Saturday, October 24, 2015

The Rain. The Flood. Now, Go.

“The rain. I feel the rain. I feel it falling down on me. “ The lyrics of that old gospel song ran through my head as I watched the newscasts of the deluge of rain on our South Carolina towns. I don’t know why God brought it to mind.

It was a regular song at my grandmother’s church. I can see her clapping her hands to the rhythm of the song – clapping being acceptable in the Church of God at least thirty years before it started surfacing in our Baptist churches. She beamed brightly as she sang. The joy of the Lord was so evident in my grandmother.

“It’s the Holy Ghost rain and it’s falling down on me.” She’d look heavenward as she added an extra little clap into the beat of the music. She was one of the happiest people I’ve ever known. My grandmother is in Heaven now where there are no floods, no pain, no suffering.

 
As Jack and I prepare for our second disaster relief deployment to the Georgetown area, we are aware that it is already getting difficult to get volunteers to go to the flood zone. We all have such busy schedules that it’s hard to fit an emergency into our calendars. It will be a long recovery and many thousands of volunteers will be needed. We, as South Carolinians, need help.

Thousands and thousands of volunteers have been through Southern Baptist disaster relief training and have never had the opportunity to minister to the survivors of a disaster. There is room for everyone to be involved. This is the time to ask God how you will serve.

Maybe we need a little more rain, and I’m not talking about the weather. Maybe we need the Holy Spirit to rain on us, filling us with love for our neighbors in need, filling us with so much compassion that we get on our smartphones to rearrange our work schedules, our play schedules and yes, our church schedules. To many victims of disasters, we are the only Church in their lives. We have been called to be witnesses. It’s time to stop making excuses and go.
 

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”     Acts 1:8

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Through It All


We were out of town on a mission project staying in our camper at a nearby campground.  There was only one place in the park to get internet, and I admit to using my magicphone only a couple of times to check email.
Having gotten the news that my biopsy results were “suspicious” and that surgery was recommended, I’d had a few days for my mind to begin creating various scenarios for the outcome.  Of course I’d been praying for healing, something instantaneous and undeniably God --something that would eliminate the need for surgery.
Millions of people live comfortable lives without their thyroids; in fact, six people in my family have had thyroid surgery.  None of them had cancer.  None of them had suspicious biopsies.  Surely mine won’t be cancer.
Of all the various scenarios I’d painted in my mind, the obvious first choice was to be healed, next would be that the nodule would be benign (something they wouldn’t know until after surgery and pathology reports) and no additional surgery needed.  The remaining possibilities were nothing I really wanted to consider.
Praying for healing.  Praying for wisdom.  Praying for healing.  Praying for peace. Praying for healing. Praying for guidance. Praying for healing. Praying for comfort. Praying for healing.  We both prayed for an answer, for God to speak to us.
One morning I awoke with the sun shining brightly through the camper window and the lyrics of a song running through my mind  through it all, through it all, my eyes are on You. Through it all, through it all, it is well...”   an awesome song from Bethel Music.
I smiled.  That was the answer.  I just needed to keep my eyes on Him through this whole situation.  And, I loved another phrase from the song – “the waves and wind still know His Name.”  He, the One who is Omnipotent, is all I need.
The very next Sunday, we sang that song “It Is Well” at church, something I would have known in advance if I’d checked my emails since Beth, our worship arts pastor, posts the songs each week.  But God had known what the song would be. Tears flowed as I was engulfed by the words …..”through it all, through it all, my eyes are on You and it is well with me.” 
My surgery is in the morning.  Although there won’t be sun shining brightly through the window at 5:30 when I leave for the hospital, the words will shine through my anxiety.  My eyes are on You, through it all.

 

Sunday, March 2, 2014

God Provided A Spoon

And God will generously provide all you need.  Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.  2 Corinthians 9:8 NLT

He sat there on the ground beside the road holding the tattered cardboard sign so familiar to all. Summarized, it indicated the bearer would “work for food.”  We were in the third car back from the traffic light. The sun was shining bright despite the mid-thirties temperature.

It was Thanksgiving Day and we were basking in the warm feelings of having just delivered forty-one meals to families in the Barksdale community.  We’d had the opportunity to pray with several people – for healing, for work, for a new place to live, for a church closer to home.  There had been one problem, though; we had too many pumpkin pies!

