Basics 101

Reb:

This is an excerpt from Ben my husband’s new blog. It has been in the pipeline for a while, he has just found his way through the technological side of publishing a post. :)

Originally posted on lensofben:

Following the basics:

A blameless heart… keeping eyes from that which is corrupt… removing oneself from those who are fickle…

Living life is no picnic.

There are potholes, hazards, tripwires… All of these ensure that you watch your step; because each one of those traps will cost you dearly.

At the start, the traps seem harmless. If you stumble over one pothole you can think, ‘Oh, that didn’t hurt as much as I thought it would’. And so the next traps don’t bother you too much. The next time you look up to see what the damage is, you don’t even recognise what you see; it is complete carnage.

Everything you held dear is destroyed or dismembered because you didn’t care to watch out for the traps.

I have seen many people drop their guard to become popular; drop their guard to be liked or accepted by those who they…

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Part 2. Mysteries, Emotional Rollercoasters and Flickers of Hope

(Please note there are pictures of deceased people here)

I lost a friend. She was 27 years old. She passed away on the 3rd of July 2014. I wanted to write earlier, but couldn’t. It makes me so sad. My malpa wiru (good friend).

We had some laughs, her and I. Most at my expense. :-)

I met her just after we moved to Alice Springs. She had come in to Alice as she was quite sick and was having some tests done. She was married and had a small beautiful boy. They all turned up at church one day after getting on one of our church busses. She gave her life to Jesus and became a part of God’s family. She lived a long way away, but I saw her again and again over the next couple of years when she would come in from community mostly to visit the hospital. She would always be wearing a bandanna and had the most beautiful smile. Each time she came in I would get to know her a little better, but it wasn’t until about 4 months ago when she came in for her second last trip here that I got to know her a lot better. We would talk of her home, of her family and of her love for Jesus. She wanted to share her story, of how God had changed her life. I did not know at that time of how sick she really was or how much her life had changed. I thought that she had caught pneumonia and had just taken a while to recoup. I prayed with her often, and even shared her story at her request to a church we spoke at in Adelaide. She was really standing for her faith and it appeared she was getting physically stronger every day. She missed her family terribly and couldn’t wait to be discharged from hospital so she could return home.

She went home, but it was a short lived visit. Within a couple of weeks she was back, with what was to be her last time. This time, the doctors said that this was it. They called the family in. Her mum stayed with her. She had visits from many friends and family. I would go in, often with another friend from church and we would sing together and pray and read the Bible. It was good practice for me to read from her Pitjantjatjara Bible. She would help me read the words, until she got too tired and breathless and then she would just listen.

She urged me to share her story. She wanted people to know that Jesus was the true way. That He was real and how much her life had changed. One day when I was visiting, a lady was there that had known her for a long time. She was a remote nurse and had a lot to do with my friend’s care. I prayed with my friend as I did every time I visited and when we finished the nurse had tears in her eyes. She asked me if I could see her outside for a moment. When out there, she shared how my friend used to be very angry and volatile and an extremely difficult patient, but approximately 2 years ago, she began to see a change in her. Until now where she had seen a major change in her temperament and the way she dealt with people. She said she was certain it was due to my friend becoming a Christian. How wonderful it was to hear the testimony from this lady. She said she had first thought it was because she was being the best nurse, but she quickly realised that this was a profound change. She was not the only one to tell me this.

I had a social worker pull me aside and tell me the same thing a few days later. They could not attribute it to anything else. When I talked to her later about it and she went all shy with me and asked how I found out, I explained it was because she was now shining Jesus so much, that it had changed her so much that even people who didn’t believe in Him could see the difference in her and had to declare it as nothing short of a miracle (or at least something they couldn’t deny).

We were praying for a miracle, but I know she was ready to go home to heaven. She liked me to read the verse about there being (pika wiya) no more pain, no more tears. She made me promise I would tell others of her hope in Jesus, of the life to come if we believe in Him, of how she changed. I promised I would. She wanted to write her story, but sadly she never got to finish. She began, but got too weak.

Friends are hard to come by in this place, but she became my friend. We were from different worlds in some ways and yet we understood one another. The day she said ‘I used to say you were my friend, but now I call you my sister’ I will treasure that for the rest of my life. I pray for her family. In particular her husband and young son. They are wonderful people and are grieving so much.

