated 3.7 million orphans in South Africa. Close to half of them have lost their parents to AIDS-related diseases, and there are many more children living with sick and bedridden caregivers. About 150,000 children are believed to be living in child-headed households. They need the hope only Jesus can bring.
This year we helped bring 42 people over to hunt, recreate and serve in many ways in our villages, orphanages and soup clubs. But even with the numbers of people coming there is really only one thing that counts—the power of one! We all possess the power to make a difference in one life. We have that opportunity every day, whether here or in Africa.
I want to tell you about Peter. He’s about 16 years old. Last year, Sharon L. came over with Joyce and me to teach preschool for two weeks at Jehovah Jireh Haven orphanage. She bumped into Peter, who lives there. Sharon found out he was illiterate and that he wanted to learn to read, so she taught him. That was one year ago. He’s now reading at the seventh-grade level and has been sponsored to attend the Christian academy we work with. He wants to be a lawyer.
Peter is so happy, and he is a life changed and empowered for the future. Like so many of our orphans, Peter has no birth certificate. Things are going very slowly in this process. Would you pray for Peter, especially that he can get his birth certificate?
Remember you have the power of ONE!
“English camp is the happiest place on earth! Coming here, you find yourself in a completely different world. You forget about your problems, you meet amazing, unique and sincere people. There is an absolutely indescribable atmosphere. This camp greatly influenced me and my life, and I am extremely grateful to the organizers and the camp team for such a place. May God bless you all!” – Ksenia Lysenko, camper
Words like these were heard over and over again on the last day of the English camp as kids from each lesson group got up in front of all the other campers to share their impressions of the week.
One young man, Yury, seemed to talk non-stop about his love for Jesus and wanted to tell everyone he met. One day, Yury asked me why his friends don’t want to hear the gospel when he tries to tell them about Jesus. I encouraged him to keep trusting God to work in the hearts of his friends. Our part is to tell them about Jesus, pray for them and love them with God’s love, but only God can change their hearts. He was very encouraged to realize that it is all in God’s hands.
In all, three kids put their trust in Christ during the camp and five more kids have started going to church. More than 50 kids came to the first youth meeting after the camp, and they continue to be in touch with the camp leaders. Just this past weekend, the Volgograd church gathered again for a special baptism of 7 young people.
Pray for more fruit to be harvested in the coming months!
Craig Blair serves as volunteer development staff at MBI and continues to be an integral part of the yearly Christian English camp held just outside of Volgograd, Russia.