My classroom called life…Kingdom lessons

My desire is to abide

I’m a slacker March 29, 2008

Filed under: Surprise Me God — charredsmore @ 7:02 pm

This weekend we are heading off to Camp Ondessonk for some fun outdoor time and fellowship with our Harrisburg friends.  I am looking forward to fresh air, good conversations, camp fires, hiking, beautiful scenery, worship, reading, and lots of laughter. 
I know I have been slacking on the SMG updates.  I still need to write day 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43 and day 44 will be on Monday.  Yikes!  Good thing I like to reflect.  Updates will be given after the weekend, how about that?  It’s almost like I am back on the Yearbook staff and have deadlines to meet.  Only in my own mind.  Blogging for 44 days straight activated a good dose of self discipline.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend.  Enjoy the outdoors – wherever you are.  Hopefully it’s not too cold up north in MN and WI. 

 

SMG: Day 36 March 28, 2008

Filed under: Ministry Stuff,Surprise Me God — charredsmore @ 7:26 am

tullip-trees.jpgtulip tree 

Happy Easter. 

Jesus has risen!

We rose much earlier than a normal Sunday, all bundled up we drove off to the Kentucky cross.  Only 10 minutes away, this ginormous cross sets the scene for a beautiful sunrise.  Melissa pulled out her guitar and lead us in some familiar worship songs as we reflected on the beauty of our Savior. 

Today I reconnected with a sweet friend, we had a good time of prayer over the phone.  What a dear friend, so encouraging.

Stacy and I started a new tradition of eating tuna-fish sandwiches (from Subway – my fav.) on Easter.  This is in lieu of a comment little “M” made about the resurrected Jesus eating tuna-fish sandwiches with his friends.

In celebrating Easter we grilled out and cozzied up around the bonfire.  It was great hosting people at the house, including some of Jesse’s mom, sister, brother in law, nephew, and even some close friends of his family.  Although it was a bit random, I’m starting to like random for the holidays.  We had a wonderful time visiting with our new friends.  In a conversation I was asked about my time in Cairo and the difference between when I first arrived to now.  Reflecting on this, I realized how much the Lord has refined me through the process of being here.  Even in my perspective towards “ministry”.  Someone made the comment, “You were the answer to someones prayers by coming here and sharing your life.”  I replied, “And they were the answer to mine.”  A prayer asking to transformed and molded.  I came here as this person who thought they had all the answers, an idealistic, passionate ambassador for Christ.  Maybe I still am, but something has changed.  I am different.  I view people differently.  No longer do I see myself as someone bringing the answers, someone fixing people’s lives.  How prideful!  To think that I could bring change.  Not really.  The only thing I can offer to these people is the Spirit within and a friendship.  I have realized that most ministry happens in the context of relationship. 

Yes, these new friends in Cairo are the answer to my prayers.   
I have been waiting to share something special with my mom, a vision, for about three months now.  This vision is something I feel the Lord is leading me to…in the future.  With hesitation and excitement I emailed it off to her. 

A day for New Beginnings.

 

SMG: Day 35 March 27, 2008

Filed under: Dreams,Power of Prayer,Prophetic Words,Surprise Me God — charredsmore @ 9:41 am

Horton Hears a Who!

Today a group of us hit up the movie theater for some entertainment.  We have been wanting to see “Horton Hears a Who” since way back in July when first hearing this old dusty Dr. Suess book would be put into movie format.  I would say it is one of the best cartoon type movies I have seen.  Not only was it prophetic in nature, but it was stinkin’ hillarious!  Many times we were the only ones laughing in the theater, and a couple kids.  Sometimes it just felt like little “inside jokes” – as the comedy pertained to the church end times stuff.  Here’s a little sneak peak…

Pretty profound for Doctor Suess and Jim Carrey. 

 

Human Trafficking March 24, 2008

Filed under: Ministry Spotlight,Ministry Stuff,Power of Prayer — charredsmore @ 2:18 am

I wanted to share this opportunity for awareness with you – this is taken from my friend/roommate/sister Amanda Dums’ blog… 

A few of my teammates from the World Race are about to begin an awesome biking venture called Team Up, Gear Up: Biking Against Human Trafficking.  They are biking their little booties all the way from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon, then hiking to the river basin of the canyon and back out all in eight days in the midst of speaking engagements along the way and a nightly nationwide conference call.  Talk about intense!