I did not get to attend her funeral as I would have liked, my son was in hospital and I was with him. I have been holding back the grief of her loss until now as I would find it hard to cope with that and with all that was happening with my son. But it is time now. Time to share what she asked me to. Time to cry. Time to say goodbye.

She was a strong lady in spirit and her body just couldn’t keep up. I don’t understand why God chooses to heal some people and not others. I don’t know why she couldn’t stay here on this earth, but I do know I will see her again. She is with her little girl who she lost when the girl was 1 year old. She missed her terribly. I know she is finally in no pain and having no more suffering. I know she would be singing the song she was given just before she passed away and her smile would be so big as she is in the arms of her saviour. I miss her. As I do the many friends we have lost since arriving here.

The verse she had displayed in her hospital room was fitting for her then and for us now: ‘Be strong and courageous, for I am with you’.

One of the things she had written in her journal

One of the things she had written in her journal

Bronnie, me and our friend

Bronnie, me and our friend

My friend and I

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Mysteries, emotional roller coasters and flickers of hope Pt. 1

Allow me to share a journey that our family has and is still travelling on at this time. A few of my friends are going through similar experiences and my heart and prayers go out to them as they work through their frustrations and emotions and faith during this time.

I should have written this last week or even three days ago, when my report would be a glowing one of a trial near past and the lessons I have learnt. I was reminded last night that we are not out of the woods yet.

For those of you who don’t know, our eldest son Elijah has been sick since at least the start of the year. He has had well days, well weeks even, but the cycle was getting smaller and he was getting sicker with every bout. At first we thought that he just had a bad run with some viruses as we live in a place where some pretty nasty viruses present.

But when they kept coming and the fatigue was not lifting in between the times of sickness, and he lost his bubbly, cheeky self saying things to his brothers like “believe me you don’t want to be 10, it’s just too tough”, we just knew we had to do something. So back in May we took Elijah to the doctors and explained what was going on. They ordered blood tests and it came back positive for Ross River Virus. At least, we thought, now we have an answer and he should improve over time.

But that was not to be the case. For a week after the test, after much prayer, Elijah felt the best he had in a long time. He even commented “Mum, I think Jesus has healed me”. And that is what appeared to have happened.

Until one night, he complained of a tummy ache and went to bed to the most violent vomiting we had seen yet. He was up for half the night and then ended up lying on the couch and fell asleep. He slept through the entire next day. Even with the other boys yelling and playing as normal in the house. I tried to rouse him a few times to get some fluids in him, but he didn’t know where he was and who I was. He couldn’t handle light. He had a temp. I was glad he was sleeping as I knew he needed it, but I was worried he was confused when he woke.

20140626_092645

In Alice Springs hospital

Then in the evening a rash came out first on his face and then on the whole right side of his body. We had been holding off taking him to the hospital, as they usually send us home and say if they get worse bring them back blahblahblah… But once the rash came Ben carried him (still sleeping) to the car and took him to the hospital.

And there Elijah stayed for 5 days. His eye became bright red, and he couldn’t handle any light. He looked grey and couldn’t walk. They thought at first it was maybe meningitis, but they ruled that out. Then the tests began. Multiple blood tests, specimen tests and a small skin biopsy. But nothing was showing up. We had so many people praying for us and our church family came and visited. Was a wonderful time for seeing the body at work, even if it was a terrible time in other ways.

I kept expecting to call the virus card, as doctors do when there is no answer. But the doctors were amazing and thorough and for once in my life took me seriously. He got well enough to go home even though he still had a high temp and his eye was no better the rest of the symptoms had subsided. He had to wear an eye patch and his eye was not getting better, so when we took him back for his follow-up check he was seen by an eye doctor and diagnosed with uveitis. This is a common occurrence in people with an auto-immune disease which is where the doctors were heading with their testing.

The doctors here had exhausted what they could do from here in Alice so we were sent to Adelaide to the Women’s and Children’s Hospital. There Elijah went through a series of tests and they ruled out so many things that had been suggested. After 10 days in hospital there, we had come up with no answers . However he had begun to gain weight again, which is great as he had lost about 8kgs since the start of the year. We could feel the prayers of our brothers and sisters in Christ and were so well supported with many visiting to sit, pray and chat (not to mention bring chocolate and lollies- have I said thank you :-) ).

