12 November 2019

The Witchdoctor Who Came to Emmaus

In this dark, fearful and confusing time for Haiti, God continues to do that which only He can do...win the battles. 
For hundreds of years, hundreds of thousands of people in Haiti have gone to the witchdoctor, looking for help, looking for answers, looking for something better. On Friday, one of these witchdoctors came to Emmaus instead, looking for the same thing. 
Praise the Lord, Something Better is not far off, His hand is not too short to save. Be encouraged by this quick testimony from President Matt Ayars, bringing light to things that cannot be changed...CHANGING.

11 November 2019

(still) our response

I am reposting this post from last October on our response in times of crisis and need...It is still so pertinent, maybe even more than it was when I wrote it, which at the time, seemed hard to imagine!  As we respond to hurting people even today, may it be with wisdom and perseverance, humility and His leading!

I generally flee from controversy.  I HATE confrontation, hot topics, passionate debate...oh man.  I am the girl staring at her hands in the corner wishing I could melt into the floor.  I just want us all to agree and get along and be at peace and stick together.

So, I'm not going to get into anything crazy.

But I do want to say a short (yes, I know you don't believe me when I say short ) word about responding in times of need.

Haiti is (and always is, frankly, but especially now) in a time of need.

But I'm not just talking about Haiti.  I'm talking about many countries.  I'm talking about refugees.  I'm talking about hurting people.  I'm talking about your best friend dealing with issues in her marriage.  Your husband losing his job.  I'm talking about homelessness, I'm talking about helplessness, I'm talking about your jerk co-worker, our struggling-with-worry neighbor, our children feeling left out at school, our lost friends, our found friends...struggling people.  People in times of need.

Need for peace, need for Jesus, need for food, need for help, need for prayer, need for housing, need for work, need for redemption, need for forgiveness, need for relationship, need for hope.

Can I give a few suggestions for responding?

1.  There is NO situation that needs our response.  

None.  The sooner we get this into our minds, the better.  This crisis does not need me.  This person does not need me.  This situation does not need me.  In fact, Stacey will probably most definitely just make it worse.  

EVERY situation, every hurting person, needs Christ's response.  What the world needs from us today, brothers and sisters, is Christ's response in EVERY situation...not just a "good" heart and "good" intentions.

God has GIVEN us His word so that we have countless examples of God's response in light of pain and suffering.  Don't just say amen, here.  We must believe it...there is nothing of ourselves that is capable of making a difference or bringing good.  He is the only response needed, and until OUR response mirrors HIS response, we need to keep it to ourselves.

If I had a nickel for everytime someone has told me that a gift or effort or response was "good enough for Haiti" or "better than nothing"...

Brothers and sisters, there simply IS NO "good enough for Haiti."

It is not FOR HAITI.  

Our response is not FOR the hurting person, not FOR the hurting country, not FOR the hurting heart.

Our response, Christ-followers, is FOR a mighty and holy and loving God.  

Only responses of Christ, FOR Christ, are good enough...every single time.  In hours of great need, and even in conversations of conflict.

2.  Don't do one thing until it is Spirit led.

OH, this is one of my greatest challenges. I see and experience so much, and my heart is SO quick to lead itself.  I know what to say!  I see something I can do!  I know just the thing.  I am led by me, I am led by emotion, I am led by others, I am led by guilt.

...and so I jump, and 10 hours later, I'm realizing that God might have had a far better for-absolutely- EVERYONE involved idea...if only I had sought it and W-A-I-T-E-D for it. 

Learn discipline with me here.  See the situation, hear the need, feel the feelings.

And then refuse, utterly refuse, to act until you are confident that the Holy Spirit is leading you in a certain direction.  One of the most common ideas and names of the Holy Spirit in God's Word is "The Helper."  THIS IS WHY we HAVE the Holy Spirit.  To HELP.  To help us do and feel and think HIS very best.  

Are we relying on the Helper?  Or are we relying on the human?

How do we know the Holy Spirit's leading?  

In my own life, His leading is usually a thought, Scripture or idea that emerges during prayer that is TOTALLY different than a Stacey thought or idea. If it "comes out of nowhere" and we are in continual prayer and following hard after the Lord, it's usually coming from Him.  

What He is showing me is also confirmed by others or by Scripture.  I frequently pray for the Lord to confirm an idea or Word that I think might be from Him, and He has always been faithful to do so.  Someone will mention, randomly, the exact same thing.  An article will unexpectedly surface speaking the same truth.  My Bible reading for the day says the same thing.

The Holy Spirit's leading is always going to be consistent with Scripture.  He doesn't lead us where the Truth is not.  The Holy Spirit doesn't have different ideas than God's Word...so one way of confirming His leading is to be in the Word, and make sure the Bible confirms it.

Matt says this all the time:  God is a very competent communicator.  When we are waiting and persevering on His voice, His direction (instead of already being a mile into our own plan) will be clear and He will be faithful to communicate with us.  

This is no far off God, people.  Our Living God sees and knows the needs far better than we do...He sees and knows what is needed far beyond human wisdom.

He WILL lead us, if we will refuse to move otherwise.

