Phil and Debbie are global vulnerable children and youth specialists with their mission, One Collective, investing 37 years, including 20 years in Ecuador, serving within vulnerable populations and initiatives that seek to help vulnerable children and youth around the globe. During their time in Ecuador, they co-founded two ministries working with youth and families at risk: Casa Gabriel: Second Chances and End Slavery Ministries Ecuador.
Where in the reality of your life do you need to trust what God says is true about you?
In March, 2022, Phil and I attended the retirement gala of CF pastors, Phil and Deb Schaefer. While enjoying fantastic hors d’oeuvres and visiting with friends, my phone started pinging, over and over. I decided that I should see who was being so persistent.
When I opened my phone, I saw an explosion of angry and desperate texts from a precious young woman I have been journeying with for several years. I began to text her words that I have said a thousand times, “I am so sorry. That is really hard. I’m here. I’m listening. You are safe in Jesus. God will not leave you, ever.”
Her texts continued as we joined everyone in the church auditorium for the program portion of the celebration. And then, the room became dark except for a small light on the stage. A beautiful young woman dressed in flowing white stepped into the light. The music began, “You unravel me with a melody. You surround me with a song of deliverance from my enemies ‘til all my fears are gone.”
She danced with power and beauty. Victorious. Alive. Arms and head lifted high. Free and without shame. “You have chosen me. Love has called my name…”
“You split the sea so I could walk right through it. My fears are drowned in perfect love. You rescued me so I could stand and say, ‘I am no longer a slave to fear. I am a child of God.'”
I continued to feel the vibration of texts.
“I hate myself!”
“I hate everyone!”
“Just let me die.”
“My life is hell.”
“There is no hope for me.”
The song and dance washed over me.
Tears rolled down my face.
“I am surrounded by the arms of the Father. I am surrounded by songs of deliverance. We’ve been liberated from our bondage. We are the sons and the daughters. So, let us sing our freedom! I am no longer a slave to fear. I am a child of God.”
Truth anchored me with hope for all that is broken. For me. For our world. And for the young woman momentarily hijacked by her situation and feelings of despair.
Are you trusting TRUTH – JESUS? Where in the reality of your life do you need to trust what God says is true about you? Where do you need to breathe under water the new air of GRACE? Truth not trusted in the reality of your life cannot transform your experience (Pastor Michael Acock).
Truth NOT trusted has no power to exchange slavery for freedom and fear for peace. Yet, TRUSTING in TRUTH is transformational! Because of the cross, wholeness IS more than possible. YET GOD. He is our hope and stay. I am who He says I am, and you are who He says you are! So let us sing our freedom. Easter is here!
Adjusting to living in the United States is difficult to describe. First, there doesn’t seem to be a normal anymore for anyone. COVID, riots, and political unrest have changed the climate. However, I have been surprised and blessed with unexpected opportunities to connect with people. Although the context has changed, I am encouraged that maybe God still wants to use this imperfect and displaced missionary in my own homeland, a land that feels foreign.
We have been working to furnish our home after being gone for 20 years. Many of the items have come through gifts from friends and family and some through purchases from Facebook Marketplace. Through FB Marketplace, I met a young man named “Danny” who sold me batteries I needed for some cordless tools. The first time I met him, he asked me about Ecuador. Ummm … and how did he know this? He explained that he checked out my FB page (for safety reasons) and was curious about the Ecuador connection.
He was genuinely interested, and so I explained why Ecuador is such an important part of my life. He seemed a bit perplexed. Later he called to ask me about other items he had for sale. I felt the Holy Spirit urging me. My connection to Danny was about something more than tools. I asked the Lord about this, and I felt Him say, “Give him five stones.” Okay … I felt the Holy Spirit prompting me. I found five dollar coins, commonly used in Ecuador, and asked the Holy Spirit for five words he wanted me to share. After paying Danny for the items, I told him that I had something else to give him, something I felt God wanted to give him.
I asked him if he knew the story of David and Goliath found in the Bible. He said that he did not know much about the Bible.
“Would you like to hear?”
“Yes, I would like that.”
When I reached the part where David bent down and picked up 5 smooth stones to fight the giant, I said, “Danny, I don’t know what giants you may be facing in your life, but God wants to give you 5 stones to face them.”
One by one I handed him a dollar coin and spoke the word God had given me. Hope. Forgiveness. Freedom. Faith. When I got to the fifth stone/coin I stopped because I could not remember the word. Bummer! I sat there for a moment asking the Holy Spirit to please give me the fifth stone …
And then it came to me. I said, “God sees you, you are seen and known by God.”
Danny just looked at me in stunned silence. Finally, with tears in his eyes he said, “Wow, that is amazing, I have never had anyone tell me these kinds of things before, much less a stranger.” I told him that the five “stones” were his, he could choose to use them if he wanted. Recently he asked if he could talk to me sometime about a question he had. I said, “Sure!” I am waiting for that phone call and question. And while waiting, I am praying that Jesus will reveal Himself to him as Savior and free him from the giants in his life.
Amid wrestling to find my niche, significance, and purpose in this new setting, I am blessed to be used by God to reach out to young men that hunger for something more, something worthwhile, and something real. I believe that each of us has opportunities to impact someone with God’s gift of love. The question the Holy Spirit gave me might be for you as well.
“What stones (words and actions) does the Father want me to give to someone today?”
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