Friday, July 24, 2015

Lamenting



I wrote the following in response to some feedback I got on facebook for posting this article http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/so-called-same-sex-marriage

I wanted to respond to both of your comments which were expressed with much passion. I am pretty passionate about what I believe, too, so I am not sure that these exchanges will change either of our beliefs about this very polarizing topic, but perhaps it will bring more understanding. That would be my hope. I pray this will not just become a shouting match on my wall.

I lament for this decision of the courts not because I am closed minded or because I in some way look down on those who struggle (or don’t struggle) with same sex attraction. I have spent many hours on the streets sharing with people who struggle deeply with this issue. Nor is it because I am unaware of the decisions that some young people make as a result of that struggle. I hate suicide. It wounds people deeply and you both know that I experienced it up close and personal. So I would never want to be involved in anything that would encourage people to make that decision. Which is why I believe what I now embrace. My mother’s death was ironically what God used to bring me to the faith that I now hold so dearly. What I believe with all my heart is that The Truth will set us free. The lies of the enemy assault us at every turn, deceiving us and robbing us of the abundant life that God wants to give us. The battlefield is not in our flesh but rather it is in the mind. What we believe is what we will act upon. The Bible says that “as a man (or woman) thinks in his heart, so he is” (proverbs 23:7). So if a person has an attraction to the same sex, no matter how it came about, if he or she continues in those thoughts and is encouraged in those thoughts, they will become entrenched in those actions.
And that is the reason I lament the decision of the Supreme Court because I believe this will only encourage those trapped in this lifestyle to suffer even more. If we embrace sin simply because it seems too difficult to be free of it, or because our culture says it is not sin, then we will suffer the consequences of that sin. 1 John 1:8 says “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. “ And then verse 9 goes on to say this: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”


Yes, I do believe it is a sin. I know this is where you probably disagree with me strongly. My father used to tell me, when I would share with him from the Bible, that the Good Book was simply antiquated and not applicable to this day and age. I could not have disagreed with him more. I have a deep love of the scriptures. They have truly changed my life. The Scriptures reveal Jesus Himself to us and show us who we are in relation to Him. It’s the living breathing Word of God. There is a scripture that says this: Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God. Paul is saying here to those who believe in Christ, that these things are what they once WERE. Just like Jesus, when He spoke to the woman caught in adultery, he did not condemn her but her said, “go and sin no more.” He didn’t say, oh you poor thing, you love another’s husband, go ahead and seek to marry him.” No, he called her out of it! Paul puts homosexuality in that same category. He says, “that is what you once were” but now by the faith you have placed in Jesus, you are free to be what God wants you to be. You are transformed! That is the good news! God didn’t come to leave us in our waywardness, no matter what the sin we struggle with. Because the truth is, we are all sinners and fall short of the glory of God.

This week I have been thinking so much about the lifecycle of the butterfly. It’s such a miracle when you think of it. Here is this not-so-attractive caterpillar, plump and squishy and unable to fly, who makes a cocoon and somehow comes out of it totally transformed. The legs are slender and sleek, the wings are totally delicate and in many cases beautifully colored and so different than the original caterpillar body. And it flies. What happened in that cocoon? How does God do that? It’s so miraculous! And that’s what God does for us when we come into the understanding that we have sinned, that we have lived in the darkness of our own minds, believing lies about God and about ourselves, not only with those who feel they are gay but all of us. We all have been trapped in wrong thought patterns and need deliverance! And thanks be to God, He delivers!

I will admit there are things I do not understand about US culture. For the most part, people will agree with you it you say that adultery is a sin and that you should avoid it. But if you say that homosexuality is a sin, you are the one to be stoned! The Bible speaks of it as sin, so who are we to tell God what is sin and what is not sin? Who am I to tell Him what is holy and what is unholy? He also says that in the end times, this sin will abound. I think we are in those times. To me it is a crime not to tell someone caught in those lies that there is hope. You can be free through the power of Jesus! You don’t have to live in sin and shame.

I am so thankful that I can go to the streets with a message of hope. I can say to my friend who is wearing a mini skirt and a long wig and looks very womanly except you can see that something is not quite right, “there is a way out of this”! Jesus made a way where there seems to be no way. Jesus is the answer! He loves you! I know this because I have seen it. One rainy night, two January’s ago, I could not sleep. I sensed that God was gently urging me to go to the streets. I called our administrator and she agreed to go with me so I picked her up in our van and we headed for the area of town that we know well. The reason He sent us was because of Juan.* There he was, sitting on the curb, in a dress that was way too revealing, with his head held in his hands, long wig covering his face. His whole body language cried depression. He lifted his head when he saw the van and he called out my name. “You came,” he said, as if we were an answer to a whispered prayer. We got out of the car and sat down with him on the curb. He began to tell us that he was suicidal. He had made a decision that night to take his own life. He said he felt like no one understood him and he was tired of living a life of degradation and shame. And then we arrived and he knew it was not a coincidence. As he wept, we told him of a God who saves. We told him of a God who transforms us from the inside out! We told him of a Savior who had died for his darkness and sins and lies to give him a new life. He didn’t mind us telling him that he had offended God with his lifestyle. He knew it. And right before our very eyes, we got to witness the transforming power of Jesus. Juan bowed down at the feet of Jesus, recognized his sin, and asked Jesus to come into his life to wash away his old life. 2 Cor. 5:17 says “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” Juan, now a Monarch. Juan, now free to be who God called him to be! I don’t pretend to tell you that everything was easy for Juan from that moment on. No, his mind had to be transformed on a daily basis, not to the things of this world but to the Word of God. (And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2) He had to learn who he is in Christ and he had to reject the lies of the past. But he is free.

