Wednesday, July 30, 2014

A Diminished God?

(no time for editing/spellcheck) - deal with it. ;)

I was thinking about ministry. In general.

The Sunday before I left to come to Zim, my pastor asked my husband and I to come up and share a bit about our missions calling with the congregation. First of all – yay – what a sweet opportunity. Secondly, I kinda bombed it.

Sure, I shared 2 minutes worth of vision and hope and excitedly got to share that sweet Marlena is returning with me. But! At one point Darren asked me what we (BFGO) mostly do when we are with the kids at the orphanage.

My stupid response: “mostly just ministry”. Okay I shared a couple of brief specifics, but I woke up the next day thinking…

…GAW! JUST ministry?

Seriously, couldn’t the Holy Spirit have inspired me to recognize that ministry isn’t just a little thing – like maybe not even worth mentioning?  I didn’t even mention the chicken project BECAUSE MY BRAIN WAS DEAD.

What is ministry if it isn’t everything?

When you encourage a child – it is ministry.
When you teach and love and discipline your children – it is ministry.
When you forgive your spouse for being aloof – it is ministry.
When you hand out programs at church with a precious smile on your face – guess what? Ministry.
When you wrap your arms around someone who count their life’s hugs on one hand – yep – ministry.

Just ministry is Just Jesus and He is All in All. I cannot even fathom that I reduced the work He shaped for me as some small thing. Such a reduction makes Him a tiny man on a tiny cross shedding just a tiny bit of blood.

How could I?

I’m an ambassador of Christ, a Christian soldier, a child of God and a co-missioner with Jesus. I am a carrier of the Holy Spirit and with that I have the power in me that God used to raise Christ from the grave. I am small and He is large – but His ministry is huge.

Do you feel small in your ministry? Well stop it. You may be small – but the ministry He gave you can never be less than all that He is.

I remember this as I sit and talk with Misheck and learn of all the ways he has heard Jesus in the past year and the ways that the Holy Spirit has managed to remove greed and replace it with an earnest desire to love his neighbor. Yes, sweet Lord!! These kids want to serve as much or more as they are being served in their great love for the God that created them in His image.

I remember this as I speak with Eric about his great love and appreciation for his sponsors – the people who write letters and pour love and life in his otherwise sometimes lonely heart.

I remember this as I read (with permission) the diary of one girl who was raped at approximately the age of 8 and her continued desire to rid her own life and body from this earth.

This ministry carried out by you and by me – it delivers hope and love and healing into the lives of the hurting. It feeds a hunger for a greater understanding of who God is to the hurting world at large. Jesus – you show up in our “just ministries”. Jesus is, in fact, the minister through His Holy Spirit. If we reduce this in our minds and heart – we reduce the power to nothing and we fail to leave a trail of love.

It’s catastrophic. The hurting world cannot afford for us to diminish the value of the ministries He gives us.

I pray that I never do this again.

I tell you – Zim is a learning place. It is a microscope that I personally need to see through. So much is revealed. The eyes of my heart open to greater wisdom and insight and my heart is leveled to a new place of humility. I could never thank Zimbabwe enough for her precious people, her reception to the gospel and to the warm hugs that minister to me in a great big huge way.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Zim Baby - I've Lost Count

Home sweet home away from home sweet home.

I love being here. It helps that 70 degrees is my love termperature - (like a love language but different). The air is singing me super sweet love songs and I feel like a butterfly.

Sunday was landing day and also the day for groceries. I'm all stocked up on peanut butter, crackers, eggs and coffee. Thank sweet Jesus for Kind bars because it looks like my only supper will be rice and a small portion of vegetables. I must add this though - the cook prepared some kale 2 nights ago that was to-die-for. And no, this isn't some sort of manipulative mind game for Pastor Darren - it was actually awesome. I'm pretty sure that was one heck of a massage.

Yesterday was all about conversation. The house of teenage boys is swelling now with many many guys. It is heaven to me as I get to spend time with guys that I haven't really had the precious fortune to before. Blessing me down deep into my toes. I could dance. Again.

And there is the cook. Auntie Dorcas.

She came into the living room where I had been sitting alone for a few moments reading my devotionals for the day. So poised, as they all are, she folded her arms across her legs and smiled so big, as they all do, indicating hope for a talk. She began with all the pleasantries of how "heyappy" she is to finally meet me and a string of kind of words that it seemed she had delicately knitted to present as a gift to me. Warmer than a blanket. I could have cried.

Before I asked, I knew her story. I could feel it coming. Imagine walking into a library and every book on the shelf is exactly the same, only the names are changed. Her pages read like so many. Her husband left. She gave the baby to her momma. She came to the city to find work to pay for food and school fees for her little girl. She sees her daughter once per month when she can find time and money to travel to the rural areas. End of chapter 1. Chapter 2 is still being written.

The thing that she said over and over that is haunting my mind is how she is the bread winner for her family. Auntie Dorcas is 24 years of age, the 9th born of 11 children. Her mother is 66. Her baby girl is 7. Auntie cooks and cleans for a household of 10 boys and makes $200 per month. She is the bread winner.

You know, in our culture, the bread winner is the money-maker. Our bread winners win cars and houses, clothes, jewelry, internet access, vacuum cleaners, x-boxes, paint, facial cleansers, Clorox wipes, wine and Starbucks venti-mocha frappucinos (no whip please).  In this culture, the bread winner is the person who actually wins literal bread. The bread winner here wins fertizlizer and seed for the small maize crop just outside of the mud hut where 8 people sleep side by side on the floor. Bread is lunch and often, it is the whole of their lunch. Nothing else.

For Auntie Dorcas to be the bread winner she has had to forfeit a full-time life with her daughter.

I can't even…

I don't know.

The pain.

The people in Zim give me so much to chew on. So much to wrestle with. Right now my shoulders are pinned to the mat and I can barely move.

I love people. I love and hate their stories. I love that Jesus gives me tears for them. I know I'm alive.

I wish I could tell you that the Holy Spirit moved me with just the right words to speak into her. He does that sometimes and it rocks but for now He is working in me quietly. He's knitting a gift from Himself, in me for her and I will give it to her before I leave.