Sunday, October 23, 2016

Thanking a saint for service.

This week as I was strolling through my Instagram account I was hit with a very sobering reality -- there are parents that sacrifice their time from raising their children to reach out to my child to come to know the love of Jesus.

Oh, the sacrifice of God's saints...
   
Instagram photo by Charlotte Gambill (charlgambill)
  When I saw this photo I immediately was in tears because this woman, this mum, this servant, is the one who preached my daughter to Jesus and to see her daughter's sad face was all I needed to tell this woman how grateful I was for her families sacrifice. I was not expecting a back response because I didn't think that sharing our experience with her was that big a deal. Obviously it was...

Thank you for your service!
I think as Christians we are made to believe that these traveling saints are living a glamorous life of travel with lots of people attentively listening to every word that falls from their face BUT really these saints are called to a life of continual goodbyes, personal/enemy attacks, bad weather travel delays, and the constant reminder that tomorrow is not promised to them or their families. So, every goodbye could be the last goodbye.

BUT....for the Gospel and Hope of delivering the Goodnews of Jesus they GO! They and their families GO! Sometimes together but most of the time apart. But nevertheless, for Jesus, they all GO!

Praise God for families like the Gambills! Thank You Jesus for their love and obedience to You. May You bless their feet as they walk this earth with Your LOVE in hand. 

 If you ever get a chance to thank a saint that is traveling for the sake of the Gospel please take the time to say "THNANK YOU!!!" In Jesus name.     

Monday, October 17, 2016

Choosing to move Closer to God





You ever have a time in your life where you get hit in the face by the sheer evil in this world and you fall down on your knees and the first words that come out of your mouth is "God, I hate you!" and God starts to tell you about how much He loves you and you tell Him that He's the reason for all your problems. Then as you sit in your pool of tears broken and tired from the weight of hate that you finally say "okay, help me. What do I do?" and He simply says "worship Me." Then He brings you that one song that becomes a light in that time of darkness. Ever have those days???
Well, I did a few days ago and I literally had this song play until it became a part of me. Until I could believe every single word about His love for me.
I've never heard of this song until that day and now, it's part of my library.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

The day God taught me the POWER of His forgiveness.

This past weekend my pastor taught on the need for followers of Jesus to forgive and how the "F" word in church is FORGIVENESS.

Now, I've heard him say this  before and my mind would usually retort with an automatic "no, pastor... the F-word for me is still a flat out f*ck!"
Hey, I'm only being honest about what goes on in my head sometimes when I hear certain messages. I can lie and pretend that I'm super holy in my thought life but there's enough liars in the church. And no, I don't hate my pastor. My thoughts just have a way of running amuck and sometimes I don't bother to catch them especially when I'm tired.

BUT this time his message hit me in a very unexpected way.
As my mind was about to go where it normally does I immediately heard God say:

"Surina, I want to bless you BUT not with that attitude. Mind your mind!" 

He then reminded me of how and when He taught me the power of His forgiveness.
It was the FIRST time I chose to trust Him as my Guide. Up to this point I had only known Him as Teacher.

If you've read any of my other writings then you will know that sharing this is not easy but VERY NECESSARY.

I truly BELIEVE that in order for God to grow His kids in acknowledging His power, in any area of their life, FORGIVENESS IS A MUST. 
PERIOD!!!

It's our KEY to be FREE and to RECEIVE EVERYTHING JESUS DIED TO GIVE US.

The first time I allowed my daughter to go near my brother. Forgiveness removes fear and shame. It reconciles.

My lesson on forgiveness all started with a phone call around 2:30am in April of 2010. It was my niece:
"aunty, I know you probably won't care but..."
before she even finished her words I knew that it was time. God had awoken me seconds before my phone rang. Something in my gut was on fire and I heard "GET UP!" my heart was beating very fast and when I picked up my phone I could only respond with:
"I'm coming. Where is he?"
"Southwest ER. And aunty... the family doesn't know that I'm calling you. He's lost a lot of blood and the doctors are trying to save him."

"It's okay. Don't tell them. I'm leaving right now."
Everything that morning moved very quickly. I swear the call was less than a minute but in that time I had my shoes and coat on with my car keys in hand.

Also in that time, my husband was awoken and ready to battle with me -- for me.
"Pio is in the ER and I'm going to him."

"No, you're not!"

"Paul, I have to go. I don't know how to explain it. I just have to go to him."

"Why?"

"He's bleeding to death and I need to be with my family. I don't know why but I believe God wants me to go."

"Good! He deserves to die! I hate your family! They treat you like shit and now you want to be with them. If you leave -- WE ARE DONE!!!"
I paused long enough to think of all the ways my husband has tried to protect me but at that time I knew what I needed to do. With or without him.
"You're right. But I'm still going. You can talk to God about it but this is what I know He wants me to do."
Arguing with my husband took about three minutes and by now he was standing in the kitchen and I was next to the front door. Miraculously, neither of our kids woke up. When he realized that he was not going to be able to stop me from leaving he finally said:
"Okay, go. But be back before I have to go to work. I don't want to be late."
And out the door I went.