20140723_103840

The barium swallow test

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Goolwa Beach

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Day leave from the hospital

2014-07-20 06.23.21

When his brothers arrived

 

One family in particular, who have so may of their own struggles they are facing, were so beautiful in the way they ministered sacrificial love to us. They opened their home to the boys and Ben who had driven down from Alice so they could stay near us in the hospital. The family also offered for us to stay a few days down at their holiday home before we returned. This was a blessing and so much needed. It was the middle of winter, but we all went in the beach. What a healing place it is. I miss the beach so much even though I love our desert home. We had some lovely time with Ben’s mum and grandma as well. Which I know the boys will treasure forever. We always try to make the best out of a bad situation . We managed to have some great laughs and made some awesome memories.20140729_092655

Our ride home. .Elijah was so excited to finally be going home

Our ride home. .Elijah was so excited to finally be going home

We returned to Alice no wiser than we left, and hopeful and prayerful, that maybe he would just begin to improve as he had extended rest. He appeared so well, but that was because he was able to rest all day.

Since we have been back home, he has gained 2kgs and has had more energy than before. He had been generally well, though still feeling nauseous, and fatigued but not enough to slow him down as before.Until last night when Elijah once again began vomiting and high temp and today can’t leave the couch. He is definitely not as bad as he was before which is a plus but it is wearing to know that the battle isn’t over.

We are grateful it is not some of the diseases that the symptoms were pointing to and we have seen the hand of God in this time, but it has definitely been a struggle and has made it harder to have the same energy for the ministry we are a part of here.

We thank you for all who have, and will, pray as we continue down this journey. It continues to be a mystery. Our hope is in our God who is faithful and carries us through every circumstance. The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases!

Elijah’s eye is fully recovered and the eye doctor said yesterday that it has no scarring and so good that you can not even see that he had ever had it. We are so blessed to live in Australia. We have an amazing health system.

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Why I don’t write

I often have a conversation with myself as if I was writing for this blog. I so want to update this and write what is going on. And yet, I find myself with countless unfinished posts. There are a few reasons why the posts never get published. And one of them is not that life has become dull. On the contrary. It is rich. We are still seeing miracles and salvations. We are still seeing devastation and sadness.

The real reasons I have not been writing, I will try to explain here. And maybe a few will get it… and the others of you may just think I have clearly lost my head :-)

1. It (meaning life in the Alice) has all become so normal that it feels that I would be writing about the mundane, regular (which is by no means a lot of people’s regular) routine. Ok routine is probably too strong a word… but the rhythm of our life although to others hectic or bizarre, just feels the norm to us… so I struggle to know what to tell that would be of some interest.

2. It has become more personal. More real. Most of the people I would want to tell the stories of have become deeply connected to me and my family and to their families. Sometimes, I feel like it is sharing secrets (and although I have always as much as I can sought permission to share what I do) I don’t know how to explain some of the stuff I see. It is much more involved and complicated than it first appears.

3. I don’t trust what some people will do with what I have written. Some people like to take things out of context. Some people like to glorify it, and use that as an excuse about why they are not living a ‘naturally supernatural’ life. Others, use my posts as a way into the people’s or their families lives and do more harm than good. And I know there are others of you that are just encouraged and encourage me: so please for those of you in that category forgive my rant :-) ).

and lastly,

4. I haven’t known how to say, that as good as it is here, and as wonderful as it is to see God move and transform lives,  there is also a whole lot of bodgy stuff going on here, and I’m not talking about the non-believers… and that sickens me and saddens me and angers me, and I have been seeking the Father what I do about this that will help bring change and I know for this to occur I will need to do it in His Spirit as it won’t be effective otherwise, I will be merely joining them in their self-glorification, etc…

So… maybe now this is off my chest, new things will merge. new posts will appear… I want to share some of the testimonies, just not sure how or when.

Let me say how grateful I am for those of you who pray for me and my family. We seek in our lives in all things to honour Christ, to love people and to be transparent. I expect that other believers will do the same, and find myself hurt when they aren’t and don’t. But I suppose that gives me more opportunities to forgive, just like Christ forgives me :-). (Perhaps I should be like some of my friends who say they never have any expectations on people and therefore never get hurt or offended- but I don’t seem to be able to do that without shutting people out emotionally). A wise friend of mine has said we have to learn to be expectant without any expectations. When I have achieved that, I will let you know :-) in the mean time, please continue to uphold me in your prayers and I too will uphold you in mine.

