Thursday, February 23, 2012

Break My Heart for What Breaks Yours!

"I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove form you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws." Ezekiel 36:26-27

The last couple weeks my heart has been pretty raw as I learn more about the culture that I live in. There are lots of things that break my heart because they break the heart of God. I want to be moldable and teachable. I don't want to be callus to the world around me.

On Monday I was talking to my tennis partner and I casually asked how is wife was. He replied, "She isn't good. We are separated." I asked, "Why? How come? Problems with faithfulness?" He told me, "She was trying to poison me. She also has many lovers." Then I asked him, "How many wives have you had?" He looked at me like I had just asked a very complicated question. Then he began to explain, "I am not really sure. I guess I count 2 of them as wives. But I have had a lot of 'friends'. We live together until it doesn't work out then we go our separate ways. I prefer it that way."

My heart hurt! I know this is a common way of life here, but that doesn't make it easier for me to understand or comprehend. Most people don't get legally married. They may be married through traditional practices or they may just live together. My heart hurt even more because I know this man is an active member of the Methodist church and sings in their choir. So it was hard to hear this from a fellow brother in Christ. The fact that he didn't think that there was anything wrong with his behavior.

I know that I have all kinds of imperfections... no where near perfect. So this is not me casting stones or trying to get sawdust out of someone's eye. This is my heart being broken both for my sin and the sin I see around me.

When was the last time your heart broke for the world around you?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Meningitis Outbreak and Your Help

Wow... I have been blown away in the last week by your generosity.  Thank you for helping us prevent more people from contracting meningitis. You have helped us raise awareness in the States to the need here. So thank you. If you haven't had a chance to be involved yet, then here is a link to help us vaccinate people. The project is found on the right side under Urgent Need!

If you haven't heard we have lost 2 church members over the last 2 weeks to the disease. We have lost another 5 patients from our clinic. People who have HIV are more prone to contract the Meningitis and their chances of survival are pretty low due to their compromised immune system.  The crazy part is it only costs 3 dollars for us to vaccinate a person... What do you do with 3 bucks normally? I would buy coffee or a snack or a gallon of gas... but 3 bucks to save a life... WOW! Normally my 3 bucks done buy that much...

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Remembering the God of the Journey

I have been reading Deuteronomy. Moses is instructing the Israelites not to lose sight that it was God that brought them from Egypt into the promise land. He was afraid that their egos would get in the way of them praising the God of the Journey.

Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then you heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. He led you through the vast and dreadful desert, that thirsty and waterless land, with its venomous snakes and scorpions. He brought you water out of the hard rock. He gave you manna to eat in the desert, something thou fathers had never known, to humble and to test you so that in the end it might go well with you. Deut 8:11-16

I saw myself traveling a similar road as the Israelites. I am in the process of settling down in a new land that I have worked a long time to get to... not 40 plus years like them, but there is a natural tendency for me to think I got here by my own hard work, determination, and skills. But I must fight that by remembering that it was the gracious hand of God that brought me here.

I also was stuck in a type of Egypt, land of slavery and oppression. I was a slave to sin. I was freed only by the grace of God. My life changed when I was 15. I was free from the pressures of this world and finally felt hope. Everything in my life changed. I was no longer a slave to this world but a slave of Christ. For the first time ever there was HOPE. God continued to lead my life.

Eventually I came to the desert. I too have done my share of grumbling and complaining while in the desert to God. I think I had been in the desert at the end of college but I really started to taste the sand and the reality of my situation shortly after my dad died in 2007. I was thirsty and couldn't find water. I wanted to tell you that God and I were always walking in sync, but that would be a lie. During that part of my life I had difficulty see him clearly.

There were snakes and scorpions that were dangerously close. I call them doubt and fear. These two played a role in causing me to stumble. But God still provided water and manna when most needed. There were times that my passion and clarity would reappear. Those moments gave me the needed push to continue my journey through the desert hoping to arrive in the promise land.

During my desert time God had humbled me and tested me. I will not say that I have emerged unscathed, but even with the scars, I still put my trust and hope in the God of the journey. He has continued to show me that it isn't about me, it is about HIM.

so that in the end it might go well with you, at OCC we were always challenged that when we saw a "so that" or "therefore" to go and find out what they were therefore. In this passage it is show the goal of the previous paragraph. God brought me out of Egypt into the desert. God helped me face the snakes and scorpions. God provided exactly what I needed when I needed it most. God humbled me and tested me throughout it all. God did all this so that it might go well with me in the new land that he is giving me. It is what makes the bad stuff tolerable, because it prepares us to receive the good.

I am not saying that I have now arrived in the promise land (Africa) to stay forever, but it is a place that I have been striving for more than 12 years. I know that there will still be trails and lessons. But if I cling to the God of the Journey I can weather any storm or circumstance. I never want to lose sight of the God who has brought me here.

I desire to make the God of Journey known here to other people who are stuck in Egypt. Please pray for Muslims to be delivered from their land of slavery... so that in the end it might go well with them also.

I hope you will continue to "Remember the God of the Journey" no matter where you find yourself today.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Cake Making

Elodie from Les Jeunesse (Youth Group) came over Saturday afternoon. She wanted to use my oven to make some cakes for independence day, which is today (Aug 7th). She brought a couple 10 year olds to help her. It was interesting to watch them measure, mix, and prepare batter. Africans typically don't bake or measure things the same way that Americans do.

She made banana, vanilla, and chocolate cakes. The part that I was amazed at was during the first one. She got the batter all ready and poured it into the pan, but it looked really thick... but I was unsure of what she had put in or what the recipe was, so I didn't know what she needed to add. But just before she put it in the oven, she remembered that she didn't put the eggs in.

So the little ones started cracking eggs and throwing them into the mixing bowl with the returned batter. You see here when I crack eggs I typically don't crack them directly into whatever I am making, because there is a higher chance of one of them being bad. I had gone to a different room while they started adding and mixing the eggs in... I returned to the kitchen to questions of "do you think that egg is bad? what do we do?"

Then I saw them taking the broken eggshells and scooping out the egg that they had already started to mix into the batter. I was a little taken back. In my head I was thinking there is no way that you got all the rotten eggness. You already started mixing it in... gross. But then Elo grabbed my hand and we surrounded the cake mix and prayed that God would help it not be bad.

All the cakes ended up looking beautiful. My oven gave me a little bit of trouble, but that is alright.

Elo was one the girls in my Transformation Group when I was an apprentice in 2005. I think she was 14 or 15 then. She has matured and grown in her faith a lot in the last 6 years. Praise God. She is heavily involved in the church. She is part of the choir and youth group. Pray that God will continue to develop this young lady and give her a heart to reach those in her community with the transformation that Jesus brings.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Burkina Faso is beautiful. The landscape is amazing. It has been real fun to see the variety. You have mountains, valleys, lakes, rock formations, etc. The main roads drive through tons of villages. As I have traveled around I have seen so much. It is very green right now since it is rainy season. That makes everything seems alive and moving with you. As you drive you see men and women hard at work in their fields. They are incredible. They have their hoes and know precisely what they are doing. It is fun to see their plants grow. I pray that they will have good harvests to take care of their families.

As I looked at the scenery I was reminded that God is big and the creator of it all. I have seen his creative hand here. Especially when the Hauser's, Johnson's and I visited the Peaks. It is this crazy set of rock formations. I will post pictures when I get back to the Ivory Coast. Wow!

My heart was also stirred as I looked at the toil that Burkinabes do in their fields. I have learned here in Africa more about how things are made and where they come from. With all of our development we have lost some of the realities of life.