Free Life Chapel: Intentionally Spiritual

 

Is it an oxymoron for a church staff to make an effort to pray together on purpose? Well, we are.

It sounds contradictory to your perception, right? Hate to burst your bubble but praying together is not on our weekly office priority list from Tuesday-Friday… we work, and lots of it.

However, this week at Free Life, we are going intentionally spiritual – as a staff and personally – to remember the why: why we are each here, and why we are here serving this city for the purpose of Christ. We’re starting our work day off as a group, praying with each other and over each other, and discussing the why of what we do here each week.

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It has been exceptionally necessary for me, as I have recently forgotten, and remembered again, why I am here instead of somewhere else. Somewhere that may seem more enticing, more fun, easier, more perks, and in turn more distracting. I know this season is strategic, as was the one prior to that, and the one prior to that. Foundational. I know that God is, as always, trying to speak to my heart about something. The problem is when my heart becomes so heavy with other things that I cannot hear him. It’s seriously the worst… like trying to run in thick fog.

Yes, exactly, can’t breathe.

When I was in Haiti I would think sometimes that if I could just get a moment in an American church, with English worship songs, then I could certainly more easily connect with Jesus. Now I find myself, not only in America, but on staff at an incredible church – yes, on staff, which is like as much in an American church as you can get – and I find it so distracting at moments that it all just translates as chaos in my head .

However, I have heard the contrary from others before – feeling like if they could just go out into the mission field, do something seemingly more tangible, then certainly their passion for Christ would truly be ignited. To you, dear person who thinks that, let me help you with something – it won’t. You will just be hot and irritated, on top of all the stuff you arrived with. Not a good combination – trust me, I’ve seen it.

All in all, the ‘God life’ is in the heart, not in the life, at all. It has nothing to do with where I am or what I do each day for work. It is all a matter of my heart, and how my heart seeks the heart of the one who saved me.

There are so many times where I have a though of a different path that would be so much easier, and this week I am reminding myself that I didn’t ask for easy. I don’t want easy. I want worth it. And I know in the deepest part of who I am that the lessons I am learning right now, the distractions that are in front of me, the sacrifices that I am making in these years, are more worth it than I could ever pay for.

And for that, I am grateful.

New Seasons, Gratitude, and Preparing My Heart

Oh, seasons of transition. So much to be said of them.

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And again, two years later, here I am. At a fork. A transition. A new season. Well, not exactly even in a new season, but more like that awkward in between place of nothingness, you know, where the grace is lifting in what was, but the excitement hasn’t yet arrived as to what is to come. The position of complete faith where I am brought to tears over matters of little importance. Mostly because every task is a reminder to me that it is all going to be over soon.

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This little place of nothingness can really make or break a transition, you know. It’s the tiny opportunity to tie up the blessings of the present and prepare the blessings of the future – all at once.

A few months ago I sensed God beginning to prepare my heart for transition. He was reminding me of the season that I was in. The season He called me to. The assignment He gave me. And it completely – completely! – shattered my heart. There is something to be said of knowing the voice of our Shepard. It’s undeniable, to say the least, and impossible to argue.

With that, I am heading home.

I could never say enough about my life in Haiti. What has taken place. Heat, sweat, dust and all. ImageThe overwhelming amount of life that I have experienced and been a part of. The most ridiculous dance parties to date. The border crossings. The language learning. The moments of total fearful courage. And the unexplainable moments of faith and Jesus that I have shared and identified in the most interesting of places.

In sum: I am grateful.

Beyond words, humbled, and just all around at a loss for words.

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Not sure what else could describe my heart right now. In Haiti I have found peace, purpose, contentment, and home. I could never express my gratitude enough to Danita for allowing me to help raise her children and so much more. To the other missionaries for being family with me. To the mothers of all my babies in the Baby Rescue Program – they have each taught me incredible lessons of sacrifice and strength. For each one who we have lost. For each incredible miracle. For all of our children who have helped me identify a deeper love within myself than I knew existed.

And, for now, I am here. Ending the first half of my twenties in that awkward place of nothingness. Tying the bow on my present. Suspended in the balance of transition.

As we honor our past: Remembering September 11

In Eigth grade I didn’t initially understand the depth of the terrorism that was happening when the towers fell. I was sitting in a Journalism class and the rest of my day was spent watching history unfold before me on breaking news. Walls and racism and pride all fell  as strangers worked to save each others lives. It has since become a cornerstone in history and changed the way that our country perceived International Relations forever.

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I remember the days and weeks and months following this day and how so many courageous people lost their lives in pursuit of saving the lives of others. How our country came together. How our differences didn’t matter so much and we found pride in our unity.

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Today we remember. We honor so many who fought during this time on behalf of our country, who fought for us before our world came to a discreet halt, and who have since fought for the USA in the name of freedom. We honor wives who lost husbands and husbands who lost wives, children who lost parents, and Americans who survived that day at ground zero.                                                       Image

In the days after today, it is so important for us to never forget.

