Here I Am: Burkina Faso

Yes, here I am.

I confess, I’ve been incredibly unfaithful to my blog as of late. I make no promise to be better. I promise only to reward you for coming back by sharing a beautiful song at the end of this post.

So I’m reading a fascinating book right now called Life Together, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. I highly recommend it. It’s interesting how God teaches us, don’t you think? Here is a book about Community and how that should function and look within the Body of Christ, and what am I taking away from it?

Well, I’m learning a lot about Community, to be sure. I’m also learning a lot about music; about the Psalms in general; about the Lord’s Prayer; about Hebrew Parallelism; about the relationship between individual and corporate prayer and praise; about marriage. It’s fascinating to me that a book about Christian Community would deal so squarely with so many topics that are already on my heart and mind! God sure has a sense of humor, doesn’t He?

But this morning, as I sat at Starbucks reading this heavy (but thin) book, I was taken aback by the issue of bread and poverty.

The table fellowship of Christians implies obligation. It is our daily bread that we eat, not my own. We share our bread. Thus we are firmly bound to one another not only in the Spirit but in our whole physical being. The one bread that is given to our fellowship links us together in a firm covenant. Now none dares go hungry as long as another has bread, and he who breaks this fellowship of the physical life also breaks the fellowship of the Spirit.

(p.68, emphases his.)

It hit me square. This is a difficult idea to accept; I dare say, it is impossible to digest without the working of God’s Spirit. It reminded me that we are not merely commanded to love one another with emotion, but with action. Perhaps D.C. talk said it best back in the day: Love is a verb.

It is our responsibility, friends, to care for those in need. It is our obligation as the Body of Christ to view His blessings upon us as gifts to receive and administer rather than entitlements to possess. We are not blessed for the sake of attaining some socio-economic status. We are not given gifts for the sake of tucking them away to be used only for our benefit and glory.

No, brother; sister. We are blessed to administer blessing. If today you find that there is bread before you, may God quicken your heart to love and bless those who hunger. And if you don’t know what that looks like, allow me to offer a small suggestion of where to begin: Compassion International. By sharing your bread (your financial blessings, but also your heart and encouragement and prayers) with a child in need, you are not merely changing a life–you are changing the world by breaking the cycle of poverty. And by sharing your bread, you are honoring and promoting the fellowship of the Body of Christ. What will you say?

What will I say?

Sharing my bread with two young men in Burkina Faso has been the greatest blessing of my adulthood. My spirit attests to this idea that we are bound in fellowship, that we are obligated to one another. And that is why I am convinced more and more that I not only desire to go to Burkina Faso and meet my boys, but I need to do so. I need the fellowship of breaking bread with them, and simply of loving and being loved by those who share with me both in blessing and in poverty. Because I’ll tell you something, friends: There are two boys in Burkina who are economically impoverished, but who are spiritually full of life and hope and joy,  and they give freely of these loaves and fishes.

Take a leap, friends. Sponsor a child today.

As promised, a song to end my post today. This is an original song, written and performed by a friend of mine, local musician, Troy Graham.

All About the Mustard: Burkina Faso, part II

I was cleaning my desk this morning, and what did I find?

Mustard seeds.

Mustard

When did I buy mustard seeds? I don’t even like mustard. Why on earth would I buy mustard seeds?

Nonetheless, there they were, just waiting to be found.

What seems like a lifetime ago (but was really only, say, 15 or 16 years ago), our youth pastor gave us mustard seeds as part of a lesson. I wrapped mine up in a little plastic-wrap pocket, secured the edge with tape, and kept it in my Bible for years. It is likely still in my old Bible.

The lesson is one that I needed as a teenager; It’s a lesson that I still need today.

It doesn’t take much.

Matthew 17:21, NIV
Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.

I don’t know when it happened, friends. I don’t know when my heart shifted from “I want to go to Burkina Faso” to “I’m going to Burkina Faso.” I don’t know when I recognized that seed of faith in my heart that was whispering, “From here to there.” I don’t know when I decided that my finances were going to cooperate with my plans.

It just happened. It just is.

The journey will be a long and difficult one, long before I even leave my little hometown. I humbly ask your prayers and encouragement as I chase this dream God has birthed in me. Maybe if we all plant and water and give light to our mustard seeds, God will grow something of it.

