Obedience before Understanding

Reflections from the Bryce/Zion Freedom Challenge…

When I signed up to be part of the Prayer Team on the Bryce/Zion Challenge this past June, I didn’t know what God was going to do, but considering it felt like a miracle for me to actually be going, I was very expectant.

Saying Yes
It felt like a big step forward for me to say ‘yes’ to this challenge, as just to physically travel there was something I knew God was going to have to really help me with.

Three years ago I got very sick, and from that time have been on an interesting journey with God, where I have learnt to remain thankful despite 24/7 (and many times unbearable) nerve pain.  My ‘work’ since 2013 has been in Zambia with OM, developing a skills training & discipleship centre for vulnerable and marginalized women.  However, last year the pain from nerve damage became so debilitating and I had to return to Canada for further medical care.

Not Losing Hope
Throughout the past year there were many times when I actually didn’t think I would ever be pain-free enough to be able to walk beyond 5 minutes at a time.  If it wasn’t for Jesus, I really would have lost hope.  When a trial starts to span a few years, there may be moments when we start to shift our eyes onto ourselves and our weaknesses, rather than on God and who He is.
I think that is what was starting to happen with me, but God had a plan…

Throughout different types of involvement with the Freedom Challenge over the last number of years, I have always seen how God is not only using the movement to bring healing and hope to those who are oppressed around the world, but also to each of us who say ‘yes’ to participate in the challenges.  I knew God wanted me in Utah for this challenge, maybe even for a boost forward in my own healing journey…

And Unexpected Invitation…
Being part of the prayer team was so amazing, but after the first few days of the challenge I had the urge to experience God on the hiking trail…but how would that happen??  A few minutes later after having that thought, I somehow found myself in a conversation with one of the hiking guides.  She said to me “so, are you going to join us on the trail tomorrow?” I felt a surge of nervous excitement go through me, but proceeded to remind her that I am on the prayer team and am still recovering from a recent back surgery.  I said I feel God might be asking me to try hiking, but I have not yet walked for more than about 20 minutes at a time, and would really hate to slow the whole team down just because of me.  That didn’t seem to bother her, she was so gracious!

It almost felt surreal.  I had zero fear, just expectation.  My mind was focussed on God and his strength.  I didn’t know how I was physically going to hike the next day, but I knew that taking this step of faith was an act of obedience, and that He would make it happen.

Totally Relying on God
So there I went – I ended up hiking with the beginners group for a total of almost 5 miles!!  This was a miracle!  It was an incredible day, where God proved that if we stay focussed on Him, he will keep showing his power through us.  I realized that if I would have doubted God and let fear control me, I probably would have not made it very far at all.  Each step that I took turned into an act of worship…and It was so rewarding to totally rely on Him to give me the power to keep going beyond what my body was previously capable of.

I am still on the healing journey, but will not forget that day and how I experienced the faithful God walking with me.  During that Freedom Challenge God really blessed me with a deeper understanding of His love for me, plus physically blessed me with a boost forward in my healing.  I am SO thankful I responded to His invitation to go!

Through this journey, especially in the chapters of much challenge, I am reminded to continue walking faithfully together with Him, to be obedient and trust the route He’s taking me on even if I do not fully understand ‘why’…this is when it gets exciting!

For more about the Freedom Challenge, visit www.thefreedomchallenge.com

 

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The journey continues…

‘Loosen the controls of your own life.  This means being free from dictating to God the conditions in which you think you need to live.’ (Viv Thomas)

Two weeks ago I came down to South Africa for our bi-annual Africa Area leadership meeting and retreat.  Five days after arriving I began experiencing sever back pain.
The summary of my Easter weekend was spent right next to Jesus, as I lay still with Him, seeking refuge from pain and in some minuscule way relating to the affliction he endured for me some 2000 years ago.

My colleagues all went back to Zambia on Tuesday, but I remained for further tests and treatment, thinking that I would fly back to Zambia by this weekend.

The last six months somehow felt like my spine was improving.  However, my MRI has revealed otherwise.
I cannot fight or run from the reality, but I do continue to trust Him who designed and knows me best!

I recently read the following – ‘Inner freedom is where people no longer desire health more than sickness, wealth more than poverty, a long life more than a short life, honour more than dishonour but instead they desire what brings them closer to the end for which they are created.’  (Ignatius of Loyola)

I am tangibly experiencing that now, as my current state doesn’t permit me to travel or move around much at all.  I have been restricted from any further movement until my appointment with an orthopaedic surgeon on May 10th.

