At Proskuneo School of the Arts we host a Monday night youth gathering each week. It is a place where we are beginning to break through some walls and have some powerful conversations. This is one of the highlights of my week. The last few weeks have been especially fun as we have celebrated the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons. Our students are from around the world and many speak more than one language. The other night we recorded the Christmas story from Luke Chapter 2. There are at least seven different languages represented in this video. Take in the story. Enjoy "meeting" some of our students.
When times get tough, our natural instinct is to run. We want to get as far away from the trouble as we can. We retreat into our safe nest that we have built away from the bustling crowds. We change our tune so that we won’t be discordant with the world around us. And we question why God would allow these circumstances to happen.
I hesitated to tell you the events of this week, but then I went to church this morning. Our guest speaker’s topic was “Living as a Missionary.” He and his family heard God’s call to plant a church in a neighborhood of Atlanta and so they sold and packed up their possessions and headed to their new life. I felt a kinship with them since this is what I did just last year.
Some of my friends rejoiced loudly when I decided to relocate because they had seen God moving in my life and recognized that it was not an “if”, but rather a “when.” However, my move to Clarkston was not applauded by everyone I knew. Some applauded, but also worried about my safety. And others thought I had lost my mind. In reality, it was not my mind that I lost, but rather my heart that I gave away. I have lived many years. I have fought against God and I have worked alongside Him. I can tell you from experience that the latter is a better choice.
Last week on Tuesday, I launched this ministry website. It was my formal declaration to the world at large that I am here and I want to serve God “all out.” Last week on Wednesday I came home for lunch and found that someone had broken into my house. I was shaken for a short time. As everyone who has ever experienced this will tell you, it makes you feel a little vulnerable. But it was not long until grief was the emotion that rose to the top. As the detective was dusting for prints and taking pictures of the “crime scene” I found myself sad to think that these thieves were more than likely some of the very kids that I feel like I have been sent here to serve.
I have been proclaiming for months now that I believe that God is sovereign over my life – whether I live or whether I die and whether I do either of those things while in my car driving down a street or staring into the face of thugs who don’t know Jesus. My life and my death are not in my hands. In the first moments, even before I called the police, I found myself thanking God that I was not at home when they came. God knew. I was taken by surprise, but He was not.
Today as I reflected on circumstances, God reminded me of Peter. In the book of John we read how Peter reacted when the going got tough. The soldiers were looking for Jesus. He was a wanted man. As Peter stood there warming his hands by the fire, trying to blend in, he had to make a hard choice. Would he face his accusers and see what happened next? Or would he lie and try to save his neck? We all know what he chose. He denied Christ – not once, but three times. It would be easy to blame Peter for his response, but how many times have I walked away from what God has called me to just because it got hard?
A few chapters later we find the risen Christ and Peter near the Sea of Galilee.
“Simon son of John (Peter), do you love me?” Jesus asks.
“Yes, Lord, you know I love you.”
“Feed my lambs,” Jesus replies.
Three times. It is as if God is letting Peter redeem each time that he denied knowing Jesus back in chapter 18.
“Simon son of John, do you love me?”
“Yes Lord, you know that I love you.”
“Take care of my sheep.”
“Simon son of John, do you love me?”
“Lord, you know all things. You know that I love you.”
“Feed my sheep.”
My conversation this week could have looked like this:
“Should I only feed the ones that are clean?“
“Feed them when they are dirty.”
“Should I only feed them when they are on the right path?”
“Feed them when they are lost.”
“Should I only feed the compliant and righteous ones?”
“Feed them when they are wayward and sinful.”
God has given me a directive. Care. Love. Pray. Teach. It is interesting how doors have swung open this week. I lost a few things, a few precious things, in the robbery. But I have gained perspective and insight on the world into which God has called me. There have been conversations that have opened my eyes. He is showing me things in the physical realm. He is showing me things in the spiritual realm. I am taking it all in and I am standing strong.
Thank you for your prayers for my protection and safety as I continue to feed His lambs.
When I look into a person's eyes I see a story. The eyes are the window to the soul ~ where a person has come from, what they are walking through today, and where they hope their journey will take them. When they are willing to share their story, I am honored. It gives me the opportunity to share how God has orchestrated my story to intersect with theirs ~ my soul story. And that opens the door to sharing His story ~ the greatest story ever told.
1. Proskuneo Worship Institute for 2017 is coming in June!
1. A wonderful trip to Mae La Refugee Camp in Thailand.