Lamentations 3:22-25 ESV

The Steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
The LORD is my portion,” says my soul,
”therefore I will hope in him.”

We Are Blessed By Our Father

We are blessed by our Father
who made us for His glory
and in His Love sustains us
as He leads and by His strength
so guides us we may face
every challenge before us.

We are blessed by our Savior
who shepherds and protects us
and calls us by His Love to
His side and freely provides
the sustenance we need
for the challenges before us.

We are blessed by the Spirit
who comforts and upholds us
and in His Love empowers us
as He inspires our hearts
and informs our minds for
every challenge before us.

For every challenge we must face
we have the glory of the Father,
we have the love of our Savior,
we have the wisdom of the Spirit—
our deliverance is in God
and every victory is His.

Believe it or not, the events described below, did, indeed, happen. Believe it or not, the couple caught up in the events described below, did continue to experience God’s Love together. Even now they continue to testify to His ever-present faithfulness. Believe it or not, God’s Word and His Presence in our lives remain constant no matter the nature nor the events which have surrounded us, (as demonstrated in the events explained below).

Becky and Mike walking by faith together in their faithful God.

This couple (not-so-young-as-many such husbands and wives) were married on January 2, 1988 at the First Baptist Church in Glencoe, Alabama. To be honest, the families of both the bride and the groom felt a bit overwhelmed by the presence and unpredictable antics which took place, as members of their Nigerian Mission Family and and the Heaven-Bound youth group from St. Marys, Georgia joined in the festivities.

After their honeymoon in St. Petersburg, Florida and after a special reception for family and friends in Muncie, Indiana; the couple spent four weeks in a lovely honeymoon cottage in St Marys, Georgia. Then, as they continued to adjust to married life, they found themselves traveling back to Nigeria, where both had served separately as individuals before meeting during Mike’s first furlough, and after Becky had completed her two-year term.

In just a matter of weeks Mike and Becky met up with Steve and Ruth Robertson in the international wing of the Atlanta International Airport. Though younger, the Robertsons had been married longer, and were heading to Nigeria as a Journeyman couple assigned to Baptist High School, Jos. When the KLM flight approached the Kano Airport, the hot and dusty conditions did not allow the pilot to land. Instead, he flew over to Accra, Ghana. There the Stonecyphers and Robertsons waited with roughly three hundred other passengers until midnight, when milder temperatures and the settling of the harmattan dust made a landing possible. When those hundreds of people began rushing towards the boarding gate, Mike and Becky  hurriedly explained to Steve and Ruth how to push along with everyone else if they hoped to catch the flight.

By God’s Grace they did, and landed in Kano around two A.M. Actually, the late hour meant that the customs people were too tired to raise a fuss about the large number of boxes accompanying the equally weary couple, so things went pretty smoothly. Jos missionaries had been warned that the newlyweds were basically bringing their whole household, without the house itself, that is. So, they had sent three empty vans to convey them, the Robertsons and their loads back home

Challenge #1
Bathtub Electrocution

While Steve and Ruth got settled into staff housing at Baptist High School, Mike and Becky spent a week getting ready to move into a mission house in Jos. Things seemed to be going smoothly, until at the end of an exhausting day, Becky settled into the bathtub for a relaxing soak. That went well until she reached to pull the metal chain attached to the drain stopper. As she did, she felt electricity coursing through her body, and she could not let go. Quite naturally, she screamed for Mike, who came running, along with James, the Nigerian electrician, who was working in the house at the time.

Well, it was the kind of scream which demands quick action. So, Mike and James went rushing through the bathroom door together, only to see Becky sitting in the tub. James backed out in a hurry. Becky explained the situation to Mike, who then explained it to James , who ran to the pantry, and turned off the electricity. Thankfully, Mike was then able to help Becky out of the tub. Apparently some wires which should not have been touching, were. Whew! For weeks and weeks Becky stayed out of that tub, and used the one in the hall bathroom.

Challenge #2
Food Poisoning

So, Mike and Becky moved into their house, and then began preparing themselves to temporarily relocate north to Zaria, where they would study Hausa for six months. They also had time to enjoy visiting with Jos missionaries, especially those assigned to Baptist High School. They made a special effort to get with one Journeyman, Martha, who was teaching music; and would fill in for Mike with the Torchbearer Drama Group while they were away. The three went out to eat at a Lebanese restaurant, and enjoyed their tasty, exotic meal, featuring some delicious hummus. However, the next day the three of them came down with a severe cases of para-Typhoid. Apparently the water mixed in with the hummus was not so pure as it needed to be. That meant high fevers, aches and pains, and gastrointestinal symptoms which weakened them all significantly. Becky made a distressing discovery about her new husband; as his fever rose, he laughed uncontrollably. So, as they both struggled through the first night of their illness, she also had to put up with his laughing, making stupid jokes, and laughing some more. It is to her credit that he lived through the night. With good care and the prayers of their missionary neighbors, and by God’s Grace, they did slowly recover.

