surreal

Surreal moments. Those places in time and space where you can honestly not believe you are where you are and observing what you are observing.

Acts 1:8…come on, quote it with me, you should know by now…

My obsession with this verse is old news. Very old news. I remember a couple years ago when I had the random God thought that the verse got complete turned on its head when you heard it while living in a different area of the world. That thought busted open a new worldview for me. What was my Judea as the United States would be Europe for someone living in Europe, while Europe was actually my ‘ends of the earth.’

Imagine my utter astonishment to find myself sitting in church on Sunday as a Haitian Pastor preached Acts 1:8 to a congregation filled with Americans, Canadians, Haitians, Europeans…all living in Haiti.

It was such a surreal moment for me that I am certain I chuckled under my breath.

As his comments unfolded, it became very apparent that God has worked this verse over on this Pastor in very similar ways that he merged it into my vernacular.

I sat in awe as he asked the congregation, ‘Where is your Jerusalem?’ Your city, he stressed.

‘Where is your Judea? In all the departments of Haiti!’

‘Where is your Samaria? Friends, how do you feel about Dominican Republic? God is calling us to be witnesses even in Dominican Republic.’

His reference to Samaria’s place that makes Haitians uncomfortable should enlighten you on how Haitians feel about Dominicans.

And then…then he spread both hands wide and shared with the congregation that he knows ‘God is calling Haitians to the end of the earth. For hundreds of years, Haiti has been receiving missionaries. It has become normal for us to believe that someone will help us and that people will come. We have become too ready to receive help from others. Who here is God calling out of Haiti and into the world to be a witness for Jesus?’

I got goose bumps at those words. I have said them myself in a post I wrote last summer called ‘dare.’ As the pastor continued, I heard my own words ironically echoing in my head, ‘Americans will not save Haiti. Instead, I firmly believe that Haiti will save America. And if the world chooses to pay attention…God will use Haiti to change the world.’

Friends, God is doing something spectacular in Haiti and he is intentionally placing Haitians where he needs them to be his witness.

I hear Haitian pastors preach on excellent topics quite often. In most recent months it has been a lot of calling people out on their sin, imploring couples to get married after years of living together, confronting voodoo social practices and church planting around Haiti. It was inspiring to hear a Haitian pastor preaching for his people to seek God’s calling on their life, and to be open to the possibilities that it may be beyond Haiti.

Haitians are typically not dreamers. Americans are raised to dream big, the sky is the limit. However, when most Haitians are concerned daily about how to pay for school or where food will come from tomorrow, dreaming is not a reality.

Inspiring Haitians to seek their calling from God is monumental. It’s exciting, and it opens a new Kingdom door to Haitians that has previously been unrealistic. I am honored to join Haitians in prayer to seek their calling. In order to join then, are you willing to set aside any preconceived notions that Haiti is just a country seeped in poverty and dangerous? Are you willing to see differently? Are you willing to see Haiti as a hopeful nation? Are you willing to see how God is working in the lives of Haitians?

I cannot wait to see how God will be speaking to not only individual believers here, but how he will continue to use the Pastors to speak into the lives of the congregations. And a large piece of me breathes a sigh of relief that others are hearing the same thing from God when it comes to scripture.

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acts

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A photo I snapped March 21 in Utah.

I can’t help it. It has been rattling around my brain all day. I wish I could shut it off, because it would be easier. But no…

I am addicted to Lent.

There I said it. Now what?

This Lent season I committed to writing a blog every day and today all I can think about is…I don’t HAVE to write anything. I can let it go.

Maybe I just found a good outlet for my thoughts here and I don’t want to lose that freedom. But I sense there is more going on…

I can’t let the practices I picked up during Lent go. I loved meditating on scripture, or the word of the day or mulling over what angle I would take on something. Or what everyone else would write. I’ve never had this problem before, and am at a loss to explain it. Maybe there is something God wanted me to learn from this Lenten season I haven’t learned yet. Maybe he was just trying to change me…mold me.

However, I also can’t bring myself to hit up Mumford & Sons, Lumineers or Imagine Dragons. I really want to…really want to…but even as I type, I’m still worshipping.

I’m going to waste it all on you, I’m going to pour my hearts’ perfume, I don’t care if I’m called a fool, I’m wasting it all on you… [Kim Walker, ‘Waste It All’]

As I reflect on the Bible story after Jesus was risen…I have always been intoxicated by the disciples and how they spread the Gospel.

After I became a Christian in college God ignited a thirst for scripture in me, but I’d never hit Acts. I’ll never forget the first time I read it. I started it about a week after I got back from spending a summer doing mission work in China, and it just felt like the right time. Once I got to the end, my friends and I were at a fall conference with Intervarsity so I asked one of the staff there why Acts just stopped so suddenly.

I’d written this in my Bible: ’10-21-01, I finished this book today and it is the first book I’ve read that I turned the page and was HUGELY disappointed that there was no more. I do not want to move on to another book – I want this one…I love Paul!’  Needless to say, Acts is my favorite book of the Bible…but that’s about 5 different blog posts.

Next to my notes I’d also written the IV staffer’s response: ‘Steve Lind says this book is still being written.’

Mind blown. Fireworks exploding in the sky. Mouth dropped open.

And I’ve held onto that thought ever since.

Last night as I was watching The Bible series, I was remembering this coupled with a new thought. What if Paul, or any of the other disciples, hadn’t written it all down? What if I’d never had a book of Acts to read?

God would have figured it out, but in the moment my brain was digesting that thought, I was incredibly grateful for their courage to write things down in times of severe persecution. I’m sure I wouldn’t have made writing it down a priority while my brothers and sisters were getting beheaded, crucified and exiled. But they knew what was at stake. They knew they had to tell the story of the death, the resurrection and the large fact that Jesus would never die again to everyone.

As we sink into the week after Easter, and as I fumble with how to merge my Lent experience with the rest of the year, my sincere prayer is that people will ask themselves how they are living out Acts. What are they doing to proclaim that Jesus reigns? How are they spreading the Gospel message of love, hope, grace and compassion? Because the book is still being written…but will we participate in the rest of the story?