Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Showing love...

Over my little life-time of walking with Jesus I have begged for His compassion for the lost and His mercy for the church instead of my naturally selfish heart. 

I don’t pretend to know the answers to the world’s questions that are arising and the impending trials that I think we will all face soon enough. But I wanted to share some stories that have opened my little worldview over the last year.

Fear grows to hate -

Many Iraqi Refugees who are believers have told me that Christ has become their everything. In most of their stories they share that they were religious - going to church on holiday’s - but they never really knew God. Many times they followed religion to avoid shame or out of fear. Yet when they were confronted with the convert or die message from the “You know who”… they knew God was real and wouldn’t convert instead they fled. When they came here… it was the first time many of them heard about this relationship with God. The first time they really “met with God” and now they are so hungry to know Him not just about Him. Some of them even thank God for the trials they have gone through because they have brought them to truly finding Him... the source of life and joy despite the hard circumstance.

When I spend time with them and I hear their stories of faith through persecution… I feel so humbled. I know many of them for the first time are reading the Bible and understanding God’s heart.

Most of the Iraqi believers who I am talking about are afraid though. Many of them will pray for the “You know who” that has persecuted them and is persecuting and hurting others now. But they are afraid of any person of the Majority faith here (M). They were told since they were children not to talk to M people. That all M people hate them and want to kill them.

I can see why they would be afraid, they have seen the “You know who” and other extremist groups kill their family members and neighbors. When we talk about loving the (M) people there is a bit of disgust and hatred in their heart. I think it started with fear and a little bitterness and that grew to a hate for not just the “You know who” but ever person that is an (M) … their hate is surrounded by fear …. This is something only God can change.

I have never faced what they have faced, yet many believers have and have had the faith and strength to love their enemies even while they are being persecuted ....even being burned at the stake… that strength only comes only from God.

Jesus loved even on the cross…He said… “forgive them for they know not what they do.”

From comments I read and notes we get sometimes, I can see the fear rising up in believers everywhere…. My prayer is that fear does not let hate get a foothold…but instead turns to fearing only one… and that is God… that fear is the beginning of wisdom.

When we put our trust in God and not in chariots…etc. and fear Him and His commands only….. our perspective changes… when we look at people through His eyes….. our compassion rises… a compassion so great that would have us love all people even our enemies… this is a work that He can only do in our hearts.

But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.” 1 Peter 3:14

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 1 John 4:18

“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.

32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them.33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that.34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. 35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Luke 6:27-36

Everyone needs to see His love in action -

We have also been in the homes of many Syrians/(M) people. Most of their stories are similar … their poverty and lack of help is even greater than Iraqi I have seen.

They fled because the “You know who” was bombing their cities, destroying their homes, and business, raping their daughters and wives, kidnapping their children. They too left everything behind and find themselves here in-between but with less help than the Iraqis because there are more of them and few organizations to help them. They too are religious out of fear and to avoid shame. Both Iraqi Christians and Syrians would say that they are born into their religion.

Many Syrians are at a crisis point. Every one I have visited… do not want to kill me… they are desperately fleeing the evil “You know who” and looking for safe place to call home. They are desperate to see His love.

People are so valuable. As I think about all of my friends here - Iraqi, Syrian, Jordanian, Egyptian… they are each so special to our God. He created them and has been pursing them since their first breath, He knows the hairs on their heads.. He knows the secret fears in their hearts, the sadness, the joy, He loves them each.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,  not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. Phil. 2:3-4


As an American I have never seen war up close. I have never had to leave everything I know - my home, family without ever coming back or knowing if and when I will see them again. I have never been at that point where there was nothing to feed my children. Or had to sleep on the streets. Or had to ask for a blanket because I didn’t have the money to buy one.  I have never seen someone killed in front of me, or been shot at. Or not been able to provide for my family because I was not allowed to work in the country I was in. I have never been a refugee.

After talking and spending time with my dear friends here that are refugees…. I realize more and more that I don’t know what it would be like to lose all of that.

A few weeks ago for the first time ever we were minorly persecuted.  Some kids threw rocks at our community center van full of kids. They had been causing trouble for a while. They threatened our boys with a stick in their hands (our sweet friendly boys had no idea since all they can say is “what’s your name?” in Arabic... they were trying to make friends with them). The police took care of the problem but it felt different to be pointed out for our faith… I never really felt that before. The last few weeks we have realized the kids are really just bored street kids with alcoholic fathers and busy moms. They were showing hate because that is what they had felt.

