Monday, July 21, 2014

He Has Filled Them With Skill...

I watched him sweat over the engine of a dying truck.  On the phone with buddies who run a local junkyard, he was trying to find the cheapest yet most uncompromised replacement parts.  In the last two weeks, he has saved Genesis Hope hundreds of dollars on labor and parts that until now have been outsourced.  In the last two weeks, I have spoken with over a dozen people from all walks of life who have been spiritually rerouted to Christ or missions because of what God is doing through Genesis outreaches.  I watched Sam labor this Saturday morning over this truck and I knew I was watching a beautiful thing.  

I have read about similar happenings in Exodus...about a time when the Lord called His people together to make their own unique contributions to build His tabernacle.  I read about how every skillful woman spun yarn with her hands, how men and women brought anything the Lord put on their heart to donate, how men came to engrave and design the interior of God's dwelling place, how men brought acacia wood to be used for a holy building.  I watched him work and I thought of these things, how we have been called to this place to serve with these people and under this church, how everyone is working together to contribute his or her craftsmanship as a love sacrifice back to God so that He may be bountifully worshipped by those who know Him and so that He may be found by those who don't.  I thought of those who have sent us and how I wish I could explain all of these things in earnest at their dining room tables in Iowa, California, Minnesota, etc.  For what He is orchestrating is great and the choreography of His grace, our senders, our labor, our collective worship, and the hearers is one I can't wait to retell in Heaven.  The labor is happening, both with the sweat of the brow as well as the praise of the mouth, and I am seeing people's hearts become alive in ways He purposed long ago.

Exodus 35:20-35
20 Then all the congregation of the people of Israel departed from the presence of Moses. 21 And they came, everyone whose heart stirred him, and everyone whose spirit moved him, and brought theLord's contribution to be used for the tent of meeting, and for all its service, and for the holy garments.22 So they came, both men and women. All who were of a willing heart brought brooches and earrings and signet rings and armlets, all sorts of gold objects, every man dedicating an offering of gold to theLord. 23 And every one who possessed blue or purple or scarlet yarns or fine linen or goats' hair or tanned rams' skins or goatskins brought them. 24 Everyone who could make a contribution of silver or bronze brought it as the Lord's contribution. And every one who possessed acacia wood of any use in the work brought it. 25 And every skillful woman spun with her hands, and they all brought what they had spun in blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen. 26 All the women whose hearts stirred them to use their skill spun the goats' hair. 27 And the leaders brought onyx stones and stones to be set, for the ephod and for the breastpiece, 28 and spices and oil for the light, and for the anointing oil, and for the fragrant incense. 29 All the men and women, the people of Israel, whose heart moved them to bring anything for the work that the Lord had commanded by Moses to be done brought it as a freewill offering to the Lord.

30 Then Moses said to the people of Israel, “See, the Lord has called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah; 31 and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, with intelligence, with knowledge, and with all craftsmanship, 32 to devise artistic designs, to work in gold and silver and bronze, 33 in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, for work in every skilled craft. 34 And he has inspired him to teach, both him and Oholiab the son of Ahisamach of the tribe of Dan. 35 He has filled them with skill to do every sort of work done by an engraver or by a designer or by an embroiderer in blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen, or by a weaver—by any sort of workman or skilled designer.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Brilliantly Creative...

"This is absolutely brilliant." 

This thought has crossed my mind almost on a daily basis as we learn more about the Norwegian Settler's Church's outreaches through Genesis in the Marburg community.  Genesis is like a breeding ground for brilliantly creative approaches to taking church out into the community AND bringing Christ into every aspect of life.  Through God's amazing grace and provision, Genesis outreaches have become "if you build it, they will come".

Take the Vikings Rugby Academy, for example.  Genesis started meeting community needs through their hospice and training facilities.  These have maintained their central focus of existing as a means of reaching people with Christ's story.  It didn't take long for God to show Genesis leadership that a response to a young population was on the horizon.  In 2005, the Vikings Rugby Academy was created.  Their motto is to "mold young men to be ambassadors for Christ in the rugby arena".  Recruits from all walks of life come live on campus for rigorous physical training, discipleship, coursework, and community involvement.  The academy is a top training facility and students have gone on to make a career of rugby.  

We attend church with these young men.  In fact, our very first service at NSC, the rugby players floored us by singing "Open the Eyes of My Heart, Lord" clad in their uniforms.  It was powerful to see young men, cool men, future leaders, unabashedly singing for Christ.

This is absolutely brilliant.  We love working here.  We love how creative and open minded Genesis is about reaching the surrounding area for Christ.  We love the variety of platforms through which they do this.  We love seeing the spiritual FRUIT of these outreach efforts.  Pray with us that God will continue to give Genesis brilliantly creative approaches to reaching a lost world for Him!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Where Words Fail the Word Speaks...

