Wednesday, October 5, 2016

On Being a Difference Maker

I remember as a kid I used to dream of making a difference in people’s lives. I wanted to go on big adventures and heal wounds and preach truth and love hard.

As I got older that desire only grew more and more as I would read the stories of our missionary forefathers. I craved that same resolve that they had to stand in front of the trials with that unshakable faith and face the enemy with boldness. I was one daydream away from skipping through fields of daisies with my Bible in hand and a whole slew of new converts hot on my heals.

Precious.

The hard looked so much easier back then when I could close the pages and roll over in my nice warm bed, clinging to the triumphant ending and dismissing the trials that led up to it.

But without a war, there is no victory. And no one gets to choose the parameters of war.

It all looked a lot easier back before we knew so much. Back before we had hurt so deeply. Back before all the dreams that were dreamed were crushed and replaced with the harsh realities of a broken and fallen world in need of True Love, not showcase Christianity.

I had somehow overlooked all the hard in those heroic stories. Because it’s easy to think of Noah standing in the sunshine with doves and rainbows and a big grin on his face like on all those coloring sheets in Sunday School growing up and forget that he listened as all of humanity drowned outside the walls of boat he had built with his own hands. Those were dark days. 

But wasn’t he a difference maker? He probably didn't feel like much of one. 

“I still don’t get it,” I said to him, sitting on the couch. It was getting late but my mind was full from the day and my body felt heavy from the weight of it all. “He is for us, right? He is true to His Word and He is for His name’s sake. He defends the weak and powerless. He stakes claim to the orphan and widow. So why does it always look this way, so difficult and seemingly hopeless? So much evil and resistence?”

It was about this time last year that a whole group of people abandoned us. They disagreed with one thing we did and that was that. Policy took precedent over orphans and the marginalized and any other good because there were rules and we had apparently broken them.

I was informed about the state of my heart by people who don’t even know me and certainly couldn’t tell you a single name of a person we labor with or a child we were fighting for. Things were said about us that had no basis of fact and we became “another lost cause” because of a difference of opinion.

It was another blow on the heels of many trials. Sort of like getting kicked in the teeth when you’re already down. Remember Job’s friends? Kind of like that.

But it took that for me to realize that they had never actually been with us at all. Now hear me out, because I don't blame them. Unknowingly, they, like I was in the beginning, were after the romance of it all. The adventure and incredible stories, but not the real, blood, sweat, and tears day to day battle. Because when it was hard, they weren’t there. When it was devastating, they were nowhere to be found. But when it broke their rules, made them uncomfortable, they were quick to turn away for the sake of their policy. Fair-weather fans. 

And it taught me so much. Because quite honestly had God not divinely orchestrated our lives just as He had, I may very well have abandoned ship, too. I was unwittingly a fair-weather fan, too. I had these ideas of what it was "supposed" to look like and how it was "supposed" to be. And it looked a lot more cut and dry in my finite mind than when it played out in reality.

If He hadn’t made us get down in the mud and muck and see into those eyes and experience this broken, I probably would’ve walked away and washed my hands of it, too. A proverbial “Bye, Felicia!” if you will.

But it’s too late now. I know too much. Those fairy-tale days are long gone.

I know the names of these little kids who have been and are being raped. I know of the beatings and the abuse of children and wives because they were my neighbors and are my friends. I know about the young kids who are exposed to sexually explicit and perverted environments from birth and I’ve literally watched the cycle take place of victim to victimizer because they played in my living room floor.  I see poverty and recognize that it has very little to do with a financial state and so much to do with a vicious cycle that runs generations deep. I’ve seen the men passed out on the roads every morning and the women with their bodies exposed staggering down the street. The depravity of man. The hopeless generations. 

I’ve looked into the empty eyes of an orphan.

And I’ve made one my daughter at the expense of everything I’ve ever dreamed of.

I’ve watched an institution called “church” use the holy name of Jesus Christ for its own gain. I’ve seen them falsely accuse the faithful, humble servants of God. I’ve seen them condemn and vomit hate on the very ones we are called to love. I’ve watched “pastors” build their kingdoms, preach a false gospel of comfort and prosperity, and lead so many down the same path.

I've seen the injustices. But more than that, I've felt it deeply. 

It’s devastating when we step outside of ourselves and our preconceived ideas and our comforts and bend down low and truly see the brokenness of this world and ourselves. 

