Tag Archives: God

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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Freely We RECEIVE, Freely Give

Philippines

Every week we drove an hour to a nearby village to host a women’s bible study. Angelia, along with eight other women joined together to share victories, struggles, fears, and how God could help us.  One particular day, Angelia shared how our prayers and encouragement led her to take action and see God move in her village.

I couldn’t understand every word of the dialect that she was using, however, the passion she exuded while sharing her story made me want to cry. Tears soon began to form in Angelia’s eyes, as she told the story of how God led her to reach out to a neighbor she met on the street.

“On my way to get vegetables for my children to eat, I saw a woman on the road. She was in desperation as she explained that her child was very sick. She had no money and needed to get to the hospital. I only had 20 pesos ($0.50) in my pocket, which is what I was using to buy dinner. So, I went to the woman’s house and prayed for the child and told her, “You must believe that God will heal your baby.” I felt the Lord told me to give this mother the 20 pesos in my pocket. With that money, the mother left to take her child to the hospital.”

What an incredible sacrifice Angelia made giving everything she had to this mother, knowing her children would not eat that evening.

Angelia continued, “A week later this same woman asked to meet with me. She was so overwhelmed with appreciation for my prayers. She said, ‘God has healed my baby! Of all the babies who were brought into the hospital this week for dengue fever, my baby is the only one who survived. I know it was God who healed him!'”

When Angelia heard this, she began to share the gospel of Jesus with this mother and led her to receive Him as her Savior. Excited to see the power of God working in their lives, they both began going around praying for the sick in their village and leading them to Christ after seeing neighbor after neighbor receive healing in their bodies.

Angelica shared with me, “I feel so much joy inside knowing that another person is walking in freedom and able to experience the truth of God.”

Tears still streaming down my cheeks, my joy was in hearing of God’s healing power and saving grace. Even more I felt joy in hearing how Angelica believed in God and began to walk in that same authority and boldness. If you are a child of God, He has given us all the same authority to lay hands on the sick and see them recover.

Freely we have received love, life, hope and healing through Christ; freely we share this same truth with others.

Thank you, Jesus!


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Seeing is Believing

Guatemala

Her head was hanging so low and covered by her black silky hair, that I wasn’t sure how Valeria could see her next step as she slowly shuffled towards me and a friend. We could tell that she came wearing her best clothing and possibly the only nice clothing she owned.  Through her shame Valeria explained how she could not read the assignments that her teachers were giving her at school. 

Tears began to form in this young Mayan girl’s eyes as she continued, “The doctor said my eyesight is bad and reading glasses won’t even help me.”

I could barely see her eyes as her long, beautiful hair covered her face.  “Can you look at me, Valeria?” I asked. 

She raised her head with a smile as I explained how beautiful she was.  We gave her a piece of paper to read, but she could not see the words.  So, we prayed that the same God who healed the blind man would heal this teenager’s eyesight.

After prayer, we gave the paper back to her to read again.  Soon rivers of tears flooded her face as she raised her head up high in awe.  Valeria could now read the letters on the page before her.  Not only did she receive her eyesight, she also received her confidence back.

God is still the same yesterday, today and forever.  He is the God who heals.  

Thank you, Jesus!


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ENDcyst

Rwanda

Barely 15 years old, her lack of strength was evident as she struggled to set up in the bed and adjust her hospital garment.  Fear rang loud in Eshe’s voice as she shared about her scheduled surgery the next day to remove a cyst from her ovary.

With her mother at her bedside, I asked if it would be okay for us to pray for her. She agreed.

“On a scale of one to ten. (one – little pain and ten – severe pain), Where is your pain level?,” I asked.   Eshe squinted as she responded, “It’s a nine.”

Myself and a few friends laid hands on Eshe and prayed that the cyst would disappear and that all pain would go in Jesus Name.  After we prayed, she expressed that she could feel the presence of God all over her body in a tangible way.

When I asked her again to rate the pain, she said with amazement in her eyes, “It’s ZERO!”

Praise God!!! I watched as both she and her mother cried tears of joy together.

Three days later I received a call from Eshe’s mother. She had insisted that the doctor perform additional tests before the surgery the following day because she believed God had healed her daughter. Sure enough, Eshe was released from the hospital with no cyst and no surgery.

Thank you, Jesus!!


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12

Guatemala

His weathered hat matched his sun scorched skin, as he approached me for prayer. “I have back pain, severe knee pain, and thyroid problems,” he explained. He was a man of few words, but I could tell by the look on his face that he came expecting God to heal him.

So, I asked, “On a scale of 1 to 10 (1 = little pain, 10 = extreme pain), where does your pain rate?”  “Nine,” he said.

My friend, our interpreter, and I prayed together that God would permeate his body with His healing power. After a minute or so, he shared that the pain level had decreased, but it still remained.

I realized that one of his legs looked shorter than the other.  When I inquired, he said, “I’ve had 12 surgeries on my left leg.  In the process they have removed some of my bones, which makes one leg shorter than the other.”

