Like a Child: Learn by Doing

We just had an amazing hour with the elementary students at Morningstar Ministries’ School for Creative Leadership (CSCL) in Fort Mill, South Carolina. (Yes, we are in the States for most of this and next month).

After I gave a brief introduction to Kenya: where it is in the world, the different tribes, the languages and the foods — the students became lively participants, asking many insightful questions. “Do people have pets?” “What is the currency in Kenya?” “Are you in danger from wild animals?” “Are there any wealthy people in Kenya?”

Before closing, the children were asked to pray for us and give any words of prophecy or encouragement that they were hearing from the Lord. After a few moments of silence, about 30 hands were waving in the air. Yes, these were elementary school students —  children from 5 to 12 years of age.

We were “blown away” by the words that came through. Some shared a vision: “I saw a boat on a river with a blue and white sail. Blue means royalty and white means righteousness. You are royal children of God who are pure in heart.” Others shared a word: “God is saying that he is very happy with the work you are doing in Africa.” Several had words about protection, based on the vision of an angel or of a man with a large sword standing around or beside us. By the end of those brief 10 minutes, we were in tears, and encouraged down to the very core.

The point? Well apart from the obvious inspiration, the other point is that children are active learners. As we grow, we gain the ability to learn through verbal and written instruction. But children primarily learn by doing. Imagine trying to explain to a three-year-old how to tie his shoelace? Or ride a tricycle? Or how to ‘hear God?’ The mode of learning is through actually doing it.

Jesus said that our faith should be like that of a child.1 So in the same way, we must DO the will of God. “Faith by itself, if not accompanied by action, is dead.”2

The children reminded me of this today. They were ready, without fear or shame, to do the work of ministry. Thank you, CSCL students!

~ Diane

1 Matthew 18:3

2 James 2:17

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Like a Child: Want to ‘be with’

As human beings we are naturally created to cry out for God. And the more we look for him, the more we seek him, the more of him we will experience. The people God will use are those who are hungry and thirsty for more of him.

Besides being totally dependent on parents and looking like them, children also have a natural desire to be in the presence of their mother or father. We all know that children cry. Babies cry a lot! The crying instinct is really a God-given tool that a child uses to draw care and attention to herself.

Sometimes we suppress this craving for Father’s attention and presence – at other times we allow it. But seeking God’s face is a key to receiving his favor. If we would know the Bless-er more, we would not worry so much about the bless-ings.

I feel very good when one of our adult children wants to spend time with me, asks for my advice, or does things that show love and respect. Those are all very rewarding experiences. I believe that every father feels good when a child seeks them out. It is an honor. Having a meaningful relationship with a son or daughter is very rewarding for a parent.

Every parent enjoys his children – and God enjoys his children too! He enjoys it when we want to be with him. When we seek God diligently, we are promised that we will find him.

To be honest, I have not had nearly enough of God’s presence. I want more. If God actually fills the whole universe, then certainly there is much more of his presence available for us!

~ Ibrahim

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Like a Child: Like Parents

When a newborn comes to a family, most people are quick to pronounce, “He has his father’s nose,” or “I see the Diener family all over him.” We notice the resemblance almost immediately.

God is our Father. The Word says that we are created in the “likeness and image of God.”1 We have the divine nature within us. We are supposed to reflect God, and should have the attitude of Christ Jesus.2

Until the life after this one, most people will not actually see God ‘in person.’ But we, as his children, are equipped through the Holy Spirit to help people see God. We are his hands and feet. Our love reveals God’s love.

I remember one particular parent-teacher meeting we had when our boys were in school. One of the teachers was very bold with me. She actually asked, “Do you have anything to do with these boys?” I did not feel very good about that comment — even though I realized she was joking. I guess they just had a lot more resemblance to their father (maybe the African genes are stronger?!)

In every way, we should resemble our Father. When people look at us, they should “see” Jesus. When people hear us speak, they should hear the words of God. When people see how we live, they should experience a touch from the Lord. In actions, in speech and in character, our lives should show the world what God in his fullness is like. Even our marriages are intended to demonstrate to others what the love of Jesus, the Bridegroom, is for His bride.

Do people ‘see’ Christ in me? Do they see God, my father, ‘all over’ me? Do they touch his love and experience his grace? I hope that the resemblance is growing, and that my life points people to my Father.

~ Diane
1Genesis 1:26
2Philippians 2:5

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Like a Child: Total Dependence

None of us likes the feeling of being helpless. We like to be in control – of ourselves and of our situations. We tend to be highly self-sufficient and trust in our own capacity to get things done. We make our own decisions, set our own schedules, and spend our own money. We don’t need to consult anyone, especially not God. After all, isn’t being independent what it means to be a responsible adult?

In previous blogs, we have looked at features of child-like faith, the kind of faith that Jesus said is required for entering the Kingdom of God. One of the important truths of life in the Kingdom that we need to understand from children is dependence on God.

A newborn baby can do nothing for herself, except maybe breathe, sleep and cry. She depends on her caregivers completely and totally. A baby cannot feed herself, change her own diapers, dress herself, or even move from one place to another. An infant, or even a young child, cannot thrive on her own.

John Bowlby is well known for his theory of attachment in children. He says that developing a close relationship with Mommy (or caregiver) is so necessary in the early years. Attachment provides a child with security, comfort and safety. Because of this, and the infant’s uncompromising need for protection, Bowlby insists that attachment is the single most important need of a child in the first year of life.

Similarly, being close to God is our number one need! When faced with the stark reality of my own inability, I feel helplessly overwhelmed. And certainly it is not comfortable to be so needy and unable. It does not feel nice. But that is the exact position where God wants me to stay — in a position of total dependence on Him.