The idea behind this journey is to raise awareness and to raise up prayer for the tragic cycle of the modern day slavery cycle called Human Trafficking.  There’s a great lineup of speakers to educate and enlighten listeners on what this really looks like in our world and how we can become involved in the fight against it.   AND … yours truly will even be hosting and speaking on Tues. night–so don’t miss it!   Here’s the day by day schedule of speakers and how you can join the call each night.  I hope you can make some of them!

________________________________________________

The basic agenda for each call is as follows: opening prayer and welcome; a speaker will share stories/testimonies of his/her personal relationship with modern-day slavery followed by a call to action; Q&A; and prayer. The call starts at 8pm CST and may last around 45 minutes. You are encouraged to join us for the entire call, but feel free to join if even  for a few minutes. You may participate or just listen, but please come and get informed! To call in, dial 1-218-486-1600 followed by the access code 472085#.

Sunday, March 23rd

The bikers/visionaries behind Biking Against Human Trafficking – Eric Hanson, Stephanie Fisk, Eric Retterbush and Clay Massey – will be sharing about how this bike ride came together, why it’s important to them and why it should be important to you! Check out their bios in “member bios” at www.freewebs.com/baht.

Monday, March 24th

Breaking Free: Sisters helping Sisters break free (St. Paul, MN). Breaking Free serves women and girls involved in systems of prostitution/sex trafficking and other battered women who have been involved in the criminal justice system. Beth, who both works for Breaking free and is a survivor of prostitution herself, will be sharing her personal story and raising awareness about the vicious cycle of trying to break free from sexual exploitation. http://www.breakingfree.net/

Tuesday, March 25th

NightLight, The Well and SHE. These are three organizations in Thailand that are reaching out to prostituted girls in the red light district of Bangkok and Phuket. They provide housing and discipleship and basic life skill classes while providing job training in jewelry-making, purse-making, etc. Past world racers – Amanda Dums, Morgan McKeown and Lynette Lee – will be sharing stories of when they worked alongside these orgs while serving in SE Asia. http://www.nightlightbangkok.com/    http://www.servantworks.org/well

Wednesday, March 26th

Make Way Partners (Alabama). Through the hope of the Gospel, they go to the most vulnerable and least protected to end human trafficking and modern-day slavery. Kimberly Smith, the president, will be sharing about their involvement with human trafficking in Sudan, Eastern Europe and the US of A. http://www.makewaypartners.org

Thursday, March 27th

Center to Restore Trafficked and Exploited Children(Iowa). They are committed to the protection and restoration of trafficked children, focusing on their physical, mental, psychological and spiritual healing. They are dedicated to re-humanizing and reintroducing the children back into societywith a sense of dignity and a right to be free. D.J. Steen, a speaker and visionary of CRTEC, will be sharing about how human trafficking affects our kids right here in America. http://www.crtec.org/

Friday, March 28th

Not For Sale Campaign. Not for Sale is a campaign of students, entrepreneurs, artists, people of faith, athletes, law enforcement officers, politicians, social workers, skilled professionals, and all justice seekers, united to fight the global slave trade. Not for Sale aims to educate and mobilize an international abolitionist movement through the innovation and implementation of open-source activism. Inside the United States, the campaign identifies trafficking rings and collaborates with local law enforcement and community groups to shut them down and provide support for the victims. Internationally, the campaign partners with poorly resourced abolitionist groupsto enhance their capacity. They believe that every single person has a skill that they can give to free an individual living in bondage. Keisha L. Hoerrner, Ph.D, – the state director of Not for Sale in Georgia – will be sharing about what they are currently doing to end modern-day slavery and how you can become a modern-day abolitionist. http://www.notforsalecampaign.org/

Saturday, March 29th

David Gutnick has been working with CBC Radio (same as NPR) as a writer-broadcaster since the mid-1980’s. One of David’s passions is finding alternative ways of telling stories on the radio. This past December he traveled to Mauritania, Togo and Ghana to report on modern-day slavery and human trafficking. He will be sharing a first hand account of what he witnessed while traveling throughout these three African countries. http://www.cbc.ca/news/background/slavery/

