Like a Child

None of us would like to be called ‘childish.’ That criticism implies selfishness, immaturity or even foolishness.

But Jesus had a different idea. He told his disciples, “unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”1 Jesus obviously had a reason for saying that.

Just about one week after the birth of our first son (yep, that’s him!), M David closeI was struck with new insights into our relationship with God as our heavenly Father. I remember one night, lying awake after having been up to nurse him. I should have been tired; the rigor of getting up several times a night was different and demanding. But my mind was racing with one revelation after another. “Oh, that is what Jesus meant when he said we need to be like little children. This precious person depends on me for everything,” I realized. “And he looks just like his father.” (None of our children looked anything like me when they were babies; maybe the Caucasian genes are weaker than the African ones…) One idea after the other about what it means to be ‘child-like’ kept me out of bed that night in order to try to get it down on paper.

Life went on, and I lost the paper where I had written those significant truths. But over the years of parenting and later in the study of child development, reflections about child-like faith keep reverberating in my heart.

Certainly not every characteristic of a child is commendable. Some scriptures encourage us to mature, grow up, and put away childish things. But even so, some of the characteristics of children ARE to be emulated! For example, they are credulous and trusting, completely dependent, free from worry, quick to forgive, totally honest, and pure in heart.

These and more are important truths of life in the Kingdom — the present reality of God’s reign on earth and His Kingship in our lives — that we need to understand from children. This starts a series of blog posts in which we will look to “little children,” to explore these Kingdom-based characteristics.

~ Diane

1Matthew 18:3

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The perspective we choose to take on the situations of life have a lot to do with how those situations will affect us.

Israel’s exile into Babylon was a very dark and hopeless time in the history of that nation. The writer of the Chronicles, however, skips through the entire 70 years of Judah’s exile, up to the plans of King Cyrus for restoration, with one simple verse: “The land enjoyed its Sabbath rests; all the time of its desolation it rested until the 70 years were completed in fulfillment of the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah”.1 This was a terrible situation: young men killed in the sanctuary, women and old men not spared, the temple and Jerusalem’s walls burned down, and a remnant carried into exile!! How can it just be written off as a time for the land to ‘enjoy’ Sabbath rest and a fulfillment of prophecy — as if that was all good?

Joseph being sold into slavery and ending up in prison seemed to be the ‘end’ for him — or at least the end of his dreams for greatness. But he later commented on the abuse and horror that he suffered by saying, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good”.2 Don’t those statements seem contradictory?

It strikes me that this is all about perspective. The exile of Judah was within God’s sovereign plan, even though the days of darkness lasted an entire lifetime for most of those who had been carried away. Through all of Joseph’s trials, God had a blueprint for saving an entire nation.view austria 2

It is not easy to see our troubles from God’s perspective. When things are difficult, I feel frustrated and discouraged. When challenges come, I don’t give thanks — instead I complain! It is human nature to see problems as things to be prayed away or things to be blamed on Satan.

Praying is of course important and getting free from Satan’s clutch is also important. But in the midst of the struggles, can we also see God? Can we look to Him who “works out everything” for our good and His glory?

If you are old enough <:), you might remember these words of Amy Grant’s song, My Father’s Eyes: “Eyes that find the good in things, when good is not around. Eyes that find view utahthe source of help, when help just can’t be found.”

I am asking God to help me, by His grace, to see with His eyes.  After all, if this is what we can see from just an airplane window, God must have a totally awesome viewpoint!

~ Diane

1 II Chronicles 36:21; 2 Genesis 50:20

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Our Inspiration

It is the rainy season in Northern Uganda. That makes the roads “impassable” — but by God’s grace and with Ephraim and Jova’s 4WD vehicle, we made it safely to every location. 2014 roadThe countryside is astounding in lush beauty. Maize, cassava, sweet potatoes, groundnuts, sesame, and many other crops fill the fields.