The last 9 months represents one of the steepest learning curves in our spiritual life as a family.  Refinement and a focus of vision has been a painful process but we have tasted and seen that the Lord is good.

Our family is moving from MAF to Helps Ministries on June 1st.  Our affiliation with Helps will enable us to more effectively carry out the call that God placed on our lives to come alongside the local church and impact an unbelieving community for Christ in South Africa.  Through Helps, Sam will use his background in contracting, remodeling, and vehicle and aviation maintenance to strengthen the outreach efforts of the Genesis projects.  We are excited about how the Lord is using Genesis in a variety of creative ways to pour his perfect love and hope into a body of Christ to the point that it overflows into the community!   

Behind the excitement about the future we know that the call to this transition has been difficult.  Where words fail me on what the Lord has taught us in our recent experiences, His Living Word speaks on my behalf through scripture that friends have sent us the last few weeks.  Please do not read anything into these scriptures that is not pure and true.  The Lord used these to breathe life and truth into us.  Indeed, praise the Lord for He is good!

Jeremiah 33:3

‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’

Revelation 2:3-4

You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.
Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. 

Psalm 116:12-19
12 What shall I return to the Lord
    for all his goodness to me?
13 I will lift up the cup of salvation
    and call on the name of the Lord.
14 I will fulfill my vows to the Lord
    in the presence of all his people.
15 Precious in the sight of the Lord
    is the death of his faithful servants.
16 Truly I am your servant, Lord;
    I serve you just as my mother did;
    you have freed me from my chains.
17 I will sacrifice a thank offering to you
    and call on the name of the Lord.
18 I will fulfill my vows to the Lord
    in the presence of all his people,
19 in the courts of the house of the Lord
    in your midst, Jerusalem.
Praise the Lord.[a]

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Holy and Sacred...

They came out of the woodwork of wrinkled mountains.  They came in ones, twos and threes.  All 18 of them.  Cloaked in heavy blankets and surrounded by hundreds of sheep.  Badisana is their name.  "Little caretakers of sheep" in Sesotho, because truly, some of them started shepherding as children.  

They emerged weekly from the nooks and crannies of this harsh land to a lone standing building that served as a church, an elementary school, and a parsonage for a Mosotho pastor who knew their names.  They came because he had told them of a Savior, one who loved them more than they would ever know.  This love drew them in.

Sam and I drove 2 hours with missionary friend, Jayne, to come to see the badisana's Bible lesson on Saturday morning.  We had no idea what God actually had in store.  But these boys did.

You see, 8 of them knew what it meant for their eternal hunger and thirst to be quenched by the love of their own Shepherd.  Their lives had been changed.  And they were ready.  Ready to go public.  And we just happen to show up in time to see it.

Gorgeous smiles flashed at us between their blanketcoats and winter caps as they trod past us on the withering grass down to a rocky riverbed.  "Lumela!".  Good day.  Indeed, a good day this was going to be, we realized, as the Mosotho pastor and a South African missionary explained to us what the shepherds had asked them to do today.  We followed in powerful silence.

These shepherd boy's knowledge of their Heavenly Father, their Almighty Shepherd, was so basic, so simple, so pure.  Yet they had tasted the sweetness of His love and they knew they loved Him back.  You could FEEL the sacredness in the air.  

The boys stripped off their blankets.  The wind was crisp but their skin displayed no goosebumps.  Mountain air was their home.  As they pulled off their rubber boots, I saw what they used as socks.  Burlap bags tied around their legs to stop the boots from rubbing on their skin.  One by one, they untied the bags and began to wade out into the river and into the arms of the Mosotho pastor.  He asked about their decision to follow Christ and lowered them to new life in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Their comrades who had not yet made an eternal decision stood and watched in reverent silence.

All I could think and pray was, "This is holy.  This is sacred." 

Jayne prayed in closing at the end.  
After the baptism, we sat in on their Bible lesson about how sin entered the world.

I asked this friendlie to show me how to crack a whip :)

A few of the badisana and the chief's wife

This guy's name was "Tsehla" ("Yellow")

Jayne and her two friends drive 2 hours to do the bi-monthly Bible lessons for the badisana.
And this little guy just wanted his picture taken :)

Heading back home

"We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death
in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the
glory of the Father, we too may live a new life."
Romans 6:4

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Village Visit and the Bread of Life...

5 days in a village in Lesotho is hardly enough time to glance at language and culture through the eyes of a newbie.  But God can show you a lot about Himself and the people He loves in 5 days.

Remember Jayne, the AIM missionary who Sam and Sawyer installed solar panels for in October?  We asked if we could spend some time in her village for more exposure to Basotho language and culture.  We walked away amazed by her love for the people, her love for the Lord, and God's love for His creation.  Jayne started pursuing missions when she was 57 years old, finally fulfilling the call she felt as a little girl.  Over the last 7 years, Jayne's love for Christ and for the Basotho people has made her beat all odds.  She speaks Sesotho with fluency and the people in her village of Molumong have embraced her as their own.  We learned so much about the fulfillment of immense possibilities if you set your heart to what God is calling you to do.

