Thursday, June 21, 2012

WeWillGo '12 Day 3 Details

We arrived at WeWillGo at 9 a.m. Monday and met with Landrum and Roxanne, missionaries at WWG, and Lindsey, a summer intern from Mississippi College.

They shared their stories with us and we spent some time praying for them, then we went to work, picking up broken glass around the swingset and weeding flower beds on base 2.

After lunch, Meridith took us on a prophetic prayer walk around the neighborhood.
Sunday we met a sweet couple, Pam and David, who are trying to sell their house in the country, so they and their kids can move to WWG. Their house is on the other side of the garden and was our first stop on our walk.

Meridith encouraged us to look beyond what our eyes were seeing and to look with kingdom eyes, declaring what we saw.

One specific thing that was spoken was that it would be a house where young mothers could come for ministry on the front porch. Words and phrases I declared were Beauty for Ashes and Resurrection. Kathy (WWG volunteer) said many of the words we spoke were similar to words Pam and David had seen too, so it was very confirming of their vision for this house.
We continued on our walk, stopping to visit with and pray for neighbors who were braving the heat to sit on porches and visit with one another. Granted, many were drinking and doing who knows what, but still it struck me that these folks understand what living in community looks like. And once again, I was reminded that I don't even know half my neighbors' names.
I regret not getting many photos of the folks we met and prayed with, but I was visiting and praying with them too, and simply forgot I was the only one with a camera!  I did manage to snap this sweet shot of a cutie-pie who was thrilled to pose for a photo while some of our team prayed for her momma!
As we continued down the street, we turned down an alley lined on both sides with duplexes. There were a few ladies and children sitting outside munching on hot dogs and a treat I've never heard of before - Kool-aid soaked pickles!  Yes, you read that correctly, believe it or not!  Anyway, every time we'd see children, we'd stop to invite them to play on the new swingset at Resurrection House. As we visited with the ladies amidst a collection of empty liquor bottles strewn about the porches, we noticed a pretty young teenage girl come around the corner. She had a large safety pin attached to her shirt with bills of varying denominations stuck to it. When we asked her what that was all about, she said they were birthday gifts. Her name was Alexis and that day was her 14th birthday. She didn't live there, but had come to spend her special day with her grandma, who unfortunately had been called into work, so she was spending it with her aunties and her grandmother's friends, who basically were using it as an excuse to drink too much. Amy and the girls encircled her and prayed birthday blessings on her while I prayed with another lady, whose son was due to have surgery on July 12, my birthday...
When they finished praying for Alexis, Mary Grace said, "Oh! We need to sing Happy Birthday!", so we sang it loud and proud, but about halfway through, Alexis dissolved into tears. It was at that moment that we realized no one had even sung to her on her special day. What a simple way to love the one...what a good lesson for our girls to learn...something they take for granted was what God used to lavish His love on this beautiful girl on her special day. 
The girls suggested we make birthday cards for her when we returned to base, which we did. Unfortunately, when we returned with them, Alexis was gone, but her auntie promised to deliver them to her for us.

After our amazing encounter with Alexis, we thought we were headed back to base, but Meridith turned off the sidewalk and started down this "path", and when I say "path", I mean a weed and sticker infested, overgrown "jungle"...well...perhaps I exaggerate, but what you need to know is that Amy and I are both deathly afraid of snakes and when I looked at all that mess, I thought to myself, "There is NO WAY I am following her into THAT!" But I quickly realized I had two choices - follow Meridith or get left behind in a neighborhood it wouldn't be a good idea to get left behind in!
So, with each step, I said to myself, "Perfect love casts out fear, perfect love casts out fear..." Soon we came to a clearing and when I looked up, what I saw nearly took my breath away.
I was surrounded by "houses" or what used to be houses...really no more than frames and foundations left of some of them, each one with the remains of a pathway all leading to a central courtyard with a lamp post standing stall and proud, even in its dilapidated state. I said quietly to myself, "It's like wintertime in Narnia."
Meridith told us this was once a beautiful community where neighbors congregated in the courtyard living life together. Now it was a place of ruins and devastation...garbage piled up word came to mind - squaller...
And yet, a strange sense of peace settled on us as we stood there in that mess, and somehow it felt like we were standing on holy ground...
Meridith then shared with us a passage from Ezekiel that speaks of bringing life to the ruins. She then said something that literally brought chills...she (who hadn't heard what I had said earlier) said, "The first time I came here, I thought to myself, 'it's like winter in Narnia (GASP!) BUT Aslan's on the move'!"
She then asked us to look with kingdom eyes and speak out what we were seeing in the spirit...

