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Waves and Surrender

Midnight rang, it’s a new year, 2017! I entered it surrounded by amazing friends. I was tired from staying up late but possibly from the aching in my body that started the morning prior. I went to bed shaking with a fever, wondering if I had the flue but couldn’t deny that the pain started with simple news that led to some crying and some more crying. It occurred to me then, perhaps the pain I had ignored the past few months suddenly came rushing provoked by this simple news. It was linked to painful memories. I paused and remembered: he is near to the brokenhearted and he saves those who are crushed in spirit. I reached out to some friends and family and asked for prayer because prayer always works and it did. The cloudiness lifted, by his wounds we are healed. I finally fell asleep despite the aching and the fever.

Then I had a dream, a healing and daring dream. I was standing on the beach by the ocean watching the waves wash over the shore. Someone then told me to come closer and to feel the water. I did, and waves came washing over my feet. Then I thought I could sit down and feel more of the water. I did, the waves came again and washed over half  my body. Then I thought I could lay down and let it wash over my whole body and I did and it washed over me.

I woke up with less fever and aches in my body. I remembered the dream and thought perhaps that’s what surrendering looks like: letting the waves wash over me completely with no fear because he commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him. This is my invitation to surrender it all to Jesus once again in 2017 because he is the good shepherd who knows his sheep, and his sheep knows him just as the Father knows him, and he knows the Father, and he lays down his life for the sheep. May this year be a year of deeper surrendering to the Lord and all that he has for you. Happy New Year 2017!

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When Lazarus Walks into Your Life

My life right now feels like the story of Mary, Martha and Lazarus. There are moments in life where things we go through allow us to truly understand a passage in the Bible. The story of Lazarus can be found in John 11: 1-44. I am Marie or Martha and my circumstances are like Lazarus, and at this point they look more like the part where he has been dead and buried for 3 days (but in my case 3 days representing months). After the death of Lazarus, Marie and Martha knew Jesus will show up at some point but they may have had no hope that He will perform a miracle, only an assurance that He will come and mourn with them. Perhaps, they believed in a miracle before Lazarus died, but not after. They might have thought that at least He reigns over diseases but certainly not over death? Or maybe they believed He could raise Lazarus from the dead but it was not part of His plans? I am sure they thought of many other things…ranging from doubts to faith and then it is repeated in that order.

When we go through the same circumstances (not always literally as in the case of the death of a loved one) we have an advantage. We have access to the story of Lazarus and we know how it ends. We can confidently ask the Lord to repeat the same miracle over our circumstances. We can expect a miracle no matter how impossible it may look.

As I read the story again (I encourage you to do so as well), I think about how it can be similar to our lives. Again, here I am taking the story in a metaphorical way and not talking about a literal death of a loved one (It can still happen in a literal death of a loved one)! The first few verses depict that the sisters sent words to Jesus and said …“Lord the one you love is sick”. Sometime, when we are at the beginning of an impossible situation, we still have hope that it’s not too late for God to intervene. Like the sisters, we call out in prayer: “Lord, I, your beloved, I need help right now, would you show up and fix my circumstances”. Then in case He doesn’t stay silent like in the story of Lazarus, He will answer: “Your situation will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.”  Subsequently, hope arises again and you think, He said it, it surely won’t end in death. Thus like the sisters, you are pretty sure that Lazarus will not die, that Jesus will certainly show up before he dies and save the day.

However, what you don’t know yet is that Jesus will do the following “So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days,”. He will even make sure to help you remember that He loves you: “Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.” We find comfort in Him when He reminds us of His amazing love for us. The cool part is that Jesus knew when Lazarus died, in fact He knew Lazarus will die before He said what we read above. But he doesn’t call it death, he says it’s just a sleep…“Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.”

In the meantime, perhaps your hope has decreased, not necessarily your hope that Jesus will show up but just the hope that something can still be done about your situation. I mean, it’s all dead and buried at this point. Therefore, all Jesus would do is comfort you when He comes. Which He does as well, He comes and comforts you and mourns with you: “Jesus wept”. Right here, friends and people around you would tell you things that range from: “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?” to “well it’s all going to be okay”. You even attempt to tell Jesus how impossible the situation is at this point and you think: “God you are late but it’s okay because I have moved on anyways and I still trust and believe in your goodness God, which is all that matters”. And then Jesus tells you a strange thing : “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”. And to your surprise (or not), He raises Lazarus, He raises your circumstances and turn them into possibilities…right in front of you!

My favorite part of Jesus raising Lazarus is how he started with: “Father, I thank you that you have heard me”. He had such a confidence in the love of the Father for Him. And this is one of the journeys Christ takes us as well. Where we recognize that Christ came to live and die and live again for us and as us. The place where we learn  to look at our circumstances and give thanks that God hears us and performs the promises that He himself has given us ahead of time regarding the seemingly impossible situations in our lives. “Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”Mathew 19: 26. So we take a deep breath, give thanks and speak confidently and loudly like Jesus did and we shout: “Lazarus, come out!” and the rest becomes history and a testimony, your testimony that gives glory to God.

