Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

» Christine

how a basket of peanuts, turns noise into help

10.18.14

629e1fd2ea55547532618d37a8dabaeb

how do you explain to the whole world, that Love is crying? that this word – poverty that has been repeated millions of times, in millions of languages is as real as Love, and the reason why Love cries, is because poverty has never ceased crying.

he started off this business trip, as he normally does. a laptop, his cell phone and his bible which he never dared to leave behind, all tucked up in the seat right in front of him as he settled for what would a very long flight. his assistant knew him all too well, and had reserved the window seat for this trip, and ensured convenient access to both internet and phone for his business needs. twenty two grueling hours later, he and his colleagues arrived in he city of Kinsasha, where they would be finalizing negotiations with the government of Congo, to assist Congo in rebuilding it’s infrastructure after the devastating war.

there are moments when your day is more than a day,” he thought. moments when the noise of the world ceases to be noise, and instead you are able to decipher what the noise is all about. moments when the loud and overcrowded streets of Kinshasa cease being loud and overcrowded, instead they are transformed into this very colorful unified choir, singing songs that call for help. it means that the very old lady, barefoot on the streets chasing after you, is not just chasing after you. she is chasing hope. and there is where the whole world stands still, or so it feels. stands still in wait. and if we for whatever reason decide to look away, never to stop to be hope, then it also means that the choir continues to sing, and Love continues to cry. cry because once again, His helpless child is left helpless, as she dares to make her way home, only to find that her hungry and skinny looking children, are just breathes away from death.

Love cries

Frederick Buechner says that God puts himself at our mercy not only in the sense of suffering that we can cause him by our blindness and coldness, but the suffering that we can cause him by suffering ourselves. because that is the way Love works, and when someone we love suffers, we suffer with him, and we would not have it otherwise because the suffering and the love are one, just as it is with God’s love for us. — the hungry dark

on the streets that day was Mercy. she chased after John’s Range Rover, and it was from the side mirror, that John first spotted her. she ran barefoot, dressed in clothes as dirty and dusty as the ground, and her feet as cracked as a clay pot. John signaled to his driver to stop, and within seconds they were pulling up to the side of the busy streets of Kinshasa to receive Mercy. Mercy eventually made it to the Range Rover, where John and his driver stood awaiting her arrival. she took a few minutes to catch her breathe, before she stretched out her worn out basket half filled with peanuts, which she had hoped to sell to John.

John slowly whisked her to a shabby little restaurant by the streets, as she stared on perhaps wondering what John would do to her. he was obviously wealthy, because wealthy in her life meant one was dressed well, and could then afford the luxuries of a driver. being white in her world, also meant being wealthy. his manner of greeting was also one that Mary associated with the rich. maybe he hated her hopeless boldness so much, that he was planning to beat her to death, she thought. like the one wealthy man she had dared to approach a few months back. some people, she remembered  don’t receive this kind of noise that well. and so she held on tight to her basket, almost in such a way as to prepare to escape what she thought was about to happen.

after they settled down outside the shabby little restaurant, John gently reached for his wallet and offered Mercy what seemed like a million dollars. the world it seemed had stopped for such a time as this. Mercy’s eyes popped out wide open, as she stretched out her hand to then offer John the basket of peanuts he had purchased. as quickly as he received the basket, was as quickly as he placed it back on her lap, and explained to her that he was not in need of the peanuts. tears fell gently down her face, as she immediately reached for her basket, and almost unknowingly popped open most of the peanuts, and proceeded to fill her hungry little tummy, with all the peanuts she could get open.

