All posts tagged Honduras

Mission’s Meltdown, Day 2

Hang with me friend. Questioning God isn’t wrong. Learning to listen and wait is the hard part. Here’s part II for today:

I remember the instant I knew I was in trouble. At church one evening before our trip, we had a team meeting. After I left, someone made the comment that we’d have to be ready to share our faith at a moments notice.

“I grew up doing that. I won’t have a problem.” My words dripped with arrogance.

It was true. Growing up as an OB (Officer’s Brat) in The Salvation Army, you get used to flexibility. I sang the alto part in my first duet at age 7. I stood kettles for the Army soon after that and each Sunday, we traipsed out to the street corner for what was called the “Open Air Meeting.” To a teenager, it was the “I’ll hide behind my horn in case my friends see me, Meeting.”

We’d march out with our instruments, gather in a circle and begin to play. The instruments were to attract attention. And it usually did. Both good and bad. Several times we listened to a drunk rant and rave. Sometimes, local children would make fun of us.

Then my dad would give a short gospel message, I might be called on to give my testimony or pray or even sing, and then we’d march back to the Army for the night meeting. If someone were interested, we’d invite them back to hear more about Jesus. It was impossible to be shy.

I also grew up giving gifts and time to poor people. I received a degree in Social Work at Asbury College. My whole life was filled up with service and testimony.

So when I heard we would visit people and share the gospel, secretly I thought, I’ll be good at that.

Fast forward to Sunday morning in Honduras. The building was to be dedicated. There would be many people attending and the place was packed. Again, the people worshipped and prayed with passion for a long time. Again, Lorenzo translated the message of the Lord for our pastor. It really was amazing.

After the service, the local ladies cooked for all of us. About 300. Over an open fire. The kids played, the adults ate together and talked. But, I couldn’t stop crying.

Why are we doing this? Why do we think we know anything? Are we really doing any good?

I retreated to my room. I flunked missions.

I tried to read a novel and couldn’t. I was drawn to God’s Word. David’s Psalms encouraged me. I asked the Lord to help me. “I flunked Missions 101, Lord. I know that you have answers. Please help me.”

I cried out to my Papa. And He answered with His Word.

Danielle Kreloff came into the room. We talked and I shared with her how weak I was. “I think the Lord wants me to share my weakness with the rest of the team,” I said.

That night on the porch, people shared one praise after another. I remained silent. There was a pause, like we were going to end. I knew that was my cue. So I shared my doubts and questions and that I’d flunked missions.

Mike Schadt encouraged me with God’s Word and then all of the team gathered round me to pray. Joe Tro led them. The scriptures he used were some of the very ones that the Lord had brought to mind. One of them was the father in Mark 9. He said, “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief.”

Another passage the Lord brought to mind was in John 6. Currently, I’m writing a Bible study titled, “Bread of Life.” I’m stuck on day 10 that deals with the end of the bread of life discourse.

Jesus tells the people that they must eat His flesh and drink His blood or they will have no part of Him. Many who followed Jesus left at that point. Jesus turns to the tweleve and says, “You do not want to go away also, do you?”

Of course Peter responds. His response was my response. “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.”

My crisis wasn’t over, but I knew where to look for answers.

More tomorrow.

Mission’s Meltdown, Asking God Questions

I’m moving in less that two weeks. I’ve been reminiscing. Some good memories, some not so good. All important.

Over the next few days, I’d like to repost a series of blogs I’ve titled “Mission’s Meltdown.” A Crisis of question in my life where God showed Himself faithful as I questioned His goodness.

In my study of Scripture this year, I’ve noticed many saints questioned God. Habakkuk for one. David for another. Even Jesus asked if there was another way.

So as I prepare to leave Florida, I thought I’d repost blogs where I share my heart and God shares His.

His heart is much bigger and broader than mine. His grace greater than my sin. His love deeper than the ocean.

Mission’s Meltdown, Part I:

On Saturday, I wrapped my ankle with an Ace bandage and got on the bus. We drove about a mile away. We were weighed down with sacks of snacks, water bottles, Christmas presents for the children and adults, props, and Gospel of John tracts.

The plan was to drop the team off at the bottom of a mountain, we would climb it, visit a village, visit another village and wind our way back to La Esperanza.

Except, that our bus driver wanted to come with us. We noticed a home slightly down the mountain and drove the bus there. We’d made arrangements to pay the inhabitants to watch it for us, and we would pick it up later.