3.  Let's think a little bit.

All that said, God has also given us a brain for a reason.  I have seen the last several days countless images and articles of wonderful organizations of well-meaning people sending thousands of pounds of rice and oil and foreign food to Haiti.
You are not going to like this part...I hate this part.  But I have to tell you, because it's true.

Can I tell you how many times I have gone to the market and seen everyone selling and buying food with the words: "Not for sale, rescue relief donation" written on it?  In English?

Can I tell you how many times I have experienced people, hungry people, refusing to eat foods they don't recognize?  American foods?  Because they're not Haitian foods?

Worse, can I tell you how many times I have seen people harmed, children harmed, because they received food or gifts?  Seen complete chaos and violence over trying to take free things from each other?  I have handed a small begging child tiny change, only to turn around and see him being pummeled by bigger boys, the money taken, the child left bleeding and empty-handed.  I have seen grown men beating each other violently over a shoebox of toys meant for a small child!

 Can I tell you how many friends we have who sell rice, who sell oil, who sell chickens and shoes and peanut butter and they are left with no customers, NO WAY to support their families, because "help" has sent it all in for free, and now no one will buy from them?

Days after the earthquake in Port-au-Prince, I saw women surrounded by MOUNTAINS of rotting, Haitian produce that NO one would buy because organizations were giving food from other countries away for free.

I stood on that lettuce, friends.  I took this picture.  It CHANGES how you think.

Can I also tell you that everything you read or see online IS NOT TRUE.  This probably goes without saying...your mama told you this...but it is so easy to forget! Seeing it on Facebook or even the news is NOT the same as seeing it, understanding it, or even how it really is.  Though it seems that the truth is so easy to come by these days, just a click away, it is still our responsibility to research and read and search out the truth in what we see.  This is why we ask GOD to guide us, He who KNOWS, not Facebook.  Not media.  Not our friends.  Not even our own emotions.

I'm not saying giving things or money to people is never the right thing to do!  I don't know what it's like everywhere.  I don't know that this is always the case in every situation.  And I do NOT want to be or make anyone cynical, or make us throw up our hands and quit even trying to help, or criticize anyone.  

When we  DO give to those in need, give directly to the hurting people you are in relationship with and know their needs...or give to people or organizations that you trust and know HAVE direct relationships with those in need.  (For example, send financial support to organizations you know, trust, who work with the local people, who have local people on their boards and in their leadership, who have been there prior to the crisis, who will be there far after.)  

We often think about instantly meeting needs  and not about long-term, true HELP for people...what's going to truly HELP lives and situations, beyond right now.  We don't think about what's happening after we walk away, or after the crates leave the shore.

We don't always think about what's going to point people to JESUS.

Stop and think, not just about Haiti, not just about other countries, but about EVERY element of helping ANY person, those people in any kind of need.  IS this solution self-sustaining, long-term, healthy, good, God (not us, not our country) glorifying and the very BEST we can do?  It is our utmost for His highest?

I know sometimes giving in certain ways feels SO GOOD.  But truly helping those in need CANNOT be about what feels good to us.  It has to be about what IS good for the person in need.

Again, God knows what that is, even when we don't, and He WILL guide us, if we ask Him to and wait. 

4.  Don't. Stop.

Responding to those in need is almost NEVER a quick-fix, two second thing.  Your friend going through issues in her marriage is NOT fixed in one coffee-date.  Your hurting co-worker, not solved in one kind card.  Refugees, not redeemed overnight.  Victims of disaster, not fixed with a pack of spaghetti and a granola bar.  

Responding like Christ to those in need is a LIFE WORK, friends.  Discipleship is a life-work.  Help is life-work.  Prayer, precious family, is to be our life work.

Don't. Stop. Praying. 

Don't. Stop. Asking God what to do, how to help, to lead.  

If you're led to do something, do it, your very BEST, until it is complete...even if that means always.  Don't just be picking people and places to pray for based on what we see on Facebook.  If God gives you a clear and heavy burden for a place or person, don't stop praying for them!  Pray for them every day...make praying for them a part of who you are.

Don't stop asking the Holy Spirit to show you, persistently if there is anything He wants you to be doing, and to give you the boldness and love to do it.

Responding well--responding like Jesus--takes great humility, great courage, great pursuit of Christ as the solution.  

We are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith, and persevere.  Hebrews 10:39.  

We are IN this for the long road, friends, in all our worlds of need, because He is. Helping well isn't SUPPOSED to be easy...it is why the Bible tells us to take courage so so many times, it's why Jesus shows us how.

Take courage. Love all around you while you Wait on the Lord.  Faithful is He who calls you.  Go, and DO IT.

Praise the Lord we serve a long-run God, with never-ending, never-stopping, never-shrinking love, and that we have a hope, a firm hope, in He who never fails.  

09 November 2019

catch up

I have a million pictures stacking up of all the in between :)  Here's a quick catch up proving that life carries on!
Best news on the block is that Aunt Sharon is here for 2 weeks. We just needed some family. We are so thankful. She's earning her keep, running the NICU, helping with homeschool, dish duty, keeping Nora in books (that girl can ask you to read 13 books and still want more!) and loving us well.

