Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Uganda Child Sponsor Thank You

Well, Christmas "officially" ended just over four hours ago, but I pray that the Spirit of Christmas, which is the Spirit of Christ, will continue to be with us as the days go by. I wanted to give a quick (yeah, I know, "Hah! Hah! Sandi, you don't know what quick is in a Post...") "Thank You" to all of our Uganda Child Sponsors. As I've mentioned in previous posts, the various members of Valley Word Ministries have sponsored a total of 50 children from the orphanage in Kampala. What a testimony to the love of God flowing through our people!

I know from my own past experience as a child sponsor that while sponsorship is a very rewarding decision, as time goes on, it can have its challenges. I heard Joyce Meyer talking about partnership and child sponsorship one time. She made a statement to the effect that it's really easy to make a decision to partner or sponsor while you are in a service and you are looking at pictures of hungry children. It's one of those "feel good" moments. You know, it makes you "feel good" to be able to put your name on the dotted line to help that young boy or girl. But two or three months down the line, when the rent check is due, the car needs a new set of tires, and Christmas has rolled up on you, it's a lot harder to write that $25.00 check.

Statistically, missions giving is one of the first things to be dropped when budgets get a little tight...not only for individuals, but for church budgets too. The worst part is, that's the group that suffers so much when they do get dropped. How do you look at a child who's only been getting one meal a day anyway, and tell her that the person who'd promised to help feed her didn't send any money for food this month? How do you decide which child will eat and which child must go hungry? Those are tough choices...choices that I'm really glad I don't have to make.

But this post isn't about the people who haven't been able to fulfill their sponsorship pledges, this is about those who HAVE done so. Thanks to you, our administration was able to get the money to Uganda in time for them to use some of it so that the children could have something special for Christmas! While we are so accustomed to piles of prettily wrapped packages under the tree, Christmas for those children may simply mean a pair of shoes so they don't have to walk barefoot. Or maybe even a small toy...possibly the only toy they've ever had.

Thank you, Valley Word Family, for your willingness to stretch beyond yourselves yet again, to pour out the love of Christ on "the least of these." You know, in doing so, you are really ministering to Jesus. Remember, Jesus himself, in telling the parable of the sheep and the goats, said, "And the King will reply to them, Truly I tell you, in so far as you did it for one of the least [in the estimation of men] of these My brethren, you did it for Me." Matthew 25:40 AMP.

I'm excited about the opportunity to see all of those children when we travel to Uganda in February. To see the impact that YOU, the CHILD SPONSORS, have made on their lives through your generous sowing. We are expecting a great harvest in Uganda, and you have a huge part in that harvest. On behalf of our leadership, the leadership in Uganda, and the people of Uganda...THANK YOU!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

A Pipeline for Ministry




I'm really excited as I write this post. We truly live in exciting times. A year or two ago, during a meeting with the ministry leaders, Pastor shared his vision of Valley Word being a like a pipeline for ministry. God is developing that concept in the area of missions for us. My Co-Team Leader, Debbie, has been gifted in the area of acquiring medical "stuff." Thanks to that gift of God, we not only have had an excess for our own upcoming trip, but we've had an abundance to share with others.

This past Monday, December 18th, we were blessed to be able to ship a PALLET-FULL of medical supplies to Slidell, Louisiana to assist in treating Hurricane Katrina victims! We anticipate this to be just the beginning of what God has in store for us in this area. As we are able to network with both medical agencies who have equipment and supplies that are no longer needed and agencies that have a need for the equipment and supplies, we are believing that God will use us to act like a pipeline to join the two types of agencies together.

If you know of either type of group please contact:

Debbie (debbierobinson@valleywordministries.org) or
myself (sandibird@valleywordministries.org)

with the information. Thanks, and have a Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Fruit Baskets...the Rest of the Story!

It never ceases to amaze me (but not surprise me) when I see the Lord move in really awesome ways. God is so good! I wanted to do a follow-up on the fruit baskets that we delivered to the elderly members of our congregation. I was able to be a part of a group that delivered five baskets on Friday, December 15th. Our group consisted of Rev. Karl Stewart, Geraldine, and myself.

The Word tells us that the steps of a righteous man are ordered of God. We sure saw that Friday night. When we arrived at the house of one of our members who has battled multiple illnesses over a long period of time, we sang our carols, put down the fruit basket, and grabbed Sis. T.B.'s hand to pray with her. As we began to pray, the power of God came down so strong! Part way through the prayer she began to rejoice. She shared with us that when we'd arrived, she had been experiencing chest tightness and shortness of breath. During our prayer the tightness left her. She was able to breathe more easily! Wow! We started rejoicing with her!!! God had arranged a divine appointment. But it didn't end there...

Our next stop was to a couple who'd both had various health challenges for a while. We phoned Bro. and Sis. W. as we were driving up to their door to make sure it was OK for us to stop by. There was some hesitation, but since we were already there, we figured that it would be hard for them to say no... :0) As we enterd their duplex we noticed that Sis. W. was seated in the kitchen, tearful, and in obvious distress.

Her husband explained to us that they'd been getting ready to leave for the emergency room. Our trio gathered around our sister and began to pray...it was on now! No devil in hell was going to attack our sister and get away with it! We prayed in the spirit for a while, and then the Holy Spirit revealed to Rev. Karl what needed to be prayed out in the natural. As he prayed out what the Holy Spirit had revealed to him, a change could be seen in our sister. Sis. W. began thanking God. Her voice was stronger. She stood and began rejoicing! She was breathing better. She was laughing and smiling.

We shared some things from the Word and confirmed to her the authority in the spirit-realm that she and her husband had over their home. By the time we left there was NO NEED to go to the hospital. God had shown up and proved himself mighty on her behalf! Our group was so blessed and honored to be counted a part of that move of God. It is always a very humbling experience to me. I can still hear Sis. W. repeating after Rev. Karl, "God's here. God's here. God's in me. God's in my husband. God's here!"

God is so good!!!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Of Nursing Homes and Fruit Baskets...

Anyone who goes to Valley Word Ministries knows that Valley Word's people and leadership love the elderly. I wanted to update you on a couple "in our own back yard" activities that took place this month, involving both our elderly members here and also our extended church family (the part of our VWM family that never steps foot inside of our building but still falls under our spiritual care.)

OF NURSING HOMES...

This past Monday the Men's Ministry went to Superior Residences Assisted Living for a time of fellowship with the wonderful residents there. Valley Word ministers there on a monthly basis, but this was an opportunity for the residents to actually visit with our members and watch the movie Jesus. I wasn't able to attend the event myself, but have heard great reports from those who were there. One elderly Catholic gentleman even re-dedicated his life to the Lord. He told Rev. Stewart that he'd never heard the whole story of Jesus! Praise God! I'm so thankful for those who minister to our nursing home folks!

AND FRUIT BASKETS...

Every year at Christmas time the various ministries at Valley Word get together and make fruit baskets for the elderly couples in our church. Each ministry leader brings in a particular kind of fruit or nuts or candy, enough for however many baskets we're making. Then a group of people assembles them after the service on Wednesday. This year eighteen fruit baskets were assembled.

Last night, Thursday, the various ministries started delivering the baskets. But we don't just drive up, hand off a basket, and leave...not Valley Word folks! We sing Christmas Carols also! I wasn't able to be there last night due to my granddaughter's Christmas play, but I'm hoping to join them tonight if there are any baskets that were not delivered last night (and if my electronic leash--my pager--doesn't drag me in to work ;D.) It's always such a fun time, and the folks are so blessed when we show up. Maybe I can convince someone who delivered them this year to write a quick update...

I don't know when my next post will be written, but in case it's after Christmas, I pray the Love of God and the Peace of God be upon you throughout this holiday season. Have a Merry Christmas, and remember the REAL Reason for the Season!


I love you all! ~ Sandi ~

The VWM Special Forces Mission Team

Well, in less than two months now our team will be on our way to Africa. We'll actually be somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean two months from when I'm writing this post. I know that each one of us is excited as the day approaches, and the next two months will probably go by faster than we'd like them to go. There's still a lot that needs to be done, both in the natural realm and in the spirit realm also.

I received a letter from Pastor Solomon, updating me on some of the things that are happening over in Kampala. There are new pictures on the Online Photo Album, so be sure to check those out, and there are more to come that I haven't yet received. One of the sobering bits of news that Pastor Solomon included in the e-mail was that one of the young students at King Solomon's Academy died last week after succumbing to Malaria. It seems so senseless that a disease that is preventable and treatable still claims the lives of so many people. It makes it that much more imperative that our team partners with the staff of Life Link Medical Centre to aid in vaccinating the people and treating those who are already ill.

