28 May 2016

pre-spin prayers

from home
suitcases rest on the spare bed
almost packed
refrigerator is empty
our minds are buzzing
as last minute farewells
blessings and prayers
pour in via text 
Facebook and WhatsApp

life is about to spin
as we leave our home
to visit the home we left
to live in the house
that is still ours
to home
how familiar 
will those walls feel
how unfamiliar
will we seem
to those waiting
to greet us?

help me remember
where to hold 
one hand only
provides my stability

the road is His
as am I

For I hold you by your right hand—
    I, the Lord your God.
And I say to you,
    ‘Don’t be afraid. I am here to help you.


21 May 2016

damp eyed evening

I am soft
melted this evening
thoughts drifting north
across miles
and mindsets
eight more sleeps
until we take wing
nostalgia is thick
as I listen to
Oh Canada
with tears brimming
almost close enough
to taste maple on my tongue

three months from now
will I repeat this 
in reverse
facing our African return?

split lives
yet let my heart beat
an undivided rhythm
only His

Teach me your way, Lord,
    that I may rely on your faithfulness;
give me an undivided heart,
    that I may fear your name.

20 May 2016

day of work and water

We drove the dusty roads to Katuba village where smiling children and a broken bore hole awaited. Our water man got busy fixing the problem 
 while we joined the children gathering in one small classroom.  They were packed in close, for space is limited.  They listened quiet and wide eyed to the story of Jesus calming the storm, rescuing his friends and disciples who were certain they were perishing.  When asked who wanted Jesus to be their best friend, hands all over the room flew straight up into the air.
Back outside, water poured fast and clear from the repaired bore hole, so it was time to move on.
The trip to Chibanga village was slow over rutted and barely accessible roads, arriving later than we intended, both work and ministry began again.

Another school, desperately needing more classrooms and teachers, filled with young hearts who listened well.
The bore hole here hadn't functioned for more than a month, forcing a long trek to the stream to haul water.  Our worker not only skilfully solved the problem, but taught those helping him with a quiet patience rarely seen.
As the children prayed and surrendered their lives to Jesus, living water filled the overcrowded classroom.  They moved out with joy to scatter across the soccer field.

Close to sunset, the new pipes were set in the Chibanga bore hole. Almost afraid nothing would happen, the pump handle was moved, up and down numerous times until water flowed freely.

Packing up in the settling darkness, we rejoiced in another day of allowing ourselves to be Jesus in flesh, loving as He loves.

And He said to them, Why are you timid and afraid, O you of little faith? 
Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the sea, 
and there was a great and wonderful calm (a perfect peaceableness). 

17 May 2016

walk softly

we ambled up the road today
from the house
to the nursery
to capture flora and fauna
in pixels
and I was captivated
by footprints
left in the sandy
impressionable dirt

was it perhaps 
our homeward journey
swiftly approaching
that alerted my eye?

a reminder 
to tread softly
to take each step 
with Kingdom purpose

I promise you what I promised Moses: 
‘Wherever you set foot, you will be on land I have given you

04 May 2016

how I write

are slippery and
easily find places to hide
there is no magic
to conjure or
pull them out of a hat

my only secret
is release
and surrender
to His call
my hand moved by His

I am the goblet
not the wine
holding only what He provides
tilt me
pour me out

My heart is stirred by a noble theme
    as I recite my verses for the king;
    my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer.

03 May 2016

There Will Be Stars by Billy Coffey

Imagine waking to the same day each and every morning, knowing when the phone would ring, already knowing the words that would be spoken. The same day, day after day after day. Would you want such a life? How would you describe it? Heaven? Or hell? Or somewhere in-between?

In Billy Coffey’s newest novel There Will Be Stars, we step into the days and nights of a family of sorts that have to ask these questions.  Maddingly, a town that fans of Billy’s books know well doesn't feel the same as usual. Many of the people we've come to know and love are still there, but we meet others along the way.

In his unmistakable style, Billy grips our attention from page to page, making us more than a little uneasy with life as we know it.  We, as readers, are forced to stop and look at ourselves, much the same way the characters must.
"The Turn is a mirror, Bobby. It strips away everything but who we are deep down, and it leaves us naked and makes us look upon ourselves. That's the only way we can change." 
This is a book about faith, fear and family.  A book that twists and turns and challenges, but ultimately leaves me certain that only God can be God, no matter how hard others may try to fill His role.

This is another must read, but be warned, you will lose sleep, not wanting to put it down!

I was blessed to receive an advanced reader’s copy of There Will Be Stars. The opinions I have shared are mine and mine alone.


