Pray For Syria

Omran is a 5-year-old young boy who was pulled from the rubble of a building that collapsed as a result of an airstrike on the city of Aleppo, Syria. The medical aid workers pulled him out of the rubble and set him in the chair. They left him there and went back looking for more people amongst the rubble. He is covered in layers of dust, ash, dirt, and encrusted blood. He sits motionless in a chair with a look of shock and pure sorrow. His picture has become the face of all Syrians affected by the war. He doesn’t know it but he is taking the internet by storm.

Omran

When I saw this picture my heart sunk. All I could think about was why this precious little boy had to go through this? What could I do to help? How many more children are fortunate enough to still be living but are living in these conditions?

If I were to have seen this picture a couple of months ago I most likely would have been overtaken by the same feelings and would want to know what I could do. I would have researched and thought about ways I could physically help children like Omran. I would have searched for agencies and organizations that are on the ground in Syria and would have tried to figure out how to help them.

When I saw this picture I did have those thoughts. I thought about how I wanted to help this little boy and others like him. I thought about wanted to go over and give this little boy the biggest hug and tell him I loved him and that I was here to help. But then I realized that I can’t exactly hop on a plane and go to Syria. But there is something I can do. Something you can do. PRAY!

I know. I know. That sounds like one of the most cliché things you could say but God been teaching me a lot about the amazing, gloriously wonderful power of prayer. I’ve learned how prayer can and will literally move mountains. All you have to do is ask.

Can you imagine what would happen if we all prayed for Syria as a country? If we prayed for peace. If we prayed for kids like Omran. Can you imagine the amazing revival that would take place and how God would be glorified??

What would happen if we prayed so earnestly and unwaveringly like the church in Acts 12:5?

What would happen if we really truly expected that God would answer our prayers like Rhoda was Acts 12:13?

What would happen if we as a global church committed to praying for those affected in Syria and the surrounding countries once a day for 5 seconds? For 5 minutes. For 5 hours. For 5 hours. For the rest of our lives.

More importantly what would happen if YOU chose to pray.

1 Timothy 2:1-3 The first thing I want you to do is pray. Pray every way you know how, for everyone you know. Pray especially for rulers and their governments to rule well so we can be quietly about our business of living simply, in humble contemplation. This is the way our Savior God wants us to live. (The Message)

God calls us to pray for everyone we know in every way we know how. This is not just a good suggestion God gave us in a book written hundreds of years ago. This is a commandment in His word that is still relevent today. He commands us to pray for everyone we know. For all the nations and people of the world. In every way we know how to.

I saw first hand this summer how lives can change when we are truly pouring our heart out to God about something. Will you please join me in praying for the country of Syria. Below is a list of some specific prayers for the country of Syria according to Operation World.

  1. Pray for Syria’s influential role upon the Middle East. Peace in that area will not be achieved unless Syria is involved.
  2. Pray for our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ who are in Syria. Pray for safety but also for boldness to listen to what God is leading them to do share His love with those around them.
  3. Pray for the unreached people in Syria. Pray that God’s love will be able to reach them soon and that bridges between Islam and Christianity can be made and God’s overwhelming power will overtake them.
  4. Pray for ISIS. Pray that the leaders of ISIS will be exposed to God’s love and that because of that they will begin to turn their lives over to God and that they will then grow up and turn the country of Syria back to God.

These all seem like big, daunting prayers and some of you may be thinking that those are just dreams of the future but will probably not really ever happen. But I do truly believe that if we take these prayers before God’s feet and that we expect the prayers to be answered they will.

On Sunday my pastor at Prescott Cornerstone, Scott Savage, challenged the congregation with something he is calling the #DesperatePeopleChallenge. The #DesperatePeopleChallenge is a challenge for everyone to pray at 12:15pm everyday from August 14 until September 3. I would like to challenge you all to join us in this. I am so excited to see what God does during these 28 days (23 days now).

God can and will do big things in Syria. The only question left is do you want to be a part of it?

Bibliography: Mandryk, Jason, and Jason M. Operation World: The Definitive Prayer Guide to Every Nation. United States: Inter-Varsity Press,US, 2010. Print. In-line Citation: (Mandryk and M)

 

My Ocean

The song Oceans by Hillsong United is one of those songs that many people are familiar with. When this song first came out I had claimed it as one of my favorite songs but I don’t think I ever really understood what it was saying until a couple weeks ago.

