"I believe in the love of God, it is an orphan's wildest dream, it is a Narrow Little Road, it is an ever widening desert stream" ~ Red Mountain hymn

"This narrow little road may be filled with both abundant joy and humiliating sorrow; surely, even its promised Divine acceptance cannot assure it's travelers absense of profound rejection. Indeed, this narrow road may be filled with a great many things, but the one thing it truly lacks is regret!" ~Debbie Sue



Sunday, March 27, 2011

turning the page

We have one more night of the Festival and one week from today I leave this beautiful country that has been my home since August 2010. For some of you that's nothing compared to the time that you have spent in Liberia (or other third world countries), and for others of you that's way longer than you could ever imagine or desire being in a third world country.

There are many beautiful and inspiring memories I am taking with me on this next adventure; from hiking for Jesus and holding precious malnourished babies to watching thousands of Liberians worshiping together at SKD stadium. Yes, I do consider rest and recovery just as much a part of God's adventure; in fact, if we claim to love Christ, rest is a commandment not just a novel idea.

I have been so convicted lately by God's commandment from Genesis to Hebrews to rest in the name of the Lord. It's so easy to busy oneself to the point of inner turmoil, emotional exhaustion and physical detriment for the sake of the cause or "ministry." God calls this idolatry and hardness of heart- No really, He warns us against such things, and reminds to us warn others. In Hebrews 3 and 4 He says that many people in Scripture who don't enter His rest, don't enter because of their unbelief and disobedience of this command. He also doesn't expect us to convict ourselves but says that the Word of God is what is the active agent who shows us our thoughts and intentions for why we serve, and why we don't rest- it's rooted in pride, self-reliance, and disobedience. That's been hard for me to swallow but I'm so thankful that God allowed me to do this type of work to really understand how this unbelief through not resting can eat away at us, and even twist our view of theology into something that looks a lot like achievement or performance theology to make God and others happy.

Once again, that's exhausting and it's far more than that- it's idolatry.

I have been reminded of God as being the Good Shepherd- the one who leaves His 99 sheep to run after the one lost sheep.

God hasn't forgotten any of us, and He has certainly not forgotten Africa, or Liberia.

 He doesn't look at any one person or Nation as a lost cause, and no one is beyond His reach- there are none who deserve forgiveness and yet there is not one whom He will reject who calls on Him in repentance.

 I have seen His steadfast love in this country, and He has been teaching me to walk in this steadfast spirit.

 I have seen Him as a God of hope, as one who restores amidst even the most ugly and devastating of circumstances.

I have felt Him as a God who is near to the brokenhearted, as a comforter in time of need, as a redeemer and a friend.

 I have followed Him as a God who promises to expand our borders, to do more than we could ever imagine, to lead us in something new and even better than that to make us something new!

I have known Him to be a lover and a healer- a God who restores, who tears down so that He may truly rebuild and make beauty out of ash heaps (and He does, He really does).

He's a God who never gives up, never walks away, never leaves us in despair or without hope, and He's a God who always finishes what He has started!!

We tell God thank you o, I tell God thank you.

Maybe after I've processed some I will share about the festival and its impact on Liberia. For now, let me just tell you, that as I watched these 13 small kids perform this drama in front of 30,000+ kids, I realized something deep down in my heart... their message was for me! God used me as a drama director and a writer to speak a message to my heart that perhaps I needed to hear more than anyone else. And the message...

"God wants your heart Debbie Sue, He wants all of you, and He doesn't want you to change one thing. He wants you to bring your real heart to Him no matter how it looks, and He wants to be the One to change it and heal it- over and over again He wants to heal it." Perhaps this message is for you too!

I have loads of pictures and videos that I can't wait to put in an artistic package for those of you who want to see a glimpse of God's Story here in Liberia. I also know that God's timing is perfect and when our aim is to please Him, He will lead us forward and guide us continually into new life for His Name's sake. So thank you for partnering with me on this incredible adventure thus far, and I'm so excited that this is just the end of the beginning :)

Hopefully I will write again here and there before May, but until we speak again, may God bless you and keep you and may His face shine upon you!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

72 hours

I continually thank you for all of your prayers during this time!

We have less than 72 hours before the Festival begins. Franklin arrived yesterday to greet us at the office and it was so encouraging to see how the whole staff received him with such loving affection and high energy. I never cease to be amazed by the joy and thanksgiving that these wonderful Liberians have considering all that they have and continue to walk through. And yet I'm continually encouraged by their vulnerability as they walk through these trials and don't pretend like their troubles don't exist. They are a people who pray, many of which know the scriptures well and yet can't read, but they are not afraid to bring their burdens honestly before God's throne... it can be quite alarming to the soul in certain moments!

To be honest, I am tired and overwhelmed. I'm fighting migraines and body pain daily, and learning with every new step just how much I need Jesus moment by moment. It's not enough to pray for an overall grace! There's a passage that commands all who are weary and heavy laden to come to Him (I know I fit into this passage). But the part that really strikes me is that He knows that we WILL get weary and heavy laden, and He bids us to come. It's no surprise to Him or He wouldn't have commanded it. Also, that passage ends with... "And I will give you rest (also something I desperately need)!"