The shrieks and ululations upon our arrival betray their joy in finally seeing this “Omondi” they have only heard about. We are likewise deeply encouraged to meet them. In every DOVE church that we visited, members have given sacrificially to buy land or build a meeting house. This practice of giving is also evident on the day of our visit. When we arrive, the firewood for cooking lunch has already been brought. Soon, live chickens are toted in on bicycles. While a few women are busy cooking, the service continues.

For us to hear from them the testimonies of God’s faithfulness becomes more important than them hearing from us! Miracles of healing. Powerful deliverance. Reports of God’s favor and God’s provision. Every single story builds our faith. The people??????????s of rural African tribes do not have much else to depend on — they MUST depend on God. And He IS Faithful.

One elderly man explained, “Five members of my family were overtaken with mental illness. I sold my crops, my bicycles, my land — everything — trying to get medical help.  For six years, there was no change. I had no hope. I did not know where to turn. Then a pastor came and prayed for us in the name of Jesus. God brought healing. Today some of my sons are pastors; my grandson is a choir leader. For all of this, I thank God. Then at age 65, I was diagnosed with lung cancer. The doctors gave up on me and sent me home from the hospital to die. But God has healed me. I am still strong at 70. Praise God!”

One thing is for sure: God is at work in Uganda!

~ Diane

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‘Foolish’ Faith

None of us want to be a fool. In fact, research indicates that being considered foolish ranks as the ‘number one’ fear among human beings. It is a greater fear than the fear of death (ranking ‘number two’).

God’s wisdom is different than ours. “But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak thing of the world to shame the strong.” (I Cor 1:27)

  • What can we say about Noah, telling everyone there would be a devastating flood. He went ahead and built a huge boat on dry land.
  • What can we say about the children of Israel, marching around a thick stone wall with hopes that it would fall down?
  • What can we say about David — going after a giant with a slingshot and a few pebbles?
  • What can we say about Beniah, who chased a lion all the way down into a pit — and came out alive?

Surely none of these acts would be considered ‘wise.’ But they brought the victory.

So why don’t we see more miracles? Why don’t we have more breakthroughs? Sometimes, it is because we protect ourselves from possible disappointment. ‘What if I pray for the guy in a wheelchair, and he does not walk?” “What if I declare a victory and it does not happen?” We are afraid to obey, because we do not want to risk our reputation. We often prefer to do things the way other people have done them, or the way our culture does it. We do not want to be considered foolish.

God has called us to serve Him, and without faith it is impossible to please God. What is faith? Things not seen. Things only hoped for — but evident — through faith.

God is looking for men and women who will not care about what the world thinks, but about what He thinks. God is looking for men and women who will not be concerned about protecting their dignity, but who will walk out in obedience to turn the world upside-down.

Are you ready to sign up for God’s foolishness?

~ Ibrahim

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On my knees at 5 a.m., my heart was more full of complaining than thanksgiving. I often console myself by saying, “Even David complained a lot.” In response, I felt God saying, “You are acting like Jonah.” OUCH!

It wasn’t the part about Jonah not wanting to go to Nineveh, but rather the later part of the story, after the people had repented and God had relented. Jonah was so focused on himself and his own ‘needs’ (aka: desire for comfort). . . We should probably read it.

God: Do you have a right to be angry about the vine?

Jonah: I DO! (I can imagine him shouting.) I am angry enough to die.

God: You have been concerned about this vine, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. But Nineveh has more than 120,000 people. . . should I not be concerned about that great city?

The lesson is clear. There are things God has given me/ us, totally not based on our own doing or our own making, that we become very possessive of and even worried about. Our view is egocentric. But God has a greater purpose in mind. He has an eternal strategy to bring mankind out of the clutches of darkness and into the Kingdom of Light. To that end, He wants to use us, according to His design and not our own. God is working out everything in conformity to the purpose of His will.

Will I be a complaining vessel or an obedient servant?

“Lord, conform and transform me. My human nature is selfish – but I do not want to be a ‘Jonah.’ Have your way with me.”

