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!"


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 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 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) ran from Sunday to Friday. Sunday was kind of a laid-back day for the 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.]