Destination: India….In God’s Timing

So I have been on a bit of a blogging hiatus. I have thought about writing a post but sometimes the thought of dedicating time, actually sitting down and stopping for a few minutes in my day, seems too much. It seems like this summer has been so busy! Hopping from one activity to the next. 

The reason for this post is to share some of the incredible things God is doing in my life. I am going to have to start at the beginning so that you will see that it has been a long process. I have been a part of a ministry called Christ In Action for going on 8 years. (On a side note, I will be setting up a website for CIA soon and hopefully have a link up in case you are interested) Ministry has been a part of my life for all of my teen years. However as I approached the wonderful age of 18, I began to realize that my time with CIA was coming to a close. The ministry dedicates itself to young people ages 12-19 and I was about to “max out”. Of course if I choose to stay on with them, I would be welcome. But for the last year as I struggled with the thought of moving on and growing up, I felt the Lord say to me, “Stick with it a little longer.” I knew I was supposed to be part of a ministry and I trusted God to bring another one along to “replace CIA”, though it has a special niche in my life. So I stayed. 

About a month ago, I heard God’s voice saying, “It’s time to move on.” Well, at the same time a wild idea popped into my head to travel to Haiti. I have no idea why I chose Haiti, it was one of those “God ideas” I think. So I inquired around, I asked people if they knew of anyone or any ministry I could partner with for a few weeks. My search didn’t prove very fruitful. In fact, my pastor strongly advised against going to Haiti. Needless to say, I was slightly disheartened because I had thought that God was calling me to ministry. But that wasn’t the end. 🙂

I had emailed a very good friend of our family who forwarded the email to another pastor of another church. (Sound confusing? 😉 ) The pastor emailed back and that is how I got in touch with Mike Giordano who is pastor of Lifequest. I had gone to his church a few years back but had since been called to another. It was fun meeting at a coffee shop with him and touching bases. He hadn’t changed a bit. 🙂

Here is the interesting part…I had just stepped into the coffee shop where we had set up our appointment and I saw him sitting on a couch talking to a blonde haired lady. She was about to leave so Mike introduced me to her and gave her my phone number. After my meeting with Mike (which was very informative and insightful. I am thankful he took the time to see me), I shot the lady, whose name I learned was Dawn Palmer, a text message. We got in contact and set a date to get together and talk. That date was today! I met her once again at the coffee shop and we both began to share our hearts for the future.

I won’t tell you the entire conversation as it lasted for more than 2 hrs. But during that time, we both shared a little bit about our backgrounds and our hearts. Both of our hearts are for the children! Children are a huge part of the body of Christ but sadly, we don’t see them as such. They are WAY more in-tune to the things God and the things of the Spirit. We tend to over look them as they are a small but vital part of the church. In fact, the future of the church lies with the children. Her hope is to establish a training program that empowers parents, teachers, and young people like me to be able to go to another country or even their own communities and train children to hear from God, pray, lay hands on the sick, and receive and give prophetic words. Amazing work! 

Her goal is to take a trip to India within the next 6 months or so. The trip would be anywhere from 3 – 6 months in length. We would be training the church to culture and nurture their young, precious treasures from God. Before that can happen though, 3-5 months of intensive training will have to occur. The program we will be using is called, The School of Supernatural Children’s Ministry, formerly called, Leading the Lambs to the Lion. We will be covering topics such as “Autism-A Kingdom Perspective”, “Babies and God (It begins in the womb)”, “True Mentoring and Disciplining Children”, “Is Children’s Ministry Biblical?”, and “Who is Called to Children’s Ministry?”. It is been an amazing process of networking and meeting the right people at the right time but I believe this is something I have been called by God to do.

In closing…”Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” Matt. 25:31 Remember the least of these…

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Take the Challenge Prayer Request

This is an update that I received from the ministry that I partnered with last summer. 🙂

Dear Mission China / Take The Challenge partner,

We have some exciting news to share with you from our Take the Challenge (TTC) team in Niger.  After being trained by two separate TTC US teams over the past few years, the national youth in Niger have caught the vision and organized their own Take The Challenge team.  They have led an outreach to a local village and now are taking it to the next level – this week the TTC Niger team will be heading out for their first mission trip!

