Thursday, July 14, 2005

It Is What It Is...

In the Johannesburg airport with my friends. We're leaving Africa in less than an hour. We will leave part of our hearts, minds, souls, spirits here... "Get out of bed, Jerusalem! Wake up. Put your face in the sunlight. God's bright glory has risen for you. The whole earth is wrapped in darkness, all people sunk in deep darkness. But God rises on you, His sunrise glory breaks over you. Nations will come to your light, kings to your sunburst brightness. Look up! Look around! Watch as they gather, watch as they approach you..." (Is. 60:1-7/The Message)... We're returning home. We're returning with stories, with smiles, with joy, with some sadness (we don't want to really leave). But more importantly, I'm convinced we're returning to tell our village: ""Come see a Man who knew all about the things I did, who knows me inside and out. Do you think this could be the Messiah?" ..."Many of the Samaritans from that village committed themselves to Him because of the woman's witness: 'He knew all about the things I did. He knows me inside and out! ... They said to the woman: 'We're no longer taking this on your say-so. We've heard it for ourselves and know it for sure. He's the Savior of the world!'" (John 4:28-42/The Message) ... The Samaritan woman came to the well for water, but left with so much more -- Living Water, water which can only come from Jesus, from His Spirit... I'm leaving Africa with Jesus and stories of how He led, how He provided, how He sustained, how He smiled, how He revealed, how He summoned, how He convicted, how He proved, how He touched, how He healed, how He purged, how He works, how He doesn't work... Oh, there's so much more... so much more. Pathetically, there's more to tell but there's only so much I am able to write at this moment. I don't think there's anything I can type right now. I'll need some time to think, pray, and most of all listen...

The airport is busy, noisy, distracting. They're calling my flight in just a few minutes. I'll be on a plane for the next 18 hours. I'll be with my friends, and I'll be carried by the strength which can only come from Jesus and His Spirit and a God who interrupts and takes me to Africa. I've been gone six weeks. I'm ready to come home and discover more of Him. I'm not ready to leave my Africa friends, but I must return to my village and tell them all about Jesus... The Jesus who is really real. The Jesus who empowers. The Jesus who conquers. The Jesus who listens. The Jesus who speaks. The Jesus who knows me.

God interrupts with great purpose. His Spirit is more than powerful. Jesus is not just my Savior, He's my Lord Master and Savior.

He alone... He alone... He alone...

Lovin' you -- me

Monday, July 11, 2005

Just a Moment, Nothing More

We're here in Hermanus, and I only have a few seconds to write something, so here goes: It's Monday, and we'll be leaving this place on Thursday... four days. The enemy is prowling, scratching his claws into my heart, trying to deflect my soul, doing his best to injure me and leave me a cripple. I see him, smell him, and I don't like it. I am doing my best to shut him down with the strength and determination which can only come from the words of Jesus. Please pray for all of us. Please ask the Lord God to rebuke Satan's attacks. Please demand the Lord go before us, beside us, behind us, beneath us, on top of us these last few days... Please... Please.... We are His, and the enemy hates that. I'm okay with that truth. We are His....
Lovin' you --

