My classroom called life…Kingdom lessons

My desire is to abide

Day 3 November 20, 2008

Filed under: Biloxi,Ministry Stuff,Power of Prayer,Travel — charredsmore @ 10:09 am

prayer

I was able to return to the same house, which is great because I was hoping to reconnect with the two custodial staff I prayed with the day before.  The morning started with us praying together as a team.  It felt really good to commit our day to the Lord, asking Him to guide us, protect us, open up opportunities to speak to people in the community.

I recognized last night during our processing time, that I really love to work hard and do physical labor and construction stuff – learning new skill and all.  BUT, I also LOVE to be with people.  To encourage them, to speak words of life to them, to pray with them.  It is more of a challenge when I do not have this kind of daily interaction.  Plus, I am really missing Cairo.  I never thought I would say those words.  Usually I am so happy to get a little bit of a break from that place, that I don’t really miss it at all.  Now, I feel much differently about Cairo.  No longer seen as a mission field, but seen as my home (one of my homes).  Okay, back to Biloxi.  People interaction, yeah, that is what I prayed for this morning.  Also, I prayed for surprises.  God provided in answering each one of the prayers we lifted up together this morning as a team.  It was certainly fun and entertaining to see them unfold.

The neighbor came home home and we began chatting with him a bit.  Found out he works nights, so he was on his way in to sleep before going back to work.  A nice guy, and I was hoping we would have more interaction with him.  Our team has not actually me the home owner of the house we are working on yet, because of his busy work schedule.  I am just dying for people interaction, you hear me?  Anyway, so the neighbor ends up stopping by a couple hours later.  He tells Mike (our team leader) that he has a surprise for us.  We began joking around, “Maybe he is going to do a song and dance.  Maybe he is going to finish the sheet rock.  Maybe he is going to install the toilet for us.”  haha.  The surprise was better than all of those silly things.  He told us that recently he began playing his saxophone again.  He hadn’t played in years (probably since high school).  There is a song that had been rolling around in his mind the last two days and he practiced it yesterday (not even with the sheet music).  He kept trying to get some sleep, but he heard a voice telling him, “Go over and play the song for the goup and don’t worry about messing up the notes.”  I asked if it was the Holy Spirit.  He said yes, but he had never heard this voice before.  Was I thankful for his obedience!  Such a beautiful song flowed from the bell of his saxophone as he moved through the song with such ease and gentleness.  I was taken back by the beauty.  After soaking in the moment, he began to describe the impact that we had on him, coming from Illinois to volunteer and help people we had never met.  He realized that he too has something to give and that he must not be selfish, but give.  Pray for this man, W as he described himself as non-religious.  Heck, I am not religious either (except about brushing my teeth), but I think people have different definitions for the word.  Praise God for His divine placement!  I am praying that W will continue to hear that voice and yield to Him.

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Blessings from heaven… November 17, 2008

Filed under: Cairo Kids,Dreams,Ministry Stuff,Power of Prayer — charredsmore @ 5:38 pm

God has been blessing my socks off lately!  Really, each week when our team gathers for our staff meeting we begin with highlights from the last week.  Usually there are too many to recount!  So, I decided to begin a little list.  These are blessings from the past couple weeks, no last couple months (not in chronological order).

