Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Looking for answers, listening to God

"Listen to God," I said. "When you listen, God will speak. He speaks in dreams, and through other people, and in the Bible." This is the message I was teaching to the women yesterday, as we read the story of Joseph and his dreams. But I can't do all the talking, I thought, so... "Kim Nu, you listen to God! What does God say to you?" Shy and sweet, the gentle Burmese woman smiled and said, "God say he love me." "Yes, God says he loves you!" I replied as affirmation and subtle grammatical correction. "And Reyna, tell me, what does God say to you?" With the quiet strength I've come to love and admire, my Mexican friend said, "He says when hard time comes, I am with you. Be ready... be strong." As I listen to these messages from God to international Christian women, I smile at the thought of the Holy Spirit, who is fluent in every language, speaking truth to those who want to listen and obey.

During tea break, one of the ladies - a private student of mine who is not yet a follower of Jesus - asked me, "Do you teach other Bible classes?" Yes, I told her about Sunday school, and asked if she was interested in learning from the Bible. "Yes, I am very interested now," she replied thoughtfully. So we agreed to study the Bible together during our private classes. "I think I need to read the Bible. I think if I close my eyes and open the book and then read, it will give me the answers I need." While I don't think that's the best Bible study strategy, I did agree with her that the Bible has many answers for all of us. She asked if we had Bibles here at I-House, so I told her we did and showed her the shelf where we keep them.

During second session, my friend Katie was helping the women study English in the computer lab, and she noticed that this woman was sitting quietly in the corner, reading a Bible! Katie went to her and asked what she was reading. She was looking at 1 Peter 1, and wanted to understand more about "the living hope." So Katie shared with her the gospel from that passage.

After the women all left for the day, my friend Margie came to me, bubbling over with joy and excitement. "I don't know what you taught today in your class," she said, "but this woman asked me to help her understand 1 Peter! She said it was very beautiful, and she wanted to know more and that she wanted to 'be pure.' I talked with her a while, and she took the Bible home with her."

This woman is very thirsty! She is looking for answers, and praise the Lord - she's looking to Him to give the answers to her! I don't know if she used her "open the book and read" strategy, but if she did, God led her to that very passage. It makes me wonder if that's how it happened for the Ethiopian eunich in the chariot, too... The truth stands: if a person seeks the truth and chooses to listen to God, He will speak, He will make his message known to them. Pray for this woman, as she looks for answers and listens to God.

"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened..." - A faithful promise from Jesus, in Matthew 7:7-8

Monday, October 10, 2011

Meng Pu's story

"I no need many food, I no need money. I need talk to people, 'God is good, Jesus love you,'" Meng Pu said this with a strong and passionate tone of voice, waving his hands and shaking his head. Translation, for those who aren't sure of his broken English: "I don't need much food or money. I need to tell people the gospel." Wow. What a perspective.

For two hours today, I sat with Meng Pu, and using a sketchpad and pencil and his 200 English-word vocabulary, he told me his God story. I'm hoping he will let me record him speaking sometime, and then translate and write it down. For now, I'm going to write a brief summary of it, but I warn you it won't capture the richness of the story, the way he expressed it. If you ever have the opportunity, ask him to tell you the story.

Thirteen years ago in Burma, Meng Pu was a heavy drinker, and it nearly killed him. But God came to him and told him to stop drinking, ask the Holy Spirit to come in and get rid of all the evil inside, and surrender his life to the work of God. So he did. He became a Christian and has not drunk since, though he now has a pacemaker because of damage done to his heart even then. When the Holy Spirit came in, his whole family fasted and prayed, and he went out and travelled over all of the Chin state for six years, preaching the gospel, healing the sick, and casting out demons. Every time a miracle occurred, people asked him to stay and tell them about Jesus, and everywhere he went, people became Christians. And they paid him with fish.

I'm still working out the details of how he came to America, but he said that life in Burma was very dangerous and his family was scared. Now they live in a house and have next to nothing, and yet they are so thankful to be here. Meng Pu continues to preach the gospel among his people here in the states, and he would like to share it with Americans too. I call him our "Burmese missionary," whom God brought to share his love with my people in a fresher, deeper way.

He really did surrender his life to God - it shows in the way he doesn't cling to or cherish anything but the truth of the gospel.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Girls of the Limberlost

Yesterday was a beautiful, sunny, warm, autumn day, so we girls went on an adventure. We drove down about an hour south to Geneva, the setting of the Limberlost, and the inspiration for the book, Freckles,  that I just finished reading. This was an adventure, because it was one of my spontaneous romantic ideas that had no real guarentee of being exciting or interesting. Fortunately, the other girls - the two Hannahs and a Kelsey - didn't mind taking the risk. And fortunately, it turned out to be a marvelous adventure!

First stop was the historic home of the author, Gene Stratton-Porter. It was gorgeous and elegant, and full of natural specimens of butterflys and stuffed birds, and photos and paintings made by the author.

I got tons of ideas for my own "House of Dreams," one of them being this garden gazebo attached to the side of the house, accessed by a private door from the daughter's bedroom.

The trees were perfect... I love this golden one in the front lawn.

 Second stop was the bird sanctuary, which was basically a wooded and marshy trail...

... that got more wooded and more marshy and more buggy...

...until we were forced to turn back, because going further would mean certain peril by either mud bog or mosquito. This was the moment we realized what sissy city girls we really are.

Last stop was the Loblolly Marsh, which was a huge open field/marsh of lovely wild flowers.

There were butterflies everywhere! And the grasshoppers on the path that sprang out of the way as we moved looked a lot like fairies... so magical!

In conclusion, we all decided it is the perfect place for pictures, and we can't wait to read more books from the Limberlost...