Bless you,

Reb

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My friend Mrs Bennett

(Please note that this post contains pictures of deceased people)

Perspective. One of the main things I have gained since moving to Alice. We all look from one perspective or another, but I’m talking about eternal perspective. If here, we lose sight of the eternal perspective, life can become quite depressing at times. Another friend of ours has passed away.

My friend Mrs Bennett. She loved to sing and loved our Jesus. She loved her family and would provide for them however she could. She was always weaving baskets when I saw her at Topsy. She has left behind some wonderful friends who are missing her so much. Mrs Bennett was the first one to introduce our family to the ‘Orange book’. Although Mrs Bennett would more readily sing from the ýellow’ book(Ngaanyatjarra), she was very happy to have the orange book which she brought out for us to sing. This is a Pitjantjatjara  hymn book and is a wonderful treasure to our ladies. I have had the privilege of singing with the ladies on occasion some of the songs out of this book and the sound is at times heavenly.

Mrs Bennett came on some road trips with us and would teach us to sing songs or tell Maku to quieten down :-) She couldn’t believe how much he liked to talk.

Mrs Bennett and Maku

Mrs Bennett and Maku

Our little boy Maku (Zion) when he heard it was near the time for her to go to be with Jesus was inconsolable. He wept and would not go see her. He didn’t want her to die. But he had a chat on the phone with her once he calmed down and the smile on her face was priceless. My oldest boy Elijah accompanied me in to the hospital to say goodbye to her and she held our hands so tightly. So happy to introduce us to her family who were by her bedside. She introduced Ben to everyone as her teacher. This greatly touched and humbled Ben. She sang nearly right up to the time she went to meet Jesus. They recorded her singing one last time. She was flying back home to Warakuna to see her family and say her goodbyes there but made it to 20mins out from home.

The ladies that stay at Topsy Smith Hostel were great for reminding me of our eternal perspective. The hymns they chose that Thursday for our regular sing-a-long were all about children of a heavenly King and Home with thee and how good heaven will be.

Zion was also good for me in keeping my perspective. He cried and cried, but once he had  he said she is with Jesus now and feeling all better. Today he drew a picture of her and him with a disco ball above them, because now she can dance. Just love this kid. He asks questions about her sickness and why she had to die, but he has such a natural conversation about it that death is just a part of life…

We have become acquainted with much sorrow, but we are more and more aware of the joy on the other side, and this is just a glimpse of what is to come. This time on earth is so fleeting, that it makes some other stuff that seemed so important before be seen from a new perspective, a better perspective, an eternal perspective.

Bless you all as you read this. My prayer for you all today is that you will be reminded of the eternal perspective and this will give you new vigour for life. To forgive more readily, live for others and not just ourselves,take risks, follow the call of God and live life to the full… for that is wha

Singing in choir with Mrs Bennett and others
Singing in choir with Mrs Bennett and others

t our Jesus came to give us, life and that to the full! 

One of the baskets she made

One of the baskets she made

zion

Zion’s painting of Mrs and Bennett and him and the disco ball for dancing :-)

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Thank you

This is just a quick post to say THANK YOU to all who pray for our family, who have written or called ‘just because’, and to the family who have given to us financially even when it is not flowing in abundance for you…Bless you in your sacrifice. I am grateful and my words cannot express how much I appreciate your generosity. I will keep you anonymous only because I know that is the way you would have it… but it does mention in the Bible that you will be rewarded in eternity for the generosity you have bestowed in this life.

So, thanks.

It is wonderful to be a part of the body of Christ, for we know we are never alone.

Love and God’s blessings to all of you and your families.

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the year that was

So apparently 2013 has come and gone already. Wow. What a year.

We have been in Alice for almost 2 years now and this was definitely packed in and a time of growing and learning. I had a read of my personal journal entries from last year, and was interested by a post written in January. I felt that God had said that it would be a year that I would need to hold on tight, and had the verse ‘those who trust in the Lord are as Mount Zion, they will not be moved (or shaken)’. Oh my, if only I had knew what truth that verse held for the year to come!

