Thursday, July 21, 2011

Laticia


The beauty in the children's eyes as they performed their incredible songs of worship radiated in my soul.  Their excitement for us to worship with them overjoyed them nearly to laughter and their smiles could barely be contained.  (Or perhaps that was reaction to our attempts to keep up with their fast-rhythmed dancing!)  Never-the-less, their joy was a gift.

As I watched them dancing and singing to the Lord, I caught the eye of Laticia.  Sweet, angelic, Laticia.  She was tall and thin and her eyes sparkled within her coal dark face and hair and the smile that she tried with difficulty to hide just absolutely shone with delight.  We danced together and as I touched her hand she touched my heart in a place that will never again be the same.

Laticia's father had recently passed away,leaving her mother and three young girls to be shunned from his Muslim family because they professed Jesus Christ as their Savior. Men in the church where we worshiped that day are giving them a portion from their own families' humble wages just so that they can survive.  As I looked at this mother, aged from grief and the scorching African sun, a tear trickled from her heart...she was desperate in every aspect of life...torn apart at the seams...tossed by the storm...Like Naomi, she had every reason in this world to demand a renaming, Mara...Yet in her dark and difficult circumstances, she wasn't bitter...but, praised Him, still.

And her precious little angel, Laticia, smiled as she peered into the depths of my soul and asked aloud with yearning plea, "May I please go home with you?"



Oh, I wept.  I wept for her mother, who heard her daughter's longing heart's cry to escape the desperation in which they lived. I wept for Laticia.  I longed to reply with an emphatic "YES!" and carry her home with me where I could be assured that her starving body and soul would be fed to restoration and the beauty that I know the Lord has in anointing her for His Kingdom.  I wept for her sisters. They sat in wonderment as they looked at me giving them food and drink, their desperate thirst overriding their fearful hesitation of the unknown.  I wept for the baby, showing all signs of malnutrition and dehydration...fearing that her little life would soon be drained from her fragile body if she didn't receive quickly what she lacked.

Laticia, you didn't fit in my suitcase, as we had planned.  But, you did come home with me.  You and all of your sweet family.  You are here with me now.  I love you as if you were my very own daughter and I beg God's blessings to be poured out on you, your mom, and your sisters...I pray that as our eyes met in the midst of His praises ringing out on that long-remembered day, our hearts will soon meet again and we'll rejoice in the Lord's work in your life.  Until then, know that you are ever in my heart and prayed for daily.  I love you, Laticia. You are in His Amazing Grip!

Monday, July 11, 2011

In his darkness, he proclaims the light



We sat as honored guests in the front of a House of Prayer as the women, men, children and youth each shared a special song to welcome us.   To look out at their shining faces, so excited at our presence there.  It was so humbling.  We undeservedly felt like royalty.

There was one beautiful face that shone above the rest...yet she sat still and quiet, barely breathing it seemed.  My heart was breaking just to see her smile and the Lord nudged me to give her what I had.  As I walked toward her, she neither flinched nor acknowledged my coming.  I opened her hand and placed in it a small token of love, a cross that I had kept in my Bible.  She closed her hand tightly, never looking in to see the treasure that she held within it.  I wondered if I had upset her or embarrassed her. Even out of curiosity, she never looked at it...just held it tightly.

As I made my way back to my seat, another young man began to lead the congregation in worship.  His joy exalted to the heavens.  His voice rang out loudly...and though I couldn't understand the native chorus he was singing, I understood the passion that held captive every word.  Then the women began to dance.  Their feet jumped in praises to the Lord.  Together we danced as if in one harmonious movement after another.  Their voices were proclaiming His name in a language I did not know, but our feet were praising Him in a language I knew well.  And together we rejoiced.  I held a piece of heaven at that moment.  All hearts and tongues confessing Jesus as Lord...and everything else was removed...in all of our differences, we became one.

We sat again to hear a reading from God's Word.  The young gentleman who had lead us in song began to declare boldly from the Scriptures...the Scriptures,  he was reading...in Braille.  My heart melted in shame of myself as I saw every finger of his hands being used to worship my King...and the excuses that I have given over and over flooded my mind.  This man had physical barriers beyond any that I have ever known...and he gave no excuse.  He left nothing in vain.  He took all that God had given him and used every ounce of his temple for His glory. Despite that which was taken away, even in his darkness, he proclaimed the Light. 





And my heart met her, again...the beautiful young woman that held my cross.  And I knew at that moment why she hadn't looked at it...She could only behold its beauty in her grip...her eyes saw nothing of my gift.  She too sat in darkness, proclaiming the Light.  And I wept.  Her blindness disappeared  as her heart shone forth all around her.  I learned later that her story didn't stop there. Her parents had dropped her off at the church to be taught and trained by the pastor in Braille...and they never returned.  She was abandoned by her own father...but welcomed by a Heavenly Father whose name she praised.