Sunday, March 30th

E. Benjamin Skinner, the author of A Crime So Monstrous: Face-to-Face with Modern-day Slavery will be sharing about his first book that was just released Mar. 11, 2008. Going undercover when necessary, Skinner infiltrated trafficking networks and slave quarries, urban child markets and illegal brothels. In the process, he became the first person in history to observe the sales of human beings on four continents. Born in Wisconsin, Ben Skinner graduated from Wesleyan University. He has reported on diverse topics from five continents for Newsweek International, Travel + Leisure, and others. He now lives in Brooklyn. Click here to read the first chapter of his book. http://acrimesomonstrous.com/

Monday, March 31st

Chad Mast – who currently works for The World Race – will be calling out a generation of radicals to pursue Jesus and justice at all cost. As the body of Christ, we have a responsibility to love and serve our neighbor. He is passionate about waking up a generation to their identity and role in the Kingdom. Chad has traveled to over 30 countries and five continents to serve and learn from the poorest of the poor. And, hopefully, the bikers will be able to check in and share a quick report about their bike ride! http://www.chadmast.theworldrace.org/

More info about the bike ride can be found at www.freewebs.com/baht.

 

Brian Welch- “Save me From Myself” March 23, 2008

Filed under: testimony — charredsmore @ 2:38 am

A friend recently told me about Brian Welch’s conversion.  This man was in the band Korn, and is now serving the Lord.

 Talk about amazing!  I wasn’t even into Korn, but I am thankful for the Spirit moving in Brian’s life. 

 Check it out…Brian Welch’s story

 

SMG: Day 34 March 22, 2008

Filed under: Ministry Stuff,Power of Prayer,Surprise Me God — charredsmore @ 9:09 pm

Friday again, these weeks fly by so quickly!  For those who are just jumping in on my blog world, I should give a little update as to what “SMG” is all about.  I have been doing a “Surprise Me God” experiment, each day asking Him to surprise me.  Sometimes this comes as a new revelation, encouragement, new friendships, provision, or whatever – I just ask that my eyes are opened to receive.  I only have 10 days left, as I will complete this experiment on my Birthday, March 31st – SMG:  Day 44.  But let’s be honest, the experiment won’t stop, I just won’t write about it everyday.  Being a follower of Christ is an adventure and He always has surprises for us. 

I drove over to pick her up…for the fifth/sixth week in a row.  It gets a bit frustrating, but it’s always worth it. 

She says she wants to come, she says she’ll be there at her house ready to go, and she’s sincere. 

The pulls of the world suck her in and Friday night she is nowhere to be found. 

Freedom – she cries out for freedom. 

Freedom from her lifestyle, from her abusive boyfriend, from drugs, from alcohol, from her “job”, she craves freedom. 

God is after her heart, her whole heart, her whole life. 

He is chasing after this one. 

He sees her. 

He knows her. 

“K” who I mentioned a couple days ago is getting rocked.  I drove up to the center and saw him standing in the parking lot waiting.  Who was he waiting for?  His twin sister and mother were on their way to come to “church” with him.  His other sister, brother in law, and great nephew were already inside.  Let the party begin!  Woah, I was so surprised to see this man at Uprising.  I mean, here is a man who has his own story, the story that is all too familiar in Cairo.  He had worshipped with us about a month ago at Elmwood after “randomly” running into us.  “K” is different, so different it was hard to recognize this fellow.  I told him and asked what was so different.  “I’ve been on a three year drinking binge, today is the first day I have not drank.”  Hallelujah!  He shocked his family by calling them and inviting them to church, they jumped on it and came – his twin sister from Kentucky.  They spent the day taking their mother out for a drive and out to eat.  She was thrilled, hadn’t been out of the house for a month.  The Lord is doing a mighty work in “K” and in the process bringing his family together. 
Worship was a bit different, Good Friday service.  Sara put together a lovely combination of scripture reading, communion, candles, and music from the Passion of Christ.  Since we do not have an Easter service, we didn’t want to end with all the lights low, but instead to CELEBRATE the resurrected Christ!  There was worship music playing, but not live from the stage, this time it was from our itunes library, a mixture of reflective and celebratory tunes.  At first I thought, “What are these people going to think?  Are they comfortable?”  We were dancing around the room with banners and raising our hands to the Lord.  Their little boy picked up a piece of material and so did his grandmother.  We danced around the cross, integrating some of our Jewish style dancing.  After a couple songs, I could sense they did feel comfortable.  Gary got on the mic and explained our ministry, to paint a picture of who we are and what we do.  He thanked them for coming and told them we would have a few more worship songs and they could leave at anytime.  They stayed.  At the end we opened it up for people to receive prayer.  Surprisingly, both of “K’s” sisters and even his mom wanted prayer.  We prayed over them and the Father’s heart was expressed.  God is so good.  He is bringing healing and wholeness to this family.  I love seeing the Spirit at work.  Thank you Lord for this family.