bridge-in-clouds

  • Two Rivers was able to move the computer lab into the Shawnee Ext. in town.  We have a unique partnership now with the college – in fact, Kristy is even employeed by them to run the lab.
  • Our home (aka. Hannah’s House/CHOP – Cairo House of Prayer) is now mostly complete.  Over the past three years hundreds of volunteers have spent time getting the house ready.  God has provided for the materials and labor.
  • My sister is ENGAGED to Israel Heard, a wonderful man of God who I look forward to getting to know better as he becomes my brother in law.
  • New doors are opening in my family – communication, love, serving each other.  Praise God!
  • My friend Anthony in town is teaching me how to play the keyboard.  He is pretty much a rock star – oober talented and patient.  Thanks Jesus.
  • God is anointing me to write songs and record them.  Yipppeeeeee.
  • My friends (away from Cairo) are really growing in the Lord.  I am hearing amazing testimonies from their mouths of the goodness of the Lord.
  • In the midst of financial struggle for our nation, I am not stressed or anxiety filled.  The Lord has been my provider and continues.  In fact, the more I give (by direction of the Spirit), the more He provides.
  • My confidence has grown for being in Cairo for another season, as long as it lasts.  I really feel like Cairo is home (one of my homes :)).  No that is not a double chin, it is a double parenthasis. lol.
  • God is constantly reconnecting me with old friends from high school and college. 
  • New friends want to join my support team.
  • My Bible study with the kiddos has expanded from 1 to 2 to 4.
  • The Bible study is now held at one of the kid’s homes.  I will write a seperate blog for this one!
  • God has given more favor in the community – people are trusting us and calling us in crisis situations (daughter running away/daughter needing a place to stay…)
  • I am on a mission trip with our Colfax (IL) friends in Biloxi, MS and I didn’t have to pay a cent.  More importantly, God has built a unique partnership with this group.  First they came to Cairo on a mission trip, next we went for a visit to Colfax for Harvest of Hope, and now we are serving TOGETHER in Biloxi.
  • New doors are opening at the high school.  I have been volunteering in the junior high math classes (the high school and junior high are combined), and now I help out in the band class once in a while.  I have been helping take pictures for the yearbook.
  • The Bennett Elementary students trained for a 3 mile race for 5 weeks.  I was able to help out two days a week and ended up running the race with them.  I beat my time too.
  • I have started working with a small group of boys to help them record their beats and rap.  They are only allowed to rap about Jesus and the Kingdom when they record with us.  I am AMAZED at the lyrics that come out of their mouths!  The Holy Spirit is totally speaking through them.
  • We had more regional friends coming to our Friday worship time.
  • I have “randomly” met new friends in Paducah, KY while hanging out at the Books a Million coffee shop.  Friends that are wanting to come to Cairo for a visit and to join our team in fellowship.
  • Started going to a new church in Paducah, KY – Faith Center.  I am blown away by the way these people conduct church.  It is not your typical bless me club, but true preaching and true community of believers who have faith in an almighty God. 
  • Southern IL is going to have a Call – a gathering of saints for worship and intercession.  God is gathering the believers in this region, something we have been praying for for three years.  Others have been praying for this for over 20 years.
  • Amand and Jess (who both worked with Two Rivers and lived with Stacy and I) are now working with Adventures in Missions (in Gainsville, GA) with Community Life.  Basically a program that is very similar to what we do in Cairo. They came on a mission trip to Cairo a couple weeks ago, which was an incredible blessing to both us and them.
 

Your Kingdom Come November 5, 2008

Filed under: Power of Prayer,Revelation and Growth,The Word — charredsmore @ 6:17 pm

Some put their hope in man, while I choose to put my hope in a LIVING GOD. Some believe that our nation can be turned around by one man. I believe that our nation can be turned by the power of the Spirit.

Our nation is going through the fire right now. There will be things our generation has NEVER experienced, we have no idea the things that are to come. We are living in Matthew 24…prophesy being fulfilled before the King returns to the Earth.

I believe that in the midst of trouble, trials, and tribulation the Kingdom of God can still be flourishing. Yes, I believe that God is raising up His people, the people that are called by His NAME. I do believe that when Jesus taught us to pray, “Your Kingdom Come, Your will be done, on Earth as it IS in Heaven,” He wasn’t messing around. Jesus is not a liar, so I am going to keep praying this prayer, and I suggest you do the same. You see, the Kingdom of God can be flourishing even when the Kingdom of this world is falling apart.

Do not grow weary in well doing brothers and sisters, for in the end we will reap a harvest of righteousness. It’s a promise. Our God doesn’t mess around. Trust in Him alone. He is able.  Raise up Church.  Wake up Bride.  You are royalty, you are called to reign with the King of Glory! 

Let us cry out with ONE voice, “Your Kingdom Come!”

“If my people, who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray, and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and heal their land.”
~1 Chronicles 7:14

A letter to God written by Sara Rust, the night before Elections:

Dear God,

I thank you, Lord for the words of Paul, his consistent confession that he was not eloquent. I think I rarely have moments of eloquence, though I often yearn for them. Especially now a days, Lord. I wish I had all the perfect words and powerful prose to communicate all you put on my heart, but my words are continually feeble. My thoughts seem persistently sparse. I am increasingly becoming a fool to the world.