Sofie, well, Sofie hasn't changed.
She has started adding "reward" suggestions for her weekly goals, and apparently we are gifting too low :).  If anyone ever gets bored, we'll loan you this girl :) 

This week as a few schools tried to open, under the radar, the girls school called and asked us to send them.  We took a major mama-leap of faith, and this was their fourth first-day of school picture.  
You really can't blame them :)  They had a GREAT week at school, 9-12 and were overjoyed to be back with their friends, finally with their new teachers, and to be out of the house and have all the school "news" in their lives again.
Lily and her kitty, and Sofie and her Granny.

The other day I found Nora, having dragged the box over to the counter, helping Ben get into the Jello :) These four keep me ON my toes!
Despite all the troubles, our classes continue to be full, praise the Lord, and for His protection of our staff and students, every day.

Tuesday staff prayer meeting Lucner shared more about the ins and outs of the revival of faith happening, the pressure he got from many pastors to hold services only in churches, the pressure he got as the leader for his responsibility if someone got hurt.  

Lucner's sheer demeanor of faith and courage is such rich encouragement, and this Tuesday prayer thing is just a joy...as those who are strong encourage the weak, and the next week, all those roles have changed. 

The students have been loving getting (and working through the English!) from your letters of prayers and encouragement...thank you!  Again, on the days we are weak, your faith makes us strong!

My two hair twisters :)
Friday night we spent with our good friends down the road who left today for five or six weeks, and tomorrow we'll worship at Belony's church so I can FINALLY meet their sweet new baby, and then we're off to see off some other friends!  All these goodbyes are hard, all the ups and downs of life...so thankful for His constant faithfulness, unchanging.  We need Him, and He continues to be enough. Thank you for your precious prayers!

07 November 2019

a matter of perspective

The more time I spend in the Word, the more time I spend in prayer, the more time I spend in worship and Bible study and chapel and church and study with believers, the more my faith is strengthened. 

Some might say that to passover all the news and warnings and dangers and words of the day and feast instead in God's Word is to put one's head deep in the sand. 

I would argue that it is to plant one's feet deep in the sand, instead. 

Our perspective on our lives being greatly shaped by His perspective is of the utmost importance. There IS no greater reality. 

Forget even shaping my perspective, Lord, just give me yours. Give me yours.

When He does, the things of earth just grow so strangely dim. That which was impossible to become on our own strength and view starts to take root in our lives.  And as they do, we start becoming the men and women He has asked us to be. 

People of peace. Those who rise up with joy. Those who are strong and courageous. Those who keep no record of wrong. Those who love their neighbors, those who speak truth, those who are faithful, those who are growing, those who are being poured out. 

Taking on His perspective begins in us the transformations He offers, teaches, and requires. 

There are so many depressing perspectives on the day that I'm just not strong enough to take them on any more. 

But His?  

His perspective on Haiti? His perspective on my life? His perspective on my children? His perspective on that which concerns me today? His perspective on ME?

That, I can take. Because not only is it LIFE-giving and chain-breaking, but He also is ready to HELP us have it, every step of the way. 

If you're struggling today, shut down all the other perspectives that our day and age is SO quick to push, and get into the Word.

Turn on some worship and let your phone light up, let dinner burn, let the kids make a hot mess, let the night get too late, let the early morning wear us down, whatever...and get into the Word.  

Read it. Read it again. Study it. Pray through it. Keep going. Copy it. Journal it. Wrestle with it. Surrender to it. Read it out loud. 

If you agree with what you're reading, amen.  

And if you don't, you have the wrong perspective.  If you don't, you are wrong.  Lay your understanding down. Pick His up and trust that it is true without seeing it for yourself until you do. Or don't. 

What grace, what strength, what courage, what peace, what growth, what meat His Word has been giving me this painful famine.  

As we pour over His Word continually, it starts to sink in and change our perspective, and as it does, it changes our lives.


Praise the Lord!  

If you want/need a reading plan to keep you in the Word daily, try this one...I'm almost through it and LOVING the grace days to catch up that it provides, and the parallel readings for each day from the Old and New Testaments.  

If you don't have a Bible, I will send you one TODAY. Please email me.

05 November 2019

let us see what God will do.

Let me tell you about the darkness, for a moment, so I can tell you about the Light.

I'm not sure when lawlessness has run as rampantly in Haiti as it does right now, and days are filled with horror stories and rumors, and little by little, you realize that which is insane has become quite horrendously normal.

It is crazy to me that things have gotten so bad that good people trying to do good things for the good of Haiti are having to do it in secret, hiding it, to avoid attack. It is crazy to me that men and women fighting for the good are being threatened, that children are being threatened, that education is being threatened, that businesses are being threatened. It's crazy to me that evil has become so prevalent that good has to hide to carry on.

As people wonder who is good and who is bad and which side is right and which side is wrong and what to believe in this mess, I don't know.

But I do know this.

Men threatening to kill children and burn down schools, for ANY REASON, are evil men.  Men burning down businesses and robbing and hurting and violating innocent men, women and children are ruthless and evil men, working for darkness and destruction. 

The enemy is the one who is bringing death and destruction and lies and fear and confusion, in my life, in your life, end of story. 

That which Haiti once celebrated: a child going to school, a person having a job, having products to sell, having a bit of food to eat...Haiti is now hiding, if courageously fighting for it, at all.

As I continue my Bible readings now through Ezechiel and John, is not that different from where God's people were at thousands of years ago, where God's people have been, and where God's people are in many other places around the world, TODAY.

