Salaam Alekum Family!
The word the Lord is speaking to me this week is “EXPANSION”. He has been bringing to my remembrance all that He has done for us this last year, although I can’t seem to forget it for sure. I look around in amazement still at His faithfulness to us. In December 2013 I barely had enough to give the kids a good Christmas. They received a new outfit and a used one. No new shoes, no toys, just the necessities. Two days before Christmas we received 46 new kids and had no beds for them, not even a building to put them in. I couldn’t say no as there were dead bodies in the streets of Juba from whence they came. A houseful of boys had to move into a small mud hut we had on our compound. They slept on the dirt floor with mattresses. They were so wonderful about all of it and so patient with me. I couldn’t even give these 46 new kids Christmas presents.
Then all of these refugees came from the north needing to eat, no one here to feed them. We gave the little we had, 90% of it as I heard from the Lord, and kept 10% of our small stores. This is when our whole world turned upside down and the Kingdom of God crashed in! We were in a desperate place of not knowing what the future held for us. We didn’t even know if we were able to remain in South Sudan. I did the only thing I knew to do. I built a prayer hut and told the kids it is God or nothing from now on. He had to be our all in all and we had to mean it. We were not going to ask God for a thing. We were just going to worship Him and believe in His love for us and His faithfulness to us.
I had to teach the children how to worship in spirit and in truth, how to let Holy Spirit freedom reign here. We began to dance and shout and get on our faces and knees and lift up our hands, finally not caring what others thought about our abandonment to the Lord. We cried and we laughed, we prayed and sang in tongues, we stopped being an audience and became the body. Most of our worship before January 2014 was sitting comfortably, some standing, and singing the words beautifully, but we weren’t engaging with heaven. Our boys wanted not much to do with all this. I kept at it. I kept yelling “FREEDOM” and letting it echo in their hearts that real worship is full of freedom to get crazy in love and intimacy with Jesus.
In the midst of war and dead bodies in streets and entire towns demolished by fire and killing our children pressed into God with all their hearts. I was getting wrecked. They were touching heaven and heaven was touching them. They have become the top performers in their classes. They all have Bibles and read them. They ask me every single week on Wednesdays and Fridays, “Are we having prayers tonight?” with such expectancy and when I say yes, because we always do, they get excited, really excited every single time. They love to engage with God. He is real to them and they feel Him and see Him and taste Him and know that He is so good. Last night there was such electricity in our worship. We danced and sang and fully engaged for four hours, everyone sweating and dripping because it is very hot here. We can’t help ourselves when we are in the river, in the anointing, where the fullness of joy is. I am usually pretty tired at the end of each and every day, physically tired. I even amped up my coffee intake so I can have energy for all these kids all day long.
But, every Friday night, I dance just as hard as the kids the entire night and am amazed at how I can do this. It doesn’t make sense. I don’t have that kind of energy! The JOY of the Lord is our strength. WE have discovered that this last year and that is where we try to live from.
In just one year the Lord, through your giving, has given us:
1. A boy’s dorm for 18 boys.
2. Two bathing shelters for the boys and the girls.
3. Two latrines for the boys and the girls.
4. A kitchen.
5. A chicken coop house.
6. A prayer house.
7. A fence around our living compound (about 20 acres).
8. A girl’s four-room dorm missionary house.
9. A $3,000 refurbishment of our Primary School.
10. A Toyota Land Cruiser.
11. Our goats and chickens are having a record number of babies.
12. We have enough water to share with all our neighbors (huge deal).
13. Christmas of all Christmas’and also for our Nuer refugee friends.
14. Huge expansion in ministry opportunities with our SPLA friends.
15. Open door with the local radio station.
16. Eighty percent of our children are at least partially sponsored now.
17. Two kids in university in Kenya and Uganda and one with a full time job at a local hospital as a nurse in training.
18. A playground with swings and teeter totters.
19. Internet dish and network services are coming next week.
20. Bales of clothes throughout the year.
The list could go on but I just wanted to testify a bit as to how wonderful our Father is and how He cares for us and our every need and how thankful we are to you who give so generously. We don’t let a week go by without being thankful. We really are. I have begun planning for Easter Sunday’s feast of goat and rice and chips and sodas and I mentioned to the cooks that I would realize my dream of all of our children eating chicken by Christmas because they have lain so many eggs. The cooks told me that our hens have been so fertile and with all these chickens running around now that we will all eat chicken for Easter AND Christmas! We are all running around like chickens screaming with excitement!!! Most of these kids have never tasted chicken. It has only been a dream of theirs. And now the goodness of the Lord just keeps chasing us down and running us over and we are tumbling in His goodness!
Last night as we were loading our sound system in the truck to take to our church we found a giant mango leaf on the hood. The older boys were bug-eyed and we had to look at it carefully and smell it because we had never seen a leaf that big from a mango tree. It measured twenty inches! A normal leaf is about six to eight inches. I even took it to worship last night as another testimony to God’s abundance on our land. If you look at all the trees in our area, our mango trees are much fuller and greener and more abundant with fruit. I am telling you, the richness and abundance of heaven rests here. Our children know it because I never fail to remind them Who causes all these things for us.
Last week when I was returning to South Sudan after a three day visit to Uganda, I met the owner of Spirit FM Radio station. I am usually very quiet when traveling, rarely talking to anyone. This man is very sociable and was asking who everyone was (small plane) and he wanted to know all about us at Iris. He happens to know Heidi’s mom, extremely small world! He came out to visit us yesterday and was so amazed at what God is doing here. He asked us to do a weekly show on his station, free spot, talking about anything we wanted to concerning our children and God and the kingdom. So, now we are going to take to the airwaves for the glory of God across this land! Kingdom expansion! Widening our tent stakes. Heidi prophesied this over me/us last year. It is coming big time.
Saturday we took all of our mamas to lunch in the new air-conditioned Land Cruiser for a lunch of chicken (a huge deal here) and fresh squeezed juice and cokes. The mamas sang and clapped and ululated most of the way, they were so happy. If mama aint happy, aint no one happy! That’s the Texas in me – hehe. I always make sure to take care of our mamas. Today I preached at the SPLA church about faith and the living WORD of God, His word of life. We then prayed for the sick and this one little boy comes running in naked. He is about 8 years old. They told us he is mad, not right in his head. So we carried him to his house to see what the situation really was. All the way he kept saying, “My head is not good.” We kept saying yes it is good. He had a great vocabulary, was totally aware of everything, had excellent motor skills. He just had a ton of energy, very hyperactive.
We learned from his mother that the boy was fine and perfect until the stepmother (one man two wives – normal here) spoke a curse over him. Since then he has not been good. We prayed and cast out the demons and broke the curses. Then I took this small boy’s face in my hands and asked him, “Is your head now good?” He said yes it is good. If a child hears enough times that he is not good, he will believe it. We spoke peace over the house and the mom and son. We spoke life into that boy and into his house.
Bless you this week as you too speak peace and life into every situation. It’s the Jesus way, the truth and the life.