Since this was the first time we’d been a part of such a wonderful endeavor, we didn’t know to question the fact that the numbers on the recipient information sheets didn’t add up to the amount of food we had.   We’d given each family multiple pies, enough for each person to have 2-3 slices.  We gave two pies to a woman walking in the neighborhood who said she’d give one to her friend.  We knocked on doors to give away pies, hearing curses on the other side that changed to smiles and thank yous when the door opened and we stood there bearing pies.  Yet, we still had pies. 
Excited that God must have a reason for the extra pies, we prayed and drove, asking for His guidance.

So there we were, the third car back from the traffic light when we saw the man sitting in the grass.  I jumped out of the car, opened the back door, grabbed a pie and ran up to him. Knowing that sometimes people are seeking only money, I asked him if he’d like a pumpkin pie. 
We exchanged “Happy Thanksgivings” and I turned to run quickly to our car before the light changed.  Suddenly I realized something.  How would he eat the pie?  As I hurried down the hill, I turned back towards him and said, “I wish I had a spoon to give you.”
While buckling my seat belt and making a mental note to be better prepared, I was startled by my husband telling me to look.   He was pointing at the car ahead of us. 

Out of the passenger side window was someone reaching towards the man.  In the passenger’s hand  was a cellophane-wrapped spoon.   God provided a spoon.   The traffic light changed to green.
Praising God for His attention to detail, we drove on.   It had been ten years since we had lived in Spartanburg but God reminded me of the location of an apartment community for members of a psychiatric rehabilitation center. 

With pies still left, we parked the car and walked up to one building.   I approached a man seated outside a slightly open apartment door.  Looking past him, I could see that there were a couple of people in the kitchen preparing Thanksgiving dinner, I assumed.  When I asked him if they’d like a pumpkin pie, you’d have thought we had been mistaken for the Publishers Clearing House winner notification team.

“I can’t believe it!” he said, jumping up from his chair.  “We were just saying that we had everything for Thanksgiving but a pie….a pumpkin pie.  I can’t believe it.”  By this time, he was giving me a big hug. 
“Isn’t it wonderful how God cares about even the little things?  He provided this pie for you guys, in fact, He provided two,” I smiled as I handed him two pumpkin pies.  “Happy Thanksgiving!”

After finding homes for the remaining pies, with hearts overflowing with gratitude for the privilege God had given us, we headed to a friend’s home to share Thanksgiving dinner.   Share Thanksgiving dinner?  Wasn’t that what we’d been doing all morning?  And, God provided the spoon.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Upheld


So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.  Isaiah 41:10
The journey has not been easy, and it is not yet over, but God has brought me far.

It was hard to go from being someone who was always on her way somewhere – by car or by plane, rarely stopping-- to being someone who got up in the morning for perhaps a half-hour, then returned to bed, hoping that would make it easier to breathe. 
During the most difficult times, we fought fear.  There was no reason to go to the hospital – what could they do?  I was unable to take the drug which would kill the mold in my lungs; it had been stopped by the doctors due to its effect on my heart. Oxygen didn’t help. The only peace we had was knowing I was completely in God’s hands—upheld in His righteous right hand to be exact.

My husband Jack – incredibly skilled in construction ministry and used to being able to fix anything—had to battle helplessness.   He sat on the edge of the bed and held my hand, he read healing scriptures to me; he prayed me through the most difficult breathing times.  He’d wake up multiple times each night to be sure I was still breathing.
And I was, only because God was holding me in His hand.

God provided a place for us to live near the construction ministry project He has given Jack to do, so we left Atlanta and are now closer to my physician.  My doctor agreed we were fighting this on physical and spiritual levels. What better way for satan to stop me from shining light on one of his favorite industries –sex trafficking of children -- than to make it difficult to breathe.

He hasn’t won.  God gives me the strength to continue increasing awareness of sexual exploitation; in fact, He has given me another opportunity to serve Him—speaking about pornography as the gateway to exploitation and how it’s all over His Church.
Greater is He who is in me, than he who is in the world.
               

Friday, April 27, 2012

Completely In His Hands

In His hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind. Job 12:10

It began with breathing difficulties. Many doctor visits and tests later, a single question….”do you have any mold in your house”…prompted a thorough search. Massive amounts of black mold, floor to ceiling in some places, were found in the basement of the mission house, the same place as the HVAC system. Some of the worst areas were directly under the room I used as my office.

