See That Glimmer In Their Eyes? It’s All About Jesus

John 8:12 ESV
Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world.
Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

You See Jesus In Their Eyes

First, you see it in their eyes,
His light so bright
you squint
a bit
from all the truth
that shines
just the like the sun
bursting forth
at break of sun
conquering darkness
in the glory
of His rising sun
who is the way,
the truth, the light
and blesses those
who are His own;
He brightens
every thing they do
along with all they say;
He so reflects
himself in them
you always want
to walk and talk
with Him and them.

John and Louise Hill … You can’t help but see the glory of God in their eyes.

Some people just shine. They so truly reflect the life and light of Jesus, you just get happy when you see them coming. You just can’t help it. I guess it’s a little bit like what Jesus’ followers must have felt when they saw Him coming. I can just hear them telling each other, “Oh, look! It’s Him. I was hoping he would get here before the evening. Now, just imagine! What will it be tonight? After the meal? One of His stories? Singing some Psalms together? Will he leads us in prayers? Will He heal some people?” It was always a privilege to be with Jesus. These days, it’s a similar privilege to be with such folks like John and Louise Hill. When you have to say good-bye, you can’t wait until the next time you see them.

For both Becky and me, in Nigeria,  John and Louise were definitely some of those people who shine, all because their lives are all about Jesus, and it shows. They glow. I first met John and Louise about two weeks after I arrived in Jos for the very first time. Baptist High School was fine. The staff and the students were great. The other missionaries were terrific. I was feeling really satisfied with all that I was doing. But, my body had a bit of trouble adjusting to the food, the water and the air. So, I came down sick. Well, both Baptist High School people and missionaries did everything to get me through this illness, but to no avail. I remember worrying that I might be shipped home in shame without ever having the chance to get fully established in my missionary service.

Then John and Louise burst on the scene. They had been down country in mission committee meetings at Ogbomosho. When they got back to Jos, someone told them about my illness; so they hopped in their Volkswagen bus and drove out to the compound where I lived near the school. They loaded me up, and before I knew it I had been tucked into one of their spare bedrooms at their house in town.

John and Louise dressed up well for special occasions, wearing well-matched Nigerian outfits.

Louise, a trained nurse, soon had me on a diet featuring lots of fluids, tasty broth, jello and of course, the missionary secret to good steady health, nice thick, homemade yoghurt. It took some getting used to the sharp taste and the thick consistency of the yoghurt, but it did, and still does, work wonders. Pretty soon I was feeling better and was enjoying the lively and jovial banter between John and Louise and their many visitors. Their African friends filled their days as the Hills welcomed them; laughed with them, served them water or tea or squash (a British sweetened fruit syrup you mixed with water); advised them and always prayed with them. What a delight to enjoy their loving, welcoming hospitality.

Now, I had lost my appetite, but Louise knew how to deal with that. First, she threatened me with a trip to the hospital if I did not eat. Next, she fixed delicious and savory meals no one could resist. To be honest, I was having about as good a time as could be imagined; and before I knew it I was strong and healthy and eager to get back to Baptist High School and my work there. In fact, I returned thoroughly encouraged by the joyful example of sharing the love of Jesus so spontaneously and naturally as both John and Louise did. Just like Jesus, they made every person feel special.

Once Becky had joined me, she had the opportunity to join one of Louise’s discipleship groups studying Masterlife. In her group there were five women, including an Indian English professor at the local university, an architect married into the family of a former Nigerian head of state, the head nurse from a local hospital,

Louise enjoys time, with Norma, a disciple and a “daughter” who has spent her lifetime ushering others into God’s Kingdom.

and a teacher. In fact, the professor actually came to faith in Christ through that Masterlife group. Louise always made her groups Christ-centered, lively, uplifting, encouraging and fun. She also worked with local pastors’ wives, teaching them to do beautiful needlepoint art for their homes and friends, in addition to the Bible teaching she did with them in Hausa.

John also did discipleship with local pastors and with other members of the international community. He won to Christ and discipled a dentist from Sri Lanka, and actually turned him over to me for continued discipling, so he could move on to someone else. John and Louise valued people; so they knew how much they were loved and appreciated for themselves. What better reminder of the congenial way Jesus related to people as he traveled throughout Judea and in Galilee.

John and Louise also emphasized the importance of prayer. Like Jesus, they spent much time in personal prayer and in prayer with those who needed to know Jesus. They further emphasized prayer with the pastors, their wives and their fellow missionaries. I will never forget one day our Jos group of Baptist missionaries were meeting in their living room at the Baptist Center in Jos. As the host, John was to do the devotion. (Now, here’s a confession which might disappoint some of you. But the confession is good for my soul, and will help make a crucial point about John’s heart for God.) Some of us younger missionaries were a bit unfair to John and his soft, quiet voice, which sometimes  made us a bit sleepy on warm Sunday afternoons when he spoke at prayer meeting. But on this day I learned something about John I had somehow missed. He had chosen to read Psalm 139, but he did not not simply read it; he obviously felt the power of every word of this beautiful Psalm about God’s intimate and loving involvement in each of our lives. Pretty soon the Holy Spirit moved him so, tears were coursing down his cheeks; and no matter how softly he read that day, God touched each of us deeply. In her own prayer life Louise exemplified her strong sense of self-discipline by getting her walking done each morning by walking around the tennis court as she went through her extensive prayer list. It seems that might have been the only time no one was allowed to interrupt Louise, since she was spending this time with her Lord.

Not only did John and Louise have eyes that sparkled as they reflected the joy God gives to His children who so clearly live for His glory; but their always uplifting spirits shone brightly for HIm and His Way. They combined deep faith in God’s Goodness and His Wisdom, with old fashioned, good sense. So, very naturally folks from all different backgrounds were always seeking them out for encouraging and wise counseling. Jesus was always in the very midst of such conversations. Both their eyes and their hearts invited you inside for genuine and prayerful attention to any questions life brought your way.

John loved visiting and teaching among the peoples who lived on the Jos Plateau.

In helping Nigerians start churches, John often advised them to buy property built upon the quite common volcanic rocks scattered everywhere on the Jos Plateau. Such land plots were often the most affordable for young and struggling churches, because no one else wanted them. As it turned out, such foundations proved especially sturdy in later years, especially when the churches were being attacked by angry mobs.

Now, do not make the mistake of assuming life was easy for John and Louise. During the time we knew them, they continued parenting four children, at times spread all over the world. Their quiet and gentle nature sometimes invited less appreciation and respect  than was merited from within both the Nigerian and the expatriate community. Even  spending their lives totally absorbed in enjoying their ministry led some colleagues to think of them as a bit isolated. Nothing was further from the truth; they loved Jesus and they loved living life in the midst of His people.

Isn’t it wonderful how God takes folks like John and Louise, who gladly embrace the truth? Life is all about Jesus, being found by Him, living for Him, and enthusiastically and lovingly bringing others to Him. No wonder both their lives and their eyes sparkled. The glory of God shone beautifully in their eyes.







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