Love smiles

John’s driver returned back with plates of food, and asked Mercy to join in the feast. and after sharing a meal and a few laughter’s together, John made a few phone calls for help, and shortly thereafter they parted ways, but not after John had ensured that she was well connected with the help she needed, to sustain and provide for her family.

upon arriving his hotel room that afternoon, he fell to the floor in utter disbelief at the noises of poverty he had witnessed, and cried a few tears for the love he had shared with Mercy. he reached for the phone, and cried some more as he explained to his wife, what pain and suffering faced majority of the people of Kinshasa, and how he had met Mercy, or rather how Mercy had met him, and made more of his day, than he could ever have imagined.

sleep that night was hard to find. he could still hear the noises in the streets, however this time the noises came with faces, and the faces came with pain.

you may not always have a comfortable life and you will not always be able to solve all of the world’s problems at once, but don’t ever underestimate the importance you can have because history has shown us that courage can be contagious, and hope can take on a life of its own. –michelle obama

love: christine

 

when the face of poverty invites you to hope

10.15.14

58756-Film+the+hunger+games+quotes+a

“whatever you have done for the least of these you have done for Me.” she remembers reading that, and then reaching for her calendar to see when next she could free herself to travel. His message was clear, and she didn’t want another day going by, without a plan to travel.

she made it to Kenya.

her, her husband Chris whom she had pleaded with for days, and promised all sorts of promises, to have him join their travels to Africa. he eventually agreed, and there he was miles and miles away from home, in a country far from what he was accustomed to, yet from the minute he set foot on the dusty streets of Nairobi, he felt a certain intrigue about the place that left him thankful to have made the trip. he dared not mention a word to Anna, who had for weeks tried tirelessly to convince him to take the trip, and many a times he did everything in his power to avoid that discussion. their two daughters tagged along as well. one willing, and one unwilling. though Anna had solicited their feedback on traveling to Africa, much like her husband, the decision to travel was not up to debate. they would make the trip whether or not they cared to.

summer had made it’s way to that Eastern part of Africa. the sun’s rays, were as bright as bright can be, and the humidity not as bad as what they were used to back in California. it took them a few hours traveling behind an old unkept truck, listening to what they were to later learn was traditional Luo music, which was turned way up in the truck so that no matter how loud one spoke, ones voice would inevitably be drowned in the sea of music. the gentle breeze that came from the lake was a pleasant surprise, as the murkiness of the city heat, was slowly but surely building up. Kisumu, they found out was the closest city, to the humble dwelling where James, his sister and parents called home. they arrived Riat around four pm that day, and the only reason they knew the time, was because the old gray bearded man at the entrance of the market where they stopped for food, welcomed them with a grin on his face, as he stared at the bright shinning sun, and declared it’s brightness and direction of brightness, to mean the arrival of the four o’clock hour.

they found James seated by the fire place outside their mud thatched hut, which was by the way a complete surprise to all of them, as they had never known such a life to exist. it was obvious that the seemingly great supply of electricity, water and all that seemed regular in their lives, was not as great in supply as they had thought. James and his father had just made it home, from a days work of herding their one cow, two goats and a malnourished looking sheep they inherited when his grand father passed away a few months back. the sun was still bright as bright can be, and their youngest daughter who for the first time since departing California, seemed to embrace the journey they had dared as a family to take, decided to break the ice, and dare James into a game of catch. looking up, with one hand covering his dry face and eyes, like a sun glass would from the grueling sun, he smiled and gently and might i add respectfully turned her down.

having spotted him a few steps from his home, Anna had immediately noticed his frail looking body, the orange looking hair color and the look of despair that clouded his face. he seemed tired, and frankly over-worked. at the age of ten, James did what most young adults shy away from, and yet in this land so far far away from home, lived a handsome, frail looking boy who barely spoke English, and if he did he would often mix up words with his local language, who despite all odds, had managed to accomplish, what many even as adults struggle with. as he respectfully declined Anna’s daughter’s offer to play, he whisked her out a few steps from where they stood, and revealed to her that he would be saving his energy, for tomorrow’s work day. we were to later learn that dinner would not be served that night, as this year’s bright shinning summer, had brought with it severe drought, which had left James and his family many a nights hungry and hopeless. that night, was no exception.

it seemed as if the entire village had gathered together to bring their greetings to Anna and her family. James’s mother and father both smiled, and shock their hands with great joy and appreciation for their company. it was not long before they were all signaled towards some square shaped stones, to have a seat and receive their welcome. Anna caught on, and dragged her husband close to her, as they sat on these stones, and watched as Mary (James’s mother), prepared what seemed like a mud drink, and bread which didn’t look like bread, as it was made with a white looking paste that seemed to belong in an art store of some sort.