02 May 2016

a ministry day - part 2

The brick walls of the church provided shade from the midday sun as community volunteers gathered to worship, pray and talk.  After a short encouragement from Romans 8, there was a brief discussion about receiving funding for uniforms; t-shirts and chitenges for the ladies and trousers for the men. Bishop Mwambelo also announced an upcoming week of training. It was time to leave for home visits, time to be Jesus in flesh for the people of Makalulu.

Our first stop brought us to the one room home of Mike, a forty year old male who was once a mini bus driver. HIV+, his wife ran away when he became ill. He is living alone, fighting TB, relying solely on the goodness of neighbours to provide little bits of food. Though his hearing is impaired, we attempted to share words of hope. A visitor from Canada recalled Paul speaking to the Corinthian church about the thorn in his side - Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me But he said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.2 Corinthians 12:8-9 As God’s presence filled the room, the rest of us were encouraged by the words, even if Mike couldn't quite hear them.

He remained silent, but his eyes, prominent above shrunken cheeks, spoke volumes; pain and hunger reaching out for relief. When we presented our gifts of mealie meal and cooking oil those same eyes began to shine as tears filled them, threatening to pour. As we said our goodbyes, the image of his eyes remained with me, as I prayed that God would answer all the unspoken questions they were asking.

Rachel sat on the floor so that we, her guests, could be comfortable on an old sofa and chairs.  Family pictures brighten the dark walls of the small house she shares with one of her three children, the older two living in Ndola. Rachel’s husband, like so many others, ran away when she became sick two years ago. At age fifty and HIV+, she is being supported by relatives.  Selenium supplements have helped her gain some weight, allowing her to spend time moving about, not bedridden as she had been previously. We all rejoiced in the good report and prayed for continued strength and healing.

Our last visit was to Lisa, a widow with eight children, seven of whom live in the Congo where their father’s family is. Only her youngest child remains with her. With few seats in the tiny room, Lisa patted the end of her bed, asking me to sit beside her feet. I was almost afraid that her thin, brittle looking, illness ravaged body would snap.  She was barely able to sit up in bed – but her face was radiant with the joy of the Lord. 

At fifty, she looked more youthful than many younger women we met earlier. Words of healing and truth were declared in a house that was all at once a holy place.  Psalm 118:17  I will not die but live, and will proclaim what the Lord has done and 2 Corinthians 4:16  Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day were proclaimed and declared over the life of this beautiful believer. We laughed, and sang the praises of Jesus, lifting our hands with Lisa as she rejoiced in Him.

As those who had come to simply serve, we ended our day filled beyond measure by the goodness of our God, and the wonder of His extravagant love.

names have been changed


01 May 2016

a ministry day - part 1

The cool of the morning was fading into another hot Zambian day. The back of the pick-up was packed with rations purchased with funds generously donated. Dust rose off the dry ground with each step as six of us devoted ourselves to being the hands and feet of Jesus in the Makwati community. Home visits to the sick and desperate are a regular part of the ministry of Christian Care Centre in Kabwe. 

Our first stop was to see Robert, an HIV+ double orphan who was left in his Auntie Elsa’s care while his grandmother went to do farm work.  At first glance he looked quite healthy, shining eyes watching our every move above chubby cheeks. His auntie’s daughter, a wiggling two year old sat with us also. She was just a bit bigger than Robert so we assumed they were close in age. Several of us gasped, shocked and saddened to learn that tiny Robert was already six years old.

The gifts of mealie-meal, soya pieces, cooking oil, sugar and salt would not sustain Robert and his grandmother for long, but we pray that the words of encouragement we shared, and the love of Christ displayed have a longer lasting impact.

Our next stop was to visit Mary, a widow of thirty-one years who looked both younger and older at the same time. A double orphan, she married so young she cannot recall the age. Now her five children also know how it feels to lose a parent as their father was killed in a car accident. The man responsible for the accident provided just enough money for Mary to build her tiny home. When she is well enough she does piecework, but is rarely able to provide enough food for her family. She recently accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior. We prayed with her and explained that the gifts of food and a jacket we left were just a small measure of His great love.

Our last stop brought us to the small home of a sixty year old widow named Joyce who was supporting herself and three of her eleven grandchildren with a small stand where she sold tiny dried fish called kapenta. She squealed and ululated joyously as we unpacked dried beans, kapenta, onions and cabbages for her to add to her stand to increase her sales potential, empowering her to take steps towards success and self-sustainability. Instead of needing to rely on the kindness of others, now Joyce herself would be able to provide for her family. She could not stop praising God for His love and miraculous provision, lifting her hands to give Him all the glory. 

Her worship and adoration of our Lord and King was as refreshing as a cold cup of water to us weary but now filled servants who had simply followed His request. 

The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’  Matthew 25:40 NIV

names have been changed