Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Called to Suffer

I have learned many things through suffering.  I have learned God’s Word talks a lot about it and is clear.  Reading 1 Peter the words hit me, “to this you were called.”  I never realized I was called to suffer.  I knew there would be hardships, but I did not realize my calling was to suffer.  As a follower of Jesus, in Christ, and obedient to Him, I will suffer like Him.  Wow.  Who wants to go through trials and suffer?  Are we really willing to suffer the price for being like Christ? 

In the two worlds I am a part of I see the Western world does anything at all costs not to suffer.  They will avoid pain or discomfort even though it may mean disobedience.  They don’t want to be uncomfortable or let their children endure any kind of hurt.  Their protection of themselves has isolated them the world around them that is in pain.  God has called us to suffer – because He did and the world is.  We can reach the world through their hurts.

In Africa, I see the other side of the story.  People live in suffering  There is poverty, sickness, witch craft, corruption, hunger, wars, widows and orphans, drought and floods…for many all they know is suffering.  Life is hard here.  I have found people here associate with Christ sufferings.  They relate to Christ though His sufferings.  It is not uncommon to hear one of our leaders preach that he would rather go hungry, have no clothes, no money, suffer and have Jesus than to have everything without Jesus.  I am challenged by their willingness, even joy!, suffering for Jesus.

Ok, so I believe God’s Word and so I am called to suffer.  I have suffered this year.  It was awful, but I want to be like Him through it.  I know He Himself will restore me and make me strong.    

Please take time to read each passage from 1 Peter below and allow God to talk to you.  You too are called to suffer, but don’t worry – rejoice because you are in Christ!

In Christ you greatly rejoice, though for a little while you may have to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.  They have come that your faith - of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.  Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
1 Peter 1:6-7

*My source of joy in suffering is in Christ.  My faith, which is worth more than gold!, is being refined to see if it is real.  The result is praise.  I love Him even though I can’t see Him and I believe Him.  That brings joy – the goal of our faith, salvation.

But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before GodTo this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in His steps. 
‘He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in His mouth.’
When they hurled their insults at Him, He did not retaliate; when He suffered, He made no threats.  Instead, He entrusted Himself to Him who judges justly.
1 Peter 2:20-22

*I just had to highlight all of these verses.  How powerful!  God commends us when we endure suffering.  Christ suffered for us and so we are called to do the same (to reach the world).  Jesus left us an example to follow while suffering.  He set the standard high and was totally counter cultural and against human nature.  So when you suffer be ready to fight against every internal instinct and obey your Lord.  Be quiet, do not retaliate, make no threats, and most important – entrust yourself to God who will judge justly.

Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.
Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good?  But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed.  Do not fear.
1 Peter 3:8-9 and 13-14

*Do not repay hurt for hurt, wrong for wrong, insult for insult…don’t stoop to their level.  You are mad by the lies, injustice, and hurt by the consequences of the wrong done to you, BUT give back blessing instead.  That is hard!  I had to pray and ask God to work in others and bless them.  I did not retaliate, I gave it to God. 

Therefore, since Christ suffered in His body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude.
1 Peter 4:1

*Attitude.  It begins in your mind.  How I think is known to God and will effect what I do.  We aren’t to follow only what Christ did while suffering but to think like he did.  We are to have His attitude – humble, submitted, trusted in His Father, and loved!

Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.  But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when His glory is revealed.  If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.  If you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.
1 Peter 4:12-16

*This gives me a new perspective on suffering.  Don’t be surprised to go through pain but be surprised if you don’t!  I can rejoice through it because I am in the sufferings of Christ.  If I am insulted because of Christ name I am blessed because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on me!  Did you hear that?  God rests on me!  I am not ashamed to suffer as a Christian but praise God I bear His name! 

And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To Him be the power forever and ever.  Amen!
1 Peter 3:10-11

*And here is the promise, after suffering a little while God Himself will restore me.  He will make me strong, firm and steadfast.  That’s how I get through it all, He is with me and makes me strong and firm.  Hold on to His promises!  He has the power now and forever.