There's those moments in life where our strength, happiness, and ability come to an end. However, the Scriptures make it clear that only in those moments do we begin to see the true strength, joy, and power of God's Spirit working in and through us. So, despite the pain, the heartache, and even the moments of feeling depressed, I press on... I move forward in the calling in which I've received... I acknowledge my need and my weakness... I confess my sin, denial and self-allegiance... and I once again throw myself on the mercies of God! (Please read Hebrews 12 with me)

I may get a chance to write one more update before I leave Liberia, but know that my consistent internet access ends with this post. I will be out of commission in the internet world until May. Until then, thanks for your prayers... I mean it when I tell you that they are the ministers that are waking me up each morning to live another day for God's Glory!

I guess this is a great opportunity in the next month to catch up on some of my previous post ;0)

Friday, March 18, 2011

sneak peak of JAMPACT

For years, I have passionately rambled on before many of you about this crazy dream that God put in my heart as a young teenager. For some reason Jesus decided to take me all the way to Africa to get me to finally write it all out on paper and start taking some major steps toward making this dream a reality.

So here is just a sneak peak (excerpts) of the proposal I have written in the last month.... thanks for reading, and for encouraging me all along this journey! 

                                                            J.A.M.P.A.C.T. Ministry


OBJECTIVE:

JAMPACT’s objective is to pursue a wide variety of both partners and supporters in this endeavor to spread the name of Jesus throughout the world through creative arts and discipleship. We consider partners to be both individuals and institutions (including churches and organizations) that are willing to be publically linked and broadcast as not only supporters of JAMPACT’s vision and mission, but also as investors in this endeavor across the world. We consider our supporters to be any individuals, churches or organizations that are committed to praying, following, and/or financially supporting this ministry whether it be a one time gift or consistent contribution commitment.

As the initiator of this ministry, the global vision for a Creative Arts Training Program and an Art Discipleship Ministry started in my heart when I was 13 years old. I envisioned a ministry that would make a lasting impact on the world, especially in lives of upcoming generations. My childhood and the years that followed into my adolescence were filled with a depth of grief that is hard to put into words. It has only been through my experience with profoundly hurting individuals, devastated cultures, and the love of Jesus Christ through His children and the creative arts that I have gained a voice and begun putting words to God’s Story in me.

GOD’S STORY/ REDEMPTIVE PLAN :

 (insert personal back story)
Poverty, disease, and death are three inherited life-sentences that all of mankind cannot escape without a Savior. I am not denying that certain countries and individuals are remarkably more affected by these global tragedies than others. However, as a Christian, I believe that the Bible clearly explains each of these devastating realities as primarily a spiritual problem with secondary physical and emotional implications. Eph 2:1 states that we are all dead in our transgressions, that we are incapable of living again or responding to the love of God without the redemptive intervention of a Savior. Scripture professes that all of mankind has moved away from God, and chosen to live our own lives apart from His love. Despite our rejection and self-separation, He has made a way for us to be healed and reconciled through His Servant’s willing sacrificial death. I confess with my mouth and believe in my heart that this Servant was Jesus Christ who was pierced for our transgressions, who took on our diseases and death in His own body, and became poor and sick with grief among the peoples of the world in order to empathize with the physical and emotional poverty of His children. Therefore, poverty, disease and death are human spiritual and physical problems with only one real solution; Jesus Christ. Only through Christ, His triumphant victory over death, and through all those whom He chooses to use, will mankind ever be offered the hope of passing over from spiritual death to new life.

THE VISION:

In light of the Gospel just proclaimed, JAMPACT is writing to specifically address our experience and understanding that the creative arts can have not only a profound influence on leading all kinds of peoples to new life, but can fruitfully disciple them into mature believers who glorify God with all their hearts, minds and bodies.

God has made every human being in His image, and thus we are a reflection of His infinite creativity. He has shown Himself to all of mankind through the extravagant beauty of His own Nature and His Creation; even to the point that He declares that “man is without excuse in knowing His existence” (Romans 1:21). As a response to this truth our vision, question and proposal arises:

If we are made in God’s image, and He is infinitely creative, how then should we respond to His love and His calling to love others, as creative beings?

Let us address that we are not stating that the so-called “creative arts” and being “creative imitators of God” are synonymous. It is quite possible that there are more forms of creativity in the world than there are species of animals. We simply acknowledge that being creative is intrinsically an expressive and responsive language among every individual soul and nation across the world. Therefore, “In whatever you do (including however you choose to reflect your creative nature)… Do it all for the Glory of God!” ~1 Cor. 10:31

INTRODUCING THE MINISTRY:

Now that I- the visionary- have shared my personal back story, God’s spiritual calling on all believers, the Biblical reasoning for pursuit of JAMPACT Ministry within that calling, and our team’s understanding of the need that will be met through this program, let us unpack the meaning behind the name: JAMPACT

JAMPACT: Jesus Arts Movement (through) Performance Academics Culture Training:

Let us start by saying that our name is “jam-packed” with purpose, intention, and double meanings. For instance, J.A.M. is meant to be read and understood in two different yet very important ways. First of all, the “Jesus Arts Movement” is a phrase, and more deeply an actual movement, that we would love to see spread around this planet for the Glory of God. We dream of seeing a generation unleashed before God, with their creative gifts and talents, dancing (movement) and worshipping Him with contagious freedom in their hearts. However, the three words are also meant to be separate (Jesus-Arts- Movement) because they represent what this ministry and the people within it are avidly pursuing both separately and together. We are all learning various forms of art and movement (dance), but together we are actively seeking the same Jesus and the same eternal movement toward Him through creative outlets.

