"And if you SPEND YOURSELVES on behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness and your night will become like the noonday."

"The Lord will continually guide you. He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail."- Isaiah 58:10-11

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Christmas - 3 Unexpected Gifts

Christmas – 3 Unexpected Gifts

We expected Christmas to be different this year being in Kenya, but not only were our expectations different, but our plans were as well. As I reflect back on Christmas day, I can’t help but marvel at God’s provision.

The first gift came in a snafu with our visitors. The plan was for some friends to visit the Hill a few days before Christmas, and then spend some time relaxing with them on safari over Christmas Eve and Christmas day. But as God would have it, they were delayed in London for 7 days. Their initial thought was to turn around and head back to the States. Disappointment flowed on both ends. However, after some praying and re-scheduling of appointments and travel plans, they decided to come even though they only had 3 days to spend here. And so our first gift came in the form of their actual decision to come here instead of turning around to return to the U.S! There was no relaxing safari but their gift of relationship was priceless to us in this first Christmas away from home for our family. We didn’t realize how empty we were of good connection with others, especially those who come from the same cultural reference that we do. It was wonderful to see them catch a passion for the same people we already love and to hear them begin to dream of the things that could be accomplished here as well!

The second gift for me came in a message. On Christmas morning, before we headed to Nairobi to pick up our friends, we went to church to hear Rick teach. He preached from Luke 2 and Philippians 2 about the miracle of God coming to earth in human flesh as a servant. He asked the question, “Why would God chose to come to earth in such humility when He could have come as such a powerful reigning king?” For some reason, this hit me in a new way this year – the God of the universe, coming to earth wrapped in human flesh, as a servant king. Living in this rural cultural the redefinition of what is valuable and worth striving for, pointed me towards the fact that for all time what man has considered respectable and noteworthy and important is not what God considers valuable. From the world’s perspective, He came through an insignificant young girl who was engaged to a poor carpenter boy and was born in a filthy, animal’s cave with only a handful of people aware of His coming. Yet, here we are, 2000 years later, awed at the fact that God’s ways are not man’s ways and His ways are higher than ours. And that He values a relationship with us more than anything else! What an incredible gift!

The third gift came in the form of an unexpected meal. We spent the bulk of Christmas day in the car driving to Nairobi with our children. Originally, only Rick and I were going to pick up our friends so the kids could stay for the celebration on the Hill, but we decided the night before to travel together. We relished the time listening to American Christmas music and just being together. We all arrived at the Mennonite Guest House early enough to get a shower and dinner in before we had to go to the airport. The shower was a gift in itself for all of us. As we entered the dining room, we were greeted by our host who had reserved a table just for our family. “Silent Night” was playing in the background and the room was decorated with beautiful red and green flowers and greens from the gardens. We sat down together and were served a sumptuous meal of beef tenderloin, turkey, mashed potatoes, green beans, sweet potatoes with brown sugar, and rhubarb crisp for dessert. As each part of the meal was brought to our table, tears began to fill my eyes. I could not believe it, but this was the exact meal we would have eaten in America if we had been with family – down to the rhubarb crisp. I sat there and cried that God would care so much about us that He would give us the incredible gift of having a few moments alone with our family on Christmas day and would provide us with a meal that felt like home. I still tear up at the thought of this gift.

So on Christmas day this year, we were without extended family and had no presents to unwrap and but I do believe it was one of the richest Christmas experience I have ever had because the gifts were so unexpected and straight from the heart of God.

The Sanctuary

The dictionary defines a sanctuary as a safe and holy place. We received one of those a few weeks ago in an unusual form. It’s a pretty cool story…

Rick was talking to Joseph late one evening about two months ago. They were discussing all of the various churches we had visited deep in the bush and the need to continue to make inroads into these lost communities. They were talking about how many Maasai people there have never heard about Jesus and how He died for them and wanted a personal relationship with them. They were talking about how other cults were beginning to infiltrate the area and the urgency to bring truth to these precious people. Rick said, “Joseph, we can’t keep bringing the van to these areas. It’s not the right vehicle for the terrain. We need to pray that God provides a vehicle that can get us to these remote villages.” And they prayed and the conversation ended.

So the next day, Rick gets this e-mail from a man from the Chapel he had heard of in America of but never really met. It says this, “My wife and I and I have recently spent some time on the website and reading your blog, and Oasis has been in our hearts and prayers, along with You and your family.

If we may ask, we would like to know the needs of both Oasis and your family at this time, so we can be in prayer about helping. My wife heard from someone she attends bible study with this week, that there still are not windows and beds in the house that received the new roof. We are not sure if that is the most pressing issue and don’t know the costs of items.

When you have time, please email me with the needs of Oasis and Your Family….”

Okay, so Rick and I look at each other in awe and he throws out the idea of the need for a vehicle. But who buys a vehicle for a stranger? That’s absurd.

And this family e-mail’s back that they would indeed like to help us along with their best friends to get a vehicle! WHAT IS THAT ALL ABOUT?!!! Seriously, strangers to us, buying us a vehicle because they read about Oasis and felt God calling them to do something for us! Unbelievable! Incredible! A Miracle!

So we picked up the four wheel drive, all terrain Land Cruiser, complete with a winch on the front, which I call ‘The Sanctuary’ two weeks ago. I call it this because we can put a tape converter in the stereo and attach Rick’s I-pod to it and crank our very own American worship music to it and ride around anywhere without getting stuck.

As I showed it to Joseph that first night, he laid hands on it and burst out in a prayer of thanksgiving. He prayed that every time we drove it, we would be reminded that it was an incredible gift and it’s purpose was to bring the gospel to the un-reached people of Kenya.

I can’t wait to see the stores God will bring about from the places we travel in this car…