"Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow, the Lord will do amazing things among you."
This was the verse that God gave me on Sunday. I wasn't sure why, but it stuck with me, and I kept being drawn back to it, even after our class moved on further in our study of Joshua. You know, when you read something like that, you don't necessarily think God's talking directly to you, but something inside me just felt like He might be doing just that.
Ceartainly you've heard the expression "Wipe that look off your face before I wipe it off for you." Nearly everyone has. Perhaps you've had it said to you, or in the heat of the moment, perhaps you've said it to one of your children. (No, certainly not the latter with me. Never.)
If you've ever had it said to you, it's also quite likely you didn't even know you had that look on your face! You're just simply unaware of it. But those words (ok not exactly, but that concept!) is what Father whispered to me Tuesday morning: "Wipe that look off your face! I AM GOD What do you expect?"
Let me back up. As you know by now if you've read anything I've written this summer, my daughter and I spent time in Zambia in July, working with orphans. When I first came back, I was gung-ho about telling each girl's story, hoping and praying God would move someone to sponsor one of them through what is called the "Father's Heart" program.
But honestly, I didn't feel the love reciprocated. I knew I couldn't expect others to share my passion for these girls. Until you've hugged them and looked into their eyes yourself, I'm not sure you can fully share that passion. But I still hoped and prayed that God would provide a way for them to be sponsored. Every few days, sometimes every other week, I would post a snippet about the need for them to have an education on my facebook page. I talked about it with anyone who would listen, yet aside from a few, most were not moved to action.
The deadline for sponsorship was Tuesday - October 1st, and both Amber and I have been overwhelmed with grief and emotion, knowing that some of "our girls" will attend school next term, and some in the same community will have to stay behind and watch their friends leave for school. The thought of them thinking that "Auntie Beth worked hard to find sponsors for the others, but somehow Auntie Beth didn't find a sponsor for ME" has haunted me, honestly.
Monday morning, my daughter Amber left for school with tears in her eyes and a pack of brochures in her hand. She said she's determined to somehow find a way to get the rest of her girls sponsored. She had planned to walk the Kroger parking lot after school to tell people about the Father's Heart Program and "her girls" that still needed sponsored. That was her plan, anyway, until I told her she wasn't allowed to solicit at Kroger. I just looked her in the eye and told her God knows. God knows which one of our girls must be in school this year. And if for some reason they can't be sponsored this year, then maybe next. I told her we'd done everything we can do, and the rest was up to God.
Yes, to say I had pretty much given up would be an accurate statement. We both have hugged each other and cried together over these girls that we fell in love with this last summer. But we were downcast, losing hope. And God said, "Wipe that look off your face, oh ye of little faith!"
I don't know why I lose faith so easily sometimes. He's proven Himself faithful over and over again. He is incapable of faithlessness. In fact, earlier in the day on Monday, I had received word that someone was looking for a girl to sponsor and had selected Agness, one of the girls from my group. I checked my email later in the evening, only to discover the whole story. You see, the day SNAPS (pictures) were taken, Agness wore a pink Batman t-shirt. The family who was praying over which child to select was immediately drawn to Agness, because the husband is a huge Batman fan. They referred to her as the "Batgirl" but they didn't want to pick her solely on the t-shirt, so they decided to let God choose. They prayed over 3 girls, and then put their names in a cup...whichever one was chosen would be the one God wanted them to sponsor. And of course, God orchestrated for them to choose Agness' name, aka "Batgirl."
I don't know when it started happening. Maybe 6 or 7 PM on Monday. But I got a message from my friend Susan Kendall, the wife of the founder of Family Legacy. Unbeknownst to me, she decided to "feature" Amber's girls on her facebook page to see if anyone was interested in sponsorship.
Susan sent me a message, asking for some specifics from Amber about a particular little girl. Amber and I looked at each other with tears flowing down our face, excited about the possibilities. Our jaws were dropped to the floor in awe. And God said, "Wipe that look off your face! I am God What do you expect?"
We checked Amber's sponsorship page, and within the hour, that one person who had inquired about one of Amber's girls felt led to sponsor not one but two of them. Within just a few hours, all but one of Amber's girls were sponsored, each with an incredibly unique story of how God moved in the heart of the person to hand-select just the perfect match of a sponsor and child. And God said, "Why do you sit there with such astonishment? I am God! Wipe that look off your face!"
Even after "Batgirl" Agness was sponsored, I still had 4 girls that remained unsponsored. Truthfully, the older they get, the harder it is to find sponsors. They aren't as "cute and adorable". But I can tell you that I spent time with these older girls, and the real beauty is on the inside. God allowed me to catch a glimpse through His eyes and see these girls as royalty - His princesses.
