If you can believe it, I’m at a loss for words. Casey would beg to differ, since I have had a wealth of words all week as I am trying to work through all that is happening. But as I have thought about what to share with all you special people, I have been at a loss. I know that my words are trite and small compared to the greatness of God’s great work in this place. I am in awe of our God, and living a life of worship and prayer out of that awe and humbleness. Our God is at work in every detail in our lives and deeply at work in every part of our heart. We only have to open our eyes to see it happening.
Casey eloquently shared about how we both have felt that God’s vision has strengthened this week for our ministry here – thank you for your specific prayers about that! I am so excited for Casey to be able to dig in and do some great work here that will bear fruit for many years to come in the lives of these teenagers. And for myself, I am just so thankful to be used. When Avril Thomas (our ‘boss’) and I were done talking about what I wanted to do and what the ministry needed at this time we both got teary and wound up because it is so exciting to serve Jesus with people who share similar hearts. We are SO blessed to be working with this ministry – they are phenomenal and so surrendered to God. If you want to come to Africa, come work for Living Hope! Website is www.livinghope.co.za if you want to check again :)
So I will now be digging into ministry with the support groups and specifically their leaders and I couldn’t be more thrilled about it. After my second week of hanging out with my support group I knew that was my spot. So I will continue co-leading my group and then begin to mentor, train, and encourage the existing support group leaders, which happens to be a great need. These men and women are humble, enthusiastic, and filled with love for those they minister to weekly in their groups. What a privilege to come alongside them and build them up – something that also will bear fruit for years to come! I have to say that thus far the piece of ministry that has brought me the most joy is my own Tuesday afternoon group that I help to lead. These people are so full of faith, strength, perseverance, and hope. I want to cry and laugh all at the same time when I am with them. As I grow closer to them I learn more and more about the deep difficulties these people face on a daily basis with judgment, illness, and medicine. They are ostracized from most people in their communities, including their family, and yet they are able to come weekly to a safe place where they are loved and accepted. It is probably the most beautiful picture of the Kingdom I have ever seen. My co-leader Hilary and I are planning some fun outings for them in April to love on them, so I will let you know about those – I CAN’T WAIT! These people deserve unending love and dignity to be poured out on them and I love being in their lives!
I find myself knee-deep in a place I have dreamed about for so long, and I feel very sensitive and ‘present.’ Some moments it is overwhelming, like after a meeting I had with one woman in our group this week where she shared her life story of abuse, pain, rejection, and loneliness. And yet this woman is a Christian and trusts that the Lord will be enough. Emotionally, I don’t know what to do with this information, but I just receive this friend as a true gift of our Lord, who shows me the depth and power of His grace. But don’t worry all you ‘moms’ out there – I am taking good care of myself, and leaving LOTS of space to pray, think, listen to God, and rest. He is re-creating me in this time through these profound experiences, and they are such a gift.
I was reminded today of how difficult it can be to learn a new language, as I have tried for so many years to learn Spanish. They say that you know you are really starting to ‘get it’ when you think and dream in Spanish. This came to my mind because of our time early this week with my Duke professor Peter Storey who told us that we need to read the scriptures thorough the eyes of the poor and hear the truths of the God through the hearts of the poor. I am used to receiving from God from my privileged, comfortable, and self-sufficient life where God is something I have added to all I already possess. So it feels like I am trying to learn a new language, to learn to read the scriptures and receive the truths of God through the hearts of the poor. It is unnatural, but as I try to take it in through these beautiful people I have met here, I am unquestionably finding a God I have missed my whole life. Our God is mighty to save, His right hand protects those who are persecuted, His grace is truly sufficient, and He brings joy and life to those who seek His heart. May these weighty truths be true for my new friends here and merciful God, may they be true for all of us! I invite you to read this familiar passage today, but to ask God to help you to hear it through the hearts of the last and the least of this world. May we all truly see our great God!
Love you all!
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.