I know that those of us at Valley Word have a very personal connection with the Academy as various members of our congregation together financially support fifty children on a monthly basis. I am so proud of the outpouring of love that I've seen from our members in the area of giving to others. I have truly seen the love of God shine forth from my church family to those who are less fortunate. My thanks goes out to all who have been a part of this project thus far, and to those who have yet to participate!

Having said all that, I wanted to really share with you what's on my heart in regards to this trip. Of course, we all know that in the natural we are going over to do a medical and humanitarian project, along with Pastor having the opportunity to minister the Word every night, BUT there's more to it in my mind. Let me paint a picture for you...

In your mind's eye, picture a battleground. There are soldiers from both sides in the picture, and plenty of civilians. You're looking at Uganda. Remember, the battle I'm talking about is a spiritual battle, so although we're looking at people, when I refer to the enemy, I'm actually when I'm talking about the spirit that's controlling the people. People aren't our enemies. We're fighting against a spirit of anti-christ that is trying to take over where ever it can gain ground.

When Pastor Solomon was here he shared with us that the Muslim community is planning on building 450 schools in Uganda, not only to provide a free education to those children, but to introduce them to the Islamic belief system/values. Just as most of the kids at King Solomon's Academy have accepted Christ and the New Birth by exposure to the Gospel, the likelihood of children and parents being converted to Islam is VERY HIGH if the are attending the free schools and receiving aid from the Muslim community. Right now, the country of Uganda is a Christian country. Even the wife of the President is a born-again, spirit-filled Christian. But, I've heard it said before that it only takes one generation to win or lose a country. This is a crucial stage in the spiritual battle for Uganda.

SPECIAL FORCES TEAM:

Our team has an opportunity to go in and impact not only the city in which we'll be working, but the entire nation itself! When I look at our VWM Mission Team, I see us as a Spiritual Special Forces Team. Let me explain. Encarta describes Special Forces like this:

"Special Forces, highly trained branch of the United States Army, specializing in unconventional or guerrilla warfare...The growth of the force, most notably through its role in Southeast Asia during the 1960s, reflects the increasing importance accorded guerrilla tactics in modern revolutionary and political developments around the world. Special Forces personnel...were trained to infiltrate enemy-controlled territory and contact and organize local dissidents for guerrilla operations..."

"Special Forces," Microsoft® Encarta® Online Encyclopedia 2006
http://encarta.msn.com © 1997-2006 Microsoft Corporation. All Rights Reserved.


Guerilla Warfare is defined as: "...military or paramilitary operations conducted in enemy-held territory by irregular forces, often groups indigenous to that territory."

"Guerrilla Warfare," Microsoft® Encarta® Online Encyclopedia 2006
http://encarta.msn.com © 1997-2006 Microsoft Corporation. All Rights Reserved.


When we think of "Spiritual Warfare" strategies, we usually think of evangelists, witnessing, etc. Medical and construction projects aren't usually considered warfare tactics. But I submit to you that they are. In the description of Special Forces, it mentioned "unconventional and guerilla warfare." That's the category under which I believe that our projects fall. We are joining with those indigenous "spiritual soldiers" (Pastor Solomon, the staff at Life Link Medical Centre, and the other workers there) to use unconventional tactics to "infiltrate enemy-controlled territory" and take possesion of it.

OUR TACTICS:

  • As we complete the Chicken - Fish Pond Project we will be helping to change the nutritional status and health of the Kampalan people. By providing increased protein for their diets and additional instruction in the area of proper eating habits and nutritional requirements we will be empowering the people to achieve healthier lifestyles.

  • By combining the food that the project will produce for them to market to other communities and businesses with instruction in how to market that food, we will be helping to improve their economic status.

  • The equipment we've shipped over for the Medical Centre will help to make it one of the best equipped medical centres in the area. With that and the training which we will provide to the indigenous staff they will have the ability to DIAGNOSE and treat a larger range of illnesses. That will greatly impact the whole Kampala area.

  • The availability of that equipment will attract patients who are actually financially able to pay for their treatment. The additional income will allow the clinic to buy more medications and supplies and treat more people.

All in the Name of our wonderful Jesus!

As we share the Love of God through our "unconventional warfare tactics" the Holy Spirit will have an opportunity to use those things to minister to the hearts of the people. We are anticipating a great harvest of souls both from the seeds we have already begun to sow in the lives of the people of Uganda and those which will be sown once we are there. When we arrive in Uganda, we plan to not only hold back the forces of the enemy, but to push them back and take ground from the enemy!

We are...the VWM Special Forces Mission Team!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Missions Blog Facelift ;D and Another Quick Update

MISSIONS BLOG GETS A FACELIFT

Well, as you can tell if you've ever been on the Missions Blog before, we've undergone a facelift! I'm constantly grateful to the companies that provide this Blog Site for us free of charge (Google and Blogspot.) They are constantly working on ways to improve and make more user-friendly a site that they provide at no charge. As much as I understand about computers and the Web, I'm always amazed at things like that! It's not like there are banner ads all over the place to make up for it...Praise God!

READ YOUR LABELS

If you want to read a post that is on a particular topic, you can look at the Labels section on the left sidebar. As you read a post, if you think that I should add another label to it, just post a comment and let me know! And if you are a VWM member who is involved in Missions of any kind...local, national, or international...and you'd like to be a part of the Blogging team, PLEASE let me know. We NEED you!

UGANDA MISSION TRIP PRAYER GROUP

Well, our Uganda trip is getting closer! I am so excited that I'm almost beside myself! [Hmmm...if I was beside myself, would there be two of me to work on the website? A clone? Just a thought...] Back to reality. We have another team meeting tomorrow after service, and we're going to begin a weekly prayer group for the Uganda Trip. The prayer group is open to anyone with a heart to pray for missions. We'll meet 15 minutes after the Sunday morning service and pray until we feel a release.

DEADLINE FOR AIRFARE APPROACHES

We are quickly approaching the deadline to turn in our airfare to British Airway. The check has to be mailed in this coming week. As always, God is proving himself faithful on our behalf! The money is coming in for the team, as we knew it would. That having been said, it's not all in yet, and we still need your help! If you've already sown, we say, "THANK YOU"!!! It would be great if we could just write a check to the airline company and "believe" that the money will come in before it hits the bank, but I think that would be a felony offense! Instead, it takes people just like you, my reader, to sow your finances into things like the Uganda Mission Trip. If you haven't already done so, I so strongly encourage you to make that commitment and do it. Even a seed of $1 or $2 adds up!

I have been re-visiting the subject of supporting my mission trip expenses with my co-workers this last week. And I asked them if they would consider giving a contribution of any size (even $1.00) towards my trip. One of my co-workers said that she might be able to give $5.00. I let her know that that was great. Well, the next day that I saw her, she handed me a check. Before I had a chance to look at it, she told me, "My husband and I talked about it, and we decided that there were some things that we could do without." When I had a chance to look at the check later, I realized it was written for $100.00!

My thoughts immediately shifted to the Apostle Paul as he wrote the letter to the church at Philippi. If you're home folk (Valley Word members) then I know that you're familiar with the story, but I'll summarize it for those who aren't familiar with it. You'll find the account [not story, but that's a topic I'll save for a different post] in Ephesians 4:10-19. If you'll remember, the church at Philippi had sent financial support to Paul on a number of different occasions. They were, in fact, as Paul said, the only church that "communicated with me concerning giving and receiving." (verse 15) The people in that curch had expanded their vision beyond their own four walls and supported and partnered with the Apostle Paul during his missionary journeying. That's when Paul prayed that familiar prayer over them that is so widely misused. "But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus." A missionary praying for his financial partners. And the partners have an equal share in the reward.

I know that, as the holiday quickly approaches, we all have a multitude of things that are calling for our finances. But I encourage all of you to ask the Holy Spirit if there is something, or something more, that He wants you to do in regards to missions, even if it isn't the Uganda trip. My co-workers words challenged me, "...we decided that there were some things that we could do without." I've made a couple returns to Wal-Mart already...the things I want I don't always really need! A Soulwinner's Crown will look much better on me than that pretty dress, anyway!

