When God moves in our hearts, it can be with unexpected whispers of the Spirit through the actions of the least likely.
Three times over the Advent/Christmas season we received gifts from homeless people. We do not know all the reasons that they are homeless but they come to church to receive and to give.
We do not really want the half-smoked cigars or the used CD’s but their love and generosity moves us to tears. It may be all they have to share but share they must or their hearts will burst from the sorrow of their situation.
They attend the services, come to the coffee time where they are treated with dignity, acceptance and love and then return to “wherever.” One of the homeless men sang in our Carols by Candlelight service attending every rehearsal and singing heartily and joyfully. Is one of them an angel we are welcoming?
“Don’t neglect to show hospitality, for by doing this some have welcomed angels as guests without knowing it.” Hebrews 13:2
We all are surrounded with opportunities to show the love of Christ. May this New Year of 2020 be filled with reaching out “to the least of these.”
Jacky Lowe woke up in terror. Never before had she experienced a nightmare like this one. She had just returned to Madagascar from a visit to the United States. In this dark Thursday night, deeply disturbed in her spirit, she struggled to find the peace she needed to return to sleep. She got up from her bed and paced her home in prayer for two hours before returning to her bed. She continued to pray to the Lord as she fell back asleep.
Jacky is not the only Christian in her Madagascar community to experience such a disturbing dream this past year. Her fellow SAMS missionary Patsy McGregor has also suffered from a nightmare the first night returning from a trip – on a Thursday as well. This is hardly a coincidence: Jacky and Patsy have received reports that a local group of witch doctors prays against Christians, marriages, and families every Thursday night. “Why would witches pray against marriages?” I asked Patsy. “Because marriages are strong,” she replied. In the words of last week’s New Wineskins for Global Mission Conference theme (September 26-29), God’s people are #BetterTogether.
The Anglican Diocese of Toliara, of which Patsy’s husband, Todd, is the bishop, ordained and commissioned ten leaders on August 25: one priest, three deacons, and six evangelists. With such growth, I am not surprised that the devil is nervous. “Spiritual attack is ongoing on a daily and weekly basis. It’s very heavy,” says Patsy. “We have done a lot of ‘spiritual sweeping’ to get the darkness away. God is stronger and breaking through!”
Here in the West we rarely encounter such obvious spiritual warfare. One could say this is because our senses are dulled by entertainment and comfort, and the devil has an easier time distracting us from God. Whatever the reason, we can respond in two ways to this story.First, we can pray for spiritual protection over Jacky Lowe, Patsy and Todd McGregor, and their community near Toliara on Thursday afternoons Eastern Standard Time (Thursday night in Madagascar). We can pray in Jesus’ name that the witch doctors would be freed from the forces of evil. Second, we can live daily with deeper assurance that the spiritual world is real and the material world is not all there is. St. Paul’s words are true: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” (Ephesians 6:12 – 13 NIV)
Mission: Empower the next generation through mentorship, discipleship, and education, to reach their maximum potential and lift themselves out of poverty.
Solution: 1. Encourage Spiritual growth by instilling Christian values and morals through spiritual retreats and outreach activities within the community. 2. Impart life skills and multicultural sensitivity, through bilingual education.
Next steps: 1. Build a team of prayer and financial partners 2. Return to the Honduran team for 2017-2018 year.