Monday, September 5, 2016


It's been a while since I've posted on some personal reflections.  A day like 9/11 brings out the reflective side of many of us.  We can all remember where we were the day that happened.  I was at Restorers, the Christian Community Development Organization in Grand Rapids where I was serving as Executive Director. 

It seems that several lifetimes have passed for me in those fifteen years.  At the time of 9/11, Bob knew he was to leave Calvin because of our decision to send our children to a closing public school, but he still had a couple of months left and had no idea of what he would do nor where our income would come from (I was making very little at Restorers).  At that time, Africa was not even remotely in the picture.  We of course had no idea that Bob had less than nine years to live.  And while Michael Thomson was someone I knew from church, I would never have guessed that one day I would be married to him.

It was a year ago, on 9/11, that I was sitting at the airport in Chicago, on my way to Ghana, and I suddenly felt hit with the realization that I was on the edge of burnout.  I fought (read "denied") it for three months before it completely overwhelmed and consumed me by early December, after which I spent two months in what felt like "the dark night of the soul." 

And this past week, a dear sister in Christ buried her second son under the age of 21, and I found myself caught up in the throes of grief for her, and the realization of the on-going devastation of the grief of loss by many around us who suffer silently with memories, longings, and desires that things "could have been different."  This suffering takes place through daily reminders, as insignificant as hearing a line that the loved one frequently used,  to a significant event that the loved one is missing. 

Suffering.  Both loud and obvious, and silent and invisible. 

In John 16:33, Jesus says, "I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace.  In this world, you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world."

Take heart. 
A day at a time.
A moment at a time.
One step forward at a time.
Soon, fifteen years will pass and you will be amazed at what has changed.
You will see where it was that Christ entered in to give peace.

My prayer list continues to grow longer and longer.  I suspect it will be that way until the day I am called home. 

This prayer, from one of my favorite prayer books called Guerillas of Grace (by Ted Loder), reminds us that while we think there is too much suffering, we need to be reminded that it may because there is too little of something else:
Sometimes, Lord, it just seems to be too much:  too much violence, too much fear; too much of demands and problems; too much of broken dreams and broken lives; too much of war and slums and dying; too much of greed and squishy fatness and the sounds of people devouring each other and the earth...
Sometimes the very air seems scorched by threats and rejection and decay until there is nothing but to inhale pain and exhale confusion. 
Too much of darkness, Lord, too much of cruelty and selfishness and indifference...Too much, Lord, too much, too bloody, bruising, brain-washing much.
Or is it too little, too little of compassion, too little of courage, of daring, or persistence, of sacrifice; too little of music and laughter and celebration?
O God, make of me some nourishment for these starved times, some food for my brothers and sisters who are hungry for gladness and hope, that, being bread for them, I may also be fed and be full.
And that is my prayer - "make of me some nourishment for these starved times."  Come, Lord Jesus.

Second Annual Prayer Walk

The prayer team in Kitale
Last week Saturday, Discipling Marketplace Leaders had its second annual prayer walk in Kenya, taking place across four cities:  Kitale, Kisumu, Kakamega, and Eldoret with more than 100 Marketplace Ministers participating.

A prayer walk for DML is where we gather at a church for some corporate prayer and to share our prayer concerns for the city.  We then break up into pairs and walk the streets, two by two, praying over the businesses, government buildings, hospitals and schools as we walk, and taking time for the Holy Spirit to reveal to us what we need to be seeing in our city.  Every pair is assigned streets to pray over and a prearranged time is set to gather on the other side of the city for some chai and mendazi (tea and donuts) and debriefing.
Taking time to pray for a small vendor. 

During the debriefing, these are some of the comments that were heard:
  • This needs to be a habit, not just an annual event.
  • This should be longer than three hours - it should be a whole day.  
  • People were wanting us to stop and pray for their business but we didn't have enough time to stop at each place.  We want to have lots of time to pray for each business!
  • The prayer walk should be tied to fasting.
  • God opened my eyes to see so many things differently than how I had been looking at them before this prayer walk.
So many churches coming together to reclaim the redeemed marketplace!
Don't you love these comments?  These were not business people who complained about giving up their Saturday to do a prayer walk.  These were not complaints about walking in the hot sun.  These were Marketplace Ministers who seized the opportunity to be part of a transformational movement, after having been discipled to the purpose of being a minister to the Marketplace.

Please join us in prayer for the Global Marketplace and your specific city or town by reading the prayer below.

A Prayer for Our Work

Lord God,
We pray for all
who work in business and industry,
who work in homemaking,
who work in medicine,
who work in education,
who work in agriculture,
who work in government,
The prayer team in Eldoret.
who work in service to others,
who are beginning a new career,
who struggle in their work,
who are seeking new or different jobs,
who are retired or anticipating retirement,
who are unemployed or underemployed.
[Add other categories as appropriate]
Give us joy in our work, and in using gifts and talents we receive from you.
Give us joy in doing all our work to your honor and glory.
Equip us to labor in ways that promote justice and peace.
Equip us to be ministers of your peace in a world that cries for peace.
Through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
(Taken from the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship)
Debriefing after the prayer walk with chai and mendazi, sponsored by the DML Cooperative.