My classroom called life…Kingdom lessons

My desire is to abide

SMG: Day 25 March 14, 2008

Filed under: Cairo Kids,Ministry Stuff,Power of Prayer,Surprise Me God — charredsmore @ 9:07 pm

Gary prayed for divine appointments this morning.  One of my favorite prayers…a surprise me God all on it’s own.  I shouldn’t have been surprised as the days events unfolded, but I was.  Thanks Lord for a day filled with ministry to women. 

While praying in the teachers lounge at Bennett we were able to pray for a teacher.  He had his first year in Cairo last year, he was actually the third teacher to enter that wild and chaotic 4th grade class.  He stuck around, by the grace of God he stuck around.  He has such a father’s heart for these kids, it’s incredible to see this male role model loving these kids.  He shared a “mini-miracle” that had happened yesterday.  One of his rebellious students from last year (who had gotten written up at least 9 times) came to him and apologized for her behavior (no, she was not prompted by a teacher, she went on her own) last year.  She has not been written up this year.  Praise God!

On the way out we are greeted by a pastor in town as he drops off his grandchildren.  He said it has been his morning ritual for the past 5 years.  He talks about his desire to spend more time with us, to fellowship.  Not just once, but to regularly get together.  We talk about the Youth Revival his church is putting on next week – a couple other pastors are actually speaking at this event.  Before he leaves we pray for him, hands held through the car window.  God has been moving on Gary’s heart for the past 4 + years in unifying the Shepherds of this town.  This man is one of those faithful le pieces.  

Instead of driving to the Kitchen Table I felt the Lord wanted me to walk.  Yes, silly, I know, but the Lord can even direct these “little” steps in our lives.  I should be walking anyway, it is less than a mile away and the weather is getting warmer.  Everything in Cairo is pretty close.  The sun was shining, the birds were chirping.  The BIRDS, oh man, if you come to Cairo you will know what I am talking about, those dang birds!  It’s like we are in a Hitchcock movie or something.  Anyway, back to my divine appointment story.  I see two of my friends walking on the other side of the street.  I love these women dearly even though I have a hard time understanding their life.  Prostitution, drugs, violence, and alcohol are all too common in their world.  I don’t have a clue.   I just love them.  We chatted for a while and then I prayed for them.  Usually they break down in tears wondering why their defenses are down when we pray.  The Father touches their hearts, He brings hope to their spirit.  He lavishes His love on them.  They don’t understand and have a hard time receiving, but they are always open.  One of the ladies is truly desperate for the Lord, she is desperate for change.  She is hungry for more.  She recognizes this is not the life the Lord has for her, He has more.  She continues to ask me to pick her up for our Friday night worship.  I’ve heard this before, but I don’t get offended.  I tell her I will pick her up and that I want her to be a part of our family.  She is not meant to be alone.  Before we depart ways, a man walks by to give one lady a message from her ex-boyfriend.  Now, this man has his own story.  Without going into details, he has been in and out of drugs for many years.  He truly loves the Lord and is experiencing victory over his addiction.  Every time I see him he has a song in his heart.  As we stand there on Washington street – the main street in Cairo with cars whizzing by, I feel so content.  This is how ministry looks in Cairo and I love it.  I feel the Lord prompting me to have this man minister to these women.  They really don’t know him in his new identity.  So, I ask this gentleman if he has a word from the Lord to share with these women.  Without hesitation he starts declaring truth from Psalms 1, the importance of remaining in the council of the righteous, and staying away from the council of the wicked.  He explains how important this has been to him in his relationship with God.  The women look at him, look at me and shake their heads in confusion.  “Heather, is he right?”  “I believe so, let’s look at what Psalms 1 says.”  He reads it to them.  They are still shocked that this man knows the Lord and his scripture.  When he is done with his mini-sermon, I ask if he would pray for us.  We all join hands and he blesses us in prayer.  Victory for this man has not come easy, but the Lord has taken him step by step.  Pray that this time the enemy will not snatch away the seed.  Pray for these women, I believe they too will be mouthpieces of VICTORY in Cairo.  That people will look at them baffled by the power of the Holy Spirit in transforming broken lives.  Lord, do what you love to do. 

Tutoring went amazingly well!  I just prayed beforehand, “Lord, breakthrough, allow __________ to understand and give me continued favor.  I want to do more than tutor, I want her to know you Lord.”  After I picked her up we sat outside and worked on her homework assignment.  Well, we talked for about 20 minutes and then started her assignment.  It was so good to hear her story, where she came from, hear about her family.  It was so funny, as I would give her advice, she would say, “You sound just like my sister.”  Ha, talk about favor!  We move onto math.  She doesn’t really like math and struggles, but she presses on.  She really tries to get it.  Today there was much progress.  Praise you Lord for answering that prayer.  It is so hard for me when I have to leave a tutoring session knowing that she hasn’t grasped the concept.  Today was different. 

B and B is not really happening (Beads and Bible study), but that’s okay.  Structured programs rarely work here, so you have to flow with it.  It’s good though because it got me out there talking to women again.  Tonight we visited with another community friend.  It is hard to hear about her struggle, her fight to survive in this town, her bitterness, anger, and unforgiveness.  The conversation transitions from gossip to prayer.  She soaks it in, receiving each word from the Lord.  After we finished praying I was surprised to hear the words,

“You know, we have to forgive and love those people who hurt us, or else we are just bound up.  We need to let go of it and be freed of it.” 

