Saturday, August 15, 2009
I have one week exactly. And on the 7th day, I shall rest (if you can call more than24 hours of travel time restful…). But until then, I have a lot more to do. Primarily, I think it’s going to be a lot of witnessing the Lord’s mighty work. And I am more than okay with that!
One major prayer request/awesome thing that God is doing – If you have been reading my blog, you might remember that God did an incredible thing, allowing me to start up a Wednesday morning directed prayer time for all the kids (During staff devotions/prayer). And now, as I prepare to leave, I have the privilege to pass it along to the 12th grade girls to lead. And I cannot tell you how exciting this is! I am so excited for the leadership it will require, the power of God they will witness, the unity it will intensify among them. As I type this, the 6 of them are meeting to discuss this Wednesday’s prayer time (I am having them lead once before I go so that if they want advice or help in any way, I am here). I ask that you would prayer for them as they take on this first step of intentional leadership. Pray that God would give them a vision for what he wants that time to look like. Pray that He would fill them with excitement and anticipation for what he is going to do through this ministry. And pray that He would just pour himself out on those girls but also on the entire school as they gather to pray on Wednesdays. I am so excited to get to watch them this Wednesday!
I am beginning to feel a sense of closure as my time here comes to an end. And yet the other day, it hit me that I am also excited to discover why God is having me leave this place. He does not slack during the transitions. He specifically chose August 22 for me to leave, in order that I might continue down the path he has for me.
I have no idea how to end this time, though. No idea how to close this part of my life. Rarely do I feel like I am using my gifts this much, like I have the opportunity to pour out so continually without ever running out of the Lord's gracious supply. I already know that I will miss these kids and this place so much. I was praying just yesterday that I would be able to see all of these faces in heaven.
Pray with passion and fervor these last several days, warriors. Pray for God's continued hand on these children. Pray that God would gently beckon some who are hesitant. Pray that he would tear others from the claws of the enemy. Pray that He would intervene in mighty and powerful ways - for the sake of his own name. That He might be glorified as majestic and wonderful and awesome.
Pray also that I would be able to drink it all in. Pray that I would not grow weary or slow down for the end of this journey. Pray that I might run all the way to the finish line, that I might be able to say I fought until the end.
6 Days. He created the whole universe.
6 Days. O God, let me see that kind of wonder!
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
As my time begins slipping away, too quickly some days, too slowly others, I know that God has never once stopped working. It’s just that sometimes, I have a tendency to forget J.
Last night, I had discipleship group with the grade 8/9 girls. Honestly, I was frustrated, feeling as though I was being completely unproductive in everything I was doing, asking God, “Am I being fruitful at all? Is my work worth anything?”
Our lesson was on Joshua 4, where God directs Joshua to gather 12 stones from the middle of the Jordan river, to set up a memorial in order that they might remember – and their children to know – that God is mighty, powerful, and faithful. We talked about the importance of spiritual memory, so that even when we are feeling as though life is too hard or having a difficult time remembering that God is good, we can look back on those times where God was big and incredible and praise him and worship him still.
I had the girls spend 15 or so minutes just journaling, writing down as many things as they could remember about what God has done in their lives. We were creating a type of “memorial,” just a written one instead of stone. And of course I did the same, but I decided to do it solely with what God has done since I have been here. Well! I can tell you for certain that God HAS been working, he HAS used me, he IS faithful.
Even when I asked, “God, but I don’t think I’m being fruitful,” He said to me, “Remain in me, and my words remain in you…and you WILL bear MUCH fruit.” That’s a promise.
And then this morning, we had our Wednesday morning prayer meeting. Because I am leaving in less than two weeks, I really wanted some of the grade 12 girls to take over and lead it, so I spoke to them yesterday about that possibility. All but one volunteered. And O I am so excited for them! It is such a great chance for them to be spiritual leaders here, without too much pressure being put on them. I would like for them to try and lead next week so that I can help them plan and debrief it. So already, I was so encouraged and excited.
This morning’s prayer time was, for the first time, open to the boys – and optional. All the girls came, and several of the boys joined as well. And I was sitting this morning, praying with them, watching them pray, it all of a sudden hit me – if this was even the only mark I left on this place, it has been well worth the journey.
