Scenes Following A Yes

by - June 20, 2016

Scene One:  She said “hello” in English.  I was surprised and pleased to have someone to visit with during our morning coffee break on the second day at this pastoral training conference.  Coffee is rationed here to only 2 times per day, and since home is 12 hours in the past and jet lag still has me turned a bit inside out, I am a big fan of coffee break time.  She lives in Africa but was originally from Asia.  As our conversation developed about what brought us both to this coffee break in Bangkok she told me of her husband.  I think many of her conversations probably end up in his direction.  He was the one she had prayed for from the Lord.  She told me he was “very good looking and a pastor” as she got her phone out to show me his picture and their engagement photo.  They were married for over 20 years before he died suddenly several years ago.  She misses him and rejoices over him every day.  She wasn’t really sure why God brought her to this event, but all the doors kept opening for her to come. During her sharing, she said the exact words of two of the titles of the daily devotions from Seeing Yourself Through God’s Eyes, a book written by the founder of the ministry I work for.  I had one copy in my bag and had prayed that morning the Lord would clearly show me who He wanted me to give it to.  As I got it out of my bag I told here is an encouragement the Lord wants you to have today.  She cried a bit.  Me, too.  I’m sure the Lord has had a lot of encouragement for her this week as she seeks him boldly and faithfully. I’m so grateful we were a little part of that.  Then she told me what to do to have the Lord send me my husband and she prayed for him.  I get that a lot on these trips.  I know the Lord directs my steps so the more people pray the more confident I am that God is answering those prayers and the more I am content with His yes’s and His no’s. That’s all I’ll say about that. 

Scene 2:  He said, “Madame, I must show you this.”  As I excused myself from the conversation he kind of less than gently interrupted, I walked a few steps to a nearby table with him.  He laid out a type written organizational chart for their school in Africa doing pastor training and ministry school.  He read every word in every little box, telling me about the theological training and the many areas of service to poor and widows they focus on in his very small African nation.  As he said their “hope is in the Lord to help their students and those they serve both spiritually and emotionally,” I looked at the bottom of his page and handwritten was the verse “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2 is a foundation verse for the purpose of our ministry.  We all have our human ways of dealing with Anger, Fear, Forgiveness, Worry … ways we’ve learned through our families, communities and culture.  But, we have these resources at HFTH which organize God’s Word into these everyday life issues and offer practical scriptural application steps, giving a new option of dealing with Habits, Communication, Purpose In Life.  Renewing minds regarding our learned/broken ways of dealing with things, and showing us God’s way.  When we practice the biblical option God transforms our lives as we apply His Word in faith.  We don’t have to learn things the hard way.  These books look at our everyday struggles and help us think and act according to God’s will and way for our lives to conform us to the image of His Son. (Romans 8:29)  It’s the step beyond “you need to trust the Lord with that” or “you need to just give that to God.”  How?  How do I give that to God?  How do I give my Pride, Loneliness, Stress, Past Abortion, Terminal Illness, Addiction to God.  Hope For The Heart can help show you and the Holy Spirit will guide you.  I asked this man from Africa why he showed me this.  He said he saw me and knew he must tell me about their school.  So I told him how I came to be here in Bangkok and the ministry I work for.  And I pulled out of my bag the one Counseling Through Your Bible Handbook that I had prayed God would show me who to give it to that day.  I handed the book to him and said this will help you as you teach your pastors to help those they serve with the emotional and spiritual struggles they have. He told me what I have heard from every single pastor I’ve had opportunity to speak with so far this week (to the point I started to lose my voice one day) “we do not have any resource like this. We need this so much!” He did not ask for anything else, he just thanked God for this time and place and gift from Him.  Me, too.    

