Monthly Archives: January 2016

Presidential Prayer

Have you been confused about which presidential candidate to support? After watching the debates, I debatefelt fearful, and discouraged. I want to elect a president who loves God, more than self.  Someone who will strive for peace, have compassion for the poor and helpless, and love his neighbor as himself. How can I elect such a president? I know it’s a tall order, but with God, all things are possible. Maybe that’s part of the problem. Maybe I, and other Christians, have been attempting to repair our country without God’s help.

I’ve not been a fan of President Obama’s policies, but maybe the first person I should criticize is myself. It’s easy to blame elected officials for our country’s problems. I must consider my own failure to pray for my president and accept my share of the responsibility.

Pray text on hand design concept

Pray text on hand design concept

First of all, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgiving be made for all people, for kings, and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.” 1Timothy 2:1-2.

I don’t know who will win my vote in the upcoming presidential election, but even if my preferred candidate loses the race, the very least I can do is commit to pray for the President of the United States. I believe we should pray for all the world leaders, even our enemies.

The list of current presidential candidates may leave you feeling hopeless, but I’m going to place my trust in God. Perhaps the most important way I can improve the world’s condition is to offer a daily prayer for our current and future presidents and leaders.

The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe. Proverbs 29:25

 

Do You Love Our Muslim Neighbors?

A friend posted a picture of himself holding a sign that said, “I  love my Muslim neighbors.” It surprised me, but I’m grateful for his bold witness because it inspired me to write this post. I usually avoid controversial topics, but Christians must take a stand and demonstrate love. God commands us to love our neighbors, and our enemies. (See Matthew 5:44-48).  If I didn’t love Muslims, would I travel to Niger, a country that is 99.9% Muslim, camp in primitive conditions, endure the Sarah sun, when I could be enjoying a beach vacation?

Some of the news stories that unsettle me the most involve politicians, their rants, their actions, and promises. I understand the desire to protect Americans, but the sad truth is, there is no safe place.  If I ask a bully to protect me, who will protect me from the bully?

I’m not naïve. I understand there are Muslims who would like to convert, enslave, or kill Christians. Just read, Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali or In the Land of Blue Burqas by Kate McCord. The Muslims I’ve met in Niger, Africa are gentle, gracious, welcoming, and more concerned with feeding their family than anything else. Many citizens in Niger have not had the opportunity to learn to read, so they’ve not read the Qur’an or the Holy Bible. Do you consider all Americans, to Christians, because America is called a  “Christian” nation? People are in Niger are considered Muslim, because they live in a “Muslim” nation, yet many have never read the Qur’an and don’t receive religious training. They participate in some of the rituals, but how many people in America exchange Christmas gifts with little knowledge of the birth of Jesus.

Women in Niger spend their days gathering water, pounding millet, and caring for their children. They don’t seem to be concerned about world politics, or religious differences. When visiting compounds in Niger, women graciously remove a mat from their home and spread it in front of us. If they possess a chair, they offer the very best seat to us. We share our names and ask them their names. As we begin telling them the purpose of our visit, the group usually grows in number, as others become aware that Americans are visiting. They listen, with rapt attention, when we tell them about God’s plan for salvation. I’ll never know if the seeds planted will be harvested, but I pray for God to soften their hearts.

When I was in Niger, and passed people on the road, I felt heartbroken. Many will die never knowing there is a God who loves them so much that He sent His son to die for their sins, and well as for my sins.

I love Muslims, and if you’re a Christian, you should too. Not everyone will have the opportunity to travel to a third world country, to share the gospel. But we should all love our neighbors, and that includes Muslims (and politicians with whom we do not agree.) No one is perfect, especially me.

Burning a mosque will never bring someone to know Jesus. Removing a Muslim from a group setting will antagonize other Muslims. Asking Muslims to register will not protect us from the evil people who wants to harm us. That activity reminds me of Hitler requiring the Jewish peoples to register, and makes me shiver.

My experience of showing respect, grace, and love has opened the door to friendship, love and a heart open to receiving the Holy Spirit. I’m NOT perfect, and I struggle to love everyone, especially politicians who treat others disrespectfully. Thank goodness, I have a Savior who intercedes for me.

Let us all strive to love our neighbors, and our enemies.