At JAMPACT, we dream of seeing lives transformed through hearts and minds that are jam-packed with life-changing truth because of trained God-honoring facilitators whose classes and performances are jam-packed with creative students who are being equipped to imagine then create a world jam-packed with the love of God and the truth of the Gospel.

(If you would like to read the full proposal or are interested in joining as a partner or supporter in this ministry, please contact Debbie Sue directly at dsuefreebu@gmail.com)

Monday, March 14, 2011

Goodbye Ganta

I can’t thank you all enough for your prayers during this amazing but absolutely crazy month of March.

For those of you who have been praying for the rural life festivals in Liberia these past 2 weeks, God has answered your prayers and has done remarkable things in the hearts of so many children of God. Tens of thousands of people heard about the new life and deep love offered through Jesus Christ, and angels rejoiced every night as hundreds stepped onto that narrow little road that leads to life…

oh what an unbelievable story to be a part of (literally)!

In fact, I would go on to say that if the stories you hear me share in my own life or in the Scriptures seem possible, normal, or even remotely believable (except by faith) then you are probably not truly hearing His words or seeing the powerful hand of God at work. That's why He repeats over and over again in the first 4 Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) after sharing such stories,

 "He who has eyes (of faith) let him see and he who has ears let Him hear."

A few nights ago I read in Psalm 16, “You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in Your presence, with eternal pleasures at Your right hand!”


I couldn’t help but be reminded of this truth while I watched the hearts of hungry and deeply hurting Liberians joyfully bring their burdens to God’s throne of grace with confidence (truly, imagine the multitudes that were running toward the "alter" dancing and singing and praying with tears of joy in their eyes).

The most amazing part to me was personally praying with those who fully understood that God's Message was one that would feed their hungry souls and carry them into eternity; that it didn’t necessarily promise money or new things (but rather endless eternal riches in Christ), or an immediate change in circumstances (but instead a loving friend, a Savior, a guide, a comforter, a peace, a fortress in times of trouble, provider in times of need, and a sure future in Heaven).

I believe that so many heard the true Gospel and came ready to respond to God’s promise “for He satisfies the thirsty soul and fills the hungry heart with good things” (Psalm 107:9) and He promises to bring peace throughout the raging storms of life-

“Oh Lord, You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in You!” Isaiah 26:3

One image that stands out in my mind was from the first night of the festival; RV Brown from Tampa FL (the largest most passionate evangelist I’ve ever seen in my life) had just spoke of his unbelievable encounters with the mercies of God, his undeniable healing and his miraculous transformation only through Jesus Christ, when this image pierced my heart like a sword. Suddenly, I watched an aisle open up amidst the crowd of 5,000+ people as two men faithfully carried this terribly crippled blind woman to the front to receive prayer and healing in Jesus Name. As Rev. Brown prayed for her and declared that Jesus was the only true Healer, I couldn’t help but be reminded in my spirit of a story in the Gospels (Mark 2:3-5) where four men lowered their paralyzed friend through the ceiling into a jam packed room so he could have a chance to meet and be healed by Jesus. The Healer ("Good God Almighty- as RV Brown would say) recognized their faith and healed the man immediately. How undeserving are we who believe to partake in any such power and yet Christ declares it so (2 Peter 1:3).

As I remember all that I experienced this last weekend in Ganta, I can’t help but allow these tears to freely flow down my face.

I was reunited with so many of the lovely smiles that had embraced me and taught me in ways I could never begin to fully express. I was able to walk about 5 miles throughout the surrounding communities I lived among and just pray that God would continue to grow the seeds that were planted during my time here- that He would continue to bring hope and healing to these beautiful people. I hopped on a motorbike (fully taking in that moment of awestruck wonder and breeze on my face) and said goodbye to many of my previous co-workers and me dear kiddos at Hope for the Nations. I couldn’t believe how the children had grown and my heart melted into the red dirt road as I saw their sweet smiles and joyful hearts running toward me; I knew in that moment that the Jesus I love is the same God today who declared Himself to Hagar in Genesis 16:13 as the God who sees her. That day, I knew that despite the pain and sickness and even death that so many of my dear friends are facing in Ganta that Jesus would never leave them or forsake them, but that He would heal them in every way He has promised this side of eternity, if they would put their whole faith and trust in Him alone.

Oh friends, these truths have definitely been penetrating my heart deeply the last few years, and especially in the last few months. Not only have I had several people close to me die, but God has allowed me to face some emotional afflictions and devastating rejection while being continually plagued by a physical “thorn in my flesh” (2 Corinthians 12:7-10). I say this only to boast in the fact that Jesus has remained absolutely faithful to me and to His character through it all. This previous passage goes on to say,

 “(Apostle Paul speaking) To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great truths… there was given me a thorn in my flesh (given by Satan, allowed by God)…three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away but He said to me ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in your weakness!’...

...Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I even delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, and in physical difficulties...

For when I am weak, then I am truly strong!”

sharing and declaring

Hi, my name is Debbie Young and I'm a grateful believer in Jesus Christ!

I'm currently recovering from pride, lying, self-reliance, cheating, judging others, stealing, over indulging, and worrying (and probably many other things that didn't flow out of my mouth immediately).

It catches us a little off guard when people share the real deal, right?