Yes, that’s right, ten Nigerian young people are currently on their way to Diffa, a city 16 hours from their home in Niamey, to challenge the young people there to Take The Challenge of being used by God to grow in their own faith and effectively reach other youth (and adults) for Jesus.  They will teach many of the same dramas that the TTC US team taught them over the past two training sessions as well as challenge them through Bible studies and an end-of-session rally.

Please pray for these young leaders (HABIBOU, DELPHIN, SUKALA, DOMINIQUE,  SAMMUEL, MAINASSARA, CEDRIK, RAHILA, AYOUBA, MARGUERETTE) to be bold and courageous as they testify to the Name in this 99% Muslim nation.  Pray for protection on their 16-hour bus ride as well as during the Diffa workshop and rally.  Diffa is on the border of Nigeria where the Boko Haram terrorist group kidnapped 300+ Christian school girls and countless other attacks on Christians, so this is a real threat.

Equipping those who will in turn teach others,

Scott, Patty, and the Take The Challenge crew

Easter Traditions

Easter Traditions

The Easter Egg has been a symbol of Easter dated back hundreds of years. It is given among Christians and non Christians alike though for believers it symbolizes new life and new beginnings. It shares the hope of a risen Lord.
Tradition has it that after Christ’s death and resurrection, Mary Magdalene became a missionary and, like the apostles, spread the word of Christ’s death and resurrection. Once while appearing before the Roman emperor Tiberius she brought before him a white egg and greeted him with, “Christ’s risen.” Being a non believer, Tiberius sneered at her, saying, “Christ is no more risen than that egg turning red.” Before his astonished eyes and those of his court, the egg turned a vibrant shade of red. Mary was then able to share the gospel with the people who listened intently.
I am sorry this post is a little late for Easter but I thought this story was interesting anyway. 🙂 Be blessed!

AS DRAMA UNFOLDS, PRAYER IS REQUESTED FOR CHRISTIANS BOLDLY DEFENDING THE CROSS IN CHINA

Three million Christians live in the coastal megacity of Wenzhou, known as “China’s Jerusalem” where Communist authorities were “shocked” to find 1,800 Christian churches operate openly. Using the excuse that one church was displaying a cross that was too “conspicuous,” the authorities set about to demolish the church. Since then, 5,000 Christians have flooded the city to protect the church and make a bold statement of their faith.

Dan Wooding and Bob Yerkes

Dan Wooding and Bob Yerkes (China)—With a population of some 10 million, Wenzhou, in China’s eastern Zhejiang Province, is one of China’s great coastal megacities. A 480km drive south of Shanghai on the East China Sea, Wenzhou is often referred to as ‘China’s Jerusalem’ as it is believed to have the largest Christian population of any city in China—possibly as high as 30 percent. (Map via China Daily)

Wenzhou is a business hub known for its many successful Christian entrepreneurs who actively promote Christianity in their workplaces. Whilst the Christian entrepreneurs do strive to maintain good relations with local authorities, that they hold considerable economic power in Wenzhou is doubtless one reason why the churches seem able to be quite active. According to China expert, Dr. Kurt Selles, Wenzhou has some 1800 churches which operate openly despite most not being registered with the government. For more than a decade, the success of Wenzhou’s Christianity-infused businesses has aroused government interest in the link between Protestant Christianity and successful capitalism. This demonstrable link has created a dilemma for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) which is keen to exploit any business model that generates wealth, yet believes it must rein in and control Christianity lest it undermine Communist Party authority.

On January 8, Zhejiang’s Communist Party secretary, Xia Baolong, was conducting an inspection in Zhoushan (north-east Zhejiang) and was shocked by the proliferation of large churches. While passing a church in Baiquan town, Xia reportedly objected that the cross atop the church was ‘too conspicuous’, and demanded that the local Religious Affairs Bureau ‘rectify’ the problem by removing it. The CCP might want to reap the benefits of Christianity, but it certainly does not want the Church to grow! And so began a campaign to de-Christianise the landscapes and skylines of Zhejiang.

Church ProtestOn February 27, officials from the Zhoushan Religious Affairs Bureau demanded that Believers at the government sanctioned church in Baiquan, Zhoushan, help tear down the cross on top of their building. The Christians refused and a stand-off ensued. The cross on a government sanctioned church in the Yuhang District of Hangzhou (Zhejiang’s provincial capital) was forcibly removed on the same day after the authorities deemed it ‘too conspicuous’. Two other local churches reportedly had their crosses forcibly removed also that day. Believers told ChinaAid that forced cross removals were also taking place in neighboring Anhui Province as well. (Photo via Telegraph UK)

Sanjiang church in Wenzhou’s Ou Bei township at eight stories tall and covering 1,000 square meters is large by any standards. It has spaces for worship, teaching and accommodating the elderly. The church is registered with the authorities and is part of the government-controlled Three Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM). The members, along with many relatives working overseas, raised the US$4.8 million for the construction.