COMING SOON...KENYA ORPHANGE CHRISTMAS STOCKINGS

Tomorrow, December 10th, is the deadline for turning in the stockings for Kenya. Last year we sent backpacks with school supplies, but much of the expense went into shipping. This year our Children's ministry handed out small red stocking with the request that people would save their change and return the stockings full of money! The money is going to be wire transfered to the two orphanages in Kenya. They will be able to use 100% of what is collected instead of having to pay shipping costs. The goal is $5000.00. I'll update you as soon as all the stockings are collected!

Anyone who is not a Valley Word member, but would still like to contribute, may e-mail the church at contactus@valleywordministries.org for the Kenya project, or uganda@valleywordministries.org for the Uganda Missions Trip. Or, you may call the church office to get instructions on how to make your tax-deductible contribution!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

A Long Overdue Update

Did anyone miss me? Isn't it amazing how quickly time can fly by! I've been all over the mid- to north-eastern US in the last couple months. And things are like a whirlwind of activity here at home (Valley Word.) Our Website is up...YEAH!!!!! WHOO HOOO!!! There are still a large number of "Under Construction" pages, but what's up is looking great! Thanks to all of the Literary Development Team and the NetMinistry Team who helped to bring it to a reality. It takes a team of people to produce anything of greatness. "One is too insignificant a number for greatness." ~ John Maxwell

We had a very successful community outreach on October 31st. We had our Second Annual Festival of the Nations, with eight countries represented. Everyone did such a great job of preparation, and the kids who attended had a fantastic time...Actually, so did the adults. Kudos to all who gave of their time, energy, and finances to reach out to the kids in the Roanoke Valley with a fun and safe alternative to halloween! Please check out our pictures from the event--especially Pastor in his private VW Airlines Jet!


I've got a lot to report, but not a lot of time in which to do it. So here goes! Following is a Synopsis of the Uganda 2007 Mission Trip giving, broken down by project:


Shipment of Equipment and Supplies

Shipping of the 40ft Container filled with medical equipment and supplies: $5000- paid

Purchase of Storage Container in which supplies will be stored in Kampala: $1500- paid

Customs "Fees" for clearance of shipment when it arrives in Africa: $2000- in hand

Chicken/Fish Pond Project

Cost of excavation and pouring of concrete: $3000- paid

Purchase of Well Pump: Shipped--sent in Shipment listed above

Final Project costs (materials for chicken coop, purchase of chickens and fish): $2000- in hand

Medication Purchase

Purchase of adequate medications/immunization supplies for team to use to treat patients for one whole week: $1000- in hand

Praise God for His faithfulness!! And for the faithfulness of all who have sown into this project this far. Thank You!!!

Our Team is so excited as the departure day approaches. We are each still involved in our own fundraising efforts for our airfare, food, lodging, and travel insurance monies. So, if you aren't called to go to Uganda, please consider sponsoring one or more missionaries with a seed of whatever size the Holy Spirit lays on your heart to give. Every financial seed you sow helps to produce a harvest in the Kingdom of God! And you receive the same reward as those who physically go to the Mission Field.

Well, I have to go...it's getting late, ehh...Early...Whatever! I'm tired, anyway! May the Blessing of Abraham operate in your life. We are truly blessed to be a blessing to others!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Quick Uganda Update

[This is a quick update before I leave for my three-day backpacking trip. I apologize in advance for not having active links for the scriptures which I'm going to quote. I'll fix that after I get back.]
I am so excited! We've paid the down payment on our airline reservations for February 5-February 14th. We have a core team gathered, but WE DO STILL HAVE SOME OPENINGS TO JOIN US ON THIS MISSION TRIP. If you are interested in joining us, please email me for more information.
Much of the medical equipment that we've set our faith towards has already been promised to us by several different equipment suppliers. I just want to give God all the glory for gving us favor in this area and for divine contacts and appointments!

Please continue to lift up our team in prayer as we prepare ourselves for this mission trip. While there is a great deal of work that must be done in the natural to prepare for this undertaking, the most important preparation is that of our hearts. It is not enough for our team to just fly over to Uganda to "help some people out." WE MUST HAVE OUR HEART TUNED IN TO THE HOLY SPIRIT.

It's not too early to be praying for all of the divine appointments that Father God has for our team. If we were just wanting to reach a handful of people it might not be such a big deal, but, THROUGH THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, we expect to impact the entire nation of Uganda. Not only are we believing to affect the health status of those to whom we minister in the natural, and not only do we expect to affect the socio-economic status of those who will benefit from the Chicken/Fishpond Project, but we EXPECT that SPIRITUAL STONGHOLDS WILL BE TORN DOWN AND THAT THE LIGHT OF THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST WILL FLOOD THE NATION OF UGANDA!!!

You may be asking, "Who do you think you are?!?! What makes you think you can have an impact like that? You are only a small group." Well, I'm glad you asked me that question! ;D ;D I'll be more than happy to answer it for you!

  • We've been commissioned by the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords as His Ambassadors. We have full diplomatic authority and immunity. ~ 2 Corinthians 5:19-21 (AMP)
  • We have the power of the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead dwelling within us, and our steps are ordered by God, Himself.
  • We are the Light of the World and the Salt of the Earth. We are like a city set on a hill and the Light of god that shines forth from us cannot be hidden
  • We are assisted by a host of angels that were given to minister to and for us as heirs of salvation, and they harken to the Word of God that we speak forth to perform it!
  • The favor of God goes forth before us and surrounds us like a shield, and no weapon formed against us shall prosper.
  • The enemy that comes in against us one way will have to flee against us in seven different directions!
  • We are spiritually minded which brings life, not carnally or fleshly minded which brings death.
  • Our very feet are anointed because we bring the Gospel of the Good News of Jesus Christ.

I guess I'll let you do a little homework with the Strong's Concordance to find the scripture references for what I've just referenced. The Appalachian Trail is calling my name, and I need to get a couple hours sleep before I start backpacking for three days. I'll see you all when I get back!

Sunday, September 10, 2006

The Challenge to Take the Gospel to the World

My, how time flies! I started this post on the 27th of August and am just now able to get it finished...it's already Sept 10th. [These first couple paragraphs are something God's just spoken to me as I type. More bloody toes...] My delay in completing this post is a reminder to me of the many good intentions that we have throughout the day or week. They somehow get pushed aside until "tonight", "tomorrow", or "as soon as I get time."

I'm preaching to myself as I'm typing this post. It's so important that when the Lord speaks to us to do something, that we don't put it off. So many times it gets forgotten completely. I did that last month with an offering that the Lord told me to send in to a certain ministry with which I'm partnered. I was busy. I tried calling it in, but it was after business hours. I said, "Lord, I'll go online when I get home and do it." But, I forgot when I got home.

A week later I thought about it again. "Darn! I still didn't get that offering sent in! I've got to get that done this week!" Then I heard the Lord say something that cut to the bone. "Don't bother. The need they had was a 'right then' need. I used someone else to meet it that gave when I asked them to." I thought about all the 'right then' needs that I've had over the years. What if God didn't switch to a Plan B (someone who hears and obeys right away) to meet them. NO CONDEMNATION, but certainly a challenge to come up higher!

ORIGINAL POST TOPIC

Hi, Everyone! What an exciting week this last week has been at Valley Word! For those readers who are "Home Folk" (a.k.a. Valley Word members or attenders) you probably know that Pastor Solomon Mwesige from Kampala, Uganda was here the weekend of August 20, 2006. This time he was "the Main Event", and if you were here for that service, you know that he really kicked some bu...uhm...stomped on some toes! (What's left of my toes are still a little bloody ;D )


Over the course of the last few days I have really had a tremendous opportunity to meditate on many of the things of which I heard him speak, not only during service, but during the several conversations I'd had with him while he was here. A special thanks to the Lord, my Pastors, and Greyhound (for changing their bus schedule). Because of a change in the bus schedule, Debbie Robinson and I had the opportunity to drive Pastor Solomon to his next engagement in Pittsburg, PA and spend six whole hours soaking up information and wisdom from him! God is so good! I want to re-cap a few things that Pastor Solomon shared with us about Uganda and then share some of what God has spoken to my heart.

Although the nation of Uganda is 90% Christian, there is a strong Muslim foothold. During the Idi Amin regime, most of the businesses were turned over to the Muslim community. So, the economy of Uganda is still strongly controlled by non-Christian business owners.