To never forget the feelings we had, the stories we have heard, and the unsung heroes whose names and stories remain unknown or on monuments throughout our country.

Today, as history repeats itself in Syria, we cannot remain silent in the face of evil – it is crucial that we continue to be courageous, come together, look past our differences and identify unity where we can. If we cannot find beauty in our country that is desired for it’s freedom we will destruct from within.                     Image

Let us continue to honor our past, be grateful for our present, and look courageously toward our future – we are blessed because of the grace of God and those who have sacrificed on our behalf.

Thank You to the families of all of those who made those courageous sacrifices on September 11 and in the days after.

Let us never forget. United we stand.

You Shall Live & Not Die

When we arrived he was lying all alone. Alone in a dark room with two beds and an iv stand. Alone on urine soaked sheets and crying for someone to take him to the toilet.

Reason #762 as to why we can’t finish our medical center fast enough.

Witson’s mother took him, at four years old and only 16 pounds, in desperation to the hospital in our village. Knowing that she had no money and his condition was so advanced, they based his value on mere dollars, a liability of wasted time, and chose not to commit to his recovery. They sent them both away, back into the street. His abs protrude from his stomach and every rib in his chest is visible. It seems painful just for him to breathe.

Unfortunately, in the lifestyle of survival the value of a human life is compromised for the sake of the remaining family. If one child is sick it is easier to sacrifice that child – and not feed him – in order to keep the others progressing.

In lieu of that they sent him to Danita’s Children. We have no iv’s, no equipment in place, no staff, yet the best hospital in town sent this dying boy to us, knowing that we are the only place in Ounaminthe willing to take a risk for a human life. Willing to go all in. Willing to commit to save a life so valued by our God. And now the same hospital that sent him away sees that after only two days of treatment he is showing extreme signs of recovery. The same boy that they were so quick to let go unnoticed.

You think the life of a missionary is so glamorous? It’s really just being willing to do the little things. The sometimes gross things. Because they’re worth it. It’s continually walking into a dark room at a hospital in our village to ensure that our patient wasn’t put out on the street since our last visit. It’s carrying his fragile urine soaked little body to the toilet and sitting there with him while he struggles and is in pain. It’s then changing the soaked sheets that he has been lying in for hours because no one on staff at the hospital has even stopped to check. It’s continually checking his eyes to ensure that he hasn’t entered into a coma. It’s sitting by his bed, while people sit and wait in desperation for help outside in the hall, continually pleading for a life, declaring Psalm 118 over his little spirit, “You shall live and not die, and declare the work of the Lord.”

One day soon we will not have to beg for people to take risks with us. We will not have to plead with this community to commit for the sake of one human life. We will receive those in desperation and do everything possible to begin them on a journey to recovery.

Because they’re worth it.

Hot Showers and Such…

I was recently reading a blog of a girl who lives in a developing country and she does great things for God: she raises multiple children who would otherwise live hungry most days, and she feeds hundreds each week and she teaches English at a small village school. Her life is full of joy and hardship I’m sure, but she is gracious and humbled to do what she does. Although I was inspired by her faith and pursuit, there was a small bit that I couldn’t disagree more with and that I fear a lot of times the terms “missionary” or “mission work”, etc.. get wrapped up in.

This girl was describing the lifestyle of some of the people who surrounded her – their living conditions, their eating habits, their constant desperation for help – and challenging her readers to think more often toward those are aren’t as fortunate as themselves. However, she took that a bit further to say that she was praying that every time people who live in America take a hot shower that she is praying that they feel guilty over the water running over them.

 Wait.

Not only is a hot shower not shameful, but it is a hot shower that a business owner, church member or basic supporter is under each night who make every bit of a missionaries work possible.

I understand her point. But, it is being focused within and being consumer driven and selfish that is wrong. It isn’t the hot shower that should ensue guilt. It isn’t having nice things and enjoying all the abundance of the Lord. It is a greedy mindset that is wrong. Not thinking past ourselves or of the priorities of our God that is wrong.

In fact:

I am so grateful for every single business-minded, wealthy person, pastor, church member, believer, or non-believer for that matter, who understands the importance of legitimate change in developing countries, and sees the potential to act as the hands and feet of Christ through providing for others to go. Whether they may have never been out of the county, never have a desire to rescue a dying child off of the street or could simple not want to rough it in the mists of under-educated people and desolate, desperate lands.

 I’m even grateful for them if they took a hot shower tonight.

Even a little jealous.

The point is, it doesn’t have to be this or that. One is not right or wrong, or better than the other. All equally important although some are not doing what were doing, or doing it how were doing it.

That is all. Goodnight folks. Enjoy your shower.

XOXO,

Hope