If you’re not already doing so, please consider sponsoring a child living in poverty. You can break the cycle.

Things That Grow: Burkina Faso, part I

Yesterday, I was perusing the conversations over at OurCompassion and learned that Compassion International has posted the expected Sponsor Tours for 2015.

I told you some time ago of my desire to go to Burkina Faso. Though it was not possible for me to make the trip this year, I find myself already quite settled that I need to pursue the possibility of the 2015 trip. I could spend this blog entry trying to explain my desire to go, but I will, perhaps, save that for another blog. It should be sufficient to mention here that I simply long to wrap my arms around the two boys I sponsor, to hug them and play and laugh and love on them. “Simply.” I simply long for this.

Chris Tomlin. There is love. This might be a good time to mention that I’m listening to this song. :)

Anyway, as is my routine, I spent the early part of my Friday evening in prayer. I lit my first candle and prayed for Israel; I lit my second candle and prayed for Syria; and I lit a third candle, and asked God to speak anything to my heart about Burkina Faso. He didn’t. Not in the way I’ve come to expect. So instead of looking for answers, I just allowed myself to be quiet and settled in God’s presence. All alone. It was, I confess, just what I needed. But it didn’t resolve my questions and concerns about the possibility of a Burkina trip next year. It didn’t answer the enormous issue of finances (and if you clicked the link in the first paragraph to look at the upcoming tour information, you know that finances are going to be an enormous issue for this girl). Still, there is something affirming about the silent and stillness of God’s presence.

I awoke this morning with the same questions, the same concerns. How am I ever going to make this happen?

And there is the crux.

It’s funny how God speaks to us, and how He teaches us.

I have a friend who likes to lead the conversation a particular direction to make his point. He will ask me questions and challenge me to think thoroughly about the matter. In the end, I will have come to some revelation about the topic. With human beings, with fallen man, of course there is a danger that I will be misled (even with the best intentions on either side of the equation) or that I will misunderstand. But I’m finding that God does this with me often, and there is such a safety therein because we know (by experience and by faith and by the witness of His Spirit in our lives) that He will not mislead us, that He is not mistaken, that He is patient to continue the dialogue long after we claim we understand, and that He is steadfast and faithful to plant those truths deep in our hearts so that they become convictions.

(Wow. I really do talk a lot, don’t I?)

Anyway, there was the crux: How am I going to make this happen?

I’m not.

I was quite looking for some other passage this morning–the one about us being the temple of God’s Spirit–and I stumbled upon the Growth verse, 1 Corinthians 3:7 (ESV);

So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.

I am so quick to try and figure things out on my own, but the truth is, I can’t.

I can’t raise the money on my own.

Even if I did raise the money, I can’t ensure that nothing in life will prevent me from making the trip.

I can’t determine that there will be no emergencies at work or in my family.

I can’t make politics and weather cooperate with my travel plans.

I can’t force Compassion to offer the trip if I am the only sponsor to sign up.

I can’t guarantee that Joseph and Moise will be excited to see me.

None of it, folks. None of it is in my power.

What a relief! What a blessed revelation! Thank You, God!

But let’s not pretend there is no responsibility on my part. Or yours. If you are reading this blog, friend, you are somehow invested in my life. God brings the growth; and He requires that we plant and water seeds. The question becomes–what does that translate to as we are discussing this Compassion Sponsor Tour?

So what do I need from you, friend? Only you and God can determine what He is speaking to your heart. But might I offer a few suggestions?

  • Prayer – We will talk about this quite a bit in the coming year, as I’m sure there will be many ways you can stand with me in prayer.
  • Encouragement – I would be lying if I told you there isn’t some fear involved in all of this. I need more encouragement than I want to admit.
  • Accountability – Ask me where things are. Ask me how close I am to the goal. Ask me how I’m doing with the plan.
  • Ideas – Thoughts on how to raise the money; thoughts on what gifts to bring on the trip for the children at the Center; thoughts on how to prepare my heart and my mind and my body for this type of experience; packing tips; etc, etc, etc.
  • And what does God require of me? That is a matter for many blogs to come.

    And by the way–this is a good time to mention that there are many, many children waiting for Sponsors. It is not nearly as expensive as you think it is, and there is nothing as rewarding, nothing as wonderful as changing a child’s life. Compassion-dot-com. Go.

    Pax Christi.
    Sar