We could see children laughing and playing! We could see bright, happy colored, clean houses, we could see life and community...
We sang the John  Waller song, Our God Reigns Here over that property, praying that soon it will become part of WeWillGo's ministry.
As we made our way through to the other side, we could see evidence of people having used these falling-down houses as word - heartbreaking...
As we turned onto the street, Meridith pointed to the street sign:
She said she could almost hear Jesus' voice saying, "Bloom, church! There's only one way - MY way!"
I couldn't help but think of the Casting Crowns song that says
But if we are the body
Why aren't His arms reaching?
Why aren't His hands healing?
Why aren't His words teaching?
And if we are the body
Why aren't His feet going?
Why is His love not showing them there is a way?
There is a way

As we made our way back to base, we stopped and prayed with a few more neighbors and prayed over the few churches in the area...churches that keep their doors locked and windows boarded up all week, only opening long enough for a hurried service on Sunday mornings...we prayed for the Spirit to wake them up to the mission field ripe for harvest all around them...we also prayed it for ourselves...that we would wake up to the mission field here in suburbia, where people don't even realize they're living in their own kind of squaller...

This was my favorite day at WWG...a day of dreaming with God...a day of connecting with His people...a day of loving The One and loving the one...

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

WeWillGo '12 Day 2 Details

Sunday we ate lunch together at Victory House, joined by Emily, who shared some of her story with us. What an amazing young woman, who is chasing hard after God's heart...

At 1:00 we went to the worship pavilion to soak, worship, and pray in preparation for that afternoon's service. At 2:00, Meridith (missionary at WWG, who Brooke met at Harvest School last year and stayed with when she visited WWG in the fall) assigned us to prayer walk around the block before service began. Some of our team ended up praying with a man they are convinced is tormented by demons. While they ministered to him, Pat, Mary Grace, and I ended up walking to the end of the street.  As we walked, I reminded Mary Grace of some of the things she'd learned at church and Sunday Jesus is the Light of the world and He lives in us and says WE are the light of the where there is light, darkness cannot when we speak out loud in the authority of Jesus' name, it changes things in the, Pat and I encouraged her to listen to God's voice as He directed us where to go and what to speak out. She led us to the cemetery across the street. She remembered that last year Mrs. Amy L had told us that sometimes people live in the graveyard if they can't find shelter anywhere, that it was a place of great darkness. Now any other little girl might have been frightened away by that, but not this one! She is a pint-sized prayer warrior! She marched right up to the fence and began declaring it as a place of life, light, and love! I told her afterward, I was going to make her a super-hero cape that said "PRAYER WARRIOR" on the back!

We turned and walked up another street, speaking out what we were sensing in the spirit to overcome what we were seeing in the natural, then we turned back toward base and got to the worship pavilion just in time for service to start.

Meridith encouraged everyone to sit next to someone they didn't know. I ended up next to a couple who I thought must be neighbors there, based on their appearance and strong body odors, but turns out they attend another church in the morning and come to WWG's service in the afternoon. What a good lesson for me to learn about not judging a book by its cover! 

Meagan preached the message from the parable of the bridesmaids who weren't ready for the bridegroom. She not only talked about it from the perspective of coming into a saving relationship with Jesus, but also about the importance of intimacy with Him once we've been saved. It was really good! I was so surprised later when I discovered she had never preached before!

After service, Landrum asked if there had been any updates from the Mozambique team, and since I'd received a few texts from Brooke, they asked me to share. 

After service, chairs were moved, tables were set up, and we served food to the neighbors. We didn't just serve them, though. We sat with them and fellowshipped with them. Now, God had to move me waaaay out of my comfort zone for this!  Not the eating part and not the sitting with them part, but small talk has always been a struggle for me. I like what's familiar. I like to talk about things I have in common with if I had sat at a table with some ladies, I could have thought of things to talk about, like our kids, or something...but oh no...when I went through the line and looked up to where Mr. Bobby was motioning me to go, it was a table full of men. Men of all ages and one color - brown. I am, this little white homeschooling mom from suburbia at a table full of African-American men from inner city Jackson!  I mean really! Are you getting the picture?!  God's sense of humor is sometimes downright hilarious!!

