Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Open doors. Open hearts

Church, Igreja, Holy Place, House of the Lord, Fellowship Center, Ecclesia, Meeting Place, Worship Center……whatever you choose to call it, the church is meant to be a place to give praise to our Savior, learn about him, encourage the Body of Believers, and bring people into intimate relationship with the One True God. Our team had the honor to open another church in a remote village in the district of Dondo. It was amazing. We were welcomed by the singing and dancing of beautiful Mozambican people. The joy that was in the air can only be explained by the workings of the Holy Spirit. The church was not fancy. The mud walls were still trying to dry. Of course, this task was made difficult by the rain that was falling from grey sky. The roof was grass, but had the coverage of a big mango tree. And where the opening to the church was, was strategically placed white cloth. It was all so beautiful. The thing that made it the most beautiful was an almost tangible hunger from people to know and hear the Word of God. As we celebrated and preached, ears and hearts were opened. Dancing and singing turned into pure and utter worship for the Lord. Selfless offering were given and pastors set the example of what it meant to serve humbly. After some preaching outside under the mango tree, the ribbon was cut! Then we all went inside and the dancing was more vigorous, the singing was louder, and the Holy Spirit was moving more powerfully. We had the honor to stand on fresh ground, pray and give this land, this church, and this village to the Lord. Oh my….it was awesome! Our prayer as a team is that the rain was just a symbol of the Lord’s provision and Presence coming from Heaven. The mango tree that cascaded over the roof is just an earthly example of how He is going to cover and protect this church and the people who come worship Him in it. Our prayer is that as we open doors to new churches, that the Living God opens hearts to receive the precious gift of salvation.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

This Is Not The End

What a heavy word.
Here in Mozambique we hear about someone dying literally almost every day.  Just driving into Beira, which is only about 35 minutes one way, we often see at least 3 funeral processions.  It seems to be everywhere here. It is difficult to see.  
However, completely different emotions are evoked when death happens within our own family.  Yesterday, October 19, 2012, we lost one of the boys I have cared for almost three years.  There are several people who have poured into this young mans life over the years.  He was special....heck....they are all special.
Domingos Antonio is now in the Presence of his Father.  He is no longer sick, weak, or hurting.  How amazing is that?!  Life does not end when death takes over our earthly bodies!  AMAZING!

Last night I had the honor of sitting with the three remaining boys on the base.  We talked about Domingos, how difficult it was to see him when he was sick, and how it was unexplainable to see him REALLY sick lying on the floor of the hospital one hour shy of death.  We talked about how we were struggling with his family who has been absent for most of Domingos’ life.  We talked about how AIDS and tuberculosis were diseases we want to see eradicated (I did not use that word though, as I have no idea how to say that in Portuguese!!).  We had a really honest conversation about how our flesh did not understand and how difficult death is.

I don’t think I will ever understand it…..I never want to.  How can the loss of a child be understood.  Not just a child----a son, a brother, a nephew, a cousin, a boy named Domingos.  How do you ever come to grips with it?  What does it look like to trust in the Lord and know His plans are good after a child has breathed his last breath on earth?  What do you tell the other boys…the boys that have become his family?  When do the butterflies in your stomach subside?  When are you crying too much---or not enough?

Trusting is not always understanding the plan, or even knowing it in advance. Faith is not knowing what tomorrow will bring, but believing in the One who holds the future in His hand.  My God is mighty.  He calls all things into being, there is nothing that sneaks by Him….everything is under His control.  And now Domingos is by His side. Wow…I mean seriously…WOW.

Here's the thing, our flesh can be sad, confused, hurting, or whatever.  But JESUS CHRIST is so much more.  He can most certainly handle everything our flesh feels and He will never forsake us.  So, yah, I don’t know all the answers, or have all the right words, but I don’t have to have it all figured out.  It’s best that I don’t!  Oh my goodness, can you imagine if I did…yowzer. But I do know that my God is good.  He is faithful.  And He is GOD.  And because of that Truth, it does not matter that I don’t know.

We believe.
We trust.
We have hope.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Boot-Legged TRUTH

Why re-invent the wheel? Why try to say something a different way, when someone has already nailed it on the head? I am not that creative or good with words, so I am going to boot-leg someone else's writing and post it here. Because TRUTH IS TRUTH. So here it is.....


When I think of Africa, the following images immediately come to mind: Starvation. AIDS. Child soldiers. Genocide. Sex slaves. Orphans. From there, my thoughts naturally turn to how I can help, how I can make a difference. "I am needed there," I think. "They have so little, and I have so much." It's true, there are great tragedies playing out in Africa every day. There is often a level of suffering here that is unimaginable until you have seen it, and then it is difficult to believe. But what is even harder is reconciling the challenges that many Africans face with the joy I see in those same people. It's a joy that comes from somewhere I cannot fathom, not within the framework that has been my life to this day.

The images spilling out of my television showed circumstances that could seemingly only equal misery, and I was fooled. I bought into the lie that circumstance defines happiness. The truth is, in Africa I find hearts full of victory, indomitable spirits. In places where despair should thrive, instead I find adults dancing and singing, and children playing soccer with a ball crafted of tied up trash. Instead of payback, I find grace. Here, weekend getaways are not options to provide relief from the pains of daily life. Relationships and faith provide joy. Love is sovereign.

