Monday, August 29, 2011

Volunteer Testimony: LHBC (August 2011)

For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.  Ephesians 2:10
I like to think of these good works that God prepared for me beforehand as doors. They are doors placed in front of me that I choose to walk through, because I know that God has placed them before me and expects me to walk through them. 

God has been softening my heart to travel to Africa for over 2 years.  It wasn’t until this year that I felt the burden of disobedience if I did not go. God revealed to me that missions is not something you choose to do when you feel like it, but that it is a mind-set...a lifestyle...a commandment!

My husband and I have called Mark and Parker Phillips dear friends for years.  Many emails were sent between Parker and I before she mentioned the possibility of painting with some of the women in Boubon, a village of Niamey.  I was hesitant at first, understanding that there would be language and cultural barriers and also a lack of supplies.  I almost told her no.  Then I realized that my plans lended to little faith in what God’s purpose for my trip was.  I was to bring color into this dark world.  As God created something from nothing, I was about to tell the women of Ayorou and Boubon about His great love for them through a blank canvas and a bible story. My prayer was as they would pick up their brushes and begin to paint that they would understand God is a creator, an artist. In fact, He is the first creator and the first artist. He had everything imaginable and unimaginable at His disposal when he created. It was a palette of raw materials and colors that He used to make what we see around us, what we don't see, and what we haven't seen yet.  He created them in His image, and wanted a relationship with them. 

Many of these women have never even picked up a pencil, yet as we started to pass out the paints and the brushes, we saw smiles start to form on faces that were hard when they first entered the compound.  Then the brushes hit the canvas, and then and there it didn’t matter that they couldn’t speak to me, or that I couldn’t tell them they were painting a tree, what mattered is that I was building a relationship with them.  I was then reminded that God was in control of the paint brush.  Day after day, these women would return, with hopes of creating a masterpiece and hearing a story of God’s faithfulness.  Each day, more and more would share of what they had learned the day before and God still proved faithful.

The one believer in Boubon, Sam*, has a wife who attended our class each day.  She is not a believer.  At dinner one night, Travis Ayers shared with me that when he was there in May, he had never seen her with her head up, never with a smile, and that he witnessed her running into the house with her painting in hand, grinning from ear to ear, with a new found confidence.  I wept.  How could I have ever doubted that because of my own fears and weaknesses that He would not complete His plan.  His light was shining all through Boubon!

As encouraging as our time in Boubon was, it was the picture that God painted for me, in Karma, that will forever be engraved in my heart and never far from my thoughts.  As we sat in a mud hut of this dark, dark village, casual chit-chat ensued between our team, villagers, and translators.  It was then that Stuart Borders asked if he could share the story of Creation to Christ.  By this time men, women, and children were crowded around and we got the “okay” to share.  It was beautiful...Stuart speaking God’s promises, Cephas (the translator), telling the stories in Zarma to the Songhai, and heads nodding all over the room as they tuned their ears to God’s word.  A prayer of blessings was spoken over them,  then a woman spoke from the back of the room.  Her words were, “If you did not come to tell us, how would we know?”  She spoke scripture from Romans10:14 and did not even know it.  It states, “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?” I wept again.  That should frighten us that there are so many who still have not heard of Jesus for the very first time. We should be burdened to go and evangelize to those in Niger who have now heard and need to make the choice to follow.  We need to teach them to live life taking God at His Word.

I went on this mission trip to love and to minister to others, but most of all I just wanted to love God and to give him back his place as God.  My eyes we opened once again to His faithfulness.  We should ask and expect Him to answer, knock and expect doors to be opened.  I will always take Him at his Word knowing He has never changed.  I will let God be God. 

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