Friday, August 18, 2006

Hey guys,
Not sure who reads this, but say prayers for my dad as he travels back from business in England. I'm encouraged by the fact that there's been so much awareness and security at the airports, but it's still a bit scary.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Several updates....

1. One of my teammates- Laura- came to faith in Christ just a few years ago and is growing, but absolutely one of the most joyful people I've ever met. I was incredibly encouraged by her. Amazingly, God reached out to her through her meeting new friends when she moved. They invited her to church just to have fun and hang out, but when they invited her, they didn't tell her they were going to a church. She went through some tough times and then one night she said emotionally she was a rollercoaster. She was in her bedroom one night and she felt alone, afraid and overwhelmed. Then a peace came over her and she felt comfort like she'd never felt before. She went back to her Christian friends and told her she thought it might have been God and they prayed for her.
Now Laura is living in a home with three non-Christians. Her parents are Chinese and relationships in the home have broken down to the point that neither really speaks to her.
When I was with her on the trip, she really felt like leaving home because things were so uncomfortable. But I encouraged her to pray for her family, stay in the home and even ask them if you can pray for anything for them.
The other day she did just that----and a huge fight broke out, with everyone just leaving things unresolved in the end.
But then something amazing happened---her father came back to her in the afternoon and asked if she would pray for his friend.

PRAISE BE TO GOD! He can do all things and my goodness, can you believe that? He's stirring this young girl's father's heart all because she asked if she could pray for something.

2. For the past several months, one of my best friends has been struggling in her marriage, feeling neglected and feeling like her husband doesn't want to make an effort in anything. The last straw came when she found out he was struggling with gambling and they separated. For the past few months they've lived apart and her anger has boiled and she's wanted to just get a divorce and have it over with because it's been so painful (mind you, they're Christians).
Before I left, I begged her not to make any serious decisions, to keep praying for her husband and to seriously give counseling a shot. Her husband had finally set up a session when she called and told him she was through with him. She didn't think it would work and decided to go only to feel vindicated, that she did what she needed to do.
Counseling wasn't the best right off and she went back home to think things through more before recommitting to going back to counseling. On her way back from her hometown, she ran across a marriage CD in her car that she hadn't listened to in a long time. For the four-hour drive home, that's all she did was listen.
When she got back home, she asked her husband to go over to the house and listen to the CD with her. They prayed, decided they both needed to get their lives refocused on God and decided to give counseling a better shot.
He even moved back in!
While they're not out of the woods yet, this is a HUGE step in the right direction and one I haev been praying for for a very long time. I truly believe God can save this marriage, but it's amazing to see Him working as quickly as He has.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Back from Northern Ireland and it was an amazing experience! It's been incredibly hard getting back into the groove of things--it's been like slow-mo at work this whole week. Hopefully Monday will be better...
Anyway, we saw one teen commit his life to Christ, which was awesome! We were having all kinds of issues with leadership and then finally one night, our assistant leader for the trip completely quit. She left the same night we had an evening church service. We had one of the groups from the drop in center (an evening hang out place where kids could come and play pool, buy snacks, chill with their friends, get on the computer, etc) come to the service and this teen boy sat behind me. His name is David and he was always super nice and not so rough around the edges. Anyway, he came up to me after the service and insisted I go with him downstairs while everyone else was hanging out in the community hall having tea.
Reluctantly, I followed him downstairs, preparing myself for anything. We sat down in the foyer of the building and he told me- with a sparkle in his eye and a giant grin on his face- that he had prayed for Christ to come into his heart and said he wanted to be a Christian.
I was over the top excited for him! I had been talking with him all week and he seemed like he had a belief in Christ, but he told me he had never made the commitment to follow Him.
After that I took him around to each of my teammates and introduced him as our new "brother" in Christ. It was amazing.
Beyond that, each night was filled with conversations with kids who were entrenched in the Troubles and tensions over in Northern Ireland. Though kids might call themselves "Catholic" or "Protestant" it's more of a political affiliation than anything else. Sort of like "who do you support?" when it comes to football (soccer). They might say they belong to a religion, but there's nothing really there. They drink (underaged in most cases), smoke, do drugs, have orgies and sex, break the law; basically anything that makes them "cool" in their friends' eyes. Many don't have hopes for the future and their only ambition is to shoot a Catholic in the kneecaps. (Most of the kids we worked with were "Protestant" or "Loyalists."--Loyalists don't want to see the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland rejoined and generally view Catholics the way Whites used to view Blacks in the South back in the day).
It was terribly sad and hard to comprehend why the kids harbored such hatred in their hearts for people just like them. Why they could possibly follow a fallacious statement such as "all Catholics are murderers" basing their facts on previous incidents.
I'm going to continue to pray for Ireland, the teens in Ballymoney and the youth workers staying there. The country needs its youth to be healed or healing will never come to the country itself.