April 21, 2015

PERSPECTIVE

Perspective. Sometimes that is all we really need.

While driving to church this Sunday, we saw a man bloody and beat up, being walked back to a motorcycle accident. If you cause an accident here in Kenya, you will be punished. Usually by a swift beating. We also passed by the city trash site, where we saw many men picking through the trash. They were looking for food to eat, and things to sell.  And right before we pulled into the gates of the children's home for church service, we saw young men wondering the streets, sniffing glue-- high as a kite.

Perspective. Life is not always wrapped up in a pretty box, with colorful ribbons. There is real hurt, and pain outside of our own little world. We are like that sometimes. I know I am. We focus so much on ourselves, and the things we want to accomplish or the problems we are going through. That we don't take the time to see the struggles of others, or listen to the still small voice of God speaking into our lives.

Charlton, the children, and I are visiting Agape Children's Home this week in Kisumu. The director invited us to come out and get some first hand experience. Since we will be relocating to Kampala to work with street kids, this is an amazing opportunity to get a behind the scenes look at a successful organizations ins and outs. They have been helping the street boys of Kisumu for over 20 years! So many children have been helped, and the name of Jesus has been glorified by there work. But, they have shared many mistakes with us that they have made along the way. Our eyes have been opened to many things, and I have come to realize just how naive I have been in my thinking. Perspective.

We ask for your prayers this week, that the Lord would speak to us and show us His will. Also, please remember the streets children of East Africa. If we don't pray for them, who will?

April 09, 2015

TIME. HAS IT BEEN ONE YEAR ALREADY?

Throughout my life I have commonly heard... it just takes time to get used to your new normal.

Is there even such thing as normal? If there is, I'm convinced I will never experience it again.

Between trying to home school my four year old, potty training my two year old, being my four month old's EVERYTHING, cleaning the house without any modern conveniences, cooking and preparing food (have I mentioned we don’t have a refrigerator), and the now ever present battle of taking clothes off the clothes lines before the rains, and putting all the wet ones back up when the rains stop. It’s easy to see that time in Kenya is stretched. Please don’t get me wrong, I would not trade being at home with my babies for anything. But time is not something I find myself in great excess off these days. And giving of one’s time, in my mind, is one of the most loving things you can do. It is far better to give then receive.

Time.

Where has all the time gone? It was only today that Charlton reminded me that on the 15th of this month we have officially lived here one year. SAY WAA?! With everything going on, it’s easy to let things slip your mind. The later part of last month Charlton made a trip to Tanzania to preach the gospel of the Kingdom with brother Glenn, and further the discipleship of a refugee family. Then this month we already made a trip to the capital city to apply for Hadassah’s passport, and other important documents. Time. We are also preparing to make a trip at the end of the month to stay at Agape Children’s Home in Kisumu. We have been personally invited by the director to come and get training, more or less. They have been rescuing children off the streets for twenty years! We have so much to glean from their experiences. They are also giving us access to their children curriculum! This is such a praise God. He is ever present, directing our path.

Time.

Oh, how I had envisioned writing a clever, and ever so witty blog outlining the past year of our lives! As ya’ll know, so many things have been going on. But alas friends, you will have to settle for this. :)

But, if I could sum up our year in Kenya into one word, it would have to be surrender. Not the surrender of “stuff,” even though we have done that. Not the surrender of family and friends, even though we have done that as well. But the surrender of SELF. The core of who I am, or better yet, of who I was. I can’t even begin to explain the depths of what God has reveled to my soul.

Now, as we are inching closer and closer to Uganda my mind can’t help to wonder— What revelations will the Lord show us there? What hidden adventures is the future holding for us. Time will tell.

Time.

Until then, we will continue to pray, and seek the face of Christ. We are forever humbled with the love our family and friends have shown to us this past year. We would not be here without you. Thank you.

I have to randomly add, that the one thing I dislike about blogging, is that it is so one-sided. Being the relational person that I am, I would like nothing more then to share these updates, and stories face to face. I will end this post by sharing some words from my friend Mariellen. She ended a family news letter with this recently, and to be honest, I could not say it any better myself.

“It’s been so one-sided, and lest you would be tempted to think that our life sounds perfect, let me assure you, it’s NOT. Not close. But our life is full. Rich. Blessed. Praise God… Come visit us. Anytime. We’ll put some coffee on, and you can tell us about your life. Today, we want to wish you God’s richest blessing and clearest guiding of your path. Stay faithful to Him. Keep your eyes on His, especially when all else is dark around you. And if we never meet here on earth again, might we meet around the throne of God, our voices blending in eternal praise?”

Because of Jesus,

Natasha

“In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” Acts 20:35

April 03, 2015

FINDING TRUTH

Greetings all in the name of our King Jesus, it has been awhile since I last blogged. I have been traveling on various missions all around Kenya, Uganda and most recently Tanzania.

I was so blessed to connect again with a beautiful family from the Middle East. Their commitment to the Lord is inspiring and I want to share a testimony from a dear sister in Christ. (For their safety, all names have been changed.)

Testimony of finding Truth
 Kristen was Born to a very loving Muslim family in 1989. As a family they where very committed to their faith, Kristen prayed 5 times a day, read the Koran and studied at the madrasah (Muslim school) through high school. Kristen loved Allah and Muhammad very much.
After High School, Kristen went to train as a Lady Health Visitor [LHV], this was her mother’s desire for her. In order to study, Kristen had to stay in a hostel. This was the first time she had ever been away from home without being accompanied by her father. She passed her first year and entered into her second year.  At this time, Kristen met a new first year student called Lorna. They became close friends. Lorna told her family about Kristen, and Kristen also told her mother and grandmother about her new friend, Lorna.
 
