Friday, February 26, 2016

Hearts and Hope

Over and over again people will ask, “I'm not sure what I would do in Haiti. Wouldn't it be a better use of that money to just send it down?”  In general the answer is “No.” Our goal is that you would fall in love with Haiti's youth and our partners. Our goal is that you would be able to pray for our board and one or two of the students by will see their faces and know their stories. Our goal is that you will laugh and play with your new friends and brothers and sisters in Christ, whether they are little orphans from the mission where we stay, or our students and friends in Neply.  We understand not everyone can come down, but if you can...COME!

Arnold, one of our board members told those who joined us on this last trip, “Thank you for coming to Haiti to see how we live. Together we can start making a difference. The children are not the same as they were before we started Help The Youth. They are participating in church more. Their friendships are better. They understand people better. I see how imporant it is. Sometimes we don't know what we are doing because we don't see the changes inside the heart. I can see there is a great difference!”

Rodrique said, “I don't have a job now, but I know that I have been prepared and have an education, so I will have a job. Our students have that same hope. They know that they are being prepared and educated so they will be ready for what God wants for them.”

We have been told by several people, “If people are hopeless they will turn into bad people out of desperation...thieves, drug dealers, etc. But our students have hope. They know God has made it possible for them to go to school.”

TiCarme said, “The students feel like a president's child. They don't have to worry that they will be sent home from school because there is no money for school.” 

There is no way to understand the power of that statement without understanding the educational system in Haiti. There is no free education. If 2/3rds of the way through the year you run out of money the student has to do the whole year over again. (The importance of us being in this for the long haul really struck me when she said this.)

We can tell the difference in the students by looking in their faces, by watching them tease each other, by watching them serve on a mission trip to a neighboring village. This really is all about changing hearts...mine, yours, our partners, our students.  We know God doesn't just work through Haiti, so I'm wondering, "What is God doing in your heart lately?"

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Overcoming Overflowers

Do you ever play the game with your children or grandchildren that starts out, “I'm thinking of an animal.” Then they proceed to ask questions and make guesses about what you are thinking about? With our kids we sometimes played, “I'm thinking of a person.” We often narrowed the field by figuring out where we were living when we knew this person.

I invite you to play this version of the game with me. “I'm thinking of a person who is overflowing with hope.” This person demonstrates what it means to be filled with joy and peace. This person is a joy to be with. This person is authentic. This person hasn't always had an easy life. This person doesn't deny the struggles in her life. This person loves the freedon Christ came to give. This person knows Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit. This person loves nature. This person loves children, though she doesn't have any of her own yet. When you are with this person you are likely to get a shower of hope and joy splashed upon you. When you are with this person you will be challenged.

Want to guess? I would love it if you respond on my facebook post.

Recently I was reading Romans 15 and verse 13 grabbed me. May the God of hope fill YOU with all joy and peace as YOU trust in him, so that YOU may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

I began to think of people who were “overflowers” in my life. I realized that many of the overflowers had overcome really difficult things in their hadn't been an easy life. Overcomers became overflowers when they recognized that their strength, wisdom, and courage came from God, through the work of the Holy Spirit.

I've also walked with enough “overcomers turned overflowers” to know that the battle isn't a one time thing. Once you have learned the lessons of trusting in Jesus in all situations you still continue to encounter tough situations. But under the tears and frustration there is a reservoir of strength, peace and joy that carries you through. Jesus carries you through. And when you keep your eyes on the One who will never leave you or forsake you there is always hope.

Send me your guesses and also send me examples of “overflowers” in your life. I could have chosen so many of you as my guessing name. You have blessed me and I have enjoyed the splashes of joy and peace from being in your presence.

Let's go splash some people out there who need to know there is hope to be had, joy to be experienced, peace to be claimed, by allowing Jesus to infuse us with his Holy Spirit.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Fun-Weird Follower of Christ

Recently I needed to submit a short bio for a church bulletin. Annika, my 8 year old granddaughter was with me as I sat down to type it up. I decided to seek her perspective on who I am, so I asked her how she would describe me to this church.

Her response was enlightening and so much better than anything I would have come up with. Thus the conclusion of my bio read, “According to my 8 year old grand-daughter I am fun-weird, a good talker and a good actor.” Actually the weird part didn't surprise me. I often tell them it is a great thing to be a little weird. You wouldn't want to be so boring as to be described as, “normal.”

I don't come from a culture that necessarily values weirdness, so I have had to practice it a bit, but I find it delightfully fun to be set free from “fitting in” or being “normal.” I remember my introduction to valuing foolishness. It came as we were counselors at Camp Manitoqua back in the early 70's. (Yikes!) Rev. Harold Korver was the camp director at the time and would often encourage us as staff to go out and be “fools for Christ.” So I put on a robe of foolishness and saught to live into this freedom that Jesus gives us: go against the grain of culture, push the edges of acceptable behavior in a Christlike way. Jesus did it all the time. It got him killed. Not everybody will know what to do with us either.

One of my new favorite authors is Mark Batterson (remember? The Circle Maker). I was excited when I got to the chapter, The Importance of Looking Foolish, in his book, In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day. Here he quotes I Corinthians 1:27, God deliberately chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise.

He also sights a study that found, “98% of children between the ages of 3 and 5 score in the genius category for divergent thinking (thinking outside the lines). Between ages 8-10 the number drops to 32%. By the time kids are teenagers, it drops down to 10 percent. And only 2 percent of those over 25 scored in the genius category for divergent thinking. According to John Putzier the solution to this intellectual conformity and creative atrophy is “Tapping your natural weirdness.” Love it!!

I think it is important for us to remember that it was thinking outside the religious lines that got Jesus into trouble, and just might get us there too.  It helps me to hang out with the most joyous, free-spirited, loving, Christ-followers I can find.

I know that if I am true to our calling of bringing light and life into our lost and broken world I need to tap into that freedom and natural weirdness that Jesus brings me. I am more fun to be around if I'm not so worried about myself or what people think of me. I can focus on making others feel comfortable and welcome when I am comfortable with who God has made me. I am able to do more good when I don't worry about doing something wrong.

And do you know what? Not everybody is going to like me or understand me...and that is ok.