29 August 2016

light

Friday our fourth year class and several visiting professors and Matt had a very interesting trip to the mosque in town.  The darkness of mind and life presented there by the imam and followers seemed so apparent to the students that they couldn't imagine anyone thinking it was light.

And yet, that's often how darkness works, isn't it. "If the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness." Matthew 6:23 
Thankful they had this chance (the female students are waiting in another room, as that they were not permitted to sit with the men in this inner room) and also that we all had the chance to hear the Crescent Project's inspiring presentation on how God is at work among Muslims around the globe.  There are places Matt and I will never be able to go that men and women from Haiti may very well...we continue to pray and train and come alongside.

Several of the visiting professors headed out on Saturday afternoon, with their partners at Emmaus finishing their classes for them this week.  After everyone was in bed I even got to do some happy-crafting this weekend.  As we've been praying and leaning into very specific things for ourselves and each other as EBS missionaries this year, this is Em's word...and I'm always looking for an excuse to pray through something crafty!

Don't worry...these things have a max load of 300 lbs :)  Lily and Sofie have been loving having Sam and Joel next door, but I think "Coach Julie", who has started teaching them gymnastics, might be their favorite!  They both want to be Simone when they grow up, but I'm pretty sure Lily's already too tall!  It's wonderful to have the Edlers in our lives, and Bill starts teaching his first course next week!

Matt preached at the English Bible Fellowship in the afternoon Sunday afternoon, but in the morning we listened to the man I frequently get confused with Jackie Chan, Francis.  Always so good and true, his messages are.

An image he shared this time that was so simple yet powerful was with a flashlight.  He had a flashlight in his hand and pointed it all around the room, showing us all the things he could draw our attention to.

Chan talked about how we could shine the lights we have at other things, or at ourselves, showing others all the things we can and can't do, how great or how wretched we are, how talented or worthless we are, using our light to shine on ourselves.  

Or, and turning his back to the audience, he shined his light on the cross, pointing everyone's attention to Jesus, making it impossible to even see Chan's face or to loudly hear his voice.

What a fantastic image of our calling, brothers and sisters, to use the Light with which we have been transformed to shine everyone's attention NOT to ourselves, but to Christ.

It's with this image, we head into a new week...



27 August 2016

the standard of the atonement

Your theology must work itself out, exhibiting itself in your most common everyday relationships.
You may know all about the doctrine of sanctification, but are you working it out in the everyday issues of your life? 

Every detail of your life--whether physical, moral, or spiritual--is to be judged and measured by the standard of the atonement by the Cross of Christ.

--O. Chambers, once again hitting me in the deep places, for His glory

26 August 2016

at work

You'd never guess we were only five days into the semester...and what a good five days they have been.  We are SO thankful for these local and visiting professors, pouring God's Word and lifetimes of experience into our staff and students.






Not only are discipleship groups each afternoon throughout surrounding villages back in full swing, but we also were able to partner with Bethesda Medical Clinic on Saturday and our church plant in Fev to do a mobile medical day...in which 200 were seen, hundreds were prayed for, three asked to leave their old lives behind and follow Jesus, and our visiting team from Northern Ireland were able to help out!


Look at these pictures with me, and praise the Lord.  He is at work, at work, at work.  Thankful to be vessel-ing along for the ride.

24 August 2016

Hold on to your Ambition...

Falling asleep as fast as we can fall into bed seems to be a theme around the Ayars house lately, but in an effort to relish those rare quiet, childless minutes of the day, I flipped open Matt's most recent issue of Christianity Today tonight only to come across this article on why we must be ambitious.

To be honest, I've never had to work on being ambitious.  I have far more of an OVER ambitious problem, and those who know me well are always trying to reign me back in with helpful advice about lowered expectations and how that would help adjust the frequency and depth with which I am disappointed.

It's can be a problem.

But it is ambition--set out on what He alone can do--that gets me back out there every day...that has helped us persevere through so many trials, that continues to bring to every discouraging situation that element of hope.  He is not finished.  He is at work.  Let us focus and pray and continue on...not because Haiti might...not because next time might...

Because HE.

Here's a bit of what the author shared, and if you have a minute, read the whole article here...so good!

"The most ambitious person who ever walked the earth is Jesus.  Christ lived with a crystal-clear will and one orienting desire: "to do the will of him who sent me and to finish His work" (John 4:34).

