Ordinary with an Extraordinary God

Every ministry trip that I take is the same. The Lord begins to prepare me some weeks in advance. I feel the glory and presence of God pressing upon me, filtering through me, washing me.

The journey to the country of destination is bathed in peace and quiet. I am not an extroverted person and the thirty-plus hours of travel prepare me with gifts of silence and simply being before my God.

The deep work to come requires a pause in the normal, a stepping back from interaction, and a garnering of inner reserves. This trip to Mozambique was no different.

It is a deeply subjective process. Known mostly to myself, the changes I feel on the inside of me are deep and preparatory, yet perhaps unrecognizable to anyone looking on.

At the end of each journey it is a process in reverse. It was my last Sunday in Mozambique and we were in Muda. I’d preached the morning sermon and the singing was bookending our time.

In the beauty of praise and the presence of our Lord I went to my knees and began to feel the glory and power of God leave me. It is a subtle thing, but I recognize it by my own tears and worship of thanksgiving to the Lord I can feel myself becoming simply Cyndy once more.

This happens every trip. Every time. God rests heavily on me for a specific time and purpose, and then eases off and allows me to simply be myself. It marks the end of specific ministry and declares a well-done on the time.

My next two days, Monday and Tuesday I’d already set aside as just time for me. We have been heavily travelling for two full weeks and we were all exhausted. I knew I needed the time to rest and to do nothing before the long and equally exhausting trip home.

Monday I spent at the house in my shorts and a sloppy t-shirt. Shocking everyone with the whiteness of my legs I simply didn’t care. It was hot, I was tired, and I simply sat and listened to music on my iPod all day long.

God rested around me, we sat in comfortable silence, wept in undeclared longing, visited in gentle waves of compassion for each other. It was a beautiful day.

Tuesday I woke able to write. And so for some hours began telling the stories of my time there, catching with words movements of the spirit almost too deep to catch. It will in fact take me some time to share it all.

That afternoon after I’d eaten my lunch I let Pastor Daniel know that I was heading for a nap. And though I had been very explicit in my desire and plan for Monday and Tuesday to be just for me, he informed me that he had planned a trip to his church and then the hospital that afternoon to pray for someone.

I was taken aback. Yet quickly recovered. I said ‘No’, I’m not going.

“You knew Daniel that I was taking these two days for resting and nothing. I’m not going.”

And as I settled into my nap it became clear to me that the real issue was that I had made a commitment to myself. One I must keep if I ever intended to be able to keep my commitments to others.

So I kept my commitment to myself that day. Said ‘No’ to the noble, righteous, religious, opportunity to pray for someone.

Basic principles of long-term ministry are this:

1. Come under the anointing and glory of God as he chooses to descend on us. Cooperate with the Spirit of our Living God.

2. Enter the work fully and effectively as long as that particular work is there. Once the presence of the Lord eases off, do not add to the work. Rest in the work accomplished. More is not always better.

3. Keep our commitments. This begins with the commitments to self. Do not underestimate the importance of integrity with oneself as that which empowers us to keep our integrity with others.

4. Remember, always remember, that we are ordinary people with an extraordinary God. We are not the Christ. We are not the Saviour. All good things are not ours to do.

To sum it up:

Work in sync with the Holy Spirit and not in tune with our own best thoughts and wishes and desires. Good works are only those that amplify the heart and voice of God. It is just so easy to go beyond the explicit direction of our God.

Restraint and wisdom must go hand in hand in all things.

My journey’s home are marked the same each time as well. Hours and hours of silence, introspection, resting. The 30-plus hours of travel home are exactly what I need.

I don’t talk to a soul, other than those I order food from, or to say to my seat mate on the airplane, “Excuse me, I need to get out to use the washroom.”

My work is done. I need not prolong it. God doesn’t ask me to. For he is taking good care of me too.

Train Station

We were waiting at the train station. We were about halfway through the trip, had been in Mutarara for a couple of days and were now heading to Yaminga. The train was expected about 10:30 pm. We had arrived at about 5pm, just before the sun was about to set.

This enabled us to find a place to wait amongst the many others there. At least 100 people were doing as we were. The station was quite large and with a cement pad, railroad-tie benches, and no roof. There was a light that shone down once it got dark, but other than that our only comfort came from the fabric cloths we had brought, and thankfully I had my sweatshirt with.

At first the wind blew hot for as the sun set the surrounding rock hills gave off their heat that they had stored that day. It had been a scorcher. I’d spent most of the day in Mutarara laying on a mat in the church just trying to stay cool (sorta being the operative word). And so it had been strange to in the midst of searing heat ensuring that my sweatshirt was ready for the night.

The plan was to board the train about 10:30 and to travel through the night to Yaminga, arriving about 6am. It was therefore imperative that we try to catch a bit of sleep as we waited. My sweatshirt became my padding under me and my backpack made for a pretty good pillow. In this way I could also ensure that it wasn’t snatched while I slept. I figured my head made a pretty good guard dog.

The time went by. At first I couldn’t sleep. I’d had one of my few coca-cola’s earlier that evening and there was no sleeping for me. So I settled into holding the little one so that her Mamma could sleep a touch. The men took some walks, bought us buns and water, and I later learned that Whisky had even taken a quick bath in the nearby river for refreshment.

