Like a Child: Not Pleasers of Men

One of our adult children was wrestling with whether or not to attend a certain event. “I really don’t want to go,” he explained.

“Then what is the problem?” I asked. “No one is forcing you to go.”

“But I feel like I am supposed to,” he replied.

“Who said that?” I wondered out loud. “Who said you are supposed to go?”

“Well, nobody, really. But if I don’t go, I will feel guilty.”

“Why would you feel guilty?” I wanted to know.

“You see, I learned that from you. I always feel like I have to do what other people expect me to do. And if don’t, I feel guilty.”

OUCH! What could I say?

Back to our topic of child-like faith, we notice that the intellectual level of young children does not afford them the capacity to understand or care about what other people think. An infant cries in the plane, even though everyone around is disgusted by the noise. Or jumps up and down on a sofa set, even though the hosts are quite perturbed. Or sleeps during the day and stays awake all night, whether Mommy likes it or not.  They do what they want to do, not what other people expect them to do.

Don’t get me wrong. There ARE times we need to do what we might not feel like doing! There are times we must do what is right, whether we like it or not.

But how often do we make decisions based on the expectations of others, a desire to impress someone, or just out of wanting to please men? Scriptures warn us that that is not a good idea!

Children, I would want to believe, follow a divine inner voice, that guides them toward balanced and optimal development. Assuming that my life is truly yielded to God– do I follow that inner voice of God’s Spirit? Or do I follow that which will earn me the praise of man, the approval of friends, the social status that seems so appealing?

Unless you become like a child” holds yet another lesson for me.

~ Diane

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Like a Child: Sleep through the Storm

Nepal babyA devastating earthquake hit Nepal on April 25; another struck again last week. The disaster was horrendous. This amazing image of an infant asleep (or maybe unconscious… but let’s say asleep) after being rescued really struck me. Now safe in the soldier’s arms, this baby was oblivious to the terrible tragedy.

Children have the ability to sleep through any storm. Or maybe it is just that they have not yet learned the ‘art’ of worry. They do not concern themselves with things that are outside their immediate environment, or things that are outside their control.

Unfortunately, as an adult, I have learned the ‘art’ of worry. I often try to sanctify it as “being responsible.” But worry, or control, it is, nonetheless. When it comes to management styles, I have a weakness toward micro-managing. That is not a good thing. That does not demonstrate a child-like approach!

Worry is the opposite of faith. Worry is a declaration to God, “I do not trust you.” Yet the Word instructs us, “Do not worry for your life, what you will eat… what you will wear…” for your children, your finances, your job, your future, not even your present predicament.

How often do concerns, fears or worries keep us awake? How often do we try to manage things that we cannot or should not?

Right now as I am writing, many things are happening around me that I do not like. But most of them I have no control over. I can pray, but that is about all I can do. Will I release those cares and burdens, trusting God to bring the answers? Can I rest in Him through the storms of life?

A young child sleeps comfortably, even when a storm is raging. When our faith is ‘like’ a child’s, we can do the same.

~ Diane

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Like a Child: Everything is Possible

A child believes that all things are possible. Jesus commands that our faith should be the same.

A young child does not distinguish between fantasy and reality. He believes that Superman can fly, that Santa is carried through the skies by reindeer, and that mice became horses that escorted Cinderella to the royal ball. A child who is taught the Word of God also believes it at face value  — and should!

Today we attended a memorial service for a dear family friend, Dr. John Chacha. The accident that took his life robbed the Kingdom of a tremendous asset. Many wonderful things were said about Chacha today, but what stands out to me is that he was a person who believed that nothing was impossible.

Chacha believed that an ‘insignificant’ boy from a poor village in Africa could change the world — and he did. He believe that thousands of people with no chance of going to college could earn a degree through correspondence and itinerant courses — and they did. He believed that hundreds of orphans could walk into a bright future — and they have. Many thought and even told him that these would not be possible, but Chacha just did them anyway.

“If you have faith as small as a mustard seed” (or as innocent as a child’s or as audacious as that of John Chacha), “NOTHING shall be impossible for you.”1

What do I need to believe in today? What “impossible” dream is waiting to be fulfilled?

~ Diane

1 Matthew 17:20

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LIKE A CHILD: Process, not Product

Diane n FatherI have just enjoyed 2 marvelous weeks with my 97-year-old Father. Though showing some typical signs of aging, he is still in good health and has a clear mind. He loves to discuss Mennonite history, family history, politics and current issues especially in the church.