they were the only ones allowed to eat that night. it was their custom that visitors were blessings, and as such must be greeted with a meal to usher in the blessings they bought with them. and so it was that Mary served her guests, with the little they had, and the little she had toiled all day to make as good as she could, with what seemed like an empty supply of nothing edible. the rest of the villagers looked on, as Anna and her family took what seemed like painful bites into this meal that had been graciously served. Anna offered her food to James, as he looked more in need of it than she did, and also because if she was being honest, the meal that evening even though made with love, did not settle well with her tummy, and am sure the same would be told of her husband and her children as well. even then, they respectfully ate their meals, and called it a night.

as they were heading back to their hotel, they decided instead to gift the family with the blessings they had travelled so very far to bring. Anna’s heart seemed distraught at the condition they lived in. the mud thatched hut, had no heat or privacy available. the entire family slept in that one tiny little space, and had very few blankets to warm their cold bodies on cold winter nights. so it was a pleasure to then bring with them hope, and pass that along.

the gifts came as a surprise to James and his family. the seemingly hopeless faces, turned to hope as Anna and her family presented the gifts to them that evening. James particularly was very excited to receive his first pair of canvas shoes at the age of ten. mother and father were honored to know that the very next day and weeks ahead, Anna and their local friends would be drilling boreholes for fresh water, and building them a better place to call home.

it was a dream come true.

Mary cried helplessly that night. tears of joy flooded her face, as she danced around the fire that seemed to also light up even more, as joy filled the village that summer evening. they all joined her in tears, and danced for hours as they thanked God for remembering them. Hosanna had indeed visited them, they said. they were no longer the forgotten children, hidden somewhere in the vast land of Africa.

perhaps, hope lives James thought.

perhaps, becoming a doctor was no longer so much as a dream, as it was a possible reality.

as he reminisced about the many nights he had sat outside their hut, and dreamt of a life better than what they had. he had always enjoyed and found it a great blessing helping his father with their cattle, particularly when they were ill. he enjoyed learning how to make them feel better, and had always wished to maybe one day become a doctor himself.

that dream seemed possible that night.

hope lives, he said over and over again.

hope sure did live

as Anna and her family made their way home that evening, their truck made a turn for the worst and refused at all to start. they were stuck. the next city was not miles away, and the only friend they knew of was out of reach.

stuck in the reality of living a night in Mary shoe.

as if the thought was not as bad, Anna and her family followed Mary back to their hut, and settled down on the cold mud floor, with sheet coverings as their blankets and settled their eyes to sleep, as mid-night had made it’s way there. again, the only reason why they knew it was mid-night, was because a story is told of the mid-night crow that only crows late in the night, around the mid-night hour said Mary.

they woke up early the very next morning to the sound of the early morning birds, and growling stomachs. James and his entire family had not eaten much of anything for days. they looked tired, but after the night they had had, they shared a glimmer of hope. it was not long before a family friend joined them, and got their truck started which they then used to return back to the city to pick up supplies. James tagged along, and was happy to lend a hand after filling his tummy with eggs, bacon, potatoes and tea for break fast. he had never eaten anything as good, nor had a plate so full of food. he ate so much, and stuffed some food in his small pouch to take back home to his family. Anna caught a glimpse of him stuffing his food from the side of her eyes, and later that day she pulled him aside and let him know that she would never again let his family go hungry another day, and that they would be taking back lots and lots of food to feed them all. James was happy. that is all that seemed to matter. that his family would have enough to eat and live.

days and weeks went by, and Anna, her family and friends gathered together to bless a family that seemed to have blessed them even more than they could ever have dreamt or imagine. and when they eventually returned back to California, life was never the same again. never would it ever be the same again, not after meeting poverty, and it then speaking hope to them. 

