Friday, December 10, 2010
I love to hear the Christmas story from the book of Luke. I'm always amazed at how the angels came to announce this upcoming event to the different characters. I've enjoyed the many stories in the Bible, when God used an angel to bring a message to people He was ready to use. I have, many times, desired to receive such an angelic message to help me understand my steps!
I think of the angel's greetings to Gideon, Zacharias, Mary & Joseph, Shepherds, etc., and noticed that all include a similar phrase: Don't be afraid. This phrase reminds me of my parents' comforting me, or my comforting my own children when there was hurt or pain.... "shhh... It's all ok". This is a message we need to hear frequently in our journey. Whether we are a "seasoned" Christian, a new believer, or maybe not a believer yet... we need to know what God's perspective is - what I call a "heavenly perspective".
Since my mom died, (basically in my arms), when I was 21 years old, I have had a different outlook on life. I had a new realization of the fact that life is short - very short. I also was aware that my mother is now in heaven, along with a "great cloud" of others who have gone before me. This helped me to realize that this life is not all that is going on! I have tried, since my mother's death, to keep a heavenly perspective. Sometimes it's easier than others, but it does help me when I realize God sees things from a clear perspective, unlike my very clouded view.
I've noticed that the angel's messages in the Bible typically brought three things:
-Comfort in time of Crisis
-Clarity in time of Confusion
-Confirmation in time of Conflict
Just a few years ago, my sister found a note written by our mom, tucked away in her jewelry box. Mind you, this was over 20 years after mom's death! She shared that with all of us siblings. For me, personally, it came at a perfect time. A time where I needed Comfort, Clarity, and Confirmation. Here's what was written in mom's handwriting:
Let nothing disturb you. Let nothing frighten you. Everything passes away except God. God alone is sufficient. - Mom
I realized that God had just given me a message from heaven! He reminded me He knew who I was, where I was, and what was going on, and He was still there. His Word brings those messages over and over.
COMFORT: We are in times of crisis - as a country, as a church, and more personally as families, marriages, relationships... we need to know that God is still holding us, and saying "Be not afraid.... it's all ok".
CLARITY: During times of confusion... which seem to be almost daily for many of us! We are confused as to what is happening, and what is not happening.. what we are supposed to do, where we are supposed to go, what we're supposed to say, etc., etc. Confusion drains our energy, as we try so hard to see clearly what is ahead for us. We must remember that God has that clear perspective... the heavenly one! He sees the full picture of what is going on, and how this little "puzzle piece" fits into His whole picture. I'm reminded of the story in 2 Kings 6, how the entire Syrian army came to attack God's prophet, Elisha. Elisha's servant was terrified, as Elisha stayed calm. He asked God to open his servant's eyes, and as He did, the servant saw a massive host of fiery chariots and horses surrounding the Syrian army. There are more for us than against us! God opened his eyes, and allowed him to have that heavenly perspective. We need to have that daily, to be reminded that what's going on is much bigger than what we see, and that God is in control.
CONFIRMATION: Before the angels left their message recipients, they left them with words such as "Now go!...", or "Nothing is impossible.." or "it will be as I have said.." or "you will see.." Those words of confirmation are so needed to give us that push we need to take one more step toward the plan God has for each of us. Confirmation in times of conflict. We are often struggling in our mind, with the flesh & spirit, with each other. We need that confirmation, that assurance, that God has our back. He has laid out a plan, and is going before us, behind us, and beside us to get us through!
How was Mary able to make it through such a difficult time in her life? Or Joseph? or Gideon? Or you or me? Because God continues to give us those "messages from heaven".
Now, "go in this might of yours"! For the Lord your God is with you!
Thursday, December 9, 2010
This year has been a very different one from any I can recall. I've had an "empty nest" for the entire year, but have managed to keep my life full and busy.
-I've enjoyed several visits with my near by sisters;
-my first out of the country visit.. to Egypt!;
-a summer vacation seeing my brother and my in-laws;
-welcomed two more granchildren;
-took the required courses, finished and past the test for my ministerial credentials; -had a few speaking engagements;
-enjoyed friends, my church, and my home.
-had some minor, unexpected health issues,
-I'm getting "re-acquainted" with my husband, of almost 29 years,
-and looking forward to new adventures in 2011!