Anyway, I handed a plate to a gentleman, asking his name. He had a crooked smile and scars on his face I'm sure weren't caused by some sort of automobile accident if you know what I mean...he introduced himself as William. I told him my name and noticed he was wearing a University of Kentucky t-shirt. I personally don't really care about college sports rivalries, but living in a house full of boys and living in the southeastern USA, I do know how men enjoy ribbing one another over this sort of thing, so noticing Brett (our pastor who lived in KY for a few years and is a UK fan) standing nearby, I gave William a hard time about wearing a KY shirt, loudly enough for Brett to hear, so he joined in the conversation for a moment before moving on to visit with someone else at the other end of the table. I then introduced myself to a young man sitting to my left, who introduced himself as Robert. I shared with him that Robert was my son Blake's middle name. As we ate our lunch, I continued making attempts at conversation. The men were polite, answering my questions, but they never made an effort to keep the conversation going, so it was a bit awkward...

Later, as I reflected on our shared meal, and attempts at shared conversation, I wondered if there was anything I could have done differently or if I could have tried harder to connect at a deeper level...All I could do was ask God to bless my pitiful offering and make it somehow count for eternity...little did I know then that over the next two days, He would show me that my willingness to be used of Him, regardless of how uncomfortable it made me would indeed count for something.

Every single time we allow Him to stretch us, to mold us, to pour through us - whether through displays of mighty power or the simple act of giving fried chicken and feeble attempts at conversation, what we are really doing is simply noticing someone...the simple act of making eye contact...of asking someone's name...of handing them a cup of cold lemonade...every single time, we are communicating that he or she matters, and God thinks he or she was worth dying for. Thank You, Lord that all You ask for is a willing heart...willing to serve...willing to look foolish...willing to love the one...

WeWillGo '12 Day 1 Details

I finally have a few minutes to sit down and share details from our mission trip to WeWillGo Ministries in Jackson, MS. See previous posts for more photos.

Early Saturday afternoon Ned arrived, hauling a trailer with the swingset donated by Pat and her girls. He got to work right away setting it up. The rest of our team wasn't due to arrive til later that day, so I had spent the day at Karen's while she was at work. A couple hours before everyone else was to arrive, I decided to make myself useful and head to WWG in hopes to snap some photos as the swingset was being erected. When I arrived, I was pleasantly surprised to find it already up! I did get to help clean it up a bit. I also met Meagan, one of WWG's missionaries as well as the McLelland family, a sweet family moving to WWG soon. Their kiddos were the first to get to play on the new swingset. I had fun visiting with their cute little 7 year old chatterbox, Merry.

She, her mom, Meagan, and I walked down the street to invite one of the neighbors, Alicia to bring her children to play on the swingset any time she wanted to.

On our way to Alicia's house, we passed a girl sitting on the porch railing of a house in much need of repair, as is the case with most houses down there. We said hi to her and she barely lifted her head in acknowledgement.

When we got to Alicia's, an older woman and man were sitting on the porch drinking beers, listening to music. The woman was on a cell phone. An adorable little boy was on his bike on the sidewalk. We asked the man if Alicia was home and he went inside to get her. She came out with a sweet baby girl on her hip. We introduced ourselves and invited her to bring the kids to play any time. We then asked if we could pray with her about anything. She said she'd just gotten out of jail and had been drinking again. She wanted to stop, so that's what we prayed. She extended her hands to us, so Meagan grabbed one and I grabbed the other, then I felt that precious baby's hands on top of mine as I held her momma's. Such a sweet moment. Meagan prayed for a supernatural detox, for her chains to be broken, for her to see herself as someone of value - as a dearly loved child of God...

She thanked us, and we started back for Restoration House.

On the way, we noticed the girl we'd said hi to on the way to Alicia's, still sitting on the porch railing, head bent over a notebook, writing. Again, we stopped and said hi. We asked her name. She barely looked up and faintly said, "Ashley". She looked like she was stoned, barely lifting her head, much less meeting us in the eye.

I noticed a stack of colored folders next to her on the porch and asked her what she was working on so intently. Suddenly a light came on in her eyes, she lifted her head, looked me in the eye, and shyly said, "I like to write stories." Meagan asked her what kind of stories, to which she replied, with a hint of a smile, "Sometimes funny, sometimes scary." I said, "I like funny, but not so much scary!" She grinned and said she also writes poetry. Meagan told her she also enjoyed writing and had minored in poetry in college. She told her where she lived and invited her to come down to visit some time.

I wondered how many people have just walked on by Ashley in her life, as if she didn't exist...we didn't get into any deep, spiritual conversations, in fact, we didn't even offer to pray with her...we simply stopped for the one. We simply noticed her. We simply showed her she mattered...