And yet at the same time, it's suprisingly refreshing to hear people be so honest about both the realities of their struggles and sinful hearts as well as the reality of the redeeming love that is slowly ridding them of all that they are not proud of and replacing it with a deep love for Christ and for people.

Well this is the courageous life that people are living all across the globe; particularly through a program called Celebrate Recovery. I'm sure there are innumerable amounts of churches containing programs that are overflowing with “grateful believers” but I have found few as physically powerful and emotionally and spiritually life-changing as CR.  http://www.facebook.com/#!/celebraterecovery

Anyway, just a little shout out to God's work through this program throughout the world!

However, there is still more to SHOUT today...

this morning I woke up to news that an 8.9 magnitude earthquake hit Japan, and 59 tsunamis are being traced as the world watches to see where the aftershocks might hit next. Then I was reminded about the riots and massive amounts of homicides going on in Libya and Egypt. Then I started thinking about the 70,000+ refugees that have taken up indefinite residence in the land of Liberia (I am currently living in); refugees that have come to escape the riots and obvious movements toward war in Ivory Coast.

Then I started to pray.

I was reminded of many scriptures where Christ himself declares that this world is coming to an end and that all of the devastations we see happening around us are merely the labor pains inducing serious warning not to be ignored.

The current global state of crises as well as the holistic condition of humanity should ignite urgency in our hearts; if it doesn’t, we are more than likely either in a self-imposed position of denial or ignorance.

NEWSFLASH: I’m not kidding you when I tell you that just 10 seconds ago my co-worker Matt walked into our office declaring an emergency that one of our staff’s entire village was just destroyed by fire (and there only remaining belongings can fit under a towel).

All of these painful realities should indeed compel us to pray, and even more so move our feet to act!

But my friends, if we are those who belong to Christ, then it shouldn't cause us to worry or to fear. If you find yourself worried or deeply troubled by all that is going on in the world, the Bible has much to say about a HOPE that is far greater than all these devastations; and if I believe the Scriptures to be true then I would be undeniably wretched to keep my mouth shut about the only truth and hope that I know.

Today I leave to travel 5 hours into the bush of Liberia for my last visit before I head back to the States. In the last week or so, there have been two evangelistic life festivals happening in rural parts of this nation. Over 5,000 people have attended, and hundreds of people have found new life in Christ. However, though it is "DRY" season here, the rains and winds have picked up heavily in the last week (in fact, one night already had to be cancelled because it was literally impossible to keep the festival going).

We are at war my people! And it's a much greater war then what we are watching on tv. Now is not a time to be swallowed up in worry and fear, or any of the things that we can't control.

The one thing we can control is the daily responses of our own hearts to the truth and realities we are being faced with everyday, especially the reality that our life here on earth is short and we only live it once!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

more to camping

Have you ever gone camping?

In the States, especially in the Northwest (where I’ve spent most of my life), it seems like the thought of never having been camping is as unheard of as a Liberian who has never eaten rice.

I used to love to camp when I was kid. Short 3 day trips in the woods were exhilarating. It seemed to be a great opportunity to learn the art of fishing, cooking in the wilderness, and toad catching. I think there was also a certain attitude of rest, quietness, escape (getting away from the noise and maybe the trials or stresses back home), adventure, and even downright euphoria settled in for a short while.

When I was in high school, I did whitewater rafting ministry and learned a totally different form of camping, and in the process learned different and deeper lessons as well.

These camp outs were more like weeks and months at a time living on beaches in the lovely northwest mountains- seasons of life that I call silence or solitude even though I consistently interacted with staff and campers.

I rested in those quiet places long enough to begin to hear the screams of my own heart (screams for love, trust, identity, hope, and purpose) that were previously muddled by the naturally imposed noise and clutter of my busy life.

For all of us those seasons can be moments when we begin to truly hear and accurately see both the things that need to come into our lives- and bring with them positive changes- and the things that we need to give up or get rid of in order to grow and be healthier people. More importantly we begin to hear and trust the voice of the Good Shepherd (Jesus), to sense His love and nearness as our good, and as a response to His tender love and faithfulness we begin to gleefully throw off all that hinders us from intimately knowing HIM.

With the images of these different seasons in our minds, I’d like to reflect on how we can take pleasure in this “camping out” (rest, adventure, silence, reflection and solitude) in our spiritual lives as well.

Have you ever gone camping in the Scriptures?

Perhaps you’ve taken a short 3 day adventure (what some of us may call a retreat) where you just rest and drink in His truth and refocus your heart and mind on the things of God? Or maybe you’ve gone even deeper into Jesus-into the wilderness or wide open spaces of life with him- and have found yourself camped out with Him in the Scriptures fully delighting and drinking in all that He is and promises to be, as well as who declares you to be in light of His truth.

For the last year, I have been camped out in the Scriptures, and more specifically I have repeatedly revisited a book called Romans (primarily chapters 12-15).

These chapters speak of genuine love, true respect/honor, forgiveness, hope, identity, injustice, joy, judgment, endurance and patience.

In times of heartbreak and brokenness God spoke “rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer…that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”

In moments of darkness, rejection and persecution He invaded my heart with the truth “Abhor what is evil and hold fast to what is good…weep with those who weep… repay no one evil for evil but leave it to the justice of God… owe no one anything but to love each other… make no provision for the flesh to gratify it’s desires… we who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak… for Christ did not please Himself but rather stated ‘the reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me’.”

