Dangerous Prayers

Our dear friend, Stephanie, graciously offered a testimony at the {Beloved} film event in Atlanta two weeks ago.  It was so inspiring we had to share.
And, if you’re curious about what’s going on with Stephanie after she’s been back in the chilly parts of Eastern Canada and if God is still moving big in her life….well, just read it for yourself!

Isaiah 58, a dangerous prayer, and cupcakes – 3 ingredients, mixed together by the sovereign hand of God, that have me standing here in front of all of you, way too many of you, tonight.  Let me explain.

It’s May 2010.  I’m listening to a John Piper sermon and minding my own business until the words he’s reading from Isaiah 58stop me up.  They pierce me strong.  They make me weep.  And for several days I meditated over the words of this chapter.  And the Lord WOKE ME UP.  It was a rude awakening.

It was a rude awakening from my complacent-North-American-I’m-OK-so-everything’s-OK slumber.

It was a rude awakening from my oblivion to the reality of life for 80% of the world; and to the reality that the number of orphans in the world equals the population of four Canada’s.

For a full year I wrestled with the Lord about this scripture, this awakening.  I wasn’t fighting it, I wanted to DO something.  Now.  Right NOW.  Before I fell back to sleep.  For a year I searched, watched, prayed, learned about world missions, waited and waited some more.  I KNEW what I was to be doing was connected to orphans, but I just couldn’t find it.  Nothing fit.

It’s now April 2011.  Enter a dangerous prayer.  Challenged by another sermon, I prayed with all my heart these words: “Lord, here I am.  Use me.  Take me out of my comfort zone, make me uncomfortable, put me in over my head.  Then I will know it is YOU doing this thing and not me.”

I speak from experience when I say that the Lord does not waste time answering a prayer like that.

Blog hopping a few days later I found a post which was encouraging all who read, who wanted to DO something but didn’t know what to do, to go here.  I qualified, so I linked up and landed on the website of www.SixtyFeet.org

The Lord captivated my heart almost immediately.  I read through the website and the blog. I watched the videos.  I cried because what I saw, it broke my heart.  Then I waited a few days and prayed.  While I was praying the Lord took me back to the scripture he had used to wake me up one year earlier.

Is 58:6-11:

Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?  Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter – when you see the naked to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.  Then you will call and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. 

If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.

As I read these verses, I realized that the work of Sixty Feet was fulfilling all of these commands in this passage.  And better still, they were doing it in the name of Jesus.  Bringing the gospel of hope to abandoned children – hungry, oppressed and left with no hope.  I knew this was it.

Enter the cupcakes.

One of the main ways people were helping these children was by raising money through cupcake sales.

Simple enough.  Easy to manage.  Safe.  You know, comfortable.  Something I can handle.  So my daughter and I decided to have one roadside cupcake sale to raise money for Sixty Feet.

But God.

Oh, But God.  He said, “ah, No. I don’t think so!  Remember your prayer?  I’m about to answer it.”  And He plucked me out of my comfort zone, from my home-made box – nice and neat, small and warm and cozy.  And safe.   And He placed me in a different box – big, cold, open, vulnerable, uncomfortable.  Actually it wasn’t a box at all.  It didn’t have any sides.

But He didn’t leave me.  He held my hand and said “Watch this.”

And He did immeasurably more than I could have ever imagined over the next 3 months.  As He did, He stretched me, stretched my faith, changed my life, and changed the lives of some around me.

  • “Take it to the kids” was His whisper.  He had me write and teach a Sunday school missions lesson about Sixty Feet to two small churches.  In it the kids set a fundraising goal for the summer.  (Can you say “impossible”?!  That’s what I said.)
  • Take it to the church” was His request.  He had me take Sixty Feet to the congregation of these churches. (Somewhere along the line I said I would never do public speaking).  In these presentations to the churches, I challenged them to make small sacrifices (give up a coffee, latte, restaurant meal, etc.) each week and bring that money to the Sixty Feet donation jar I placed out.  And they came on board in support of the fundraising effort for the summer which resulted in:
  •  5 cupcake sales
  • 1 coin drive
  • 1 cupcake parade float
  • Many small sacrifices
  • Lives changed
  • The funds raised (goal reached!)- pocket change to some I’m sure.  But to these small churches in a small and dying town, a big deal.  To children languishing in a prison of a dusty land, these funds, multiplied by God’s gracious hand, give life.  Hope.

And now tonight.  The Lord has not finished answering that dangerous prayer because I am SO not comfortable right now.  Mycomfort zone is somewhere back in the icy cold north of the Canadian border.  I am so far in over my head right now I can’t see the light of day and except for the Lord keeping me standing, I should have passed out or run off in fear at the first sentence.

The Lord is amazing.  I don’t need to tell you this.  You’re here because you’ve seen His mighty hand at work in your own church or life as you have served the beautiful but abandoned children of Uganda.   His hand is all over the work of this ministry – the lives changed for eternity, hope given in Jesus name, and now homes about to be built.  I’m most humbled, yet thrilled to be a small part of this work of our great and awesome God.    May we continue to spend ourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed and do it in the mighty name of Jesus.   For His glory alone.

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