I decided to check my sponsorship page pretty late in the evening, but something was different. Memory, the smallest of my girls was moved from the "Needing Sponsored" column to the "100% sponsored" section. I did a double take to make sure I read that correctly, and indeed I had. The name of her sponsor: Sheri Reaves.
Let me tell you, the fact that this "Sheri Reaves" sponsored Memory is nothing short of a miracle, and I must tell her story. Their story. It is a God story.
Last week I was in Niagara Falls for a week of meetings with our operations/management team, including some of our international staff. The President of our company sponsored a blanket for one of the girls from my group, and in return, I had promisted to bring him a picture of the girl with the blanket. It was the first opportunity I've had to see him since I went to Zambia, so as soon as he was free, I went up to him and gave him the picture. Of all people, the one girl randomly assigned to the money he donated for a blanket was Memory.
Our speaker for the meetings was perhaps one of the best I've ever heard, and his name was (is) Chuck Reaves. Well, Chuck made it clear throughout his presentations that he was a Christian. There was no hiding it, and no reason to hide it. He was transparent, and you could tell the hand of the Lord was on him, with incredible wisdom and power. Chuck just "happened" to be standing right there when I handed Mike the picture. Mike showed it to him with a big smile on his face, told him briefly about me going to Zambia, and that was that.
Or so I thought.
You see, God has a way of putting people together, and there are no accidents. It turned out that Chuck had an interest in Zambia and in the past, he's been involved in putting wells there. We chatted a little, then it was time for the meeting to start again. That evening, our dinner consisted of a "progressive meal", rotating from restaurant to restaurant at the hotel, including rotating who we sat next to at each venue. And who would God put next to me during the appetizer? Sheri Reaves, Chuck's wife.
We talked as if we were old friends. Chuck had already told her that I had worked in Zambia, and she wanted to know all about what we did and the minsitry we worked with. Of course, I was glad to share, too! In fact, I'm sure I talked way too much! Our conversation jumped from her church name (Twelve Stone) to my church name (Five Stone) to my cancer, Zambia, Tanzania, and everywhere in between. We covered the globe, really. The appetizer was soon over, and it was time to rotate to another location, so Sheri gave me her email and asked that I email her information on the ministry in Zambia so she could learn more.
When I got home, I followed through, sent Sheri some links, and I really thought that would be the end of that.
Until I saw the name of SHERI REAVES listed as Memory's sponsor.
I emailed her immediately to thank her and give her more information and pictures of Memory, and what she replied to me was nothing short of a miracle.
Why did she choose to sponsor Memory?
Because MEMORY was her grandpa's name. (TRUTH! She said they called him "Mem" but his real name was Memory!) When she saw "my" girl by the name of Memory, she knew God wanted Sheri to sponsor her!
And then God said, "If you don't wipe that look off your face, I'm going to wipe it off for you!"
No seriously, why am I always so astounded when God does what He promises to do -- be 100% faithful?
I mean, is it by "chance" that there was a little big eyed girl by the name of Memory in my group this summer? Is it by "chance" that my president was randomly assigned as the sponsor for Memory's blanket? Is it by "chance" that I would choose to give my president the picture in person instead of mailing it to him months ago? Is it by "chance" that our speaker would be a Christian and would happen to have an interest in Zambia? Is it by "chance" that I would sit next to his wife and that he would have already told her about me? Is it by "chance" that Memory would be unsponsored? Is it by "chance" that Sheri Reaves' grandfather's name was Memory?
Even an atheist should know the answer to those questions. And when he answers them honestly and contemplates these said "chances", God will say to him as well, "Wipe that look from your face!"
I could share several more stories of God-ordained matches, but blogs are supposed to be 750-1000 words, and I'm pushing 2000 right now. In case you haven't noticed, I've been working on keeping things more brief, but sometimes, God-stories are not to be told in an abbreviated way. And this is the case today. I want to share every detail so you can shake your head with me, eyes glazed over (hopefully in tears) and know God is faithful. Always. In every detail.
So when you're weary; when you want to give up; when God shakes you in your Texan cowboy boots...
When you stand in awe and say, "I can't believe this!" Just know, you can believe it. So wipe the look of disbelief off your face. Because He is God. And you just never know what He might do when you take the Word of God literally. Consecrate yourself, for tomorrow, the Lord will do amazing things."
And He did just that.
PS - As of right now, one of Amber's girls and 2 of my girls are still needing sponsorship.
The deadline is less than 3 hours away. I am believing God will be God. If nothing else, please pray for 6-year old Melody and 12-year old Jane and Stella, that God will provide for them! Because, He can and will do amazing things!
Since the deadline is officially now past, there is a very outside chance that for the next few days, perhaps you can call the ministry and do a late registration for sponsorship. By the grace of God, Melody was sponsored just 25 minutes before midnight, and that leaves just Jane and Stella needing sponsorship! Please pray for God to provide in His perfect way and perfect timing!