Thursday, June 10, 2010

Zim - times 3

Before I ever left USA soil to go on my first mission trip, in my research I was made aware that there are a vast number of Christians who do not believe in doing International Missions. There were various complaints on the issue, including:

  • mission trips are just glorified vacations (short-term missions trips)
  • the money spent to travel could be better spent on purchasing essentials for the needy in those foreign countries
  • why travel out of the country when you could serve locally? (I do serve locally)
  • a one-week or two-week trip won't produce enough results in the lives of the people you travel to serve (dead wrong)
I guess we all know by now that we were all created with different hearts, spirits, minds, opinions, desires, talents, experiences. There are always going to be people who oppose the very thing you stand for. Always.

Before I went to Africa the first time, some lovely jerk (sorry) harrassed me on my now defunct Myspace page because he claimed I was just raising money for a safari vacation, and he challenged me to just send the money to Africa instead.

On my mission trip to the Dominican Republic, there was a great guy there from my church who admitted that he was basically only there to judge whether or not short term missions could produce anything positive. He quickly discovered he had been wrong about his harsh feelings on the subject.

The truth is, in my heart I feel like we should be serving everywhere at every opportunity we get. We can serve with love, with listening ears, with physical labor, and with money....just to name a few. But we are absolutely called in the Bible to spread the word of God to all of the nations. ALL of the nations. The bible also clearly talks about serving orphans and widows. It is printed in black and white, in the scriptures. Oddly, the Hebrew word for orphans and widows, is orphans and widows. And the greek word for nations, is nations. (Ha....I'm just sayin').

But here is what the bible doesn't say. It doesn't say that every American is supposed to adopt an orphan from China, or Africa, or Russia, or wherever. Although I'm sure God wouldn't be disappointed if we all did. Nor does it say that every single person who has ever believed in Jesus is supposed to get on a plane and fly to a foreign country to spread the gospel. The new testament does talk about the need for people to be hospitable toward the missionary traveler. It says to feed them, open your home to them, accomodate them, etc. (The Apostle Paul was a traveling missionary). (By the way, I do believe through scripture that we are all supposed to support orphans and widows, either by adoption, missions, money, food, or whatever. Not a single Christian is excused from looking after orphans or spreading the gospel).

It's like the football game. It requires an entire team to get the ball across the line. Some defend. Some assist. Some pass. Some catch. But only one can run with the ball at a time. And only one can cross the goal line to advance the score. For me, or any missionary to accomplish the specific mission God has placed in our spirits, a team is required. I need prayer warriors, I need people to encourage me and lift me up, and I need donors. A lot of donors. I affectionately call them "senders". If you have ever been one of my senders or the sender of anyone who was seeking to complete a mission for the Kingdom, you too are an essential part of the missionary team, in the same way that the defensive back makes it possible for the football to cross the goal line, even though he might not ever touch the ball.

I know for fact that short-term missions are not futile. Not when done with a heart for God. If I had not traveled to Zimbabwe in December of 2008, Fatima and her orphans would not have a new truck right now. My trip there led to real relationships, which led to recognition of a need, which led to a heart prompted by the spirit, which led to the generosity of 34 people to make it happen. The truck, that is. Fatima has a beautiful ministry, which has now been made possible to expand. (Yay God!)

That same experience led to 15 orphaned teenagers feeling like they have a momma in the USA now. They now have the experience of knowing that somebody loves them and cares for them, outside of their limited region (a region who has forgotten them). Our conversations have led to hope and love, which was not previously in abundant supply. And our path hasn't reached its end, so there is no telling how much more can be accomplished as a result of that first mission trip. Those kids are not allowed to leave their country. They cannot be adopted. Our long distance relationship with various short term visits is all that we are allowed to have. So, our time together is very very important. And there are Kingdom proportioned consequences.

If we could adopt these children, we would. But we cannot. It isn't permitted. I wondered for 2 years why God sent me to Zimbabwe. And now I know at least part of the reason. It was to meet them, care for them, support them and love them for the rest of my life, in any way that I can. Part of that is to visit them and love on them in person. It is good for them and it is good for me. No dollar amount could be assigned to the countless, immeasurable good things that have come out of these mission trips to Zim. The way I live my life has changed for the better. They way I view money has changed for the better. The heart that I serve with has been enlarged. My compassion is greater. My loyalty is stronger. My kids have a richer experience as a result of what I can pass down to them. The kids in Zim have been encouraged....and if you know anything about encouragement, it can be the catalyst for amazing accomplishments. Sometimes you just need to be told that you are believed in, and you can suddenly walk further. There is no way to predict what the hope and encouragement those kids have received will result for them. But I promise that it will be big. Bigger than without the hope and encouragement. It is true life change.

Can you help?

I need a lot of senders. I need tons of small donations and a couple of large ones. I'm asking you to give, and I am also asking you to think outside of the box. Maybe your friends could pitch in. Maybe you could ask your employer to help. Maybe you could collect all of your spare change and donate it. Involve your church or your bible study group. Sell something on ebay or craigslist. Forfeit going out to dinner for one month. Do you have frequent flyer miles you can donate??? I have $1,000 of my own money invested. I have received $175 from the first donor. Can you help me raise $5,000 more? I know that it is a lot of money, but I also know that this amount will be multiplied in Heaven's economy. I have seen it happen time and time again.

I need to raise this money by July 9th to travel in early August.

In advance, I am grateful for every dollar and dime. I am grateful for every mouth that prays, every heart that rejoices, every email that encourages. May grace abound!

So, who are my linebackers?

(paypal donate button top left, or checks can be mailed to me at 6840 Bridgewater Dr, Nashville, TN 37221)

James 1:27 "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."

Please do not donate as an act of good will or to accomplish a good deed. Give for love. Give in faith, in the absolute knowing that your sacrifice will produce a return on your investment that cannot be measured on earth, but will outweigh the gold in Heaven. Give because you have faith in the one who died so that you may live. Give because you are in this world but not of this world. Give because the orphans are blessed by your giving, and because spectators are blessed and intrigued, and because families are changed and lives are saved. Do not give because you love me. Do not give because you want to help. Give because you want to be a blessing and because the greater blessing cannot occur without you. Give because you have faith. This is my humble, direct request.

My prayer:

Oh Father, my heart is filled with anxiety and dread when I know that you want it full of hope and love. My desire is to fulfill the works you prepared in advance for me, and for countless people to be touched in the process. I am seeking your heart and wisdom to take up residency in my soul and lead me to tomorrow. You are my guidance counselor, my redeemer, my healer, and my travel guide. You have stamped my footprints across the planet as your ambassador. You have breathed life into my lungs and injected your very spirit into my veins. My heart beats for you and because of you. My arms stretch high to your throne and out to the lost. My mouth wants only to speak words that encourage, soothe, and love. I am so full of gunk and junk that constantly needs purged and burned off. The ashes cry. I am so so so so sorry for the all the many ways that I fall short of your glory. I could never earn you nor deserve you. Thank you for giving me these beauties to love, Boaz, Lovejoy, Bestman, Sarah, Emily, Precious, Deborah, Boaz, Fatima, Theresa, Ruth, Bevie, Keldon, Kenneth, Richman, Richard, Abel and Layman. I want to love them with your heart, not mine, because mine is not lovely enough. Lord God, you know if I am to return to Zim or not. And if I am, then it is you who knows the how, when and why, and it is you that will make a way. Please Father do not send me if the time is not right. But please pour out the provision if it is. I praise your name Lord and I pray for immeasurable joy in the hearts of my senders. Make them known. In the life giving name of Christ Jesus, Amen.

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