Everything was approved by the Wenzhou municipal government, which designated the church a ‘model project’ in September 2013. When the Christians refused to remove the cross and several spires from the rooftop, the authorities responded by threatening to demolish the entire building, falsely accusing the church of adding illegal structures in violation of building codes that rendered it structurally unsound. Meanwhile, demolition notices were reportedly also sent to churches in Taishun, Wencheng and Ruian townships. A church in Yongjia County also is understood to have been ordered to remove its cross and the top floor of the church.

On March 25, members of Sanjiang church commenced a protest and on 3 April the pastors were notified that the church would be demolished by April 18 (Good Friday). Since then some 5,000 local Christians have been participating in round-the-clock prayer vigils and sit-ins, praying that the church might be saved from demolition. He Hongying said she would stay in the church day and night for as long as necessary. ‘We feel at peace,’ she said, ‘and fearless when we are with our God’.

The struggle for Sanjiang church has come to represent the struggle between Chinese Christians who are unashamed of the transformative power of the Gospel, and abusive CCP officials who love money and despise the Cross.

Remember: “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.” (Ephesians 6:12-13 ESV)

PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY THAT GOD WILL…

• Use the crisis at the Sanjiang church to open the eyes and ears of multitudes of Chinese, locally, nationally and inside the CCP; may they believe what the Church has been showing—that Christianity is good not only for business, but for families and all of society, because Jesus cleanses from sin, the Holy Spirit enables righteousness, and God’s wisdom is truth!

• Raise up voices for justice across Wenzhou and throughout Zhejiang, so that CCP officials will be forced to relent and stop abusing their power to attack the churches.

• Protect and bless all those Believers who are risking their security and liberty to stand for their right to lift up the Cross of Christ as the hope of the nation; may the Lord hear their prayers and bring revival to Zhejiang.

Church Protest

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9 ESV)

Kitchen Saga

You know, you never really know how good you have it until you have to experience something that is difficult. And by difficult, I mean living without a kitchen for 2 (almost 3) weeks. Currently, our house is in various stages of remodeling, the biggest project being the kitchen. This has been an almost 2 year process but we are very nearly at the end of our endeavors. 

I wish now that I had taken pictures to share but for now, I will attempt to describe it on my own. The first stage was unplugging our microwave and re-plugging it somewhere in the living room. After that, all of the pots and pans, Tupperware, silverware, and all those little items that you find that you don’t remember that you had but someone must have given to you at one point were boxed up or bagged up or stacked up in a tidy little pile in the living room as well. After that, out comes the appliances, the sinks, the dishwasher, the stove, the oven, and even our crock-pot. It all joined everything else in an inglorious heap. What we were left with were bare and empty cabinets which were soon dismantled.

So, for the last few weeks, we have been eating sandwiches, canned food, and the occasional take out. I know I should be thankful for food and I really am grateful, but after a while, eating canned tamales day in and day out does get old. We don’t even have the capability to make fresh bread. 

Once everything is cleared out, the counter and cabinet guys can get to work. Since the majority of it is done by now, we are hopefully looking at everything being all squared away in 2 weeks. 🙂 Keeping my fingers crossed on that though. With all the delays it has taken us to get even this far (we had originally planned for the kitchen being out of order for 1 to 2 weeks max) I am trying not to get my hope up. 

So, yes indeed, it’s been an adventure and one that is very nearly over. Yay!

Orange Smoothie

Well, the reason I haven’t been posting much is because lately I have been lacking inspiration. I sit down to write but everything in my life seems not worth mentioning. I know that probably makes my life seem very boring or dull.

The inspiration for this post though is a very good friend of mine named Karin. She is a mother to 3 children, two of them in college and one just entering high school. Karin is very unique in the fact that even though she is more “mature” she still can relate very well to us “young people”. Not very many adults (or people who are more adult-ish) can do that. She has this way of just laughing for no apparent reason other than because she is joyful. She always has a smile on her face and will greet me with a bear hug. Sometimes when I see her at church she will shout my name across the whole room of people like she hasn’t seen me in months!