I read Revelation 8:3-5 to them this morning, the verses which describe our prayers rising up to heaven as incense and then being hurled again to the earth as lightning, thunder, and earthquakes, and I tried to emphasize how powerful prayer really is. I have been praying that God would answer their prayers visibly – and give them eyes to see it – so that they might be encouraged and strengthened, to pray without ceasing all the days of their life.
I have been able to see the power of my prayers - and of yours - here already, and I know that it will not stop. Praise the Lord!
Saturday, August 8, 2009
Well, sweetheart, that's what you are. Remember David and Goliath?
No, but it only takes one stone - the right one in the right place - and he will go down.
Don't stop, don't lose hope. Keep doing it. One of these days, he will go down.
Sunday, August 2, 2009
That's okay. Just obey. I'll give you the words...I always do.So one girl from the team shared briefly, and then I walked on up to the front, frankly telling them that I wasn't sure what God wanted me to say yet, but I was going to be obedient, so we were all going to find out together!
I have already set you free! Drop your chains and run!
It is for freedom Christ has set you free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. Galatians 6:1And I shared about how beautiful life is living in freedom, in the redemption of God's grace. The absolute beauty of freedom.
Friday, July 31, 2009
Samantha, it's time to get rid of this. It's time to give it up. It's time to get this mountain under your feet. It's time to take a step up in your confidence in hearing my voice. It's time to let your love for me overflow, unhindered. And let's start working on this, too, while we're at it.
Saturday, July 25, 2009
1. I didn't really feel as strong as that picture might lead you to believe. I'm pretty sure Caleb, the other short term American volunteer, was trying to see how much he could make us want to die.
Friday, July 24, 2009
I promised that I would write solely about God’s amazing works. So here we go.
Prayer of the Saints: Those of you who know me well know my heart for prayer. So when I came here, I discovered that the staff used to pray together regularly and then stopped after the schedule was complicated several weeks in a row. After talking with Susan Wadley (co-founder of Bridges of Hope ministry) about how I wished they all prayed together, she encouraged me that maybe I would be used by God to help start that up again. We prayed about it together, and then I continued praying. Praying that God would lay the same thing on the staffs’ hearts and would give me an opportunity to make the suggestion, if it was his will. Then one day, Jenni walked up to me and asked if Caleb and I would take all of the kids for devotions the next morning. Just the two of us? All of the kids? Well, if need be, then okay. She said that she decided that the staff needed to be praying together more, so they were going to do it every Wednesday morning, starting the next day. WHOA. Okay God, this is really cool that you laid it on her heart, too, but what about me? I wanted to be a part of it!!
Clearly not his will. Okay, God, now what? Now I have 25 girls, ages ranging from 10-20, English levels every place on the spectrum. What do you say to that range of girls? I prayed, nothing. I prayed more, nothing. I went to sleep. Woke up Wednesday morning at 6:15, praying. “Pray.” Um, yeah, God, I’m doing that. “Pray.”
So I arrived at the school at 7:25, had the girls divide themselves into tables 4-5 girls each, a youngest girl and an oldest girl at every table. Then we did 30 minutes of directed prayer. It was beautiful. Thanksgiving, Scripture reading, Intercessions, and Supplications.
I am going to continue to do that every week, and I pray that God would continue it even after I leave. I really do believe that this is his will. He took my heart for prayer, that I could play a role in allowing both the staff and all the girls to spend that time in corporate prayer.
Prayer Request: Pray for guidance in how to best use those 30 minutes every Wednesday morning. Pray for God’s mighty answers to those prayers, that the girls and staff may see prayer’s power.
God speaks: One of my favorite things about spending time with God is the fact that he talks back to me. So as I have been taking my 8/9 grade small group through Joshua, we discussed this last week (last night, actually) that we must learn to listen to what God has to say to us if we want to grow in our relationships with him. Additionally, my devotional group (8/9 and 2 10th grade girls) is going through Hebrews, so of course we must deal with “Today if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.” So I keep reminding them that God DOES talk to us – we just have to be listening and then pray for the ability to discern his voice from others.