Except the bus got stuck on the way down. Our team prayed a lot, and this was no exception. All of our strong men tried to pull the bus out, but had no success. Finally, we waved down a local with a truck and he towed the bus out.

The driver, Rene, who is a big part of our story, drove back to the church, and we marched up the mountain. There was a middle-aged woman and a young girl headed that way with some food, so we followed her.

I almost died. And, for 52 years old, I’m in pretty good shape. When I reached Tom at our first resting place, he was on all fours, trying to breathe. (Of course he was carrying about a 50 pound pack, mine was about 20.) People under 20 were fine, but the rest of us could have met Jesus and been okay with that.

The local woman and girl just stared at us.

We arrived at the village, and it was like a UNICEF infommercial. We walked in small groups down various footpaths to huts made of sticks and mud. When we approached with our Dum Dum suckers to entice the children, we saw movement. Half-dressed and dirty, the children peeked at us curiously. They were beautiful.

Basically, when we entered each footpath, it was as if we were standing in their living/family/dining/bed room. Most huts had an open fire just outside. Many women were either nursing young ones or cooking tortillas. There were a few men around, so I assumed many were working in the corn fields we’d passed on the mountains.

Beautiful roosters and chickens surrounded the yard, while mangy mutts weaved in and out of our sight. I thought of my puppy, Sam. I fed him the best dog food, and he even had toys. More toys than any child I saw.

After we invited them to a Celebracion de Navidad, we regrouped in an open section of the village. The program began. Diego, a believer from Jacksonville translated for us. We did a few skits, acted out the Christmas program, gave a few testimonies of how we had come to believe in Jesus, and then we handed out small presents for everyone. We marked their hands with a smiley face to show us who had received gifts.
That bothered me, and I refused to do it.

We did the same at the next village.

I was choking inside.

These were the thoughts that ran through my head: These people are so isolated. They will never leave here. They’ve probably been here for generations. They have no chance to have anything different.

Then I moved on to questions: What if there is sexual abuse in that small hut? Who would help them?

Then I accused God: Why did you create these people? Are you cruel? Are you good? Are you even there?

That night on the porch, everyone talked about how blessed they were to be involved. I was glad for them, but inside, I despaired.

The End of the Climb–Honduras, Day 11

“Whoever is wise, let him heed these things and consider the great love of the LORD. ” Psalm 107:43

I’m nearing the end of our crisis of question journey. At times, it was rough, and like climbing the mountains in Honduras, I had to stop and rest every once in a while. I really think that is what it was, a climb. Not a fall.

I’d asked the Lord to increase my faith and learn to trust Him more. I also told Him that I desired to see His face. I believe that is what this crisis of question was/is about. Learning more about my Lord.

Let me do a quick review of my journey.

First, I travel to Central America with SOS missions after a flu-like illness. I twist my ankle and ask God to help me so I can travel to remote villages with the team. Next, I visit the villages and am devastated. I wonder if God is cruel. If He is unkind or unloving, or even if He is really there.

Then, I had what I’ve dubbed, “A Mission’s Meltdown,” and am almost unable to participate with the team. After that, I ask the Lord to help me understand, since I know that I am one of His children. And He does. He begins to show me through Scripture, other believers, writings, my quiet time, sermons, what He is like and how to understand Him. I really can’t explain that to you. But if you are a believer, you know what I mean.

He’s teaching me. He’s nurturing me. I feel as if I could climb into His lap to answer my silly questions. He doesn’t treat them as silliness, because He knows my questioning heart. He made me that way.

So what have I learned? I’ve learned that it all comes back to the cross.

It’s difficult to explain, but let me take you back to a scene in Honduras. We were at one of the villages that had a large field. Many of the younger members of the team played soccer with the children and even some local men joined them. At the end of our time there, several men gathered around our translator, Diego, and Rob Ozburn–an X Apache helicopter pilot.

Rob passionately shared the plan of salvation. Namely, that Jesus came to earth, clothed in our skin and lived among us to be a perfect substitute for our sins. Because He was, God accepted His righteousness as ours.

Really, it’s simple to understand.

I began to really think what that meant. Jesus saw disease, hunger, injustice, violence, greed, lust, and anything else that you could imagine. And He cared.

He didn’t just care like I care. The care that I have for people involves a gut wrenching feeling, but there is no sacrifice on my part. Not much, anyway. I visit, then I leave. I may give money. I think back to my time there, and I pray.

But Jesus actually lived it. He practiced what He preached. He gave all. Since He was deity, it was exponentially more than I could understand or imagine. He came for our redemption, yes. But He also gave us a crystal-clear picture of God. He is God.