About five years ago, he attended a seminar on aging where he heard that doing puzzles helps keep one’s mind alert. Since then, puzzles have been his main “occupation.” So of course when I visit, he wants help putting a puzzle together.

Father is always anxious to finish the current puzzle he is working on. When it takes too long, he gets frustrated. But when completed, he waits one or maybe two days, then takes it apart and starts another one. father puzzle 2“So what is the point?” one could wonder. Certainly the point is not to achieve a complete picture that will be saved for its own sake. And as much as there is a drive to finish, the purpose cannot be to finish — or one would not want to start again! So we can only conclude that the goal of putting together a puzzle is to enjoy the process of doing it.

The activity of children is the same. Children play for the sake of playing, not for the sake of producing an end product. An adult (might) paint a picture in order to have a product that they can sell; a child will paint a picture in order to enjoy creating with paint.

Our walk with the Lord is also much the same. So often we think that God will be impressed with what we accomplish for Him. We want to achieve and have results to show for our efforts. But God just wants us to walk with Him. He can get done whatever he wants to get done with or without me. Wow! Really? Yes, really. But He chooses to use me, because he wants to take me on a journey of walking beside, learning from, communing with, and listening to, HIM.

If we focus too much on what we are doing for God, we will miss the point. As my friend, LaVerne Kreider always reminds me, “It is all about the journey.” It is the process of living with God that counts.

~ Diane

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The Sting of Death

Kenya is in mourning this Easter Monday. The church in particular is asking a lot of questions. Why did the attackers start with the praying Christians? Why during Easter? Why innocent students? Are we losing freedom of worship in Kenya? Are we heading toward religious wars?

The two women who went to the tomb early Sunday morning were also in turmoil. Hopes and dreams for the future had come crashing down. Their hearts were laden with grief and pain. Everything looked dark. But Josh Meyer at Franconia Mennonite Church reminded us this morning that some of God’s best work is done in the darkness. During the darkness of that Sabbath night over 2000 years ago, God redeemed a seemingly hopeless situation.

Darkness and pain do not generally get very ‘good press’. They are not things we look for. But death and darkness do not have the last word. With the infusion of God’s power, they can actually be a seedbed for victory. That is the message of Easter: light over darkness – victory over death – hope conquering despair. That is the hope we can grasp and hold on to, even in the midst of the darkest night.

The blood of martyrs, throughout history, has often been a seed of revival. And we have been crying to God for revival! We have been crying for a new wind of the Spirit to shake the status quo of the church and visit us with power.

Desperate times help us realize that we truly need God. When we desperately seek for Him, we surely shall find Him. In the grief and mourning, may we seek help from Him who has alone defeated death.

~ Ibrahim and Diane

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The Seed of the Gospel?

Television screens are awash with yet another tragedy in Kenya: the massacre of non-Islamic young men and women. Some of these young people were having their “morning glory” prayer time when the attackers struck. They had no idea that terrorist bullets would usher them into God’s glory on that fateful Thursday morning.

The DOVE team in Garisa had the opportunity to share with the university Christian Union last year; some of those who died were known to them.

Martyrdom is not what Christians look for. Yet it happens in the most painful and inappropriate ways.

Garisa and indeed the northeastern part of Kenya have been quite resistant to the Gospel. But we did not expect that the resistance would lead to people being killed for their faith. The Westgate mall attack, the bus and quarry attacks in Mandera and now the Garisa University attack have a common theme besides just senseless killing. They are going for Christians. To avoid the bullet, you need an Islamic name and you might be asked to recite a verse in the Quran.

The Somali terrorists have been quite consistent. They have a clear message to pass on: “Kenyan Christians must die” in retaliation for the efforts of the Kenyan Defense Forces (KDF) to help restore law and order in Somalia. They would have preferred to maintain the status quo of lawlessness there.

The KDF troops in Somalia include lots of Muslims. But that is beside the point. We are witnessing a modern-day martyrdom of Christians in the hands of Islamic fundamentalists, some of whom also desire to be martyrs for their faith!

I believe that this region that has been so resistant to the Gospel is going to see a greater witness of our Lord. I would not be surprised at all if Somali Muslims begin to see visions of Christ and accept him as their Savior. After all, we have a man called Saul who went all-out to kill Christians. Then… he met Christ and became His fervent witness. May the lives of those who have now gone to glory be a seed that will bear Kingdom fruit as we celebrate Christ’s victory over death this Easter.

~ Ibrahim

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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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