But I say to you, ‘Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. (46) For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? (47) And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? (45) You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.’” Matthew 5:44-48

#africanmissions #missions #loveyourneighbor #loveyourenemies

Meru National Park – Kenya

Not all our activities in Kenya revolved around mission work. On the first day in Nairobi, we visited a mall and had the opportunity to see how the middle class live. I could have closed my eyes and imagined I was home, in America.  However, we were required to go through metal detectors and our bags were searched for weapons before we entered the  mall.

It took us about two hours to drive from our camp site in Tharakaland to the Meru National Park. I learned that travel distance is measured in time, not miles in Kenya.  The Meru National Park is about 870 square kilometers or about 540 square miles. We spent one night at the luxurious Elsa’s Kopje Lodge and enjoyed a guided game drive through the Meru National Park. Considering the size of the park, we might not have seen any wildlife, but God blessed us as you’ll see by the photos below. The only animal on my list that we didn’t see in the park was elephants. We were very close to a herd, but I could only make out a trunk because of dense brush. Maybe next time I’ll get to see elephants in the wild.

We had little time to relax by the pool. After days in the wilderness, this seemed like a dream.

 

shower

Our shower.

Another team members room. Notice there are no walls, only screens that are closed at night.

 

The dining room.

 

This walkway led to the dinging room from our room. Guests are required to have a guide assist them to navigate the pathways after dark.

After camping, this bathroom was a dream come true.

MeruAA

This is a view of the dining room and bar. Dinner was served to us on tables set up on the lawn on the previous evening.

This is the truck we travelled in while we visited the park.

Meru_I

The signs as we left Elsa’s Kopje and entered the park.

A view of Elsa's Kopje as we start the drive.

A view of Elsa’s Kopje as we start the drive.

Meru_M

This is a view of other team members in their truck.

Meru_O

This is Judy. Notice the white rhinos in the background.

We saw many zebras in the park.

I love seeing the zebras too.

I love seeing the zebras too.

A herd of cape buffalo.

The giraffes are my favorite.

DSC_8019

I was not brave enough to cross the swinging bridge.

DSC_8045

We saw a few monkeys.

A kudu, according to my husband.

The cape buffalo have been know to wander onto the lodge grounds.

The cape buffalo were have been know to wander onto the lodge grounds.

DSC_8029

A beautiful sunrise and then we loaded back into the truck and drove for eight hours to Nairobi.

We spent the morning in Nairobi visiting an elephant sanctuary.

We spent the morning in Nairobi visiting an elephant sanctuary.

DSC_8527

We spent the afternoon in Nairobi visiting a giraffe sanctuary. This is my sister kissing a giraffe. I believe I am the only one on our team who took a pass on this activity.

DSC_8542

After a day of touring Nairobi, we loaded the plane, travelled about 22 hours, and arrived home, safe and sound. Thank you Jesus and thank you to those who covered us with prayers.

 

 

Anger: The New Normal

I’ve noticed that anger seems to be the new normal. Earlier this week, I sat in my car at a red light with my blinker indicating I planned to turn right, and a horn blared behind me. In Kentucky, a driver may turn right at a red light, if there is no oncoming traffic. However, I noticed a truck speeding toward the intersection. Had I turned when the irritated driver behind me wanted me to move, I could have been killed.

The offended driver shifted lanes and at the next red light, he shook his fist at me, and shouted while we waited. I’m glad the closed windows kept me from hearing his words. When he drove away, my heart pounded, but I also felt sympathy for him. He must carry a heavy burden for a minor delay to ignite such a temper tantrum, and so, I lifted a prayer for him and those in his life.

I see the same behavior reported every day on the news. People are on edge, and tempers explode in an instant. I am thankful the furious driver didn’t pull out a gun and shoot me. Such an incident happened last year at a rest stop on I-65, five miles from my home. 

Wednesday’s incident caused me to wonder what the Bible says about anger and how to we should respond. Below are some of my favorite verses.

Proverbs 15-1

 

 

 

proverbs-15-18Ephesians-4-2-3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As Christians, we can’t allow anger to be our normal behavior. I hope and pray my actions, and maybe more importantly, my reactions to others’ behavior demonstrate evidence that the Holy Spirit lives within me. When I fail, I not only risk losing an opportunity to draw others to the light of Jesus, but I also grieve the Holy Spirit. We live in a broken world, and our only hope is Jesus Christ.

