Monday, August 3, 2009

Sharing on Zambia

I spoke at my church yesterday about my mission trip to Zambia. I was given just a few minutes to answer some questions about the trip and what God accomplished through us. I shared about everything that I could in the short time. If you've asked me about Zambia since I've gotten home you know I will talk your arm and ears off, so getting my thoughts down to 5-7 minutes was a real struggle.

Anyway, I spoke on the positive aspects of Zambia, the things that are in the control of each individual. They have such a hunger for God and fellowship with Him and His people. They will sit for hours on Sunday mornings, after walking for hours to get there. Yes, I said walking. They also have such a joy for God. Jesus said that it would be easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. I know the reason now. We have so much that we don't think we need God. As Americans we are the richest people in the world. Even the poorest people in our country, the people who bust their butts for minimum wage, are among the richest people in the world. They have pure joy for the Lord. You can see the joy in the eyes of the people that really "get" it. I'm actually jealous of their joy and have started praying to have that kind of joy for Jesus.

The negative things were the things the people of Zambia could not control individually. Polygamy is still legal there. In a country that admits that 25% of their population is HIV positive you would think step one would be outlawing polygamy. Instead women are still treated as property. They have a wife for cooking, a wife for cleaning and another for those "extra" duties. Women have no voice and no rights there. Another thing they don't have control over is their financial situation. The minimum wage in Zambia is the equivalent of $300... a YEAR! They live in small one room huts-no electric, no plumbing, no seperate rooms for each kid, no cable, no AC, no Italian tile flooring or granite counter tops. They cook outside over a fire, or sometimes in a cooking hut. (These look like what we think of when we hear Tiki huts.) And because of their income they eat only sheema. I've compared it to poor man's grits. Imagine grits, with no salt, butter, cheese or any type of spices. They eat that for three meals a day. Sometimes they have meat that they can dip it in, sometimes they have vegetables. Otherwise, it's just sheema.

After talking about all of this I talked about Global Samaritans and the outreach they do. They run the orphanage there that we stayed at. We have 50-60 children. (I honestly lost count because we got some new kids while we were there.) The majority of children are orphans of the AIDS crisis. Some of the kids though have been taken away from their parents. One of the girls, Catherine, is a one of the most beautiful girls I have met in my entire life. Her mother sold her into prostitution when she was around 8 years old. She realized how wrong this was and went to social services. She was thankfully taken away from her mother. She has the joy of the Lord I was talking about earlier. She knows Jesus loves her and that radiates through all she does. I also spoke about Joe, the little boy that my husband and I are going to sponsor. We don't have a lot of money. In face, by American standards we're really poor. We have four children and he's a lower enlisted in the Army. We're making sacrifices though to sponsor this little boy and another little boy through World Vision. Through Global Samaritans we pay $30 a month for Joe's care. That $30 a month feeds him, clothes him, shelters him, educates him in God's way and gives him medical care. We can choose to change the life of a little boy for what it costs for our family to go out to a cheap place, once. We are choosing to help this boy and sacrificing eating out, something we as Americans do too much anyway. I also spoke of the other boys that still need sponsors, since new children showed up while we were there. These boys don't have sponsors yet. I "thought" that people would be willing to sacrifice a little to change the life of one boy for eternity. Only one person came to speak to me after though. She said she needed to talk to her husband after getting the details. One of the boys was sponsored, by someone in my life who is on Disability and has a very, very limited income. She was willing to sacrifice, while the people driving the brand new cars, looking at their watches to see when it would be time to go to get their own lunch at the restaurant of their choosing, were not willing to sacrifice. It is so hard to not be frustrated. And angry. I'm praying for God to change the hearts of His people. I guess it really is easier for that camel to make it through the eye of a needle. If for whatever reason you feel led to sponsor a child please send me a message for more information. I'm not going to stop until I have found the sponsors God has for these boys.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

My little mustard seed

We hear all the time about how we should have the faith of a mustard seed. Just the faith of a little seed and we can move mountains. (Matthew 17:20 ) So many times though, our faith sits, stagnant and doesn't grow.

I've just returned from Zambia, Africa. That has been my biggest step of faith ever. While I was preparing for my trip I kept praying about that faith of a mustard seed. "Lord, help me overcome my unbelief." (Mark 9:24) I knew I was going to a volatile place and knew I had to be on my A-game. No second guessing once I got there. Zambia has forever changed me, just like I was told it would. The people will forever be in my thoughts and prayers, even if I don't know if I'll see them again this side of heaven. For a long time I've been growing my fruits of the spirit but could never find my joy because of past hurts. But now, I have found my joy and I am swimming in the sea of that joy.

