Out of Africa

My Dearest Siestas! I am so glad to be back with you once again and so thankful for prayers only God can count that rose to His Throne through many of you on our behalf. Over and over God did things that I knew deep in my spirit were in answer to prayer. Many of them had to do with my dear man. Keith never intended to sign up for ANY of this ministry stuff and certainly had no intention of taking arduous and sometimes just purely dangerous trips to third world countries. That’s my deal and my passion in Jesus. Not Keith’s. But I am his and the man is determined that – at least for the time being – I am not doing this kind of thing without him.

Back to answered prayer, a dozen different things happened that could have nearly put Keith over the edge (like flying with his claustrophobic self all over South-Eastern Africa in a five-seat prop-plane – one seat of which is a potty in such plain view that no one would dare use it – and sitting so close together that our knees all touched). And yet the Spirit of God was on him so strongly that he hardly flinched. He could probably tell you just as many ways God’s answers to prayer were obvious with me because our primary concerns at times like those are each other instead of ourselves. Thirty years gets a person under your skin. I am amazed at Keith and so impressed with his God for all the things He’s made him willing to do in order to minister with me. I am believing God to heap up Keith’s rewards because the guy has done so many things that he wouldn’t have simply chosen to do or even felt called to do. He is truly a case of, “Man oh man, what I’d do for love.”

I have so many stories to tell and plan to tell them over the weeks to come in this fashion or that, whether blogging, speaking or writing, but I primarily wanted to pour out my gratitude to you for interceding and tell you just a little bit of what you’ve been interceding for. When I make a trip to a nation like Angola, the team and I are also actively and equally raising awareness and funds for the titanic needs of several other nations where we (in partnership with LOI and South Africa’s Joint Aid Management) have school-feeling programs like Sudan and Mozambique. Mission Feeding (the name of the program) takes place through village schools (that sometimes gather under shade trees) so that the communities can understand the crucial tie between education and provision. They are making as serious an attempt to break the cycle of poverty and not just form dependency as any organization I’ve ever seen. I’ve primarily gone to Angola because the nation is still suffering the terrible ramifications of a civil war that only ended five years ago and many of the rural villages are still in stunning need of food and water. I’ve seen these realities, not just on paper and through statistics, but with my own eyes.

It’s tempting to become desensitized toward the suffering in Africa because we’ve heard the cries and seen the images so many times through media. Tragically, however, the suffering persists in such mammoth numbers that God’s people, called by the mandate of Matthew 25:45, cannot with clear conscience look the other way. We also can’t wait on political chaos to clear up while children starve themselves to either mental incapacity or death. On the airplane home yesterday I read an article out of Christianity Today that affirmed figures I’d already learned. The average life expectancy throughout the continent is about 41 years of age (you can’t believe how few gray-headed people you see in Angola) and a flabbergasting one in three Africans suffer malnutrition. That’s what we’re trying to help affect – even if in comparatively small steps – when we make these trips. Right now the program I have the privileging of working with is able to feed one nutritious meal a day (very often all they get that day) to 470,000 children. (There is not enough to go around to the adults. Only nursing mothers are able to get in the line. I cannot even describe how the sight of all those adults standing by, watching the children eat, effects me.) The percentage we’re able to feed through the program may seem low in the face of hundreds of millions malnourished on the continent but when you see individual children’s faces and learn their names, you begin to grasp the importance of reaching even those few.

That’s where the good news comes in. Small changes really are happening in handfuls of areas in Africa where people who care and can help have mobilized. My last stop was a huge cemetery for children where, even six years ago, mothers lined up to bury children who died of starvation. With the war ended and food making it slowly but surely to some of the poorest villages, the statistics have dropped, praise Jesus. There is much hope that the nation will increasingly get on its feet over the coming decade and, until then, they need extra help. I really do believe the second reason we sometimes draw back from doing what we can to help in situations of such proportions is because we don’t think we can do any real good. Thankfully, that’s not true. One child at a time.

No doubt like many of you, I have had a heart for relief work since I was a child. I’ve joined in relief efforts here and there along the way but nothing on a consistent basis. Then, about five years ago God called me with unmistakable volume to start ministering to the poor both publicly and privately. That’s why we began partnering with Samaritan’s Purse at our Living Proof Live events then LOI and JAM through Life Today. When I was a teenager, I thought about one day serving an organization like the Peace Corps because, like so many of you, I wanted to help people in crisis. Instead of serving through a secular organization, I get to serve blatantly in the Name of the Risen Lord Jesus Christ. And your prayers are an enormous part of that process. I was overcome by the whole thing yesterday: how the Body of Christ works and how many forms mission work takes whether it’s praying, going (short-term or long), giving, or testifying. I have asked God to pour life and joy and JESUS into one African child for every single one of you who prayed. I so hope He Himself placed that prayer upon my heart so that it will be answered as one offered according to His gracious will.

My primary calling is to share the Word of God with anyone who will listen but, somewhere in the midst of it, I also get to occasionally crawl down on my knees and hand a little wide-eyed girl a bowl of thick soup. Some people can’t hear the Word for their stomachs. May my heart be torn beyond recovery by all I have seen. I don’t ever want to get over it.

Well, shoot-fire, my staff just told me that lunch is here and I already have to sign off. I’m having Mexican food for the second time in 24 hours. Of course I am. That’s how we do things here in South Texas. Oh, to one day share a big plate of enchiladas and re-frieds with all of you and all those precious African children on the green grass of Heaven!

I love you, Siestas. I’ll be back in touch soon!


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