Then there is the educational system. Pastor Solomon shared the following information (from a news article) with me in an e-mail: The Ahmadiyyah Muslim Association plans to build about 250 primary and secondary schools in Uganda. The plans are similiar to what they have already done in Ghana. “Our target is to transfer the same development to Uganda and we are now in the process. We shall construct and renovate as many schools as possible to see that the education sector is boosted in this country,” an Associatioin representative, Amir Inayatullah Zahid, said. Each school compound will also include a missionaries’ house. Ninety-percent (90%) of the scholarships that they have given out so far have been to non-Muslims.

Pastor Solomon commented: "Here is a challenge we are facing as Muslims target kids and, as their plan is explained, they build a school and a missionary house. We Christians wait for kids to grow into adults and then we spend on Evangelism, training soulwinners etc. [Emphasis mine ~SLB] With our one school, we have 450 kids... Muslims are planning to build 250 schools. [You do the math! ~SLB] This is a challenge indeed, and we, as Christians, cannot watch and see our Country and continent slip out of our hands."

During the message that Pastor Solomon brought us Sunday morning, he shared that of the 450 children who attend King Solomon's Academy, almost all of them have received Christ. Now turn that around. In a school that is run by Muslims, teaching a Muslim doctrine, what would the numbers show?

Adolf Hitler made the following statement in his speech on November 6, 1933, "When an opponent declares, 'I will not come over to your side,' I calmly say, 'Your child belongs to us already. . . . What are you? You will pass on. Your descendants, however, now stand in the new camp. In a short time they will know nothing else but this new community.' "

I have heard it said that it only takes one generation to turn the heart of a nation...either towards God or away from God.

We MUST get busy being about Kingdom business. Today's generation of Teens (called the Mosaics) are the Church of Today, NOT Tomorrow. According to the Barna Group (a Christian research group), "Commitment to the Christian faith changes considerably with age. Of those who attend church, only 27% of Mosaics say they are absolutely committed to the Christian faith, compared to 43% of Busters, 58% of Boomers and 68% of Elders. (2006)" Did you see that? Only 27% of our church-going young people admit to being committed to the Christian faith!! Add to that the number of non-church-going teens...what will the numbers be like in another generation?

The battle-cry has been sounded. It has given a loud and certain sound. It can not be about us and our agendas any more. We have been given a challenge to take the Gospel to the World. God didn't ask us if it fit our schedules. Or if we'd mind penciling Him in sometime in the next month or two. David, in Psalm 11:3 (NKJV), asked the question, " If the foundations are destroyed, What can the righteous do? " When you think about it, a nations' young people are the foundation for its future. If we lose THIS GENERATION, "what can the righteous do?"

What can we do? Lots! Here are just a few suggestions in regards to missions.
  1. GO! Remember, the mission field is everywhere, not just in a remote part of Africa. It even extends into your own back yard.
  2. SEND! If you don't feel the call to go to some far away land, support someone who has been called to short- or long-term missions. The whole world has to be reached with the Gospel before the Lord comes back for His church.
  3. SPONSOR a child! Your gift of $25.00 per month not only helps to feed, clothe, and educate a child, but also provides an opportunity to draw them into the Kingdom of God.
  4. PARTNER! Through ministries like Pastor Solomon's, John Jacob's, and so many more, your giving helps to preserve this generation for the Lord.

[My soapbox is stuck, I can't seem to get it kicked back in... ;D ] We could all probably "write the book" on excuses for not going or doing:

1. "not enough money"... 2. "not enough time"... 3. "I can't get off work" (have you tried?)

4. "I have small children at home"... 5. "I don't have any skills that could be used on the mission field",

6. "I'm afraid to fly"... 7. "there are snakes and bugs over there"... 8. "What about the water..."

Here are some responses: 1. God says, "I'm your Jehovah Jireh [the Lord our Provider], your All Sufficient One. I see ahead to the need and make provision for it before it ever comes to pass." 2. He told the people through the prophet Haggai that it was time for them to stop saying, "It's not time." 3. Throughout the Psalms we're told that we have favor with God (and with man-i.e. your employer) He is our Jehovah Elyon [the Lord, the Blesser] . 4. Get your kids involved in missions projects, too! 5. Q: Have you checked to see what skills are required? 6. "Fear not!" [Jehovah Shalom- the Lord, our inner and outer peace!] 7. Pastor Solomon said, "We have snakes everywhere. We have bugs everywhere," but God is Jehovah Sabaoth- the Lord, our Protector! 8. Mark 16:18 addresses Excuses #7 and #8.

Isaiah says this in chapter 6, "1In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the LORD sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple." What are the King Uzziah's in our lives? What is holding our attention and keeping us from seeing what the Lord wants us to see? It wasn't until King Uzziah died that Isaiah saw the Lord in all of His majesty and glory. Is there something in our lives that needs to die in priority so that we can see the Lord and how He wants to manifest His glory in and through us to a lost and dying world? Jesus said, "If you've seen me, you've seen the Father. " When the world sees US they should see the Father!

Well, I've preached long enough. Are you ready to take the Challenge? Let's get ready and take the Gospel to the World!

Saturday, August 19, 2006

EXTRA...EXTRA...Read All About It! Uganda Travel Dates Confirmed!

Whoo Hooo!!!!!! We've got 'em! The travel dates for the mission trip have been decided. Available flights have been verified. We are leaving February 5th, 2007 and returning on February 14th, 2007. There is still a need for people to join the Construction Team the Medical Team. Please see Pastor Eddie, Chris or Debbie Robinson, or Sandi Bird if you are interested.

I've spoken to many people about the mission trip. Most people give me the "cow staring at the new gate" look when I ask if they're interested in going to Africa. Grown men have cringed in terror! OK, slight exageration! But, really, some people have reacted as if I'd asked them to go on a camping trip to Iraq or Lebanon right now! FYI: Kampala, Uganda is a large metropolitan area- you know, skyscrapers, lots of people, internet cafe's, etc. We will not be out in the bush some place with the lions, and tigers, and bears (Oh, MY!!) We'll either be staying in a hotel or a house. There will be indoor plumbing and food that doesn't remind you of the "gruel" that you may have pictured in your mind. There are even, gasp...cellphones! over there! (Drat! Can't get away from them even in Africa!)

Then there are the people with whom I've spoken who have given the, "I don't have the money to do that," answer. If you are one of those people--yes, I'm about to step on your toes! The rest of this post is JUST FOR YOU! ;D ;D But what I am about to share is being shared in love...and a desire to see you walk out the full call of God on your life. I'm writing this just after having gone to hear Pastor Cynthia Brazelton at the Woman To Woman Conference at Family Life Church in Lynchburg, VA. So "the preach is on!" Get ready to: "Take Off the Limits!"

I want to start with a simple analogy that Pastor Cynthia shared. I love picture stories!


You can take an apple, cut it open, and count how many seeds there are inside of it. BUT, you can't take an apple seed, cut it open, and count how many apples are inside of it!

People of Faith have No Limits! When the Hand of God is on you, and it is if you are born-again, then the impossible has been made possible in your life. There is limitless potential in our lives as believers. Think of Abraham (Abram) in Genesis 12. The conversation went "something" like this,

GOD: "Abram, pack up and leave your family. I'm going to bring you to a new place. I'm going to make your name great. I'm going to make of you a great nation. Because of you ALL OF THE FAMILIES OF THE EARTH WILL BE BLESSED."

ABRAM: "But, Lord, I don't have enough money in my money pouch! How am I going to move all my stuff? And what about my family. Mom and Dad are getting up there in years! And, I don't even have any kids, Lord. How are you going to make a great nation come from me? I'm 75-years old! And Sarai is 65! You know, Lord, we ain't quite got it goin' on like we used to. And, what do you mean that ALL of the families of the earth are going to be blessed because of me?!?" NO! That's NOT what the Word says! The Word says, "4 So Abram departed, as the Lord had directed him;" It doesn't say he fasted and prayed for a week to make sure it was the right move. It doesn't say he checked all of his accounts to see if he had enough money. He just did it because God said so!

Look at what Psalm 78:41 has to say about the Children of Israel. "41Yea, they turned back and tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel." How did they tempt God? The writer goes on to say that, "42 They remembered not his hand, nor the day when he delivered them from the enemy. 43 How he had wrought his signs in Egypt, and his wonders in the field of Zoan." If God has ever provided for us before, He can and will do it again. But when we don't keep those instances fresh in our minds, WE LIMIT GOD.