May God continue to be glorified through His guidance and miracles upon my life!

‘I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.  Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the Lord!’ Psalm 27

His Story

I recently took aside 3 days to seek the Lord for insight into some the perceived challenges in my life – one of those being the persistent physical sickness and pain.  I decided to leave my regular routine and home in Zambia, and go to a friends empty and quiet home in South Africa.

My main overall expectations of God during this time were to gain a higher and renewed spiritual perspective and insight into my life, to be discerning of the times I am living in.

So many amazing people have walked and prayed this journey with me over the last 18 months, and so it is my privilege to share a little bit of how God spoke during this most recent time of prayer.

God my Refiner
God is my refiner.  He is busy purifying me in order that I may reflect Him.
The process of refining is a somewhat painful process, but God has not forgot me.
Does a silversmith watch while the work of refining is going on?  He watches the furnace constantly, for if the time necessary for refining is exceeded in the slightest degree the silver will be injured.
How does a silversmith know when the refining process is finished?  When he can see his own image in the silver…
God is more concerned with drawing me nearer to himself than just bringing physical gain.  Both Him and I desire spiritual riches more than physical gain, that means this refining process won’t just end instantly.
“He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver.” Malachi 3:3

God my Author
He has already written each of my days in His book.  My story is there, the whole journey already planned out with the best outcome possible.
What peace came from reading Psalm 139, and specifically verse 16.  And then what desire I have to want to walk in this path that has already been written out for me, that on the day I get to heaven I may hear the words, “Well done good and faithful servant”.
This verse reassures me of the purpose God has for our individual lives, as well as the deep peace we should continue to have in knowing that God knows.
“Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.  And in your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them.”  Psalm 139:16

God my Vision
In response to my request for discernment over my life events, God gave a beautiful vision of my life in analogy to a tree.  He played the last 23 or so years of my life before me like a movie, with the analogy running parallel to the actual life events…how cool this was.
Foundational Time – The beginning of my life through my time on the Africa Trek in 2013.
This was a time of roots going deep down…the growing up and investment of my parents and Salem Church into my life.  This was many years, as the foundation/roots are the key to long term survival.
Season of Growth – 
This was where the tree started to grow and produce fruit, even if just little shoots coming up.  Yet a strong trunk was growing…a solid time of growth and maturing.
Pruning Season – 
This has been a pruning season and shaping of the tree.  This is when sickness started in May 2015.  Stress was put on the tree; a lot of pruning taking place by the gardener in order to allow the tree to flourish at a multiplied rate when the season of fruit returns.

I am currently somewhere in the transition between the pruning and the next season, or maybe still in the pruning…
The clarity I have received is great peace in trusting.  This is unexplainable.

There was an incredible amount of specifics that God spoke to me during these 3 days devoted to Him, but the best part was that the main method of speaking He used was directly through His written Word.
Sometimes we ask God for His voice to be made clear, to speak to us so that we can understand.  We pray and pray for revelation yet neglect to open our Bibles and receive that which God has already given us.
Through this I was reminded that when I am in the Word, I will be praying in response to the Word, which means I will already be praying in God’s will.

My story has already been written, now it is just my duty to continue seeking God, that I may be faithful to walk in it, resulting in glory to God.

“One generation shall praise Your works to another, and shall declare Your mighty acts.  I will meditate on the glorious splendour of Your majesty, and on Your wondrous works.  Men shall speak of the might of Your awesome acts, and I will declare Your greatness.  They shall utter the memory of Your great goodness, and shall sing of Your righteousness.”  Psalm 145:4-7

Thank You Salem Church

Words cannot express the deep joy, peace and sense of support I hold in my heart to be sent out as a Career Missionary by my Salem Church family.
It is an honour and a privilege to be sent by a church that has such depth and is so full of champions in the faith.  I will only ever be as strong as the prayer warriors behind me.
I also thank God for the great unity between myself as I am serving in Africa, and the church in Waldheim.
What is the unity between us?  We are all ambassadors of the same King, with the same desire to ‘become a proclaiming people’ no matter what situation we may find ourselves in.
Thank you Pastor Darrell for your mature spirit led leadership that always seeks to fulfill Salem Church’s vision statement of ‘seeking to be a church where everyone proclaims the gospel at every opportunity.’  I count it a privilege to be a proclaiming person for Jesus in Africa under your commissioning and guidance.