I pray for our country, Lord. I pray you would teach me how to pray for our new leadership. I feel like I’m watching Israel cry out for a King and wondering if you will answer with a Saul. I long for that day when we won’t have to settle for fallen men to lead us in fallen ways. I long for the day when we won’t be molded by the media to believe whatever it wants us to believe. I long for the day when the church won’t compromise, and she would remember who she is and the authority she has – that she would remember when the righteous rule, everyone is blessed, as Your Word says- and not that it’s about choosing that perfect candidate, but about the church as a body, stepping up to reign with Christ here and now. Remind your bride that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. God, would you raise up someone who fears you, who knows they are not the savior, the answer, but a servant above all.

I know, Lord there is so much that grieves your heart in my country. 50 million little babies gone. I know it’s not just another issue to you, who formed them in their mother’s wombs and knew them before time began. I know Lord it’s not just a pro or con I can weigh in the balances of decision making. It hurts you, It breaks your heart. This hidden holocaust. I’m so sorry, Jesus. I’m so sorry we’ve made it into just another issue with no conviction in our hearts, we go on like nothing has happened because it’s all conveniently out of sight. God would you raise up your bride to be your bride! A new creation, with a citizenship in heaven that she would not operate out of the logic and methods of this world, but walk with the wisdom of God – eyes open, ears open to your Spirit. We look so much like the world, Lord, let us be conformed more and more into your likeness.

So teach me, Lord. Teach me how to pray. Teach me how to be a citizen in heaven, but a participant here on earth. Teach me how to walk according to your Word and for the purposes for Your Kingdom. May my faith not be an extracurricular activity, a half-hearted spiritual luxury. May I walk by faith and not sight. May I esteem no man over you. May I vote and support not based on man’s principles, or to create a “Christian political machine” but simply to honor you, to bless you, to align with Your Kingdom.

I trust you, Lord. You are the only change I can believe in. So I ask tomorrow, Lord that you would bless Israel. That you would remember the unborn. That you would silence the enemies and the lies and confusion he has unleashed on our country. Lift the veil. I’m not asking for a certain candidate, Lord, I’m asking for your will.

Open a door, Lord that many would be saved. Have mercy, bring us to that place of repentance. Let us not build our own kingdoms, but be drawn into Yours. Awaken your bride, Lord.

Sara’s Blog

 

Reflections of a white woman living in a black community… November 4, 2008

THREE YEARS AGO

Everyone loves going to the basketball games in Cairo, in fact the school is known for its amazing basketball players. As I sat in the high school gym for my first Cairo ball game I couldn’t help but glance around at the faces in the stands. There were about 10 white people in the entire gym, and I came with five of them. Did this bother me? No, of course I have been in situations where I have been the minority – churches, volunteered at different schools…Was this a problem to me? No. What hit me at that moment was the fact that I had just moved to a community that is predominantly African American, the tables were turned. Now I am was the minority. Let the reader understand I am in NO WAY trying to describe my experience as a parallel to what African Americans (and other minorities) experience every day, and in NO WAY am I saying that I can identify with their struggle. At that moment I had a revelation, I had NOTHING to offer the people in Cairo. Prior to making the move, I was the typical idealistic college grad. Who thought she could conquer the world with Jesus on her side. Jesus gives does give me victory in every area of my life, however I had a bit of pride that needed to be stripped away. I had to see that it wasn’t about my great ideas, my knowledge, my wisdom, my plans, my proposals, my dreams…it was about HIS. And let me tell you, I needed to come to that place of feeling absolutely worthless to the community – without Christ. Questions swirled through my mind as I looked around. This wasn’t just a basketball game, this was my life, this was my community, this was my ministry, this was my new home. I wondered how I could fit in. I wondered how I could identify. I wondered how I could show Christ’s love. I wondered how I could make an impact.

THREE DAYS AGO

After staying up all night and worshipping with my brothers and sisters at SIU in Carbondale, I decided to get a little sleep before heading off to the Mounds Celebration. Mounds is a little town right next door to Cairo. They have a town parade which travels less than a mile, concluding at the park with vendors, a petting zoo, and games. Usually I don’t go to these types of things alone; it’s just more fun with a group of people. Today was different, I knew that I would go by myself, everyone else was still sleeping. I was determined to cheer on the Cairo Band as well as visit some friends at the park who had booths set up. Since I don’t know many people in Mounds, I parked next to some Cairo-ites and hung out with them during the parade. I snapped a bunch of pictures of the parade and the Cairo Band, hoping that some would be put in the school yearbook. As the band marched on by, my heart was beating along with the deep drums thumping. The energy is contagious. Afterwards I walked to the park to check out the happenings there. I was pleasantly surprised to see some old friends. A couple gals who were involved with the dance team I coached when I first got to Cairo, Coraviece, and Deborah and Johnny, along with some new friends who own horses in Olmsted. It was great reconnecting with people, a blessing to see people I have built relationships with over the past three years of living in Cairo. It was a satisfying afternoon, and I was thankful that I went to the Mounds celebration despite my lack of sleep. As I drove home, I had a flashback of my first Cairo basketball game.