So let us not make the mistake of calling holy what God calls unholy for the sake of convenience or culture or fear of offence. That, to me, is a lack of love.


*not his real name


Monday, March 30, 2015

From Normal to anything but!

It all started with a normal activity.  Elvia went to pick up Julio, 18 years of age, who is attending a government run vocational school in Danli, which is about a half hours drive  from our Villa property.  As Elvia waited for Julio to come out of the school, she began to notice the antics of some of the girls who were waiting to be picked up. It was not pretty.  I don’t know exactly what they were doing but it was bad enough that Elvia could not contain herself any longer and decided to get out of the car to confront them.  Elvia told me that she didn’t want to intervene because she has a reputation for being “metiche” (sticking her nose into other people’s business) but she felt like she had to speak to these young girls about their behavior.  So she got out of the car and went over and began to share with them about the Real Changer of behavior and lives.  Several of them were very touched and decided to give their lives to Christ, including the ring leader.  And thus began what would turn into the most powerful moment in the Spirit that I have ever experienced.  What happened in the “Normal School” which is what this High School is called was anything but normal!

As God would have it, the Cedars Christian School team from Prince George, BC was serving with us during this time.  Three times they have come and three times the Lord has moved powerfully in them and through them.  The burden for these young people at Julio’s School grew in Elvia’s heart and she asked me if we could do a joint outreach with our kids and some of the Cedar’s team.   Elvia contacted the Director of the Normal School  and was amazed at the openness to her request.  So it was all set.  We would arrive at the basketball court on Tuesday morning at 9:00am.  Now I just have to share with you here that both Elvia and I were thinking “outdoor basketball court with a small group of students present.”  So when we arrived at 9:00am with our little Canadian/Honduran band, we were shocked to find that the basketball court we had envisioned was really an auditorium filled with over 400 students all dressed in white and navy and all waiting for us. 


 They were seated but there was nothing quiet about the atmosphere.  As the director helped us get set up, we began to feel quite small in relation to the task.  Our little worship band filled up about 1/10th of the stage.  The worshippers which included two guitar players, a young Canadian on violin, and a vocalist started out timidly but began to take courage as my son Noe led the group in some bilingual songs.  Momentum started to build as one of the Canadian girls shared her testimony about how anorexia had nearly killed her after years of comparing herself to her twin sister.  The drama called “Everything” went well as our blended Honduran/Canadian youth team did a mime about the power of the cross. Some were already in tears when Janny got up to preach.  Elvia asked Janny to come and share because Janny had been a student at this school years before.  It was really a coming-full-circle moment for Janny to share the good news of Jesus here because she had not exactly lived a saintly life while attending the school.  She had since come to know Jesus and had worked at Jericho for a season before marrying and having three children.


Michael, Rebecca, Mariah, and Vanessa leading the singing
Janny preaching

  As Janny preached, many of the students, while not exactly unruly, were talking amongst themselves and the murmuring of their voices was growing louder as the minutes ticked by.  I wanted to go and grab the mic out of Janny’s hands and scold them, but there was no need.  As Janny asked them to close their eyes and think of Jesus and His sacrifice made on their behalf, the Holy Spirit began to move.  Silence took over the auditorium as each of the students bowed their heads and closed their eyes.  The Presence of Jesus became almost palpable as Janny asked if any of them wanted to stand up as a gesture to show that they needed to repent and ask Jesus into their lives.  No one stood.  Just silence ensued.  Janny continued to insist and suddenly one young girl in the back stood slowly to her feet.  At that moment something shifted in the atmosphere and while no one else stood to accept Christ, the gentle barely audible sobbing told us that the Spirit was moving powerfully.  One of our girls moved first.  Vanesa, now 16 years, rushed to pray for the one lone girl standing in the back.  The rest of the leaders began to reach out to the students sobbing in their seats.  More and more students were confessing their need for Jesus and standing to receive prayer.  Elvia reached out to a small group of boys and sensed that the Spirit would have her address the male student body.  She took the microphone and began to speak to the boys about pornography.  She invited any of the male students who were struggling with porn to go up on the stage where Noe would pray with them.  To our surprise, almost every boy went up on that stage.  Then Janny called any of the girls forward who needed prayer in relation to abortion and again, many of the girls went forward for prayer.  At one point I looked around and sensed how perfectly God was orchestrating this symphony of repentance and acceptance of His life!  It was so powerful.  Towards the end, I got some tracts and even in giving those out sensed an incredible anointing of his Presence.
There's no high like the Most High as Beth Moore would say.  In front are Danae and Brook, both of whom were used powerfully on this trip.  Janny, Elvia,Vanessa, Jaime and I are in the back with the ice cream man.
As we got ready to leave, Janny bought us all fudgesicles and we ate them gleefully as we tried to make sense of what we had just experienced.  There is a joy that Jesus gives when people are led into His Kingdom that almost knocks you over.  We were filled with that joy, almost like a wild high.  We recounted to each other what we had experienced as we made our way back to the Villa in the van. 

