Every Wednesday morning at 8am, our 15 person team breaks into 3 groups and participates in a time of intercessory prayer. We sit together, pray together and do a lot of listening. (Sister, you’d hate all the still and quiet at intercessory time.) We listen for God’s guiding and pray for whatever He is leading us to no matter how big or small. (I feel like I’m always being spiritually stretched in some way.)
Last Wednesday, without even knowing, all of the students and staff sensed the need to pray for our team to become stronger, closer, and more unified. To be family.
Although we have had many great moments and have been learning so much from one another, we didn’t quite feel like family and were (and are still) wrestling through cultural differences. We actually sat around looking at each other one day saying out loud, “We don’t know each other.”
For our lecture last week, a South African speaker full of life and passion came and spoke about God’s heart for the nations. One thing that really stuck out to me was that God’s glory is so vast that no single nation can contain His glory.
God is so big and so good that we cannot, as individuals, or as nations, capture all of Him. I felt pushed and challenged and encouraged to look at my international teammates differently. I need to find ways to celebrate how God shines uniquely out of them rather than way we are different.
God gave us a model for the nations before Genesis 1 ever happened: The Trinity. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are a model for the perfect relationship – perfect unity, perfect love, mutual trust, harmony, honor, diversity, respect and celebrating one another.
We celebrated the nations Wednesday night. Our speaker, Wilson, cleared his throat and looked in the directions of the Americans when he said, “This is the only night for you to brag about your nations!” We were celebrating the strengths and the gifts from God we could see in our own nation to help us see how big and how beautiful He is in each nation.
We had so much fun! And I can’t complain that it turned into a huge dance party afterwards. Africans met the body roll. I’ll let your imagine run wild with that. It was beautiful, people. Beautiful.
After such a joyful time, we had a worshipful and transformative Thursday. God’s heart for his children and the nations is reconciliation. Jesus already came and did the dirty work – we just have to show up for the dance party!
Jesus came and died on the cross so that, even though we have sinned and broken the heart of our Father, we can be full restored in our relationship with Him. We can be reconciled to relationships that look like the model He gave us – the Trinity.
On Thursday, we brought our burdens, prejudices and pains to the foot of the cross and gave them back to the One who bore them already so that we could enjoy cleanlinesss, righteousness and reconciled harmony. We prayed together, washed one another’s feet, anointed one another with oil. The presence of the Holy Spirit’s healing power was so strong in the room that I just wept. It was so beautiful. I looked around the room and my heart broke for the hurt my family was feeling…
Did you catch that?
I said family!
Something powerful comes with forgiveness, trust, and release. Our burdens became lighter. We became family. It is so much easier to celebrate God’s gifts in one another when we are not carrying the weight of our own burdens and are running toward God together, rather than just next to one another.
After we dried the tears and ate a little pap, we rushed off to the community center to help at a feeding program for orphans and vulnerable children. I don’t think I’ve ever had so much fun carrying hot plates of pap and getting my hair pulled! Our team felt so light – burden-free and celebrating. We just could not get quiet Lenoard to put down that purple echo-mic and stop hosting his own talk show in the food line. Just try to imagine how much I loved that!
That night we were so tired, but we got all the family together for a night of worship together to celebrate. We pulled out a big piece of paper, paint and Marcella got out her guitar. As we sang together, we painted images and words God revealed to us about how He sees our family. After an incredible time of worship – including African songs (my favorite) – we were all in a circle looking at our new Family Portrait. It looks like us!
I love, love, love, love it. Since then, it’s been easier to celebrate my sisters and brothers and to really call them my sisters and brothers. The girl talk has multiplied exponentially (which means the cookie intake has as well), and everyday I can’t wait to know them more.
I love my family here. I love being here. It’s not always easy – families never are. But it’s good. I’m even writing this on the week where 10 girls in the same room have PMS… and it’s still good. (But we’re almost out of chocolate!)
Family is worth it – all the time. I want to challenge you today to celebrate God’s glory in your family. If there is something holding you back – find it and put it where it belongs: On The Cross. Celebrate freedom, fun, and have a piece of chocolate in honor of this roomful of crazy girls!