Through these chapters and so many others like them (all throughout the Bible) He has given me a purpose and a vision by powerfully declaring “those who have never been told of Him will see, and those who have never heard (until now) will understand!”

Today, we have entered the season of lent, and I would like to invite each of you to come camping with me during this season. It’s not just a short 3 day trip but it’s more like the second camping adventure- the one that requires new things to “come into our lives and bring with them positive changes, and the things that we need to give up or get rid of in order to grow and be healthier.” That’s what lent is all about.

During this season, we all have a chance to acknowledge our own sin and to begin anew; to follow the Good Shepherd and become more like him, to camp with Him in His majestic mountains of truth and faithfulness, and to rise from death to life with Him through the same power that raised Him 2,000 years ago!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

another look at road signs

Spend 30 seconds with me and read the quoted words below… tell me, what do you see and what do these words mean to you?

“STOP” “YIELD” “CROSSROAD” “Rest Area (next exit)” “Detour” “Men at work” “Welcome to…” “Thanks for visiting…” “SPEED LIMIT” “WRONG WAY” “DO NOT ENTER” “DEAD END” “BLIND DRIVE” “Curvy Road ahead”...

In case you just read the first few words and then breezed past the rest, let me encourage you to read them again. Perhaps you read them and thought “why is Debbie writing about road signs for driving?” Well, all I can say to that particular question is I like signs. I’m not just talking about road signs, but you know “sign” signs. Huh, like “I’m waiting for a (quote) sign (unquote) to happen.”

No, it’s not really just about signs. I do have to admit that I tend to be one of those people who is moved by seeing repeated words, hearing repeated numbers, or looking for repeated images. I’m always looking for direction, for truth, for life- I’m looking for the WAY (and most commonly doing so by watching for all the “signs”).

But, to be honest, that’s not really what this writing is about. Don’t worry “I’m coming to it” as we say here in Liberia!

I’m captivated by signs for sure, but more importantly I’m driven by learning lessons amidst the beauty of life, the common normality of it, and yes even in the seemingly mundane (like “Road signs”)- I’m always looking… looking for lessons… looking for truth… looking for life.

So, with that said, let’s look back at those road signs again, shall we?

Here’s a glimpse of what I see…

“STOP”- Debbie Sue, stop driving your life on your own, stop planning every moment of every day, stop sinning deliberately, stop worrying about tomorrow, stop looking at life in terms of the impossible, stop depending on your own strength… STOP!

“YIELD”- Slow down! Yield to the Spirit of God and not circumstances or mankind. Yield to Christ by following- immediately. Yield to others, truly notice them, and consider their needs and how Jesus can use YOU specifically to care for them.

“CROSSROAD”- Big decisions are ahead; decisions that you know will take your life in a certain direction, and yet others are leading you into the unknown. Some of us are questioning which road is the “right” one while others are just realizing they have been on the wrong path and need to get off. Some of us stand in silence staring at that ominous C-sign and we are frozen maybe even terrified desperately trying to figure out which way to go- which way leads to God or maybe simply to happiness- to get to LIFE, to get to TRUTH!

“DETOUR”- It’s been said that the only thing certain in life is change. Sometimes I hate change. Other times I thrive off it. Sometimes I just get plain ticked off when I’m driving through life and that sign just seems to jump up and catch me off guard; in that moment, all I can think about is the fact that the stupid sign made me late or cost me somthing, but I don’t consider that it saved me from the torn up mess of a road on the other side (maybe just a mile away).

We can’t always think of detours as signs that are derailing life; most of the time they are what protect us and guide us and give us a chance at getting back on track or maybe even on track for the first time- the track to new life!

Are you catching my drift dear friends? Those road signs really can be used to teach and to learn, right?

As I said earlier, “I’m always looking for direction, for truth, for life- I’m looking for the way” and for the first time I’m truly seeing all these signs because I’m not the one driving the car.

Just imagine with me that this Jesus - the One who declared HIMSELF the WAY, the TRUTH, and the LIFE- is not only the one who is driving but He is the Word of God made flesh (the very road map) that I am reading as we drive along this road together toward LIFE everlasting- toward JESUS everlasting!

Are you beginning to see how beautiful and wonderfully crazy this unknown road is because the One who is the way, the truth and the life is all the "knowing" that we need?

It’s wonderful only because if and when we truly believe this truth, our search for LIFE, for TRUTH, and for direction ENDS in Jesus… and true LIFE (the journey of faith and trust and following Him alone) just BEGINS.

So, I repeat my question, “What signs are you seeing lately?”

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

fasting miracle- Isaiah 58

I have so many thoughts and feelings running through my head right
now! I still can't believe that I will be flying to DC on April 4th.

I'm definitely feeling God's overwhelming peace about that decision even
though my heart is deeply saddened to be leaving these dear dear people.

God has been showing me pieces of what He has taught me here in Liberia and giving me a glimpse of His purpose during this season; such an overwhelming answer to prayer for me!

He is continually walking me through the process of showing me how He has grown me up and healed me in countless unfathomable ways.

He has given me a dream and vision for not only my life but has lit up the path before me, step by step, with His Word and His Truth.

I have been fasting and praying on and off the last couple weeks with several dear friends around the world- most of us have been living or traveling in different countries overseas and we have all been praying for direction in "what's next" and how to love God purely and fully in the now.