We are praying now for how to follow-up.  The Director of the Normal School has invited us back to share again but this time with the students who attend classes in the evenings.  We are excited to see how God will move again!






Saturday, December 27, 2014

Jesus and Peanut Butter Jelly Jars

It all started with a list.  Rockwood Church asked if they could do an Angel Tree to bless our children and we said we would be happy with that.  Each child asked for a specific gift.  Isaac, who loves peanut butter and had just discovered from another child that you could actually buy peanut butter with jelly already in it, couldn't wait to get that on the list.

So on Christmas eve we gathered in our living room, all 40 something of us, and each child received their specially chosen gift.  And that's when it happened, an unexpected moment pregnant with the Presence of Jesus.  Isaac had actually received 6 jars of the peanut butter and jelly mixture but we had a day several weeks ago when the need to eat was greater than the need to give him ALL six jars....so the family ate PBJ sandwiches and Isaac was none the wiser.  




When he opened the three remaining jars on Christmas Eve, you would have thought that we had given him the moon!  He was so thrilled!  He lifted them high into the air with a look a sheer victory on his face and then ripped through the wrappings to reveal his three jars of peanut butter and jelly!  It was such a joy to see him so thrilled with his gift.  We had moved on to the opening of the other children's gifts when I sensed him scooting up closer to me on the couch.  "This is for you, Mama Bets," he said as he carefully placed one of his treasured jars in my hands.  He had already given one of the other jars to Tia Elvia and that left him with one jar.  That sweet unselfish gesture brought tears to my eyes.  I couldn't contain them as I gently told Isaac that I wanted him to keep his treasure but that his unselfishness had touched me.....deeply.  Instead of wanting to hoard more for himself, he wanted to bless others.  How could this little eight year old boy, who has suffered so much in his young life already, understand that it is more blessed to give than receive?

The answer, of course, is Jesus.  Isaac has experienced Jesus' love and so he can give away to others, knowing that this honors the very One who has given him a new life.

I am so thankful this Christmas for the gift of Isaac and for the gift of every one of these children that God has brought into our Jericho family.  They teach me of His grace and His amazing love and His sacrificial giving.  They bring me His Presence.

Monday, April 28, 2014

The Assembly

When Elvia told me about it I just knew I had to share it here.  She said they were learning about how an assembly works and decided to practice it instead of doing it all in their heads.  So that's how these assembly meetings evolved at the Villa.  There have been two.

These are the notes from the second assembly taken down by Harold (15 years) and translated by Betsy (up there in years) not in it's entirety however to spare you some of the more tedious details.  

Assembly Notes
The meeting was held on the 23rd of April, 2014 at Jericho Villa at 7:30pm in the living room of the main building.  It was an ordinary assembly with the following agenda:

Opening prayer
Praise and Worship
Roll call of members present
Reading of the minutes of last meeting
Supervisor reports
New Business:     Captain America (this is the funny part)
                         Rivers versus Stagnating ponds (the not so funny part)
Final Prayer

The meeting started with prayer and then several of the leaders tried to sing a song by Dante Gebel about being a river and not a stagnant pond for the Lord but it was too difficult  for the guitar players to play it so they just sang some" normal" worship songs.

After roll call, Harold read the minutes from last month's assembly meeting.  There was much laughter.

Then Miss Keydy gave her report about the school.  The kids at the Elementary School and High School are learning and the classes are going well with only a few of the children presenting tantrums now and then but on the whole things are under control.







Juan Carlos and Daniel
 Angie ( in charge of the kitchen) reported
that the kids are asking for far too many snacks and when she scolds them, some of them walk away with their noses in the air.  She reports that others are wanting to help too much in the kitchen.
too many snacks









Eduardo 
Next Eduardo reporting on the older boys, said that he is trusting God to provide a million lempiras so he continues to encourage the boys to dream about studying abroad.  He also reported that he is looking to cultivate these three characteristics in the boys under his care (whom he affectionately calls the Hebrews) that they would:
1.   Have initiative
2.   Be hardworking
3.   Be respectful
He reported on the different boys under his supervision and how they were doing in the three areas.  Some were doing better than others and only one boy was excelling in all three areas.

Noe with Isaac
Noe gave his report and stated that one problem he was having was that some of the boys would only obey if Eduardo told them what to do but not when he did.  The director intervened and ordered the boys to obey Noe and Eduardo alike.  The director then commented that starting tomorrow Noe would only speak in English to his charges to facilitate their learning English.

Vanesa and Kevin
Vanesa recognized Kevin's hard work and improved attitude  before the assembly and asked for applause from the assembly for him.  (Elvia found Kevin begging in the streets in front of the supermarket and he became a part of our family before Christmas.  It has not been easy for him but he has persevered as has the assembly.)