My drive to the ER was a very long twenty-five minutes. In that time I can not even describe the clarity of my mind. I was not in a rush. I felt a peace that I can not even explain. I knew that my life was about to change but I didn't know in what way.

As I was driving I had a flood of memories.
I remembered that in late 2009 God told me to forgive him for the sexual abuse I endured and out of obedience I reluctantly and silently forgave him. Mentally I had forgiven him but my actions displayed a whole different story.

Although I no longer ignored his presence in the room I would, however, not allow him to come near me or to touch me or my kids in any way especially my daughter. My anxieties were VERY high in his presence and my fear made it uncomfortable for everyone in the room because they knew and hoped that I would just get over it. But I just couldn't get over it. No amount of alcohol could drown it out.

Being obedient to God made me feel victimized all over again and I started to believe that God hated me even more. My fake "I forgive you" method wasn't working.
I couldn't handle the pain of the secret, I wasn't strong enough, so I left my very large tight-knit family.

But that morning, during my drive, I couldn't help but ask God to let him live so I could pray with him and tell him about Jesus.
I told God that I'd do anything to see him in heaven and during my prayer I felt compelled to finally call him "brother".
As that word came out of my mouth I felt a freedom and strength come over me. Like a strong invisible covering.

I arrived to the ER and I felt ready to stand before my family. I am the youngest of all ten siblings but on that day I was not to play the baby sister role.

When I arrived I was directed to a private waiting room. I took a deep breath and opened the door.

As expected, my family was very surprised to see me. They usually always are (since 2002) because I tried to have this same bleeding-to-death brother arrested for sexual abuse and from that day on my invitations to family gatherings became nonexistent. I was the outcast. The black-sheep. The adopted one. The leak in their very tight-knit group.
But deep down in my heart I knew that they still loved me.
Strange, huh? Welcome to my family. Beautifully, horribly broken.

As I stood at the door and looked around at all the faces, my heart was filled with compassion. I loved and missed each and every one of them. 
I made my rounds to hug and greet each one (as is the custom) then I sat and asked for an update.
My sister shared what had happened to him and that I could be next to see him since they were only allowing one visitor at a time. My number one objective was to pray for him.

Within a few minutes I was given the okay to go into his room. As I made my way to him I kept asking God to do whatever He needed to do.
When I entered through the curtain he was asleep with tubes attached to him. He looked horrible. He still had blood stains on his face. The drugs had taken a toll on his body. Sin was killing him.

As I stood looking at him I was not angry in any way. All my hate was gone.

I took his cold left hand and knelt down beside his gurney and prayed that God would give me a chance to tell him about Jesus and how I wanted to see him in heaven. I then arose and returned to the waiting room before heading home.
I told my siblings that I had to go and send my husband and kids off for the day but that I would be back.

As I was driving home I remained silent because I felt like I was receiving my marching orders on what the rest of my week was to look like. I was to serve my family until further notice.

One of the ways I was to serve them was to make sure that they were fed and so when I returned later that same morning I took breakfast. At noon, lunch was served. Dinner, same thing.

By the time I came back they had moved him to a private room. Several hours later I was told that he was awake and asked if I was ready to see him. After a deep breathe -- I was ready.

When I entered his room he was surprised to see me and faintly said:
 "Rina, you're here?"
I walked toward him, took his now warm left hand, and shared how much God loved him.
I told him that I didn't hate him enough not to see him in heaven and then asked him the question I had been waiting to ask:
"Do you want to receive Jesus today?"

In silence, he slowly shook his head up and down. I went and got a chair and sat next to him. I told him to repeat after me. (I had never led anyone to Christ before that day.)
A few weeks prior to this day, God had me prepare a salvation prayer for my niece (the one who called me) to read for when she was ready to receive Christ and never had I thought that this was to be the salvation prayer I was going to pray for this brother. I didn't know but God knew about this day.

Within a few minutes Peace entered the room.
From that day on I never spoke again of what he had done to me. I had forgiven him completely. My mental obedience now matched my physical responses. I hugged him with care and treated him like a brother that had never offended me. And my children finally called him uncle.

However, if you have read any of my earlier blogs then you will know that this same brother today is in prison for rape.
The day that I found out that he had continued in his sexual abusive ways I can not even describe the shot of pain that went through my body like a lighting bolt aimed to pierce a hole in my heart. I bled a massive sea of tears. No amount of alcohol could drown out the pain BUT GOD... He has carried me thus far.

I don't understand what His plan in this is but I will continue to Trust in His goodness because His peace has been a shelter for me.

So, why do I feel compelled to share this shameful story in my life?
Because of the freedom my family truly needs. A freedom that begins with FORGIVENESS.

My new F-word.