<pause the blog music at the top right of the blog to watch this>

love: christine 

how pain and suffering turns to riches

10.12.14

6162752fd3b41e1470d357a2bebfe2fd

a story is told of this courageously beautiful lady, who married into an incredibly God fearing family, and dared to live and serve the God of her new family. not much is said of her marriage with her husband, other than the announcement of his passing, which also happened around the same time as the passing of her father-in-law. As if that was not enough pain, the story goes on to tell of the passing of her brother-in-law as well.

her mother-in-law is described as this loving, thoughtful and strong woman, who endured not only the passing of her husband, but her two sons as well. her strength, and selflessness reminds me of my mother. who much like her, has endured the loss of a husband. and yet to say that she was strong at all times, would be to lie, as the story also goes on to describe her moments of weakness. moments when she wondered if the Lord had perhaps forgotten her. did she sin so terribly, so as to call this kind of punishment in her life? she might have asked. in her moment of weakness, and doubtfulness, she changed her name to – “Mara” – meaning, the Lord has dealt bitterly with me.

in India, a friend tells of the story of a one year old girl. in this story, he describes the brutality, and reality of human trafficking, slavery and rape. as he unapologetically tells this story, he chocks up and words alone can not describe the pain that clouds his face. the case of this one year old girl particularly catches my attention. perhaps it’s the innocence of a child at this age. their seemingly helpless nature, that strikes a cord and am drawn deeper and deeper into this very dark story. as he speaks, we all find ourselves transported to this community in New Delhi where this child lives with his mother and father. both hardworking, and loving people who venture outside of the home on a daily basis, to fend for their child. this precious girl, is then left in the hands of relatives, who from time to time, rape and brutally abuse their child.

i want him to stop right there.

this can’t be true.

how, how does one touch a child. such innocence. where is the heart in all this. the consciousness that tells us all to stop, when we are venturing into inhuman territory.

but he doesn’t stop.

he goes on to tell of the story of a teenage girl. around the age of my oldest daughter. i would say that puts her at the age of twelve. she too lives with her father and mother, however this time, he takes us to Moscow. her parents are in desperate need for food, and other basic needs. winter has been brutal this year, and having no electricity or gas, they have not been able to stay warm. a few days past, their son took ill. and as days went by, he seemed to deteriorate even more. he has pneumonia. having sold all they have, they are now left in the helpless hands of fate. during his regular walk to the local market, he rans into a long lost high school friend. they stop for a drink, and he proceeds to tell his friend about his son who fell ill, and their complete lack of money. his friend seems to be a good friend. he offers to have his daughter and wife work for him, and with that money, they would then be able to afford the hospital bills, and all their basic needs would then be met.

the very next day, his wife and daughter head on to his factory, where they will be sewing clothes, and packaging them for distribution. he has done well for him self, and is able to employ hundreds of people in his factory. a few days into their work, he calls for them. their supervisor, a big fierce looking man, seemingly ruthless in all his ways, walks them to his office. there, they are met by two additional men. as they enter his office, they lock the door, and proceed to brutally rape, and beat both mother and daughter. once done, they threaten to kill their family, if they dared to escape and report the incident. they are forced into a dark, dusty secluded room in the basement of the factory. the girl who directs them to this secluded room, looks to be around my daughter’s age as well. she never looks them straight in the eye, nor utters a word. she seems distraught, and in her own way, seems sorry for them as well.

in the land far far away, Mara whose real name is Naomi encourages her daughter-in-law Ruth to pursue a long time relative. she immediately finds favor with him, and before long she in turn finds true love once again. his name is Boaz. she is his princess, and he her king. their love for one another, comes after the endurance of such pain. the realization, that God is not asleep, and He is not unjust. that in our pain, He is there. in our sorrow, he wipes away our tears. in our forgetfulness, he reminds the many Naomi’s out there, that He doesn’t deal bitterly with his people. that He loves us so, despite our moments of doubtfulness. he loves us so.