Her joy is infectious and when she can brighten the whole room. Today, I had the wonderful opportunity to work with her as we printed some flyers and bulletins for our church. Working with her is always fun because she has a quick wit and mind. She is talented in many ways and she always insists I can work just fine without her. But to me, it’s more along the lines of I just enjoy hanging around her.

Today, she bought me an orange smoothie from the local Jamba Juice and brought it to the office just because she was thinking about me. Karin will go out of her way to show that she cares about you. I know if she reads this she will be blushing from head to toe because that’s the kind of person she is; humble and selfless. So, my hat is off to you! I only hope is that as I continue to grow in my walk with the Lord I can be a little like you! 🙂

Come Follow Me….

“Now as Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon who was called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. And He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed Him. Going on from there He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and He called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him.” Matt. 4:18-22

So guys, the inspiration for this post came to me today when I was working on my Bible Study which is due this Friday. The theme of my Bible Study is to step outside our comfort zones, the walls we place around ourselves to keep us safe. Comfort zones aren’t necessarily bad, in fact sometimes they are good. I know I like my comfort zone…maybe a little too much. But I digress…

Comfort zones help show us where and where we should not go. They define clear boundaries of what is normal. But when we stay inside our zones, we do not grow, learn, experience, or change the world around us. In fact, we do nothing at all…we don’t change. We stay the same person that we have always been.

So my Bible Study was on that topic and a thought occurred to me. How many times does Jesus beckon to us and says, “Come, follow me,” and we do nothing at all. I believe God is always calling us to new things. He wants us to always be discovering Him and diving deeper into His heart. But He also wants us to be actively serving Him as well. In fact, service to God is just an outward expression of our love towards Him.

I can’t help but think of how many times Jesus has called me to follow Him and I turned away because it called me outside my comfort zone, my normal. You see, God is the type to rock our worlds because if He didn’t shake things up every now and then, we would slowly sink into complacency. That is not to say that God is responsible for every earth shaking even that happens in our lives. He WILL NOT hurt us in any way, but at the same time God doesn’t want us comfortable in our relationship. A comfortable relationship is often times a complacent relationship. When we fail to strive to dive deeper into God’s heart, we are telling Him that we don’t want to learn about Him any more, that we think we know enough.

I wonder if Peter and Andrew when they had heard Jesus say, “Come, follow me,” turned the other way and dismissed Him as a raving lunatic on the beach if Jesus would have asked them again. I also wonder if Jesus calls me to something big and I dismiss Him will He ask me a second time?

What Is Fear?

So, like the title says, what is fear? What defines fear? Or even a better way of wording it, what makes an object or a place fearful? Is it associated with a bad memory, a traumatic experience or even just something unearthly creepy that sends chills up and down your spine? Well, this post is based on a video episode by a man named Neil T. Anderson and hopefully, this will encourage you to see the truth behind some of your fears.

Well, fear can be sometimes seen as something that is sometimes irrational. Some phobias, for example, such as the fear of spiders or the fear of tight spaces can seem to some silly and even downright stupid except for the person experiencing the phobia. While the reason you have a phobia is sometimes unknown, some are brought on by traumatic and abusive circumstances or situations. For example, if as a child you were locked in a small, dark closet for being bad, chances are, you will associate small, tight places and even darkness as something bad.

The point is, we cannot really know what defines fear or what makes one thing scary to someone else and not to another. Or can we?

Isaiah 8:13-14, “13 “It is the Lord of hosts whom you should regard as holy. And He shall be your fear, And He shall be your dread. “Then He shall become a sanctuary…”

This verse clearly says that God should be the one thing we fear. He should be the one we “dread”. Not because He is mean or even a cruel God but simply because He is God and we are men. He WILL NOT squish us like bugs but He is a jealous God and deeply desires a relationship with us. Fearing God means respecting and honoring Him for who He is; the Maker of Heaven and earth. Once we develop that mentality — that God is God and we are not — then He will become our safe place, our refuge. God ALWAYS takes care of His own.

So then, what is fear? Or rather, what should fear be? Based on that passage, our fear should be a deep and healthy reverence for God. Easier said than done, I know. In fact, I am probably the last person who should be talking about fear. I have feared many things. When I was a child, I was scared of the dark. But even then, my mother always told me that God is with me and when He is with me, who can be against me?