Monday, April 1, 2013

1,000 Words

A picture is worth a thousand words.  I've heard that phrase as long a I can remember.  (I hope it's true of these pictures.)  In February, I was honored to get to travel with a team of pastors representing the Indiana Central District of the Wesleyan church to Xai-Xai, Mozambique, Africa. (pronounced:shy-shy)  What an honor to travel with this incredible group of men.  While there, we got to travel across South Africa and visit Kruger Park.  Kruger is one of the finest game preserves in the world.  It was truly amazing to see elephants, zebras, lions, in there own habitat.
We then traveled through Maputo, Mozambique's capital, and went up the coast to the province of Xai-Xai, to visit the seat of the province, Xai-Xai.  While there the team taught at the Xai-Xai Bible college.   The area is right on the coast of the Indian Ocean, and is beautiful.  But, the area was suffering a major flood.  At the edge of town is a very long levy, and one of the bridges on the south end had partially washed out.  You see, water for a large portion of that region of southern Africa drains into the ocean right there.  There is a very large plane where the people live and raise their families.  That entire area was flooded!  I can't say exactly how large the area was, but over 250,000 people were displaced because of the flooding.  A small Wesleyan church had contacted the Bible College at Xai-Xai to let them know that their church had been destroyed by the floods and the congregation had moved to higher ground.  The flood relief effort was centralized in an area just south of where we were staying.  We saw hundreds and hundreds of tents all in a row, with the familiar Red Cross emblem on the side.  We saw representatives from Samaritans Purse, Compassion, and we were there with World Hope International.  (World Hope was founded by Joanne Lyon the General Superintendant of the Wesleyan Church.)
The response of the team was to find as much rice as we could and take it to them.  My role was simply to tag along.  It was amazing to see such great need, and to see these incredible organizations in action.  However, food was starting to get scarse and the small Wesleyan church had asked for any assistance we could offer.  So resources we're pooled and the rice was bought, the pick up truck was loaded and we set off with 20 something 25 kilo bags of rice.  We decided to meet with the people of the congregation a little ways up the road from the tent city, because we feared our extremely limited supply might incite a riot.  They didn't appear to be starving yet, but I'm sure there were some very hungry folks. As we pulled up, a rather big fellow, greeted us with a warm smile and as we got out of our vehicles we were met with songs of praise, (to God).  The gentleman was wearing a blue t-shirt, and I will never forget that moment.  With tears coming down his cheeks he said, (through translator) "Thank you, thank you, thank you!  We are so grateful that you've come.  You didn't even need to bring us food!  We're so thankful to know somebody's praying and thinking of us!"  (I inhaled to suck in any possible tears!)  Here they were, they'd lost there homes, their churches...everything!  Some of them still hadn't found family members, and could only find very limited food and clean water. But, they were thankful to God, for being a part of His family, where we just simply showed up.  That's how it's supposed to work you know.  We are to look out for one another.  There are so many lessons to be learned from an experience like this, and I suppose I will keep learning the rest of my life.  But for now, my thoughts are toward the "showing up" part.  I was able to participate in this incredible moment, in large part because I made myself available.  Thank you Jesus!  What I'm trying to say is, as an American, many times we show up and "fix" things simply because we can.  But, the better way, (the Biblical way), is to adjust our lives to God's plans.  When we make the adjustment to Him, we experience His very real love, mercy, kindness and compassion, and are truly blessed!  Jesus did that very thing when He came to earth.  He made Himself available to the Father to make a way for all of us to be saved, through His blood shed on the cross, we can find forgiveness!  But, even Jesus made His adjustment to the Father's ultimate redemptive plan.  I knew without a doubt that God had blessed me that day, because I was "there."  I also need to say, many people made sacrifices, so that I might make this trip!  Many of you were "there" for me, so I could be "there" for God.  In a sense, you were "there" with me!
So, what's holding you back?  What's keeping you from going?  What's stopping you from adjusting your life to Him?  It is generally fear of some sort I've found.  We're afraid we can't afford it, or won't be able to eat anything, or we're afraid of contracting some deadly disease.  It can be busyness in our lives that keep us from making the adjustment.  My challenge to you, is to make the adjustment.  He does command us to go you know!  When you see Him working, do your best to align yourself with Him.  You will be blessed!  Go into the world!

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