Whew... it's been quite a year. One thing has always been constant: my Lord, my Savior, my best friend, my reason for living, my life: Jesus! How grateful I am for His faithfulness, His mercy, His unfailing and unconditional love!
So, 2011: God & I are ready for you! :)
Thursday, October 28, 2010
Fully aware that it had been quite a while since I "ran a household" with three young children, I arrived a day early to watch Rachel's routine. She was very organized, and had a daily schedule made out for me, which included the routine for each child. "Girls up by 7:45 a.m., fix breakfast, dress them, make school lunches, check backpacks for homework, jackets, walk them to the bus stop". Seemed simple enough.
Did I mention I was also dog-sitting their young, yet large, golden retriever, Charlie? He's house-broken, but I found out the hard way that you can't just let him out to go potty, you have to chain him up (as their is not a fenced yard). So... first morning on duty, I awake early, as my 2 year old grandson, Connor, slept with me... (correction: I didn't "awake", I had been awake all night). Anyway, I arose, with Connor crying for mommy. I patiently took him downstairs, made him breakfast, gave him a big hug and set him in front of "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse", while I held Charlie's collar to take him outside to go potty. Being a bit wiser now, I took the "shortcut" through the garage, and chained him up in the back yard. I ran, barefoot and in my pj's, back through the garage to go back inside... low and behold- I locked myself out!
"You're just a super grandma!", I thought, sarcastically, as I stood in the garage pounding on the door for little Connor to hopefully open it up. My first full day on duty, and I have just locked all three children in the house, without supervision! The girls were still sound asleep upstairs, and Connor was enjoying his juice and cartoons. After about 15 minutes of pounding on the door, and praying, I heard Connor's little feet patter across the floor, he opened the door with "Hi Nana! I'm hungry!". I was SO glad that door didn't have the childproof knob cover on it, like the front door did!
The week went better after that, (except for Connor stuffing his coat in the toilet), but I definitely realized how much my daughter does, and how glad I was that I had my children at a young age! I was exhausted by the end of the week, but oh so blessed to spend that time in their home with those three amazing children!
I'll rest up a while, then hope I get another opportunity soon. :)
Thursday, September 30, 2010
I remember being overwhelmed, one evening during the worship time in a church in Egypt, with the feeling of God's passion for His people. He spoke to me in that moment - as I scanned the congregation worshiping with all their hearts - He said, "Angi, this is just a glimpse of what heaven will be." It was clear to me that He was showing me a picture of HIS children... all together... worshiping Him! I fell in love, at that moment, with His children.
There is a lot of discussion, controversy, debate, and varied teachings on who are really God's children. Especially in the "Christian" and political worlds, this is a hot topic.
I, being raised a staunch Republican, have adopted some preconceived views that I never really studied for myself. As an evangelical Christian, in America, we try to be very careful to follow the Bible for our views. Along with that, we have taken God's Word to heart, as it states in the Old Testament, that the Jews are "God's chosen people". So, then, end-time prophecy comes into play in a big way! There are literally thousands of books on this topic alone.
All believers, and most of America, are standing by watching what will happen to the Jewish people, to see what the future holds for the rest of us. America has historically taken a "Christian stance" to ally with Israel - which has been of some comfort to Bible-believing Christians. Along with that fact, we are eagerly watching the events in the middle-east.
Of course, since 9/11, some of our views changed or escalated, as some Muslim terrorists attacked our homeland. We've taken this to an extreme as time has gone by. These "Muslim terrorists" have been changed to simply "Muslims"... including all people of this religion. We have, then, made all "Muslims" out to be terrorists, and enemies of Christianity and America.
My heart broke the other day, in having a conversation with a fellow minister. The statement was made that "if people knew how horrible Muslims were, and how awful they treat people, we wouldn't be tolerating them so much!" I bit my tongue. How is it that we have come to this conclusion? Media? Internet stories? Pictures? My mind goes back to my short time in Egypt. In the midst of Christian Arabs in the church, and in the midst of Muslim Arabs, outside the church, not once did I feel threatened, looked down upon, or mistreated in any way. Quite the contrary! Within the church, of course, I was treated with great respect, as I was their guest, and we shared the same God. Outside the church, in the taxis, hotels, marketplaces, and on the airplanes, I was also treated with great respect. Although, it was known that I was not only an American, but a Christian.
I have to stop and ask myself... what is God's view of these people? The answer comes quickly: HE LOVES THEM!
