Category: Reflections/ Messages (page 1 of 10)

A Beautiful Event


Yesterday, Sunday afternoon, we had an ordination service at our church. I don’t remember ever having attended one before and I have been in and around churches of all shapes and sizes for a long time.

Cody Creel, who had been a pastoral assistant at our church for a couple of years, was getting ordained. He and his new wife had accepted the position of pastor at a church in Missouri and members from that church came down for the occasion.

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Remembering Ed Bentley


Ed Bentley was 99 years old and it was a magnificent life he lived—a true servant of Christ. We first met him in Papua New Guinea in the “old days”, when it was The Territory of New Guinea and Papua. He and his wife Laurel had come from Australia, where Ed had served, as I remember, as a chaplain in the army.

Ed was an artist and worked in the print shop during the week, but on Sundays he was across the Ba’e River to play his violin and help out at the Ukarumpa village Gadsup church. He did that for years. He had a heart that enjoyed helping others.

We have a painting hanging in our bedroom that Ed did for us. It is a picture of the main building at the Wycliffe Kangaroo Ground Center, complete with gum trees and two magpies in the foreground. It is a water color image of the place where we worked for three years. I often look at it and am reminded of our years there and of Ed.

Not far up the road from the center is a little Presbyterian Church, a small dignified building, where we once attended. We have a painting of it that Ed made.

In his earlier days at Ukarumpa, Ed would play tennis and I can remember playing with and against him at a function at the Aiyura agricultural station. He was the perfect picture of the Aussie tennis player: white shorts and shirt, white knee socks and white tennis shoes. And he was good, although a bit sneaky with his short soft hits.

Ed would sometimes accompany Phil Staalsen in skits—Phil droning on with some obscure pseudo-philosophical meanderings and Ed sawing away on his violin in the background. We all enjoyed it immensely.

Our grandson Sam has artistic talent and he was mentored by Ed. Sundays, immediately after church, Ed and Sam were together, he and Sam going over some painting styles and tips. Sam is also a great painter now and much of his interest and technique are because of Ed’s help.

When we were teaching at the Australian linguistic school at Kangaroo Ground we visited Ed and Laurel in their retirement setting at Judge Book in Eltham. He was helping as an unofficial chaplain. We also met them when we visited Kangaroo Ground—the last time was in 2010. Ed prayed with us. We weren’t surprised—that is the kind of man he was.

Karl and Joice Franklin
October 16, Waco, Texas

Remembering William Edoni


You had to look into William’s eyes and hear him laugh to know the man.  He had clear, penetrating eyes and an infectious laugh. That was the side of William that we saw when he celebrated his 50th birthday party, actually a wake, when all of his invited friends brought baby presents as William was ushered into his “second childhood.” He got back at one couple when he had their picture painted as the American Gothic and presented it to them at a formal function.

SIL members got to know William well when he was hired to work for SIL in 1982. At that time he was living well outside of Moresby, having left the Public Service, praying and contemplating his next step.  A woman from his church told him that in her dream he was to work for SIL. He took this seriously, so when I, as the SIL director, came looking for him, William was not surprised.

Over the years at Ukarumpa William often stopped by to visit members. Sometimes they might not know exactly why until a couple of hours later, for William was not a man to come to the point quickly or without deliberation. He understood the problems of a large, predominantly white, organization working in his country and wanted to help SIL be the kind of servant that it claimed to be. Consequently, he never stopped asking questions: probing, consulting, preaching and praying. He would eventually and quietly get to the point, then continue talking more about what was important—the country and people of PNG and how SIL could help them.

William loved to preach and teach and to serve. He taught the symbolic meaning of servanthood when he washed the feet of SIL members at an Easter Camp.

He died suddenly at the Ukarumpa Center in 200

Karl Franklin

Remembering Bert Fairweather


I met Bert Fairweather in 1954 when we were assigned as roommates at the Biola School of Missionary Medicine.  Bert had been in the army, attended seminary and was five years older than me.  However, we had similar interests: missionary work, medicine, baseball and having fun.

We were only roommates for one semester—the school director realized that we were having too much fun and despite various notes to help us during room inspections (like, “clean up your room”; “make your beds”; “don’t leave food in the room”; and the ultimatim: “stop posting my notes on your mirror”), we had not complied so we were separated and given new roommates.

