Monday, April 16, 2007

Interview With A Special Young Lady

It is wonderful to see God working in a young individual, and when that person is related, in this case, my niece Sarah Earleywine, it is cause to be proud. I have watched Sarah grow up and ask become a Christ-follower at a young age. She was always involved with her church, leading in praise and worship, and has a glow and vitality that comes when one is filled with the presence of the Holy Spirit.

Sarah has traveled to Haiti in mission several times. The stories shared have brought me joy as well as tears. She has a gift for working with impoverished children and bringing them a ray of hope that is in Christ. This coming June Sarah will be returning to Haiti, with an honor bestowed that is rare for such a young person. Sarah has been asked to be the Godmother of the children of the village who will be graduating. I don’t understand the customs and what this all entails, but it does mean that Sarah, who is in college and has no full or part time job to help fund this trip, is totally relying on God. When Sarah was questioning whether or not to plan on a trip to Haiti in June, God gave her a very clear message during worship one Sunday evening, that she needed to go, and He would get her there. Would you like to be a part of this vision?

Recently a fund was set up for the Haiti mission – all donations are tax deductible. If you would like to help Sarah return to Haiti to discover what God had called her to do, you may send checks or money orders to:
Schools For Haiti
301 Wyota St.
Cassville, WI 53806

In the memo of your check please indicate Sarah E.

To help you learn more about Sarah, I sent her interview questions via e-mail.

What prompted your first trip to Haiti?
I first went to Haiti in January of 2003 when I was a freshman in high school. My youth leader from my church had gone twice, and she decided to plan a trip through my church. I thought it would be neat to go, but did not say anything. Whenever I saw pictures of kids from organizations like Compassion International, or saw pictures in magazines or on TV of starving children around the world, my heart melted for them. "God, what can I do?" I remember thinking as young as fifth grade. After I heard about the trip to Haiti through my church, my mom actually approached me and said, "Sarah, I really want to go to Haiti; do you want to?" That settled it. I was going!

How did the trip affect you?
When I first arrived in Haiti, the culture shock was unbearable. I had seen all the pictures, heard all the stories and saw the videos. It looked exactly like how I imagined. But there was something about being there- it was real. Starvation and poverty really did exist outside my comfy life in the United States; it was not just on TV. I remember driving on the way to our mission site and looking out the window. I saw two half naked boys playing soccer with a deflated ball without shoes, right next to a pig who was rummaging through a massive pile of garbage and waste in a street ally with a river of sewage running between the garbage. I remember thinking, "God, I can't do this. I want to go home and be in my safe bed where this doesn't exist." I wanted to deny the reality my eyes were witnessing. Not that going home was a choice at that point, but staying there for the next ten days changed my life. I learned so much from the people and saw how strong their faith was. One instance that has stuck with me from my first trip was a conversation with a woman. When asked how she was doing, she responded, "I give thanks to God when I have, and I give thanks to God when I don't have." I often think about her words. There are so many stores of how my trips and relationships with the people in Haiti have affected me, but one thing God has made clear to me is my love and passion for Haiti and its people. Each time I go, I fall more and more in love, and am passionate for them.

How many times have you been to Haiti now, and with what organizations?
I have been to Haiti three times now. The first two times I went through an organization called Lifeline Christian Mission which began about 26 years ago by a husband and wife from Ohio. This past January 2007, I went to a mission called Haiti Evangelical Christian Mission (HECM), which was started by a Haitian man and is made up of about twenty churches around Haiti who encourage and support one another.

What type of work do you do there?
At Lifeline, they are pretty well established and therefore have numerous ministries that we are able to help with, including medical/dental/eye clinic, clothing pantry, food nutrition programs, delivery of baby layettes, projects around the mission (painting, welding, electrical, plumbing, building, fixing, anything and everything), and the most recent is home building. The atmosphere at HECM is quite different. Most of our time spent there was not doing physical labor, but building relationships with the people of the mission, encouraging them, learning and experience life as they do everyday, and learning their language.

Why do you desire to return to Haiti? (and possibly, how do you see Haiti as a part of your future?)
I don't know why I want to return to Haiti so badly other than the fact that God has placed Haiti on my heart in a huge way. I do not know what God has planned for my future, but I do know that Haiti will be a part of me for the rest of my life in some way. Right now, however, God has put me on a path toward physical therapy, and so that is what I plan on studying for right now. Eventually, my hope, God willing, is to take physical therapy to the mission field. I believe that there are a lot of missionaries who go into the mission field to just love people, and tell them about Jesus, and that is great. For me, though, God has really put it on my heart that I need to take a talent or skill, like physical therapy, to the people. I want to help heal their physical pain so that through that, getting to know the people, building relationships with them, and earning their trust, I can tell them about the hope that they will only find in Jesus. He is the Ultimate Healer and only He can heal them completely.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

My Victory lies in Jesus!

Bible Verse: “He is not here, he has risen, just as he said.” Matthew 28:6

This layout, created last year at this time, is a personal testimony to my faith and the meaning behind the Easter weekend for myself. It is one page out of many that I am creating for a devotional album, that is meant for anyone to see who is curious about Christianity and how it has impacted me.