As I have been praying and now fasting and reading Scripture daily, I have been feeling very strongly that Portland and finishing College are both a part of this next season for me, but my hands are open and if things change then I want to be absolutely willing to change directions in a moment with the Spirit.

I've been intimately pursuing the Lord in so many new ways (one of which is fasting), and today for some reason I felt a quiet almost irresistible conviction that I should consider finishing my Educational Ministry Degree at Multnomah University in Portland.

To be honest, I've been wanting to pursue more schooling at a University known more for their arts programs. For those of you who walked with me through my story at Multnomah, you understand why this urge seems to be coming from somewhere completely other than myself. For those of you who weren't a part of my life during that indescribable season, I think it is best summed up in the statement-

I serve a God that brings beauty out of ashes.

The last few weeks I've undoubtedly tried to think through everything about this next season logistically but as I mentioned in a previous writing-

"I think God would blow up the word realistic if He could!"

I felt like the Lord was once again asking me to stop my crazy planning and just listen for a few moments.

So I have been obeying Him in that and today the thought of Multnomah felt like it was something just whispered right in my ear- like a sweet passing breeze along a stream of water- something I never thought possible!

Something in me felt like I should have freaked out but instead I was totally shaken by such an invading peace.

So I went and looked at the MU website and with each page and interaction with the descriptions of their vision and mission, I felt more and more excitment rise in my heart. It felt like that rekindling passion of a first love (ok maybe a little different that that)!

Oh friends, I don't know what God has planned for this crazy life of mine, but "I'm tired of living in fear" (check out the lyrics to my song about this under the entry "I am found" on this blog).

I know that Multnomah is a lot of money that I don't have, and I never imagined ever wanting to go back there, but please pray with me as I want nothing more than to follow the heart of God for my life and to entrust Him with all the crazy even seemingly impossible details!

CMA school project journal

Samaritan’s Purse Local School Development Project
Managed by Debbie Young

Background and Description of Need:

Coopers Farm was one of the biggest private rubber farms in Liberia until the recently-ended 14 year Civil War completely destroyed the flourishing plantation. The devastation left those formerly employed on the plantation desperate and languishing without any hope for the future. The area quickly became very poor and overtaken with witchcraft which began its oppression under “secret society” rule. In 2004, Reverend Alphonso Dean saw the need to reach the area with the love of God and the hope of the Gospel. His vision was to start a free Christian School for the children in the community. Today the school operates solely on faith. The children carry their mud blocks, stones or buckets to school to sit on due to their lack of chairs and desks. SP has welcomed the opportunity to encourage the school, the community, and Reverend Dean by providing the means to acquire new furnishings and learning supplies for the students.

Evangelism component:

The Christian Mission Assembly School teaches children to read and write using the Bible as a primary textbook. The teachers are having an amazing evangelistic effect on the lives of the children, their parents, and their community at large.

Our Response and Expected Outcomes include:

SPL will provide $5,025 to rehabilitate and upgrade the Christian Mission Assembly School with internal furnishings and school supplies in order to enrich the education given in Todee Junction, Coopers Farm, Margibi County, Liberia

Project Started January 31st, 2011

We pray that each of you will join us in prayer as we seek to reach out to these children and their community for God’s Glory.

CMA Project in Cooper’s Farm (the journaling begins)...

History of Coopers Farm:

During the war, the rubber plantation at Coopers Farm was destroyed leaving all the workers and farmers without jobs and without means to support their families. The community was deeply under the oppression of Juju followers (*African traditional religion- combo of animism and witchcraft). Pastor Dean’s church had a vision to bring the Gospel to this community. As the message of God’s truth was spoken and the believers grew, they decided to plant a church. They trained a pastor and put him through Bible School and several years after the church was planted he passed away (his surviving family still lives in the house built and provided by the church). They later trained another pastor and he has been leading the congregation ever since. In the last couple years they began to realize the Gospel was spreading and that if God was going to rise up new leaders to keep this village for Christ than the children need to have a place to be trained in righteousness and basic education. Thus Christian Mission Assembly School was built for just that purpose. They have persevered against many trials, and God is continually blessing them for their endurance and their faith.

First trip to Cooper’s Farm CMA…

February 1, 2011. The Country Director (Kendell) and I met about this project today and he asked me to take on the responsibility of managing it. We are both super excited about what God can do with the $5,000 we have to invest. We are partnering with a local pastor, Rev. Alphonso Dean and his church community, to rehabilitate this school on Cooper’s Farm. We also hired a contractor today, Peewee Johnson (a capable honest man who helped build one of our last school projects in Lomata), and we are both confident in his work and his character. It’s going to be amazing to see what God will do in just a month’s time to change the lives of an entire community for years to come. What an incredibly humble experience and indescribable blessing to be a part of God’s story here in Liberia! Pictures to come soon…