Last week with a team here doing the medical clinic we had the opportunity to show love to their families and my kids played with these same street boys for 2 days straight. They really needed love and attention and it was so fun to be able to give it to them.

It made me think maybe some of these “You know who” were just little kids that knew not love. What if they instead were shown the love and attention that we all need?

I do know that God loves all people and I joy in opportunities to show people this Love that God gives so freely.

What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone?  Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well,” but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do? So you see faith by itself isn’t enough.  Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless. James 2:14-17

We are here because Christ’s love compels us.

For Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.  2nd Corinthians 5:14

We show love because that is what He does and we are joining Him in what He is doing.

Go here to see practical ways you might show love to refugees...

Friday, August 28, 2015

too close to home

This week the news headlines have been way too close to home. We have known of evil but it always seemed far away from us and we seem comfortable distance from such evil.

Smith Mountain Lake, where the 2 reporters were shot is right in our backyard. It is about 30 minutes from where our VA home is. My parents lived on it once and for years my grandparents had a fishing trailer right on it and we’d play there in the summer. We didn’t know the reporters personally but the camera man, Andy, has done some promotions for GPPD events, Jonathan and I remember him. It is weird watching from a distance as facebook has lit up this week with so many posts from friends and family who new them or who are all greatly effected that this was in little Roanoke’s backyard. Not that we don’t have crime or evil in Roanoke but it is rarely this kind of evil.

I know where we live now there is a sick kind of evil that is only hours away on every side. That is why we are here trying to bring truth and love to people who are hurting from it.

This week a dear friend of ours headed out the dangerous trek that was also on the world news headlines. We knew it was dangerous but the last couple of days of news reports about travelers along the same trek have shared of so many people dying or being stoped has brought me to my knees and prayer constantly for our dear friend.

This is said to be the worst refugee crisis since WW2. With over 180,000 that have done the trek and over 800,000 people expected to do it this year. They are fleeing evil and the effect evil has had on their lives for years in their war torn countries.

Our friend is young, I think partly he did this because he has been in waiting …he feels since he was a young boy… that is how long he remembers evil and war in his home country.  There is a desperateness to find peace a place where you can live … truly live not in fear of death or in a country where there is no way to work, or get education or start a life.

I know there is evil in the world where ever we go. This week is so evident in that.  There is a potential for evil and sin in all of human kind. Christ is the wildcard… the one who changes all of that.

Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil.  Proverbs 3:7

An evil man is held captive by his own sins; they are ropes that catch and hold him.  Proverbs 5:22

The Lord is watching everywhere, keeping his eye on both the evil and the good. Proverbs 15:3

But most fortunate of all are those who are not yet born. For they have not seen all the evil that is done under the sun. Ecclesiastes 4:3

God knows the evil in this world. He didn’t create it but He made a way out from evil for our personal lives. He gave us a free will to follow Him or follow evil. Only in Him can true peace be found.

Yet there are many suffering because of the evil in others. Pray with me for so many around the world fleeing evil like our dear friend.

last hug and saying"see you later" to our friend
And also pray not that evil will be gone from this world, because that won’t happen till Christ’s return but that evil people around the world would instead choose to follow Jesus, that God will reveal Himself to them where ever they are and that they will….Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace, and work to maintain it. 1 Peter 3:11

Be careful then, dear brothers and sisters. Make sure that your own hearts are not evil and unbelieving, turning you away from the living God. Hebrews 3:12

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Daddy want us

When I was little, one of my favorite things to do was to “help“ daddy. It wasn’t that I knew what I was doing or was even learning to attain a trade. I just wanted to be near him. Whether he was fixing a car or doing a project on the house, I was there. He would tell me what to do and what he needed and then I would pass him the wrench, go get the wheelbarrow or whatever.

That is kind of how it is with my heavenly Father too.

We just want to be near Him. And He is so loving that He invites us to join Him in what He is doing even though we don’t have a clue what do to… It doesn’t matter. We just listen and obey what He tells us and He accomplishes His purpose.

Whether it is serving at Proceeds for Poverty or even moving to the Middle East as a family we are joining Him because we just want to be near Him. We have no idea what we are doing at times. We just know we need to listen and do what He asks us to do and we know that He will accomplish His plan and His purpose.

We are just excited we get to be a part of it, to obey, and to be with Him.

Proceeds for Poverty is this weekend in Troutville, VA – It is the LARGEST YARD SALE IN ROANOKE.. with over 50,000 items. Come buy, share the event with others, volunteer, and donate. 100% of the proceeds go to help meet the basic needs of people… like a home for families who lost theirs in Nepal, and clean water to drink for villages, and food for refugee families and orphaned children.