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

There Are No Tostitos In South Africa

True... No Tostitos in South Africa... No salsa, either. An odd discovery, but one which I made the other night as I was waiting for my friends to return from the clinic. It was around 11 p.m., and I had just been woken up by Craig Leach, banging on my door and shouting my name over and over again -- "Adella! Adella! Adella! We're taking Katie and Diana to the clinic. We've had a wreck!..." They had wrecked the Defender. I didn't know it was possible to wreck a Defender, but evidently, it is. The road had been washed out by the heavy rains. Everyone but me, Kristen, and Bryan were in the car. Katie and Craig were riding on top, Diana was in the front w/Will, who was driving. The Defender met the crater in the road, smushed onto its left-hand side, sending Diana's head into the windshield (which cracked the glass), and launching Katie end-over-end onto the hood of the car, and finally into the road, directly in front of the left tire. Diana became immediately nauseous (concussion?), and Katie had numbness and tingling in her feet (compressed vertabrae?). They loaded up in the combi (mini-van), and headed to Hermanaus where the closest doctor could be found. Bryan, Kristen, and I stayed back, where we prayed, then prayed some more. We continued praying -- just talking to God over and over again. We called on the God who is sovereign, the God who hears the cries of His children, the God who delivers, the God who heals, the God who has power, the God who restores, the God who holds, the God who protects, the God who leads His own through mysteries like injured friends who are headed to the hospital in a country 7,000 miles from home... I confess I was mad. Not mad at God, just mad that something like this happened -- mad because my friends were hurt, mad at myself for not being in the car headed to the clinic, mad because I was tired and sick, and couldn't climb in the car with them. I'm glad I have a God who lets me be angry, doesn't turn away from my anger, listens to my rages, and says: "tell Me more." He heard me, He heard Bryan, He heard Kristen. He heard the prayers of those friends who accompanied Katie and Diana to the clinic. He heard the prayers of the friends at Cedar Springs, back in Knoxville. He heard it all... Their x-rays came back clean, and they were released with a dosage of muscle relaxers -- no concussions, no compressed vertabrae -- and they returned back to the farm around 2 a.m. God heals, restores, listens, and so much more...

So, there are no Tostitos in South Africa. I'm okay with that... my friends are safe, healthy, and happy. We'll get the Tostitos when we get back to America.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Nothing Will Ever Be The Same

Our time in Africa is not an "experience." It's not a "mission trip." If it were set up to be an "experience," then I would have canceled the airplane tickets. If it were a "mission trip," then I might have shot myself... I don't have much toleration for either term... "Experience" would mean just that -- a one-time deal, a chance at "experiencing" something not within the realm of my life. "Mission trip" -- an over-used, flacid, flat, weak, passive, conventional Christian term used to fluff up a Christian resume... Sorry, I have no room for them in my vocabulary, especially when I see my friends covered with dirt and grime, covered with small children, covered with strength which can only come from Jesus, covered in power which falls down when the Holy Spirit comes. "Experience" and "mission trip" don't work and won't work when the Spirit comes.

So, I'm surrounded by Spirit-filled and Spirit-led friends who have easily been absorbed into Africa. Some of them will leave tomorrow. I don't want them to go, and they don't want to leave. They'll get on a plane and return to America, and I'm praying they will enter homelife the same way they entered Africa: without any preconceived notions, and with the confirmation of God's leading from His Word. They've changed... all of us have changed. We are fierce, passionate, and unwilling to compromise anymore for the conventions of comfortable American-branded Christianity. We are followers of Jesus, we are filled with the Spirit, we are empowered by The Word, and we see and seek God.

I'm fairly certain I might sound pretentious, self-righteous, spiritually-bloated... If so, deal with it. I'm living in the truth of Acts 1:8 -- "when the Spirit comes, He will come with power; then you'll be My witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the world..." The Spirit has come upon me and upon my friends, and He has come with power, and we are His witnesses at the literal, not just figurative, end of the world. I'm so glad.

We have wrestled with God and prevailed... (I hope we continue to relentlessly wrestle with Him.) When that happens, we're maimed and we get a new name. We also get to see God face-to-face, ask Him who He really is, and walk into the unknown in joy. Pretentious? No way. Self-righteous? Hardly. Spiritually-bloated? You've got to be kidding. We are simply in the shadow of a bloody, rough-sawn cross and in the doorway of an empty tomb. We believe the words of Jesus and we're ready to not just die, but LIVE for them and for Him...

It's really real. God is stinkin' unbelievable.

He has sent us out so that we can be sent back "in." "In" to the weak, dead, vapid, lifeless realm of packaged American Christianity, where Jesus has been homogenized, pasturized, freeze-dried, packaged, and emasculated... I'm fairly certain "in" will mean we will be met with rejection, intolerance, confusion, fear, silence. I don't know how any of us will handle those responses, and I don't know how any of us will re-enter the world of cellphones, TV's, cars, drive-thru windows, cheap gas, throw-away-food, but we must return... We will leave chunks of our hearts, our souls in Africa, and I'm thankful to return incomplete, unfinished, undone. We have no answers; we only know that we're tired of living how we lived before we lived in Africa this summer.

We will return. . .