Bro. Jesse Duplantis, in his teaching on Word Seed, shared a conversation that he had with the Lord one time. He'd heard a minister state how many 1000's of promises there were in the Bible, and he determined to look up all of them. Suddenly, he heard the Lord speak to him. "They're promises to you and him, but they are prophecies to Me." Bro. Jesse questioned Him about that, and the Lord made an unusual statement to him. "My Word does not return unto me void. But My Word can return unto you void." Startled, Bro. Jesse asked the Lord why it could return void to a believer. The Lord answered him, "Because you don't believe My Word like I believe My Word!"

Ouch! What an indictment on our lack of faith in God's Word. We'll believe the limitations that the World has placed on us: "...because I'm a woman..."; "...because I'm poor..."; "...because I don't have an education..." But, we don't believe, "with God all things are possible"! (Matthew 19:26 and Mark 10:27) Or Ephesians 3:20 (KJV) "20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us."

I know I've gone long with this post (what else is new?), but it's so important to grasp this! Paul said in 1 Corinthians 2:5, "That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. " Our faith cannot stand in our limitations, our wisdom, our abilities, or our finances. It's NOT about US, but the POWER that WORKS IN US! The Word of God takes the LIMITS OFF! Jesus didn't ask the man at the Pool of Bethesda (John 5) what his limitations were, all He wanted to know was, "Do you want to be made whole?"!

He's not asking us what's in our checkbooks (shudder!) He's not asking us if we think our boss will let us off from work. He's not even asking us if we think we have anything to contribute to a team. All He wants to know from you is this, "If I call you to Uganda, or any other place, will you go?" Jesus didn't stop at the edge of the water because His feet got wet. (Matthew 14:22-34) Come on, all you Peters! Step out of the boat! The Master bids you, "Come!"

TAKE THE LIMITS OFF!!! NO MORE LIMITATIONS!!!


Mission Field... Kids' Camp! Part 2

[OK, I'm back. This is Part 2 of a post that began several days ago. If you haven't read Part 1, I highly recommend that you do so before reading any farther in this post. ]

During our inital staff meeting we were each asked what brought us to camp. In my previous two years at camp, I had seen the Holy Spirit TRANSFORM kids right before my very eyes. It was like night and day; and I was addicted to the moving of the Holy Spirit. I replied, "I came to get my 'Fix'. I'm like a 'Spiritual Junkie' who can't get enough of the working of the Holy Spirit in changing people's lives." Maybe not the most "theological, hermeneutical" (to quote Bro. Jesse Duplantis ;D) answer, but it did describe why I was there. (If we can't be real as Christians, we may as well pack up our Bibles and go home!) I wanted to see God change these kids' lives!

Back to the kids. As with any Summer Camp, we had a wide assortment of children from many different backgrounds. Some were quiet and shy. Others were outgoing and making new friends immediately. As I met each one, my heart cried out for God to do whatever work needed to be done in that precious life. I've heard it said that the eyes are the windows to the soul. As I looked into the eyes of some of those kids, I saw a hunger. A need to know that God is real. A hunger to know that there is hope. A hunger to know that God really loves them, as an individual.

You see, we sing those great little kids' songs like " Jesus Loves the Little Children" and so forth, but there's a difference between singing the words of a song and knowing and experiencing the reality of those words. That's what Spirit Wind Children's Camp does for kids. It helps them to experience the love of God in a way that they may never have experineced before. Ministry on a kid's level is far different than ministry on an adult level.

I know, many of those kids were from good churches with good children's programs, but sometimes it's hard for a child to open up to an adult who has a relationship with his/her parent. There's a certain vulnerability...a fear that if something personal is shared...something that is happening in his/her family or a personal struggle...it might get back to the parent. (I know in my own family, there are things that my kids have confided in other adults with whom they were close that they would never share with me. And I'm so thankful for other Christian adults who have come alongside, mentored, and been there for my kids.)

Over the course of the week I saw "masks" removed. The Holy Spirit was drawing those kids to Himself. Of course, He uses people to orchestrate that drawing. The counselors spend 24/7 with those kids. A counselor has such an opportunity to sow into a child's life. And the counselors this year were great. I saw such a heart of love for the children. Even the two Junior Counselors, who were in their early- to mid-teens, had such servants' hearts towards them.

Then there was Pastor Ben. He was fantastic with the kids. Those of you who are Valley Word folks may know him from when he and Gary and Shannon Casola came to do VBS in 2004 and 2005. He has a true anointing to minster to kids on their level. I want to share just one of the many analogies that he used during ministry. It was so simple, yet so powerful. He was talking to the kids about knowing the voice of God. He presented this scenario:


Suppose there was a phone here, right now (without caller ID), and it rang. It's your mom calling, but you aren't expecting her call, and you don't know who's calling before answering. You pick up the phone, and the voice on the other end of the line simply says, 'Hello.' Would you probably know who it was by that one word? [Most of the kids said yes.] How would you know it was your mom? [Because we recognize our mom's voice.] Why do you recognize her voice? [Because we spend a lot of time with her. We live with her.] Well, then, how do you think that you might learn to recognize God's voice? We learn to recognize and know His voice by SPENDING TIME with Him. The more time we spend with Him...in prayer, in reading His Word, in Praising and Worshipping Him...the more we begin to recognize His voice when He speaks quietly to our hearts.
Jesus talked about how sheep know the shepherd's voice, and then He said in, John 10:27 (KJV), "27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:" Pastor Ben's analogy was a simple example to bring it into modern terms, but so effective with the kids (and the adults, I might add.) That's just one small part of the many teachings that were shared that week.

There was a young boy there who admitted to not wanting to be there at first. When he came he had the "I'm tough. I can take care of myself, and I don't need NOBODY!" attitude. By Thursday night his tough shell had been penetrated. He was crying and broken before the Lord during the time of ministry. He didn't seem to care that all the other 10 and 11-year old boys were seeing him like that. Of course, they were also in a similiar state.

Brokenness before the Lord was being evidenced every where you looked that night. Strongholds of pain, fear, rejection, and abuse (in some cases) were pulled down and destroyed by the power of the Holy Spirit. I knelt down between two young girls for almost thirty minutes and just hugged them as they sobbed before the Lord. The presence of God was so heavy in that place that it was almost like a thick cloud. Afterwards, you could see the change in the kids' faces. But it was most evident in their eyes. The pain and sadness that I'd seen earlier was gone. There was a peace in its place. God is Awesome!

[Well, I'll finish up in Part 3. This post has taken a different turn than I'd originally intended, but I prayed that the Holy Spirit would speak through my fingers on the keyboard, so I have to trust He has spoken through me. ]

Friday, August 11, 2006

Mission Field...Kid's Camp! Part 1

[This is Part One of a three part post. I felt like I needed to give a little background information in this post, for those who are not familiar with Spirit Wind. And, of course, I've added my own flavor to the story. If you've ever volunteered at kid's camp, you'll be able to identify with much of what I share.]
"...In perils of bee stings, in perils of sunburn, in perils of fevers, in perils of asthma attacks..."
2 Corinthians 11:26 [paraphrased by a camp nurse]

EVERYONE ought to volunteer at kid's camp, at least once! What an incredible opportunity to sow into the lives of what I call "The Church of Today." (I know, some people say that our kids are the church of tomorrow, but when we look at it that way, many times they take on a "tomorrow priority", as well.) Kid's camp is not for the faint at heart. You'd better be ready to go non-stop 24/7 for the 5-7 day duration of your tour of duty!

I had the honor and privilige to volunteer as camp nurse for
Spirit Wind Ministries Children's Camp this year. It was my third year with them. Years one and three with children's camp and year two with youth camp. Spirit Wind Ministries was founded by Gene and Judy Smith of Life Community Church in Christiansburg (formerly Christian Growth Center) after the Lord spoke a God-Sized Vision to Gene's Heart in 1983. The first Children's Camp was held in 1989, and since then God has done some truly miraculous things in and through Spirit Wind. We are all looking with expectation for the completion of their camp facilities in the next couple years!

My tour, this year, started at 10:00am on July 30th. This year and last, camp has been held out at Camp Tuk-A-Way off of HWY 460, south of Blacksburg. Pastor Ben, from Delaware, was the Kid's Minister. What a heart for serving God and ministering to kids! And high energy as well. I could tell from the initial Staff/Counselor meeting that we had a group of top-notch people. Everyone was excited and had a great expectation to see God move in the lives of the kids. The kids...they started showing up at around 3:00pm. They were from all over Virginia. Sixty-five 7-11 year-olds! Most of them wanted to be there, but there were a few who, admitedly, did not.

