Monday, April 30, 2012

I don't KNOW suffering...

Everything is not always EASY for me...
I have for sure felt PAIN and DISCOMFORT.

But, last night, as I held a neighbor, a battered wife,
As I felt her body shake with FEAR... and SOBS...

I recognized.
LORD, I do not know SUFFERING!

Under the cover of darkness, as we prayed and cried together,
I ENCOUNTERED suffering.

Then, she dried her eyes, she stood tall and walked back into her home... back toward her abuser...
Determined to face what she felt God was asking her to face.

I had NO ADVICE to give... 
I wanted her to stay in my home with me, safe for the night - she refused.
But, I could only watch her walk...
Back toward SUFFERING.

All night long, even now, I am continually praying for her!
And recognizing that I don't KNOW suffering!

And, I'm scared to repeat this verse - but, I'm saying it now...
If it means that I will KNOW You more closely, LORD,
Let me also share in YOUR suffering!

For my determined purpose is that I may know Him

that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly, 

and that I may in that same way come to know the power outflowing from His resurrection,  

and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed in spirit into His likeness even to His death. 

Philippians 3:10

Friday, April 27, 2012

"Loving Your Neighbor" 
means digging a ditch!

When our neighbor's houses are flooding...
What do we do?  
Hurt for them,
Cry for them,
Pray for them!
Yes, we do all those things!

But, I really LOVE what my husband did!

Sam... floating a boat down the new stream.
A rock barrier to keep the water from flowing into a community
 Today I'm thanking God for a husband 
with a tender heart of mercy!

And learning...
The answers to our prayers sometimes come when we pick up a shovel and start digging!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

BLESSED are those 
who NEED Him enough 
to KNOW Him enough
to LOVE Him enough 
to know  HE  IS  ENOUGH!

Do I need You enough, Lord?

Coming home... it's pouring RAIN!   

That means 
wet laundry draped all around the house...

mud will be tracked everywhere...

Can you tell that I'm feeling like complaining?


One neighbor, then another and another happen to mention to me
"The water is coming into my home."
They point to show me, 
"The water is this deep" - they are pointing half way up their shins!

I loan my boots to one mama...
Take a thermos of hot tea to another.
Checking on a mama today - you can see the water mark where it was last night on the sides of the homes.

As I ponder my own mud tracked floor, I imagine

Where will their babies play?
How will a fire be built - to cook or even just get warm?
What about the mattresses on the floors?
What of their few possessions have been ruined?

I have NOTHING lacking...

except maybe just one thing...
"LORD, do I NEED you enough -
To know that YOU ARE ENOUGH?"

Blessed are those who
NEED Him enough
To KNOW Him enough
To LOVE Him enough

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Being & Doing

Outside our front porch

It is the week before Easter here in Nairobi.  Rainy season has finally just begun; washing away the dust that has been building for months, watering recently planted crops, turning everything back to green.  It is a reminder of God’s reconciliation and redemption; nature is proclaiming God’s faithfulness.  The pouring rain is a reminder of God’s abundance.  Everyone around us has been anticipating the rains for weeks as they have been preparing their land for the harvest someday. The coming rain seems to fill up people’s hearts with relief, hope and promise.

This is also the time of year when we consider Christ’s sacrifice and celebrate his resurrection.  We focus on the story of God’s kingdom; “the harvest someday.”  Christ Jesus often taught about the Kingdom of God and even in his last 40 days before he ascended into Heaven he promised to be with us to the end (Mt. 28:20).

This Kingdom story is what we are committed to telling.  Daily we ponder how best can we share this story with those who don’t know it or don’t hear it enough. God’s story.  Telling of justice, reconciliation and restoration.  We try to find the center, where Jesus is found, in every friendship and interaction.  Not only do we celebrate the rain and a chance to grow a harvest but we also seek to be present in the midst of the dry spells for without them we would have no need to speak of hope.

We’ve been reading and studying the theology of development and considering the words “being” and “doing.”  What does it mean to “be” present and in the presence what do we “do”?

When Jesus appointed the twelve apostles (Mk 3:14-15) it says that he appointed them “so that they might be with him.”  After that he sent them out to preach, cast out demons, “doing.” The calling was first and foremost to be with Christ.  One way we are to “be” with Christ is through his body, the church.  The “be” then becomes “do” in transformational development because that is what God is doing.  He did it through the cross and he continues to do it today inviting us to join him in the process.

Easter week is an exciting time to talk about the cross and the resurrection.  It feels appropriate to bring it up now but it not only is appropriate, but necessary in the work we do since it is the very best news that we have. We get so focused on the “doing” that at times we forget about the “being.”  Thanks to grace, we keep persevering and learning.  Not once have I heard anyone here in Africa complain about the rain and just in the same way how could we ever complain about God’s redemption and abundant love?  It is wonderful to celebrate and would not make sense to despise it.  I don’t ever want to lose sight of the “be” of the gospel.

Just as we see hope in the coming rains we also speak of hope in what God is doing every day in the lives of people around us.  So we keep speaking of the hope, being Christ to people and finding ways to do as Christ did using the Power we have in God.  Easter is also the affirmation that Pentecost is here. Jesus ascended into heaven after preparing the way for the Helper, the Holy Spirit.  We now rely on the Helper to do what only God can do. Both in the being and doing we align ourselves with what only God can do.  Only God can make rain, only God can make redemption.

In being and doing, this Easter we celebrate the kingdom that is and has not yet fully come. As we celebrate the abundant rains, we celebrate the abundance of God’s grace upon all of us with what we are and what we do.  With God’s help we will continue living out and telling the kingdom story.