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Nutete Project: Beginning

On December 26, 2015, 2 days before I left Togo, I met with these 4 young adults (Photo above) in Lome, Togo to dream and plan with them about ways to awaken and launch the potential in young educated and unemployed adults in Togo. Our project is called “Nutete” which means “potential” in one of the languages spoken in Togo.

From left to right (in the above photo) we have (Gloria, Rachel, Daniel and Elom) who for now are the main leaders of the project as they are all located in Lome, Togo. We are anticipating few more to join them soon. My role will only be to serve as an advisor, supporter, trainer and resource finder for them from my current location in Minneapolis or from wherever I will be. In the left  column are the next steps for the project. Please be praying with us about them. Click here for more explanation about the Nutete project. 

Next Steps for Nutete

  • Register Nutete as a legal association in Togo.
  • Raise $500 to launch Nutete project through a one day conference around mid-February of 2016. This conference will gather 150 young adults.
  • Upcoming Conference Goals
    • Promote Nutete
    • Encourage a culture of Networking and team work
    • Help the participants see and display the potential in them and help them brainstorm through small working groups how to use it to generate income and help the society flourish
    • Find key young adults who have ideas to start an income generating endeavor, give them further training and connect them with resources.
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Impossible is Your Middle Name

I am fascinated  by “impossible things”. I would say this fascination has a mixture of excitement and fear. In the past, fear almost always took over and my prayers ended up being something like “yeah God, just keep things at a manageable level for me”, as in I will only attempt what I am sure I can handle and succeed at. Perhaps once in a while, I dared say “yeah God, I think I am crazy but yeah, I will jump off this imaginary cliff and sort of half believe you will catch me. Or at the very least you will perhaps make sure I don’t die”. One of my favorite blog author Elisabeth Adams wrote the following:

Sometimes God immerses us in impossibilities. Other times, I think He merely beckons: Would you like to trust Me here? Perhaps in forced encounters with the impossible, we grow the spiritual muscle necessary for more audacious requests. A boldness of faith that dares — when He dares you — even to take on new obligations and new responsibility, willing to show that in this condition, too, my God is enough — and more. But who would voluntarily put themselves in such a place? Who hears the call to constant out-on-a-limb reliance on God and says, “Sign me up!””With men this is impossible,” says Jesus.”But all things are possible with God.”

I’ve had my share of “force encounters with the impossible”. I am only now learning to embrace them instead of running away from them. My prayer for you and me today is that we embrace the impossible when it presents itself but also that we dare to voluntarily say “yeah God, sign me up for more impossibilities, and let them all become possibilities for the glory of your name”.

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Pray and After you’ve Prayed, Pray Again…

Few months ago, I realized once again that yesterday’s disappointments and unanswered prayers, are not meant to guide how I pray and trust God today. His mercies are always new every morning. God’s ways are puzzling at times. Yet, He is very gentle and loving. In the words of one preacher, “It is not until you have risked going too far that you realize how far you can go”. It has been some of the most intense past 10 months I have ever experienced. Sometimes I lack the words to describe how hard it has been, but yet how good God has been to me.

I once had a dream that I was constantly looking at a clock that was on my wall. In the dream, a friend came in out of nowhere and decided to hide the clock away from me. When I woke up, I thought, the timing of God is nowhere close to my understanding of time. Romans 4 :18 “Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”

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A Desert Brings Life to a Rainforest

Earlier this month, I was telling a friend that my life for the past couple of years has been like living in a desert and on the verge of quitting more often than I have allowed myself to accept; simply because I thought it was impossible to live, dream, create and thrive in the desert. However, for every single time I have been tempted to give up, God has encouraged me to keep going and has pointed me to the fact that there is life in this desert, and that I need to come into agreement with that and I will see it.

The day after I shared the above, another friend sent me the following fact:  “This is incredible: NASA scientists recently studied in detail how dust from the seemingly barren Sahara Desert gets picked up by strong winds and carried more than 3,000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean, where it fertilizes the lush Amazon rainforest.” You can read more about this here or check the video here.  In the words of my friend, we think the desert is dead and useless but it’s not! It is secretly sustaining the rainforest all the way across the ocean! I was very encouraged and reminded of Isaiah 43:19 “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”

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Community Life and Transformation

One of Seg-Way key new initiatives is to help students start Witnessing/Discipling Communities off campus among the poor.  I am excited about the partnership with Hope Unlimited. Hope Unlimited is a non-profit organization based in Brazil that helps street children by providing them a productive future and eternal hope. I will be sharing more about this work in an upcoming post.

On a different note, I want to share about the transformation that occurs in us when we choose to live intentionally in a community. It’s a kind of transformation that starts from the inside and mirrors on the outside. The one that changes our spirit and soul and reflects in our character as we relate to God and to one another in a community. Sharing space with one or more people that aren’t family in a sense of blood relation builds character. It reveals and kills our selfishness if we allow it.  It teaches us to put our needs and wants after other people needs and wants. Most of all, it is a great avenue to learn to forgive others after repeated offenses and to forgive ourselves when we fail to extend grace over and over. It finally forces us to reach beyond our strengths and to trust a God who “has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness”. 2 Peter 1: 3 . It has been a privilege to hear testimonies of this transformation occurring in many of the residents at our Christian Community house.

Please, be praying with me for financial provision.

I hope you all have a great Thanksgiving break :)!