Jenna and I had been at  the Chipata Feeding Center for about a week teaching, playing, and loving on the children. One of the things I had hoped to accomplish while on this trip was to open up the lines of communication between sponsors and children but also the children’s families. I had been talking with Victoria, the onsite GlobalFingerprints manager in Zambia, and Elizabeth, the school teacher at the feeding center, about the possibility of meeting some of the parents of the children who were in GlobalFingerprints. We really wanted to bridge the gaps in communication and show them that we are here working alongside them to help them give their children the best. But most of all we wanted to show them that God is with them and that He loves their children more than they can even begin to fathom.

We planned to meet with the parents Friday morning at 10. Thursday night I was siting on my chair in our house and started to feel this huge sense of inadequacy overcome my whole body. I kept imagining all the things that could go wrong and really started to freak out. I went to bed fervently praying that God would use me in some way to impact these parents lives. That next morning I woke up with the same sense of inadequacy and started to get really nervous about speaking to these parents. I am only 18 and I wasn’t exactly sure how to portray to them that I wasn’t some young American girl who wanted to come in and save them and their children but that I was someone who wanted to show them that Jesus is the one who can save them.I wanted to show them how much I love their children with hopes that showing them a tangible love they would be able to know God’s love. That is a pretty daunting task to undertake but especially for someone who is still trying to understand the vastness of God’s love for me and for others.

As Friday morning rolled around Jenna and I hopped in the back in the the ministry bus for our ride into town. I was listening to music on the way to the Feeding Center and one of the first songs to come on was Oceans. I’ve heard this song time and time again but that morning I really heard the lyrics.

The first line is “You call me out upon the waters, the great unknown my feet may fail…. I am yours and you are mine.” In that moment I realized that this was an ocean that God was calling me out upon. He was calling me to walk out on the water, keep my eyes on Him, and trust that He will keep me afloat. I had to trust that Jesus was going to give me the words to speak to these parents. Words that were not mine but that were His. He has put me in this position to be a mama to all of these children and to walk alongside these parents for a reason. I do not understand that reason at all but I am trusting Him and walking out on the ocean keeping my eyes focused on Him.

As much as I would love to say that I am constantly keeping my eyes and my focus on Jesus it doesn’t always go that way… I am much like Peter in Matthew 14:22-33 (paraphrased) The disciples were on a boat in the middle of the ocean and they saw Jesus walking on water towards them. They saw Him and were terrified thinking it was a ghost. Jesus told do not be afraid because it was Him. Peter responded and said if it is truly you have me walk out on the water to you. Jesus told him to come. So Peter got out of the boat and started walking on the water towards Jesus. But he took His eyes off Jesus and started looking around at the water and the wind and was afraid so he began to sink. Jesus reached out His hand and caught Peter and said you have little faith, why do you doubt me??

I am Peter. I want more than anything to walk out on the water and trust Jesus with all I have. And there are times where I am so focused on Jesus that I am walking on the water but then I get distracted and I become busy and take my focus off of Him and I start to sink. But I am so grateful that God always always always catches me when I fall. He has called me out on the ocean to trust that He has a bigger plan to use me and I am excitedly jumping out on the water to follow Him but I can guarantee that I will fail time and time again and He will have to catch me.

Jesus,

Thank you so much for catching me when I fall. Thank you for always pulling me back out on the waters. Thank you for loving me the way you do and for using me the way you do Jesus! I pray for everyone reading this that they will set their focus on you Jesus and that they will trust you enough to walk out on the water towards you.

Prayer Requests:

-Adjustment back to the US both physically with jet lag and also with culture shock

– Pray for a good, productive time during debrief and that we will be able to stay awake for it all

-I left a major part of my heart in Africa with all my babies and as excited as I am to see my family and friends and start a new journey at college in just a few short weeks my heart aches thinking about how many thousands of miles are between me and all my littles. So pray that I will be able to use that in a way that will raise awareness for the needs in Zambia.

 

Thank you all so incredibly much for your constant support, prayers, and encouraging words. I would not be able to do this without you all!!

Velveteen Rabbit

Being in a third world country on a mission trip is not as glamorous as it looks in the pictures. It isn’t always adorable children running around you gently tugging on your skirt. It’s crazy children running in circles screaming, yelling, and laughing as you play with them. It’s hard work. Its’ mentally draining. It’s spiritually demanding. It’s physically exhausting. But it is oh so worth it.