The director of the Villa (Elvia) then brought up some new business.  It seemed that brother Caleb (who is 4 years old and the youngest member of the family) had  asked if all the inhabitants of the Villa would now call him "Captain America".  Eduardo responded by stating that in order to wear the title "Captain America" a person would need to be respectful, and not lie or cry frequently which were activities which were very prominent in Caleb's life at present.
Future Captain America
 Eduardo made a motion to postpone the imposition of the  title "Captain America" until a future time when more characteristics of Captain America become notable in Caleb. The motion was seconded and passed unanimously.  Little Caleb accepted the decision but not without a bit a sadness.


The director then commented on the fact that rivers need to be flowing outward and that part of our vision is to flow outward to reach others avoiding  a stagnant pond scenario.  She then commented on how God had opened up the doors for Carmen and Lizel to give their testimonies and evangelize in Belize with the Princess Warriors.  She related that she has decided to begin the necessary steps to get passports (with the guidance of the Holy Spirit) for those whom God is preparing to minister in other countries.
Before 
During
After



The meeting was then ended with prayer.


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Isa and the Easter Eggs at Christmas



My sister Mindy says it's because of all the drugs that were in her mother's system when she was born or maybe the abuse she suffered in those first months of life as she was dragged through the streets with her Mom.  I don't know.  I only know she cannot keep still.  Stillness eludes her.....and us when she is present. I swear the expression "keep your hands to yourself" must have been coined for Isabella.  But somehow the Only One who has the power to truly still us did just that.

For several nights she had been begging me to get out the plastic Easter egg set that's under my bed waiting for...well, Easter.  I kind of put off her request since it's well...Christmas and we are focusing on the baby in swaddling clothes laying in a manger-the amazing story of His birth.  But if you know Isabella, you know she doesn't give up easily so finally she brought me the egg carton full of a dozen plastic eggs.  Each egg opens to reveal an item that represents a part of the death story and so in the middle of the living room where everyone else was busy conversing, Isa insisted that I read her the Easter story using the eggs.  Isn't that just like Jesus to show up in the middle of the throng.

As I began to read her the story, the other girls drew nigh and wanted to take turns opening the eggs while the story was being read.  First there was the donkey and then the silver chalice and the praying hands, then the whip, the crown of thorns and the nails and so on.  As we continued, the commotion in the room seemed to fade-only the intensiveness  of the story of the way He died seemed to capture our attention.  Finally we got to the last egg.  It was empty to represent the tomb and the resurrection!  And that's when it happened....that moment when heaven touches earth.

I asked each girl.  "Jesus made a way to go to heaven.  Are you sure you will go?  Jency was the first to respond.  At nine she is big for her age and her beautiful little face is full of freckles.  She was sure, she said, because she had invited Jesus to live in her heart.  Katherine was next.  She responded,  "Exactly what Jency said, Mom, but you know I am still having trouble with my ugly responses when you ask me to do something!"   Isa looked at me wide-eyed and said a very definitive "NO".  And then she said, "Can you really know that, Mom?  Do you know that you will go to heaven when you die?

So there it was, the very reason why the eggs of Easter had to be placed next to the Creche.  The Light came into the darkness to dispel the darkness in our forever.  "The birth of Christ brought God to man; His death brought man to God."

And so right there in the middle of the ordinary Isa asked Jesus to come into her heart and to make her new.  He came and stilled her soul and gave her an assurance of eternal life.

And so we celebrate!  Thank you Jesus for coming, for becoming a child, for taking on humanity so that the captives could be set free!


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

midwifery

It was unexpected and yet we had prayed for this very thing in the morning before we set out to do errands:  "Lord, give us divine appointments.  Please."  The Rockwood team and I had been shopping in the local supermarket buying coffee and last minute things for the five year celebration of a miracle healing God had done in my life.  We were all excited to see what God might do.  I stopped at the mini pharmacy right off the checkout line to buy Cipro for those suffering from stomach ailments on the team.  I asked for this highly efficient med for the dreaded traveler's diarrhea and while awaiting for it to be produced, I decided to clean my hands with my antibacterial hand cleanser.  I pulled out of my purse what I thought was this cleanser but to my surprise when I rubbed the gel on my hands it was not gel.....I had inadvertently purchased  oil drops for the hair which is highly pungent and not cleansing at all but the packaging is almost identical.  So there I was with smelly oil all over my hands and the person attending me at the pharmacy looked at me and handed me a Kleenex and suggested that I buy some gel from her.
One of these things  is not like the other
 So we got to chatting as I wiped my hands about how we can mistake one thing for something totally different and this topic led to another and soon we were conversing about eternal life.  I asked her if she was sure that she had eternal life and she replied with a resounding NO.  By this time another attendant had joined her behind the counter and she too said that she did not have any assurance of eternal life.  So I asked them if they would like to know how to have this assurance of where they would go after they died and both nodded their heads in the affirmative.  So I explained how the Bible was written, "so that you might know that you have eternal life."  They gave me their full attention as I explained how God had come to earth specifically to die in their place to purchase the gift of life eternal for them.  When I asked them if this made sense to them and if they would like to receive this precious gift, one of them exclaimed, "Who wouldn't want such an amazing gift!"  Suddenly the phone rang and the young woman with whom I had initiated this conversation excused herself to answer the phone.  So I prayed with the other woman but before she finished the prayer to ask Jesus to come into her life to take control, the other woman quickly hung up the phone and returned  to us and, without missing a beat, started repeating the prayer of salvation.  When we finished praying she lifted her head and said, "I got off the phone quickly because this was just too important to miss."  My eyebrows arched in high surprise.  This was amazing!  I could barely believe it or contain my joy.  I found a quote this week from Call the Midwife that describes how I feel about spiritual midwifery.

