As I sat and watched the video at the banquet, I thought, "This is a worthy cause." The success stories of the children prove that giving to the ministry results in lives forever changed...
"The LORD had said to Abram, 'Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.'" Genesis 12:1
Our pastor from our little church in Sanford, NC, Joshua Dickinson, and his family (wife and 4 children) boarded a flight on March 28th to Dakar, Senegal, in West Africa. They will spend a year in French language school before moving to a more remote location and living with the Mandinka, an unreached people group in Senegal.
Our pastor from our home church in Collierville, TN, Ernie Frey, announced a couple of weeks ago that he and his family (wife and 3 daughters) will be leaving the pastorate for full time mission work in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, beginning in August of this year.
We have been extremely blessed to sit under the teaching of two pastors who share our passion for missions and who live what they preach. They always encouraged their congregations to listen to God's will and calling on their lives, and then go do whatever He says. It just so happens that both of these families were called to full-time missions in Africa.
I can't wait to read the next blog post from the Dickinsons! And I have watched the podcast of the Frey family addressing the church about their calling to Ethiopia several times already (each time I’m in tears!).
I am excited for these new adventures and opportunities for these families. I am thrilled that they have heard clear direction from God and are taking action to accomplish His will for their lives. But, in many ways, I am jealous that they are “on the field”, doing the work that God has set out for them, while I’m “stuck” in Sanford.
You see, I already know that Ethiopia is where God has ultimately directed my family. We are just in a holding pattern as we finish a few things God directed us to accomplish in the states before returning to Africa.
I struggle almost daily with wanting to hurry things along. I just want to get to where I think God really wants me – to be ministering to the street kids IN Ethiopia. “Why are we still here? Why are we not back in Ethiopia?” “Come on, God! Let’s get to it.”
I believe God has a really good sense of humor. I also believe (or should I say believed) that He is gentle in His rebuke and correction of my thoughts and behaviors…
A couple of ladies from my church and I recently began a Bible study. Our leader, Sarah, decided to use the Priscilla Shirer Bible study The Resolution for Women based off the movie Courageous. The book encourages women to make 13 resolutions that will positively impact their relationships with God, their spouses and their children (if applicable), and the world around them.
Sounds really great, doesn’t it? When Sarah contacted me with the book she had chosen, I thought, "Awesome! I love Priscilla’s studies."
Then I read the first chapter and the first resolution:
I do solemnly resolve to embrace my current season of life and will maximize my time in it. I will resist the urge to hurry through or circumvent any portion of my journey but will live with a spirit of contentment.
SAY WHAT?! I thought God was gentle with me! There is no way I can sign my name on THAT dotted line.
Since returning to the US (probably even before), I have lived in a spirit of discontent, constantly wanting to get to the next thing, cross something off the list, and get something done. All along I have not fully engaged in the world around me. I’ve been anxious to get to the next thing – anxious to get back to Ethiopia.
Doing God’s work in Ethiopia is a wonderful calling. Not always easy, but wonderful nonetheless. However, God has lessons, experiences, opportunities, and moments for me RIGHT HERE in Sanford, NC. These are the things I am missing as I long for “the land [he has shown] me.”
There is a reason and a purpose for why I am here right now instead of there. I did eventually sign the dotted line. I resolved and committed to be satisfied in THIS place at THIS time.
God, help me to embrace where you have me, living and ministering in the here and now.
Having a child has opened my eyes to so many spiritual truths. These truths weren't unknown to me before; I just didn't have a full understanding of them.
For example, Jesus described God as our father.
“I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.”
2 Corinthians 6:18
Until I became a father myself, I couldn't fully understand this kind of love. And - now - as a father, I learn new truths about God's love daily. Just the other day God revealed a painful truth about His love to me through my relationship with Dawit.
A few days ago Dawit received his first shiner. The spiral staircase loomed dangerously in my parents living room for years. Many of the kids and adults in the family have received lumps on their heads from the metal edges which protrude into a primary traffic and play area. This was the worst header that I've seen. Dawit was in a great playful mood. We sat around laughing at his antics as he ran around the living room. Our laughter was quickly silenced when Dawit caught one of those metal edges right in the face at a full run. Of course, in that moment the worst ran through my mind. Did it get his eye? Did it break a bone?
I scooped him up and held him close as he screamed. And within five minutes he was back at his antics as if nothing had ever happened.
I, on the other hand, remained shaken the rest of the night. It is hard for me to describe the pain that I felt during this incident. I think it would've been less painful for me to have taken the hit in place of Dawit. In fact, I wish that I could have. My love for him is so deep that when he hurts, I hurt. I find that when I am ravenously hungry I'm willing to give Dawit the first bite off of my own plate. When I am thirsty it reminds me to give Dawit a drink.
“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
Now I know what it feels like to live out the second greatest commandment, love your neighbor as you love yourself.
It's a common saying these days that “you have to love yourself before you can love others.” Though there is some truth to that, there is little use focusing on it. The truth is that we already love ourselves plenty.
When we are hungry, we become uncomfortable so we eat to relieve that pain. When we are thirsty, our only thought is for a drink. If we're cold, we put on more clothes. We care for ourselves because we love ourselves.
No wonder Jesus seemed compelled to heal and feed those people around him to the point of being overwhelmed. His love was such that he felt their pain. When he saw someone hungry, he couldn't be satisfied until they were fed. When the lepers came to him, his heart was crushed by the pain that he could see in their eyes. When he met the woman at the well, though he was desperately thirsty, he passed up a cool drink of water to address the emotional and spiritual turmoil battling in her life.
That is the love that I have for Dawit and that is the same love that Jesus expects me to have for all people. Selfless love.
Has someone ever loved you with this selfless, sacrificing love? If you haven't joined the Chicks for Change campaign, it's not too late. You can offer food and a cool drink to the needy children in Ethiopia simply by clicking here, making a donation, and helping to sustain lasting hope.