Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Some minors from Africa

Every time I see God at work on international soil it changes me.  If nothing else it seems to deepen my perspective of who God is.

Want to see God at work?  Look up and go global.

What's different about this trip to Africa?  For me the answer was found in many minor things, that add up to a major shift in how I see God, as if He wasn't huge enough already.

Hope was spoken to two young African wanna-be-pilots as I described the 18+hour airplane journey.  Their response was:  "Was it dangerous?"  Their eyes gleamed with hope as I encouraged them to stay in school and God would accomplish their dreams.

With VBS, some African children experienced the story of a lost sheep for the first time.  They all heard about the Good Shepherd that would never leave them or forsake them.  Some of the girls received a new love-in-every-stitch dress.  That was amazing to see so many brightly colored smiles shouting "I'm precious in the sight of God".  A inflatable bounce cost only $25 for a day's rent.  To see one of the volunteer cooks take it for a test run and to hear her giggling like a school girl, well that was priceless.  Laughter in any language fosters fun.

God shows up in the little things.

I saw children's eyes light up when they were handed a "sweetie" letting them know that they were thought of and not forgotten.

I saw appreciation for steaming, hot meals knowing not where their next meal would come.

I saw emptiness and pain from the children's wing in a hospital ward.  God's loving touch reached down and gave comfort through prayers to worried faces.

I saw hospitality through the kids who run up the road to meet you and then chase you when you leave.

The days were packed with tender moments in holding lots of children as they slept, filling our hearts with reminders that God is a personal God who bends and holds, comforts us in our dirtiness.

So many relationships that we now cherish because we sat and listened to their story.  We stilled our activities and just listened to their dreams.

We met our sponsored children and gave them gifts and they knew that someone cared.  I saw the difference that sponsorship makes.  Lives transformed for a small dollar amount with huge results.

One team member commented about when he was chopping wood the good-old-fashioned way, that "God is everywhere."  God is good to remind us of His Presence no matter where in the world that He finds us.

I saw the flag of Christ held high when a new church plant tent top was lifted higher than another anti-Christian flag right next door.  Gospel wins every time.

I saw God build compassion every time we picked up trash, or held a child that needed a bath, or bathed them in prayer over their school exams.

In sharing groceries with a single dad, raising two young girls alone, he only wanted prayer for his wife who had left the family.  Reminding him that Jesus would provide in his need, reminded me that God is always faithful and that I needed His faithfulness in my daily life as well.

Seeing a child walking alone miles and miles from home in a dark culture reminded me that I am never alone with God by my side.

So many memories are deeply imprinted on my heart from this trip.

It was on chicken day I saw the glory of God as the new church tent was unfolded to house the preached word of God while yards away blood was being spilled.  I am reminded that Christ's redemption is available for one and for all.

It was in a moment I saw a pair of shoes at the edge of the CarePoint fence, I was reminded to stop and pray for those who would encounter God's holy ground.

When God's people pray and worship and praise, you don't have to understand their words to know Who they love the most.  It glows from their hearts, and their faces, from young to old. There is something about seeing young brown heads bow in prayer, pleading for hope, that gives me chills.

It was in the sour porridge eaten by preschoolers that reminded me that we have a Great Provider.

It was in the simple sweet melodies of the cooks chorus singing, "Don't give up" as they persevered in hot days over hot pots.  Life is tough but God doesn't give up on us.

It was in the wise words of a daughter's soft spoken reminder.  She belongs to the second largest tribe in Swaziland in the royal family, and she simply said that "Fear of the Lord is the beginning of all wisdom".

It was in the persistence of the Children's Cup medical team that encouraged a young teen-age girl to choose life for a baby that she wanted to abort, mentoring with God's hope and giving her godly advice.

God taught us patience from a culture that can't hurry and gave us the strength needed as we looked to the hills, beautiful reminders that God is our portion and always what we need.

It's from the stories of the healing and personal testimony from the facilitators and teachers that inspire me to an overcomer in Christ.

I saw the body of Christ embrace the broken and hurting hearts in Africa, like they were a part of their community, like neighbors should.

I saw lovely hands fill in dirty trenches so children could forget being an adult for a little time, and leave their heavy burdens of life rest at the gate with a new place to play.

It was in these minors, the small things that God revealed His relentless love.  I saw the breath of God breathe new life into the hearts of those were touched with a chicken dinner, a new dress, a knitted hat, a simple painted face, a hug, a band-aid, a bowl of food.

The breathe of God hovering over God's people with undefined borders...unbound and unlimited, and I again understand God has the same relentless love pursuit for us.

It's in the glimpses of God in such personal ways that encourage me to comfort color-blinded hearts for the sake of the gospel.  To experience God in ways that impact more than our small minds can comprehend, resting our trust in God's major work as He advances the Kingdom of Christ.

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