Beach days are the way to my heart. I get 8 hours to escape from the kids, work and all the other troubles before me. I soak up the Caribbean heat; usually enjoy a good steak sandwich (it’s a beach day must) with a cold Prestige (also a must). We don’t get them often, but when we do, beach days are always the best.
Mid-November I found myself reclining on the beach reading a book. With the sand in my toes and no kids needing my attention, it was the perfect day. Except for the fact that I was feeling quite empty that day. Quite used up and washed out. Something had been missing and it was around the time I was looking for a way to cultivate my heart. The enemy was whispering lies in my ears and my heart was beginning to believe them.
Your time isn’t being spent the right way. You’re just not doing it right. Your work does not matter.
Truthfully, I am amazed everyday when I wake up with the ocean in my front yard with the responsibility to care for three little orphaned children. I search for reasons on how to explain my story and all the miracles that have gone out before me. The growth of the school, the faith of the ViBella women, the trust of village kids, the provisions time and time again. There’s only one reason this happened: some time ago we decided to say “yes” and this is what God has done with our “yes”. But in the midst, I get selfish and prideful. I forget to say thank you and give praise. My heart hardens and I worry about all the day’s troubles.
In the midst of it all I believe all the lies and being amazed is one thing, living it all out is another.
And on this beach day, with a good book in my hands, beautiful and important words spread out on the pages before me and the Lord spoke a vision to me.
“Don’t think for a moment that bold vision is reserved for the next generation…audacity does not discriminate on the basis of age or disqualify because of wasted years. No matter how far behind you feel, or how many opportunities you’ve squandered, you can begin to ask God to do the impossible in your life right now…But audacious vision never cowers in the darkness. The darker it gets, the brighter our faith can shine. Audacious faith takes Jesus at his word. We are the light of the world: we cannot be hidden and we have no reason to hide.” – page 30
So, the vision of a large worship service was born.
The first purpose of the service would be to carve out a time and really thank God for all He has done on the mountaintop. We wanted the entire community to join and share how this is all been God’s work. I wanted this to be a chance for the community, students and staff included, to get together like they have never done before. An opportunity to also feed them both spiritually and physically. A time to give thanks for how Touch of Hope, as a non-profit and ministry, has grown in such a short time. For the ways, we as a family, servants and humans have grown and changed.
The second purpose of the service was to be a sacrifice of our time and money for something bigger than the both of us. Webert and I fasted and prayed the month of December for discernment of the future for the school, our careers, our family and our mission as we led up to the service.
So, we marked the calendars and began planning a large worship service for New Years Days.
I shared the vision with friends who were visiting on Thanksgiving Day and told them how we would need some funds to pull off the service and meal. The next day we would be handing out over 100 bikes to students who walked over a mile to school. Six children from Northwest Iowa has raised over $8,000 for the cause and they spent their Thanksgiving break in Haiti to see all of the students receive a new bicycle. The night of Thanksgiving they decided whatever money was left from the bikes would be given to help us with the worship service. And of course, the next day, after handing out all the bikes, we went to count the leftover money and it was $1,000 (the amount I had told them we needed).
I e-mailed my parents the same day, telling them of my idea and if any random donations came into Touch of Hope I would like to put it towards the service. Within 24 hours, a $1,000 donation came in with a note to use for evangelical purposes. And a few days later a $1,200 donation came in to purchase and hand out Bibles; the church that made this donation didn’t even know about the service we were planning!
Seriously, the vision was given to me and before I even told many people all the money for the service and meal was at my disposal.
And then New Year’s Day rolled around and it was time for the big show. We think close to 2,500 people gathered in our schoolyard and 8 different churches led worship on a stage set up on the basketball court. School kids ran around with a look of freedom on their faces, mamas lifted their hands high in the air and babies fell asleep on their laps. The worship lasted for over 3 hours and a meal was given at the end of the evening.
It was crazy, but perfect…to me, it was a glimpse of what heaven will be like as the sun rays from the sunset fell upon the crowd.
For 2015, I don’t really have any resolutions but I am going to start praying for God to do the impossible more in my life. More for the people around me and more for the country of Haiti. I’m going to pray for miracles and expect them to happen. I’m going to throw my arms in the air and throw out some Hail Mary’s as I adventure through this life. And, truthfully, I think these are the kind of prayers God wants us to pray: prayers that could change the world and bring a little bit more of heaven to earth.
The book I was reading on the beach day was Sun Stand Still and it is based on the story in Joshua 10 when Joshua asks the Lord to make the sun literally stand still so he can fight off the Amorites.
“Then Joshua spoke to the LORD in the day when the LORD delivered up the Amorites before the sons of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, “O sun, stand still at Gibeon, And O moon in the valley of Aijalon.” So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, Until the nation avenged themselves of their enemies. Is it not written in the book of Jashar? And the sun stopped in the middle of the sky and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day. There was no day like that before it or after it, when the LORD listened to the voice of a man; for the LORD fought for Israel.” Joshua 10:12-14
I have maybe read the book of Joshua once, but this was stunning to me. Who even has the audacity to pray for the sun to stand still? Seriously, I want some faith like that. So, I am challenged. Challenged to pray for things so much bigger than me. Challenged to pray with such a faith and belief that the impossible can happen before me.
So, the first big prayer was for the worship service. God showed up. Big time.
The second prayer happened on December 23 when I threw out another Hail Mary – literally, as I hit the publish button for 5 homes in 2015 I threw my arms in the air, kind of like you do when the quarterback throws one last long throw at the end of the game, and said “OK God, you got this”. It felt way out of my control, but I could already see the foundations of the homes before a penny was even donated.
Monday will be the 5-year anniversary of the earthquake and we will be announcing where we are in our efforts to build 5 new homes for 5 families who lost their homes in the earthquake. Please pray a sun stand still prayer with us for the final donations to come in for our goal to be met.
See you all on Monday,
Love from Haiti.
Reference: Sun Stand Still. Steven Furtick. Page 30.