"There were days and deliveries where I couldn't believe it either, but this was and will always be the most commonplace of miracles. An event at once familiar and phenomenal, timeless and immediate. Briefly making angels of us all."

While this was written about actual factual birthings, it can totally be applied to spiritual rebirth.  There is such joy and phenomenalness involved in witnessing a new birth spiritually.  I can never quite get over it.  Each person's entrance into the Kingdom of God is at once familiar and breathtaking because of the working together of the Holy Spirit and the human porter of the message.   We are but midwives encouraging with waiting hands outstretched to catch the new believer as the Holy Spirit brings forth new life.  I still cannot believe He lets us participate in this great eternity impacting event.  And yet He does, over and over again.  It is one of the things we do as Christians that totally alters eternity!

After encouraging the women to attend their local church and to read their Bibles, I ran out to the parking lot where the team was waiting patiently for me in the back of the KIA pickup truck.  Sitting under the Honduran sun didn't seem to have irritated them, which I praised God for, and then I shared with them what God had done and they, too, rejoiced at the power of the Holy Spirit and His answer to our morning prayer.  The Kingdom of God enlarged by two.....

Oh God, thank you for letting us be midwives.  Thank you for letting us be a part of the enlarging of Your Kingdom.  May we be about Your business, trusting You to set up the divine birthing appointments and the daily witnessing with our lives.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

a strange opportunity



 I remember it was Thursday because I was taking a young woman from Wisconsin out to the Villa.  She is already serving at another children's home but has sensed that maybe God is calling her to work with us so she came to check us out.   We decided to stop for coffee at my favorite coffee shop (Expresso Americano which is the Honduran version of Starbucks only much cheaper) which is situated on the left hand side of a major intersection on the way out to the Villa.    I put my blinker on and turned left and before we got to the other side of the road, a huge dump truck rammed into the passenger side of the flatbed KIA truck I was driving.  He pushed us about 4 feet before we stopped.  I was kind of in shock  and trembling so it took me a minute to check to see if either of us were bleeding or broken!  Miraculously we were both only  a bit sore and my left arm was swollen from banging into the door.  I got out to survey the damage:  a huge dent right behind the passenger door (which they tell me is the strongest part of the vehicle) another dent running the bed of the pickup and the back tire was gouged.   Before I had a chance to do anything else, 6 men came towards me and started shouting at me.  They said things like “look what you've done, you didn't have your blinker on etc etc.”  Only two of the men were actually in the dump truck and the rest had just come alongside them.  They started banging on the back of the truck and started muttering threats like wouldn't it be better if I settled with them right now.  I knew they wanted to intimidate me into giving them money but somehow I managed to hold my ground and told them we would just have to wait for the police.

 Fortunately the guard from the agricultural school saw what was happening and came over to the truck and did not leave us until the insurance guy came.   Our insurance man came 2 hours later and then we waited 4 more hours under the hot sun for the police to arrive.  I kept praying that God would somehow bring something good out of this.   Just before the police came the driver of the dump truck approached me again and wanted to settle.  He began to say things like, “everything always goes wrong for me”  and “ I can never get a break”.  He said, “I’m not like you, I don’t have tons of money (Oh my if he only knew the truth!).  By this time Elvia had joined us and she told him that perhaps God was trying to get his attention and that maybe his decisions had not been the best so far and that if he so desired, God could change his life.  He listened and then left us again to go and wait for the police.

Yesterday we met in court.  I was sure that the judge would rule in my favor because Mr. dump truck driver had ignored my blinker and was trying to pass me right at a major intersection.  So you can imagine my surprise when the judge turned to me and told me in no uncertain terms that I was totally at fault.  I had the hardest time wrapping my gringo brain around that thought!  She asked me if I disagreed with her verdict and I said “Totalmente”!  I felt my face getting hotter and imagined the redness creeping up my cheeks as she went on to explain that in HONDURAS the law states that the vehicle turning left on a highway has to pull over onto the shoulder on the right side and wait for the traffic to go by before turning left!  Is that absurd or what?  So she asked me again if I was in agreement with her.  I told her no, that I thought that the law was “absurdo” but that if that was the law, then I was at fault.  The truck driver looked elated.  Then God began to speak to me in that still small voice that sometimes isn't as still and small as one might like.  He said, “You need to apologize to him.”  “Whhaaaaat, you’re kidding, right?  Not only was I broadsided by this inattentive driver but now because of a ridiculous law it’s my fault and YOU want me to apologize to a man who was threatening me and badgering me and didn't even care if he hurt me?”  But you know how God is….He can be bossy  and so I didn't even have to orchestrate the going towards this man…..because God set it all up.  He was right in the line behind me to get our licenses  back.  The Lord then seemed to whisper to me again, “What’s a little dying to the flesh if it means this man will receive eternal life?”  Because with Jesus, death always bring forth life.  So I asked the Lord for the necessary grace and turned to face this man and asked him if he would forgive me.  He kind of looked down and muttered something I couldn't make out but when he lifted his head back up, there were tears in his eyes.  I then told him that I thought that perhaps God had allowed us to meet in this weird way because He wanted him to know that He was a God of mercy and grace and that He loved him and had a purpose for his life.  I shared how Jesus had died in his place so that he didn't have to die….that he only needed to confess his waywardness and accept the gift of eternal life that God was offering him.  Would he accept Jesus into his life as his Lord and Savior?  He made some excuses about work and then finally he said, “I know that what you are saying is the Truth.”  I wish I could tell you that we prayed right there, that the police desk had suddenly converted into an altar rail but it was not to be, at least on that day.  The truck driver chose to leave without asking God to take control of his life.  But I know that God does not waste anything and that God’s Word does not come back void.  He is after that young man.  So I pray for him to come to Jesus, to surrender his life once and for all so that he can experience true joy and peace and that things might go well for him.

