From Snowshoe to Snowbird...
Updated: Feb 11, 2021
We headed south to sunshine state. I was so thankful to soak up the sea, sand and stillness for another week... As I walked along the beach, I thought about far off coastlands, and a recent missionary martyr who had braved an encounter with a hostile tribe in a far away land...
Not long ago four missionaries braved a beach encounter in Equador and met a similar fate...
Here I was in Florida, the week Foundations For Farming Zimbabwe were having their annual gathering. And the guest speaker this year was Jaime Saint, the grandson of one of these four missionaries. I was so sad to miss a firsthand account of his personal family reconciliation with the tribe that killed his grandfather. The last book I had finished before leaving Zimbabwe was a book by his father, The End of the Spear. Wouldn't it be amazing to see what God has done in and through this tribe, and the work of a family who chose to love and forgive. And we can!
"He is no fool who gives what He cannot keep to gain what He cannot lose"
This quote by one of the original four missionaries to the Waodani people (one of the most violent tribes on earth) had a huge influence on me inspiring me on my journey into missions.
My introduction to Canada started at a global missions gathering, Light The Fire Again. Lou Engle had mentioned an upcoming event called The Send, at this historic gathering which would be like a convergence of epochs and ministries in this hour. Was God raising up a whole generation with the evangelistic zeal and integrity of Billy Graham? As Lou called for all who were willing to join in prayer with their shoes raised as a sign that we would be willing "TO GO." I had no idea where God would call me to go, but my heart burned within me. Missions is hard, and the temptation for worldly success and a regular 9-5 can be a pressure at times, but there is nothing more fulfilling than obeying the call of God, and stepping out in faith. I am so thankful for the faith of my mother, who is the first believer in her immediate family. As the first missionary in my family, I am standing on her shoulders.
Thankful for how the Lord had confirmed my call while in Canada, to the mission field and the nations, through words from two well known prophetic voices, I felt affirmed to continue to travel the road less traveled, the road God has called me to right now - Canada's foundational mandate "From coast to coast and to the ends of the earth..." Ps 72:8
It's so encouraging to know, that at times, even when you are not able to literally be in a place, you can still be part of history in the making, through livestream media! As I watched THE SEND I was deeply impacted by the testimonies and especially the call for Adoptive Love, which means taking responsibility for the brokenness around us.
As they said - What if this is the most adoptive generation in history?
A few days before we had headed south, I was shocked to find out that Canada has no laws on abortion at all, and 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of legal abortion. I'm so thankful that my mum was brave enough to keep me. It's not easy being a single mom, and she really gave me the best she could. What a blessing to have her love all these years.
But what if you don't have a parent who can keep you? Or extended family who can step in and help? If there is an alternative to abortion for women in crisis, Christians have to be part of the answer. Our faith has never been just words. It is always about action!
Watching The Send with a young Colombian, who had grown up with neither of her parents, it was adoption through a Christian family that had made a way for her and her two siblings. It was wonderful to see how even at 14, when asked by The Send team if we felt open to the idea of adopting our own kids in the future, her thoughtful response was - Yes.
And even though adoption is not for the faint of heart, if you are able to keep your heart open and your ears attuned to what God is doing, the tough parts can be truly transformative!
What if we are the most adoptive generation in history?
Reading about interceding for others brokenness hit home in my new read, The Intercessor. Rees Howells was an incredible prayer warrior, saved during the Welsh revival and a man who interceded through to the end of WWII. He was even a missionary in Africa and saw a revival come to Rusiku valley, which is presently Eastern Zimbabwe!
Even he had found himself in a dilemma over adoption. An internal conflict we all could face?
"The Lord showed him plainly that something would have to be done for these children. The Lord asked Rees what He should do with them…Then He asked him, “If anything happened to your brother or sister-in-law, would you allow their children to go there?” “Certainly I wouldn’t,” answered Mr. Howells. “Why do you answer Me so quickly about your own fold,” the Lord said, “yet you have nothing to say about these four little orphans?”
“Well, of course, blood is thicker than water.”
“Yes, but spirit is thicker than blood!”
“…The Lord said to him, “It is a father they need—not a guardian. I am a ‘Father of the fatherless’ (Ps. 68:5), but I cannot be a Father to them in heaven, so I must be one through you.” He had to face up to what that would mean—to make a home with them and earn enough to keep them until the youngest was of age. It would mean fifteen to twenty years of his life going, and all the hopes he had of one day taking the message of the Holy Spirit to the world…nothing in him that wanted to do it. It was the first test on the reality of his position as a martyr…“But,” he said, “you must have God’s nature to love other people’s children as your own.”
He told the Lord, “I am willing for You to be a Father through me, but I cannot do it unless You love them through me, so that they are not like adopted but begotten children. And to do that, You will have to change my nature.” Really, Rees never thought God could do it, but He did! One night by his bedside he found God’s love pouring into him—His love for the fatherless. There were no bounds to it. It went out towards those four little children—nothing now could stop him going to live with them. He felt that they had a claim on him. He put it this way, “Any child without parents has a claim on God to be a Father to him or her, so these four orphans had a claim on the Holy Spirit who was to be a Father to them through me.” But divine love could not be limited to four. He said, “I felt I loved every little child in the world that had no one to look after it. It was the love of God flowing through me.” He arranged for someone to look after the children temporarily while he made all preparations to go and live with them. It was no test to him now, but all joy!