Jews? He loves them!
Muslims? He loves them!
Hindus? He loves them!
Buddhists? He loves them!
Atheists? He loves them!
Murderers? He loves them!
Me? He loves me!
Does God see our political views the way we do? Does He favor a government over another? When we ask "who are God's chosen people?" The answer needs to be, as God's word states: "For God so loved the WORLD..." The New Testament makes it clear that a Jew is no longer one who is circumcised physically, but those who are circumcised of the heart. The ones whom have had God cut away the old heart, and has made us new. This is not a "physical nation", this is God's kingdom... those who have humbled themselves to Him, and called on the name of His Son, Jesus - still the only way by which man can be saved. He chooses that everyone has an opportunity to hear this hope, and become His child. Those, are God's chosen people.
Thursday, August 26, 2010
You may think "big deal"... but, for me - it is! Especially after the officials requested that I send them a "resume'" of my 30 years of ministry. Ha! How does one go about writing out most of their life in terms of a resume?? Teaching, praying, counseling, delegating, training, preaching, crying, winning souls... my whole life documented in a resume? Not easy. But, I made the effort, and I guess they were somewhat impressed, as they said, basically, "you are a minister". I knew that! I guess I've just wanted it acknowledged officially. Funny, huh? For a girl that had a rather difficult childhood, adolescence, obtained "just" a GED, no higher education... it means a lot.
I am grateful, though, in God's grand scheme: all that is required for a resume is His letter of recommendation: "She is my servant"... I'm God's Child, God's Servant, and I'm Blood Bought. There is no greater calling, no greater privilege, and no greater credential than that... Angi Stephens, G.C,. G.S., B.B.
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
After a long, 21 and 1/2 hours in the hospital, waiting for Sarah to go into labor, and then to finish her labor... Gibson Taylor Fazakerley was born! July 12, 2010. He weighed in at 6# 3.5 oz., and measured 18" in length. Steven and Sarah are ecstatically happy, and are already wonderful parents!
Hard to believe, this is now my 6th grandchild! Leah and Sarah plan to have more. And Bekah hasn't even begun! I could have a dozen grandkids within the next 7 years!
Yes, I know... I am exceedingly blessed!! And at this moment...(July 13, 2010)... EXCEEDINGLY tired.
Sunday, May 23, 2010
Some people say I'm passionate for the Lord. Oh, I wish! He is my everything... EVERYTHING! He's the only thing that has been constant in my life. The only thing steady... the "ROCK". I want to share Him with everyone. Yet, I know I'm not passionate enough. I'm not turning the world "upside down" yet. I want to bring hope to everyone. I want to help people see who He is, and the light He brings. It seems so simple to me - there is no life or hope without Jesus leading you! I know - I've been there! There's nothing in this world that's worth living for, except for HIM. There's no purpose in life, unless you know your Creator - the one that designed you, and the plan for your life! Where else could I go?
After serving the Lord for almost 40 years, my world consists of mostly Christians - church people mainly. As a matter of fact, I just got home from church. So, why do I feel so heavy-hearted? I don't know.
I love to worship Jesus! What else is there? Yet, why does it seem like I'm pulling teeth when I go to lead people to worship THEIR God? Why does everyone sit way in the back? Come in late? Seem totally indifferent to worship, prayer, preaching. Not just this church, mind you, but the majority of churches. I've been in many! I'm talking about the people. Everyone seems so trapped in their hopelessness; their busy lives; stressful jobs; sicknesses; just plain tired. I guess I'm grieved, because I know that God doesn't want us to live like that. It breaks my heart. I hurt for these people, yet I know it's a trap they can get out of.
I know there are mountain tops and valley experiences - I've ridden the roller coaster many times! But I also know that God is faithful. He is the giver of breath, the giver of LIFE, the hope we have, the joy we have, the peace we have, the healing we have. Has everyone fallen asleep? Have we forgotten who set us free? Have we forgotten who we serve? Like the church in Ephesus... have we left our first love? God forbid it. Wake us up...
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Well, my week was looking dismal as Mother's Day approached. I was caught in waves of overwhelming sadness throughout the week. Between missing my mom, who passed away over 26 years ago, and missing all my children - who are grown and on their own - all while anticipating Mother's Day. This would be the first M-Day that I have not had one of my children with me. I tried to fight the tears, but I admit I was succumbing to the loneliness. So, I decided to just go to bed at 7 p.m. on Saturday night. Quite a boring life I lead, huh??