 “Yes, yes, yes.  You are exactly right, and the Lord will be the one to allow us to do that. – It’s pretty much supernatural to love your enemies.” 

Loving the wicked, Jesus did.  I can not forget His words,

“Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”

Talk about a day full of surprises! 

 

Beloved Cairo February 2, 2008

Filed under: Cairo Kids,Ministry Stuff — charredsmore @ 11:20 pm

Catching up with the events of my small community on Stacy’s blog, I caught a glimpse of the faces I miss dearly.

 Faces of Cairo

by SIU students

 

Ebeneezer in Ms. G’s Classroom December 15, 2007

Filed under: Cairo Kids,Friend Spotlight,Ministry Spotlight — charredsmore @ 10:23 pm

My friend Melissa has a history with this little town.  Before returning to teach 5th grade, she has had quite the journey.  Melissa had spent two summers working with YouthWorks and the in between months doing an internship called GreaterWorks in this “hidden community”.  The Lord spoke to her powerfully while she was in Cairo working with the children…He told her that she would become a teacher and return to Cairo.  Now, there posed a bit of a problem, since Melissa did not have her teaching degree or certificate.  She had gone to school for Social Cultural Studies.  Hmmmm….what is a girl to do?  Go back to school of course!  So, that she did.  For two years this gal perservered through classes, exams, PSAT tests, lectures, curriculum writing and wallah, she is now a teacher at Bennet Elementary School!  I am amazed at the Lord’s provision and faithfulness in her life. 

This story was written by Melissa and Sara while reflecting on one AMAZING day! 

Ebenezer.

December 5, 2007. 

Bennett prayer.  Stacy prayed for specific things, for specific breakthrough to happen, that God would release things in the school and classroom.  Melissa and Stacy prayed that God’s power would be evident in the classroom. The morning at school was surprisingly decent, mood-wise and attitude-wise.   In the afternoon, when Sara came in, the atmosphere change.  Students began to get a little more rowdy, began to argue with each other, had a hard time working with each other in teams.  Basically, things weren’t going too well. Melissa takes kids to Gym.  Meanwhile in the classroom, Sara prays for the atmosphere to change, for God to move and switch things around, where there was loudness for there to be quiet, where there was chaos there to be order.  For peace.  For the Spirit to come. 

[Enter Holy Spirit…ha ha ha…Spirit was already there ;o)] . 

D and K were beginning to get at each other downstairs on their way back from Gym, they were told they couldn’t come back the next day.  Melissa determined from their attitude that silent reading wasn’t going to happen, so on the way back to the classroom she changed the lesson plan.  Melissa grabbed the Chanukah reading that Ms. Case had given her a copy of earlier that morning.  The class read through the reading.  K asked if the Jewish believed in God.  Melissa explained that they do believe in God but unlike Christians don’t believe in Jesus. Then D raised his hand and asked, “How can they believe in God if they don’t believe in Jesus?” 

Then Melissa explained that the Jews were waiting for someone to save them, but did not believe Jesus was that person. 

Then D raised his hand again and stated, “I don’t get it.” 

Melissa asked them, “Okay, who was Jesus, what did He do?”

D: He died on a cross.

M: Why did He die?

D +(several other kids in the class): For our sins.

C: for our sins….I go to church

M: The Jews believe that he was just another person dying, not dying for our sins for purpose of everlasting life. Do you understand? 

D: Not really.

M: Think about it.

K: Why did they whip Jesus, like in that movie Passion of the Christ, cause it was all gross and stuff? 

Melissa explained that back at that time they used to hang people and whip them because they had committed a crime.  They used to do it publicly, mockingly, to set an example to others to not do the same thing.   

D: (raising hand again) I still don’t understand how they believed in God and not in Jesus. 

Sara explains how the Jews were waiting for a King.  And how the Old Testament gave them clues to what a King would be like.  But they expected a King with riches and power, Jesus came humble and poor, so they didn’t recognize Him as a King. 

S begins to explain a movie she saw about Jesus.

S explains about another movie she saw about Jesus.  She said it was really sad when Jesus died.

V shares how Jesus died with nails in hand.  The class discussed how they were real nails in His hands.  Discussion bounced between kids and different things they remembered about movies about Jesus or church experience. 

 A shares about Tribe of Judah (ministry Two Rivers had for the children) and a time when they did a lesson about blood on the doorpost and how it was icky and she didn’t want to touch it. 

Melissa tells the students that the bell is about to ring, and they needed to do their jobs, but that she would love to continue this conversation as they did their jobs.   

D says to Melissa that this could be their community circle time. 

  

M: Yes! This is an awesome community circle time! Children clean. And conversation about God continued. 

Sara tells D he asks good questions.  He asks again why the Jews didn’t believe.  Sara tries to explain again about prophecy in the Old Testament and the pride of the priests, helping him see that Jesus was a threat to the power of the Jewish priests.    

K’s job was to clean off the board, then he wrote “I love Jesus” on the board. 

Then S went up to the board, erase “I”, Keenan got mad.  And she replaced it with “We all”

And K was satisfied.   During this entire time there was order and peace, the class was not out of control or loud at all.

Other students went to the board and began to writes praised to God, including “Jesus is da man”. 

Class ends. 

Students leave. 

Sara and Melissa do a happy dance, praise God, and pray. 

Amen Lord.  

Amen.