But it is oh so beautiful, too.

Because I’ve also seen miraculous redemption. I’ve seen kids rescued from hopelessness. I’ve seen bellies filled and arms embrace. I’ve seen souls redeemed and love abound. I’ve seen Truth proclaimed and bonds broken. I’ve seen transformation and confession. I’ve seen unity and freedom.

I’ve watched a Body called Church come together as one in a place of deep darkness, despite differences of language and culture and ethnicity, and rejoice in a Savior who knows and cares and sees us. I’ve seen wounds healed and bodies mended. I’ve wept with the weeping and rejoiced with those who rejoice.  

I’ve seen True Love and it is radical and transforming and very much alive.

“I don’t know why it’s this way, really,” he responded. “But I know that I’d much rather walk these deep valleys now, and suffer with our brothers and sisters now. Because, from my experience, the deeper the valley, the greater the joy and the deeper the relationship with our Father. And that? That's worth every hardship.”

And it occurs to me: this is what it looks like to be a difference maker. In fact, this is what I’ve actually dreamed of my whole life and just didn’t know it. Hard. Overwhelming. Incomprehensible. Debilitating. It’s supposed to leave you on your face in your closet weeping because you feel like you can’t breath under the weight of it all and begging God to draw near, to defend His name, to bring justice and mercy, confessing we need Him. That we can't handle it on our own.

It’s not supposed to be easy, with comfortable buildings and fancy programs and convenient, mediocre commitments to check off a man-made list. It’s not ABC or 123. It's not rules and restrictions. It’s not being passively passionate about the newest bandwagon brigade on social media. It’s not supposed to look like building our kingdom here, fattening our hearts for the day of slaughter as James calls it. 

And it sure as hell isn’t supposed to look like the American dream.

It’s supposed to look like dying. It’s supposed to look like enduring. It’s supposed to look like habitual brokenness for the world around us. It’s supposed to look like sacrifice and surrender. It’s supposed to look like defending the poor and powerless. It’s supposed to look like bringing them into our homes and lives. It's supposed to look like opening our doors and hearts. It's supposed to inconvenience us. It's supposed to look like mercy and grace. Peace and hope. Freedom and forgiveness. 

It's supposed to look like a Body unified. 

It’s supposed to look like the opposite of everything that makes sense to the world and even ourselves.

And I personally have never seen any of these things take place in the midst of the comfort and ease. And I can't seem to find an example of that in Scripture either. It's always in the brokeness and the longing, because that's what drives us to our knees and empties us of ourselves.

I’ve met some real-life difference makers. I call many of them my closest friends. They don’t look much like you might think. They’re simple and weak. Poor and broken. They aren't eloquent and they don't have much materially speaking. They make mistakes and get scared. But they’ve given everything and then some for the sake of the Gospel because they believe in its power that deeply. It’s not quite as pretty as I imagined in the early days. I can't seem to fit it inside of a neat little box, either.


I still want to be a difference maker.  Because they are some of the most beautiful people I’ve ever met. 

And that’s because they look a lot like Jesus.


Monday, October 3, 2016

Pray for Grace House

I sat across the living room from her and I felt like with each word coming out of her mouth, someone was placing another brick on my shoulders.

God brought her here and this journey has been devastating to all that I have ever known. For three years now, our life has been turned upside down.

She told the stories and I just kept thinking, “They’re still out there. All of the other littles are still out there.”

And it feels so heavy to walk this path that is our new normal and to carry this weight with our now daughter and navigate these treacherous black waters. But what if we had left her there? I can’t fathom.

But what if I had known that this would be so hard? Would I have said it was worth it? Would I do it again?

All those little faces dance through my mind and I can feel my heart aching under the weight of it all. I know their names. I know their stories. I know their reality.

And what more can we do? We have Grace House and it’s a safe place. But we are new at this whole thing and the growing pains hurt, too. The enemy just wants to destroy and we can’t know what we don’t know.

So we bend our knees and beg God for wisdom and discernment with our daughter and with the children’s home because we know—we KNOW—that His heart is for the orphaned child. He is FOR us in this.

Will you join us? We need prayer for Rosa. We need prayer for Aurilene. We need prayer for the other volunteers. We need prayer for the kids. We need prayer for more volunteers, more people with a heart and passion to teach and love and serve.


We need prayer.
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