I laid there wondering why Bekah didn't call me when she got off work. 'Cuz as any good mom would know, I knew she had gotten off work several hours earlier. "My kids are just all too busy with their own lives to think of me..." I wallowed. Then the phone rang at a little past 9 p.m. Yes, my baby, Bekah came through. Trying not to sound too desperate for her call, I calmly asked how her day was, etc. She asked me if I was ready to give my annual "Mother's Day sermon", as I was trying to relate to her my hesitations about my message, the doorbell rang. "Oh no!" I exclaimed to her.. "I'm in my nightgown, in bed!" I jumped up and closed the door, as the 2 dogs were going crazy as they always do when someone is at the door. "Ah.. do you have to hang up, mom?" she asked. "No, I closed the door. Dad can deal with it." "What? It's too loud... the dogs are barking too loud.. I can't hear you, mom!". "No, honey, I closed the door, you can't hear the..." then it dawned on me "Bekah.. Bekah JoAnne! Where are you??" (As I could hear my 2 dogs over from the other end of the phone). I open my bedroom door, and there she stands! She and her friend had just driven 6 hours to surprise me.
Happy Mother's Day to me!! :)
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Shortly after I posted that blog,I had an appointment scheduled to meet with a gal that wanted to learn more about the Bible. A meth addict, clean for only 3 weeks, she told me she knew there was no way for her to fix her life on her own. I did what I know to do. Explained God's plan for salvation; what repentance is; God's grace and forgiveness. She bowed her head and sobbed at my table, as she confessed her sins and asked for Jesus' cleansing forgiveness. We went on with the Bible study, with a very excited, happy new life, soaking up and writing down every scripture. Yes, God's grace is still amazing! Fruit.
As if that wasn't enough for God to reassure me that He still uses me, I get a message from a former college student that had attended our church in Kittitas several years ago. She had written me a note, thanking me for the time I went up to her at church and told her that God had laid her on my heart, and that I had been praying for her. She remembered she didn't say much to me in response, but that she was overwhelmed that God would care enough about her to send someone to pray for her, as she was going through a very rough time at that moment. (Which, of course, I didn't know). Fruit... from 7 years ago.
I'm humbled. And grateful that God is the keeper of the vineyards, and truly in due season, there is a harvest. Maybe not all at once, but sometimes tree by tree, branch by branch.
Thank you, Lord, for the reminders.
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
I grew up in the parsonage - watching my dad and mom ministering faithfully to small churches. Getting calls at all hours of the night, sharing whatever we had with any transient going by, working multiple jobs just to help ends meet, all while endeavoring to Pastor the small congregation. That included children's ministry, bus ministry, youth ministry, nursery home ministry, weddings, counseling, taking in foster children, endless prayer meetings, hosting missionaries, evangelists, and answering to a board that never seemed to be satisfied with my parents efforts.
None of this ever shook my faith, because through all of these things, I watched my mother diligently reading the Bible and spending time in prayer, (even while working as a waitress full time at the "Corner Cafe"). I watched my dad's generosity, and compassion as he ministered and answered any and every call, even while working two other jobs. There were countless problems in our community, in the church, and many hardships in the parsonage. But I always knew that God was faithful, and I never doubted His love, mercy, and goodness to us.
So, now, over 30 years later, as a Pastor's wife, I find myself wondering..."when, God, will I see some fruit? When will I see a harvest? Will I ever see a harvest? Revival? What is it? Where is it?" Besides my years in the ministry, as a Pastor's daughter, there are now 28 years in the ministry as a Pastor's wife. I look back and know we have preached the Word, taught the Word, faithfully. We have never had any other desires, or even hobbies - we just want to win souls and make disciples. I've had the opportunity to personally lead several children, youth and adults to salvation. But I've also seen so many backslide. For each couple as we have counseled through marriage difficulties, we have seen as many divorces. All in all, I have no idea what fruit has lasted.
Pastoring a church is difficult. It seems you spend most of your time trying to win people to the Lord, and get them plugged into the church, to make disciples, and then the rest of the time we spend trying to KEEP them. It all seems so fragile... it doesn't take much to make someone upset, or to disappoint them in one way or another, and off they go.