I not only love Jesus, I like Jesus.

Rob shared with these men in a soccer field in the middle of the rain forest the cross of Jesus Christ. It’s a picture I’ll never forget. The men were mesmerized. Then it hit me.

The cross gives hope. The gospel brings redemption. Not only to people in faraway lands, but to American teenagers in five-bedroom homes. To rice workers in communist China, and to business owners in Germany.

The gospel gives hope to me. It gives hope to you in whatever your circumstance because it supersedes circumstances.

I got a glimpse of it that day in Honduras, but it’s taken several weeks to take form in my mind.

I still don’t understand a lot of what I saw, but I know Jesus.

Maybe you’re struggling with the same issues. My life is relatively easy, your life may be much harder. Take heart. Jesus cares. Jesus understands.

And then there’s always heaven.

That’s why I put the verse at the top about how the wise Psalmist looked back on God’s faithfulness in the past. Take a clue from him.

If you’re not sure, keep asking. He’s listening. He cares.

And keep climbing.

 

 

 

 

God is Unfathomable, Honduras Day 10

In Francis Chan’s book, “Crazy Love,” he describes our intellect and our understanding as the size of a soda can that sits in the ocean while God’s infinite wisdom, personality, whatever else you’d like to throw in there is the ocean. For us as humans to think that God has to fit into our little soda can of understanding is well, soda stupid.

This idea Chan proposes comes from the first chapter. I can’t quote it since I’m listening to it on my computer. So understand that the above is a loose paraphrase. But the book is definitely worth a read.

So what does this have to do with Honduras. For me to question God has been allowed by Him. He is even answering me in ways that my soda brain can understand. But He doesn’t owe me anything.

He is not constrained by anything and He knows everything. Yet, like I said yesterday, He is involved in the details of our lives.

Amazing.

Recently, I was on the phone with my daughter and she began with, “I can’t believe how big God is…” I finished, “And how little He is.”

How He could be so grand, yet be involved in the intricacies of our lives. I don’t know about you, but my soda-sized brain is overflowing.

I have an idea. Take a walk on a beach somewhere. If you’re not near one, look at the night sky.

Tomorrow, I’m going to begin to wrap it up. Good night, friend. Thanks for taking this Crisis of Question journey with me.

God is Faithful, Honduras Day 9

God spoke to me again this morning. I grieved and didn’t know why. Oh, sure things aren’t perfect in my home, but nobody has a perfect life.

No, it was deeper than that.

I went to my prayer closet. I bent over, almost prostrate. “I’m calling out to you, again, Lord. I’ve struggled with my faith, you’ve shown me your goodness. Help me to know why I am struggling so!”

I turned to my devotional book titled, “Face to Face,” by Kenneth Boa. In today’s reading, I read the familiar words that state our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Eph. 6.

How do you figure that? How did God know that on that particular day, at that time, that Scripture would be there?

Because He is God. Because He is faithful.

Imagine this. God is in heaven. He made sure that passage was there for me today. But there are millions of believers all over the world that have multi-faceted situations that they face and they are crying out for help. And He answers them.

If they’re asking… If they’re listening…

Did you ever wonder if God had a “To Do” list? It would be pretty long.

Another way God has been faithful to show me answers to my questions is through other believers. A friend of mine called today to ask me to sing with her. Normally, I would jump at the chance, but because of the struggles I’m going through, and the commitments I’ve made, I’m not sure.

She said, “Did you say something about speaking at a conference for women?”

I told her I’m scheduled to do a mini-conference in February.

“You need to get someone praying for you, Pauline. From my experience, you’re going to face spiritual warfare. If someone isn’t praying for you, you’ll get beat up!”

Oh really.

Another answer to my prayers was written by A. Wetherell Johnson several years ago in her autobiography. I’ve been reading it, and I recommend it. She described her thoughts when she served in China as she observed the poor, diseased, and oppressed. Then she said these words, “All through my years in China, I never got over these depressing sights. However, He who preached the gospel to the poor walked among crowds such as these. He was always filled with compassion as He walked in their midst, and He did something about their suffering.”

He was faithful to show me that passage, and He was faithful to serve on this earth. And He did something about their suffering! Who am I to think that God doesn’t care about suffering? He sent Jesus.

Tomorrow, I’m going to share with you from Francis Chan’s book, “Crazy Love.”

Here’s my point: If you are suffering, if you have questions, if you are doubting, if you are struggling, You are on God’s “To Do” list. And unlike us, He always gets his done.