There is an area not far from here called Bois-Caiman, a huge open field and surrounding homes where for 200+ years, political figures, business men, witchdoctors and people from all across Haiti have come because evil spirits are known to be powerful and very present there. Different voodoo celebrations throughout the year are often held at Bois-Caiman, lots of sacrifices, horrible stuff I can't write about.

The main spirit there calls itself Briz, and it comes down when conjured from the mountain in a huge wind. Every time it returns to the mountain, it takes the life of one of the children in the homes around the area of Bois-Caiman.

There are many believers who have lived within minutes of Bois-Caiman for their whole lives, but who have never set foot there, because THAT area of ground belongs to Satan. Out of fear and perhaps an effort for righteousness, the church and Christians have stayed far away, not wanting to be a part in darkness.

Over the last months, more and more parts of Haiti have been given over completely to that same darkness.  Parts of every community. Parts of people's lives. The ugly parts that come out when desperate. The evil parts that come out when afraid.

In times of darkness, darkness grows, and it was with the realization that Haiti is in a battle it seems to be losing that caused Pastor Lucner--our dean of advancement at Emmaus, our brother in Christ, the senior pastor of the Vaudreil Church, an Alumni of Emmaus and our friend from day one in Haiti--to go on the offensive.

Last Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, the Vaudreil Church fasted, prayed, worshiped and preached from 8 am to 3 pm.  Everyone. Everyday. They saw healings. They saw conversions. They saw freedoms. And as they studied His Word together, they remembered and fanned that mustard seed of faith into a fire, instead of huddling at home fanning fear.

I LOVED experiencing this fleshed out through Gertha, just a member there, as she grew in courage last week, and announced on Thursday that she WOULD be going with the church on Sunday, marching to Bois-Caiman for the first time in her life, breaking chains LONG standing, claiming the bloodied soil for Jesus, lifting up praises to the Lord, praying for the people, claiming the area to NEVER be touched by spirits and demons again, claiming the land for Christ.

And they did. 

Twenty four churches under 24 pastors marched to Bois-Caiman Sunday morning...walked the three miles singing and praying, and as they did, believer after believer came to Pastor Lucner along the road, warning him that the main witchdoctor of Bois-Caiman was going to approach him, and offer him his hand, and that when Lucner shook it, the demons of Bois-Caiman were going to kill him on the spot, in front of everyone

"Let us see what God will do," Lucner said over and over.  "Have faith."

The churches had been threatened already. They were going to have rocks and bottles thrown at them.  Politicians who come all the way from Port-au-Prince routinely to tap into the evil power at Bois-Caiman for their financial and political successes were going to hire thugs to kill them. The demons were going to eat them upon their arrival on 'their' land.

"Let us see what God will do," Lucner said over and over again.  "Have faith."

The Church, our brothers and sisters, our family, your family, were so many that they surrounded the entire area in a huge circle, and for the first time in the history of Bois-Caiman, 200+ years, GOD'S praises rang out. 

I don't care what you think or believe about spiritual warfare and demons and their power and what you've seen or heard or haven't or how it seems to be different in Haiti than it is where you are...

An area of Haiti that has been in utter darkness and horrific sin and where His name has NEVER been lifted up was totally saturated in hymns of light and praise and glory on Sunday, and THAT is exciting.  

The sacrifice of faith was given instead, communion was taken by hundreds of believers, the wine poured out in remembrance of THE Great sacrifice that covers all.

And as they sang and prayed and gave the place to Jesus, the people of Bois-Caiman came out of their homes and celebrated....for they have lived in fear FOREVER. They have lost their children. They have lived in bondage, and the church had NEVER come. Light had NEVER been brought.

A man far across the circle emerged...aggressively walking alone, hand out-stretched at Lucner, who smiled again even in the retelling of the story.

"When he finally got to me, I grabbed his hand like he was a dear friend I hadn't seen in 20 years," Lucner said. "I shook it in front of everyone like my grip would break his bones, and it was totally silent, as everyone waited."

"He finally let go, and stared at me," Lucner said, and I grinned at him and began to tell him about the One True God."

"When I did not fall, when NOT ONE BOTTLE had been thrown, when not one pebble had been cast, when not one threat had materialized, when not one old lady had even grown faint in the hot sun, he scowled and fled the circle, for after all these years, his ground had finally been LOST."

Renaming the area "Zion", a symbol long representing the longing of wandering people for a safe homeland, hours later the troops marched home for a worship service unlike any other.

This morning, Lucner popped in my office on his way to his.  "How are things in Vaudreil?" I asked casually, but he is far too on fire for anything casual.

"There is FAITH this morning in Vaudreil," Lucner grinned, laughing. "There is faith this morning in Vaudreil, for everyone who used to think that certain places were for Satan, that certain people were for Satan, that certain things were for Satan and to be feared are NO longer afraid, and they are claiming it ALL for Jesus."

Talk to me family.

Where are those dark places we all tiptoe around in our lives? What are those 'off-limit' things we don't address and therefore have been giving power to? What are those strongholds in our life that have never been flooded with HIS light and His sacrifice? Who are those people that we just won't GO there with? What are those human high places that we simply. won't. take. down.?