I pray others see the fruit of the Spirit in my life. “But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace patience, kindness, faithfulness,  gentleness, and self-control. Against these things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23fuit

Highlights of Kenya – August 2015

One of the highlights of 2015 was our mission trip to Kenya.  We planned this visit for for almost two years and prayed often for God’s hand to guide us. God was faithful and answered our prayers.

Our flight plan included leaving Nashville, to Detroit, to Amsterdam, then Nairobi. On the morning of our departure, I received a text message from American Airlines that our flight from Detroit to Amsterdam had been cancelled. All but two of our team members were re-routed through Paris, and the other two were re-routed through London. The group I travelled with arrived as scheduled, but two of our team members faced a storm in Atlanta, and their London flight was delayed so they missed the connection to Nairobi.

We went straight to the Heart Lodge in Nairobi and went to bed because we had traveled for 28 hours.  Scott and Wanda arrived while we were having breakfast the next morning. They had traveled for 38 hours without rest.

IMG_3081

 

 

 

 

 

 

With a quick shower we were on the move to the home of our missionary host family.  We attended orientation, reviewed our schedule,  then enjoyed lunch at an outdoor restaurant. We napped during the afternoon and planned to leave for  Tharakaland District on Saturday morning.

Heart_Lodge_AThe grounds at heart lodge.

 

Our room at the Heart Lodge

Jeff_Kathy_HomeThis is a picture of the home of our host missionaries.

Lunch_Nairobi

 

Lunch in Nairobi.

Time to load the truck and head toward Tharakaland District.IMG_3082

 

 

 

 

lunch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The trip to the Tharakaland district was long.  After four hours of travel, the paved roads turned to dirt. Most locals travelled on motorbikes, called piki pikis. We stopped for lunch and enjoyed a box lunch.

DSCN3870

This tree has a bee hive.  Can you imagine climbing so high to harvest the honey?

After another 3 hours of rough roads we reached our destination and we exited from the truck and walked the last bit of the journey because the road had huge gullies and it was jarring.

20150827_075550

 

 

 

We walked the last stretch of road to the tree where the believers worshiped because of the rough terrain.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It took us about thirty minutes to set up camp.

IMG_3105

 

Our camp. 20150825_084326

Some of the believers brought benches form their homes and visited with us.  I could only see one home within seeing distance. I don’t know how far people had to walk to visit with you.

We spent the first morning working in small groups to teach the local Kenyans how to share the gospel using salvation bracelets and “From Creation to Christ” cards.

IMG_3125

 

This is a picture of Scott with his team.

And this is a picture of Wanda with her team.

wanda's group

I was on of the lucky ones who had the chance to visit people on a piki piki.piki piki

Others had to walk in the brutal heat across difficult terrain to visit with families.

IMG_3137

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chris had to fight his way through the thorns.

20150826_082754

This may be a home or a storage building.

20150824_150030

On the second day, the children came for VBS. We realized that the adult were just as interested in the stories as the children and did our best to include the adults in activities if we had supplies. Judy and I entertained the kids with Bible stories and puppets while the women attended a health class.

children_bench

 

 

 

We are telling the story of Creation.vbs

The parachute served double duty.

parachute

 

 

 

DSCN3915We also had a small parachute for the smaller children thanks to Judy.DSCN3991

Everyone loved Play Dough

girls play dough

During the evening we showed the Jesus film.  The actors spoke in Swahili.

20150825_173900

This is a picture of women who arrived early for the  movie.  You can see the project and screen to the right. I don’t know how many attended the film but over 60 accepted Christ as the end of the movie.20150825_194003

This is a picture of the fly trap for cattle that Chris demonstrated.

DSCN3929

Mike is demonstrating how the water purification using clear plastic water bottles.

DSCN4022

Two of our team members treated minor medical issues.

DSCN4005

 

One of my favorite pictures under the Baobab tree, capable of living thousands of years. Just think, this tree might have been alive when Christ walked the earth.

IMG_3152

 

And how shall they preach, except they be sent. as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!” Romans 10:15

20150824_183006

#africanmissions #missions #friendshiphope&friedfruitpies