“I cannot do this, Lord,” seems to be a common, desperate prayer of mine, often laden with doubts and fears. God has been telling me over and over, “Don’t worry; I have it covered.” My response? “That is really good, Lord, because I definitely do NOT!”

Dependence on God is a lesson that all of us have to learn, and one that we can learn from the faith of a child. Jesus would also be our example. Jesus, the very son of God, said that he speaks only what his Father speaks and does only what his Father is doing. He acknowledged, “I can do nothing” (John 5:19), and reminds us that apart from Him, “WE can do nothing!”

~ Diane

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Healing is Real

Over the last few years I have been acutely aware of physical illness among us. These vary from different kinds of cancer to problems with backs, knees, skin, lungs, joints and blood. Personally, I have had a couple of issues; so has my mother. The body of Christ is in need of healing now as never before.

Reading through the Gospels, the theme of healing comes alive at every turn of a page. Jesus confronts unbelief, hypocrisy and human suffering with powerful teachings that are punctuated with miracles of healing. As Christ ascends into heaven, the infant church is endowed with power and authority from above. Thousands come to the faith as healing miracles follow the apostolic company. Oh, for a day when we can replay these experiences in our daily walk.

So what has become of our modern day faith? It is true that we occasionally see a demonstration of God’s power as demons are cast out and healing takes place. But my heart cries for more.

In my case, I had a painful experience with a prostate biopsy in 2011. My PSA did not go down immediately, but I have seen God’s hand at work. Four years later, I am thankful for the slow but steady drop in PSA levels. Sometimes God heals instantly, and sometimes gradually. This one has taken a lot of discipline including prayer and different herbs — but I thank God there has been no need for an operation, or another biopsy. Whew!

In the case of my mother, over a year ago her kidneys were shutting down. We air-lifted her from Kitale to Nairobi, believing for a miracle. Again, we have seen God’s faithfulness in restoring her health. Today her kidneys are functioning again, while diabetes and high blood pressure are under control. (The remaining struggle is arthritis). Thanks be to God!

My prayer this year is to experience God so powerfully that we will see His hand at work. With the world focusing on terrorism, climate change and economic upheavals, wouldn’t it be just wonderful if God would revive us again!

~ Ibrahim

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Child-like Faith

Last year, we opened a series on the topic of child-like faith. While none of us wants to be considered childish, we apparently do need to be child-like in order to genuinely experience the Kingdom of God.

A disclaimer is in order: not all characteristics of children are positive. For example:

  • Children are egocentric. They are not capable of seeing life from the perspective of another person. They are not able to empathize or understand how other people feel.
  • Children also tend to be selfish. Sharing does not come easy for a young child – as every parent knows! One word that children learn soon after “Mommy” is often “MINE!”
  • Children do not score high in the area of patience, either. When they want something, they usually want it NOW.
  • Children do not self-regulate very well. They express with vigor whatever they are feeling, whether that expression comes in a socially-acceptable form, or not.

But these do not cancel the need for child-like faith in our lives. Jesus did not give an option. He said, “unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Some of the ways of children are also the ways of the Kingdom, and we see them lived out among the children in our midst.

???????????????????????????????One of the most obvious trait is that children are credulous and trusting. Children believe what they are told. We could even say that they are gullible, naïve, and unsuspecting.

For example, how many of us believed in Santa Claus, or Father Christmas as some cultures name him, when we were young? Logical or not, many children are convinced that Santa Claus flies around the world delivering gifts every Christmas!

Or, if a father tells his 3-year-old, “I will take you to the moon tomorrow,” the child will likely believe it. He might run off to tell Mommy the good news that he will be going to the moon. He would not worry about how practical or possible a trip like that is. If Daddy promised, it is worth believing!

What does this mean for our kingdom walk? In a world where academic arguments are rising fast to refute belief in the supernatural, we need to regain this child-like faith. Science tries to convince us that we should live by facts, not by faith. But there is a purity, boldness, audacity, courage and foolishness about the faith of a child that we desperately need.

We will continue exploring child-like faith in the coming weeks. Welcome!

~ Diane

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THE CHILD is Born!

What a wonderful time of the year! Whether it is a ‘white’ Christmas where flashingly-lit trees and extravagant decorations dominate the view, or a hot, humid Christmas where people are mostly concerned about finding a way to travel ‘home’ before December 25th . . . I love this season.

We have the amazing privilege of being with our three boys and Ibrahim’s family this week. Debbi is ‘alone’ in the States; she decided to stay in her apartment in Wheaton over the holidays.

The birth of the Christ-child is what we are all celebrating. What does that mean to you? To me? This year my response is more like Mary’s: pondering. Jesus came as a baby; the ultimate cross-cultural Missionary. It is good to remember his birth, just as we remember and celebrate anyone’s birthday, but He is in no way a ‘baby’ to me today. Sometimes I might wish that our own children could be babies again; infancy is such an exciting phase of life. But that cannot happen. I must face the reality of who they are today, and relate with them accordingly. So with Jesus. Each one of us needs to reconcile ourselves with the reality of the risen, victorious Christ. Keeping him in a manger might make it easier to dodge the demands of an authentic Kingdom walk, but that is not realistic.

So instead, I am pondering what Jesus expects from me this coming year — what I need to change so that my life would be more in line with His eternal purpose.

May celebrating the birth of our King this year bring each one of us a re-birth of hope (that might be lost), joy (that might be waning), and faith (that might be weak).

HAVE A BLESSED CHRISTMAS!

~ Diane for the Omondi’s

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