 

SMG: Day 33

Filed under: Community Member Spotlight,Surprise Me God — charredsmore @ 8:45 pm

Before I even write about the events of today, I wanted to share with you some great quotes from my little friend “M”.  He is a 2nd grader who participates in our afterschool ministry on Tuesdays – Elmwood Club House.  A 46 year old trapped in a 7 year old’s body.  Seriously, he says the most profound things sometimes during our Bible study.  Every Tuesday I come home thinking, I need a “M board” for quotes, he is so funny!  Sara beat me to writing a blog about this, so I will direct you to her website:

“Out of the mouth of Babes”

God is in the business of transforming lives.  It is evident through many people’s lives in Cairo.  We are seeing His fingerprints on people here who once struggled with addiction, mental illness, violence…

For the past couple weeks I have been going to visit a community friend.  Although I have only known this woman for a couple years, she has shared much of her story with me.  Single mom of a 6 year old, in and out of mental hospitals, her daughter in and out of foster care providers…the story continues.  Recently the court case was finalized that she will now have full custody over her precious little daughter, she is a capable, fit mother.  When I saw her this week I was overwhelmed with the goodness of the Lord.  He has plucked this woman from the pits.  She is filled with joy, hope, and perseverance.  She is determined.  She is a fighter in the faith.  As I observed her sharing her struggles and victories, I was amazed at what this woman has walked through.  Victory is hers in Jesus.  Now she is looking forward to moving into an independent living facility in town.  She takes care of her own bills (her own payee) which is something her social workers told her would never happen.  She now has four little jobs that she thanks God for every day.  Her childlike faith is so encouraging.  She is a generous woman who seeks opportunities to serve.  On different occasions she has come early to our Friday night service helping with the meal and staying after to clean up – even taking the dish towels home to wash them for us.  I praise God for she is a first-fruit of what He is doing in this community. 

Continue to pray for this woman as she walks through complete healing and victory!

 

SMG: Day 32

Filed under: Surprise Me God,Uncategorized — charredsmore @ 8:27 pm

Today we served a delicious Easter meal at the Kitchen Table.  It will be the last meal served there until Tuesday due to Holy week.  I nearly forgot as I was inviting people to bring their Bibles on Friday.  One gentleman asked, “Where will we do Bible study since you will be closed on Friday?”  I can see the hunger in him for more.  This was the same gentleman that when I asked for favorite Psalms, noted Psalm 119.  Yes, there is hunger here, and not just for a hot meal.  I keep praying the Lord would bring FREEDOM to the captives.  Lord, bring your sweet freedom.

