Monday, January 11, 2010

The promise of Psalm 37

People always ask me how God brought about a certain work or place of ministry. There's always a great God story to every place we minister in. Here's one for you to read. It's a bit long, but I promise in the end you'll be glad you read it.

A few weeks before I left Nashville for Uganda I met with my friend, Missy, who works for Mocha Club. They’d been to Gulu just a few weeks prior and she’d taken video for me of an orphanage that Mocha (and their larger component---African Leadership) support which was in need of beds and bedding.

If you want the gist, it’s this: Sweet Sleep was able to provide for their need because of your generous and loving gifts this Christmas.

If you want to experience the blessings of your giving, then here’s a slightly longer story: Candis and Jerry are originally from the States. They could be retired and living comfortably near their children back home in some nice, stable environment in a comfortable house that doesn’t have a squatty potty as its only bathroom. Instead, they’ve spent the last 8 years of their life ministering to their “kids” in northern Uganda.

Before they could even learn the language, the deep and vast needs of the people and of the children were filling their days and nights with prayers and programs to give hope and love to all God placed in their path.

Candis and Jerry have spent lots of nights in fervent prayer for protection from the LRA’s attacks on their home, their orphanage and the homes of all they love and serve. They’ve spent many more nights praying over the hundreds and hundreds of their “kids” who have, as a result of the LRA, been child abductees, child brides who’ve become child moms, child soldiers and even children of rebel commanders. Over the years God has grown many programs out of their ministry, all being administered by indigenous people desiring a chance to help their fellow people.

April, Beth, Stuart and I spent a considerable amount of time with this “family”….visiting their orphanage and their school on various occasions, their very own home for New Year’s dinner, and Christmas Day as we worshiped with them in their church and then as we returned to our hotel to host a Christmas feast for their entire “family” which included this little one who April said “ate like a linebacker.”

It was hard for me to be in their presence and not feel worn out. God has not only given them passionate hearts for their intense ministry, but He has also supplied them with the energy they require to meet all of the needs He places before them. For anyone else—like me-- to come in and experience their life is just exhausting because I’ve not been given that gift. Think of it as me trying to be a heart surgeon. Ummm, not so much. Not only do I have a freakish fear of doctors and anything medical, but I also can’t even begin to look at anything gross---such as a heart…in surgery. Thank you, but I’ll stick to what God has created me for: advocating for orphans and the need they have for healthy, enriching places to sleep.

To that, Sweet Sleep provided for each of the children now in their care, including 14 child moms and children living in various IDP camps. The blessings we received from our days with them were numerous and hard to put words to.

Perhaps the biggest blessing is this note that Candis wrote to me and brought by my hotel the morning we were leaving Gulu for Kampala. The note was just a little something to accompany the “real” gift of a Bible and a necklace made by one of their children. However its words will stay with me forever because they not only provided a reminder of what Sweet Sleep’s work does, but also they provided me with a Biblical battle shield for the stories and struggles of the people which were causing my heart to weep.

I’m happy to share them with you, my partners in ministry, so you can also be encouraged and strengthened:

Dear Jen Dec 09

Once again I pray you feel our hearts appreciation for an answer to prayer (of a long time) that you and Sweet Sleep gave to our precious children. Not only ours that we are privileged to touch but many others…Your ministry is truly unique and such a Beautiful Blessing to hundreds and hundreds…May the Lord give you renewed refreshment in Him. Psalm 37

Thank you again….from “our” hearts.

Love and a hug,
Candis and Jerry and our huge family, too

I read this note in the van as we were beginning our long journey to Kampala. Until then I was having a hard time leaving behind all I had taken in, experienced, learned and discerned. I confess, I’m not always good at looking up verses people list in their messages with the expectation that you’ll look them up. However, on this day I reached down into my backpack and pulled out my Bible to read the Psalm Candis has mentioned. In doing so I was filled with understanding, knowledge and a great hope for all I was leaving behind, physically anyway.

I’m writing out Psalm 37 to save you from having to go look it up. Be moved and be blessed as you read through it and picture the struggles and the hope it might mean for your brothers and sisters northern Uganda who have lived through 22 years of an evil, wicked war. Be steadfast in your prayers for your brothers and sisters who are now clinging, daily, to the prospect of lasting peace as they wonder how--or if--- they’ll ever be able to live their lives the way God intended.

Psalm 37 of David
Do not fret because of evil men or be envious of those who do wrong; for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away.
Trust in the LORD and do good; Dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.

Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.
Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil.
For evil men will be cut off, but those who hope in the LORD will inherit their land.
A little while and the wicked will be no more; though you look for them they will not be found.
But the meek will inherit the land and enjoy great peace.

The wicked plot against the righteous and gnash their teeth at them; but the LORD laughs at the wicked, for he knows their day is coming.
The wicked draw the sword and bend the bow to bring down the poor and the needy, to slay those whose ways are upright. But their swords will piece their own heart, and their bows will be broken.
Better the little that the righteous have than the wealth of many wicked; for the power of the wicked will be broken, but the LORD upholds the righteous.
The days of the blameless are known to the LORD, and their inheritance will endure forever.

In times of disaster they will not wither; in days of famine they will enjoy plenty.
But the wicked will perish: The LORD’s enemies will be like the beauty of the fields, they will vanish---vanish like smoke.
The wicked borrow and do not repay, but the righteous give generously; those the LORD blesses will inherit the land, but those he curses will be cut off.
If the LORD delights in a man’s way, he makes his steps firm; though he stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with his hand.
I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children beg bread. They are always generous and lend freely their children will be blessed.

Turn from evil and do good; then you will dwell in the land forever.
For the LORD loves the just and will not forsake his faithful ones.
They will be protected forever, but the offspring of the wicked will be cut off; the righteous will inherit the land and dwell in it forever.
The mouth of the righteous man utters wisdom, and his tongue speaks what is just. The law of his God is in his heart; his feet do not slip.
The wicked lie in wait for the righteous, seeking their very lives; but the LORD will not leave them in their power or let them be condemned when brought to trial.
Wait for the LORD and keep his way. He will exalt you to inherit the land; when the wicked are cut off, you will see it.
I have seen a wicked and ruthless man flourishing like a green tree in its native soil, but he soon passed away and was no more; though I looked for him, he could not be found.

Consider the blameless, observe the upright; there is a future for the man of peace. But all sinners will be destroyed; the future of the wicked will be cut off.
The salvation of the righteous comes from the LORD; he is their stronghold in time of trouble.
The LORD helps them and delivers them; he delivers them from the wicked and saves them, because they take refuge in him.

See you in the next blog,

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