Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas on $160

Four children, two adults, presents for everyone and dinner for more.

Can you make it happen on $160?

Somehow we did.

We met this family through a friend who was already working with World Relief.

They came to the United States from Iraq by way of Lebanon five months ago.

Emily has spent lots of time with them, visiting them about twice a week before we moved here and I had visited them a few times as well.

After moving in we were talking about Christmas and Emily asked if we could take the children to our church's Christmas program. Surprisingly, they said yes! So Sunday night we took the three youngest children (4, 8, 10) to our church Christmas program and dinner.

When we returned home we were talking about it and Emily and I decided to have them over for a Christmas party before we both had to head home for the break.

We thought about what we could do on our tiny budgets: we had a bag of potatoes. We had leftover tamales from the church (but we can't eat those, because they're pork and this family is Muslim).

But may all glory be given to God for how he as so graciously provided for us!!

A few weeks ago a girl at work told me that she felt like God was leading her to give me $100. No stipulations. Just use it for ministry.

Sunday another person at church gave me more money, some for Emily (who didn't even have gas money to go home for Christmas) and some for the family.

So we decided we would use the $100 from work and the $60 from church to make Christmas happen for this Iraqi family who has never celebrated Christmas nor even heard the story.

We went to Target where we thought hard about what each person would like:

For the father, a tool set and flashlight.

For the mother, a photo frame and perfume.

For the oldest son (14), a chess set.

For the youngest son (10), a soccer ball and air pump.

For the oldest daughter (8), a beaded jewelry craft kit.

For the youngest daughter (4), a baby Snow White doll.

We made mashed potatoes, roasted vegetables, and I got two roast chickens.

We all drank hot chocolate while I spoke broken Arabic and English to tell the Christmas story, demonstrating with our Nativity set, drawing pictures, and making big and crazy motions.

Then we ate dinner, followed by the movie The Nativity Story.

After the movie, we opened presents.

They were all so thrilled to receive each of their gifts.

The father said in broken English mixed with Arabic, "I am so thankful to God for my friends Emily, Laura, and Matt, and for dinner and the movie and the presents, and everything you have done." (rough translation)

The poor 4 year old girl fell asleep during the moving and couldn't wake up to open her present! We tried so hard to wake her up but she fell limp on the couch again. It wasn't until they got home that she was finally awake enough to open it, and then she walked around the house holding and kissing the doll.

The children were all so happy, the parents were so happy, and we were amazed and so thankful to God for allowing us the opportunity to share their first Christmas with them.

This is why we moved.

Pray for this family, that they would hear the Gospel and understand what Christ's birth truly means.


The first thing we saw when we opened the door to our new apartment was a roach.

Crawling on the door.

Then in the closet.

Then in the kitchen.


Emily and I tried to look at it positively: if we had actually moved to the country where many of these refugees come from, we would have a lot more than roaches on our hands.

Thankfully, an exterminator is coming today. It turns out that all you have to do is go tell the office "we have roaches" and they'll put you on the list and the next day somebody will come to kill them all.

Once they're gone, I'm sure they'll come back. But then we'll go back to the office, get back on the list, and kill them again.


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Moving and Ministry

I'm moving tomorrow and Saturday.


In the past three years I have moved four (or five, depending on how you count) times.

But this time instead of moving to a new country or even to a new city, I'm just moving 10 minutes down the road.

The rent is more expensive, the location is less convenient, and the neighborhood is shady.

So why am I moving there?

You may not know it, but Fort Worth, TX is home to thousands of international refugees through organizations like World Relief and others.

Many of those refugees are placed in the LP apartment complex, 10 minutes down the road from our seminary.

All of those refugees have recently been through trauma that most Americans could never imagine or even begin to understand.

Most of those refugees are Muslim, Hindu, or Buddhist and have never heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They've never read the Bible. They've never heard about a God who loves them so much that he sent his son to die for them.

They all need hope. They all need salvation. They all need Christ.

Romans 10:13-17 says:

For "everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!" But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?" So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

So we're going there to tell as many as we can about the good news of Jesus Christ.

Our desire is to reach the nations for Christ but at the moment God has placed us here, in Fort Worth, Texas. But he as also placed the nations just 10 minutes down the road from where we are currently living. If we truly want to see the nations know Christ, what makes us think we will be faithful to proclaim the Gospel around the world if we are not faithful to do it in our own neighborhoods? We must start here and now. We can't wait until we get sponsored by a church or hired by a mission agency. We can't wait until we finish seminary. We can't wait until life slows down or we're working less hours. We have to go now, because right now there are hundreds of families in LP who need the Gospel.

You may ask why we have to move. If it's only 10 minutes down the road, why can't we just go over there and visit every day? Or once a week?

Well, that's the thing. We won't. Emily (my roommate) goes about twice a week, as much as she has been able to go. I've only even gone a few times. Not because I don't want to go more, but taking more than a full load of seminary classes, working 20-30 hours a week, getting involved at church, dating my boyfriend, grocery shopping, exercising, studying, keeping up with my family, attempting (unsuccessfully most days) to keep up with friends from my pre-Spain days, attempting to keep up with friends from Spain, having Bible study with a girl from work, building new relationships with seminary friends...it's just too much. There's always something else to do. There's always a reason why "I don't have time today."

So I'm solving that problem.

I'll just move in with them. Take less hours at school. Bring my boyfriend along when he can. Maybe even take some neighbors grocery shopping with me. Exercise in the fitness room (unless it turns out there are creepy guys in there. Then I won't). Emily and I will do whatever it takes to reach these people.

We don't know them, but we love them.

The Hendricks moved their whole family to Haiti when they saw the hurt and the need of the Haitians. The least we two single girls can do is move out of our comfortable seminary housing and go 10 minutes down the road.

So we're going. It's not Haiti, it's not Saudi Arabia, it's not a mud hut anywhere in Africa. It's LP...just 10 minutes away.

Tomorrow we'll sign the lease and start moving some boxes in, and Saturday we're renting a U-Haul and we'll finish the job.

If you're a believer in Christ, pray for us. Pray that God would give us a ministry. Pray that God would give us favor among our neighbors, and opportunities to share Christ with them. Pray that many would put their faith in him.

More to come later.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Need Some Christmas Music?

Do you need some new Christmas music?

Are you tired of the same old songs?

Do sleigh bells adorning every single song start to get on your nerves?

Do you wish more Christmas music would focus on the purpose of Christmas, Jesus Christ?

Do you need to mix up your musical selection this Christmas season?

Check out WORSHIP THE NEWBORN KING, by Toby Baxley (who just happens to be my brother-in-law).

You can buy his album (or try out a few songs) on iTunes, or on www.CDbaby.com, Amazon mp3, or plenty of other places.

My favorite song on his album is definitely his re-make of "I heard the bells" but "Wonderful" or "Evermore" are definitely up there on my list!