February 3, 2011. Pastor Dean and I drove out to Todee Junction (Cooper’s Farm) and it was about 51 mi to reach. We measured the distance from the farthest village that the kids walk from and it was a little over 4 miles. I learned that the school is free (biblical education and basic learning skills) and it currently has the means to bring in students up to 8th grade. When we arrived on the campus, I noticed that there were no doors on any of the classrooms, and that all the steps were missing, causing kids and adults to climb about 2ft into the classrooms. There were approximately 40-50 kids from the community attending. Less than ¼ have uniforms or sufficient school supplies. (*There is currently no meal program offered each day for the students which means most of them probably don’t eat a sufficient meal each day). Two of the 6 classrooms have dirt floors that need to be cemented. Portable or built-in chalkboards would be helpful. All five classrooms need furnishings (mostly desks for the older students, and benches with built in table tops for the younger). There is a latrine about 50 yards away from the school and a church next door for their chapel sessions. The only hand pump on the campus is spoiled and grown over with a large amount of brush. If there is any surplus of money, then desks for the teachers and a layer of paint would be a great finishing touch. The teachers seemed kind, eager to help, and so excited about the renovations. The students were mostly quiet but incredibly welcoming. Every time a visitor comes they all stand at the same time and with one voice they welcome- “Good morning visitor, how are you this morning?” It seemed that a sense of quietness and even sadness lifted among the teachers and students as they saw Pastor Dean; he obviously has been a great support to them!

February 7th, 2011. This morning Peewee and I sat down and discussed all that we hope to accomplish, Lord willing, with the funds that we have. Today Peewee and I drove out to the school grounds and did the measuring for everything that will need to be built or reconstructed (such as cement stairs for the classes and built-in chalkboards) in the next three weeks. We also considered how many desks we could fit in each classroom and had to discuss the Nation’s enrollment requirements for each anticipated class, and then adjust our vision accordingly. Today, we also put a down payment on all the furnishings and they wood craftsman have already begun to design the desks. All in all, it was a very successful day!

February 14th, 2011. Peewee and I have not only put together a comprehensive budget but we have already purchased and transported the first set of materials that are needed up to Todee; thanks to our amazing movement and logistics staff (not to mention, the amazing support of the Country Director)!

February 18th, 2011. I made a trip up to Todee today with one of SP’s Water and Sanitation’s (WATSAN) pump technicians. It turns out that the well needs extensive work done but SPL’s WATSAN department is hoping to put this school on their upcoming project’s list. That would be such an answer to prayer for this school and its’ community. After a week of working up there, Peewee informed me that he has been getting sick from the only water they have to offer him. I pray that a new well will be a part of this community’s future. Despite the water struggle, he was elated to inform me that the pastor, teachers, and many of the church and community members have jumped in to assist in any way they can. He couldn’t stop laughing and smiling as he told me “I have never experienced a community like this. They are so willing to help with everything and it makes me glad to give up my time for them!”

February 21st, 2011. Peewee called me this morning and bursting with joy as he told me that his team and the community have already finished all the cement work (2 new floors, stairs for all the classrooms, and they had enough leftover cement to install chalkboards in all the rooms instead of just two). They were also able to reconstruct new door frames for each classroom. He told me that he spoke with the wood craftsman and the furniture is over halfway done and should be completed by next week! I can’t believe how quickly this whole project is coming together and how committed all the people are who are involved; it is absolutely inspiring what a small group of devoted servants can accomplish by faith and hard work.

February 28th, 2011. Peewee came to my office today and told me that he has finished all the cement work, and that we have enough money to paint the inside of the school as well. So today we purchased the supplies to go and give this school a brand new face. This is such a huge answer to prayer! I was informed today that all the new furnishings will be ready by midweek. I’m just so amazed by God’s hand of provision throughout this entire project. I received an email today informing me that SP’s “Gifts in Kinds” Program is offering us two full tubs for the school full of composition books, school supplies, and teaching manuals. Not only is God providing the greatest needs of this school but He’s graciously giving us all the extra requests that we desire for these kids and their community. On behalf of the community and the school, I urge you to continue to pray for clean water for this school and its community! Once the furniture is complete, our whole CMA Project team will head up to the newly renovated Christian Mission Assembly School and joyfully celebrate with them.

March 1st, 2011. Today was once again such an amazing testimony of God’s grace and provision over this project. Our furniture is on schedule to be finished tomorrow, and more excitement is arising around every corner. I just found out today that not only did we have enough funds left over to paint the whole school, but we have enough to provide a desk and chair in each classroom for the teachers. These teachers have been standing every day for up to 8 hours laboring for these kids, so you can imagine the look on their faces when we told them they would have a place to sit in between lectures. My heart is filled with such delight and thankfulness to all who have made this project possible!

The story thus far... Photos still to come...

a month of madness

Wow, what a crazy beautiful life I'm living here in Liberia right now!

Oh friends, I don't even know where to start this update.

One month to go...

Perhaps I should share about the deep wounds that have been healed these past 7 months, the crazy dreams and visions I've been having, the seemingly unsurmountable mountains that have crashed suddenly before my eyes through steadfast faith and rendered hearts, the prisoner that has been released time and time again in my own heart as I have truly forgiven my trespassers (another just a few days ago), or the doors that have been wildly opening in such unbelievably miraculous ways as I've followed God and humbled myself before Him. I'm trying so hard to share as much as I can whenever I have little chunks of time here and there. I've been vigorously writing and updating plenty o (Liberian phrase)!

A pastor man once told me that no one should be outdoing me in ministry while I am single and can devote all my time to the service of God and mankind... my Jesus spoke very clearly to this truth in 1 Corinthians 7!

With that truth in mind, here is just a taste of everything on my plate...