However, on the very day that he was to go, three sisters of their mother said they would like to take them and give them a home. The Lord showed him that this was His provision for them, but that he had gained the position of “a father to the orphans.” The proof of the reality of this was to be seen in the coming years. Anyone who lived with the Howells, in their later years at the Bible college, witnessed them taking in and loving the children of missionaries and Jewish refugees. The Intercessor, p1448
I first heard the life changing teaching on the Father's Heart in my DTS in South Africa. It was here in a beachside suburb of Cape Town, considered the birthplace of surfing in South Africa, that I caught my first wave as a missionary to the nations. YWAM introduced me to international adoption, and one of my first seasons in missions was alongside a couple who have dedicated their lives to serving vulnerable and orphaned children in Namibia, through starting Community Hope School. They were the ones who had taught on the love of the Father during my DTS. It was such a blessing to come under their love and covering as I began my healing journey into the greater knowledge of our Heavenly Fathers love. They were also the ones who introduced me to the story that God was writing in the nations, and after a mesmerizing account of God's hand in the American Thanksgiving story, I was never the same again! But how did my favourite American holiday turn into a day about turkey and pumpkins when it started as a week long celebration of unity and gratitude for the rain and harvest, between the Pilgrims and a Native American tribe? So much of history has been rewritten. And when it comes to our own personal narratives, we really need to get God's perspective on things if we desire to comprehend the fulness of all that He is doing.
Usually God starts with us, as how can we go without a revelation of the extravagant love and heart of God for a lost and dying world?
When I heard the call for African Americans to go during The Send, it brought joy to my heart. As an "African missionary to America", I used to have great fun with my African American friends. Who was the real African? They had never stepped foot in Africa, and as I was white, I didn't fit the stereotype. God likes to mix things up, and it's wonderful to see that God is sending Africans (both Black and White) to America, and African Americans to Africa. Africa is a very spiritual continent, and on liberal university campuses, where at times there can be a hostility towards the Gospel, Africans have a unique opportunity to share their unique God stories and bring life back to prodigal institutions. Isn't it true that "There was a time when Harvard was considered a holy place, and Princeton trained prophets..." God on Campus
One of my highlights on my trip down, was reconnecting with two African friends who I had gone to university with in the US. Now married and living in Florida, they are part of a wonderful Baptist community which has a heart for homeschooling and adoption.
During my time, I even got to try a dolphin burger, which is actually made of a fish called a Dolphin fish. Being a strong environmentalist, I could not partake of this fascinating meal, until I was assured that I was not eating "Flipper", and my conscience was clear.
We had a great chat sharing personal testimonies, and the gift that campus ministries had played in our lives. And what better place to reach the nations, than on university campuses! Having co-started an apologetic group on my campus to discuss the diverse philosophies one is presented with at university, one has to ask the question - does the church prepare the youth to worship God with their minds? Why do so many young believers fall away from God on college campuses when presented with an ocean of contrasting ideas and expereinces? Have we not taken the time to process deeply and renew our minds like the Romans 12 advocates? What does it mean to be a living sacrifice in a post modern age, when so many have sacrificed their minds on the altar of academia? Some of the greatest thinkers of past ages were firm believers of the validity of the Scriptures - Pascal, C.S.Lewis, Bonhoeffer...
And this book a friend shared with me during my stay at the coast just has to be a new found favourite! Is life vanity? Is life suffering? Or is life love?
"Ecclesiastes is the all-time classic of vanity. Job is the all-time classic of suffering. And Song of Songs is the all-time classic of love." (p8)
"Boredom is the mood of Ecclesiastes. It is a modern mood. Indeed, there is no word for it in any ancient language! In this mood, there is neither a reason to die, as in Job, nor a reason to live, as in Song of Songs. This is the deepest pit of all." (p10)
"Ecclesiastes is the sunset, the end of hope; Job is the night with hope of morning; Song of Songs is the morning, which already begins to dawn at the end of Job. Song of Songs begins when God appears to Job, for where God is, there is love. Love is the final answer to Ecclesiastes’ quest, the alternative to vanity, and the meaning of life. But we cannot appreciate it until we look deeply at the question.
This question is more than a question; it is a quest, a lived question. Scripture invites us on this quest, this journey through the night to the Rising Son. It is life’s greatest journey." (p12) "I think I know why modern philosophers dare not raise this greatest of questions; because they have no answer to it. It is a hole so big that only the courage of an existentialist or the faith of a theist can fill it." (p17)
There is nothing more meaningless than an answer without its question. That is why we need Ecclesiastes." (p19) "In this age, the Age of Man,... we must begin with Ecclesiastes. Ecclesiastes is modern in at least seven ways. First, it is an existential book, a book about human existence. It asks the great question of modern man: Does my existence here have any meaning at all? Previous ages disputed about what the meaning of human existence was. Ecclesiastes, alone, among premodern books, dares to ask the question: Suppose it has none at all?" (p20) "But what if life is more than nothingness? And more than suffering?
What if life is about love...
A LOVE... which leads us to adopt children that are not our own, and travel to the ends of the earth on behalf of the broken, the suffering and the destitute.
"In love He predestined us to be adopted through Jesus Christ for Himself, according to His favor and will, to the praise of His glorious grace that He favored us with in the Beloved." Ephesians 1:5-6
"For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father!”