Allow if you will for me to reflect on some things I have learnt and/or been reminded of in this last year.

1. Jesus when he was on this earth never put much weight on whether people approved of him or not, because it says that he knew their hearts and how fickle they were (are :-) ).

This has been helpful for me to remember when I’ve found people flattering me or when they have been outright slandering me, or the one’s that think they are above me. Jesus’ response teaches me to get to the place where I can respond in the same way (not that I have fully achieved this, but that I am aware of it is on the way). Jesus knew where to get his worth ,from his Father… and me? I’m working on doing the same, because the Father’s thoughts on me are unchanging.

2. Doing things scared is much better than not doing it at all.

2013 was a year of me starting to take risks again. I did things I would have done years ago, but that I had  stopped because I had let fear of man and failure creep in. I went in a 24 hr dance marathon with some friends (turned out to be one of the highlights of my year), I sung solos, I entered a 24hr film comp, I directed and performed in a drama in front of thousands of people.

3. Forgiveness isn’t the same as denial, it is freedom.

This year I came to some realisations that people I had cared for deeply, didn’t care the same for me, and my expectations of them to care had just allowed hurt to fester in my life. Other people had treated my family badly and still treat us with disdain even though we weren’t at fault. We have been let down countless times and the list goes on… I assume you could all write your own stories :-)… BUT God was teaching me a deeper forgiveness than I had experienced before. It was literally like he was walking me through some very dark places  but we did not stop there. I felt raw, but could feel his deep healing working as he unveiled truths (not always pleasant truths, but truths nonetheless). These truths are to allow me to still be in contact with these people but go in with my eyes open, deal with things in my own heart and guard against attacks from without.

4. Don’t get distracted.

Look after the people God has entrusted in our care. Keep the main thing, the main thing. Protect the sheep from the wolves but let God deal with people with their own agenda.

5. God’s grace IS sufficient for me and His power is made perfect in weakness.

Sometimes I have felt so tired and not enough time to stop. But it is in those times, when I have not much of myself to give, that I have seen God work in His miraculous power. I’d pray for someone and they would begin to get excited and they would be healed. Or they’d ask what they might do to be saved. Or there’d be a stack load of kids turn up hungry for learning the Bible. Or the latest one, he would multiply our dinner to feed all the people who just randomly showed up at our doorstep with nothing. Just love how our God does that. Mostly, it reminds me, it’s not about me… It’s about HIM… It’s always about HIM :-)

AND lastly but not least

6. Laugh. Lots. Let your hair down. Never forget where you come from, but don’t get stuck there.

 

Bless you all. Thanks for taking this journey with me. I pray that 2014 is a year you say yes to God and what he is doing. I’m going to give it my best shot. And if last year was the year of ‘hold on’ or ‘stand firm’,  then this is the year of ‘thrust’,20130911_160722 of moving forward, of breakthrough. Get ready to run. It’s going to be fantastic!

Reb

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God’s ways are higher

The grief we witness here on a regular basis is at times overwhelming, but on the other hand, having the people of Central Australia as a part of our lives, and the way we have been embraced, and the stories we have been told, which we otherwise would never have known have far outweighed the sorrow. Our opportunities to share of God’s love with their families are wonderful, but when people share with us their journey of faith and their wisdom we are bestowed treasures.

What I wouldn’t give to see these wonderful ladies and men healed so they could return to their families and their homes, and we pray and believe for that to happen. But God’s ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are not our thoughts.

I hear a lot about the latest catch cry ‘on earth as in heaven’ and what people think that means like bringing our idea of perfection here and all people are healed etc… well I think it is possibly deeper than that. Healings are great yes, prosperity is comfortable yes… but gold comes through the fire and is refined… and is lasting… perhaps on earth as it is in heaven is more about our will bending to His, our ambitions being set aside for His, and our ways, not taking precedence of His…Things will not be perfect this side of heaven and God is not interested in us taking glory for ourselves and becoming a big name, he is interested in matters of the heart… persecution came on the early church because they needed to spread the word… perhaps sometimes our earthly suffering is sometimes the same…God giving opportunity for us to expand our reach…I know I would maybe have never met these people if they were not here in town… and I see that even in the midst of sickness and suffering, that they are making an impact on the lives of others… on my life… by being here… I am by no means saying that God is a sadistic god who uses our suffering for his gain… I’m just thinking on how God utilises these things in our lives to bring about his purposes…all this to say… I am thankful for my richer life and the different perspectives I am seeing because of the life of the people I have met…

I do get glimpses of ‘on earth as it is in heaven’ but not usually how one would expect: it’s by looking in people’s eyes and hearing their heartbeat.alice-springs-pictures-3

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Rupert (Wapa-wapa) Goodwin

(Please note that this post contains pictures of deceased persons).

