Tuesday, March 22, 2011
PRAISE BE TO THE GOD WHO LOVES, THE GOD WHO SAVES, AND THE GOD WHO IS COMING!!!!
Plain text version:
So as most of you know I entered into full time ministry over two years ago. I was compelled to act upon the things I saw in the third world. I wanted to help those in need with the talents and skills I possessed. Namely with my art and design. But God has had a different plan. I thought my service would come form through making designs and putting together brochures. Boy, was I off. Since joining Pick a Pocket in April of 2009, God has showed me the numerous ways He likes to further His Kingdom through our submission - by praying, teaching, fasting, or just loving others. My passion for prayer grew during my outreach as I had to constantly lean on God. I will have to say that my two and a half months stay in Ethiopia was one of the most lonely times of my life. I was in the middle of a desert with people I barely knew, thousands of miles from my family, and had one near death experience which changed my complete outlook on life.
During my time in Ethiopia, several Pick a Pocket founders led us to a tribe. This particular tribe in the Rift Valley of the Omo region of Ethiopia practiced an inhumane tradition called Mingi. As most of you know, Mingi has been the cause to over 77 infant and child deaths a year in the past. This tradition deemed any child born out of wedlock, or a child whos teeth grew or fell from the top first a curse. These children were drowned, abandoned, starved, or eaten by wild animals because they were not worthy to live. The Mingi curse was said to bring war and famine to this tribe. Therefore if one of these children was found on the land, the tribe as a whole was in danger.
This tradition has taken place for over hundreds of years. Many missionaries have tried to stop its vicious cycle since it came to the public's eye. My crazy leaders introduced it to us during my DTS while living in our comfortable homes in Herrnhut, Germany. We were shocked and knew even before setting foot on African soil that this must end. The first week in Ethiopia we sent a team down to rescue a Mingi child. Unfortunately for us and him or her, we were too late. I know that God has a special place in heaven for this child. This young soul changed the hearts in us all. We continued to press forward through prayer and fasting, but most importantly, though action. We loaded up three land rovers to taxi us through the rough torain of the Omo Rift Valley. Three days and tons of puking, mosquito bites, and sunburns later we arrived in the tribe. We learned of a two year old Mingi child who was to be killed by the elders in mere days. A small part of our team trekked several miles to the father land to consult the parents about a possible rescue. They were relieved to see us foreigners care, but numb to the idea we would actually follow through. We received permission to take the child and scheduled a meeting time 48 hours later.
Heat, exhaustion, dehydration, and stomach cramps were kicking in at full force, but beyond the pain of being situated near the Earth's equator during one of the driest seasons, the heartache of knowing a precious little girl would be killed on this land during our stay outweighed the pain by far.
But we did it. We followed through with our promise and we met that family 48 hours later.
Bale was bright and beautiful. I got the honor to ride in the Land Rover up to the nearest city with this jewel. We met with a former tribesman who has committed his life to Jesus and the stopping of Mingi. We started a children's home that day and thought this was just the beginning of something great.
But it wasn't. it was a nightmare. The home was taken away from us. We were not allowed to be in Bale's life anymore. Kristen, my leader and young woman who first held Bale was at the mercy of another church who had their own agenda. We now had no say in the lives of these children. Our hopes and dreams were to see these children (we rescued 9 on that outreach) grow up into a loving Christian community and return to their parents to share the love of Christ with them. This church decided to adopt out the children and make a ministry into a business.
It was heartbreaking and confusing to say the least.
"God, I did all the right things. I wrote and designed pretty newsletters. I became a missionary. I made a video. I. I. I.....
"I guess I did forget one thing. This is were we need YOU".
So we prayed. We prayed so much, we had this particular church telling us to stop. That was my favorite part. I had one of my first instances of persecution that season. I was not going to stop crying out to my Great King because I knew He was bigger. The team never stopped. Kristen led several girls in weekly prayer and encouraged all of us to not give up on this situation. We still wanted Mingi to end, but at this point we had no say in the lives of these children and no platform to speak into the tribe.
So we prayed.
Less than three years later, I stand (well, lay snuggly in my bed) today and say that God heard our prayers. Mingi is over. His GLORIOUS plans outweighed ours. Mingi did not end because we were there to tell the tribe elders it is wrong. Mingi did not end because we wrote nice, elegantly designed letters. Mingi ended because God is good and He is LOVE.
Today Mingi is illegal. Today punishment comes to those who chose to practice this form of evil. God reigns on high!
Since its founding in April 2008, Pick a Pocket has directly effected the lives of over 100 people. That means that each one of us 34 crazy young adults (mostly without a college degree) have directly helped at least 2 people out of extreme poverty. All of this in less than 3 years. This is just the beginning and I want to invite YOU to be apart of this!
I'm not saying that God moves in situations like these only through Pick a Pocket but I want to leave you with these questions:
Did you know God can move through you like he did this group? What are you doing with your life? How are you helping to further God's Kingdom?
Maybe you are serving at a homeless shelter weekly, supporting a missionary monthly, mentoring a single-parent child daily, or raising funds to adopt and Ethiopian child like my dear cousins Michael and Amy in order to change a life forever. Great! But if not, why? Why aren't you helping? I don't want to preach hear because it is not my place, but I do know that from experience, a life of service and Kingdom seeking is worth so so so much more than a selfish, comfortable life in a Western country.
But how can you change, you ask? Simple. You could quit you job. Drop all your responsibilities now and come join us in Herrnhut, Germany for a Discipleship Training School. Or maybe you could get in touch with a Pick a Pocket member and ask how you can pray for them, or even help us plan an event in your home town/church - a place which could give us a platform to share about more of the INCREDIBLE things God is doing. Sometimes I think to myself, "man, I could write a book with all the experiences, miracles, and lives I've been blessed to be apart of the past two years". Then I remember, "Oh yea, I already have!"
I don't want to challenge anyone to just "help out" once in a while. I'm calling you to a transformed lifestyle. One that will bring you closer to the presence of God. One that is way more challenging, yet a MILLION times more rewarding! I pray God shows you where He is pushing you to go.
One last thought:
”Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for the orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.” James 1:27
update: I don't want to leave this post with any sort of negative throughts towards the church that once did us wrong. Since many converstaions and discussions over our plans, we have come into full forgiveness on each side. They are and have always been part of our family... under God's Kingdom. Ethiopia continues to throw fast balls to each of our minstries persuaded us to leave or quit but we believe we are there by God's orders and will persist until the end. God be with them.