In my silence of that moment, I know He heard my cries to live as they, without excuse. Lord, Jesus, let nothing hold me back from rejoicing in the truth that no amount of adversity here in this life can take away what You have saved me for and set me apart to do.  Even when my eyes are closed and darkness is all I see, let me shine in the Light of Your glory and not be blinded by the enemy's attempts to hinder my proclamation of Your Holy name.   Let me live without excuse.  

Friday, July 8, 2011

Prints of love in Africa

Himdalaye Classroom---Handprints on the wall


They say that a person's handprints can be used to identify them...that no two are exactly the same.  The rainbow of colors that lined the classroom of the Himdalaye School in Ouaga bore the obvious differences between us.  They all wanted to touch me, the white woman, as if I weren't real.  And I wanted to rescue them from conditions that  were seemingly unreal to me, also.  Dirt floors, thatched roof, desks seasoned by years of use, only a handful of threadbare books, if any, were the contents of this school's classrooms.

But the tiny handprints in all colors, shapes, and sizes that lined the walls gave astounding beauty to a room that one would've thought to be a dreary place. As the children came in, so did the light.  And it shone with a gloriousness that only God's love could have ignited.  This school had little of what we wouldn't even begin to do without in a United States classroom...but it was rich in the teachings of a Jesus who filled it so full of abounding joy that there was no room for despair.  And the reality of OUR impoverished nation filled my soul with tears.  In our abundance, there is so much we lack.  In our education, we have stripped our students of the knowledge of the Gospel of Jesus Christ...we have stripped them from the joy that abounded with contentment even in this poverty-stricken classroom where I stood...we have stripped them of the only wisdom that truly matters.



I placed my hand to fit almost perfectly on the handprint upon that wall...and the walls came down.  The differences between us crumbled and only a picture perfect unity remained...we were one...in Christ. And in all of the curiosity that I know must have been swarming in their little minds, they only asked one thing of me..."Vous etre mon amie?"   "Will you be my friend?"  The barriers of culture, language, even physical appearance seemed to just diminish in the meeting of our eyes and we understood one another with a compassion that I have never felt before. Our eyes met.  Our hands met.  Our hearts met. And we became Friends.  Forever.  Friends.


"Suffer the little children to come unto me and forbid them not, for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven."  
 Matt 19:14

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Thirsty





From a nation filled with abundance to a land parched with poverty, our cultures are worlds apart...but our need is entirely the same...Jesus.  The void that makes us hunger...The drought that makes us thirst...can only be completely filled...completely satisfied...by Him.   

As I walked along the dry African ground, dust covered my feet...a sign of the desperate need for rain...my heart had a similar longing...a thirst for the quenching waters of my Jesus.   I felt so small.  So insignificant.  So helpless in a place where the need was almost too much to bear.  Poverty hovered in every direction.  

My soul wept for the children.  The children whose clothes, if they had any, were threadbare.  Whose dirt-covered bodies screamed for clean water and nourishment.  Whose tear-filled eyes longed to be seen with tenderness and affection.  We breathed in the same air. Our hearts beat as one.  I yearned to love them and they, to be loved.  Every hand I touched seemed to multiply my heartache, yet fill me with such joy in the same moment.  Their smiles were a shear reflection of their hearts.  Filled. Filled with overflowing reception to a hand offering the love of a Savior...a hand offering true hope. 

I felt somehow disconnected from myself.  Outside of me.  I knew nothing of my fears, nothing of my own confidence, nothing of my own joys even.  All I knew was the desire to know only Him who could control what I knew I could not.  All I knew was a helpless, empty, void that seemed as vacant as the dry wells that filled this land.  And I longed for Him...I longed for Him for these people...I longed for more of Him for myself. I had a very 
real awareness of my own inadequacy.  A realization that without Him, I was parched to nothingness. 

As He did for the Samaritan woman, so He did for me.  He met me where I was.  He revealed to me my need.  And He filled it with Himself.  

The thirst of the land is indicative of the thirst of the people.  The thirst they have for a Savior.  It says in Isaiah 12:3, "With joy you will draw from the wells of salvation."   The joy I received from drawing from His well and offering drink to these thirsty souls is beyond anything I can contain with mere words.  It was a joy that fills my heart to overflowing.  A pouring out that I cannot explain.  A replenishing that equips the empty to fill.  And I am thirsty now only for His calling once again.  

Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water. John 7:37-38 


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