Challenge #3
Setting Up Housekeeping In A Fishbowl

Now, Mike was returning to language school for his second round of Hausa Language Learning. Becky was beginning her first such experience. Along with them, three other couples, senior missionaries all; were to study Hausa with them as these missionaries sought to strengthen their ministry among Nigerian peoples in the North. The school itself was hosted on the Baptist Publications North in Zaria, directed

Becky and Mike, happily married, show off their tailor-made Nigerian outfits.

by another senior missionary couple who had made arrangements for the school. So, three experienced married couples had the opportunity to encourage the newly married couple, who were learning how to do married life in their midst.

All of them did so helpfully and sensitively, much to their credit. Still, there were challenges. For example, Becky had not used a pressure cooker before, but with clear instructions, it seemed simple enough. So she put on some beans to cook, and continued with her studies; when, to her horror, she heard a loud explosion. When she and Mike rushed into the kitchen, they saw the cooker had blown its pressure valve. Water and steam were erupting, making, as it turned out, a permanent stain on the freshly painted ceiling. In the meantime, their neighbors came over to see what in the world had happened. That was the last time Becky used the pressure cooker for quite some time. Still, by the Grace of God, no one was hurt.

Language study begin at seven in the morning five days a week. It met in a spare room off the kitchen in Mike and Becky’s house. So, everything had to be spic and span, ready to welcome their fellow students, bright and early. At one point this became especially difficult, when all of Zaria lost city water for a couple of months. An irreplaceable part had spoiled, and had to be shipped from outside the country. In the meantime the missionary families collected rainwater, and even had water brought in from Jos over three hours away. During these days Becky and Mike learned how to take teacup baths, stretching every drop of water as far as they could. They and the Halls across the road, washed clothes in an old-fashioned wringer washer, so that water could be used over and over again. This worked well until they noticed tadpoles swimming around in the wash water.

Challenge #Four
Emergency Surgery

Language Study went well as Mike and Becky worked hard in class in the mornings, with a language informant in the afternoon; and as they attended a Hausa Language Baptist Church regularly. They enjoyed good fellowship with their missionary friends and with Nigerians from their church. However, as they were nearing the end of their studies, Becky began having occasional piercing abdominal pain. One of the senior missionaries, a nurse, took her to a doctor there in Zaria. He did a pregnancy test, which came back negative. Nothing would relieve the pains, which continued. Though the phone in Zaria had not worked in a long time, it miraculously came on, and Becky was able to explain her symptoms to a missionary doctor in Jos. He ordered Mike to get her to Jos as soon as possible.

This meant driving roads, which in some places, had more potholes than road. Mike literally had to drive off the road, down into deep valley-like potholes, and from right-to-left and back again, on long stretches of practically speaking, non-existent road; all, as gently as possible to avoid causing an attack of Becky’s pain. By God’s grace, they made it, and the doctor and his colleague decided to do exploratory surgery. They did so, and found a cyst, which was causing the intense pain, and successfully removed it.

Now, the surgery took place in an excellent African missionary hospital. There were, though, a few added additional challenges for Becky.  During surgery Becky had to inform the medical team she was feeling their activity as they explored her abdomen; so, they had to switch mid-surgery from a spinal to general anesthesia. Then in the midst of a busy surgical schedule, after successfully finishing with Becky, the workers took her outside and left her there for some time, until two missionary friends went searching and found her. Next, when they got her settled into a private room, the mattress in the bed was so worn out, she had to keep the bedpan under her for support. Imagine! However, by God’s grace she recovered well.

Challenge #5
A Broken Wrist

Becky and Mike were able to soon thereafter, return to Zaria, complete their studies and return to Jos to prepare for taking up their duties at Baptist High High School. During those weeks of preparation Mike spent some time playing tennis for exercise. One day, as he was improperly backing up (and not turning sideways to retreat) he fell hard on the concrete. He fell so hard on his bottom

It seems like Mike will never learn some things; but Becky keeps trying!

that he totally lost his breath. His tennis instructor hurried to him, and helped him to get up. For some unknown reason, he finished the lesson. Anyway, afterward, he could barely walk. By the next day, his sitter was really, really sore; so painful he did not notice the funny way his hand hung limp. Their missionary doctor neighbor assured him his sitter would recover, but he suggested an x-ray for his wrist, which was, indeed, broken. So, he was to spend the end of this first year of marriage, wearing a cast. This was not so great a burden, but he did feel bad that he kept whacking Becky on the head with his cast when he turned over in bed. Believe it or not, they did not figure out until almost time to have it removed; they could have simply changed sides of the bed to protect poor Becky’s head. By God’s Grace both survived.

Well, enough is enough; and believe it or not, all of this happened, pretty much as I’ve written—as best as I can remember. Do believe this: God has abundantly provided the grace needed even as an inexperienced and sometimes silly couple, learned to thrive in His Love, whatever came, and as they learned to serve Him together, whatever the challenges which came their way. Today we are more convinced than ever of God’s eternal faithfulness and His day-after-day, year-after-year all encompassing love. By God’s Grace we praise the Lord!

Mike and Becky continue to find great joy as by God’s Grace and by His Will and provision they adjust to keeping up with the hectic pace of life in the US.
Believe it or not!







2 Comments on “

  1. Thank God for His faithfulness in your life. I did not know you went through this challenge. I blessed God that you never looked back
    Thank you for everything.

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