My, how things have changed. My heart and mind have been transformed since moving down here. My perspective has shifted. I no longer see myself as a minority, although this is true, I see myself as part of the whole. I am a member of the Body of Christ.

I need you, you need me.

That’s it.

I praise God for sending me here to Cairo, for it has been a place of refinement and revelation. Thank you God that I truly have NOTHING to offer this community except you in me.

 

The Siege Cairo April 10, 2008

Filed under: Ministry Spotlight,Ministry Stuff,Power of Prayer — charredsmore @ 3:21 am

 

This summer we are embarking on a new journey, 24/7 prayer for 50 days. 

 Over the past three years, Two Rivers has developed from a community center to a house of prayer-seeking to transform the tiny, poverty stricken town they call home through praise, worship, warfare and intercession in the heavenlies. This is all done in the midst of true Acts 2 community living and growth together as the body of Christ. Click here for more information about Cairo and how you can get involved with what God is doing there.

JOIN US:

www.thesiegecairo.com

 

Revival in their midst April 9, 2008

Filed under: Ministry Stuff,Power of Prayer,testimony,Travel — charredsmore @ 8:54 am

Would you expect to see revival in the midst of a cornfield?  It’s happening in a rural community about five hours north of us, near Colfax, IL.  People are hungry for more, God is moving. 

Our group stuffed the white van full of sound equipment, instruments, and luggage.  We were off for our weekend adventure to connect with our friends.  This small Lutheran church has supported us in all sorts of ways – encouragement, service in Cairo, finances, resources, food…the list goes on.  This group of saints have a “Kingdom” mindset and desire to sow their seed on fertile soil.  A portion of their “harvest money” goes to the spiritual harvest field.  Talk about a biblical model.  Tithing their first fruits (Proverbs 3).  God is blessing their generosity, He keeps giving them more to give.  I am certainly learning much through their example. 

 

We were invited to be guests at a banquet, to share the vision of what the Lord is doing in Cairo, how God has used their investments and how we can continue to partner.  They had a feast for us.  Afterwards we lead a time of worship.  A bit different than their usual, but they were sure open.

 

Talk about a hospitable bunch!  We were each split up into different host families for the night, giving us an opportunity to meet all sorts of people from their church.  I was placed with this sweet older woman from the church.  You never would guess she was over 80 years old.  This church is composed of families.  People who have been a part of this church for generations.  A great spiritual inheritance. 

 

Sunday we joined in their worship.  Kristy gave a message on the Kingdom being near, speaking about the Lord’s prayer in Matthew 6.  Jesus taught us to pray, “Your Kingdom come, as it is in heaven, let it be on earth.”  We have this spiritual authority in Christ to ask for things to be manifest on the earth as they are in heaven.  Amen.  After church, they asked us to lead a couple worship songs for their Sunday school time.  This is where things got a bit interesting.  We started with a couple fast paced songs.  I saw some stirring, body movements.  They are not used to clapping in church, so the kids didn’t know if it was okay to move around a bit or clap during the song.  A couple of the TR ladies started dancing with the little ones.  Such joy.  Such purity.  A couple seconds later, some bold adults joined in.  Even a couple men!  That’s right, grown men, doing Jewish circle type dances and shouting, “Praise the LORD!” I was astonished.  Then the pastor joined in.  A couple women went into the kitchen and pushed out the boys that were hiding.  Before the end of the song, many of them were out on the “dance floor” praising the Lord in a new way.  It was pretty remarkable.  I got a little teary watching this all take place (as I was leading worship seeing it unfold)…here I was in a little old church in the middle of a cornfield and revival is breaking out.  Who would have thought?  Where there is hunger, the Lord has NO boundaries.  If you ask Him, He will come. 

 

 

 

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.