One last thought, has God taught me through our trials – yes – but it will still be hard and I will cry through the next suffering.  I am not minimizing pain – it is real.  But so is God.  He is true.  I also know that my suffering is so small compared to my Christian brothers and sisters around the world giving their lives for their faith.  When I hear about Christians imprisoned, tortured, enslaved, their children’s heads cut off…I cry.  The body of Christ is suffering!  We are part of His body with them.  I am so blessed!  I need to pray for those truly suffering for Christ.  We need to talk about it in our churches, with friends, challenge one another to pray and do something.  We all need to stand up for their rights and protection.  There are many Christian doing this in our government and agencies providing away for you to help make a stand.  Let’s do our part to love the body of Christ suffering. 

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Just Being Part of the Village

The white ants have hatches and everyone is excited!
Our kids had so much fun collecting, cooking and eating them with their friends.
Just to clarify they are not bugs but "meat".
You the ants off the ground or dig for them by their holes, gather them in a cup (or basin!),
cook them (kill them, wash them, then fry them in their own oil.
Then you eat them like popcorn - take like it too because of the oil.
I delight in seeing my kids being part of the village.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

There is a Party in Heaven today!

Thank you for praying with us for Achia's family.  Today at church her father and mother, Opio and Regina, gave their lives to Christ!  Just think, though Achia's needs her parents were saved.  Every life has a purpose that brings God glory! 
I know accepting Jesus is not the end of the story.  These new believers need our prayers and they need discipleship.  Pray that our church comes alongside them to teach and love them.  Pray for the Holy Spirit to draw them close to the Lord.  Pray that new life in Christ brings fruits of the Spirit in themselves, their marriage, their parenting and their home.  

I get excited thinking about what God may be doing.  Here we have a family from Karamoja, an unreached area, who came to know Jesus through their daughter's needs.  Now they are part of our church and I pray will grow in our church.  Then some day God will take them back to Karamoja to share Christ.  Who knows what God's plan is in all this, but I do know it is good!

May we keep praying, keep sharing, and keep loving until all come to know Jesus -- cause that is His will!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Beauty of Baptism

Sunday we had the honor of being a part of the baptisms of new believers in Kabermaido.
What a beautiful picture of being washed clean by Jesus,
dying to sin and being raised to new life with Christ!  

May we never forget we are in Christ.
We are called to one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all,
Who is over all and through all and in all. (Eph. 4:5-6)
Pray for the believers in Kabermaido. 

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Achia Update

Many of you have been praying for Achia, so I wanted to give you an update.  We have joy and sorrow with Achia and her family. We continue to help with food and other needs each week.  This is one of the first families here that truly has nothing.  We wrestle with how to give without fear, yet without creating a mess.  Karlie, our teacher, has a heart for the disabled and has fallen in love with Achia.  Karlie goes almost every day to visit Achia.  She holds her, works with her muscles, and interacts with the family.  She always comes home ready to bath after Achia hugs on her with all her dirt, drool, and whatever she may have eaten when she was there.  But Achia is irresistible when she reaches out to you longing to be held. 

We are excited that Achia has gained weight and can even crawl and walk a few steps when you hold her hands!  I will never stop being amazed by what love and food can do.  We are thankful to see her usually bathed and the family holding her more and even showing love by interacting at times.

We see a new hope on the mother’s face.  The family seems to be grateful.  They even gave a chicken as a gift – a way to thank us even in their poverty!  They have come to church several Sundays.  Both Dad and Mom carry all three little ones.  I am excited each time they come knowing they are hearing from God and our church can get to know them too.  Since Karlie, our girls, or someone from our family visits almost everyday, many of our neighbors and church friends ask about it or have even come along.  Charles and Josh shared Jesus the other day with Achia’s Dad Opio.  He said they once believed but backslid.  They encouraged him to come back to Jesus.  Pray with us that they do – soon! 