Do we have that mustard seed faith today? Do we have faith that those hurts, those sins, those people, those strongholds, that those places we thought couldn't possibly be healed, those hurts we thought couldn't possibly be forgiven, those horrors we thought couldn't possibly be redeemed...can be? Have we fought for them? Have we even simply shown up there? Have we courageously brought other believers there to fight with us? Have we dragged it into the light for Him to work?

This is the time for Haiti.  

This is the time for your life, your place, your world.

This is the time NOT to stay home, but to march there. Not to abandon ship, but to fight harder.  Not to "leave it alone," but to face it. This is the time to call in all the reinforcements and to bring His light and His praise into places you have left alone and perhaps even guarded for lies and darkness and destruction to dwell.

Tell a godly friend or two about that dark place and ask them to help you break those chains once and for all by His power.  Bring a godly friend or two or ten and pray alongside them for that necessary forgiveness or healing once and for all. Ask the Lord to show you where the shadows are. ASK the Lord to bring them into the light of His grace and presence and power, for life abundant.

Whether you believe in the demons Haiti sees every day or not, Satan IS in a battle for you, and he will use even the tiniest shadow where God has not been allowed to shine for Satan's glory, for his advancement, and darkness doesn't just dwell...it grows.

I am praying for you, keep praying for us.  Let us rise and march there today.  Let's GO there.

Let's RENAME those areas, Zion: His holy place, His total presence, completely His.

Let's shine--just a fraction of His glory, radiant on Lucner's face today, as a man in danger of death and destruction, who trusted the Lord, instead...knowing that at the VERY worst, all that man could do to him was bring him into the precious glory and presence of our God.

Fight for Light in Haiti today. Fight for Light in every area of your life today. Fight for those around you, fight for your marriages, fight for your children, fight for your faith. Fight for those dark places. It is in the times that Light is most bushel-ed that it is most badly needed.

May we reach out our hands boldly to that which threatens to diminish, destroy or shake us, for "The God of Peace will soon crush Satan under your feet," Romans 16:20.

Things are awfully bad in Haiti today. Maybe things are awfully bad where you are, too...even if under the surface.

Let us see what God will do.  Have faith.
Lucner, in the pink shirt and smile, with the other pastors leading the day

02 November 2019

the mess we're proud to be in.

Can I just say something?

 Because Haiti is in the mess that it is, tonight Matt is up at the generator house with a truck-load of men with barrels of fuel from Port-au-Prince, trying to get us all more days.

Because of the ongoing, ongoing, ongoing fuel shortage, we cannot pull up to a gas station and get fuel for our car, much less fuel for the generator. Because of the fuel situation, six men and a truck bought some in Port au Prince, 100 miles away before dawn. Because of the road situation, it took them until tonight to get here. Because of the violence/insecurity situation, men with guns stopped and tried to rob them. Because of all that, Phil spent the last many days building and mounting a fuel pump so that when we can find fuel like this, we can pump it into the tank.

So Matt and a crew of men in the dark, trying to transfer 300 gallons.  

That is all ridiculous and infuriating and frustrating.

I headed up to check on them and saw instead what CONTINUES to be beautiful about Haiti...her people.

These friends bought the fuel before sun-up in the most dangerous part of Haiti. 
They drove over the most dangerous and terrible road to get from the South to the North...in the back of a dump truck in the Caribbean sun.
They looked into guns and carried on.
They finally got to the North and their work was just beginning.
They delivered fuel several places before they got to Emmaus.
They haven't eaten since morning.
They finally get here, it's pitch black...and our pump malfunctions.

And instead of arguing, instead of screaming, instead of losing their minds, instead of quitting, instead of dumping the barrels and leaving, instead of telling us it was our problem (which it was), instead of fighting or charging more money or losing it--when I came up to check on Matt--they were all working together, with patience and grace and flashlights and innovation, to fix it.

Men who don't know us were siphoning fuel with their mouths and spitting it out to get the tubes clear.  Maxi, very off the clock, heard the commotion and jumped the wall, in moments sweaty and dirty and helping.  Men in the back of the dump truck were helping men on the ground work through ideas on the problem and how to get it working again, our security guard was holding the flashlight, and when I came back from the office with Gatorades, everyone stopped to politely thank me.  
Haiti is a MESS.

But men like these--I don't even know their names--they refuse to throw up their hands and be victims. 
They refuse to stay home. 
They refuse to lose it. 
You want to know how people are feeding their families right now?  Like this.

They are feeding their families and paying for the hope that their kids WILL go to school, someday--at no small sacrifice, buying and selling and delivering fuel honestly at honest prices in a dishonest day, they are working together, they are working all hours, they are taking great risks, they are working as hard as they can, doing all that they can, to overcome simply impossible circumstances.

I haven't been able to pull up to a gas station and get 10 gallons of gas in our car...for...months.

That doesn't mean Haiti is a bad place to be.

That doesn't mean I am not proud to be here.  

01 November 2019

He works.

Happy November, somehow!

Today is Day of the Dead in Haiti, a largely voodoo holiday here in which there is more darkness being sought and celebrated than normal.  I'm not even going to get into it. 