in the head quarters of the United Nations, years have gone by and the child who was once a year old, is now all grown up and surprisingly, and even more beautifully she is stronger than ever. her parents have since passed away, however their relentless fight for justice has not gone unpaid. their daughter Nishi’s perpetrator was eventually after many years of struggle, found guilty and sentenced to fifteen years in prison. Nishi is now a lawyer. one who relentlessly like her parents, dares to fight for those in need. she speaks to millions around the world, about her story. about the hope, in the dark dungeons of disparity. and much like my friend, she in her own authentic way, dares to unveil the light in this dark story that my friend, dared to bring to life on that cloudy, and rainy Saturday night.

what about the mother and daughter trapped in the basement of the factory, you might ask. well, life does sure have it’s own way of bringing justice where needed. in it’s own time i might add. a few years after graduating law school, Nishi secured a job with an international law firm, that dealt primarily with social justice issues. her first assignment took her back to her home town of New Delhi, and it was not before long that she was reassigned to serve with a team of lawyers in Moscow. it was there that she heard of the dark stories, much like hers that resided in Moscow as well.

it was during one of their raids in a local factory, that so happened to be the same factory that mother and daughter had been held captive all this while, that Nishi first got to meet them both. by this time, mother was suffering from a terminal illness, as she had been denied physician assistance, while being held captive. the daughter on the other hand, had found herself pregnant by the factory owner, and she now bore two of his sons.

the day of the rescue, Nishi recalls hearing mother, lift up her voice in thanksgiving. she had heard of a Lord that rescues His people from slavery. she had also heard, of a Lord that hears our prayers, and avenges all wrong doings in our lives. when she first heard of our Lord, she had no idea how to communicate to him, instead she started speaking with him. everywhere she went, she took Him with her. never fully knowing, how deep of a connection she was building with Him. she tells of times when she heard His voice. like the day of the rescue, when He whispered – freedom is here, freedom is here.

they are both now happy, free and serving Him in ways that they could never have thought possible. though their road has been oh so difficult, and many many a times forgiveness has been so hard to reach, however regardless of all their pains and struggles, they have seen the wonders of His works, and continue to tell of them. they know now, that through it all, He is God and He is good. 

Love always: Christine

how do you find everything in Jesus?

10.11.14

bba8c585f53bd53b4e40825cee0433ce

How do you find everything in Jesus? She asked. The day before she had received the news of the passing of a dear friend. It was one of the coldest winters Chim Chim Ma had ever experienced. Chim Chim Ma had been home to Lucille for many many years. It is here that she had found her calling, and it was here that she had started her journey with Christ. Chim Chim Ma was Lucille’s hideaway. A place where she retreated to find peace, and tranquility in a life that she described as nothing but peaceful. This year winter in the mountains of Chim Chim Ma was brutal in every sense. So cold that rain drops had turned into steel like rods, many hanging from snowy roof tops, and some cemented on the ground of unplowed street paths. She had decided to spend the holidays in Chim Chim Ma that year,  as family and friends gathered two thousand miles away in their family beach house, to catch up on what had seemed like a year of hills and valleys.

Through out that day, the question continued to linger in her mind. She had decided to head on out to the woods, perhaps she thought the woods would speak life, and reveal the answer to that grand question that had lingered in thought that whole day. As soon as she set foot outside her cabin, she regretted the idea all together. The wind blew fiercely that day, and it brought with it very very cold chills that seemed to find a swim from her head all the way to her feet. It was terribly cold that day. Her greatest fear was heading into the woods, only to be drowned in a sea of heavy snow, and without so much as life for the next two to three miles, she feared disappearing from the face of the earth, and never to be found again. Despite all those agonizing thoughts, she dared herself to reach for the woods, to experience what she had been craving for all day long – a time with nature.

Lucille was married to a handsome Outreach pastor. They had met in a missions trip to Israel a few years back. By the end of their trip, they had fallen madly in love, and returned back home to announce their engagement, and wedding plans soon began. She was beautiful in every sense, both inside and out. She loved her husband dearly, and had hoped that if ever the Lord were to bless her, that He would reach for her womb, and plant a seed of hope – a child. Year after year, the Lord showered Lucille with many many blessings. So many blessings, that many wondered what touch of favor rested within her that the Lord would so graciously bless her so very much. However, the one blessing Lucille hoped for, never seemed to make it’s way into that pile of blessings.