With his permission, I asked that he sit down in a chair and measured his legs to find indeed his left leg was shorter than his right leg.  Together we prayed again that all pain would leave his back & knee and that the shorter leg would grow out.  Soon his reserved manner turned to clapping and screaming in excitement as he felt his leg growing out to its normal length. 

As my interpreter and new friend rubbed their eyes to ensure they were seeing this happen before their eyes. The left leg grew out to match the length of his right leg.  Once I measured them again to ensure the legs were the same length, I returned his legs to the floor. Immediately he got up and walked around with no more pain in any of his body.

What the doctor’s tried to fix 12 times, God healed in less than 12 minutes.

Thank you, Jesus!


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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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Suicide to Saving Grace

USA

“The feelings of depression, hopelessness, and suicidal thoughts have consumed me for over two months. Each day gets worse and worse. I know that the devil is trying to push me to give up on life, give in to him, and let go of what God has planned for me. It takes everything I have to make it through each day without tears, fear, anger, and disappointment. I hate myself and I hate my life. I cared about nothing. There is no joy, no smiles and no fulfillment in anything.

Continue reading Suicide to Saving Grace

Staying in Step

Philippines

Shock and awe showed on our faces as my friends and I watched her enter the market.  It appeared her bones were not able to support her crippled body. Her crooked legs shifted to the right then to the left to walk towards her companion.  Her posture was bent in a 90-degree angle and excruciating pain was painted on her face.  

Immediately my friends saw this as an opportunity to pray for this Filipina woman who obviously needed healing.  We all talked amongst ourselves sharing our compassion for this woman.  They boldly asked me to approach her to ask for prayer and why not? God says He is our healer and she looks like she needs healing, so let’s go for it.  We boldly walked towards her, our hearts ready to see a miracle and mustard seed sized faith believing for the impossible.  

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Alternate Identity

Hungary

I watched as the line of people in front of me grew longer and longer until it wrapped around the inside of these ancient church walls built in the 1800s.  They weren’t waiting to see me, but to experience healing from the Ancient of Days.  One by one, myself and a team of three Hungarian church members prayed for each person as God healed them of headaches, vision impairment, back pain, and other illnesses.  An hour had past when I looked up to see Marian.  She leaned heavily on a cane as she slowly walked towards us.

The interpreter explained how the pain was originating in the center of her left leg and went all the way up to her lower back. I asked if she would raise her slacks up so I could see for myself what she was sharing.  She agreed and what I saw before me was something I had never laid eyes on in my life.  From the center of her leg branched out multiple, deep, dark blue veins showing through her pantyhose. It looked like a New York subway mapped out on her pale skin. In complete awe of what my eyes beheld, I starred at her leg.  I had never seen veins protruding like they were forming an identity of their own.  

So I waited…not to allow more time for me to take in this site or to commit this moment to memory.  Not to think about what I would say next or contemplate whether God was big enough to heal this woman.  

I waited on the Lord.  

She waited.  

My interpreter waited.  

Fifty people waited in line behind her for prayer.  

We all stood awaiting the Lord’s instructions.  

Then….

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The Day I Walked Away from Religion

United States

As a child, I was taught that when I give my heart to Jesus, He will come and live inside of me.  First of all, that’s kinda weird.  I don’t want someone living inside me.  My mom said that my brother was living inside of her, so does that mean Jesus is going to be a baby inside me?   Does that also mean He will come out in 9 months? Wait….that’s what happened to Mary in the story they tell me at Christmas time.

To clarify, He is not going to live in my belly. He’s going to live in my heart. I was also taught that in order for Him to stay in my heart, there was a list of rules I had to follow.  If you chose not to follow the rules, then “you were not a Christian anymore.”  

  • I couldn’t go to the movies, 
  • I couldn’t drink wine (Jesus turned water into wine, why can’t I drink it?), 
  • I could only listen to Christian music, 
  • I had to be at church every time the doors were open, which meant I had to go to church even when I was sick and vacations with my family were out of the question,
  • I had to read three chapters of the Bible every day,
  • I had to pray every day for one hour, 
  • I had to go to the altar every church service to ask for forgiveness for my sins,
  • I could only wear certain types of clothes,
  • Every person I met, I had to tell them about Jesus,
  • and the list goes on and on.  

I’m sure you could add several more rules yourself.  

If I didn’t follow every rule, all the time, then I couldn’t be a Christian or go to heaven.  I think we can agree that reading your bible, attending church, and other actions listed above are all good things to do. However, it was the unrealistic expectations of how these actions were lived out that made them rules to follow, instead of opportunities to live out a life of worship.

All these rules had me so bound up that after 20 years (I can’t believe I lasted that long), I was ready to walk away from God not towards Him.  I was told that if I stopped attending church, I would be walking away from God and I didn’t want to do that. I had seen so many people walk away for the same reason.  Just like those people, I love God and wanted to know Him more, but didn’t want to live under the constant pressure and unrealistic expectations anymore.

Then one day, God showed me the difference between religion and relationship.

Continue reading The Day I Walked Away from Religion