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Faithfulness Journey Missions Perspective Provision Purpose surrender

Out of the Know

I’ve been flying (literally) under the radar these past few weeks. We are traveling; giving reports and connecting with churches, friends and partners of the work in Africa. While it may sound glamorous, all of the traveling, it’s actually quite arduous. We travel in economy everywhere we go (we have been bumped up to business class twice that I can remember in our 33 years of traveling overseas) and do our best to keep costs down. This translates into lots of “making do” and cheaper meals on the go which will often give me lots of fodder for blogging.

There’s always something good that comes out of our inconvenience.

Our current route has already taken us through Belgium, the UK, Florida and now Texas. It’s a real honor to see people who we’ve connected with over the years; some have been supporting us since the year we began this amazing journey in 1987. How have we gotten this far? It’s got to be a God thing because alone we wouldn’t have made it past our first 6 months in Africa.

I’m certainly not the best, or even mediocre, theologian, expository speaker or writer that can give a more precise explanation for the wonders we have experienced. Perhaps if I had the right charisma or gifting that would naturally draw people, that could possibly explain some of what we have seen over the years – but I am hopelessly ordinary. There’s nothing about my personality that would make me stand out in a crowd, that would merit the attention of more than one or two people, those two being my husband and (maybe) one of my children.

I would describe myself as an introvert. Yes, an introvert. For those reading who know me now, you might find yourself chuckling because I can, under the right circumstances, wax loquacious. My verbose tendencies are mostly learned; perhaps I’ve learned the lesson too well. Nevertheless, even with my not-so-newfound long-winded tendencies, I am far and away from those who have become rich and famous through their communication skills.

Indeed, the past 33 years of seeing what we’ve seen can only be explained by the Unexplainable One Himself – it’s been a God thing, and He has been so good in caring for us every single day. As I see it, we’ve been given a task and as long as we have stayed committed, God has graced us to take part in the adventure of a lifetime.

My understanding of how God has brought us this far might run cross-grain to those who have to have an explanation for everything. Together with my learned speaking skills, I have learned to be comfortable with being out of the know, for there are some things that are just too wonderful,” He’s just too good for me to understand.

Job 42:3 NIV “You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’ Surely I spoke of things I did not undersand, things too wonderful for me to know.”

While I might overcommunicate from time to time or keep my husband and children waiting for me as I talk with friends, I’ve learned there are just some things I need to keep my mouth shut about because they are just too wonderful. They go above my pay grade – and I’m OK with that.

So we’ll just keep doing what we are doing: planting churches, opening schools and feeding programs, working in local prisons and starting leadership academies and whatever else we’re graced to do knowing that God understands how He will get the job done. We simply have to keep ourselves on point and our eyes fixed to the task at hand because the intricacies of how to get it done are just too wonderful, and He will keep on being good.

Categories
Peace Perspective surrender

My Surrender

Once I heard of a church here in Africa that called itself the church of the, “intellectuals.” Obviously I didn’t qualify for membership. Yes, I do have papers, degrees, certificates, a longish cv (because I’ve lived a while now) but I only make use of them when necessary (i.e., proving qualifications and experience). Don’t get me wrong, I love studying. My husband often says if there’s a book lying around I will read it – and he’s right. However, I felt grieved when I heard of this gathering of people based on their perceived intellect. I say perceived because intelligence isn’t always measured by education; there are many who have earned numerous degrees but fail to produce results in the “smart” department.

When hearing of this church for “intellectuals,” I wondered what was the standard for qualification? Was it necessary for one to finish high school to be accepted? Or was a 2,4,8, or 12 year degree required? On this continent, even having finishing secondary school as a qualifier drastically reduced the number of qualified applicants making the church of “intellectuals” an elite society indeed.

Everywhere I go around the world, it seems people group themselves according to social preferences. It’s rare, if not impossible, to find a city in the world where everyone finds common ground on which to stand. The poor, who spend each day working for their next meal, find it difficult to understand the rich, who are busy trying to maintain their excessive lifestyles. The educated who understand a bit about science, find it difficult to communicate with the uneducated who are bound by folklore and superstition of the region. Unconsciously the lines separating society are drawn and the all-too-familiar divisions surface to hamstring the progress of unity.

Ephesians 2:14-18 NLT For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us.  He did this by ending the system of law with its commandments and regulations. He made peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating in himself one new people from the two groups. Together as one body, Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of his death on the cross, and our hostility toward each other was put to death. He brought this Good News of peace to you Gentiles who were far away from him, and peace to the Jews who were near. Now all of us can come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us.”

The things that divide us must bow their knees when confronted by the reality that in the sacrifice of Christ which supplies us with what we need: peace. The cross removes hostility, the cross removes the wall that separates, the cross removes what divides – and this peace is impossible to attain without the cross. Peace that unites has evaded and continues to evade every system created by mankind throughout history and will continue to evade us unless the cross is given entrance.

Yes, I know what many are thinking at this point, “Why are Christians so divided?” The answer is simple: there’s a lack of surrender to the work of the cross. Were all believers to surrender to the point that is seen in Ephesians 2 above, the divisions that plague us would disappear almost effortlessly. The enemy (who is Satan, yes, he is real) knows this and works to divide in order to keep the church void of power. This surrender to the cross doesn’t rely on what others may or may not be doing – I am only responsible for my surrender and Christ is the One who then draws those together who have surrendered to be connected together in His body to form His church (Colossians 2:19).

But first of all, it’s my surrender.