So this morning, after devotional group, Mimitha came up to me with a huge smile on her face. She said that the other day she was praying and she thought she heard “Give us clean hands.” She said at first she just thought maybe the song was coming into her head, but then when she kept praying, she heard it several more times, repeated again and again. BEAMING, she said she’s pretty sure it was God.
I, now also beaming, told her to pray and ask God to tell her what it means.
You all, I cannot even tell you what a huge blessing this was for me. This is why I am here. I want to leave only the marks of hearts and lives more fully Christ’s. I want to leave and know that I am leaving behind more disciples of Christ, people who are more deeply rooted and established and more IN LOVE with their God. There are few things I would rather have heard.
Prayer Request: Pray for discernment and wisdom for us all as we seek the Lord’s voice to us. Pray for Mimitha as she is seeking with her whole heart. Pray that God would bless her desire to know him more completely and intimately. Pray for the rest of the girls, too, that a hunger would grow in them to know the Living God.
O I could just go on, but I know most of you don’t block out an hour just to sit and read my blog. J Rejoice and praise the Lord with me. He is filling me with his joy and patience and peace and endurance. I continue to ask him for just one piece of hope every day, no matter what else might happen. Please pray the same. Oh, how I pray he is delighting each one of you with such joy as you witness his power and glory all throughout the earth!
Monday, July 20, 2009
No, you can't. You just plant the seeds.I think it is just difficult at times to actually believe that I am making a difference, that I am not just reading them stories that mean the world to me-and very little to them.
Faith like a child, Samantha. You don't need to understand how it works.
If you were promised that during the entire extent of your ministry, every single word you spoke would fall on deaf ears, would you still go - just because the Lord told you to? Would you go solely out of obedience?
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Saturday, July 11, 2009
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
When was God born?Where are Cain and Abel now?How can some people say that God is here and everywhere and then other people say he is coming back later?Does God answer when everybody is praying?Did God wrote the Bible in his own hands?Was Satan God's son?What did Adam and eve do when God said they must not come back to the garden?When Adam and Even died, did God create two new people?Jesus wasn't alive the same time Cain and Abel were?Is Jesus coming back in 2010?When did the world start? (We just talked about that, remember? Genesis?) NO, I know that, but when did it start, like...1991?If you are hungry and in pain here on earth, when you go to heaven, will you still be hungry?If you go to heaven and then God says your name is not written down in the book and you have to go to hell, how do you get there?
Sunday, July 5, 2009
Women walked up and down the streets, blankets wrapped tightly around their torsos, a baby hidden somewhere in the midst of the bundle. Children ran up and down the streets, full of the same glee as every other child on the face of this planet.
As we were standing around in a medical clinic, I suddenly heard the bursts of uncontrollable joy, attempts at communication from a mentally retarded girl in a wheelchair. Immediately my heart was drawn to her. We had no time to talk with any of the patients -- this was strictly a tour of the facilities. Yet as I walked past her on the way in and out, I could not resist reaching out and stroking her back both times. "This is my beloved." O the beauty of God.
There is no difference between us and them. Money is just so meaningless. We are all in pain, though in very different ways. But what difference does it make really, whether you live in a beautiful mansion or in a one room shack? Is there food? Shelter? LOVE? HOPE?
Don't mistake, I am not meaning to downplay their hardships. They suffer in ways we will never understand. Many people intentionally get sick and keep themselves that way in order that they will receive money from the government to buy enough food. Young girls prostitute themselves for warm clothes for themselves or family. 13 year olds are heads over their younger siblings.
There is great hardship. But there is also great beauty -- because the Lord is just as much there as he is in America. His presence is just as pervasive. His existence undeniable. His image is in every face on earth.
For them: Please pray for hope, and hope realized. Pray in particular for the kids here at the Academy. Pray for a deeper understanding of the power of the reality of the gospel. They know the story, they know the facts. But there is something so different in experiencing its power. So pray that, through my own words and actions and those of the other staff, as well as through whatever means he so chooses, God would reveal his true self to these kids.
For me: Pray for my strength through the week, the first one where I will be working consistently. Pray for wisdom in the words in which I speak- that they might be his and not my own. And I just have this feeling that he is going to show me what it looks like for his power to be made perfect in my weaknesses. So pray that my heart is prepared for that.
