Jesus Film in the Fulani village

Another entry from my journal when I was in Niger in 2009:

Saturday, June 20, 2009 – 3:15 pm.

As usual, we went to the university to witness. I found out that there are almost 12,000 students and only enough women to fill two dorms. So, our time is spent in those two places.

Our first room on Thursday we met with a girl named Amina. She was pretty nice, kind of shy. A male friend of hers came in and I was afraid he might be Muslim, but he wasn’t. They 4788_103259756572_2227864_nlistened to my testimony and Saratou (our national) presented the four spiritual laws. They had a lot of questions and seemed really interested. The guy actually seemed more interested than the girl. They didn’t make a decision. The guy said it was a very important decision and that he needed time. So, we left him with some information. I felt good about what we accomplished!

The next room was Jamila. She had a room to herself. She was very pretty and had nice clothes. It made me wonder about her story and where she came from. I gave my testimony, Kaeli read the four spiritual laws and Jamila accepted Christ! This time I could really feel the Holy Spirit. I think Christ will do great things in Jamila.

It really made me think about the stigma attached to Christians in the U.S.- that we’re all weird or that loving Jesus isn’t cool. These people don’t think that. I’m amazed at how quickly they accept Jesus. Then I realized, many of them have never even heard of Jesus until we bring Him to them. I forget that while Americans often know about Jesus, they don’t accept Him, while many African people haven’t even heard of Jesus.

We returned to the office for lunch. OK. Let me vent for a moment. Lunch is GROSS. We have same weird stew every day, it’s just always poured over something new. On Thursday, it was couscous. Yuck! I ate out a few chunks of meat, but that was it. We are all pretty sick of the same lunch every day.

After lunch we went to the bank to exchange money, and then we rested for a bit before returning to the office.

Let me explain how they pray here. Apparently it is a Korean style of praying. The pastor might say, “We will pray for thanks for what God did at last night’s film showings.” And everyone will pray out loud at the same time. Then he’ll say, “Now we will pray for protection at tonight’s showings.” And we pray out loud again. We’ll pray about five or six times like that and then the pastor will close. It’s odd.

Anyways, for the Jesus Film showing I ended up with the group that really was in a village.4975_102901466572_6106736_n Wow. Talk about a VILLAGE. It was way out-of-town. The kids were totally different from the last place. These kids were filthy. But, they were much more needy and loving. They held our hands and were obsessed with our white skin. They kept wanting to touch our skin. These kids were much darker than the other bunch.

One little girl who kept holding my hand was covered in some sort of skin disease. It looked really awful, but she wanted to hold my hand so bad. Maybe I shouldn’t have, but I felt safe. I knew she needed love and I believed that God would protect me from whatever was on her skin.

4788_103254726572_3645351_nBefore the film we met Steve, the village pastor. He is 29 years old, single and adorable! He was so sweet and knew quite a bit of English. He wanted to show us his house, which he said was close. We walked. It was REALLY far away. At least a mile or two walk in the sand. And we had about 40 kids following us!

I got to know Steve pretty well. We exchanged email addresses. It was weird because he was very modern in his clothes, and yet he talked about the tribe he came from. All the guys in our group from the college were from tribes, too.

The showing (all four reels) went OK. There were a couple hundred there. A lot of people laughed at some of the things Jesus said in the movie. I don’t know why.

After the film we stood in a circle and held hands to pray. As we did, I could feel someone tugging at the flashlight tied around my wrist. Kids were also trying to get into my backpack with held my camera, passport, etc. Just as the prayer ended, my flashlight was gone. I saw the boys sprint off. The pastor felt awful. He said he would get it back but I said not to worry about it. But sure enough, he got it back to me the next day! And the rope that was with it around my wrist was CUT. The kids had used a knife to cut it off of my wrist!

Jesus + Nothing = Everything

A friend of mine, who also does some mission work, said something the other day that I could totally identify with. Someone had emailed her and said, “You’re such an inspiration! I wish all young women were like you.” My friend said to me, “It was nice, but sometimes I don’t know what to say to that. I wish people knew how imperfect I actually am.”

I know how she feels. And there’s a message that needs to be spread – NO Christian, no matter how many good things they do or say, is without sin. Myself included. DEFINITELY myself included.

My pastor is doing a series right now called Jesus + Nothing = Everything. You need Jesus. That’s it.

No really. That’s it. It’s not Jesus + mission trips = everything. It’s not Jesus + volunteering = everything. It’s not even Jesus + church = everything. Jesus is enough. Jesus, plus nothing else, equals all you need. It equals everything.

God loves all His children the same. I never ever want to give the impression crossthat I do mission trips, go to church, read the Bible, hang crosses on my walls, etc. etc. . because I’m seeking out a higher level of love from God. It’s not possible. He couldn’t love me any more than He already does.

He didn’t love me more after I went to Niger in 2009.

He doesn’t love me more now than before I went to Nicaragua in 2011.

When I go to Zambia in June, He won’t love me any more than He does at this very moment.

So why do I do it? I do it because God has given me the heart and the desire to do so. I don’t get an extra car in heaven because I’ve done international mission work. What I get is the satisfaction of serving my King, I do it because I WANT to do it. Not because I feel like I HAVE to do it in order for God to approve of me.

JESUS + NOTHING = EVERYTHING.

You don’t have to add anything to Jesus to make Him real or to make Him love you. You have everything you need, just by having Jesus. That’s all He requires- is that you believe and accept Him into your heart.

Fresh Grounded Faith

On the eve of my 32nd birthday in October, I watched my new Cinderella DVD while packing up my apartment to move into my parents’ house. This is clearly not what I imagined I would be doing the night before I turned 32. Although my parents will be in Florida the entire time I’m here, it still hurts to know that even with a graduate degree, I’m not making enough money to buy my own house.

I also suffered some heartbreak- on my actual birthday no less. Wow- happy birthday to me. Heart… broken… in two. Might be better to say it was shattered into a million tiny pieces. It’s been friends and prayer that’s helped me quickly pick those pieces up and put them back together. I still hurt, but I know I’ll be OK.

Still, overall, I can’t complain. Life is pretty good for me compared to most in the world. I have so many things to be thankful for. But when my friend Ronna emailed me that she had an extra ticket to a women’s conference at The Chapel, I knew it was something I needed.

Fresh Grounded Faith” was Friday night and Saturday morning. Almost 1,000 women gathered together to worship and hear from wonderful speakers like Jennifer Rothschild and Lisa Whelchel (A.K.A. Blair from The Facts of Life).

Everything I learned this weekend fit so well with my current situation. While I’m generally a happy person, I tend to look at what others have and think that my life would be so much better if I had what they have. If only I had more money…. if only I had a husband… if only I had a different job… etc. etc. But the truth is, God is enough, and God knows what I need, and He knows when I need it.

The verses that were the theme for the weekend came from Lamentations. We memorized them, and I am going to say them each morning I wake up, each night before I go to bed, and anytime my day is going wrong:

Lamentations 3:22-25 “Because of God’s great love, we are not consumed. His mercies are new every morning. Great is His faithfulness. Therefore I will say to my soul, the Lord is my portion. In Him will I trust.”

“Fresh Grounded Faith” helped remind me that everything happens for a reason, and that everything happens in God’s time, which is the perfect time.

I prayed a lot this weekend. I prayed specifically for a few people who don’t feel they even deserve my prayers, but they got them anyway. There are some people I will always pray for, even if I don’t know how things turn out. I trust that God will take care of things… in my life, and in theirs.