Cissie Graham staying in my house, Friday is the start of our 3 rural life festivals, 20 days till Franklin arrives, hosting 2 media teams, keeping up with emails and blog entries ;), directing a drama for my church to be performed the last thursday in March, not sleeping as I'm writing sermons and proposals in my sleep, writing a proposal for JAMPACT Ministry, making dinners for guests, finding times to read scripture and pray and fast, re-applying for Multnomah University in Portland to finish my degree, planning for the future, directing a play for the children's life festival (March 26th)... and I don't know maybe eating ;)

It's no wonder as I read this list why I've been struggling with neck pain and migraines.

I'm continually thankful for all that Jesus is doing in and through me personally, and the amazing work of everyone involved with SP, and for the consistently encouraging support of you who have stood by me through it all!

grace and peace to each of you...

running for the reward,

dsuefreebu@gmail.com

3 Generations of Grahams in Liberia

It is such an unbelievable blessing to have Cissie Graham Lynch staying in our single ladies staff house this week and her "Daddy" Franklin Graham coming in just a few short weeks to bring the love of God and the truth of the Gospel to Liberia!

We (at SPL) have 2 media teams visiting from North Carolina Headquarters (#1 is doing coverage of projects to put as excerpts during the live stream of the upcoming Life Festival March 25-27 and #2 is a smaller team of Cissie and her friend Hope coming to cover some stories on social issues- to post on her blog- in order to ignite passion in the hearts of 20 and 30 somethings who have a passion for humanitarian work).

There are also 3 rural festivals happening in the bush that start this Friday in Foya (March 4-5), Zwedru (March 8-9) and Ganta (March 11-12). Please be praying for the logistics of all these events as well as the health and sanity of all the SP staff and our visitors.

I decided it would be neat to share some words from Billy Graham from his visit to liberia in 1960, as well as some following words from Cissie below.

TO EARTH’S ENDS- from Billy Graham's autobiography (Liberia)

Liberia, a democracy founded by freed American slaves in the early nineteenth century, was our first stop in Africa on January 19. As we landed, I wondered if it might be the last stop I would ever make. One of the plane’s four motors was spurting dark smoke. With sirens wailing, airport fire engines raced toward us. The combustion, I was happy to see, subsided before we reached the terminal.

Vice President William R. Tolbert met us. A noted Baptist leader, he stopped at a small church on the fifty-mile drive into Monrovia. We had a brief prayer session there, sang a hymn, and recited the Twenty-third Psalm.

Liberia’s president, William V. S. Tubman, was also a professing Christian, a Methodist; so it was not too surprising that our Liberian visit was the first ever that was government-sponsored rather than church-sponsored. We were housed in the government’s official guest house, and we were received by the president in the gleaming-white executive mansion. He expressed his hope that his people’s souls would be refreshed through the ministry of our meetings.

Dr. Tolbert accompanied me everywhere, even presiding at our meetings in Monrovia’s Antoinette Tubman Stadium.

My associate Howard Jones had already started the Crusade when we arrived. He and his wife, Wanda, were establishing a home in Monrovia. That would enable him to preach regularly on the powerful new Sudan Interior Mission radio station ELWA in Monrovia and to conduct evangelistic crusades all over Africa. The radio station was located on a beautiful beach; fronting it were some lovely missionary homes and a school for children.

In the week preceding our arrival, Howard preached to large audiences. I preached the final two nights of the Crusade, with many thousands in attendance, resulting in 1,000 inquirers. It was an encouraging start to our African journey.

President Tubman invested me, while in the country, as a Grand Commander of the Humane Order of African Redemption, the nation’s second-highest honor. The title commander was misapplied, I was sure, but the words humane and redemption meant a great deal to me, in view of my pursuit of God’s calling for my life. I knew that Africa could move in any of several directions—Communist, Islamic, animistic, or Christian—and I was there to promote the last.

Words from Cissie Graham http://cissiegrahamlynch.com/

WHAT DID WE LEARN FROM OUR FIRST VISIT TO THE AFRICAN CONTINENT?

For one thing, I came away with an overwhelming impression that God was at work in Africa and that, with the movement for independence sweeping across the continent, conditions were ripe for an unparalleled spiritual awakening.

At the same time, I also learned firsthand that the struggle for Africa’s soul was not over. I knew that Africa could be plunged into spiritual warfare as well as social chaos, with animistic and tribal ways clashing with everything from Islam to Western consumerism.

At the same time, I left Africa with a prayer of deep gratitude for the faith and sacrifice of those who had gone before us, bringing the light of the Gospel to one of the world’s largest continents. We were only following a trail others had blazed.

Thinking about those trailblazers reminded me again of the prophetic words of David Livingstone, the Scottish missionary to the heart of Africa, which I had read to our Team just before leaving New York: “Future missionaries will see conversions following every sermon. We prepare the way for them. May they not forget the pioneers who worked in the thick gloom with few rays to cheer except such as flow from faith in God’s promise. We work for a glorious future which we are not destined to see.”

When my dad gets up on stage in Monrovia it will be more than fifty years since my grandfather first visited this West-African country. I am sure it is a lot different from when he was there. Times have changed and Liberia has changed, but there is one thing that hasn’t changed, and that is the Gospel of Christ.

Please be praying for my Dad and his team as they prepare for the Liberia Festival in late March.

Thank you for taking time to read about what God has been and will continue to do in Liberia. It's such an incredible blessing to be a part of God's story in West Africa and I'm delighted that you are along for the ride!