The Invitation Part 6

The Invitation Part 6

Matthew 9 tells us in verse  35 Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

Every November for the past number of years Dan and our former Pastor, Ivan Veldhuizen have bought lunch for each other for their birthdays.  After they visited for a long while, Pastor Ivan said to Dan, “Would you ever consider going to GECHAAN and partnering with Art and Dorothy Helwig?  I would like you and Tina to pray about it.  Well, at this moment, Dan knew THIS was finally what God was calling us to.  He came home that night and asked me if I had ever thought about going to Nigeria and I said, “I thought about it briefly because they have such a cool ministry there, but we’re not missionaries and I didn’t think it was in the area you might want to pursue.”

Thus began our “official” GECHAAN journey.  We filled out bunches of paperwork and oodles of tests and questionnaires and VIOLA!    Steve Valentine at Converge was able to get us in to the Missionary Assessment Center in January.  We went to Orlando and went through the MAC and were approved with the condition we go to Nigeria (since we have never been there) to see if it was a good fit for us.

In March we went to Gembu, Nigeria and it was a very overwhelming experience.  We discovered there were so many things going on there at GECHAAN that it was hard to even remember all the different programs and ways they were affecting the community in that area through programs in the past or the many present programs and ministries that were going on.  We loved the people and we loved the area.  It is on a mountain plateau and the temperature during the day is 80 degrees and 65 at night.  The only challenge in this very remote place was that it was so far away from anything but a lot of people needing to know of God’s love and healing and restorative power.  It is typically a 2 day drive to go to or from the airport in Abuja.  This is not only because of distance, but because the roads are kind of come and go or sometimes, gone!

Well, on our way home, we were coming to what we thought was a check point, and the Nigerian driver, Peter, realized that it was not as we started slowing down to stop.  He sped up and the man with an AK47 started shooting at us.  They were trying to take out Peter, as he was the driver, and he had a bullet cut the tendons and nerves on his little finger and ring finger as it passed over the top of his hand.  Jim, in the front passenger seat, got something from the dash that hit is inner leg and glass from the windshield and bullet fragments in his head (he had just put his sunglasses on shortly before that)  This saved his eyes.  A bullet went entered my upper left thigh and came out the front of my leg.

I want you to get this picture, we are in a Diesel Mini Van being shot at, going as fast as we can to get away.  We get down the road to where we think is a safe distance and stop to access damages.  Jim and Peter were bleeding badly.  We wrapped cloth around the bloody areas and decided that we needed to continue to get them help.  We went down the road a short distance and the van stopped.  The bullet had gone through the radiator and we were out of water.  We wrapped them up in t-shirts and some people stopped and sent for someone with enough room to take them to the Bali clinic.  Jim  had a white shirt on.  It was soaked with blood, and of course, we didn’t know if he had a bullet in his head.  Peter’s hand was bleeding so badly, we needed them to get to help.  The car came and took them to Bali.  We are sitting alongside the road, trying to not look like a target.  I remember after the van stopped and we were sitting alongside a road in the middle of nowhere, Nigeria just crying out to the Lord.  “God, please don’t let the shooters come and kidnap us, Lord, help Peter and Jim to be ok.  Lord, please help.”  I have to say that none of us were panicked, we all kicked into action, and felt that we were going to be OK, but reality was saying, “You’re in a dicey situation here, Honey”.  On top of this, I thought a bullet had grazed my leg,  Dan had bandaged the 1 hole that he saw on the back of my leg, I didn’t put that together that I could only see the hole in the front of my leg and it wasn’t bleeding very badly at all, so I’m a little maimed, but not worried about that.  I am sitting in the van, looking out the open door at a little pond or river or something in the middle of the typical terrain there and praying.  Dorothy is calling Ivan (Our old Pastor, who is now the Director of International Missions at Converge) to apprise him of the situation.  She is also trying to contact the Bali field office to see if someone can come and help us.  My husband, a very resourceful individual, figures that the radiator has cooled down by this time and he fixes the radiator hose with a granola bar wrapper and packing tape while Pete, our other traveling companion, goes to the little river with our empty water bottles to get water for the radiator.  We made it to the Bali hospital with the Bali field office team following us.  We get to the hospital, which is an open air area with rooms around it.  Lizards and people sitting everywhere.  A nurse is pouring peroxide over Peters hand continuously.  Blood kept running and running as the peroxide washed over it.  They gave Jim stitches in his head and leg and tried to get out most of the glass.  A baby boy died while we were there.  I heard wailing and asked the woman who was sitting by me what had happened and she told me.  We had to get a police report, police escorts and eventually made it to the Makurdi hospital where I found out I had a through and through in my leg.  This meant I.V. antibiotics in the hospital overnight.  Jim, Peter, and I spent the night there.

