Sunday, 20 December 2015

amazing grace... happy chirstmas!

Beauty for ashes..... the weak become strong.... what was sent to destroy us, God uses to strengthen us... these are all truths for children of God and somedays I wonder… how did I get to receive this amazing grace? I didn't do a thing....

It's nearly 7 years now since my feet lifted from the tarmac of Cotonou's runway to board a plane home. I knew my mercy ships work was somehow coming to an abrupt end in Benin, but I couldn't stop it and as I found myself in a mixture of tired and empty, I had no idea what life would look like once I got home. It was an uncomfortable season, that's for sure. But over the course of the years that followed.... He restored it all. He led me on a journey that opened my eyes to His beauty in ways I had never known before. I was met with arms open wide and all I felt was amazing grace.

It's who my daddy is. When God restores, He always restores to a place better than it was before. He aggressively pursues restoration. He is always revealing his restorative character here on Earth. He just can’t help it. Think of all those crunchy dead leaves – new ones already in the process of popping out – or the seemingly dead bulbs getting ready to burst their pure beauty through the winter ground. And in the Spirit, it’s the same. Whatever comes towards us, God positions himself to redeem... He allows it to benefit us... for it to somehow become an asset in our lives. The enemy simply cannot destroy the purposes of God. Encouraging, isn’t it. His heart is so set on restoring every lost and broken thing in our lives that we cannot help but be overwhelmed by His goodness. And as He does so, He is exalted! Our task is to somehow let the goodness ooze out and let others see the love song that we are a part of. That doesn’t mean there won’t be scars along the way, but even those, He arranges in such a way that somehow speaks of His beauty. He is always revealing who He is.

And so last month when I found myself in Benin again.... the Country I left, wondering if I would ever return.... and the same Country I returned to last year for a couple of months to prepare for the ships arrival.... the one we ploughed so much energy and love into... the one we so desired to see God's heart for... to dream big for... to call Heaven to Earth for... and then from where we had to suddenly leave as a result of the Ebola crisis… how our hearts were broken.... the hope we brought and then had to snatch away. It all felt so unfair and didn’t make sense. But all the while, God was nurturing it and keeping it safe…

So it is with great delight that I can share that Mercy Ships has decided to go back to Benin for 10 months beginning next August 2017. Maybe it just sounds like just another Country. Another decision... just some more work. But in my heart it's not. And in the heart of God, I know it's not. He’s in the midst of restoring hope and releasing His amazing grace. I know He is. He can’t help Himself.

Last month, I was privileged to be part of an Assessment trip to Benin for us to begin designing our surgical and medical capacity building (training) programs there. We collected all sorts of pieces of information that form part of a larger puzzle that help us better understand the needs in the Country and how some of the things we can do fit in with that. It was a wonderful time to re-connect with those we met last year. And the grace extended blows me away - we were not met with bitter hearts who had tasted the hope we’d offered and felt abandoned but by hearts that were warm and open and... Oh, so kind. It can only be God. He is the one that nurtured that hope. The One who promised He loves them. The One who promised He would never leave. The One who is ever present and reminds me that we are mere fleeting parts in His story.

Benin... You speak to me so much of Gods redemptive heart. You hold memories of fun, of amazing grace, of generosity that knows no bounds.... may it just get more beautiful. May the plans Mercy Ships had for your people just get bigger... May the delay that felt so discouraging be used by God to propel us to even greater things for you. May Jesus give us eyes to see what you need, how we can help.... May His face be seen...

It makes no sense... But this is grace...

And I pray you meet it this Christmas too – the gift of God’s own Son – amazing grace given for you.

With love and Happy Christmas all the way from Madagascar!


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