Thursday, October 27, 2016

Passions Run Deep

Last night we watched a special on PBS about giraffes.  They are so graceful, beautiful and gentle. The population of giraffes has gone down 40% in the last twenty years and they are already extinct in 7 African countries.  These graceful, beautiful creatures are disappearing.  How do these things happen?  Sadly, through famine, war, indifference, greed.

Fifteen years ago a man named Julian, who thought he wanted to be a stock broker, learned about the challenges facing his favorite animal, and ended up moved his family from Australia to Africa to study and save the giraffe.  He was so in love with this graceful animal that he moved to where he could live among them.  I found it interesting that three Christian pastors are among his team who help him out in his quest.  His passion is strong as he works hard to save this fragile population.

Christine Caine is a powerful speaker, teacher and author, who also advocates for those who are caught up in sex trafficking.  Having been a victim of sexual abuse in her childhood, she felt the pain of those young girls that are sold into sex slavery around the world, including America.  She did not start out thinking this is how her life would unfold, but her passion runs deep to end this terrible abuse of human life.  The worst of who we are as humans comes to the surface in the sex slave trade, but those driven to do something about it, are stepping forward.  A21 and other non profit organizations are making a difference in the name of our Lord.

Our friends Linny and Dw have developed an organization to help orphans in Uganda and other countries.  They left behind their jobs as pastors and started International Voice of the Orphan.  Their sweet 21 year old daughter, Emma, has wanted to be a missionary since she was a young girl.  She would pray every night that God would let her be the one to help the orphans in Africa.  By age 13 she had talked her dad into taking her to Uganda on their first mission trip.  Now in her early twenties, Emma has a home for medically fragile special needs orphans in Uganda.  Her husband knew that if he married Emma, he would be "marrying" into her life's passion.  It is a difficult journey, they have grieved the loss of little ones who have died despite the care they have given them.  They have seen orphans starving and others covered in scars from their blood being used in Satanic sacrifices....... because they were not "perfect". They have a deep God given desire to care for and love on each child that comes into their home, The Gem Foundation.   Linny and Dw have risked their lives to go and help save the children and teach hungry pastors more about their calling. Their passion for the orphans has them saying yes to a home full of great kids. Their passion for God's own has created The Gem Foundation Home in Uganda, and has them feeding thousands of homeless children through International Voice of the Orphans.

I can think of many who live with this same deep passion.  Among them Joel's second cousin David Simonson who is buried in Tanzania after over 50 years of missionary work to bring Christ to the Masai tribes.  Heidi and Rolland Baker, who have given their lives to take care of the children in Mozambique, bringing the gospel to people in Africa and South America.  And those whose names may not bring notice, but who live out their passions on a smaller but no less important scale~ whether it is to translate the Bible, feed the homeless, teach God's Word. Love on their families, care for the sick. raise Godly children, and more.  Those whose passions run quiet but deep.

I just read about the "Nine Nanas" from Tennessee who decided nearly 3 decades ago to find a way to secretly reach out to others in need.  They founds ways to save money and pooled what they saved, to give anonymously to someone who needed help.  And they also made hundreds of pound cakes to give away.  Even their husbands did not know about the early morning adventures in faithful living for many of the years they quietly loved on others.  I love it!  Behind the scenes they followed through on a passion they felt, and reached out to those in need.

Most of those who have this deep drive, this passion, are willing to sacrifice, and most of the time they do not see what they do as a sacrifice at all.  They feel grateful they have the opportunity to do what they are doing.  It is deeply satisfying, especially when God is in the center of it all.  When I told my friend Linny that I was in awe of her being a mom to so many even as she wore the hat of grandma, she replied with deep emotion ~ "It is my privilege to parent my children."  She feels she was chosen by God to do this and she is so thankful He chose her and Dw!

So, I asked Joel what was his passion, already knowing the answer.  He quickly replied ~ to preach and to teach.  Like Emma, he started having dreams about his passion when he was a young child. He used to dream at night about being a pastor.  Unbeknownst to him, his dad was praying throughout his childhood that he would serve God as a pastor.  Joel has been standing in a pulpit since I have known him.  He has been given the opportunity to preach since around 1966, 14 years before he was ordained.  He has almost always felt drawn to smaller congregations, the country style churches he was raised in. He has a deep passion to "fill" those who grace the pews on Sunday morning with more of God's love and revelation, as his own understanding grows.  That has expanded beyond the pews to all those in need of God's love and gifts.

So, of course, I have been asking myself, what is my passion in this season of my life?  What stirs me?  What drives me?  I can focus in on a couple of areas.....writing....more of Holy Spirit....healing. And now I ask, What stirs you?  What passion keeps you coming back, working hard, determined and focused?  I believe we all, unique in our own gifts, have been given a passion that lives within. Sometimes it gets stifled, sometimes it gets waylaid, sometimes it shifts, but each of us have a passion from our loving God, a unique entrustment, a responsibility given by God.

Author and speaker Lisa Bevere's questions caught my attention......"Starting today, how might God use you?  How might you love the unlovable?  How might you use your passion to serve God?  Still seeking to know your passion?  Ask God.  He is more than willing to reveal it to you!

Our deep and holy passion comes from God.  Whether it leads you to the orphans in Uganda, the Masai tribes of Tanzania, the pulpit of a country church, or your written and inspired words, the call of God is on your heart as your passion leads you.  Embrace that passion that runs deep and rest in knowing God will bless you on the journey.  

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