I am tempted to despair over many things.  Haiti's children are still sitting at home, while children in our home culture are already past fall breaks and posting "50th day of school" pictures, and it kills me. In this huge mess we are in, darkness and confusion are being SOUGHT.  Many someones, somewheres, still thinks darkness and confusion and violence and fear might be the answer...how deeply does Satan hold people in his lies. So much has been lost. There is so much to mourn.

I go through phases of mourning for Haiti and her people every day.

But He is just not letting me dwell there long.

Today is the funeral of Yves, Job and Nellie's father, and as we prayed in their home a few days ago, Yves testified that of the nine children, 8 are following hard after Jesus, because their father, until the day he died, was always, always praying for them.  There are 8 grown men and women in this village, today, with their spouses and children and grandchildren, following the Lord, because this one man led them to Jesus and surrounded them with his prayers his every day.  I rejoice with the heavens, and Matt will rejoice with them today at the funeral, not as the world grieves.

The baby of the young mama who died not long ago from C-section complications/lack of medicaiton is not only alive, but home, with grandma. MIRACLE. They live in the strongest, poorest, darkest, most LOST community I've ever been to in Haiti (read anything I've ever written about Konpech from the above search bar), and Grandma, who also has a 2 month old and five older children, has that baby of her dead 16 year old.  I know this could seem depressing, but I am filled with hope and committed to prayer. The Lord has miraculously given this little one his life, and I continue to believe that God has a plan for Konpech and the 150 people enslaved there and for this baby.  Next week some of the students and I are going to finally meet this little one, to pray for and with his community, and I have hope for this village that has rejected the Gospel so many times and continues to live in such despair.

Today Carol and Phil and Emily are all here with us, and as we all sat around talking and laughing yesterday evening after dinner, I was blessed again to be in such rich community. We needed this fresh community, even if only for a few weeks, to build us up.

New reasons to be afraid seem to be surfacing daily, in fact, it almost seems that humanity is SEARCHING for things to worry about (do you ever feel that way?) and I'm just going to tell you, we are NOT going to go there.

The Lord has given us our burdens to carry....loving our neighbors well, caring for the orphan and the widow, forgiving our enemies, trusting Him, sharing the Gospel, being faithful...we have more than enough to consume our hearts and minds.  The things man keeps inventing to worry about are going to have to be carried by someone else.  (don't let it be you, either.)

In the face of so many lies, so many lies (this is what what what Satan does, friends, pay attention to the lies you are facing and believing and cast them OUT in the name of Jesus, the TRUTH), God continues to be faithful truth for us...such an encouragement. Daily, He meets me with whispers of his truth, far louder than the shouts of the day.

One of our 4th year students rose to preach on Wednesday, introduced as Pastor Phanes, and as soon as he got the microphone, he corrected it, unheard of.  "She introduced me as Pastor, but I am not ordained...I am your brother, please call me brother." He lowered himself, counter-human, and little treasures like this I am storing up in my heart.

Thursday afternoon our students let all our community studies again, and the 13-20 year old group has grown so much that they are now meeting here on campus every Thursday instead of in someone's yard. What a gift to watch them studying the Truth with our young men and women, transformed, to have Rujerry hand out precious American Halloween candy and pray over them.

Pastor Lucner (our dean of advancement)'s church in Vaudreil is having three days of prayer yesterday, today and tomorrow, and Sunday they are going together to a near-by village saturated in Voodoo over the past 200 years to PRAY freedom, to PRAY light, to PRAY broken chains. They are going, physically, on a weekend dedicated to Vooodoo, they are praying, physically, and as their pastor tells me about it his way...one of the young women who goes there, Gertha, tells me her way, too.  She has no schooling. She has no Bible degree. But she has FAITH, and as she pounds my table after lunch over the people in her life telling her not to go, she proclaims, "I will NOT be afraid. If all I say about God is true, I will NEVER be afraid."

Yes, there is mourning in the moments.

But there is fruit that these trials are pushing to sweetness. There is faith that these struggles are firming. There is prayer happening that was previously neglected.
God's character remains beautifully unchanging, and I know He mourns with us...

while He works.

30 October 2019

suffering well

If there were any way one could doubt that Haiti is in a far more spiritual battle than a physical one, we are literally falling asleep to voodoo drums pounding, and waking up with them pounding still.  Satan has had this island in his clutches for a very very long time and he is not losing it without a fight.  I know you have been praying.

Ask twelve more people to join you and KEEP ON, ask your small group, ask your Sunday School class, ask your pastor, ask your mother, ask your children, and reach out your hands to Haiti and PRAY.

Believers in Haiti, Emmaus, the Ayars, we are being threatened on every front. As the enemy is losing, he grows desperate, and desperate terrorism, violence, desperate threats and attacks are MANY. Churches in Haiti are rising up on the ATTACK, going into dark, long-bound voodoo zones and praying for deliverance and breaking of chains.  Believers in Haiti, stripped of ALL physical comforts, even stripped of many physical NEEDS, of all consistency, of all reliability, are on the ATTACK, deeply rooted in HIS unchanging character.

Every belief is being challenged. Every believer is being tested in ways we've never been.

Do we truly trust Him? Do we truly have peace unshakable? Do we truly love our neighbor...love our enemy? Are we truly His Children? Do we truly have nothing to fear? Do we truly believe His promises? Do we believe what the Bible says? Do we truly trust in His love?