Gary and Sharon graciously accepted their invitation to celebrate with a Southern Baptist Church, Gary forgetting all about the men’s Bible study he usually leads on Wednesday night.  Jesse and Greg decided to go for it anyway, and drove over to pick up a man we met at our Uprising service about a month ago.  When Jesse called to see if they could pick him up for Bible study, the mother, (who is nearly 90 years old) who had mistaken him for one of her son’s drinking buddies responds back with a sharp, “The hell you are!”  Regardless of this conversation Jesse and Greg go over to pick him up for Bible Study.  They end up doing the study there, except for the fact that Greg and Jesse didn’t even have their Bible’s with them.  I guess the whole thing was pretty comical as they sat around the kitchen table reading the scriptures with one another.  That’s the body (of Christ) right there – Jesse – a young white male in his 20s, Greg – a middle aged African American man, K – a middle aged white man struggling with addiction and mental illness, and his mother all seeking the Lord.  I love it!  So, the men’s Bible study man be taking a new turn – grandma’s now welcome!  haha.  Greg (who has been a faithful one attending our weekly worship services) pipes up at the end, “And we are still doing our worship on Friday if you would like us to pick you up!”  That’s great, God is showing Greg that he is a valuable part of our ministry and can also invite people along.  If you knew Greg, you would know this is HUGE!  Praise you Father.
Meanwhile, Gary and Sharon are at a Southern Baptist service and fellowship meal following.  Gary sharing testimonies of the Lord’s faithfulness in our ministry.  Stacy and I were attending day 1 of a Youth Revival.  I don’t even know how to respond to the revival.  I first must tell you that I so appreciate this church family and what they are doing in Cairo, they have a heart to see this place renewed.  The message was taken from Genesis 29, and the pastor just “kept it real” while bringin’ the message.  So real that people were blushing with embarrassment.  I’ve never quite heard a message like that.  I had to look past the bluntness of this character and see that his heart is to see youth raised up in genuine faith.  Yes, Lord, I agree, raise them up.  The evening reminded me of this message I heard while at the One Thing Conference in Kansas City – Hip Hop to IHOP (International House of Prayer).  I highly recommend listening to this message – God is transforming the hearts of many African Americans, bringing them to a place of intimacy with himself.  These brothers and sisters have a strategic place in the Kingdom.  He is sweeping through this community of people and raising them up in this hour.  Praise God.   I will try to get this message linked so you can listen to it from my website. 

 

SMG: Day 31 March 20, 2008

Filed under: Surprise Me God — charredsmore @ 8:57 am

Tuesday morning, we met at Elmwood to pray and worship.  The Spirit leads.  Usually we end up singing a new song at the end, a song that none of us have ever heard or learned, just a new song from our spirit.  You know the kind.  Anyway, before that happened, Kristy reminded us of a vision and some scripture God had given her while we were at IHOP for our internship (about three years ago).  Two rivers representing fasting and prayer came together and flooded the land in with four words.  These words were pleasure, provision, proclamation, and power.  Each word had a corresponding verse.  There were a couple other things the Lord had spoken to her, “Living in the Kingdom now.”  Most of these things at the time were a little foreign to us.  We didn’t quite know what it all meant.  It is neat to reflect back on these words and now actually see them unfold.  Yes, we see them in part, there is a fullness that is yet to come. 

 Today I was prompted to read and pray these verses from Hebrews over our team:

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”

 – Hebrews 11:1

“Without faith it is impossible to please God, anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who diligently seek Him.”

-Hebrews 11:6

I must remember that there are things moving in the “unseen” realm.  We must remind ourselves that He rewards us for diligently seeking after Him.

Lately I have been thinking about my good friend from high school who is a grad. student on the Scholar-Ship.  It’s hard to communicate with her as she has limited Internet time.  I miss her dearly.  Today I received a post card from her, from South Africa.  What a nice surprise.

 

SMG: Day 30 March 18, 2008

Filed under: Community Member Spotlight,Surprise Me God — charredsmore @ 9:41 am

Today I am going to tell you about a man in Cairo, let’s call him “V”.  We’ve known this cat for a few years now since moving to Cairo.  He was different back then.  V would stop by asking for a cold cup of water or sandwich – how can you pass that up?  I mean come on!  “Whatever you do for the least of these, you did it for me.”  V would mow Kristy’s lawn or or something as an offering of thanks.  Sometimes he would be clean, other times he would be hyped up on crack.  We always asked the Lord to give us hope for this man.  He has enduring love for him in the midst of his addiction.  V would talk about the Lord, he would talk about his love for Jesus and his desire to follow him.  Today he is different.  There has been some major deliverance in his life, by God’s grace.  This is the same man who ministered to the women on the street the other day.  Yeah, the same guy.  Now clean for eleven months.  Hallelujah!  We went over to the high rise apartment building to visit and pray with him.  Clear minded, communicating his heart of love for the Lord, talking about his desperate need for Jesus every day, and sharing scripture he clings to – our brother encouraged us by his testimony.  WOW!  A new creation in Christ.  As we prayed for him I was in awe of what the Lord has done in this man’s life.  A few times during prayer he knelt down in adoration telling the Lord how much he loved him. 

I believe he will be one of the laborers in Cairo gathering the great harvest. 

Release POWER in his testimony Lord.

Thank you for this new creation.