 A strange opportunity to evangelize!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Fire Fire everywhere!

“But now, this is what the Lord says, He who created you, O Jacob, He who formed you, O Israel: ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.’” (Isaiah 43:1-2)

It was in the pickup when I was alone and on my way out to the Villa that I had this thought that turned into a prayer.  I was thinking about all the divine appointments that God had orchestrated while I was in the States last week,  especially in New York City.  And the thought/prayer was, "Lord, there is so much need in this country and an appointment set up by Your hand would be a blessing.  I want to experience You today."  I thought about how I was alone in the van and perhaps someone needed a ride.  And then other thoughts took over.

Elvia and I had already scheduled an appointment to interview a 14 year old girl who our administrator Saira knew from her village.  We picked her up at the bus station along with her step-father and went to drink coffee at  Honduras' version of Starbucks called Expresso Americano.  It was a good conversation and a very divine appointment in it's own right.  This young girl shared her story and it was clear that she was a captive needing desperately to be set free.  It was agreed that she would return the next day with her belongings.  The sense of excitement washed over me as we went our separate ways for today.  It's the feeling that I have become familiar with because it happens each time our family grows.

On the way back to the Villa there was a gaggle of girls hitching a ride on the side of the road.  They were all uniformed in their school attire and they giggled as they got into the van.  Elvia scolded them for bumming rides (it's very dangerous to do that in this country with the way things are) and then proceeded to ask them if they attended church.  We discovered that all three of them were from the village that Jericho Villa is a part of.  And they all attended the local church but one of them had not given her life to Christ.  She listened as I shared about heaven being a free gift and by the time we reached the village she was ready to pray and ask Jesus to come into her heart.  She bowed her head there in the back of the van and received the gift of eternal life.  So precious.  It was then that I remembered the prayer from the early morning journey to the Villa.
The fire just as it started out of the fire pit

It was after lunch that the fire incident occurred. It was the answer to the second part of the prayer earlier in the day....the one of experiencing God.   I was sloshing some poisonous liquid onto one of our wooden benches to kill the termites and Leslie was helping me.  I heard the distant cries from the children out behind the main building but for some reason they didn't register.  I slopped some more death onto those pesky termites when Leslie screamed, "Mama Bets, FIRE!"  Suddenly I realized that something very-not-good was happening and I ran with the rest of the children to the back of the building where we have a large fire-pit for burning garbage.  The garbage burning had gotten out of control and flames were everywhere inside and outside the pit.  I began to come to and realized I needed not only to help put the fire out but also keep 16 children from getting hurt. 

Josue was already teetering on rocks way too close to the burgeoning flames.  I yelled for him to stay back and in a half crazed state started to hit those flames with anything I could find including my flip flops which was not very productive.  I noticed our new boy Harold lugging a huge 5 gallon jug of water trying to whip out the water over the flames.  He had been too long in the heat and smoke so I wrenched the jug from him and managed to put out more of the flames.  The wind did not do us any favors and the fire seemed to move like huge waves.  It did not look good.  It was Angie who had the brilliant idea of opening the spigot on the water tank.  The water swooshed out and all the children could now easily fill their many and sundry water receptacles.  I don't know how long we stayed out there working as if some unknown hand was orchestrating our movements.  I only know that I was overwhelmed at how well we worked together to keep that baby, that wild wild fire, from ruining our home.  We stood there in the soot and smoke and thanked God, hand in hand, for delivering us.
Daniel and Paola reenacting the drama of the fire!

and again

That evening for supper we ate home made flour tortillas and beans outside near the outdoor clay stove since the electricity was once again turned off for God-only-knows what reason.  I decided it was time to try an old recipe I had invented years ago when I lived in a small village and sometimes, as a result of a lack of available desserts, I  would put peanut butter and chocolate chips on flour tortillas and then toast them until everything melted together.  It was one gooey fun mess and the kids loved it.  The trauma of the unexpected fire fighting seemed to lessen by the minute.

We thought that we were in the clear, that the gallon after gallon of water lugged and splashed  all over the place had done it's work.  So I was surprised when I was finally in bed and writing this to hear my name once again being screamed by young girls who were frantic because the flames had reappeared.  It was well after 11 pm and this time I responded faster than the last.  We all did.  It seemed strange that the very area that had burned was burning again.  Suddenly Mario, one of our volunteers, began to holler FIRE AQUI at the top of his lungs.  Not only was there fire behind the house but the outdoor clay oven had somehow also gotten out of control and the wood panels lovingly put up by a volunteer group were now on fire.  Now the children were becoming frightened.  It was one thing to go through one fire but THREE in one day?  The enemy had definitely overplayed his hand.