Now, I should have prefaced this post by saying, I'm not a pediatric nurse. In fact, I've always tended to shy away from peds. I hate to admit it, but they've always kind of scared me as a nurse. Their condition can change rapidly without any warning signs, and it's hard to get concrete answers when you're trying to assess them. "Can you describe the pain, honey?" "It hurts." "I know it hurts, but is it a sharp pain, a pressure, or a throbbing pain?" "It just hurts!" Yeah, well...God, you want me to be a Kid's Camp Nurse? Father God does have a sense of humour!

Back to my story (the names of the kids have been changed for confidentiality)...camp ran from Sunday to Friday. Sunday was kind of a laid-back day for the kids...meet you cabin-mates and counselors, enjoy the cookout, and so forth. As the nurse, however, you stay busy from the moment the kids arrive. Checking the Health Questionaires for allergies and medications is tops on the list. The sinking stomach when the parent hands you an Epi-pen and says that Junior's highly allergic to bee stings ("Lord, we're in the WOODS! There's LOTS of bees out here!") Or, "Sally will stop breathing within 10 minutes if she eats pecans." (But, God, we're 20 minutes from the hospital!)

Now, I know, you're probably thinking, "I thought you were a Word of Faith person! How can you think like that?!?" Fifteen-plus years in healthcare...I've seen it all. Now before you think too badly of me, let me say this...Just because those thoughts flashed across my mind, doesn't mean that that was where my faith or confession was. I would certainly never have given voice to those thoughts at the time. My faith, expectation, and confession were that no one would have any serious illnesses or injuries.
[Please join me for part 2 for a look at some of the awesome things God did during my week at camp.]

Sunday, July 30, 2006

...Tijuana or Bust!

Rocky Stanley just left for Mexico yesterday, but, Praise God, we have the opportunity to hear from him with some pre-trip thoughts. The following post was written by Rocky just a couple days before leaving. Remember to keep him in your prayers throughout the next week!

Here's Rocky...

Rocky Stanley’s Mexico trip – July 29 through August 5

I have partnered with Teen Mania Ministries by accepting a position as a missionary advisor for a mission trip to Tijuana, Mexico. We will be leading a group of twenty to thirty teenagers in reaching out with the love of Christ by physically building homes for underprivileged Mexican nationals. During the course of the week we will also be playing sports with Mexican children and working with local pastors to minister the gospel through children’s teaching programs and young adult bible studies.

Some thoughts on missions

God said, " My people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge" Hosea 4:6. God also says it is not his will that any should perish; 2 Peter 3:9. As Christians we have the greatest knowledge available to man; the knowledge of how to receive eternal salvation through the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. How can we deprive our brothers and sisters of such a wonderful free gift? Jesus said "freely you have received, freely you must give" Matthew 10:8. Jesus also said "neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house" Matthew 5:15

It is our duty as Christians to go out into the world and minister life to people. Jesus said "go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature" Mark 16:15. It’s the great commission, not the great suggestion! Jesus also said "herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples" John 15:8. Finally, Jesus said this gospel of the kingdom must be preached to all the world before he returns. We’ve been commissioned. We’ve been equipped. We’ve been empowered. Let’s bring glory to God. Lets reach out to the lost. Let’s obey the Lord. What are we waiting for?

Friday, July 14, 2006

With Faith and Patience

I'm sure there are many of you out there who have heard or sensed the call of God on your life for some particular area of ministry. For me it is missions--for you it may be something else. But after a time, when we don't see it happening as quickly as we are expecting, we begin to question what we think we've heard. "Maybe God didn't really say that." Or, "Maybe He was just testing me, to see if I was willing." I'll admit, I've done that a few (million?) times myself! But sometimes we have to realize that just because He's given the call or promise to us, doesn't mean that the timing is right for it to happen.

I've heard Joyce Meyer say that we live in a "microwave society"; we want it all right now! And when we don't see it manifest within the first few moments, hours, days, or weeks, we are tempted to give up and say that it wasn't really God. Or, worse yet, we complain to Father God. "I don't know why I didn't get to lead the choir (...get to preach in the sanctuary...or get to go on that mission trip). God, it's just not fair! I thought you loved me. You said you'd give me the desires of my heart, and it didn't happen!" [Pout, sniffle, sigh, stomp!]

I really like what James said in James 1:2-4 (KJV):
2 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; 3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. 4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.
I've thought about that scripture, especially the part that says, "let patience have her perfect work," . How does patience have her perfect work? Let's look at what the author of Hebrews had to say in Hebrews 6:10-15 (AMP): [Bolded Emphasis Mine]

10 For God is not unrighteous to forget or overlook your labor and the love which you have shown for His name's sake in ministering to the needs of the saints (His own consecrated people), as you still do. 11 But we do [strongly and earnestly] desire for each of you to show the same diligence and sincerity [all the way through] in realizing and enjoying the full assurance and development of [your] hope until the end, 12 In order that you may not grow disinterested and become [spiritual] sluggards, but imitators, behaving as do those who through faith (by their leaning of the entire personality on God in Christ in absolute trust and confidence in His power, wisdom, and goodness) and by practice of patient endurance and waiting are [now] inheriting the promises. 13 For when God made [His] promise to Abraham, He swore by Himself, since He had no one greater by whom to swear, 14 Saying, Blessing I certainly will bless you and multiplying I will multiply you. 15 And so it was that he [Abraham], having waited long and endured patiently, realized and obtained [in the birth of Isaac as a pledge of what was to come] what God had promised him.


Did you see what it said!?! Faith people are to put "absolute trust and confidence" in God's power. We can't look at the clock or calendar and say, "Well, God hasn't come through, I guess I'll have to take care of the arrangements myself." (When we do that we end up with an Ishmael situation!) Nor can we say, "It didn't happen, I guess it just wasn't meant to be." And then go off and forget about the call.
In order for patience to have her perfect work, we must not give in to the temptation to give up! I heard someone share her testimony one time and she simply said, "I'm still here! I haven't given up!" It's hard when it seems like we've waited for "forever" and still haven't seen a manifestation of the promise or fulfillment of the call. But Hebrews says that it is "by practice of patient endurance and waiting" that we inherit His promises. The following picture was taken in 1986...TWENTY YEARS AGO...when I was training at Food For the Hungry's Missionary Training Center to do overseas missions and relief work in Africa.
Sandi in "The Kitchen"

At that time the call on my life was already several years old, and I was impatient then. It's twenty years later... I haven't set foot on African soil YET. But the call and the dream are still as fresh as they were 20+ years ago. And I'm Still Here! I haven't given up!



Monday, July 10, 2006

Part 3...Mission Destination: Your Own "Back Yard"

Well, back to my story which began two posts ago... I actually had part of it written yesterday, but thanks to a computer glitch...Anyway...:{ We headed off towards Mount Rogers to take Romulus back to his truck. During the 2 hour drive there we had a great time talking. Romulus is a Theology Professor at Berry College in Georgia, a ministry candidate in the Episcopal Church, a husband, and father of two children. He'd been homesick and wanted to get back as quickly as possible- thus the shuttle. He could have ridden back with his hiking partner the next day (at no cost), but felt an urgency to go home...by the end of this post you'll see how God moves even when we're clueless! Anyway, Jed, Romulus, and I had an interesting conversation (we had a lot in common), and of course we got to talk about the Lord and how He works in our lives.

During our conversation Romulus asked me if he could send me a check when he got back to Georgia. He didn't have much cash on him, just plastic. Being as I try always to let the Lord lead in regards to shuttle fees, I said that was fine, as long as he could cover my round trip gas before we dropped him off. (He did that plus $30 cash before we left him.) I gave him my address so he could send a check to me. One thing that I've learned over the years is to trust God, not the people to whom I'm ministering, when it comes to finances. If I have a peace about something, it doesn't matter whether or not it looks in the natural like I'm going to come out on top, I always do! You can't out-give God! Anyway, we got to Romulus' truck, prayed with him, and headed back home. That seemed like the end of that story, but God wasn't done yet.