And PRAISE him for providing me with deep conversations already, and a genuine, deep relationship already. Praise him for keeping me safe, for giving me rest, for waking me up every morning. Praise him for giving me love for his children. And Praise him for his beautiful vision for these students, and for allowing me to take a part in it.
Hallelujah and Amen.
Sunday, June 28, 2009
Well, here I am. I know that I am exactly where God has called me to be, and there is such incredible assurance in that. I have had several conversations lately about how when you know you are where God wants you, the fear kind of just begins to melt away. Every struggle you face is well worth fighting, and every obstacle becomes more like an exciting adventure. Where is God going with this? Even when you don’t know, at least you know he’s going somewhere big!
And that is exactly what I have been challenged with for this summer. Pray BIG. Because my God is BIG. I have been praying big things for the kids, big things for the staff, big things for this school, for myself, even for my friends and family. And I ask you to do the same. I know God is going to do big things here—he told me starting my freshman year of high school that I would be working with orphans in Africa. If this was important enough to tell me 6 years in advance, he’s certainly got something big up his sleeve.
Praise the Lord for the incredible rest he has been giving me. Praise Him for the increased hunger and love for his word in me. Praise Him for blessing me with countless deep and genuine conversations – about him! Praise Him for what I know is yet to come.
Pray for these kids to have an increased awareness of who God is. Pray for the capacity to understand the gospel. Pray for the staff, myself included, to have words of wisdom to speak in order to help them understand. Pray for increased faith and increased awareness of his presence and his work. Pray for continued ease in learning names-and hearts (he already blessed me with the ability to learn all 19 names –not simple ones, mind you- in the first 4 days!).
And what I have been praying so much is that He would fill me – and all the other believers here – with his spirit and his presence to the uttermost, that we would overflow with Him…that the kids could see without a doubt the presence of the Lord in us, that they would have a better picture of Christ through us, and that their hunger would increase for him-a longing to know the one that we know, love, and serve.
Friday, June 19, 2009
Hello all! This is me (obviously...) standing in front of the house where I am living. I live right up those stairs in a loft-temporarily. I'll be moving in just a few short days.
What I've learned
-They have three different kinds of electical plugs-so you have to use an adaptor basically no matter what, but they are few and far between.
-"Pudding"is the general word for dessert...but pudding is still called pudding. ?
-They think it's freezing when it gets below 70...and yet even when it really is cold, they leave all their doors and windows open (while still complaining how cold it is...go figure).
What I've Got Coming up
-Spending time with the Psych team from Taylor this weekend--and SO excited about it. I definitely need a piece of home...even though I've only been here a couple of days. I'm already getting homesick...I guess I realy just need to be broken in slowly.
-We'll pick up about half of the kids on Monday morning and will spend the first week doing fun things with them, running a camp of sorts. I'll be working hard this week, since there are really only three of us working during that time.
-The following Monday is when school starts, but only about 2/3 of them will start that week. Everyone else comes the week after.
Where I have really seen God
-They have bought me a bunch of fresh fruit! And I didn't even ask...:-)
-The past day and a half, my "work"has been cooking...which I do at home for fun...ironic, isn't it?
-I've already had several really great conversations with some of the staff members about Church and God and his work in their lives, my life, and Bridges.
-Jenni and the rest of the Bridges staff has recently realized that they really want to spend more time focusing on the spiritual dimension of the kids' lives but aren't quite sure how to go about it...and at the same time an intern, Brittany, has come for a year with a passion to try to disciple these kids more deeply...and now I've come with my deep heart to see people's knowledge of God deepen, their understanding and love for him along with it. I was actually a little concerned about how I would do at a school when my focus is just not in academics.
-This place is absolutely beautiful! I am literally in the middle of wine farms in the middle of the mountains. It is spectacular.
Specific Areas I would love your prayers
-Wisdom and clear vision--Jenni is putting me in charge of two Bible studies that meet twice a week for an hour each and one devotional group that meets for a half hour three times a week. This is wonderful, seeing as how this is essentially what I love to do most (not to mention what my major essentially IS), but I have no idea where the kids are or what they really need-and neither do the staff since this is new for them right now.
