I must first apologize for the length of time between posts. I had written an initial post and the fickle internet helped to delete it as I was publishing and saving. This also has been a rare moment of solitude for me. The last two weeks have flown by and been filled to the brim. Honestly I will try give a glimpse of what went on, but there was so very much. What is on Facebook and Instagram only scratches the surface. I can’t take a picture of pain, sharing love, the tears, exhaustion, prayers, and moments of miracles. But I can post the scenery, some goofy selfies, and a few adventure pictures. God is at work in this country, at home, in myself and in you.
The team is filled with big personalities and we fit well together, even in our clashes, we ended up sharpening each other. God knew how we would need each other and accomplish the most with each other being so different. We laughed often and prayed often. We each were assigned a role from the Prayer Ministry Team at home. Steve - Torch Bearer & Leader, Scott - Discerner, Ashley - Peace, Andrea - Encourager, Matt - Patience, Kaitlynn - Endurance, and myself - Kindness. Each person with supernatural ability displayed vibrantly those attributes. It was so good to dive deep into each role and then see how God used us. I could go on and on about the amazing gifts and qualities of each wonderful person that poured their life out here with me. I was blessed far beyond my thoughts by God’s kindness to me by who the people on this team were and His amazing grace to bless me in every way far beyond what I have deserved. To the Macedonia team, I love each of you and you have taught me much on what it is like to live like Jesus, thank you.
Right off the plane I knew Macedonia was going to be very different than Haiti. I wore a jacket often and the streets are paved, also there is more than enough cheese in this country. The people are different, they are mostly orthodox and hold strong opinions and prejudices. On the other hand the brothers and sisters we became friends with here are extremely dear and filled with love. The people look different, eat different, the country is landlocked and not an island. I mean really so so so much is opposite, everyone wears a shirt here. But the most glaring similarities are those that come from the nature of man. No matter what your skin color or circumstance, no matter what religion you were or are. The same nature of man remains, and the same spiritual need remains. The simplicity of grace is needed to move our stubborn hearts and minds to freedom. Freedom from hate, prejudice, racism, anger, and hurt. People at home, Haiti, and here are trying to earn God’s love, in despair by their failure, or in denial that its possible for them to need God’s love and that their world may not be figured out.
Before and after my cliff diving, I listened to a total of 4, yes 4 hours of sermons on a Sunday. One man kept speaking about freedom. To myself I asked, please, show me what freedom looks like to you? I know it is not bashing each other with rules and verses from the Bible. I know its not the pride that comes with thinking you are right in your beliefs above others. And my heart desperately wanted them to know freedom. The truth is that words do little and a life’s example does much to influence change in others. Freedom in and through Jesus opens the door to a new perspective, to new purpose. Freedom is abandoning the need to know it all and have it all figured out. Freedom is nailing sin the cross and leaving it there. Freedom is humbly accepting that God loved you enough to die on that cross and forever wipe clean your evil deeds. Freedom is living free of shame, free of guilt, free of performance, free of the acceptance of others, free from beating up yourself, free from a false identity, free from an identity that is shallow and attached to how others perceive us and we wrongfully perceive ourselves. Live Free!!! Be loved by God our Father. Take His free gift of forgiveness which He perfectly paid for, then live free. Human nature remains to earn by pride God’s kindness and love which is only given to the humble unearned and withheld from the proud.
I was blessed to share the good news of freedom in trusting Jesus to many here young an old. We played sports, shared meals with new friends, encouraged and built up the local church here with needed love and motivation, and this Mac team crushed it. The bottom line is with each amazing story of pain, hurt, death, love, and joy that came with those God appointed relationships and conversations is that Jesus is the only way to heal the hurt and fill that obvious giant hole in your heart. Over and over the older we get we search for purpose. In a conversation riddled with loneliness and thoughts of suicide I was asked what my purpose is? overcome with joy from the kindness of Yahweh(God) I answered - “My purpose is to be loved by God.” Freedom is in receiving and living out the good things God prepared for us. To give true, deep, powerful love, I must first receive love, allow it to sink deep past my hurts, pride, shame and humanity and comprehend the greatness of God’s love and kindness that brings new life and purpose.
Macedonia is in need of love, I am here today to go where I need to, share joy, love and kindness. Encourage the true warriors here that are not forgotten but isolated. I am here to honor the Lord Jesus, those I love and myself. Its fun following Jesus! Painful, exhausting, frustrating and confusing apart from Him, but so easy despite circumstance trusting Jesus. I am going to enjoy my tea that Steve graciously prepared and I am going to pack up and head to Albania in the little stick shift rental car I will have the next few days. All along the way your prayers will be with me. Angels will watch over me, and my Heavenly Father’s love and kindness will lead me. Next week, Lord willing I will be in Israel.