Back to the mustard seed, we always hear about that seed. How just a little faith and we can move the mountains in our lives. But have you ever thought about what it means to be a seed? Or the faith of a seed? Ask any gardener, if you sit a seed, any seed, in a jar, up on a shelf, it will do nothing. When we let our faith sit, it will do nothing. No growing. In order for our faith to grow, we as seeds, have to be planted and guess what, WE HAVE TO GET DIRTY! We can't grow our faith sitting in our living rooms, in our fake plastic lives and expect our faith to grow. We have to put ourselves out there- in the dirt of life, in the "fertilizer," in order to have any chance of growing. The more dirt, the better that seed is going to grow. Put a seed in a small pot, with dirt, on your porch, it can only grow so big. Put the same seed in your backyard, add some living water, and bam! Instead of a small plant you now have a tree. We have to get dirty. In order for our faith to grow, to where God wants our faith to grow, there has to be dirt.

So where's the dirt in your life? What is your comfort zone that you're sitting in, making excuses for your faith not growing? Are you sitting in that plastic life and complaining because you just don't feel close to God? Why aren't you out there, getting dirty for Him?!

I'm not just talking about Zambia, or even missions. We all have a calling and not everyone is called to love on the people of Africa the way I have been. But what about the people you see everyday who are hurting? What about your neighbor, your sister, your friend? There is someone in your life God is calling you to love, but you sit back and are scared of getting dirty, scared of getting hurt, scared of the "what if's."

If you ever want to grow in your faith to the level you see in others you have to step out. You have to find yourself firmly planted in Him, letting the dirt of life surround you and the living water fill you, if you ever, EVER, want to see the mountains in your life move.

Monday, February 9, 2009

For Such A Time As This...

"... For such a time as this." (Esther 4:14)

I've been thinking a lot lately about this little scripture from Esther. It's seemingly innocent, Mordecai's reply to Esther about what was going on in the kingdom, the Jewish people facing a threat on their lives.

I'm increasingly frustrated with the state of this world, this country. We have families struggling to survive. And I'm not talking about physically surviving. I'm talking about surviving as a family unit. Men, women and children are all being attacked. And we're completely clueless as a nation. We believe that we deserve all of this "stuff" just because we're Americans. Truthfully none of us deserves any of this. I don't deserve to be sitting in a four bedroom house with two bathrooms. Not when there are families all over the world living in one room huts.

I remember a few years ago having a pastor from Zambia over to our house. Hubby and I had been called to be full time missionaries and were in the beginning stages of planning our taking our family (only two kids at the time) to Zambia to help run an orphanage there. Pastor Chewe was nearing the end of his trip. He'd spent time with a lot of people from our church, all of whom were very well off. He'd been to their six bedroom, three story houses on the lake. And then we invited him to have supper with us at our little three bedroom ranch that we were renting. We mentioned feeling a little embarassed because our house was so humble compared to the other places he'd stayed. I remember him looking at us and saying "This would be a mansion where I live." We'd been so worried about how we compared to other Americans that we had forgotten about where our guest came from. He lived in a small hut. He'd lost his wife to the HIV/AIDS crisis in Africa. He, himself, was battling (and has since lost that battle) HIV and hepatitis.

I get caught up in the keeping up with the Jones's. Hubby and I are both very guilty of it. And so now are our kids. Every once in awhile though I have these moments of clarity, or maybe extremeism. I get so frustrated by the views of a lot of Americans that I want to sell everything and move to a little hut in the woods somewhere. My own little uni-bomber type shack. I want to just cut myself from all of the outside world. I've even thought about converting to Amish just so I coule move into their communities.

Then I hear that still, small voice whisper to me.... "For such a time as this." God could have created me at any point in history. He could have made me back in the days of Christ. I could have been one of those that perished when Noah's flood came. I could have been created in the days of Little House on the Prairie. But instead, God wanted to make me now. He knew that He could use me here, now. He doesn't want me to go running and hiding, avoiding all contact with people. He wants me to live in this world, making a difference for Him. He wants me to use the tools we've been blessed with to do His work. I can use email for good. I can use TV for good. I can use my skills and talents here. Now. I'm not called to be timid. 2 Timothy says that as a believer in Christ I have been called to have a spirit of power, of love and of self discipline.

I've got the love thing down, though I could always use help. I struggle with loving those that don't love me. And I struggle with worrying what people think about me.

Power and self-discipline. Well that's just a different story altogether. Too often I let my flesh get the best of my body. I eat more than I should. Or drink more coffee than I should. I get frustrated and lash out in anger, instead of in love. (Guess I don't have that love thing down afterall.) I spend more time on the computer than I should. Or watch things that aren't good for me to watch. I'm getting better at the power thing. I view that as standing up for what I know is right, even when it isn't the popular opinion. The problem there is that I sometimes get too opinionated. I've offended people with my political views. I'm working on finding that balance.

That's what it's all about though right. Living for Christ in a fallen world requires balance.

Lord, thank you for your wisdom. You created me for such a time as this. You created me to be here, in 2009. Please allow me to use the things You have blessed me with for Your glory. And only Your glory. Please help me get myself out of the way of You. I just want to be a tool, used for Your glory, reaching Your children for You.