Last week, another friend of ours passed away. I remember one day when we had not long arrived and one of my friend’s mum just said ‘you will know grief well around here’. How true and sad that statement is. Once again, this man was close to little maku (my youngest) who prayed for him daily and wanted to go in to say goodbye before Mr Goodwin got to go and be with Jesus. Zion had a dream the night before Mr Goodwin passed away that the angel of death had come, which was interesting.

Rupert knew the stories of the Bible very well and loved to share  them, actually he just loved to share any kind of story. Especially stories about when he was a ranger. I’ll never forget the first time I went into his home in Indulkana and the first thing he wanted me to see was the picture of him as a much younger and handsome (his words :-)) man standing with Uluru behind him. It was a fantastic shot and it had been used as an advertisement for tourism. He would talk all day with us if we had the time, and in particular my father and Ben spent countless hours with him having a great chat and prayer.

Rupert had a tough life, but it was a story of survival from start to finish, and he never lost his sense of humour. Rupert was one of the first people we met when we arrived in Alice and was probably the quickest person to warm to us as a family apart from his sister, Sarah. (She passed away last year and you can read about it  here in earlier posts on this site also here). He had a love for Hawaiian shirts and cowboy hats with bright feathers. One day I will share the story of his sister rescuing him when he was a baby.

He treasured his wife Yula and his children. He carried a photo of Yula around in his wallet and would show anyone he could and say and show how beautiful his wife was. She is a wonderful lady and is of course finding this time tough, she was with him when he passed and she had beautiful moments in his last couple of days to play songs they had treasured and just sit and chat with him.

I am not sure of Rupert’s exact age, but I am pretty sure he is around my father’s age. It is pretty sobering to see renal failure take its toll on people. Although we will miss Mr Goodwin, we are glad that he had a relationship with Jesus Christ and so he is once again able to run around, and enjoy God’s creation in heaven. On earth, life was getting pretty tough, but now he is free and well and reunited with his sister. Please pray for his family at this time of sadness, and pray for those that don’t know the Father who loves them, that they will have an encounter with Him during this time. Thank you.

20130215_165719 Mr Goodwin and Ronald 001

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The word of their testimony

The team from Stirling Source Church in South Australia arrived on our doorstep last Saturday afternoon not knowing what the week ahead might hold for them. Most of the team were seasoned yearly visitors to the Alice, but this year we decided to change things up.

For many of them, it was the first time they shared their testimonies. A few of them felt they didn’t really have much to share, but as they looked over their lives they realised that God had taken them all on a journey, and they could speak of God’s grace and faithfulness on their sometimes difficult and individual paths. As the week progressed, so did their confidence, and people were moved and the

team sharing at the hostel

opportunities for prayer increased.

Never underestimate the power of  your testimony. As said in the book of Revelation

And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death

Our testimony is one third of the integral way we overcome the enemy, and the team got an opportunity to see how powerful their testimonies are. People responded with wanting prayer (experiencing God healing people), to others wanting to share parts of

their own stories as well as experiencing people come to salvation and rededicating their lives.

The testimonies were one highlight of an extremely hot and challenging week for the team. Another was their faith in action, doing some yard blitzes for those unable to do so themselves. This was a blessing to the families as they saw people who barely knew them working hard to make their lives easier.

One of t

he ways some of the team ministered to us was when they took time for our children. In particular, Becky and Vanessa who gave up some of their ‘free time’ to play with the boys and teach them sewing. Thanks ladies, this was beautiful.

My prayer for this team is that they will grow in their knowledge and understanding of their God the Father who was willing to lay down his most precious possession for them, his Son, and that this will spur them on to live a life of good works as an outworking of His love in them.stirling team

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