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Prayers of sending

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Thank you Chris, Priscilla and Vanessa for your beautiful words of encouragement

Thank you Chris, Priscilla and Vanessa for your beautiful words of encouragement

 

Where am I now?
Pretoria, South Africa!
I will remain in Pretoria for the next few weeks to take part in a number of important planning meetings with some very wise leaders, as well as receive personal guidance from them at the same time.
I thank God for these rich opportunities!

I am already looking forward to then travelling back up to
Tabitha Skills Development in Zambia!

 

God’s Invitation

This last week of November I had the invitation from God to drop my normal schedule, and take the time to be just with him. He showed me that a chance like this is a big privilege, and an opportunity that won’t come up too often.
I was able to respond by going a quiet retreat farm, away from people, internet and daily responsibilities.

The theme with God each day seemed to be fearing Him…learning what that is for me personally, and then resting in his generous love, joy and contentment that flows from that.  I have come to experience a new contentment, freedom and comfort in the presence of Jesus.

He has taught me something about ‘comfort zones’.  What used to be my comfort zone is really not a comfort zone at all.  There has always been something inside of me, longing for a greater acceptance, longing for a greater purpose.  I never understood it, or how to fulfill these deep longings.
‘Home’ has taken a new meaning for me.  The phrase, ‘home is where the heart is’ is true.  If your home is totally focused on this earth, under the sun, then that’s where your heart will be.  This will lead to being ever unsatisfied, always searching for something more.  If your sights are set on your heavenly home, eternity with our Lord Jesus, than that is where you heart also will be.  This is when you will begin to experience complete satisfaction.  [Hebrews 11:13-16]

Waldheim is my earthly home, but not where I will find true comfort and freedom.  Waldheim is no longer my comfort zone, as the only place for this is in the presence of our Lord Jesus.  I am beyond thankful for the Holy Spirit living within me, and that Jesus stands in the gap for me, being the mediator between the Father and me.
Freedom is a life that is flowing fully in Christ Jesus!

It was a very special time to be quiet with the Lord.  I will forever treasure times like this, and seriously look to see if it’s not possible every six or twelve months. Challenge yourself to do the same!

 

Beautiful surroundings…MooiplaasP1000051

Praise Him!

Monday morning we experienced great favour at the Malawian Consulate…security guards giving information and referring us, ushered to the front of a full room of people, helped within fifteen minutes, approved visa in hand within one morning instead of it being sent away for processing and back within 10 days.  We walked away with great joy and praise to God, for it was all Him who allowed us through in this unique way.  This all gave us great anticipation for the next morning when we would go in faith to the Zimbabwe Consulate, anticipating a similar experience.

Tuesday morning we felt like we were hitting a brick wall…no prevail.  No possibility of getting the necessary visa.  This was interesting for us, as a Zim visa is necessary in order for us to make the trip, as we drive through Zim on our way out and back into South Africa.  We had prayed for God’s will to be done, for him to make the way forward with the visa situation…so we are trusting him even when the end result is different than we were expecting and hoping for.
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We are just thankful for this reminder to be diligent in prayer and anticipation for what God is doing throughout every moment and opportunity that is placed before us.  This has opened up a special time for our team in experiencing Gods peace and honest guidance in every moment.
We are also learning again the importance of praising our King in everything!!  We look forward to what he is placing in front of us now, and are thankful for what he has reminded and taught us.
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Thank you for praying with us!

Please pray for a miracle!

My team – Pharen (Zambia) Kelly (Paraguay) and myself – have just been given the opportunity to join one of our Africa Area leaders in visiting the OM fields in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique.  This will be a strategic trip for us, as we are doing ministry planning for next year that involves these countries.

Each of us received an individual confirmation from God that, yes we are to go.
We plan to leave this Thursday, for three weeks.
Visa’s for myself and Pharen are all fine to get at the borders…but Kelly must have obtained 2 of the visas ahead of time, each which take 10 days to process…and we are only remaining with 3 days.
But as we have received the yes from God to go, we now pray forward in faith that he will make a way for the visas.
Working with government officials is a good place to see God do miracles, and we are praying in faith for just that.

 Please pray with us for divine favour as we spend time now at the embassies, as well as       at the border crossings themselves.

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