Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Blessed to lack. Joyful to suffer.

 “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” – Matthew 25:40.

Recently members of the Sweet Sleep team joined 120 leaders and students in abandoning our food, shelter, and beds in order to sleep “Under the Stars”. 

For one chilly April evening in a Johnson City parking lot, we welcomed thin pieces of cardboard and small blankets as replacements for our usual comforts. As the night progressed we worshiped, studied, prayed, and made small attempts to sleep. We “woke” the next morning with red noses and aching backs, but the most obvious addition to the group’s spirit was thankfulness and praise.That’s right. Thankfulness and Praise. 

It may seem odd that we had joy while clinging to barely-there blankets and cardboard beds, but it wasn’t what we possessed that made the difference– it was what we lacked. For example, while praying we heard only the hum of car motors in the distance, but not LRA soldiers. While sleeping we faced only the mild threat of an ant marching across our bare arm, not malaria-carrying mosquitoes. 

However, the children of northern Uganda do not lack these challenges. What God reminded us at “Under the Stars” is that we serve a Lord who does not overlook displaced individuals. Our Lord does not forget a single orphan or widow living in this world. So, how then as Christ’s body can we believe that we have the option of forgetting them? How can we not see it when the things that we lack are blessings? 

The students of Boone Trail Baptist Church have not missed these truths. These students raised $2804 on the night of the Under the Stars event to add to the $8,000 raised at their March Spring Conference. This impressive total of $10,804 will fund the resettlement of 216 kids in northern Uganda. 
216 lives intricately and perfectly designed by God. 216 names, personalities, and small hands/feet/hearts that the Lord desires to bless. 216 displaced children that we are lucky enough to serve.  How awesome is it that the Lord protects each of these children intentionally through our giving?

Thrillingly, the impact of the Under the Stars event was not limited to 216 children in a country far away from the parking lot where we slept. In fact, the lives of many of the students present were impacted. Some students professed a new passion to spread the mission of Sweet Sleep and even donate from their personal bank accounts. 

Ryan Epps, Pastor to Students at Boone Trail Baptist Church, who was the visionary and event coordinator behind this particular evening was moved by the effect he saw. “God is causing a radical stirring in many students and adult’s hearts. I truly believe a movement began that night and it will be awesome to watch how people jump on board to be on a mission to see the Great Commission carried out”. 

As Christ’s body we are called to recognize need through His guidance and then to act. On this night, there was action followed by obedience and as a result there was supernatural impact. As a body we are to serve the hurting world around us, and the Lord that knows the desires of our hearts does not call us into this without intention to bless us through it all. How wonderful that we have the chance to glean immeasurable joy that comes from walking with Him in service. 

For more information on how you can host an "Under the Stars" event click here and share with your youth the need for every child to sleep sweetly.

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