However our friendship continued with our regular classses, visits to the cheaper cafeterias, over to Glendale to visit Wycliffe men who were building an airplane, trips to the park to play catch, and so on.  I remember Bert coming home after his first assignment to the hospital and shocking me. (We did three stints at hospitals during our second semester—a general hospital, an orthopecic one and a geriatric one that housed patients that no one seemed to care about).  It was after Bert’s first day at the geriatric hospitat that my shock came.  He came to our room, collapsed on the bed, and said something to the effect that “you are not going to believe this.”  He then gave details on feeding the sick and having them try to bite him, eating at the cafeteria and then cleaning up piles of vomit from patients who had tried to eat the same stuff from the cafeteria, about the messes in the beds and rooms, and so on.  He exagerated but convinced me that I would not be able to take the assignement.  I did, but only because Bert “prepared” me for it.

While at Biola Bert spent a lot of time at the campus cafeteria eating ice cream and I noticed that Jean (whom he married) was serving it.  A few years later Bert and Jean were married and became missionaries in Mexico.  There they met many of my colleages and although my wife and I went to PNG, we often communicated with Bert and Jean.  We saw them on furloughs and Bert made sure that I went to a San Diego Padre’s game—a highlight for me and a time when Joice and Jean could visit.

Bert loved to laugh and he loved people—shortly before he died he compiled a book about their experiences in Mexico.  He was an astute observer of people and I learned that “witnessing” to the bums in LA was not as simple as it seemed.  Bert let them know that he would treat them to a meal but he would not give them money.  And if they got emotional and started crying with gratitude, Bert would politely (usually) tell them to shut up.  He knew the ways of sinners and how to help them, but he was not fooled by their antics.

A few months before Bert was diagnosed with leukemia he and Jean visited us in Texas.  We had a wonderful time recalling experiences and thanking God for his work in our lives.  I will forever be thankful also that God led us together and Biola and enabled us to continue our friendship for over 55 years.

Karl Franklin
Dallas, Texas
July, 2011

Remembering Ray Nicholson

We first met Ray and Ruth Nicholson (and one can hardly be mentioned without the other) at Norman, Oklahoma in the summer of 1956, when we were doing the SIL linguistics courses. We were there for the first summer (on our honeymoon) and Ray and Ruth for the second. At that time they had two children—Larry and Laurie—and we, of course, had none.

Ray and Ruth lived directly above us in the dorm—a cinderblock two storey building without air conditioning. Consequently, with the hot Oklahoma summers, couples left their doors and windows open and, with a cloth of some sort. had a ‘door’. We don’t know when it started, but the Nicholson kids were often visitors, coming through the door at odd times, but especially early on Saturday mornings. We have a feeling Ray sent them.

We found that Ray and Ruth were from Winsor, Ontario, just across the Detroit River from Pontiac, Michigan, where Joice grew up and where her parents lived. After our summer at Norman we visited Ray and Ruth—they were packing barrels for New Guinea (as it was called then). We too had become interested in New Guinea because of our friendship with Ray and Ruth.

Ray and Ruth got to PNG (as it was later known) a year before we did and we began to exchange letters. Ray told us that there were lots of missions and churches and not to come to PNG if we expected some remote, untouched language group. (We found one later, but that is another story).

We finally left for PNG and arrived just before Easter in 1958. At that time the Kainantu airstrip was open and it was some eight miles from Ukarumpa. Imagine our delight when Ray (and some others) met us in his old jeep and trailer. We were escorted to a house at the center to live with another couple. A few days later we were in Ray’s jeep again as a load of us traveled to Raipinka, a Lutheran mission station, to share in the Easter service. We had lots of trips in that old jeep.

On one occasion I accompanied Ray out the muddy and poor road towards Okapa. As I recall we didn’t make it all the way because of weather or mechanical problems but it was typical of Ray to be cheerful and visionary, regardless of the circumstances.

It wasn’t long before Ray was the Associate Director and when an additional Associate was added I worked with Ray closely for a couple of years. Ray always had a challenge to present and was entirely optimistic that the work could get done. He has carried this over into his later years as well!

We visited Ray and Ruth in Ontario when they were home on furlough and later when they were home assigned. It was always a delight for us and our son and two of the Nicholson boys were close friends for many years.

In Ray’s dying months or year it was not unusual to receive some cryptic note asking me to look at something on his website or try to answer one of his challenges about how to get people excited about Bible translation. This was indeed his passion and the challenge that he leaves with us as well—will we be faithful, like Ray, to the end of our lives and have the same enthusiasm and fervor about the needs of people who do not have God’s word in their own language?

We are thankful for a man like Ray, who did indeed “laugh at impossibilities and shout ‘it shall be done’”.

Karl and Joice Franklin
Duncanville, Texas
Friends for 56 years

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