Just like with the initial fire, we now stood together to fight the spiritual battle that we knew was raging against us.  I was amazed at the spiritual perception of the children.  They knew that we needed to fight not against flesh and blood but against the principalities of darkness.  They prayed like I have never witnessed before.  Little Miguel had his eyes tightly shut and his hands raised and was walking to and fro and praying out loud with a fervor I have never seen in this child.  Mario led the worship and while they praised and prayed,  I led a small band to anoint the buildings with oil and proclaim His protection.  It was after midnight when we sensed God's peace and that we could all sleep.  We thanked Him over and over that we were all safe and healthy and that the fire had been contained.

Always God brings good.  That combo of earth, wind, and fire all mixed with water was not pretty.  It got all over us and I think I even slept with it between my toes.  But it drove us to a deeper place under His wings.  And that is always worth it.  We experienced Him in the middle of the fire.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Burning Shack

Sara and Angie....our actresses

I just got back from my 3 days at the Villa…..God moved so powerfully.  The Lord spoke to us through the devotionals, the circumstances and a drama that the kids came up with for our Weds service.  It was awesome.  He just kept showing them (and me!) that "ALL things work together for good for those who love the Lord".   The kids so need to really believe that.  So do I.

  Our devotional was about a man who got stranded alone on an island and he found driftwood and made himself a shack.  He cried out to God for rescue and the next day his driftwood home went up in flames.  He complained to God asking why would God allow such a thing when he was already suffering so much.  Soon a rescue boat arrived.  He asked them how they knew he was there and they mentioned the smoke!  After we read that story was when Sara said it.  She said, “I think Hae Young’s being gone is our burning shack!” 

 Then in the evening they created a drama about a missionary who gets hit by a car while preparing to go on the mission field.  The missionary (played by Angie) loses her leg and has to wear a wooden one.  When she arrives in the bush with her translator (Sara), she is attacked by cannibals (the Villa boys and several of the younger girls)!  They bite her wooden leg and are surprised and frightened and this causes them to be open to the Gospel.  You should have seen the part where Sara translates what Angie’s says to the cannibals.  It was hysterical!  I was laughing so hard.  It sounded like a mix of grunts and Korean words and English.  Sara was so animated and funny!  Then we spent some time talking about how God uses really horrible things for our good!  It was such a sweet time.  

After that they opened up about how hard it was for them to have to adjust to having Elvia, Marlyn and me as their new leaders out there since we are all so different from Hae Young and Hye Jin and from each other.  I told them that I totally understood that, but challenged them to think about how hard it was for us too.  We are all experiencing the burning shack together!  The next morning around 3am the Lord awakened me to pray.  I was sleeping with the boys so I couldn’t really get up and sing out loud, so I sat there in bed, looking at the moon and began to sing songs of praise to Him from my heart.  I was so overwhelmed by His presence and I sensed Him saying, “Betsy, you have all that you need.  You have Me!”  So the next morning during the devotionals, I shared how God had touched me with that truth and asked them to consider dwelling on the given and sharing that which cannot be lost.  The Holy Spirit really seemed to touch each child and we ended up praying for the nations together, using a cloth map which had been tucked away and forgotten in a drawer.  So precious.



Hae Young wrote in the middle of the week saying that her doctor there said he thinks she has altitude sickness.   That seemed really strange since the Villa is only 3000 feet.  Her email was factual and lacked warmth which worried me.  But in total answer to prayer, she wrote again today even before I had a chance to answer her, and the tone was more like the Hae we know.  She says that now the doctor has found tumors in her thyroid (benign..... thanks be to God) and that the fatigue continues.  I am so wanting to be there with her because I know that the greatest battle she faces is in her mind, no matter what the source of her disease.  So please pray that that God Himself will keep helping her stand on the truth and that He will heal her completely. She has children to care for and many miles to go before she sleeps!

 


Saturday, September 15, 2012

River joy

Truly this has not been one of the easiest at the Villa.  One malfunctioning well pump+ 26 children on vacation for a week equals some wild happenings and smells!  But the not-having-of-something makes you oh so grateful.....

and yesterday was just pure joy in that river.  An unexpected blessing in the middle of much water hauling!

Our sixth grade teacher, Keidy, invited us to have lunch in the home she grew up in with her family.  Home for her is an hour by dirt road from the Villa.  We set out, all 28 of us smooshed into the two Jericho vans, and arrived dusty and dry after that bumpy road trip.    