Last night was an adventure to say the least. We had a mishap with some boiling water that resulting in Jenna having a second degree burn on her wrist. I had adrenaline coursing through my body trying to find medicine for her to take, cream for her to put on it, clean water to put on it. By the time we finally went to bed and fell asleep it was probably close to 1:00 and we had to be up at 7 the next morning. That made for a short night but praise Jesus we both slept through the whole night and woke up feeling pretty refreshed considering our past night. But I had a strange comfort knowing that we were doing God’s will and Satan was trying to do everything he could to stop that.

After that 7:00 alarm went off and we groggily rolled out of bed and started getting ready, Barbra came in our room and told us that Edward wanted to have a family devotional this morning before everyone went their separate ways. The devotional itself was just a few minutes long but it was incredibly encouraging.

We arrived at the orphanage around 10 after a various series of stops on the way only to be welcomed by 68 eyes staring at you, 34 mouths yelling hello, and 68 feet running towards you. Best welcoming ever!! Oh how I missed these littles!!!

There was a volunteer from a local university there who was entertaining most of the children while Jenna and I went inside to get our materials out for the day. Beatrice, one of the older girls and one of my little buddies, followed us in and then ran to the girls room. I didn’t think much about it until she came back bearing a hand written letter to me with pictures she had drawn and the absolute sweetest note written inside! I read and  did everything I could do to keep from crying.

We shared our lesson about creation, did our craft with the kids which included play dough and lots of smiling faces. After we had finished that portion of our day we all moved outside and started playing a various assortment of games. I had my sweet baby Deborah with me but this time I wasn’t just holding her, I was able to play with her, tickle her, and see her face light up every time she smiled!!

We were at the orphanage until about 3:00 just playing and hanging out with the children. It doesn’t sound like much but trust me when I tell you that entertaining 34 children all day is exhausting but oh so worth it. By the end of the day I was covered in a layer of dirt, food, playdough, and germs but none of that mattered, all that mattered was the fact that these children of Gods precious little ones who deserve the best in their live and deserve to be loved and I hope that just in today Jenna and I were able to show that to them.

In the book Kisses From Katie by Katie Davis she compared herself to the velveteen rabbit and I can’t agree more with that analogy. On my first trip to Zambia I was all happy and excited to change the world and fix the things in Zambia that needed fixed. But now on my third trip I like to think I have a different mindset. I don’t want to come in and fix everything while here, I want to come in and create relationships with people who can then create change in their lives that then affects the lives of the people around them. I want to teach these children what it means to follow Jesus and disciple them so that when I am not here, they will still know how to read their bible, what certain bible stories are telling them and how to pray. I don’t want to come across to these children or to any of you like I have this all together and that I am perfect. I am the farthest thing from perfect. But God is using me. I do not understand why He picked me but I am listening to Him and obeying His will for my life to the best of my ability. I am no longer the perfect little velveteen rabbit that I was on my first trip, I am worn, used, broken, and torn. But I am loved and I am loving those around me. I would so much rather be torn and broken and be able to show how Jesus is mending me than be the perfect rabbit who is not living in Gods will.

Prayer Requests

  • As I mentioned earlier I was covered in a layer of germs well as if it were clock work I am starting to feel a cold coming- please pray for health and that I can stop this cold from coming.
  • Pray for Jenna’s wrist, she has a pretty nasty and strongly cool looking blister on her wrist-pray for quick healing and for the burn to not become infected.
  • Pray for open hearts and minds of our littles at the orphanage.
  • Pray for the older girls at the orphanage, my heart really went out to them today and I really want to show them that they are loved by me and also by their Heavenly Father.
  • Pray for any distractions that come to mind that they will be pushed out of our minds so we can yet again focus on Jesus and His will for the trip.

Jesus,

I thank you for giving Jenna and I the opportunity to come to Zambia and serve you. I pray that you will open the hearts of our sweet little friends at the orphanage this week. Open their minds to hear what you have to say through us. Keep them close to you Jesus. Let them know that they are loved, cherished, and oh so special!

His Grace Abounds

I am in awe of how amazing Jesus is. He is always there. Never changing. He loves me unconditionally. I love that about Him. He is full of grace and is willing to forgive me no matter what I do to stab Him in the back. I get so caught up in myself that I forget these things. We become so focused on ourselves- having the best clothes, the best job, the most money, the newest phone, etc. We become so focused on material possessions and supporting ourselves that we forget to give our lives to God. We forget what is means to be solely reliant on God and to trust that He will provide what we need exactly when we need it.