There was nothing passive or happenstance about Jesus' life and ministry.  He had a pure and powerful inward zeal: to preach salvation, to heal the sick, to raise the dead, to be a stumbling block to the haughty , and to take up the cross to accomplish his most important work of atoning for the sins of the world.

This is the type of ambition that we are to have, no matter our stage of life or sphere of influence.  Oriented toward God, ambition is the setting of the will to accomplish the desire of the heart.  It is the motor that keeps us pressing for hints of the kingdom of God in our offices and schools and city halls and homes.  Ambition is the choice to continue pursing God's will when our energies and passions are sapped.

Our limitations need not kill our ambition or lull us to passively accept whatever happens in life.  Rather, our limitations an clarify the tasks we are to pursue with our limited time on earth and limited reserves of energy.  With Christ as our model, our limitations are the very foundation upon which true ambition rests.

Jesus knows our every limitation, weakness, and even temptation to worldly ambition from the inside out (Heb. 4:15).  It also means that He can use our limitations to accomplish his purposes.  If he can use the cross to accomplish his purpose for us on earth, he can certainly use our limitations to do the same.

The ambition God invites us to is a cross-shaped ambition: to embrace our inability to "have it all" so that he may BE our all.  

Likewise, the contentment to which God invites us is a cross-shaped contentment: to choose to say "thy will be done", to accept our constraints, because it is often through human weakness that God most clearly displays his power and glory.  

23 August 2016

remembering why

Monday was both our first day of class and our last day with our team from Northern Ireland!  After doing lots of service projects, touring ministries and a medical clinic, the only thing they really still wanted to do was "get out in Haiti a bit more."

There are lots of touristy ways to do this, but the best way I know to get into people's lives is head for the hills.  Enick, one of our graduates from 2009, has been ministering on an incredibly remote mountain village since he graduated, and yesterday seemed like the perfect chance to show our Northern Irish friends more of true life, to give our Vietnamese visiting professor Nheim the chance he's been looking for to be a part of the "real" Haiti, and to visit, pray for and encourage Enick.

After chapel, at 12:45, I mentioned to Leme that we'd be doing this at 1:15, and he asked if it was ok for a few students to go along, if they wanted...thirty minutes later, I had 7 first-timers, and Lily, heading over the hills with me.
I know Matt thinks hiking voluntarily in Haiti in August on the first day of school is close to purgatory, but I love everything about it.  And yesterday--with such a neat group of men and women with such unique cultural experiences and world-views and perspectives--was just SPECIAL. 
As we walked through villages, greeting children and mamas and men playing dominoes, Nheim was nothing but nostalgic.  "This is EXACTLY what my village was like.  I WAS that little boy!  Our village looked just like this, I ate mangoes just like that, I played soccer barefoot right over there, it was hot just like this...this is my home!"
How awesome to experience that with him.
The students, of course, were a bit nervous that I had lost my way.  "It doesn't seem possible that there is a church somewhere out here!  How does he DO it?" they marveled, and I saw the wheels turning.  Jacsene was especially moved by all the hundreds of people we greeted.  
"There are SO many people up here!" he kept saying.  "You just would never have thought it!  Everywhere you look, you see or hear or see signs of people.  And there are NO churches in this village!  How many of these people have never heard the Gospel?"

As we walked, it hit him deeper still.
"How many thousands of OTHER little villages and mountains are there in Haiti, JUST LIKE THIS, where no one has heard? Where no one has the chance to hear?  What if Enick wasn't up here?  How far must people travel to hear the Word?  Oh oh.  Something must be done."


And at that, he did what he could, talking to everyone we passed, asking them if they had heard about Jesus, asking if they knew about Enick's church, asking them if he could be praying for them.

And while it didn't remind our NI friends of their childhoods, nor did they have a completely new perspective on their calling as pastors in Haiti, it did show them far more of life...what it looks like, the hearts of the people, and how to pray for this new burden they have called Haiti.

When we finally arrived, Enick shared with us a bit of his vision, some of his joys and burdens, a bit of his calling, and I was so thankful for all of us to have a better insight into praying for him, and those like him.

