A few years ago I had a shift in my faith. Not to the side, not a loss of faith, although most people might lose faith after going through what I went through. No. My shift in faith was a stronger faith. With my strength of belief in the Lord, I also had a deep need to act.
"But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law,the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing." James 1:22-25
I knew the Lord, and I wanted to do something to put my faith to action. The Lord begin to show me a bigger view of the world and His plan. I begin to see needs everywhere I looked. I wanted to go to work for Jesus, meeting spiritual and physical needs around the world as much as humanly possible.
I began jumped on board anything I could be a part of. I ministered in so many ways. Before that tough time in my life, I had allowed my anxieties to hold me back from ministering. I was a part of Citychurch and it's ministry. But I had slowly backed down from any responsibilities there. I was stand-offish to the ministry I was in the middle of.
When Gabe was a baby, I decided to change that. I thought maybe I could just sit in on a Sunday School class and help. That quickly turned into teaching the preschool class. It was the best thing I've ever done in the ministry. Teaching that class was a big turning point in my ministry.
As my fire grew to minister more and more. I wanted to try crazy things. I wanted to do ministry that no one was doing that might reach the parents of our CityKids. I gathered my Bible study ladies and taught monthly classes for low-income adults. It was a short lived ministry, but I learned a lot from it. And I haven't given up on the idea.
During the beginning of that "all-in," "ready for crazy ministry" period, I began to feel like I was alone in my fire for the Lord and His hurting world.
I began to pray for a partner in crime, another woman who wanted to actively serve the Lord in crazy ways.
God has answered these prayers, more than tenfold!
It wasn't overnight. But I get weepy thinking of how deep and wide he answered that prayer.
Let me tell you about my partners in crime:
Shelly Wilson: I have to talk about Shelly first because we've been to Ethiopia and back, and we are doing it again in August. I love Shelly because I get Shelly. She's an accountant turned mom turned adoptive mom turned crusader for Christ just like me. Shelly's a hard worker. She's one of those wonderful people who jump in and grab an ore when the boat needs rowing. She doesn't just say she's going to do something, she does it as if someone is grading it and she's expecting an A++. I've seen Shelly's heart, in times of disappointment and times of excitement. Let me tell you, Shelly's got a good one, full of Christ's love.
The IF Ladies: Right now I'm in the middle of this crazy ride called "planning an IF:Amarillo for the whole city." It's a ride where they check your faith against the ruler before they strap you in. It's amazing to get to serve God alongside these women who are so in love with Jesus. Kaylie Hodges, Jennifer Johnson, Kristen DeRight, McKenzie Autry, April Mason, Shawntae Stout, Emily Wood, and Maribel Sims, I hope you girls know we are partners in crime now. I'm going to be calling you and emailing you asking when we can get on another roller coaster, serving Jesus mission.
The In His Hands Ladies: If you want a surefire way to soften a women's heart, tell them their son or daughter is on the other side of the planet. I've caught onto you, God. Good plan. You got all of us with that one. Melissa Albright is our instigator. She's got a vision of Amarillo Christians coming together to serve the orphans of our city and our world. I'm so happy to know the Albright's because I want to see that vision become reality. Andi Veazy has quickly become a faith hero of mine. She has three sons who are legally her children "stuck" in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. (If you don't know what "stuck" is, watch the documentary by that name. If you do know what "stuck" is, pray with me. Help us pray those boys home.) Christina Prater is just cool. She makes me feel cool that I get to be in this group with her. She's got style and grace. But she also has love, compassion, and a willingness to serve. I've got to mention two ladies who aren't even adopting, but have their hearts open wide to serve orphans. They are on fire with their love for Jesus, Stacey Pybus and Eileen Merriman. We need more women like this in our group. The longer I am a part of In His Hands, the more women I meet that are ready to do crazy things for Jesus. Lori Scott is knee deep in orphan care running an international and domestic adoption agency AND a non-profit that cares for orphans. Cayla Cato is a new mom to the cutest little guy that she just adopted from Uganda. Obviously her heart is in it. I can't wait to see who else God leads to our group as it grows and grows. He has already used our group in awe inspiring ways. He let us be a part of raising enough money to purchase land for an orphanage in Uganda. The money came together in a matter of hours, and we were all dumbstruck. We shouldn't have been surprised. God is God.
Citychurch people: I have to confess something here. I was praying for something I already had. I was blinded with discouragement from the devil. I was sitting among the biggest group of crazy-ministry folks in my city. I'm not exaggerating or bragging when I say that my church is the most dynamic, unusual, willing to try new things, all inclusive, ministry focused, outreach oriented church I know of. I honestly believe it is true. We do crazy-ministry things like riding our bikes out into low-income neighborhoods to serve children lunches in the summer, take a hundred children and almost a hundred pre-teens to a free camp every summer, specifically children who's families could never afford a summer camp on their own. We take young people to a free camp in the mountains and on mission trips to let them serve. We pick up vans full of children every Sunday, feed them and tell them about Christ. Then we do something even crazier. We let them sit in our church service without their parents there to watch them, while we set up cameras to record the service. We teach Bible clubs across from elementary schools. It's the most impactful work we do, but honestly the least flashy. It is the front lines with Jesus important. We serve a congregation of South Sudanese Christians in every way we can. We teach a English as a Second Language -ESL- class. We reach children and families in the "forgotten" part of Amarillo. We spot their needs, and meet them. This includes everything from Christmas presents and groceries, to shoes and underwear. We have dreams and plans to minister in even more exciting and crazy ways in our city. It doesn't even come close to reality when I say I love Citychurch. The reason I can say that we do all of these wonderful things is because of our people. If I started listing names, I'm afraid I might miss one. If you have helped with any of these things listed, I mean you. You're one of my partners in crime.
My husband James: My best partner in crime ever.
He has always supported any ministry I wanted to get my hands dirty with. I put him to work helping me every time, and he does it with a cheerful heart. He's the best, and I tell him all the time.
It is amazing to me that I was surrounded by the kind of people I wanted to be surrounded by and I wasn't seeing it. I think that happens to all of us at some point in our life. We realize we already have the thing we are hoping and dreaming for.
Here's a good example. If you live in America and you hope to be rich. Open your eyes. You already are. Just check out http://www.globalrichlist.com/
(I'm richer than 89% of the world. I bet you're up their too.)
Well, I was rich in crazy-sold-out Christ followers. I was struck oil rich. I should have been dancing in it, but I was looking around like a lost kid in the mall.
Thank you Lord for answering my prayer and for opening my eyes.
"Say to those who have an anxious heart, 'Be strong; fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you.' Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then shall the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy." Isaiah 35:4-6