-Comfort and friendship--I am really missing people from home and would just love a place to "fit"here with the other staff members.
-Energy--this upcoming "camp week"sounds to be the epitome of exhausting to me. Games, activities, crafts...well it's camp, that's for sure.
-Continual growth--time to spend with the Lord, ears to hear his voice, a heart that never wants to stop pursuing him, reminders to be in constant prayer, etc.
-And always, the students and the Academy. As Jenni has expressed continually, she knows that all the academics and all the achievement will be worthless if they never follow Christ. Just pray pray pray pray pray.
Thank you all.
Saturday, June 13, 2009
I certainly do need prayer. Thank you abundantly for those of you who are already. I am at a point of feeling completely overwhelmed with confusion. What am I getting myself into? What if I am lonely all summer? What if I make an idiot of myself because I can't teach? And I already hurt just from missing home.
But, God has been so faithful. I have been able to rest, to sit in silence, to soak in the beauty of his creation. And the sun is shining.
I could tell you all about my trip so far, but I don't have the time--and that's not exactly what this blog is about!
Please pray for the reassurance of the Lord's presence with me.
Pray for courage and strength as I embark on this journey.
Pray for deep relationships to form quickly, to nourish my soul, and to make being away from those I love a little more bearable.
Thank you all.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
I leave June 5 to fly to Cape Town, South Africa with my parents. We will then travel for a little over a week around SA and into Zambia to see Victoria Falls. Then on June 17, they will drive me over to Franschhoek, SA, where Bridges Academy is located. This is where I will be until August 22.
Bridges Academy is a Christian boarding school for orphans, born out of the umbrella ministry Bridges of Hope, which originally started with OVC (orphans and vulnerable children) and community development programs. The school is only a couple of years old, but it is steadily growing.
I will appreciate your prayers more than you know. Pray for the children, pray for the school and staff, and pray for me. My intention is to update this blog once a week for the duration of my time. I want you to know what is going on and how you can best pray.
I was reading through Nehemiah the other day, and as I was reading chapter 4, I was struck by all the parallels to my time as I prepare to go. Nehemiah has been leading a group of Israelites in the reconstruction of the city wall, and in chapter 4, Sanballat and Tobiah come to discourage them. Many of these lies are ones that I have been hearing, and I would really appreciate your prayers to fight on my behalf.
--"What are these feeble Jews doing?" -- "Samantha, you are so weak. Do you really think you can do anything of value? You don't have what it takes-no way. How could you ever think you have enough in you?"
--"Are they going to restore it for themselves?" -- "Are you certain you aren't doing this out of selfish motives? Who are you really working and serving for? Your time isn't going to benefit anyone else. And are you even sure you can do it alone?"
--"Can they offer sacrifices?"-- "You think you're honoring God, but the truth is that you're not even really giving him anything. You're probably not glorifying him like you should."
--"Can they finish it in a day?" -- "You're only going to be there for two and a half months. What can you really accomplish? Not much."
--"Can they revive the stones from the dusty rubble, even the burned ones?" -- "You can't really do anything for them-their pasts have scarred them too much; the hurt and despair are too ingrained in society. The culture puts them at such a disadvantage-who are you to think you can make a difference? Do you really think you can do anything for kids who have endured so much hardship? You are powerless to do anything."
--"Even what they are building-if a fox should jump on it, he would break their stone wall down!" -- "Even if it looks like you're accomplishing something, the minute any storm or difficulty arises, everything is going to crumble. Your work is not strong, not sturdy. You might as well not even try."
Please pray that I would be able to stand firm in the strength of the Lord, knowing that in his power, my weaknesses are made perfect. Pray for trust, for faith, and for an eager anticipation and hope as I look forward to what is coming and what the Lord is going to do.
Thank you all so much for your support, encouragement, and prayers. I don't know that I could do it without knowing that you are behind me.
"So we built the wall and the whole wall was joined together to half its height, for the people had a mind and heart to work." (Nehemiah 4:6)
"We prayed to God, and because of them, we set up a guard against them day and night." (4:9)
Please be a part of my guard.