Tag Archives: culture

Faith as a Child

Guatemala

I watched the beautiful Mayan child clinged to her mother as I held out my arms to hold her. A familiar reaction I have experienced in other parts of the world, especially when being introduced to a white woman for the first time. I imagine if I had only been raised in one culture, language, and ethnicity my reaction would be similar. At least she wasn’t crying or screaming like some children I met in Africa.

“My daughter, Itzel, is not sick, but will you pray a general blessing over her?” the mother asked. 

I knew it would be God’s love that cast out all fear in Itzel’s heart concerning me.    So, I asked my interpreter to put her hand on the child and then I gently put my hand on top of hers.  The little girl held on even tighter to her mother as I prayed.  Not only was my bright white skin shining in this girls eyes, but now I was touching her. I could tell by her facial expressions that things were not getting easier and her realm of safety was getting smaller and smaller.

Everyone had their eyes closed, intently receiving the prayers being offered up for this child.  The interpreter was not conveying my prayer to the mother, only listening.  Thirty seconds into the prayer I watched Itzel’s body relax and pull away from her mother. She un-tucked her arms from her fragile face and reached out with her palms up towards God. The fear in her eyes was gone as she closed them and rested in the presence of God with her arms lifted high.

“God’s love casts out all fear.”  1 John 4:18

It wasn’t the words I spoke, because no one could understand them.  It wasn’t through a hug or a smile, because she didn’t want to touch me and everyone’s eyes were closed.  It was through God’s love and presence that Itzel felt peace and felt God’s presence. 

There is power in prayer. 

I encourage you to pray for someone you know that is facing hardship in their life right now.  “And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in Him.”  1 John 4:16


“I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.”Luke 18:17 & Mark 10:15


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If Necessary, Speak

Ukraine

Not unlike most Ukrainian homes, the brick and concrete walls showed it’s age through decades of communist rule and hard living conditions. We were greeted at the door of this humble home by it’s owners, Andriy and Natalia, along with their four children. They led us into their home with great honor where chairs and sheets of wood formed a table. On the table was the traditional food items you would see on any Ukrainian table, potato, cucumber, bread, and egg salad. None of the plastic plates, silverware, or cups matched. Pictures from old calendars had been cut out and placed neatly on the table for decoration under the food bowls.

It didn’t look like much, but you could tell this table was set for a king in a humble manner that their culture and means allowed. Looking at the table, you would think the food was enough for about five people, but this evening, there would be fifteen in attendance. When dinner started, chicken and potatoes were served and we all ate until we were full. The food was more than delicious because it was served with love and grace. When we thought the meal was finished, Natalia brought out a Ukrainian specialty dessert, along with a large sheet cake and a large platter of fruit (bananas, apples, oranges). All homemade. Everything on this table was grown and/or raised by this family.

I noticed something different as I watched this family. A joy that illuminated the faces of the children and peace, accompanied by a strength that rested on Andriy and Natalia. Then as they began to explain their heart for God, I soon understood.

Andriy was once addicted to drugs. His veins were unrecognizable from the years of drug abuse. A local pastor found Andriy with a rope in his hand on his way to commit suicide. After his wife left him, Andriy was convinced that no one loved him, not even this God that this pastor spoke about. Through God’s love, Andriy not only gave his life to Jesus but was immediately delivered from the drugs and demons that controlled his life. God called him to be a church planter in a nation where most believe as he once did that there is no God.

In six years, Pastor Andriy has pioneered and planted three churches. He had been ministering in this small village for the last six months and already fifteen people had given their lives to Jesus. All who were born atheist and lived in communism all their lives. When we asked him, “How do you present the gospel to these people who don’t believe there is a God?”

His words rang loud in my ears, “These people watch us work and raise our children. They notice at school that our children are different than the other children because they are well behaved and peaceful. We work hard in our garden as a family and invite neighbors into our home for meals. Many have given their lives to Jesus in our garden and around this table.”

I’ve heard sermons and stories of how to share the gospel. Go out into the streets, knock on doors, and proclaim the gospel to everyone you meet. What if it was so much easier than that? What if instead of doing, we just started living… Living life with others, off our phones, out of our houses, and into the lives of others?

What if like Andriy & Natalia’s life and Jesus’ example….
“We go preach the gospel and if necessary, speak.” 


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