~ Diane

P.S. Photo on top: With Daniel and Debbi at our other-side of  Ngong Hills property. We had an amazing 2 days of camping there with the whole family this week.

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Speeding for Life

High-speed driving on bumpy Kenyan roads is not advisable any time. But on this particular occasion, I heard grown-up adults from the medical profession asking “Are we there yet?”

2014 baby LukeSix-week-old Luke was barely making it. As we sped toward the hospital, the ER nurse and doctor ‘brought him back’ with CPR over and over, doing everything they could to keep Luke awake.

It was the end of the third day of medical camps held by IMR (photo to left property of IMR) with a team of 60 medics. Nearly 500 people had been treated in this remote village on the slopes of Mt Elgon in Kenya. We were getting ready to pack up when a young lady, about 16 years old, pushed her way to the doctors carrying a bundled-up baby.

The nurse took the bundle and began to unwrap it. When all the layers were off, she found a severely malnourished baby boy. Then I heard the cry, “This baby may not survive,” as she put the baby on a flat surface to apply CPR.

Soon our rented vehicle became an ambulance. With lights flashing, we sped through the dirt road toward the highway that leads to Cherang’any Hospital in the outskirts of Kitale. The journey ‘should’ have taken over an hour, but we made it in about 40 minutes.

We called ahead so that they would be expecting us. But at the hospital, members of the IMR team took over. After some ransacking, oxygen and an IV were finally in place and baby Luke began to respond. There was hope.

The pediatrician finally arrived and after some checks, confirmed that Luke had severe pneumonia. He also said there was no need putting him in an incubator. Baby Luke was later moved from intensive care to the general ward. With his sucking reflex active and strong, he is now ready to be discharged.

This was just one of the many cases that the team had to handle in their week of medical camps. An average of 500 people were seen daily.  2014 child meds 2We are very thankful to the doctors, nurses, students, hosts, translators and other volunteers who took time to work in these very challenging situations, touching and giving hope to many sick and suffering people who otherwise would not have had a chance to see a qualified doctor. We also appreciate all of those who prayed for this very compact week. There were times when God literally intervened by sending winds to divert imminent rain. Baby Luke and several others have a smile on their faces today because you cared enough. Thank you.

~ Ibrahim

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Just a Beginning

The end of our reading feels like just a beginning. To be honest, if I did not have other responsibilities of “life”, I would just love to do it all over again. The 92 hours of Bible reading were totally amazing. Except for a few hours when the power was out or sound system not in place, it all went through outdoor loud speakers and into the surrounding community.18 anole clinic

It was interesting that none of us thought of sitting down while reading (even though a bench was available just behind the podium). I personally read for close to 5 hours several different days . . . and always wished I could continue! Thank you for many who sponsored one, two, ten or even more hours! The total amount raised for missionaries of DOVE Africa (DMA) was $1,490 and the door for donations is still open. We thank you and thank the Lord.

flood wadingDMA missionaries serve in high-risk, ‘hardship’ areas in order to share God’s love and extend His Kingdom. We are proud of them.

Tremendous transformation has taken place in the communities as a result of their work. Schools, clinics, farms, youth projects, vocational training and churches are available where they did not exist before. 16 z irrigationThrough the missionaries’ hard work and commitment, children have access to education, patients walk a shorter distance to get medical attention, and all these are offered with a heart of love. Local communities have been confident enough to allow DMA missionaries to become recognized leaders, even in Islamic communities!

DMA missionaries face harsh weather, unfamiliar and unappealing food, new cultures, loneliness, opposition and even danger, but continue to serve enthusiastically, trusting God not only for protection but also for daily provision.  The Read-A-Thon was a “double win”; we are excited for the funds for DMA and the impact of God’s Word.

Z Manna line“Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching” (I Tim 4:13). Interesting… I never really noticed that verse before. But in a semi-literate society where many do not have Bibles of their own, we sense that was just a beginning of public reading of the Word to be incorporated into our church life and also in the Africa Center for Transformation (Prayer Center).

Yes, the Word of God is alive, active and at work!

~ Diane

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