My last several visits, he's been living in one of the school classrooms.  This time, however, his straw cot has been moved to the tumbling supply depot, and he explained to me that there are now four youth sleeping in the classroom.  After working with these young people, all of whom had struggled with different versions of demon-possession, their families were continuing to take them to the witch-doctor for healing.  No matter what Enick said and did, he could NOT convince their families that there would be NO freedom outside of Christ, and finally, he took the youth in, protecting them from well-meaning but entirely lost families.  Now, he meets with them continually, praying and teaching and working with them on "cleaning house and being filled."
 
Singing with him, praying with him, altogether, listening to all the ways God was touching hearts and stretching minds.
..it was a GREAT day to be the sweaty lady in the middle.

I stopped the team for a few minutes on the way home to catch up with "my" triplets, now four, cute as ever and still just dearly loved by a mom and dad who continue to touch me with their simple joy and trust in the Lord.
I was most touched however, this trip, by a little neatly woven shack in a neatly swept yard.  Bethany pointed out branches of cactus were hanging, upside-down, from all four corners of the home.
I know enough to know it was a voodoo thing, but after we walked on, I asked Wileme about it. 

He confirmed that it was, and explained that oftentimes when a new baby is born, or if there is someone particularly fragile or vulnerable in the home, it is common for those who are not in Christ to hang shards of glass, knives, or even thorny cacti, from each corner, making it more difficult for evil spirits and curses to come in.  It was an effort to threaten away, to trick, evil. 

It touched me anew that today, in 2016, there are still people in this world, many people, who live in such fear and darkness that they would do such a thing, would believe that thorns could keep out evil.  

In it, you see love of course...love for that baby, that sick person, a desire to protect.  But that love is utterly and completely lost.  Afraid. Desperate.

Worthless.

The great need in Haiti, in the world, for Perfect Love continues.  

Love is NOT all the same. Love is NOT all you need.  

It is only Perfect Love, His love, that casts out fear, that shines Light in darkness, that lifts veils from clouded eyes and brings Truth in twisted times.
And any day I get to walk in that Love, with Northern Ireland and Vietnam and Haiti and my daughter around me, with men and women who are determined to live it and give it is a GOOD day...and a great way to start a new year training up.

It was a good day to remember why.



22 August 2016

everybody's busy

The girls are busy with their new cat, which they've been begging for for MONTHS.  Yes, this is a terrible idea...it will only get eaten by the Doberman or the neighbors, Nora keeps eating the cat food, and the girls are having a terrible time focusing on their school work.  The things we do for our kiddos...:)

Meanwhile, after an awesome student retreat/orientation last week and picking up four visiting professors on Saturday, this morning kicked off a new year of classes!

First year is with Dr. Tran learning Inductive Bible Study, second year with Dr. Lake and Jodenel, focusing on Discipleship, third year with Professor Bobanoit studying Leadership, and Professors Westbrook and Keller of the Crescent Project, teaching Islam and the Christian Faith to fourth year!

Meanwhile, Nora is keeping busy with her newest bestie, Joel, who is 6 months younger than her, but more significant in size :)  She decided to take her first step yesterday, which ended the day in 6 or 7 steps...she is so proud of herself!

Yesterday was a full day of church in Flavil with our brother Belony, lunch in town with all the visiting professors and the team from Northern Ireland, and then a pizza night last night with everybody to celebrate Julie's birthday!  Sam was very. very. into cupcakes!

Thankful to have so many first-time visitors and visiting professors here right now, very thankful for so many radiant students and staff around us this morning, thankful for Belony's testimony of a dedicated, patient, bold and full-of-integrity pastor yesterday, and to be busy, alongside, today.





19 August 2016

flourish

The last two days have consisted of a lot of sweet reunions, hours of different staff members meeting with the students covering details like water usage and meals and dorm life and classroom standards, worship, devotional time, basketball and soccer matches, registration, course changes, and we even got back to our evening family walks on this beautiful campus with beautiful friends.

It's been such a joy to catch up with everyone, to once again hear the roar of laughter coming from the dorms, to listen to worship music float out of the chapel, to be eating the food that Lily and Sofie have been asking for every day since last semester, to be bumping into the men and women who have been bumping into our prayers and hearts these last months.  A campus is much better full!

Thank you for your continued prayers!  Four visiting professors join our three visitors from the UK tomorrow, and Monday, classes begin!

On an unrelated note, Nora's just the cutest.

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