Scenes 3 & 4:  A group of young women from Asia were seated together.  I took my phone over to them and pulled up a website from our ministry in their language.  They looked at the site, and then wrote something in their language on a piece of paper to show me.  I just kept pointing at the website, and they kept pointing to their piece of paper.  Finally another young woman came up who speaks the 1 language I do.  They talked to her and she asked me “Why do you want to know our word for chestnut?”  There is a picture of a chestnut on the home page.  They thought I was pointing to that.  Language barriers.  I explained to the dual language girl about the website, and then watched her relay the information to the others.  I watched all of them pull the site up on their phones and begin to search around in it.  I got a couple of hugs.  I love sharing Hope.  At another session I started the same thing with two women I was seated near.  One of them said in English “We know this!  I have the books (in their language) and have been doing Hope Sessions at our church (in Asia).  We have already gone through 12 topics in study together.”  She did not know about the website though, and was so excited she could get additional training.   

Scene 5: Last one.  We were in a break out session and from the front row I heard a woman ask about resources in a Sri Lankan language.  So I went to her after the session to share Hope with her.  She is from Great Britain and is living in Sri Lanka serving at a church there.  She is counseling many people because “they just keep coming” to her.  She kind of feels overwhelmed.  I shared with her how to get these resources in Sri Lanka to help her guide people in God’s Word in their struggles in their own language.  Then she asked me if we had the resources in another language from Asia.  She said hundreds of Christian refugee families from a country speaking that language have been relocated to Sri Lanka and have come to her church looking for help for some unimaginable hurts and suffering.  She said I don’t know where to begin to help them.  In 2014 we met a pastor from that country who translated 72 Quick Reference Guides, 5 Full Topics and the book Seeing Yourself Through God’s Eyes in that language.  I am going to get to send her hope and a place to start to help them.  She said she truly believes this connection with Hope is why she is here, because this is exactly what she has been praying for.   "Welcome to Hope."

Since first writing these scenes, many more have taken place.  We are at a conference with over 3000 pastors and pastoral trainers that is focusing on the heart of the pastor.  Their own personal life change and application of God’s Word in their life and family is the priority of each session.  It’s clear why the Lord brought us here. After nearly every session I am making my way to someone who mentioned needing exactly the kind of resource HFTH offers.  It’s been so fun discussing with Seminary professors and Bible School teachers from around the world who have expressed how badly they need help to teach their pastors to personally apply God’s word to have transformed lives.  Through their life example their congregations will follow …not just through new and different programs.  I made my way upstream through the exiting crowd after one breakout session to a European Seminary professor who literally said during his talk “we need to know God’s heart on the problems in our lives and apply His word to them” (exactly the purpose of HFTH resources).  We just so happen to have our resources translated into his language.  The man who started the Seminary where he teaches just happens to have been a Southwestern Seminary graduate.  He told me they have very few counseling resources in his language.  Now they will have some more.  I am literally exhausted and exhilarated by all the connections God is making here.  Every conversation grows my faith.  I hope they are encouraging for yours. 

Life comes through His Word. HFTH has it organized into our everyday issues.  The power is in His Word, the practical application is in Hope. Showing us the option to think and act biblically. 

I’ve been working internationally for almost 4 years now and I am still amazed I sit here sharing this. I’m literally in a coffee shop in an event center surrounded by Thai military personnel, with my purple backpack and the look and smell of Oklahoma girl all over me. I didn’t go from zero relationship with God to serving him internationally overnight.  These scenes all followed a first “yes.” 

A yes to begin seeking him instead of running from him.

A yes to begin bible study.

A yes to praying.

A yes to begin truly believing Him, not just believing in Him.  (Beth Moore’s Believing God)

And a yes to follow him wherever He leads, even to seminary in Texas, even Ethiopia with Jessica, even India by myself, and now even here to this coffee shop in Thailand, and all the places in between.

Are there any yes’s you may be feeling called to say today? Yes is not always easy.  But, in my experience, yes sets you free to be who He created you to be.  For me, saying yes changed everything.  For you, it may change your heart exactly where you are.  Whatever the case, yes is worth saying. Yes can lead to some changes that can be hard at first as we let go of the things we think we deserve or desire, to make way for the better than we imagined. Yes leads to sometimes difficult places either close or far from home.  And yes, as I have gotten to experience again this week, leads to some beautiful scenes.

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