Please Give Me a Toy Sword and Make Me Faster, God

Creative Commons by Wesley Fryer
So, this was the phrase uttered by one of the little boys in our Wednesday night prayer time in class.  After our mission’s story, we give each kid a turn at talking with God.  This was the little boy that chose to hit himself on his forehead whenever he got embarrassed for being the new kid in class.

This was also the same kid who took my hands tenderly in his own and told me that he had a four-wheeler at his house–and then explained, “I’m faster than my four-wheeler.”


Somehow as we age, we get all formal in our prayers and act pious and sometimes was are downright pious–we’ve spent more than 10 minutes reading our Bible this morning, we even prayed for other people and so we come to God with the extremely flowery details of our perfectly formulated request–cut the pretense, God knows us anyway.  He doesn’t need the details.

My point is, I think it’s ok to be brutally honest with God in our prayers with phrases like, “I’m selfish and this is why I’m asking you for this…” or, “God, this is soooo completely messed up and unfair.  I’m not sure if I’m going to be a Christian tomorrow because of how this person has treated me.”

The other day, I picked up Jesus Calling in the bookstore (I know, I’m the last person on earth who does not own this book), and it, of course, is Jesus talking, saying that we are wasting our time, dwelling in our sorrows and our desires when what he wants is for us is to praise him.  And this is what the psalmist does, he begs the Lord not to be silent, he points to the craftiness of his enemies (Psalm 83) and then moving on to the next chapter (84:1), he is praising God, saying, “How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord Almighty!  My soul yearns, even faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God…and then there is this conclusion, this beautiful conclusion to it all:

For the Lord is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good  thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.  O Lord Almighty, blessed is the man who trusts in you. 
Psalm 84:11-12

Somehow, when we desire his presence more than anything else, everything else–the toy sword, the speed–all comes into perspective.

Lessons in Leadership from Moses

1) Your past doesn’t have to dictate your future:
We all have wounds, some go much, much deeper than others and take years to peel back.  Moses was a man with a past, after being raised in a royal kingdom and given every right and privilege as such, he was chaffing against what he knew was right, he saw the abuse of his own people and he reacted in completely the wrong way–in bloodshed.  As a result, he retreated to the dessert for forty years.  Believe me, I’ve had to have my own desert time because of sinful attitudes and actions in my life.  It is torture, but God was working, he was shaping me, still using me, sanding me down for His purposes.  Oftentimes we think, or at least I thought, God can never use me, a sinner, for his bigger purposes–doesn’t it take someone with a squeaky-clean Christian resume to be used by God?
Nope, he’s using all the broken pieces to shine through these earthly vessels…
We must remember, when we are hardest on ourselves, the passage from Romans 8: 1-3
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.  For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering.  And so he condemned sin in sinful man…
Did you get that people?  He condemned the sin in us!  Why are we not leaping with joy right now for what Jesus did on that cross?!  Amazing.
That’s why one of my favorite verses in all of Scripture is Isaiah 43:18-19: “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up, do you not perceive it?   I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.”
And what a perfect picture for Moses, but instead of introducing this stream, God brought forth this burning bush–a bush that would not be consumed–and out of it He spoke.
2) God will use those times when we are in retreat to humble and refine us
So, we’ve already established that Moses had been in the desert for 40 years–but what, exactly, was he doing there?  He was shepherding.  That’s right, hanging out with stinky, willful, stubborn, dumb sheep.  Wow.  Can I just say this was great preparation for the crowd he was about to rescue and leave it at that?
God was making Moses: brave, hard-working, patient–so very, very patient
3) When God calls, he will equip, He even sends help–so Moses had a lot of excuses–don’t we all? 
I don’t have time for that (Ain’t nobody got time for that.)
What if they don’t believe me?
What if I fail royally?
Moses asked for signs, God told him to use:
-his staff
-a plagued hand
-gave him the ability to turn water into blood
He even, most importantly, gave him Aaron, his own brother to speak for him.
This commissioning was just the start of it all, let me tell you. 
It wasn’t when Moses finally chose to obey got that things got easier, it was an uphill battle, the plagues, the fleeing, the hardness an entire nation’s heart and their proclivity to continue to turn back to what they knew had enslaved them.  Over and over again throughout his life, Moses would be tested to the point of breaking, but throughout that process God spoke to Moses and he had an audience with the Creator of the Universe.  His face shone brighter than the sun because of it.  Leadership is stretching, testing, hard, hard stuff, but it’s those moments alone with Abba Daddy that keep us going. 
Hope to post more on this soon.

Debriefing Uganda, OR God’s Got This

Decompressing, catching up on sleep, the digestive system I think (I hope) returning to normal and finally some time to reflect on what just happened in Adacar.  If I had to some it up in just one word, I’d pick hope.
Hope in the smiles of the boys and girls who are growing, getting stronger, bigger, smarter, sweeter with each passing day.
Hope in the caretakers and cooks who have jobs, are seeing more of their own children being sponsored, who now have money to take home.
Hope in the community with more and more adults showing up, saying “thank you,” making plans for future improvements around the Carepoint.
Hope in the faces of the teenage girls and boys that know they can keep going if they work hard enough.
And one of the biggest, hopeful-est things is that God’s got this, it is all completely in his hands, including Martin.  He’s a young man now, he’s got opinions and expressed them about lots of stuff,  including the pictures we took with the Polaroid of the kids at the Carepoint (he somehow ended  up with two for himself), like any teenager, he misses his family while he’s away, he get annoyed at kids staring at him while he’s signing, he wanted a sweatshirt and looked super cool in the black one that Scott on our team gave him.
He’s 17 now.  He’s growing up.  I believe he has a prayer life with God that goes way deeper than I’ve ever known because they have their own language, the two of them–and one of these days, I’ll know better how to communicate when we meet again, notice I said, “when” not “if.” Why?  Because God’s got this.
My sister is getting ready to move from PA to NY, her life has been in flux over the last few years, but being in a new location for about two years, she was able to form this really amazingly close God-centered relationship with this woman and disciple her.  This friend just recently told my sister that she wanted to rededicate her life to Christ.  It’s moments like these that we sit back in awe and realize just how BIG God is and how perfect his plans are and that it’s true, we don’t know how the kingdom of God grows, only He does–and it does, it’s like how the planets keep revolving around the sun, or how we always have enough food to eat. 
We can’t figure it out, but we just sit back and we are thankful. 

To Adacar Day 5

It’s been three years and it seems like I’m meeting him for the first time. We hugged and I showed him the picture album I had prepared and he signed his way through it. My team member, Maddie knows sign language. The three of us sat down together and he read my letter. Word by word, sentence by sentence he signed his thoughts as he read.
He said:
You are a strong woman for traveling all this way.
You are a great mom.
I’ve missed you and couldn’t wait to see you.
I love my school and even though it is a deaf school it is a normal school.
You are like a mother to me.

And as we sat under the spreading tree out of the sun I cried and cried and cried.

This boy has my heart.

To Adacar Day Two

Spent all day traveling to Soroti giving us an expansive view of lush green countryside outside the window. This was our chance to catch up on some sleep and for newcomers to adjust.
We arrived on Soroti around 7 last night at a new team house.
Above is our African sunset.