My desire is to see people passionate for the Lord. For the captives to be set free, for people to repent of their sins, and to have the joy of the Lord. To witness people being saved and added to the church daily; for people to walk according the Spirit; for the church to move in the same power that raised Jesus from the dead.
Oh, yes, I want to see a harvest.
In my calendar, I've waited over 40 years... in God's calendar - well, it apparently isn't "due season". So, I'll continue to sow, and pray that before I leave this earth, I will be able to see a glimpse of the harvest.
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Oh.... what a blessing!
Sunday, March 21, 2010
James drove me to Grand Mound, (to the freeway on ramp) to meet up with David and Nathan Jaber, and Pastor Tracy Durham, from Vader, at 9:15 a.m., to head to the airport at Sea-Tac, arrived there at 11:30 a.m. Met up with the rest of the team – “King’s Heirs” (Ernie and Carolyn, Pinky and Patricia, Pat, Bill, and Bob, from Lewiston, Dr. Schwartzman and wife, from Lewiston, and Randy Smith, from Everett. Boarded the plane for Frankfurt at 1:30 p.m.
Arrived in Cairo 6:30 p.m., local time. Passed through customs & immigration. While waiting for the vans we were directed back into the airport by the police. David was told that he was a wanted man and the Police wanted money from him ( baak-sheese). He asked to see his name on the list- He told them the Koran says not to ask for a bribe, and asked them if they were Muslim, they said yes and they let him go.
We were welcomed by Pastor Selah, Wahbeh, and Zaki, along with two drivers – both Muslims, Muhammed and Sheriff. Each of these men were extremely helpful, and refused to let us lift or load a bag. They appeared simply thrilled to have us there. They loaded us up into two touring 15 passenger vans, and drove to “Bellevue House”, a small hotel in Cairo, ran by a Christian lady, named Nancy, who is also a lawyer.
Zaki became a great blessing, as he was one of only 2 with us, (including David) that could speak English…very broken, and not fluent, but it was a blessing! I enjoyed conversing with him and asking questions about Egypt. I learned there was basically a mosque on every corner! Very few people have licenses to drive, and only the wealthy have a vehicle. When I told him I drove, and had a car, he was in awe, and said “you very rich!”
After we arrived and settled in at the hotel, we had “kushari” for dinner, (fast food for Egypt), which is basically a mixture of spaghetti, elbow macaroni, lentils, rice, and a spiced red sauce, all mixed together. It came with a vinegary sauce or a hot red sauce to mix in. The dinner also included flat bread, and falafel (very good!) I enjoyed it!
Woke up at 4:45 a.m., with the Muslim “call to prayer”, which sounded like a man using a huge megaphone, praying, and accompanied by many voices in response, it felt very dark and demonic. Seemed to me, it was “heard throughout all of Egypt”. I tried to use my video camera to record the sound. I was so moved to prayer, that I laid on my bed, praying in tongues during the duration of their prayers. I became very aware of the fact that they are so desperate for a relationship with Jesus. Oh, Jesus, use me somehow, I prayed.
Met with the group downstairs for breakfast, served by Nancy and “Edwie”. Flat bread, some sort of cheese, beans (looked like refried beans), and boiled eggs. Hmmm… ok, for this first breakfast. Was soon very tired of this same menu, everywhere we went. Dr. Lonnie shared a devotion, and we prayed together before starting our day.
We left for Minya, a 4 or 5 hour drive south of Cairo. The drive was another experience all it’s own! There were many “check points”, and border stops as we passed through a dozen villages. We stopped at a large restaurant, somewhere in the middle, and were treated like royalty. The restaurant was huge, had many rooms, and outside seating, besides many attractions outside… seemed kind of like a small theme park. Had lunch, which was a “sandwich” of flat bread with “kabob” (either chunks of pork, or formed ground meats cooked on a stick}, served inside the flatbread. They also made French fries for us…. I believe there may be been 6 fries on each plate. And a “salad” of grated carrot.
At the border of Minya, we had to stop at a check point and pick up our police escorts, which were assigned to us our entire stay in El Minya. This included Colonel Yassar. A large decorated officer, with obvious superior authority, along with about a dozen armed police. Six in a pickup in front of our two vans, and six in a pickup behind us. This “caravan” of four was never separated on any of the streets as we traveled throughout Minya.