I found myself crying out in my spirit, "Oh Lord, show these beautiful girls their true value and worth...awaken their dreams...break the chains holding them back from fulfilling their destinies..."

When we got back to Restoration House, everyone sort of went their separate ways for a little while to attend to various duties, and Ned and I went to Victory House to put together a bunk bed.

Later the rest of our team arrived, Meagan and the McLelland's returned, along with another WWG missionary, Emily. We blessed the swingset, praying that it will be a place of joy and laughter, a place where kids can simply be kids...that God will use it as a place for His love to be shared...that it will be surrounded with angels, so there are no injuries while kids play on it...and other things He brought to mind...basically we dedicated it to be a tool of ministry.

Thank You, Lord for showing us how simple and practical it is to Love The One and love the one...

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Texts from Mozambique

They may be short and sweet, but they are soothing to this momma's soul!
So far what I have gathered from these nuggets is that she has seen everyone she knows who is there...Brittney (daughter of a couple at our church who is at Harvest School), the LaRue's (Mama and Papa to many at Irish Nashville), the Wilcoxes (missionary family they met last year. Brooke delivered the violin to them), Jim and Twila (missionaries who live on Pemba base.), her friend Manuel (also met him last year)...Church service was INCREDIBLE Sunday! A Mozambiquan man made his way across the room to come to Brooke and began praying and prophesying over her in English she could understand. She didn't mention details, but said it was all amazing! Even more amazing, he said he'd never done anything like that before!! She has been to the beach and eaten ice cream, okra, and drank iced coffee (her favorite!)...Julie Meyer from IHOP is there and she prayed over Brooke...she got to hold babies in the baby house...pray with some of the the morning, they will go to Mieze to help with the goats, then it's on to the bush bush...she also reports that she is doing really really is good...she is at peace...she is in a place where she can really intercede for her team, her family, and the thing she said made me laugh - she said she misses her brothers - there are more girls on the team this year, and she has gravitated toward Jonathan and Chris on the team, since she relates better to guys, having grown up as the only sister in a house full of boys!
Probably one of my favorite updates, though, would have to be that she met Heidi Baker face to face this time and Heidi held her in her arms. Brooke was so overcome by the presence of the Holy Spirit radiating through this woman that she couldn't stand up. It seems appropriate to end this post with that, since it was her teaching that God used to birth this blog in the first place...

WeWillGo '12 Day 4

Last year we sorted and organized clothes in the clothes closet. This year we helped neighbors find clothes. Last year we organized the food pantry. This year we gave neighbors bags of that food. In both instances, we had the privilege of praying with and loving on these precious folks...
We were so busy doing this all day, I didn't even stop to take photos til the end of the day.
I think the smiles say it all...
Girls hanging out at Love House

Saying goodbye to our new friends, Lindsey and Emily

Monday, June 11, 2012

WeWillGo '12 Days 2 & 3

Missionary Merideth May giving us instructions before Sunday service.

Prayer-walking in the neighborhood

We had the opportunity to pray with many neighbors along the way...

Narnia in Wintertime, but Aslan is on the move...

Dreaming and prophesying what will become of this property some day...

He will rebuild the ruins and devastation...

Worshipping with our WWG family


We made birthday cards for a sweet girl we met while prayer-walking. Her name is Alexis and she was 14. We prayed for her, then as we did the simple act of singing the happy birthday song to her, she dissolved into tears. It was one of the most touching things I've ever witnessed. Her "family" had used her birthday as an excuse to drink, but through our simple act of stopping for the one, she felt loved...

Meagan preached a wonderful message. We would have never guessed it was her first time!

Praying with summer intern Lindsey and missionary Roxanne

Praying with missionary Landrum (Married to Roxanne)

Cleaning up broken glass around playset

Weeding flower beds

Pam and David will be moving into this house some day to serve at WWG. We prayed and prophesied the kingdom come...

Sunday, June 10, 2012

WeWillGo '12 Day 1

The Nest (my church) began the first day of our mission trip by setting up a swingset donated by Pat and her girls. 

When we were here last year, one of the jobs we did was clean up the lot next to the Lancaster's house. There was lots of broken glass and debris. Pat had a God encounter in this lot that left her forever changed. When we arrived and they showed us where they wanted the swingset, we couldn't believe was the exact spot where God had given Pat such revelation of His love and was holy ground.
Pat standing on holy ground last year
Pat praying over swingset on that same spot this year

And as if that wasn't enough, God had to go and show off just a little by placing a bird's nest in the perfect spot just above the swingset!