Jayne set up for us to work with students from a local vocational school on our second day there.  Sam worked with the young men on a shelter for Jayne's truck to keep snow off of it during the harsh winter months.  I gave my testimony and read from John 6 before teaching some new recipes to the 35 girls who are learning how to cater.  We talked about what Jesus meant when he said, "I am the bread of life.  He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty".  It adds a whole new dimension to explain this to friendlies who DO have hungry tummies.  How can Jesus be telling the truth if he says one won't go hungry?

We talked about hunger in the tummy and hunger in your soul, the type that makes you hunger to know why you exist and what your purpose in life is.  That type of hunger, for me, was satisfied when I was 16 and Christ changed my life.  Yes, my tummy may be hungry.  But my soul is not hungry for the answers to those questions anymore.  Christ satisfied that life hunger when he saved me and when he made it abundantly clear to me when he said, "The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing.  The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life." John 6:63.

MAF pilot, Justin Honaker, hooked us up with a smooth flight out to the village. 

Jayne's home and her truck, Tarzan.  Jayne has no running water and gets her drinking water from a spring behind her house.  The solar panels on her roof give her enough power to run her fridge and charge her computer.
Jayne's guest house has sometimes been shelter to the neglected and homeless.
Making my mama's rolls! 
Creating Tarzan's shelter.

The catering students take a break :)
Each day ended with a 2 hour language lesson from Abuti Lebohang.  He was an excellent teacher! 
Goodnight, Molumong.

"For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him
shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day." John 6:40

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Art of Staring...

The art of staring is one quite lost on developed nations, or fat nations as new fads insist.  Staring is, "rude, uncomfortable, judgmental, self-absorbed".  We even have sermonette slide shows online to explain this concept to the less fortunate who don't know how to behave themselves according to our tacit rules.

Staring, in not-so-Westernized areas, is the gift of drinking deep of the only education one has...the education that stands in front of one's eyes and must be intently studied and exhausted on all sides.

Immense liberty lies in the ability to look intently upon another person with no obligation to speak in exchange for looking.  There is a calmness, a peace, a mystery, a power to discover one's world when we can stare into each other's souls through the portal of our eyes.  I discovered this at age 8 when I moved to Cameroon and became the object of unveiled curiosity in my age-mates au village.  Mes amis had a profound ability to study by way of staring.  Void of judgment.  Bursting with healthy curiosity.  They just wanted to KNOW.  Barriers of "stranger" were broken.  Words didn't need to be spoken.  Our eyes were enough.  They stared.  I stared back.  We lingered in that moment of processing the beauty of each other at every angle.  I found deep satisfaction and comfort in letting them stare without having to explain.  I found rest and peace in being able to stare back and let my mind slowly wander over the pleasing aesthetics of our similarities and differences and content myself with the joy that is "discovery".

The peace and comfort of lingering to discover other beings and souls was jolted out of my reality when I moved back to America and had to rush rush rush to discover people through words, but never eyes.  Staring is wrong, they might think ill of your intentions, don't do it.  Rush rush rush.  Use words only.  ASK them what they're thinking.  ASK them why they are the way they are.  EXPLAIN to them why you are who you are.  But never stare.  It leaves too many unanswered questions.  Never drink deeply of another being, quietly and peacefully.

I did find a few who beat the odds and learned to linger.  Staring was ok and safe for them.  These people KNEW me and I KNEW them.  But my heart hurt for the lonely ones, the rushed ones, the ones who were taught so young that remaining in a moment with your eyes could be viewed as judgmental.  Curiosity robbed.  Deep satisfaction never fully achieved.

I found this with so many students in my classroom.  I LOVED my job.  I LOVED being around them day in and day out.  I drank deep of the energy they brought into my classroom.  So much positive, curious energy.  Yet.  So many seemed lonely.  Not lonely and sad.  Lonely and busy.  So many friendlies whose eyes were never taught to linger.  to remain.  to rest in the moment.  to drink of God's world.  And oh, how I wanted them to stay. sit. watch the world.  be quiet.  don't explain yourself.  don't ask questions.  just look.

I'm back in the world of staring.  It is glorious.  My own daughter was 8 when she moved to Lesotho and I am having to re-educate her on the art of staring.  Void of judgment.  Bursting with curiosity.  I'll have to re-educate her yet again when we return to the States, but for now, may she linger long and soak up the joy of looking, not talking.  Because really, it's a beautiful world.

"Let all things praise
    the name of the Lord,
    because they were created
    at his command.
He made them to last forever,
    and nothing can change
    what he has done."
Psalm 148:5-6