Tag Archives: helping

“I lost my stuffed animals when my house caught on fire.”

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IMG_0634“I lost my stuffed animals when my house caught on fire.”  Naomi told missionary Mary.  Even though her house had burned to the ground the day before, little Naomi and her family were at peace.  They were thankful that no one had been hurt.  They had very little to begin with, and now they had nothing.  But they still had the peace of Jesus in their hearts.

The Bible calls God’s peace “The Peace that passes understanding” which is just a fancy way of saying, “Unbelievable peace!”  There’s no way to explain that to someone who has never experienced it.  It’s crazy.  Standing in the middle of their pile of ashes and debris, the family said, “Maybe God has something better for us.”

We just happened to be there on the scene, some of us missionaries.  We just happened to be hosting a team this week.  And the team just happened to be working at the school just around the corner from the 3 houses that burned to the ground.  And the families just happened to be Christians.  And the children of those families just happened to go to the school where we were working.  Was it all a coincidence?  I don’t think so.

The next day we walked down to the charred ruins to see what the family needed.  Turns out they needed everything.  They walked us through a sad tour of the destruction.  I saw a broken plate, some red fabric from something, the skeletal remains of furniture, stairs that lead to the open sky where the second story used to be.  Then I saw the wall with the hand prints painted on it.  The entire family had painted their hand prints on one wall… and that wall was not destroyed!  They still had their family.

New backpack and stuffed animals for Naomi.

New backpack and stuffed animals for Naomi.

The team and I went to Walmart that morning.  We bought clothes and shoes for the children.  We bought a new backpack and school supplies.  We bought bedding.  But the thing that meant the most to little Naomi was that we bought her stuffed animals.  The ones that she lost were the ones that her sponsor family had sent her over the years.  The value of those lost treasures can never be replaced, but maybe, just maybe a new stuffed dog or bear will bring her comfort as the families begin to rebuild their lives on the ashes.

I read this quote on Facebook today.  “The right thought, plus the right people, in right environment, at the right time, for the right reason, always produces the right result” by Dr. John Maxwell.  I can only thank God for putting us in the right place at the right time to help these poor families who have lost everything.  God is Good.

Shy Missionary: An Oxymoron?

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It always kind of surprises people when I confess that I really am an introvert.  For years and years I have worked hard at learning how to talk to people, so I think I have everyone pretty much snowed.  But at my core, I am a shy girl.  People wear me out.  Conversations are work for me.  And I recharge my batteries by being alone and quiet for a few hours every night.

But it never occurred to me that this personality trait might be viewed as a liability in my profession until about a year before we left for our first term overseas.  Someone who knows me well and was sad to see me leaving expressed her hurt feelings with a harsh remark.  She said, “Why would God call YOU to be a missionary?  You don’t even LIKE people!”  I knew where she was coming from, so it didn’t hurt me.  But it  made me think.

Up until that point, I don’t think I had ever thought about what qualities might make a good missionary.  And it never occurred to me that I might struggle with what the Lord had called me to do.  I just assumed that I would be totally equipped with whatever skills would be required to be a successful missionary.  In my mind, this job didn’t really depend on what I was bringing to the table.  I just believed that God would fill in my gaps some how some way.

After all, I knew the Gospel.  I had experience leading people to the Lord and discipling them.  I was willing to go and was excited to go.  What more did I need… besides the language?  So we went to language school and that is where my shy personality experienced the worst trial by fire imaginable.  Interaction class.  Each week we met individually with a teacher and she helped us write a “texto”, a paragraph about any topic we were interested in.  Then during the week, we took our texto out onto the streets and used it to start a conversation with a total stranger, actually 10 strangers.  Then we were graded on how many minutes we conversed.  I cried every week.

Talking to strangers never got any easier for me.  As a matter of fact, once you added Spanish to the mix, it just got that much harder.  It became something I absolutely dreaded.  But I reasoned, this is what missionaries do, this is how we meet people and make friends.  So I forced myself to do it.

In the back of my mind the question still rings, “Why would God call a shy person like me to be a missionary?”  It’s like Moses in the book of Exodus telling the Lord, “I’m not so good with the putting-words-together-thingy.  Maybe you should send someone else to talk to Pharaoh.”  

In the conversation between Moses and God, through the burning bush, God promised Moses that he would go with him.  God said he would use whatever little thing Moses had in his hand.  God promised to teach Moses what to say and put the right words in his mouth.  And finally, God sent Aaron to help Moses.

What missionary could want more?  God will go with me, will use my ordinary for the extraordinary, will teach me, will put words in my mouth, and will send someone to help me with the work.  These are all promises that a Shy Missionary can cling to.  I don’t know why God chooses people like me or like Moses, but he does.  And when he gives them success, he gets all the glory.

What I am afraid God will say to me someday

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There is a very common complaint against God floating around now days.  There are several variations, but it goes something like this, “Why would a good God allow innocent children to starve to death?”  The idea is that if God were truly good, he would not allow children to suffer.  So because we see suffering children in the world, we take it as evidence that God must not be good.  We’re basically saying that Angelina Jolie is more compassionate than God Almighty.  We’re implying that either God is NOT a good God because he ALLOWED this to happen, or he is not a POWERFUL enough God to STOP this from happening.  Either argument accuses God of not being who or what he claims to be: All-good and all-powerful, all-knowing, just and righteous, merciful and kind.  Both arguments are the product of human logic.

In both arguments, we humans are better than God.  In one, we are more compassionate and good, in the other we are more righteous and just making us able to judge God by a human sense of right and wrong.  Both of these accusations are called “blasphemy” which is claiming for yourself the rights and qualities of God.  We puny humans shake our fists at God and point an accusing finger at him shouting that we are more just that he is, we are more compassionate than he is.

But what if, some day, when you pointed your finger at God and said, “How can a good God allow innocent children to starve to death?”  God actually answered you.  What if God responded with this, “I saw those children starving to death and it broke my heart.  So I gave YOU all the resources to save them.  I gave YOU more than enough money to feed your family and their family too.  I gave YOU a bigger house than you would need, hoping that you would share it with one of those children.  I gave YOU a powerful government to use to speak for those without a voice.  I gave YOU access to 90% of the world’s resources, hoping that you would spread them around.   I saw those children starving to death, and I wondered why YOU didn’t do anything to help them.”

When Jesus saw the multitude of people following him, he had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd.  So he sat down and started teaching them.  As the day came to a close, the disciples noted the time and they encouraged Jesus to send the people home to eat dinner.  Jesus was concerned that some would have a long journey home and might faint along the way.  He told his disciples “YOU give them something to eat.”  Their initial shock was replaced by another kind of surprise when Jesus himself multiplied the loaves of bread and little fishes from a child’s sack lunch.  And everyone had enough to eat.

Jesus provided the miracle, but the disciples were given the command to pass it all out, “You give them something to eat.”  So before you point your finger in God’s face and accuse him of injustice and hard heartedness, take a long hard look at your own style of living and your own habits of consumption.  Are you really more righteous than God?  Because we didn’t save those children, God took them back to Heaven to take care of them himself.  How can a human ever love as much as God?

“If you give a cup of cold water to a child in my Name, it’s the same as if you gave it to me personally.” ~Jesus Christ.