There were many days when she wondered if He had forgotten her. If all she was good for was her career, but never a homemaker. Lucille had been blessed with a wonderful, rich career in writing. Her books had all made it to the New York best seller list, and many of her books had remained in that list for weeks and months. Writing came so easy for her. It was never something that she needed much help with. From an early age, Lucille’s mother had instilled in her the love of books, and writing. So much so, that she had developed such a strong liking, and wrote her very first book at the age of eleven.

As she made her way deeper and deeper into the woods, she could hear the birds whisper and the leaves crackle beneath her feet every step that she took. Once she made it into the heart of the woods, she knew she had made the right decision in forging on, despite all her fears. The view in the center of the woods, was magnificent. The sun shown brightly, and the reflection of the sun against the snowy woods, made for the most amazing kodak moment. She found a safe place to rest her feet, and she took out her camera and her bible and rested in the center of what she described as heavenly bliss. A tapestry of wonder, and she stared at this beauty for something over an hour.

How do you find everything in Jesus? This time the question came with an answer, as she saw what seemed like a flash of memories flood her very eyes. She remembered her friend who had passed away the day before, the joy she had brought to her life. She was indeed a sister in every sense of the word. They had taken plenty of trips to Chim Chim Ma together, and shred it’s rich treasures. They had collaborated in a book together, and produced something that everyone felt a deep authentic connection with. The Fierce Overcomer, remained in the New York best seller list for seven consecutive months, and won them both plenty of awards. Through all the highs and lows, Amanda and Lucille were inseparable peas in a pod. Their genuine love for each other, made it so difficult for Lucille to move on without her, yet she knew without a shadow of doubt, Amanda’s work as beautiful as she was, was done here on earth. She was now resting beautifully, in the arms of our Father.

She decided to venture a little further into the woods once again. This time she found herself a huge fallen tree, and made rest there for a few minutes. The snow seemed to have ceased it’s showers. The view was still amazing. It felt like an invitation from the heavens of some sort. May be for her to know that in our stillness, He is there. Perhaps, that beauty brought with it these whispers of answers to this grand question. Whatever it was, it was definitely an invitation to peace that sure did and does continue to surpass all understanding. Again, the flash returned and this time she thought of the child she had always hoped to bless her husband with, and all the amazing and wonderful blessings that had been the result of a blessed career. Like the children her husband and her decided to sponsor  a few years back. Opening up their hearts to love, in ways that they had never thought existed.

How do you find everything in Jesus? As she sat down in the midst of a snowy woody field, she knew immediately that everything she saw, everything she received was all because of Jesus. Without Him, the sleepless nights, would have turned to dark dungeons of horror. Without Him, the moments of challenge within her marriage, as sometimes they both felt defeated, would have turned into divorce. Without Him, this moment would not be made possible. How do you find everything in Jesus? Because after having been through so much, and having seen so much, she knew that her life was hopeless without Jesus. Even when life did not make sense, she knew He would never abandon her.

Jesus was and still is her everything. Life is nothing without Him. And it was that moment, that she felt a tear drop flow down her dry somewhat snowed up face. She felt a moment of warmness, flow through her body, and a peace like she had never known before. It was that moment, that she knew He would always be there for her, and with her. He was her everything. Having found Him those many years ago, she had found her everything.

You might ask how Lucille is doing. Well, after her weekend at Chim Chim Ma that very cold winter, she returned back home to her husband, and she wrote yet another best seller. However, the best story she ever wrote was the book – My Life as Mom. Yes, she became mom after many years of waiting. Before she experienced motherhood, the Lord blessed them by having their sponsor children stay with them, which in-fact was another way of God preparing them for what was yet to come.

How do you find Jesus in everything? He is everything. Even when life does not make sense, Jesus is everything. 

Love you always: Christine

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...