I will continue next time with “the rest of the story”.  But todays point is:  God’s reality and human reality are totally different.  We are so finite and He is so infinite.  Our brains can’t even go there!!

The Invitation Part 5

The Invitation Part 5

2 Timothy 3: 14 & 15 tells us, “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.  All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” Now this was Paul writing to Timothy, but I have felt a strong pull toward Paul’s writings and words as well as the way he lived his life.

Welcome to another installment of God’s invitation to Dan and myself to join him in Gembu, Nigeria at GECHAAN, a HIV/AIDS Ministry.

In 2008 with losing our Construction-based business we were faced with the reality that we had more than a million dollars in debt that we were not able to pay due to not having our business anymore.  Within weeks after losing the business Dan was working 5 jobs and we gradually started chipping away at our bills, but really didn’t see how we could ever pay off our business debt.  We decided we had no other option but to file for bankruptcy.  We did, slogged through it, worked like crazy, and spent as little as possible for 3 years.  God was so good to bring Financial Peace University into our lives and we began to see a light at the end of the tunnel.

At this time, with financial pressures subsiding a bit, we both just got a sense that God may be calling us to a new area of ministry.  We looked into many opportunities and openings.  We really didn’t know if it was where we were serving, Edinbrook Church, or elsewhere.  We definitely felt God wanted us to be doing SOMETHING, we just didn’t have a clue!

In August of 2011 we attended the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit and there it was confirmed to us that God WAS leading us somewhere, and that we were willing to go or do whatever He was asking us to.  In one of the sessions, we were given broken pottery shards and told to write on them what we felt God was saying to us in our brokenness.  I wrote, “I am willing to stay or go”.  Dan wrote, “I am willing”.  Now we knew God definitely was going to do something to change our course, and we were willing to pursue any options put before us – together.

My point for today is this.  How can we know where God is leading us?  We won’t find out until we are broken and willing.  Then we can be used to do His work.

The Invitation Part 4

The Invitation Part 4

John 6:12 tells us “Gather the pieces that are left over.  Let nothing be wasted.  Todays blog is something that only God could use and not waste.

I would like to focus on one of the desert experiences of our life that God has used to make Dan and I a much stronger couple ready to do His work wherever He can use us.

We bought a construction-based business in 2005.  Dan put everything he had into that business night and day.  Unbeknownst to me, the economy was greatly affecting our business and Dan spent great quantities of energy and time stressing about, strategizing, working to keep our business open during that economic climate.  Well, unfortunately, I thought this meant Dan didn’t need me.  To tell you the truth, I didn’t think he would even notice if I was gone.  I came to the conclusion that after 20 some years of marriage I needed to move on.  I felt as if I had spent my married life not even hitting Dan’s priority list.  Dan thought he was protecting me from worry and stress by not telling me our situation.

Through some God-ordained circumstances, I finally shared this with Dan.  This brought about much heart-searching on both of our parts.  We read some marriage books together, did some bible studies on marriage together, got some counseling, and made a plan.  That plan was to protect our marriage, have planned times together that were sacred to connect and appreciate each other.  We also learned how to truly communicate with each other our feelings, thoughts, and dreams.

When we went to the Missionary Assessment Center in January of this year,  we had to do a marriage assessment and had a session with a psycho-therapist to go over the results.  He was very encouraging in assuring us we had some great strategies built in to help us in communicating and working together on the mission field as a team.

Can God use bad communication skills, bad choices, bad circumstances to further His kingdom?  Yes He can!  I would advise putting together a strategy for communication and togetherness in your marriage BEFORE you’re ready to abandon it, but only He can turn sorrow into joy, neglect into love.

Dan and I often say these days, “How did God get us through that?”, we are in disbelief that we love each other so much and work so well together as a team.  We can’t imagine a life seperate from each other or God’s work.

Todays point is that God can bring beauty from the ashes of your broken spirit and use you more than you ever thought was possible!