GAS STATION FIASCO- When we stopped for gas, the station was very busy, with many trucks in front of us. Because we had police escorts, all the locals were driven back by police, to let us be served first. As we went to front of the line, it caused quite a bit of a stir from those that had to move! Boy, if looks could kill!
We got back on the road, and raced through towns and villages, (there doesn't seem to be any speed limits), police were yelling, and we were honking our horns, to instruct everyone getting out of our way.
We FINALLY arrive at the Horus resort, where we would stay for the next 9 days. We had dinner, and we are joined by several other Pastors that David and Pastor Salah had invited. We were able to bless them with gifts and pray over them.
We arrived in front of the church, and were escorted past local, armed police, into the church building. We were taken in to the church and told by Police to stay inside (which I missed.. oops!). It felt like we went back in time to the streets of Jerusalem in the Bible… all except for the presence of the AK-47s!
Dr. Lonnie (Chiropractor) saw patients. We were supposed to set up water system, but had no tools or barrels, or battery. We are hanging out at the church 98 degrees and humid.
The men in our group finally got the water system set up (on the roof), after getting all needed supplies.
First Service: Youth service at Shousha.
Arrived in Shousha at early in the day, a village in the province of El Minya, within the “city” of Samalout. The people of the church, on onlookers from the village were excited to have us there. As we came in to relax in the sanctuary, and wait until the evening service time, many onlookers came in just to look at us. They were enthralled with our picture taking, and kept wanting to pose for more pictures, then look at the results on the camera. Some of us lounged on the wooden benches, and took naps, under the fans hanging from the ceilings. The “Kings Heirs” singers sang several songs to entertain the onlookers. I tried to converse with as many as possible, including our police escorts, Yassar and another Muhammed. Between a few English words of theirs, a few Arabic words of mine, and a lot of charades, I was able to find out a lot of information about these people and the area: The province of Minya is about 4 million in population, as Cairo is about 18 million. Shousha is just one of many small villages with a mere population of around 20,000! They were shocked when I told them I came from a town of about 700!
I didn’t want to let one second of this experience slip by. I was grateful for each moment, and wanted to learn all I could… see all I could, and meet everyone I could.
I was invited, by Hadiah, to visit her house. So I followed her to her home. We passed the police, and donkeys, and many people, until we entered gates to a courtyard/ walkway leading to her house. On this walkway was their water pump, which she was so proud to show me, a small cage of a dozen baby banta chickens, and I had to step over a duck to enter their living room. Upon entering the living room, there were four ladies seated along a wall, preparing fresh vegetables for our lunch, two other older ladies came out of the kitchen just to get their pictures taken. A few feet away from the seated ladies was another lady on the floor, cooking a pot of about a dozen small chickens –also for our lunch. Then she very proudly led me over to a bedroom door, and opened it showing me their family’s donkey! The room was dark, and covered with grass and dung, but the donkey was only a couple feet from the living room. She explained that her entire family lived there: her grandmother and grandfather, her uncles and aunts, her siblings and her donkey, and also two cows, in the next bedroom!
The Pastor’s wife, “Emen” and the church ladies made us lunch- a meal fit for a king-4 kinds of stuffed peppers, 2 kinds of chicken and beef, 2 soups, flat bread, baked noodle lasgna, rice, grape leaf roll, coconut cake.
Service was to start at 6:30 but no one came till 7:30 p.m. The "Kings Heirs" sang several songs, I spoke a simple message about the power of Jesus to bring change to your life or situation, Nathan followed me with a challenge to the group to stand strong in their faith in the midst of the Muslim religion.
Police were angry because we went 1 hour past our scheduled time had to leave in a hurry. No chance for altar or prayer time. :(
Friday, March 12th
Ladies service at “AlBayadia”.
Nothing was set up for the service yet. Dr. Lonny and Shug set up to see patients. KH sang for 30 minutes. Patty shared the "wordless book", and the KH's passed out bracelets for wordless book - they basically got mobbed - as they all wanted this "gift"!
This was an interesting group. A mix of Christian and Orthodox / Coptic Christians. Most women were dressed all in black, including a black head covering. It felt "weird" there. This place didn't give me a sweet sense in my spirit, as I had had in Shousha. I spoke with difficulty, as the fill-in interpreter did not speak or understand English real well.