When I got back home around 11:30pm, Tin-Man and Scarecrow were already camped out in the spare room. In the morning I had an opportunity to cook them a good breakfast before they left and then brought them back to the trail about 7:00am. (I had to be in Lexington by 8:00am) Before I'd dropped them off, I'd gotten their email and blog information, and later that evening I logged on to check out their blog entries for the trip. I'm going to share an excerpt from it and the comment that I was able to make in response. I mostly minister to people by Love in Action, but in this caase I was able to share a little of my heart in words, too. Here's part of Scarecrow's blog entry:

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Trail Magic comes knocking.
There's a little thing called "trail magic" out here, and it comes in many forms. A gallon jug full of water sitting on the trail in a dry stretch, a surprise cooler of sodas and juice, even a fresh pizza delivery straight to a shelter or campsite around dinnertime. You never quite know when it's coming, but we've found there to be an endless source of trail angels out here to provide such welcome surprises. Don't have much time, and I'll hope to give a bit more explanation later, but I'm sitting at the computer of such a trail angel right now, by far the most helpful and generous we've encountered, Mouse's Motor. She lives in Salem, VA, and what started as a half mile lift back to the road ended up as multiple shuttles around the area, a warm and dry place to stay for the night (shower! i got to shower!), and a hot breakfast of sausage and eggs. Might we upgrade this to "trail miracle"? Think so. .... For now, we're happy, healthy, clean and dry, and immensely grateful to Mouse's Motor!!!


I was surprised to find myself (Mouse's Motor) as the topic of her journal entry, but it gave me an opening to minister. Here is part of what I was able to comment in response:


Sandi said...
Hey, Tinman and Scarecrow,I didn't expect to be the topic of your post- I'm only one of MANY people who are blessed by meeting people such as the two of you. My pastor preaches that, as Christians, we are blessed to be a blessing. That's what I strive to be to those around me. It's not saying much if you just do something for someone with expectations of getting something in return. When the experiences of your hike are just a distant memory, I pray that the knowledge of God's love for you will live on strong in your hearts. Anything good that I am or do is all because of Jesus.

Their lives have been touched by the Lord, and I believe that the seed sown into their lives will not return void.

I know I'm running long again, but I've got to get back to "the rest of the story" on Romulus. I went to the mailbox a couple days ago, and there was a letter from Romulus. The following is an excerpt from the letter:
6/27
Dear Sandi,
Thanks again for giving me a ride to my truck last Friday night. I was really eager to get home and you made that possible. My cell phone battery was basically dead, but I was able to check one message as I drove & learned from it that a friend of mine had died (not unexpectedly) & that the funeral was Saturday at 11:00. With the help of Coca-Cola, I drove all the way back, arriving about 3:30AM, & could therefore go to his funeral. That made getting back that much more important to me.

There was more to the letter, but that was the gist of it. It's an awesome thing to see how God orchestrates our steps to bring something together for someone when they don't even know they need it done. It was important to Daddy, God, that Romulus make it to his friend's funeral, because it would be important to Romulus. Oh, yeah, he was true to his word about sending me a check. In with the letter, which itself is priceless to me because it represents God's love and caring for his children, was a check for $100, which was a total blessing to Jed and I.


I stand in awe of the one who created each one of us. The one who knows the numbers of the hairs on my head, the one who cares about even the sparrow when it falls. Pastor always says, "We are blessed to be a blessing." And that is true. But it's a circle, because we are also blessed while being a blessing.


There's a story about a little boy who's walking on a beach. The beach is literally covered with starfish that had been washed up on the sand. As a man watches, the little boy picks up one starfish after another and throws each one back into the ocean. Finally, the man walks over and says, "Young man, you know you can't save all these starfish. There are just too many of them." The boy smiles as he reaches down and picks up one and then another. He turns to the man and replies, "No, I may not be able to save all of them, but I can save this one...and this one...and this one."

If we each reach out to "this one...and this one", all of those people whom God places in our paths, together we can impact OUR OWN "BACK YARD" for Christ. My heart for "Back Yard" ministry is in Trail Ministry...Yours might be the Moms at your child's school, the kids who play basketball down the street, or the guys at work. Be prayerful, be sensitive. If God could use a donkey, a raven, a fish, and even ME, I know he can use you, too! Grace and Peace!

Mission Destination: Our Own "Back Yard"...Part 2- Tin-Man, Scarecrow, and Romulus

Wow, time sure does fly! I didn't plan to take so long to post Part 2. But I've got more to add, so that's OK. In my last post, I had started to introduce you to the Trail Ministry that I've been able to do since 1998, and I was going to share some of the things that the Lord has done in the last month. Please read that last post before you finish reading this one.

My previous post mentioned giving rides to thru-hikers and even taking them home with you. Keep in mind, I'm speaking specifically about Appalachian Trail Thru-Hikers, NOT ordinary hitch-hikers (although I've picked up many of them, also) or other people groups. And remember my disclaimer: I only do things as led by the Holy Spirit. Some people I just smile at and drive on by!

The first group of hikers I want to share about includes a couple who stayed with me the night of June 23 and another hiker I picked up that same day. (That was during the several-day stretch of torrential rain that we got last month.) Earlier that day I had given short rides to several hikers...trail to store and store to trail. Two of those hikers were Tin-Man and Scarecrow (a.k.a. Andy and Lauren in the "real-world".) They had asked if I knew of anyplace to stay in the area, and I'd mentioned that The Homeplace in Catawba lets hikers camp out after 8:00pm and sleep on the gazeboes. In all, our conversation lasted all of about 5 minutes. About 15 minutes after I'd dropped them off, I realized...Duh! They could stay at my place! I drove to the next place where the trail would cross a road and left "Trail Mail"- a note in a Ziploc bag- hanging on the stile that crossed over the fence there. My note said I'd be at the NEXT road crossing at approx. 4:30-5:00 and that they could stay at my place.

I arrived about 15 minutes later than I'd planned, and they weren't there. A quick check of the trail register (~0.10 mile back down the trail) showed that they had already come through, so I headed down Catawba Mountain. I found them partway down and gave them a ride to The Homeplace. It wasn't raining much right then, so they said they'd stay there for the night. When I left them I went back to the first little store in Catawba, picked up two guys, Romulus (Harvey) and Coyote Paul (Jeff), and dropped them off at The Homeplace. As Romulus got out he asked if I did any long distance Professional Trail Shuttles (providing rides for hikers for a fee) and I said, "Sure!" He had just completed a section hike on the AT and his truck was parked at Mount Rogers. I made arrangements to come back later that evening and pick him up to shuttle him to his truck.

Normally, I call my son first to check his availability to ride with me when it's a guy, but I had a peace when I answered and I was sure Jed would be available (and he was). When Jed and I came back later to get Romulus, it was raining pretty hard and blowing. Even the protection of the gazeboes was not enough to keep the hikers dry. Tin-Man and Scarecrow came over to see if my offer was still good, so all three hikers and packs were loaded into the car. On the way to my place I learned that Tin-Man worked for the US Patent and Trademark Office for 3 1/2 years and that Scarecrow had just graduated from Yale. I dropped Tin-Man and Scarecrow off at my place, explained the idiosyncrasies of my shower knobs, showed them where the internet was, gave them the spare house key, and headed out towards Mount Rogers.

Well, I've gone long again, so I'm ending this post...in hopes that I've drawn enough of your interest that you'll read the next one...and I'll finish my story in Part 3.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Mission Destination: Our Own "Back Yard"- Part 1

In my original post I talked about the mission field being anywhere that we are at. In the last week I've had an opportunity to minister in my own little corner of the world. Pastor Eddie often says, "We are blessed to be a blessing!" I believe that that's true. And, I've also read Matthew 25:

35For I was hungry and you gave Me food, I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink, I was a stranger and you brought Me together with yourselves and welcomed and entertained and lodged Me, 36 I was naked and you clothed Me, I was sick and you visited Me with help and ministering care, I was in prison and you came to see Me. 37Then the just and upright will answer Him, Lord, when did we see You hungry and gave You food, or thirsty and gave You something to drink? 38And when did we see You a stranger and welcomed and entertained You, or naked and clothed You? 39And when did we see You sick or in prison and came to visit You? 40And the King will reply to them, Truly I tell you, in so far as you did it for one of the least in the estimation of men] of these My brethren, you did it for Me. [AMP.]

Well, Praise God, there are food pantries, clothing rooms, hospital visitation ministries, and prison ministries in almost every larger town or city. But there's another part to what Jesus said. And that's the portion of that scripture that I've taken on over the years as a part of my own personal ministry. It's the part where Jesus said, "I was a stranger and you brought Me together with yourselves and welcomed and entertained and lodged Me."