If you have ever battled for Haiti, if you have ever sent a dollar or a prayer, if you have ever stood by her, lifted her up, walked her land, felt your heart moved...If the people of Haiti have ever meant something to you, keep fighting for her now.  Fight for her now on your knees.  KEEP PRAYING, keep encouraging, keep supporting, keep battling.

He wins this war. He wins this war.

That does not mean it isn't bloody, and it has been hundreds of years in the making. Neither Haiti nor any one of us will emerge from this fight unchanged....PRAY with us. It IS, PRAYER IS the most important work.

Scroll through our blog and pray for each face, each place you see. Scroll through Emmaus' FB and pray for every man, woman and child you find there. Scroll through the news on Haiti and lift up every soul in sight. Set the timer on your phone and lift up Haiti for five minutes, every single day. Put a note on your fridge and come before the throne every time you see it.  Fight on God's family's behalf in Haiti.

As my third year class and I worked through this devotional by Paul David Tripp this morning while the classroom next to us resounded in worship, it was a GOOD Word in a BAD time, and I prayed over them each at the end that God will MEET Jensen, Alinx, Oteillien, Sdana, Simon, Benson, Odil, Erwens, Olizard, Gillbaud, Guerrier, Charles, Josue and Jhon...That God will MEET them and give them the grace to suffer WELL.

Suffering well is just another one of those Gospel paradigms: in our weakness, He is strong...by His stripes, we are healed...love your enemies...the first shall be last...a little child shall lead them...the humble are lifted up....

I pray for these men and women, for believers throughout Haiti, for our staff, for our brothers and sisters here, your brothers and sisters, too....we pray that through His grace, we might sleep with peace, and that we might suffer WELL, with joy, with love, a city on a hill, a light shining in the darkness...for His glory.

God is at work.  Pray on.

Here's a quick summary of what we've learn in Psalm 4:
  1. In times of trouble, it's helpful to remember the past acts of God’s relieving mercy and grace.
  2. When suffering enters your door, you should be furious, but your anger should be motivated by the law of God, not the law of self.
  3. In moments of pain, it might be better to be silent, because you have an excellent track record of hurting others with our words.
  4. Worship is rarely sweeter and more heartfelt than in times of trial, because God is often in the process of removing physical treasures that compete with himself for the captivation of your heart.
  5. One of the last things we think about during our suffering is ministering to others, but we're called by God (and enabled by grace) to do so.
To conclude, David says something that takes me by surprise: “You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound. In peace I will lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.” (Psalm 4:7-8)
I’ll be honest with you. When I’m experiencing pain and suffering, I don’t have much joy and I don’t have much peace. In my life, my joy is typically dependent on pleasurable experiences, and my peace is typically dependent on a predictable schedule. When those things are stripped away, I convince myself I have plenty of reasons to stay awake at night!
David is facing incredibly uncomfortable and unpredictable circumstances when he pens this Psalm; by human logic, David's bitterness and restlessness 'could be' justified. But here’s why the king has joy and peace: his hope is not rooted in circumstance, but rooted in a Person.
God's character doesn't change (see Numbers 23:19, Malachi 3:6, Hebrews 13:8, James 1:17). He is loving, wise, patient, strong, and kind at all times. He is a steadfast rock. When your joy and peace are rooted in his character, you have reason to fall asleep, even when life is crashing down. David is a good theologian, and his theology enables him to rest.
Psalm 4 is a narrative of what the grace of God can do in the heart of everyone who seeks him. God will meet you in your times of trouble and give you the grace to suffer well.
God bless
Paul David Tripp

29 October 2019

how to pray

Here are our last three FB posts from Emmaus to catch you up and for your priceless prayers!!

There is a brief line in the first chapter of Mark that sums up what we are all doing, even if we are not aware of it. 
Peter and the others went looking for Jesus when he had slipped away to a quiet place to pray. When they finally found him, Peter uttered a line that resonates in all our hearts. Probably with exasperation, he declared “everyone is looking for you!” (Mark 1:37) 
Indeed they are, then and still. Everyone IS looking for Jesus, and there are no exceptions. 

Every day the past two months has been totally caught up in looking for FUEL, in any form, at any cost, in any amount. Everyone is looking for it continually, gas, diesel, propane, and when it is found, everyone starts running towards the source with buckets and bottles and jugs in hand, risking safety, paying great prices and waiting long hours and even days for it. But fuel is not actually what Haiti is looking for.
Even those who insist they are not looking for Jesus or that He is the last one they would ever seek, are looking for Him. 
Yes, Lord Jesus, everyone is looking for You, with a yearning and longing that is infinite. The world cannot satisfy this searching, and our nature alone cannot give us what it does not have to give. 
Emmaus may not be able to supply much of what Haiti is looking for right now, peace or fuel or food or open schools or political stability. 
But what we DO have, we give freely... believing with our whole hearts that what everyone is truly looking for, what is truly needed, we carry in abundance. 
Pray for our staff and students as they seek to actively overflow Jesus at every turn, always, and especially today. Pray for every believer in Haiti today who has a responsibility to help people find The Close One. Pray for Emmaus as the day forces us to work 10 times harder simply to continue doing what we have always done...raise up Christ-like leaders for the transformation of Haiti, one seeker at a time.