After I preached, I told the ladies that we would like to pray for them. They came up to the front, and into the isles in droves! I was having a hard time standing in the midst of so many, they were all reaching to touch me, and place my hand on their head, asking for "blessings". It was very humbling to me. After praying for countless people, I was growing weary, and just began to pray in tongues over each of them. Knowing God could understand me, even if they couldn't!
Unbeknown to me, there was a troubling situation happening upstairs, while I and a few others from our team were praying for these ladies downstairs. Dr. Lonnie had set up his Chiropractic adjustment table, to offer adjustments to any who had been having any kind of back trouble. While we were praying for people, David found out that some of the "soldiers" were charging money for admission for the chiropractor! David instructed the soldiers and the Pastor to refund all the money they had received! It seemed to become a near riot! The police were called to escort us out of the building, as the women had all gone upstairs - like a mob, and we couldn't get out. A man, apparently the "Sergent at Arms", with hog whip was yelling for the women to get out the room. The church and surrounding alleys were cleared we were escorted to the vans and left in a hurry..Didnt return for evening service.
Saturday, March 13th
While most of the men from the group went back to Shousha to finish setting up the water purification system, and to test it, I had a wonderful "poolside chat" with Nathan. This was a highlight of my trip.
In Shousha, Dr Lonnie saw patients, and we had made arrangements for an eye doctor to come. After checking about 300 people, he distributed the many pairs of eyeglasses we had brought with us. Pastor Salah was very happy because many Muslims came to his church for help today. We were able to leave over 100 pairs of glasses. Many police and army wanted back adjustments.
In the afternoon, I went back to my room to take a nap. I woke up when Nathan knocked on my door to bring me dinner. We I got up, my room was covered in a thick gray haze! I though I had just slept hard, and couldn't get my eyes to focus. But it got worse and worse. So I stepped outside, and the haze was worse out there! I looked out my patio window, and saw that workers were spraying a thick bug spray around the perimeter of the rooms. My room was somehow filled with this poison, and so was outside! I had no where to go - so I lay down on my bed, and covered my face with the sheets, until it was time to meet up with the group to travel to the next village for that evening's service.
Service was at 8pm at Abu Hennes. We arrived late- as we had gotten a little lost. When we arrived, we heard loud singing and praises! Heavy anointing- interpreter was awesome Lots of prayer and rejoicing- Awesome service! Tracy spoke.
We left there, and arrived back at Horus resort 11:15 pm
Sunday, March 14th
Morning service at Shousha. Very warm still in the 90’s Again we hear singing as we approach the church. Pastor’s wife is leading worship- Singing about the Lord’s return!!
We were ushered up to the platform. KH sang, Emen led a few songs. We prayed a blessing and release of power over the church and pastor.
As I sat up on the platform, watching this congregation worship God, with glad and sincere hearts, I felt God speak to me to let them know that He was "proud of them, and pleased - as a father is with his children." I was so moved in watching them worship - I also felt God tell me, "Angi, this is just a little glimpse of what heaven will be like."
There was such a good spirit among the people-Tracy preached, and I followed with a simple message of salvation and led in the sinners prayer. When I gave the invitation for whoever would like to repent of their sins and be saved, several stood up, but I'll never forget the one man, in a long blue robe, and headdress, who leapt to his feet, in the foyer of the church! So excited to be saved! It went well and the team prayed for everyone.
After the service, we moved up to the rooftop, again, for lunch. This consisted of giant slab of bread, and some sort of sweet pasta that looked like spaghetti, with a sauce called “asala”, made from sugar cane…tasted like thin molasses. It was good!
Evening service at Saft ElLaban: Left for Sunday night service- when we arrived, the power had gone off. Police were nervous, wouldn’t let us out of the van. Wouldn’t let David out of the van. People peering in the windows. After 20 minutes of sitting in a narrow alley surrounded by police, David was brought the Pastor and he explained the situation. They tried to negotitate. It was of no use. The police explained that he was responsible for us, and since it was so dark in the church, he had no way of knowing what could happen, or if there was someone hiding in there, etc. KH opened the van door sand a song- we left. The Pastor and the people of the church stood in the alley, waving, with saddened hearts.
We left for Cairo- A long, horrible drive back to Cairo…. I got sick and threw up out the van window on the freeway. Stopped to used a “rest stop”, (which was a hole in a tiled, filthy stall), had a horrible migraine. I think that was the response to the bug spray poisoning. Everyone was being so thoughtful and helpful toward me, but I was just terribly sick!