Anyone who has known me for any length of time knows that I love to hike and backpack. Completing the 2,170+ miles of the Appalachian Trail is STILL on my "TO DO" List (With almost 600 miles of it done, I have only about 1,600 miles left!). What many people don't know, though, is that I combine that love with an opportunity to minister the Gospel as well. No, I don't carry a pulpit out to the trail crossings, but I do impact nations. Every year over 2,000 people either go to Springer Mountain, GA and attempt to hike the AT to Mt. Katahdin, ME or start in Maine and work their way south. They come from all over the world and from every aspect of society. And they are a virtually untapped mission field.

If you live close to the AT you've probably seen them...scraggly, sweaty, smelly. And they have weird names, like Sundance, Frisco Kid, 10 Bulls, and so forth. [Or even weirder ones like my Trail Name, which is Mouse's Motor! Yeah, there's a story behind it!] Yep! Yep! Yep! That's a Thru-Hiker! What an opportunity! Since 1998 my kids and I have ministered to hikers as, what they call, "Trail Angels" doing "Trail Magic" [Don't let the name freak you out!]. What it actually is, is being a living example of the Love of God and the Hand of God in action.

Being a Trail Angel can mean anything from leaving some cold sodas in a cooler at a road crossing to...loading a smelly hiker in your car to give him or her a lift into town or back to the trail...or even to bringing one or two (or more) of them home with you for the night [Disclaimer: ONLY as you are led by the Holy Spirit!.] Offering a hot shower, a non-Ramen noodles meal, and a dry/safe place to stay. In the last week I've been blessed to host three such hikers in my home overnight, and I've given rides to several others. In the process, I just live out my life, and my walk with God, in front of them, like I always do.

This post is getting kind of long, so I'll make this "Part 1" of a two part post. In "Part 2" I'll introduce you to the hikers to whom I was able to minister. I know you'll be blessed by the way God ministered in each case.

Update on Shipping of Medical Supplies and Equipment & Update on Tentative Departure Dates

God is such an awesome God! The 40-foot shipping container is full of medical supplies and equipment, donated from across the country. We are certainly going to impact en entire nation for Christ! Opportunity for Harvest: Due to the amount and weight of the items being shipped, there has been a slight delay in the container being shipped overseas. We continue to thank God in advance for a manifestation of the $10,000 needed to cover the shipping expenses...a.k.a. an opportunity for all of us to sow Our good seed into very good ground!

It takes 4 - 4 1/2 months for the container to make it's journey once it leaves Tucson. It will travel by rail or truck to the Pacific Coast, where it will be loaded onto a huge cargo ship. From there it will travel to the coast of Africa, to Kenya. From the coast of Kenya it will travel by land through Kenya to Kampala, Uganda. It's a long journey, but the shipment will have such a tremendous impact once everything arrives.

That having been said, I'll update everyone on the other topic of this post...our Tentative Departure Dates. I've heard it said that much of Missions has to do with Patience on the part of the missionaries. That was confirmed even more strongly for me tonight as I (Finally!!!) got to watch End of the Spear. Since many of you may not have seen the movie, I'll do a quick synopsis of it. It is the true story of the Waodani Tribe in Ecuador, the five missionaries who gave their lives trying to share the gospel with them, and the spouses, sister, and children of the missionaries who went in after the massacre to finish the work that their loved ones had begun. Years later, the man who had killed one of the missionaries was led to the Lord by the missionary's son. The missionary's son later moved his wife and children down to Ecuador to live with the very person who'd speared his dad to death.

What a tremendous example of Patience on the part of the missionary wives and children. Trusting that one day the work that was started would produce a harvest of changed lives. I've said all that [...Because I like to talk? No! <Although, I do like to talk :0) >], but because I am learning a lesson in patience through all of this.

We have been given the awesome responsibility of training the Life Link Clinic staff in the use of the Cardiac Monitors, the Blood Gas Machines, and the other equipment that is being shipping there. Even though they are very well trained in what they do, they have never had access to the type of equipment that's been donated. It is critical that WE be the ones to set up the equipment, so that it is done properly. And that we have adequate time to hold training sessions. Well, if the equipment isn't there when we're there, then we can't do that.
Depending on the exact shipping date and transit time, it looks like we're moving our departure date back to November. That's actually a blessing to me, despite my initial response (groaning) at the delay...there's a few "Toys" I'm sowing for before I go over there (...a good digital camera, laptop computer--to post pics and info to the Blog while we're there, etc...). So, I'm applying the lesson that Pastor Eddie taught on yesterday evening: Being Positive in a Negative World. But, what I want to know is...has someone been praying for patience for me?!? Thanks alot! ;-p

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Uganda Missions 2006: Where We're Going and Why

During the last two weeks of September 2006, a team of highly-skilled, anointed, on-fire-for-God (and did I mention Humble?) people from the Roanoke Valley will embark upon a Life-Changing Adventure of Epic Proportions! OK, so maybe I've watched a little too much LOTR or such lately, but it will be an adventure. And it will certainly be life-changing for those of us who are going.

We are partnered with FCCI (Faith Community Churches International) and Good News Ministries in Kampala, Uganda. The medical part of our team will assist the staff of the Life Link Clinic in Kampala, treating up to 400 people per day. The construction part of our team will work on "The Chicken/ Fishpond Project". This project will provide chickens, eggs, fish, irrigation for crops, and an extra income for an entire village.

Just a little over a week ago we were able to ship over $200,000 worth of supplies to a central staging area at Faith Community Church in Tucson, AZ where other churches have also shipped supplies. From there the supplies will travel in a 40ft shipping container, first by land and then by sea to Africa. The cost of overseas shipping is $10,000. We know that that sum is no problem for the God who "owns the cattle on a thousand hills."

If you are led to partner with us in the shipping costs, cost of "The Chicken/Fishpond Project", or our other missions expenses, such as airfare, lodging, immunizations (Ouch!), etc., please email us at Uganda2006@valleywordministries.org or phone us at (540) 562-1500. We will provide details on how you may sow your finances into this awesome mission trip and have a part in the harvest of souls that we will see brought into the Kingdom.

My Mission...Which I've Chosen to Accept!

Well, this is the start of a new adventure for me. But, as (like most women) I love to talk... I think I'll survive! The intent of this Blog is two-fold:

  1. To share with the rest of the world what Valley Word Ministries is doing in the area of fulfilling the Great Commission.
  2. To encourage others to step out and take their own part in fulfilling it.
As I start out, I'm not really sure what shape this Blog will eventually take, but I know that, as with any work in progress, there may be challenges to overcome and changes that need to be made.

My Pastors have a Vision for an Extended Church. One that reaches far beyond the walls of our building that's located at
1928 Loch Haven Drive in Roanoke, Virginia. An Extended Church that reaches, not only across our own city and state, but across oceans and borders, as well, to touch the World with the Love and Power of Jesus Christ. It is a Vision to "rescue and equip a generation for the harvest."

As I share things with you in future posts, I have to fall back on what the Apostle Paul said, I'm not coming with fancy words and man's wisdom [my paraphrase]. I'm coming with a desire to see the Lord Jesus glorified and lifted up and to excite YOU to become involved in missions wherever you are. Remember, the "Mission Field" begins in your own back yard, down the block, at the Wal-Mart, and in your workplace.

We're all called to be witnesses [ Acts 1:8 ] and ambassadors [ 2 Corinthians 5:20 ] for Christ . A witness simply tells what he or she has seen, heard, or experienced first hand. We can all do that. Now, to be an ambassador is different. An ambassador is "A diplomatic official of the highest rank appointed and accredited as representative in residence by one government or sovereign to another."

God has appointed YOU as His diplomatic official to represent the Kingdom of God here in the World. With that Appointment comes the Authority that the position carries with it. The U.S. Ambassador to, for example, France doesn't have any authority on his own, but the title and position to which he's been appointed Gives Him Authority. But, as Christians, we don't just have government-given authority. Jesus said in Matthew 28:17-19 (King James Version):
17 And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted.
18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: [Emphasis mine]
In other words, He said, "God's given Me all power, and I'm giving it to YOU. You go and teach..." How can we go wrong with God's authority in and over our lives?

Well, I hope I haven't [as Pastor Eddie says] "quit preachin' and gone to meddlin' !" But, I believe that as you journey with us, you will be inspired to step out into whatever mission field you have been called, armed with the knowledge that you can impact your corner of the world for Christ.