"...Jesus said to him,"'Feed My sheep.'" John 21:17 (Jesus talking to Peter)
Last Tuesday, I received a payment--a rather large chunk--for my critiquing services. My husband came home, handed me an envelope. I glanced at it. Another monthly packet from Voice of the Martyrs. I'd love to tell you I open it every month and pray diligently for those who are being persecuted for the cause of Christ, but I'd be lying. I might breathe a small prayer as I toss it out.
But this night, I laid it on my desk and climbed up on my bed to chat with my husband after he came home from Karate.
"Hand me that envelope, Jess."
"Voice of the Martyrs? What do you want with that?" I grabbed it and held it up.
"Oh," he said. "I thought it was Project Rescue. What's Voice of the Martyrs?"
I told him. He pulled up Project Rescue's site. "I know you support them and on the way home God made it clear that the amount of money you received isn't ours. So I thought of PR. Giving it to them."
Of course I was thrilled. Any chance to sow into Project Rescue (I have a page devoted to this amazing ministry) makes me happy. But something stuck in my gut and I focused on the packet from VOM (Voice of the Martyrs). I opened it up and skimmed the booklet.
"Hey Tim, this says we can donate Bibles." A knot in my stomach formed as I prayed in my head. Lord, where should this money go? I was just thinking how we take Bibles for granted. We give them away at GoodWills and there are people who weep over wanting just one. Yet we ignore the treasures for extra sleep or hobbies...But I also love Project Rescue--girls forced into sexual slavery.
"I don't really know about this ministry," Tim said. I understand. These days giving your debit card number over a website can be scary. And will those people actually receive Bibles?
I wanted to follow my husband's lead. I've always prayed and asked God to increase us so we can sow into the kingdom. One day I'd love to see a place on my novels that says, "A portion of proceeds go to Project Rescue."
We decided to give part to Voice of the Martyrs and sponsor 10 bibles and give the other portion to Project Rescue.
On Wednesday morning, after I dropped my daughter off at school and got my little sickie settled on the couch, I prayed about those Bibles. And I prayed about my neck problems, asking once again for healing and then believing that if God didn't heal me, His grace would be sufficient.
My phone dinged. Email. Naturally, I told God to hold up. I mean don't we all do that? Oh, it's just me. I checked my email and it was two devotionals that I'd signed up for at Bible Gateway. Now, I'd like to tell you I read them faithfully, but I can't. In fact, I normally delete them without even reading them. Why did I even sign up? I deleted the first one, but...
I felt a need to open the second one. I can't explain it. Just a feeling I should. *Disclaimer: Just because your phone dings during prayer doesn't mean you should always check it.
SUFFERING ACCOMPLISHES UNKNOWN PURPOSES
This was the title. And it was the devotional about persecuted Christians. Christians like the ones I'd just sent Bibles to--or at least I hoped that was what my money was actually going to.
As I read, I thought God was speaking to me about my neck. It talked about Paul's thorn in his flesh that God didn't heal him of, but His grace was sufficient.
And then I read a story about a boy, named Abdul, who drowned and died for an hour. (Normally, I think…oh here we go when I read death stories.) But I kept reading. The angels that carried him, told him he still had work to do and when he opened his eyes, alive, a pastor sat praying over him.
It went on to say, "This happened twenty years ago and ever since, Abdul’s life has been changed. Even though Abdul only completed fifth grade in school, he is currently the pastor of a small church in a very poor village on the island of Mindanao in the Philippine Islands. In his own words Abdul says, “I don’t understand God’s purposes in my suffering, but I now know the Lord.”"
Something struck me! Mindanao. I know that place. How do I know that place? I've never read anything about the Philippine Islands. I poked my lips out and scrunched my brows.
Yes you do. You skimmed it last night.
I snatched up the Voice of the Martyrs booklet/newsletter and opened to the editor's page.
First paragraph: "Our newsletter editor recently met with Christians on the Philippine island of Mindanao, where Christians are heavily persecuted. Her trip was well timed because the Philippine government had just signed a preliminary agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (a rebel group) to create an Islamic region in Mindanao called Bangsamore." It went on to tell of horrible persecutions to the Christians. Bombs. Fear. Theft. Vandalism. Beatings.
I had just read about this place in my devotional I never read! But there's more!
"When our editor asked a pastor why he stays in Mindanao when he could have a peaceful life in another part of the Philippines, he said, "For me it's not really difficult. We need to feed the sheep." He asked only for more Bibles, as many Christians families in his village do not have one."
Do I believe that the boy who drowned is this man, "Arnel" (name changed due to anonymity and security issues) is Abdul.
Do I believe that when we listen, God speaks--even if it's a whisper or thought?
Do I believe that God is sovereign and is constantly working to spread a message of hope to those who are dying in sin and begging for just a taste of His word?
Do I believe that when we seek God's will, but are unsure and ask for confirmation, that He gives it? Even through devotions and newsletters we would normally never read?
Do I believe the money I could have kept and saved for a writer's conference is now going to Mindanao to spread the gospel, to feed the sheep of Jesus Christ's pasture?
Did I mention that on the Wednesday night after all this happened in the morning, I was teaching on Peter's life and discovering God's will for your life to my new & growing believer's class, that we were reviewing real living and relationships that included giving with a cheerful heart as God purposes in our hearts?
Do I believe that this was a practical application I could share and encourage them with?
Do I believe that if God can orchestrate something so amazing as this, then He can also orchestrate other things in my life and make good on promises such as writing, publishing, teaching, family concerns, physical healing (or lack of), finances…?
"So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver." 2 Corinthians 9:7
If you are interested in sowing into the Kingdom and feeding God's sheep, please visit Voice of the Martyrs. And as always, Project Rescue!
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