Arrived Cairo at the Bellevue House at 1 am.
Leisurely morning, then onto the pyramids! Rode a camel!
7th meal of kabobs and chicken- arrived at Bellevue house 8pm
Evening shopping in Cairo! Street venders… what an experience!
Tuesday, March 16th
Group sharing time at breakfast- Left 2 pm for antiquities museum. Pack up, load up for trip home. Went to Museum- King Tut’s tomb, etc. More shopping in the market place, and driving in Cairo. Ate at Pizza Hut! Dessert at the “Sweet Palace” at 10 p.m. Killed time, until had to go to airport. Left for airport around midnight.
Wednesday, March 17th
Boarded plane for Frankfurt, at 4:20 a.m.
Got to Frankfurt at about 9:30 a.m., boarded for Seattle. Long, horribly uncomfortable flight! Arrived home at 1:00 p.m., Seattle time… 11:00 p.m. Cairo time!
Monday, February 22, 2010
I also have the great opportunity to speak on several occasions on this trip! Once to a group of pastor's wives, once to a large group of women - up to 500, and a few other times in a tent meeting.. .which is supposed to be about 1500 people present.
With all this in mind, I am feeling quite overwhelmed!! The privilege, the once in a lifetime opportunity to preach to hundreds of people in another country, just being in a different country... this is a first for me, so I am wrestling with many emotions. The biggest seems to be plain ole fear! More fear of the unknown than anything else. Although, the fact that I am not a polished speaker is constantly nagging at me. I am going on this trip prayerfully, and leaning wholly on God's strength, His wisdom, His words, and His power - as I, alone, am nothing.
Recently so many things have happened to "drain" me emotionally, and even spiritually. It seems the constant "pouring out" in the ministry is not always received well, and it hurts so deeply when it is outright rejected. So, it's on the heels of feeling like somewhat of a failure, that I am off on this incredible journey!
I hope to journal this experience, and blog about it when I can. I am SOOOO excited to carry the GOOD NEWS of the hope that Jesus gives to these people that I've never met! I am counting on the prayers of my church, my family, and my friends, and on the strength of my Savior to carry me through this new adventure!
Saturday, January 2, 2010
We were able to bring in the new year with our daughter, Leah, and her family in Coeur d'Alene. After picking up Bekah from the airport on Dec. 18th, we had our church Christmas party, did a little more shopping, and enjoyed a few days of just the 3 of us until the 22nd. Then we drove up north, and spent Christmas with Rachel and her family, came home for the weekend, then left again to Spokane to take Bekah "home". Got to spend some time with Sarah and Steven too, since they're in Spokane.
Whew... a lot of traveling! But, it was so good to see all of our kids and grandkids for the holidays. Our whole family. We don't take that for granted.
It's been kind of a rough year, or at least the last 4 months of it. We weren't sure if we would have James around for Christmas or to bring in the new year, but God brought him through - as He always does.
We celebrated James' 51st birthday at our family's favorite restaurant... a place we have been going to for special occasions for over 20 years! The "China Dragon" in Spokane has played a huge role in our family traditions (little do they know!). As we all sat around our favorite round table, Bekah announced, tearfully, that after much prayer and searching, she felt God had answered her cries, and called her into a specific ministry. We sat on pins and needles as she shared this special "gift" for her dad. Evangelism! "I feel like my ministry is specifically going to be to the lost." God had made it perfectly clear to her by reiterating it three times: evangelism, evangelism, evangelism! Joyfully, she responded with a hearty YES!
How can a mother put into words the joy she feels by just merely watching her children grow in the Lord, and serve Him with their whole hearts? Is it possible? I remember holding each of my children, as infants, and praying specifically that they would give their hearts and lives to Jesus at an early age, and that they would choose to serve Him with their WHOLE hearts ALL the days of their lives. In awe... just in awe... as I watch this unfold. Each one of my daughters were saved before they were 5 years old, they felt a calling to the ministry in early adolescence, and watched and waited for God to bring a young man into their lives at the right time, who shared a ministry calling.
I continue to pray for them daily, and that their ministries will be blessed and reach many souls.
All a mother can do is to sit back and watch God's handiwork, while all that goes through my mind is "AMAZING GRACE" - simply amazing.