The journaling reads:
HE IS RISEN! These words bring such great joy on Easter morning. However, such joy is preceded by sadness on Good Friday. As I worship and approach the cross I am overwhelmed by the knowledge that Jesus died for ME. Tears flow as I envision all the suffering that my Christ endured to free me from sin. I can never make it through the words of the “Old Rugged Cross” - even though I know that the stone is rolled away, and the tomb is empty three days later.
The glories of Easter morning bring great hope and gladness. Christ’s redeeming blood has conquered death. When my time on earth is over I will conclude my race with a sprint for the finish, for my victory lies in Jesus!
My prayer for you this Easter is that you may find the hope and the peace of God's promise for all mankind. Happy Easter!

Friday, April 6, 2007

On That Tree

Last night Jesse and I had a wonderful first experience of Maundy Thursday at Blackhawk, our new church. The candlelight, gifted musicians and imagery on the projection screen created a powerful worship experience for us. Jesse commented to me how good it felt to be there.

Pastor Chris began with scripture- after the Lord's supper, after the foot washing, Jesus gave us a new commandment, "to love one another" as He loved us. Pastor's message was brief, but filled with the love of Christ for all God's people. The worship service was very different for us, comprised mainly of praise music, reflective music, and many, many people gathering around five stations to break bread and drink wine together as one family in Christ. As new attendees at Blackhawk Jesse and I only know a few people at Blackhawk, but the folks gathered around with us for the Lord's supper felt very much like family. It really is a reflection of how we are all one in Christ's love.

On the way home God put a poem upon my heart, and I would like to share it. At some point I want to scrap it, but I need to take the perfect photo. Either an actual tree, or large, rugged cross with the lighting just so. I will have to keep my eyes open on my country drives. You can be certain I will share it here when complete. You can come back Sunday to see an Easter layout I created last year at this time. If you are a Christian, I hope that this poem will have meaning for you. If you are not, I pray that you will seek the truth of Jesus' resurrection, and enjoy a life filled with peace on this earthly journey, and hope for eternal life.


Candles flicker all around,
The music makes a holy sound;
I see the cross where Jesus died -
For my sins – crucified.
T’was on that tree He bore the pain -

Died on that tree for us to gain.
T’was on that tree His blood was shed -
Takes the sin from me, instead.
As I partake of bread and wine

Christ’s love around me doth shine;
I’m reminded of Jesus vict’ry
When He died - on that tree.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Ask, Seek, Knock

A favorite verse from Matthew 7: “Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks, the door will be opened."
This past Sunday we visited the church in Laodicea in the book of Revelation, to find out what kind of report card Jesus was giving this church for their ministry. It wasn't good. The church of "lay-odd-i-see-a" (it's always interesting to me to learn the correct pronunciation of a word in the Bible that I have totally pronounced wrong over the years) was lukewarm. The people had become focused on themselves, and had taken their eyes off of Christ and his teachings. Despite Jesus' rebuke, He gave them the greatest promise of all of the 7 churches in the book of Revelation. "20Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. 21To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne." Talk about grace and mercy flowing down, huh?! I find this exciting. Not only does this verse tie in with a favorite life verse from Matthew, it provides true hope and promise when one lives for Christ instead of themselves. I had created a devotional layout a few years ago, and after Sunday's message I am prompted to share it with you, journaling and all.

As a child I remember clearly the picture on my bedroom wall - Jesus stood at a large wooden door with his hand poised to knock. There wasn’t a door handle. Jesus was knocking to come in, but the true question the painting posed was "will you open the door and let him in?"
Jesus is always waiting - waiting for us to open our hearts to receive Him, and once this happens, life will never be the same. Mine certainly has changed...I have always believed in God. I knew He was there. I believed He created Heaven and Earth. My family attended church every Sunday. I was in the youth choir. We celebrated all the religious holidays. God and church - it was routine.To ASK God a question - to actually have a relationship with Him - that was new concept for me. I've prayed, now and then, throughout my life, but fourteen years ago I would have never asked God a question, and expect an answer. How pompous would that seem of me?
But I sought, and I learned. I asked questions. I listened in church to the message being given. I listened, I drifted. I listened some more, and one day I finally got it. God is not about going to church, God is about relationship - but not with Him alone; for there is no relationship with God unless one goes through His Son Jesus. His only Son died on the cross for EVERYONE… even a sinner such as me. No matter my past, my sinful ways, my slate is washed clean by His precious blood. His love and grace is beyond measure - a free gift to us all - if only we ask, seek and knock.
Nowadays I do not hesitate to ask, and I am always seeking His answer. Sometimes the answer is not what I want to hear. Sometimes I hear no answer at all. It's not that God is ignoring me... after all, He knows the count of every hair on my head. Either I am not taking the time to sit quietly and listen for His answer, or it is simply not yet time for the answer to be revealed. Yet, at other times I feel the warmth and love of the Holy Spirit envelope my body. He provides an answer, or sends a message for questions yet to be asked. He knows my heart, my mind, and my soul. I love Him, and He loves me - unconditionally. My world is no longer about "me", but about Him. I am SO GLAD that Jesus knocked on my door - and even more so that I OPENED the door and let Him into my heart. He welcomes all into His eternal kingdom - wouldn't you like to live there someday, too? All you have to do is ASK, SEEK, KNOCK.