Keidy's mum (actually her grandmother who raised her) was waiting for us.  She had prepared a huge pot of arroz con pollo (chicken and rice) and had made a juice out of a local fruit called Nance.  Her humble home was ours for several hours and it was such a blessing to wash clothes in her pila (outdoor cement basin with a cement washboard) and to take real showers.
Keidy serving arroz con pollo

Keidy and her Mama

Keidy and Juan Carlos

I think it was Keidy's idea but we were all thinking about it.  We had seen the river on our way into town.  It was the cleanest looking river I have ever seen here, not the usual muddy colored, litter strewn rivers you commonly see.  No, this one was inviting and it had a strong current.
entering the river

my swimming buddy

Julio, Carmen, Lissel, and Vanessa

Juanca 

"Welcome to the Swimming hole at the Bridge"
pinl parasol lifeguards

River joy

We walked  in together, tentatively at first, not sure of the depth or the strength of the current.   Julio was the first to plunge into the swirling water and it took him down quickly but without harm. We watched him bob up and down the river as he just barely missed rocks along the way.   Soon pairs of children (we use the buddy system while swimming) were plunging and floating, swirling and giggling as the current took them down the river.  I don't know how long we played like that.  I totally lost track of time and of facts like the age of my frame.  The river carried us, cradled us.....and our worries seem to float right down that river.  And we burst into joy.

We still don't have that water pump working but somehow the water feels lighter in the bucket today, knowing that the One who takes care of us knows what we need and surprises us with joy.


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Growing in the hard places or what to do when trials persist




















A friend told me once that wild orchids tend to grow in the cracks and crevices.  She said they seem to thrive in the rocky, hard-to-grow places, and that they are a lot heartier than one might think by the looks of them. We happened  upon some at the place we call lookout mountain on our Villa property.  Sara, our fearless one, who swats at invading bats without blinking an eye, got close.





























 Before I knew what was happening, Josue had snatched one of the blooms and came running up to show us his conquest.































 I think that is us in these days.....needing to grow stronger between the rocks and the hard places, where our only answer is God.   It is not Red Sea in proportion but it sure feels that way.   It seems like there is one trial after another, the pressure does not let up and it's constancy threatens to make us weary of well doing.  I read this recently from streams in the desert:

"We are troubled on every side" (2 Cor. 7:5).  Why should God have to lead us thus, and allow the pressure to be so hard and constant?.....Well,it makes us more conscious of our dependence upon Him. God is constantly trying to teach us our dependence, and to hold us absolutely in His hand and hanging upon His care.  It teaches us trust.  There is no way of learning faith except by trial.  The lesson of faith once learned, is an everlasting acquisition and an eternal fortune made; and without trust even riches will leave us poor.  --Days of Heaven upon Earth

Some of the trials are emotionally taxing, especially for the children......like Hae Young sensing she needs to stay in Korea for some unknown amount of time.  Some of the trials have been almost weirder than science....like Elvia thinking she had an infected mosquito bite when it was actually a worm growing under her skin!  We all are suspicious now of every raised bump.  Some of the trials have been on the absurd side....like all four of our cars breaking down at the same time.  Some of the trials have been financial in nature....like waiting for the funds to come in for our three University students who have come to the near end of their days off.  And some of the trials are quite personal in nature......like living in a half packed up home due to the landlord's need to return while waiting upon God to show us where He wants us to go with all our boxes of stuff.   Reading the scriptures, I am reminded that this is not something new under the sun:  it is merely to cause us to cling.  Like those wild orchids clinging to the side of the rock ,bringing beauty in unlikely spots, we are learning to lean into Him more and more and to have joy in the midst of it all.  That's the rub really.....finding joy in the middle of the trials.

Tonight I can hear my eldest boy on the porch.  He is singing praises at the top of his lungs, really belting it out.   Joy comes slipping under the door to the rest of us listening in.   It reminds me that this is what I need to do.  When the enemy whispers in my ear, "it's not worth it, it's too much, why don't you give up?" , the praise teaches me to rephrase the question into a statement.  "Is this really worth it?" becomes everything is worth it because HE is Worthy*.  Worthy is the Lamb who was slain and who sits on the throne reigning in majesty.  The perspective shifts, the attitude changes....joy comes.  He is Worthy to be praised in all situations. He will make a way where there is no way.  He will not leave us half packed or wormy or without all that we need to carry on.

So on we go, rejoicing (or at least trying to) in the trials, holding tightly to His hand, resisting the enemy....... learning from the wild orchids.


The man who toils rejoicing in his God has success guaranteed.
  Charles Spurgeon

*a teaching from Helen Roseveare

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Sunbeams

Isa in her normal mode
Isa at rest
She was not sleeping, that littlest one of mine, and so I caved into her begging to lay down beside her for just a minute or two.  I began to sing her one of my favorite songs as a child from Sunday School.  "Jesus wants me for a sunbeam to shine for Him each day, Jesus wants me for a sunbeam to shine in every way". That was how the song went but I thought it said "sunBEAN" and so I would imagine myself as a little bean giving off light for Jesus!  Fast forward almost fifty years and I am living in the land of beans three times a day and singing this to my 4 year old.  She gets it somehow and cocks one eyebrow and says "frijoles para Jesus???" and bursts into laughter.  She is smarter than I can fathom.  I don't remember how long we laughed at that frijol joke and then we sang and sang that song together until she finally dozed off.  Two minutes it was not.  I love it that God knew long before I would ever have imagined it that I would sing about Jesus and beans, then live in a country where beans are the main menu, and live to laugh about it with a child given to me out of wedlock (like all of my children) all the while trying to shine for Him.  So amazing is our Lord of the shiny beans!