Thursday, April 10, 2014

What If There's a Bigger Picture?

I found this blog post that was written after in January of 2013.   (Yes, over 1 1/2 years ago!) Since it was never posted, I thought it would be a treat to look back on God's goodness today.  Enjoy...

My sister, Kelly, and her entire family spent two weeks with us over Christmas.  We ministered side-by-side and spend long days together at outreaches, orphanages, and with children in various parts of the country.  Having them here was refreshing for us because it was the first time we have had with family in over six months!  Oh, it was such  blessing to be together.

Sister and sister
Father and son (and a baby that needed to be held)
Cousin and cousin

The entire time they were here, our family was blessed to serve alongside them.  Every day we shared devotions together, we talked about what we were seeing and experiencing together, and at times there were a few tears.  Serving the needy at Christmas, in a country where Christmas is "just another day," caused us all to look at the holiday with new vision.

Christmas Eve, we showed the Jesus Film in a local fishing community, Maamie.  This village is located on the borders of the capital city of Ghana, but you would never know it.  This community is known for its "free sex night."  People come from all over to participate in degrading acts on this night set aside for sin.  Sadly, this has caused the village population to be strewn with children many times more numerous than the adults.  Most doorways are scattered with 4-6 children to the one mother living in the room.  It is a very sad area.  During the Jesus Film, hundreds of people gathered for the viewing. Children dressed in rags squatted on the ground to watch the film.  A few older children arrived in only their underwear - the image of one older girl in particular, has never left my mind.  Kelly was handed a baby as we arrived, and she spent the evening holding a mother's newborn.  I sat on the ground with the children - one on top of another.  The little ones were fascinated with our skin and kept poking our arms throughout the movie.  Even with all the distractions, I prayed.  During the film showings, this is my main job - to pray.  With Godwin on my lap, and Braden, Sam, and Wes close beside me, I prayed in my spirit for all of the souls around me.  At the end of the film, the pastor gave an invitation and many received Christ on Christmas Eve.  Friends from Fairview UMC had donated Bibles, and we distributed about 30 to the new Believers.  We pray God's presence will ultimately change this community for His Glory.

On Christmas Day, our families served together all day long.  We didn't stop to open gifts in the morning, but we did peek into the stockings Etornam made for all of us!

Everyone's favorite gift was a new Ghanaian scrubbing sponge!

On Christmas morning, we served at an MLI Outreach back in Maami - the fishing village desperate for Christ.    On Christmas morning. we walked through the community inviting people to come to the Outreach - evangelizing as we walked.  We played musical chairs with the kids, helped serve a warm meal, played soccer with the kids, helped organize clothing before it was distributed, etc...

The silly band bracelet from Sam is the only gift these kids will receive on Christmas day.

Follow Leader Lenusia and dance your heart out!

What a FUN Christmas Day!

Wes playing Musical Chairs with all the kids.

Braden lasted until the very end.  He was second in the Musical Chairs Competition!

John tries to maintain order in the chaos while holding a baby on his hip.

MLI's Wahab and Patrick greet everyone and make the children feel so special!

Faces of beauty surround us Christmas Morning!  What a blessing!

Walking onto the futbol field.  Precious!

Christmas outfits are rare in Ghana.
Thankful these children received needed new clothing at the Outreach.

After leaving the Outreach, we headed to GMI Children's home to spend the afternoon with the kids.  Going to an orphanage on Christmas Day was very fitting.  What a reminder that God, in His grace and mercy, came down to us and adopted us into his forever family?  We are no longer orphans because of Jesus Christ.

The table is set, the food is served, the Christmas dinner feast is about to begin.
 Zach enjoys the mango.  Yum!
The tiny GMI Christmas tree with a paper star and two ornaments!

Ryzach and Kofi - overjoyed on this day!

Blessing and Believe celebrating Christmas!

Johnson and Cynthia are excited!

The beautiful gift from the O'Leary family was on display.  It is a collage of all the children from GMI who have been adopted and are now home with their families.  Precious!

The way boys play!  Flying!

Christmas dinner - pineapple, mango, rice, chicken, and avocado!  Wow!

Mason and Peter - big buddies!  Always!
All of the children received new hand-sewn outfits from Feeding the Orphans.  Thanks to everyone who sponsored kids this Christmas!!  What a blessing to receive a new dress.  You made it possible!

Through the generosity of God's people, gifts were given to everyone at GMI.
Every child, no matter the age, received a gift.
Every auntie and those working in the home received a gift.
Everyone in this home felt the love of Jesus on this special day.
I've never seen so much JOY!
Thank you, Lord, for the gift of your Son.  
His love abounded today.
 Everyone was blessed!

All of the children were so happy.  Sylvester held his new blanket as a cherished gift and loved his new Christmas outfit, thanks to FTO.

This Christmas was set apart from every other one in my life.  The only one that could vaguely compare was when Reid's father, his sister and her husband and Reid and I stood in a soup kitchen serving the homeless on Christmas day.  We'd skipped opening gifts to go out and serve others.  That day was 16 years ago.  We've enjoyed our friends from downtown spending the last three Christmas's with us in our home, but being in the soup kitchen 16 years ago is the only Christmas I can remember going OUT to serve others.

On this Christmas day, we spent all day OUT serving others.  Our family had been immersed in poverty serving the least of these.  We had been blessed to experience it with my sister and her family.  The children in Maamie had so little.  Yes, we had served them warm food today, but what about tomorrow?  The nearly naked children received needed clothing.  But what about when they outgrow it?  For the children who received Christ, who will take them to church?  Who will encourage them to grow in the Lord?  Who will train them and equip them?

As it was time to depart GMI, all of my emotions came to the surface.  While at the orphanage, my mind raced to thoughts of my own boys and tucking them in,  Will the children here be tucked in on Christmas night?  Will someone kiss them on the forehead and tell them each Jesus loves them?  Will they be told they are special and created for a purpose?  Will these children know the depth of the love of Jesus?

The children in Maamie and the children at GMI all received a Christmas gift, but the tears silently dripping down my face made me realize that the ultimate gift every child needs is the gift of Jesus.  No earthly provision compares to the eternal gift of a life with God.  Rust and moths will ultimately destroy everything of this world.  Nothing else lasts.  Only Jesus is forever.

I didn't want to leave the orphanage.  I wanted to stay and tuck the children in.  I wanted to tell them more of the Christmas story.  I did not want to leave them as orphans.  (John 14:18)  It hurt to walk through the gate and step into the car.

Everyone else must have felt it too, because it was a long, quiet ride back home.  I wondered what everyone was thinking, but I was wrestling with my own thoughts so I never asked.

What if there’s a bigger picture?
Find More lyrics at
What if I’m missing out?
What if there’s a greater purpose
That I could be living right now
Outside my own little world oooh, ooh
My own little world woooh

Father break my heart for what breaks Yours
Give me open hands and open doors
Put Your Light in my eyes and let me see
That my own little world is not about me

What if there’s a bigger picture?
What if I’m missing out?
What if there’s a greater purpose
That I could be living right now
I don't wanna miss what matters
I wanna be reaching out
Show me the greater purpose
So I can start living right now
Outside my own little world whoo
My own little world yeah yeah
My own little world whoo whoo

Today, April 10, 2014 - After Kelly and John returned home, their hearts continued to break for the least of these children.  They are now pursuing the adoption of a little boy, Gobi, from Uganda.  We are praying for everything to happen quickly so he can come home to them soon.  It will be a blessing for God to grow our family, yet again, with another child through adoption.  We praise Him!

What is there is a bigger picture that my own little world?

The plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of His heart through all generations.  
Psalm 33:11 

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