Last week, our visiting team to Emmaus spent some time praying for people in our village. As the situation in Haiti continues to be far too threatening for schools to open, they put their hands on a few precious children—a few in a million—and prayed for their bodies, minds, and spirits as they wait. 
The children of our staff at Emmaus are sitting at home, waiting for schooling long ago paid for. The children of our village are sitting at home, waiting for badly needed education. The children of our country are sitting at home, waiting eagerly to push forward.
Reach out your hands today in prayer, letting them fall on the children around us. And if Haiti is too far away for your hands, remember that they are in His...and pray all the same, as if these children were your own. 
Believers are not waiting for people’s patchy, fleeting peace, nor for the proclamations of the powerful, nor for governments or for gangs or for any hope that man might offer, for there seems to be none...not even to muster up for our waiting children. 
We wait on Him, believing without seeing that this is an even better place than school. We wait on Him. 

The last few days have held a precious pocket of peace for Haiti, with warnings and threats of frustration and fear for the near future. 
Pray with us for words of man to fail, for walls of fear to crumble, for bonds of darkness to break, for attempts of evil to be pitiful...for works of God to be plentiful, for His Word to ring powerful, for HIS peace to be profound, for HIS plans, instead, to be apparent. 
Pray with us for these miracles. We watch, by faith, for what we cannot yet see...with hope.

27 October 2019

a sending God

There is a LOT on my mind and heart but I'm just going to share the places He has clearly shown up the last few days.

Matt always says that he is thankful that God didn't send a check or a package or a pill...but a person.

We figure if God's response into battle and broken was a person, His Son, then being people among hurting and dying and broken people is actually our job as believers, too...actually our calling as Christ-followers.

The days we can do the tasks we call our jobs and the days that we can't, this doesn't change. We can always be Christ among His people, those who are being saved and those who are perishing. The multitude of THIS work keeps us busy, doesn't it family, even if there were no 8-5 work, no formal ministry.

Just going. Just being. Just loving the way He loves, just encouraging, just holding firm.

The first pocket of peace we had in six weeks, God and a whole body of sacrificial, praying believers in Kansas sent us 7 people, who bought their tickets long ago, not knowing. The first days of peace in many, God sent children for our children. Mamas for my mama's heart.  Mamas to love on all our children.  Men to encourage and support our husbands. Brothers and sisters to pray. Brothers and sisters to teach and encourage. Families to pray with families in Saccanville, English speakers to help our English learners, teaching that brought 8 missionary families together.

The first opportunity in over two months, with fuel, with peaceful roads, with an open hotel and beach, we went.  A whole slew of us, just went to the beach, and sang praises on the sand to the sound of the waves, we watched our children run and splash and swim and God sent people, kind people and loving people, people with chocolate and new books and Christ to share and games for our children, just when we needed them.
This morning we drank our coffee on the beach and sang His praises, and joyfully witnessed sweet Bree be baptized, determining to follow Jesus with her precious life.

As we prepared to say goodbye and send them off to the airport this morning, reports were dark and heavy...we needed to go NOW, they needed to go NOW, the pocket of peace is done...threats of violence and fear and I will call it what it is, terrorism, are coming from all sides.  Monday, get ready. 
We quickly, silently packed as our children happily swam as long as they could, unaware, loving precious time with Will and Nate and Bree, and my heart threatened to quake. How is a place so beautiful, surrounded by mighty mountains and swaying palm trees and gorgeous sunshine and radiant people...how is it so broken? How is evil so prevailing?

I began to quake and He stopped me in my footsteps to pack the van.
HOW MANY TIMES is He going to show me that He is in control?  Did I plan the team right when we needed, right in the perfect pocket of peace, right in the final provision of fuel and propane, just the right people at just the right time and place, OR DID HE?  Have I strengthened myself and persevered these many weeks and months and years or has He?  Have I protected and cared for my children, have I loved the people of this island with an everlasting love, have I brought myself thus far OR HAS HE?
If He can do all this, surely He can get us home. If He has reminded me over and over and over these days and weeks that He hears and cares and provides...is He now finished?

The team arrived NO issue and are almost back to their houses in Kansas. We drove past not one, but THREE stations with fuel, unheard of for two months now, hundreds of people waiting patiently in line. We arrived home with sleeping, sandy kiddos and no problems, food for all our staff and students purchased yesterday. Fuel for weeks. Propane for weeks.

The word is bad. But I just spent two days being nourished by the Good Word.  The threats are horrific.  But He is SO good.  I laughed and heard stories and caught up about lots of friends and had ice cream and watched the waves, and rested, and that is no. small. thing.

The future looks dark, if it were the enemies. The enemy's.

But it just is not.  

If God sent a person, and still does...then sign me up.  I have been strengthened by the people He sent and the people He brought together, and the glory of His creation, and His Word at my thinnest.

I have been strengthened back to the offensive, and I am praying AGAINST one. more. day. of darkness and hatred and horror.  I am praying against walls and chains, I am praying against hungry and hopelessness, I am praying against threats and lies, I am praying against evil prevailing one. more. day.

And if I must, I will pray against it tomorrow, too.  I will be against it tomorrow, too.  I will fight against it tomorrow, too.

Send me.  Keep on praying.