As their friendship grew Kristen learned that Lorna’s family converted from Islam to Christianity, she was not happy to hear this. She asked Lorna’s mother Naomi, “How could you do such a thing?”  Naomi responded that Kristen had not read the Bible. They discussed this further, and Kristen accused Naomi of not reading the Koran with the correct interpretation. Naomi responded with a smile saying, “When you read the Bible you will not talk like this.” Kristen knew that the Bible was one of the five Holy Books, but she believed that the Koran had the final authority.  When Kristen's mother and grandmother learned that Lorna’s family was Christian, she was told to stay away from them. Kristen did not follow their advice and continued the friendship. Because Naomi stayed busy working at her medical clinic she was not always available to answer the questions Kristen had, so Lorna’s twin brother, Steven, would talk with Kristen. (This communication was done by phone only, they did not meet face to face.)  After one year, Steven sent a gift to Kristen... it was a Bible. She thought that it was okay to take it home as Muslims consider it to be one of the five Holy Books. She showed her family the Bible and placed it next to the Koran.  One of Kristen brothers, who knows the Koran by heart, was furious. He scolded her; she was upset by his reaction she took the Bible down and hid it. 

Kristen liked reading the Bible and in time she spent more time reading the Bible than the Koran, but she showed her family that she was still reading the Koran. She also would share small things from the Bible with her family but they would not accept its truth. Kristen's family noticed that her behavior had changed and they found out about her communication with Steven, this did not make her family happy.
Kristen decided to read the entire Koran with a detailed translation to find something to share with her family. In doing this she found many things about Jesus in the Koran to which Muslims do not pay attention. She gathered books about the Prophet Jesus. She found that in the Koran Jesus is called the Spirit of Allah. When she compared the Prophet Jesus with the Prophet Muhammad she found that Jesus was more spiritual. Slowly over time Kristen stopped reading the Koran and praying namaz, instead she would pray to Jesus! Inside of her was great fear at the consequences of what she was doing, there was a battle going on inside. So she prayed and ask God to show her the right path.
 
At this time her mother was very angry with her and she was removed from her education at the hostel. Kristen continued speaking with Steven on the phone and shared with him what was happening at her home. He encouraged her with verses from the Bible. The first time her mother got angry with her, Kristen prayed in the Name of Jesus as Steven had taught her and a half an hour later she noticed that her mother was no longer angry. Her faith was encouraged, she loved her mother very much and was happy at this result. 
 
The communication between Steven and Kristen grew into more and they felt it would be good for them to marry. Naomi had learned that Kristen had accepted Jesus and was praying in His name! Naomi wanted them to go to Kristen’s parents and ask for her hand in marriage. When she told her mother she flew into a rage and forbid Kristen to see Steven and his family.  Her family became very strict with her, she was monitored all the time and accompanied wherever she went.  However, she had decided she wanted to marry Steven.
   
When Naomi heard that Kristen’s family had refused to allow her to marry, she understanding what a shame it was for the family took Steven’s phone from him so he could no longer communicate with Kristen.  However, when she realized that Steven and Kristen were truly in love, she returned the phone to him. Though it was difficult Steven continued to reach out to Kristen and encourage her with Scripture.

After knowing Steven for two years she went to his house for the first time; it was Resurrection Sunday. She was greeted with great love, and she felt at home. This was the first time she met Steven face to face,  upon meeting she was filled with joy and knew she wanted to marry him.  Steven continued to teach her about the Word of God. Kristen was fully committed, she now knew the Truth and the Truth had sent her free!
 
Steven's family talked about the marriage, but Steven's father was not happy about the union as he knew it would mean trouble and even death for the family. Steven and Kristen were very upset about this and decided to pray, fast, and seek God’s will. Steven's older brother and father asked if she was prepared to leave her family. She responded that the "Lord would give her strength." Steven and his family decided on a date when Kristen would leave her home. Kristen made sure she had all her documents and left a note for her family.  In it, she told them she had come to know the Truth and had accepted Jesus Christ. Kristen met Steven and Naomi and they went straight to court where they were married under Muslim law.  When she didn’t return home that night, Kristen’s mother called her. Kristen told her mother that she had left a letter for the family and that she was fine.  Her family kept calling but she did not answer. A few days later they had a church wedding. 

Kristen’s family did not leave things alone.  They registered a case of kidnapping against Naomi, Steven, and Lorna as well as a case of adultery against Steven. Steven's father advised that Kristen should file a petition to say that she had left her family and married of her own free will.  However, Naomi thought this would incite Kristen's family. Her family sent Police to Naomi's house to find out were Steven and Kristen were hiding. Naomi would not give them any information and she went to jail for two nights. Kristen phoned her family and asked them why they had Naomi arrested, she was told that they did not care about Naomi, but she must return home. When Naomi was released from jail she went straight to check on Kristen. Naomi never got angry or uttered a bad word against the actions of Kristen’s family. Kristen testified that in all the years since her marriage to Steven, his family has never spoken one bad thing against her family. She has been completely accepted by the family.
“I am far from my home and far from my family. But I don’t feel I'm among strangers. ”

Kristen and her husband along with other family members have been forced to flee for safety, by circumstance they have had to literally sell everything pack a bag and leave the country. They now see God's wisdom in the situation because they have been freed from all the things that tie them to this world, and can now serve the Kingdom of God as pilgrims and sojourners in a strange land. Their circumstances have placed them in a unique opportunity to expand the Kingdom of God and this is something they are very excited about!
These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.
     Hebrews 11:13-16

Sojourning in Africa,
                    Charlton