My breathing worsened.  A culture confirmed that the mold had colonized in my lungs and a 16 week treatment of a strong antifungal medication began. Within two weeks, my breathing was clear but the medication was taking its toll. In another few days I would end up in the ER with the “dangerous, seek medical attention” side effects. Despite the ER doctor’s caution, I continued the medication believing it was my only hope at recovery from an infection with a poor prognosis.

I made it only 3 ½ weeks before my doctor stopped the drug that was affecting my heart. When I asked her if God could have used such a brief time to kill the infection, without hesitation she responded, “absolutely, He can heal you without any medication.”

And so began the journey.

A church gave us a place to stay while Jack did most of the mold remediation and replaced ductwork in the mission house. A company donated the chemicals necessary for cleanup. Another company donated the fogging of the entire house to ensure any remaining mold was killed. God provides!

We are now awaiting the results of an air test to determine if it is safe to return to the mission house we left in early December. It has been over two months since the medication was stopped. It seems odd to say that I am dependent on God for every breath since technically we all are, but without the medication I am completely in His hands.

Is there any better place to be?

Monday, October 31, 2011

God Provides!

And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19

It began with an early morning phone call asking if I was “in town.” With Jack serving in northeast Georgia and me traveling all over the place presenting workshops on trafficking, most people can’t keep up with us – sometimes, we’re not sure where we are!

“Yes,” I responded, “but I’m not dressed for the public yet.” That was my way of preparing people for the face that God gave me without the touchups.

“Well, we’re on our way out of town and have a few things we wanted to drop off and one of them I’d rather not leave on the porch; we’ll be there in a few minutes,” through the phone came the reply.

The mysterious “rather not leave on the porch” comment piqued my curiosity and I agreed to come to the door as long as they wouldn’t tell others just how bad it was.

In the time it took for me to brush my hair (like it made much difference), brush my teeth (it’s the right thing to do) and ensure my huge fleece robe entirely covered my comfortable, yet rather ragged night clothes, the doorbell rang.

There stood two of God’s earthly angels, arms full of bags of groceries. Stepping inside and sitting them down on the floor, they quickly headed back toward the door. I felt certain that my appearance made them wonder if I were actually preparing for Halloween.

“What’s all this?” the question fell out of my mouth which had dropped open as I gazed over bag after bag of what can only be called “manna.”

“Oh, I just bought too many groceries, and God told me I should share them,” she said, eyes moist with emotion.

My eyes were filling up with utter gratitude yet I couldn’t help chuckling inside at the fib --surely no one ever “buys too many groceries.” Everything can be stored until needed. It was clear that God was using her to meet our needs. But He wasn’t finished.

“Here.” She grabbed my hand and pressed some thick folded paper into it. Now there was no holding back the tears as I shoved the thick folded paper into my robe pocket.

“Thank you! This will really help with the medical bills that have started coming in.” I gave her an update, and we stood in the foyer, and this impeccably dressed woman prayed for the not-dressed-for-the-public missionary. Then she and her husband left.

I took the bags into the kitchen and began opening each one. Each and every item was something we could use. Most of them were things that were on my shopping list. Why should I be surprised – God can read.

Monday, June 13, 2011

God Is Mobilizing!

Who will rise up for me against the wicked? Who will take a stand for me against evildoers? Psalm 94:16

As I was preparing for my 51st presentation on sex trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation of children, I paused (translated “procrastinated”) to check my email. There, nestled amid the junk mail, was an incredible treasure – an email from a courageous woman whom God is mobilizing to join the fight.

Amy had attended one of my workshops in Michigan on trafficking and God used it to show her how she could shine light on sexual exploitation. Using the talent He gave her, she wrote and recorded “Lost,” a song about how Christ can be the cornerstone, can heal, and can restore those who have been lost to exploitation.

As I thought about the last year and all the places I’d been, the faces of God’s army began to appear.

o A woman in Florida wants to reach out to other mothers who never knew their daughters were being molested by a family member. She wants to teach young moms the warning signs.

o A church in West Virginia wants to reach pimps for Christ.

o Another church is going to start a Celebrate Recovery group for those in their congregation who are addicted to pornography.

o A woman wants to minister to wives whose husbands are arrested—she knows what it’s like to have everyone fall away, even friends from church.

And now, Amy will increase awareness of sexual exploitation of children by speaking out and sharing her musical gift. Through the internet, her message can reach the millions who have suffered in the silence that permeates our churches. She will shine light in the darkness and take a stand against this evil.

God is mobilizing His servants.
Go God! Go Amy!