Monday, September 27, 2010

4 stories... one theme

A big tough business guy, an ex-druggy from Kentucky, a good girl, and a west african man who used to practice voodoo. These were the four who stood up in front of our church yesterday to confess their love of Jesus before they walked through the waters of baptism.
I was amazed as I heard their stories: each unique and completely opposite, but with the same ending... Jesus saving them from their complete and utter depravity in the face of a holy and awesome God.
On the face of the first guy was a look of total control, but as he went on to describe what the Lord has done in his life, humility overtook him. He said, "Humility is not one of my strong suites, but I stand before you humbled because of God's grace."
As the next lady entered the waters with her husband, she gave a sweet testimony of how she was raised in the church and always throught her testimony was ordinary, but recently God has revealed how his grace is never ordinary. One thing I love about our church is that each one is baptized by someone who has lead them in their walk with the Lord. As the husband took his wife by the hand, I was overwhelmed by the picture of our Great Bridegroom who leads us to the waters from wherever we have been.
Up next was a West African man from Benin. English was not his first language, so it took some consentration to understand what he was saying. I know what its like to speak in front of people in your second language and it is terrifying, so I was really impressed. He shared with us how he grew up in a place where witchcraft and voodoo ran his life. He began to have a reoccuring nightmare of people flying around him while he was on the ground burning. He went to every witch-doctor and paid any price to be rid of the dream, but to no avail. Finally, he met a Christian man who invited him to church. After he had gone to church several times, the dream left him, but that did not mean that he was done with church. His friend shared the gospel with him and he came to know the saving grace of Jesus Christ.
Last, but not least was Kentucky... which was how he was announced,though it was not his name, just his place of origin. He spoke matter-of-factly about his past life in drugs and alcohol. He told us of his rehabilitation, but that it came with a lack of peace. When he moved to Dallas, he met a bunch of guys from the Village who spoke truth into his life and shared the gospel with him. This is where the straight-face stopped and the tears began to flow as his voice waved. "Jesus saved me by his grace."
I share these stories today to remind you to share yours. Whether good, bad or ugly, God has given us a story to tell, but they all should end the same, He saved me by His grace and for that, I am forever thankful!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Out of the mouths of babes...

As their smiling faces come pouring in at a quarter past seven, I am reminded of where they have just come from. One would assume that these nicely groomed children with backpacks in tote would come from the highest classed families in Dallas. They politely smile and greet me with, “Good Morning Miss Eng,” from the very smallest that stand no higher than my knee to the very oldest that are most likely taller than me.
As I listen in on their stories, I am reminded of where they actually come from. Two little girls were waiting for their mom to pick them up from school and began talking about their home life. Yes, they do share a room was the answer to another girls inquisitive questioning. For that matter, they all shared a room, but mommy got to sleep on the bed. They giggled and smiled as they said, “And it REALLY gets crowded when daddy is there too! But it’s ok because we are all squished in together!”
I am amazed at what the kids pick up on from their own family life. A fellow teacher told me of one 2nd grader who was complaining of a hurting side. His teacher asked if he had told his mom and he said, “No, I don’t want to make her more sad than she already is.” When the teacher inquired as to why, he poured out his sad tale. “My mommy is sad because my daddy left. It makes me sad too. That’s why I don’t want to tell my mommy because it will make her more sad.”
As I hear these children’s stories, it breaks my heart and makes me want to hold them just that much tighter. Their childhood is so much different from my own, but they want what every child wants: someone to love and care for them.
I overheard a little boy tell his teacher, “At my last school they told me they wished I had never been born.” The teacher put her arm around him and said, “I don’t know what I would do without you.”
This is West Dallas Community School and I am proud to be a part of it.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Creative Response to Galatians 5:1

For Bible study, we had to write a creative response to Galatians 5:1...
Here's mine:
A heavy metallic ball rolls across a stone floor, followed by the sound of chains rattling and a small humph. I am a slave. This is how it is, day in and day out. It slows me down, wears me out and keeps me from being who I was created to be. Burdensome, heavy, weighed down… I become depressed and overwhelmed wondering if there is any end in sight. I am a slave. The small moments of happiness that I do have are quickly tossed to the side and replaced by this chain that keeps me from running, jumping, dancing…
I have tried to make it pretty, build a cart for it to ride in, or just plain ignore it… but nothing works, nothing helps. It follows me around and haunts me. I am a slave.
But then He showed up. I tried to hide it, but he pulled it out in the open. Tears flowed freely as I tried with desperate attempts to explain it away. He stopped me mid-excuse, wrapped me up in his arms and said that I was never meant to be this way. In my tired state, I gave in to his arms and wept shamefully. I could feel his breath on my cheek as he whispered, Do you want to be free?
I couldn’t make my lips form the words, so I just gave a silent nod through snot-nosed sobs and handed him my chains. He lovingly took them upon his own shoulders and exclaimed, “You’re free!”From the very beginning he had never wanted me to be a slave, he wanted me to be with Him… I wanted my chains… HE wanted my freedom. It was all gone, the pain, guilt, and shame was replaced by joy, hope, and love. I jumped emphatically into his arms and kissed his cheek. What else could I do? Words could not express the thankfulness in my heart for what he had done for me.
His only request: that I wouldn’t go back. But why would I? I was a slave, now I’m FREE!