We still grieve and wrestle with the hard stuff.  Achia still lays in the dirt, alone, too much.  Her guts don’t seem to be right and she is often very gasy and uncomfortable.  The other day Karlie came home in tears realizing the dysfunction in the family and how Achia suffers because of it.  The mother was gone for days, we are told they drink sometimes, fighting, poverty…the result is always the innocent suffer.  It is painful to see.  Who will rescue and care for Achia who can do nothing for herself?  Hard, hard stuff to deal with.

Last week we took Pastor Charles, Achia, and Opio (her father) to the eye hospital (3 hours away) we were recommended to take her to.  Our family had to go on to Kampala for a meeting, but Charles stayed with Opio and Achia for four days at the hospital.  They put Achia out to examine her eyes and did other tests.  It seems her brain does not receive the signal from the eyes and she is blind.  This was most likely caused from the cerebral malaria.  They do want the parents to do exercises with Achia with a light to see if they can get the brain to work with the eyes again.  We were thankful Charles took the time with Opio to teach them how to love Achia better.  Even the doctors and nurses encouraged Opio to hold her more.  Charles also went further with Opio spiritually knowing Achia’s abandonment is a spiritual stronghold in the family.

So please continue to pray!  I want to take Achia next week to a good doctor in town to get a good exam and tests done to know more about Achia’s health.  I want to know if there is more we can do.  Pray for Achia’s parents to come to Christ and be freed from the bondage they are in.  Pray as they know Jesus love they learn to love Achia better.  Pray for Achia to know her Heavenly Father’s love and comfort and healing.  We all love Achia, but it is hard to know what to do, it is tiring, discouraging yet worth it.  We know God is the answer.  His love, His power, His plan,,,for His glory.  

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Lost & Found Love

Here I go again being honest.  Actually, this one was hard for me because it isn't pretty and shows I have a long ways to go.  But I want to write it knowing it is probably not just true of me but others too.  After all we are all human - trying to be like Christ.
Yesterday I listened to a sermon from our pastor in America on Love - The More Excellent Way 1 Cor. 13.  It hit me hard and I was convicted to the core.  I lost my love.
From as far back as I can remember people talked about how loving I was -- lovable, loved people, loved the Lord.  I did.  I loved to love others.  It seemed to come naturally.  Now I see the last years stole my love.  I put up guards and stopped loving because of the pain we went through. 
I did love - I gave of myself, my time, money, I was caring, did to others as I would want done to me, I trusted, was helpful and kind...  Just in the last few years focused on and prayed about being selfless.  It was so hard - why - because I felt stepped on, unappreciated, misunderstood, drained, lonely, and hurt. Even though I knew it was lies, it hurt.  And I pulled away.  My love was squashed.  I was empty and became more empty not doing my tendency - to love.  I have became resentful, needy, and wanted others to miss me and my love.  I have let relationships go and look for ones that fill and encourage me.  I get hurt and upset easily.  Not loving wasn't working and hurting me, but I am also wounded and too weary to give.  
So like I have learned with forgiveness - we do it because God commanded us to, it isn't fair but it's right and God's way - I have to love.  Love is not a feeling, love is a choice.  Choosing to think and act out of love.  God loved me so I am to love others.  It is command He gave us.  He loves unconditionally so I have to love those who don't deserve it.  God selflessly gave - gave himself - out of love of us.  And it is by love that others will know I am the Lords.
I need to love - when others don't deserve it, when I don't feel like it, when I get hurt, when I get nothing back.  That is hard!  Honestly, I can't do it.  So it has to be God.  God in me - love in me.  His love allows me to be His love to others. 
Without love any faith, knowledge, gifts, giving...are useless.
Lord, forgive me for letting love go.  Help me love again.  I need You.  Change my heart and mind.  Fill me with love that is patient, kind, doesn't envy, boast, not proud, or rude, is not self seeking, or easily angered, keeps no record of wrongs, does not delight in evil and rejoices in truth, it protects, trusts, hopes and never fails. 
Pray for me as I love from God's love once again.