My new reality... I know now that my joy should have no regard for my circumstances. I'm ashamed by the lack of faith, buy at the very same moment I am excited by my new pursuit. I'm forced to redefine the meaning of having much or having little. I'm uneasy with the prospect of change and of letting go, but just the thought of freedom is liberating. I want what I have learned to trickle down from my head into my heart - I no longer want to need the "next thing" to have joy.

I'm not saying that Africa does not need our efforts. It absolutely does need our partnership. But for me, I've come to understand that I NEED AFRICA MORE THAN AFRICA NEEDS ME. Why? Because it is Africa that has taught me that possessions in my hands will never be as valuable as peace in my heart. I've learned that I don't need what I have and that I have what I need. These are just a few of this continent's many lessons. I came here to serve and yet I've found that I have so much to learn, and Africa, with all its need, has much to teach me.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Eu Te Amo

I am writing to let you know what God has been doing and, by faith, what He will continue to do in Africa. For the last year, I had the privilege to show and spread the love of Jesus to the people of Mozambique. We have seen and experienced many things---some full of joy and some full of sorrow--but all have been a part of the Lord's plan.

While in Dondo, Mozambique, I was the children's director at an Iris Ministry Children's Center ( Along with amazing Mozambican leaders, we oversaw the daily needs and activities of 28 boys who have suffered the loss of one or both parents. These needs range from hygiene to schooling and everything in between. For example, I had a boy come up to me one day and with all seriousness he told me he had snakes in his poop! Trying to contain my laughter, I told him we would take care of it. We then went to go get some de-wormer. Ahhh....the joys of being a "mom" to boys!

As you can imagine, 28 boys can create quiet the demand. However, it was and is a complete honor to serve them in such a way. While providing for their physical needs are extremely important, it does not compare to the importance of their spiritual needs. I wish I could express to you the growth I have seen in these boys. I wish you could see the expressions on their faces when they finally get how much the Lord loves them. The excitement they have is contagious. Some of the boys have opened up significantly and love to share about Christ at our weekly family group. But the boys knowledge of the importance of Christ in their lives and telling others about Him, is not contained by the centers walls! I had the incredible opportunity to be invited to one of the boys’ home in the city. As we were riding a chopa (an over crowded bus!) to his house, he kept telling me he was full of shame and would not look at me. He was so humiliated for me to see where he had come from. I kept telling him that no matter what, I will always love him and his past does not dictate his future. It was hard to see him this way. But once we arrived at the collapsing mud hut with sewage water running in the front door and he saw that I was not going to run away, he began to relax. We talked with his family for over an hour. And as we were about to leave, I suggested he and I pray with his family. At first he was reluctant, but he did it. One the way home, he told me that was the first time he ever prayed in front of his family! WOW. It may seem like a small feat, but in a country that has a stronghold with witchcraft, a boy stepping up in front of his family to pray to the One True God is a very big deal.

I have many stories of redemption and breakthrough I could share about the boys. They are growing in the Lord and turning into mighty men for His glory. It is such an honor to be a part of what the Lord is doing in Dondo and throughout Mozambique. I know my work for Him is not finished in Dondo---it is not finished with the boys.

I will be returning to Mozambique on January 25, 2011 and continue serving His people in this great country. I look forward to returning home and being with the boys, missionaries, Mozambicans, and our rat killing cat-Paka!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Laying Our Yes Down at the Cross

Is God really who He says He is? This maybe a strange question. You may be thinking the heat has finally effected this girls head...she has lost her mind! But hear me out for just a moment. When people ask us, or we are standing in a church building we say that God is in control of everything. We say that He is the Almighty and worthy of praise. We say that He is sovereign, compassionate, full of grace and love. But who do we say He is with our actions? Who do we say he is when poverty, hurt, and death is beyond human understanding? When the world screams it's ugly truths at us, do we believe God is still the God we declare Him to be on Sunday mornings?
The last few weeks have been eye opening for me here in Mozambique. The Lord has shown me a lot......some things are amazing and some things make me numb with sorrow. He has lifted the spirits of the boys here at the base and they are opening up to the goodness Christ has to offer. PLEASE never underestimate the POWER of speaking WORDS OF LIFE over someone!!! But with all the joys and happy stories, comes the struggles and realities of the people here in Mozambique. Struggles that are real and hard to believe if I did not see them first hand.
But here's the deal. Despite the heart aches, the hunger, the abuse, the pain...GOD IS GOD. Despite the happiness, the redemption, the renewed hope....GOD IS GOD.
Before ever coming into this world as a man, Christ knew that pain and suffering were in His path. Being fully aware of what the future would bring, He still chose to become flesh and walk hand in hand with humans. Knowing full well that death on a cross was in his future, He still said YES. He does not ever say our lives are going to be without pain and suffering, but like Him, He expects us to lay our yes down at the cross and follow Him. Believe in Him. Trust Him. Love Him.
I pray He protects these boys from the harshness of this world. I pray He opens doors for their futures. I pray their wounds will be healed. I pray He brings prosperity to their lives. BUT, if He chooses not to, I pray we will all know that GOD IS GOD. I pray the He reveals the truth about Himself to all us, in the good times and the bad. I pray we know that He is the only One that is worthy of praise. I pray we press on because He is our prize. He is our joy. He is our hope.