One of my friends who is currently in Costa Rica with Trek7 wrote a blog about how it is so hard for us to surrender things-the big things and the little things. We get so caught up in serving ourselves that we either forget to serve those around us or we just choose not to. (To read her full post click here)

I pray that on this trip and beyond I will continue to learn what it means to surrender my life over to Jesus. That isn’t just a one time thing, it is a daily act of waking up in the morning and saying “Ok Jesus this day is yours, do with it what you desire.” It is a conscious daily activity that needs to be done. In the Jesus Calling for June 28th it says “The true question is not whether you can cope with whatever happens, but whether you and I (God) together can handle anything that occurs.” We do not need to do this life alone, we need to turn to Jesus and surrender our life to Him, and let Him take control. Much easier said than done trust me I know!

The past two years have been some of the hardest years of my life. I spent two weeks of my summer before my Junior year in Africa and fell in love. But coming back to America and the materialistic nature we embody disgusted me. Often times it literally made me sick to my stomach to see all of these people who are complaining about not have the newest phone or the newest style of clothes when I had just spent two weeks around people and children who need the basic necessities to get through life. I was angry. I was bitter. I was disgusted. But most of all I was broken. I couldn’t understand why God has put me in America when my heart was clearly in Zambia. It became a daily struggle to turn to Jesus and let Him take control. I remember there were days that turned into weeks that I was so mad at God it made it hard to get through the day.

Last year coming back from my 7 week trip was no different. I was still angry, still saddened, still disgusted, and still broken. But God placed a couple people in my life who showed me that there were hurting people right in front of my eyes. He showed me that these people have everything anyone could ever need except for Jesus. He showed me that I could be a missionary in my own backyard just as long as I was willing to put myself out there and love on those around me.

Romans 8:7-8 “For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God” Matthew 6:19-20 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rush destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lead up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where you treasure is, there your heart will be.” These verses are incredibly convicting but they serve as a good reminder that we cannot put our hope and faith in things of this earth but in the things of above.

I pray this prayer for everyone who will read this blog and I pray that you will start to pray this for those around you as well!!

I pray that when you look at those around you that you would see them through the eyes of Jesus. I pray that you will be able to speak to them the same way Jesus would speak to them. I pray that you will be able to love them the way Jesus would love them. And most of all I pray that you will listen to God’s calling in your life-whether that be long term, short term, or someone who He placed on your heart to pray for. I pray that you are sensitive to the Lord’s little and sometimes not so little nudges.

Prayer Requests:

  • Jenna, and I met with some of the leaders and administrators of Sara Rose to plan out our time here- we will be doing a lot for GlobalFingerprints, we will be going through some bible studies with the children and discipling them!
  • Please pray for wisdom, pure hearts, and clear minds for Jenna and I as well as everyone else who will be helping us with the children!
  • Please keep Rissa and Johnny in your prayers!
  • Please keep all the other teams in your prayers (If you missed my blog with prayer requests for each team you can click here)

Thank you all so much for faithfully praying for Jenna and I on this trip so far!! It means the world to us!!

Beginning of a Journey

Hi friends!! Our journey has begun! Jenna and I are currently hanging out at the airport waiting for our flight to Minneapolis, Minnesota. We will be meeting all the other Trek7 teams tonight and will be doing training with them until Thursday. I am so excited to be around other like minded young adults who have a passion for missions just like me! On Friday morning, Jenna, Stu (our team leader) and I will leave Minneapolis for Atlanta, Georgia. We have a few hour layover in Atlanta before we board our 16 hour flight to South Africa. We are staying the night close to the airport and the next day we will go to a game park to relax a bit before we jump into it in Kite. The same day we will be taking a short 2ish hour flight to Ndola (a town a couple hours from Kitwe kind of like Phoenix to Prescott) where Pastor Edward and Barbra will pick us up and take us to where we are staying! We are so excited to get to work in Zambia. We don’t know for sure what we will be doing in Zambia but we are flexible and are waiting to see what God calls us to do! We will keep you updated as much as WiFi allows us to! I can’t thank you all enough for supporting me through prayer, monetary support, kind thoughts, encouraging words, and just the fact that I have such a huge support group doing this trip with me! Love you all!!

Prayer Requests:

Strength and Endurance for our travel time, Travel mercies, Good fellowship with our other trekkers and leaders in Minneapolis, and overall that God will be at work in Jenna and I and that we will see what He is doing in Zambia!

In Him,

Shelbyrae

13467303_10209269435842893_309173645_o