Sleeping in fits and starts is an interesting way to pass a night. And while sleeping on rail-road tie benches is unique it wasn’t all that different than the mat on concrete or dirt floors that had been our beds for more than a weeks time already. Railroad ties were surprisingly comfortable in fact.

All around was the chatter and busyness of people. There were the young people laughing and flirting with each other. The occasional drunk man made his bit of declaration to anyone who would listen. Boys of 10-12 years old had gathered to sit near me (this happened everywhere I went).

It must have been about midnight that the chatter finally stopped and we all became quiet for a time. Women nearby spread out their blankets on the concrete floor and stretched out for a good nap. Men sat and nodded off with heads askew. Children curled up next to parents.

At some point in time as I was asleep something ran across me. It is one of my mortal fears, to have some cockroach or spider of rodent run over me while I’m sleeping. But as I woke with a quick gasp and thrashing of my hand to speed its run I realized with quiet satisfaction that my worst fear had happened and I was still alive to tell about it. I was making progress.

The fellows had a bench nearby and took turns stretching out and getting in full sleeps. Mamma and I were next to each other on our bit of bench and as the night turned deeper and the possibility of mosquitoes became greater every once in awhile I’d feel the soft thump of cloth on my body and face as she waved away anything that might be bothering me.

I’d gotten used to this by now. And as I lay there half asleep and with my eyes closed I simply smiled at her care. Of course, I couldn’t go to sleep with her whacking at me, but nonetheless I said nothing and simply appreciated her heart over me. Later in the night she put one of her cloths on me as a blanket. This too I was used to, and so I simply kept on ‘sleeping’ as she tucked me in.

One of my greatest concerns some years back as I was entering into this work was the wondering who would care for me as I cared for many others. As I poured out for many who might pour into me? Well this trip it was Isabel. She diligently took my care in hand, often to an embarrassing extent, yet nonetheless did indeed minister to me. I could not discount the Lord’s provision over me through her. With all the travel and ministry that we undertook in a two week span I am certain I would not have fared so well without her.

So there we were at the train station, waiting and waiting. Now during all my time in Mozambique I never had a watch or means by which to tell time. I learned that the sun set at 6pm each night, and so I could gauge time by that but most often I was a little clueless. Therefore after it seemed that some time had passed I asked Daniel the time. His reply, “Seven minutes to Four”.

I was astonished.

Anyway, we spent the entire night at the train station. Over twelve hours, sitting, laying, curled up, stretched out (sorta) on those railroad-tie benches. It was, all in all, quite the adventure. And I’m not sorry for the experience in any way.

 

What is Real

I’m heading to Mozambique in less than two months time. The people there, Pastor Daniel and nine churches, have been waiting for me for more than one year and six months.

In Africa this would in fact feel like ten years. It’s been long enough for me here, I cannot imagine the waiting there.

It is an interesting thing building relationships via email and phone and text and facebook, incredibly satisfying and noteworthy.

An invitation to visit a community holds rich flavors that can only be savored over time.

Anticipation grows deep and expectation runs high.

To put oneself in the care of others is the ultimate compliment and is returned with the greatest of hospitality.

Friendships are formed on the basis of mutual strengths and basic need.

Not that everything is smooth sailing. It’s not. There is, in any relationship, the period of ‘storming’ where good intentions and long term commitments are put to the test.

With those we are closest to in Uganda there have been some incredible misunderstandings and frustrations and upset. But now, past the storming, we are even more appreciative of each other than before.

And more committed than before to do whats right by each other.

A month-plus ago we hit a storming with those in Mozambique as well. It was, to me, one of the first signs and assurances that I was indeed going to be traveling and ministering there.

In 2012, on one of my stays with Edith in Uganda my camera was stolen out of my room. It was an awful day.

I was sick to my stomach. Edith was sick to her stomach. All the best of colliding cultures and race was put to the test that day.

And we came out better friends than before. After traversing that test together there is a bond between us that can’t be broken.

It’s what must happen in our cross-cultural ministries. We must be around long enough, and invested deeply enough to have a few fights and to weather uncertainty in each other.

Every long-term committed relationship will have this. Without it we are merely paternalistic and holding ourselves above each other and there is no real heart of service.

I have no idea the exact manner in which my trip to Mozambique will unfold. And for the most part I will be reporting on the God-wonders, the touch of our Holy Spirit, the unique of the land and people, the rich fellowship of sharing meals and hearts.

But there will also be all that doesn’t go well. Communications that will prove less than. Travel details that will frustrate. Expectations that will collide. I won’t be reporting all of these things for they are simply par for the course and what comes of a fellowship of hearts.

But they will be there, and in the midst and under the layers of frustration will be deep gladness.

For even in the storming we are growing together, and bottom line, I am glad to be investing in what is real, not what is perfect.

Settled and Finding Momentum

Years back I would wander the halls of Missions Fest looking for organizations that were working with indigenous pastors around the world.

I remember finding barely any. Merely one or two each year was only sorta like the kind of organization I was interested in collaborating with. I had a few interesting conversations but there wasn’t any conclusive sense that, ‘This organization would be a fit’.

Little did I know at the time that I was to in fact found and direct the kind of organization I was looking for.

And even when we launched Capturing Courage International, there was still only a vague idea of the international aspect of the work.

Looking back I realize I had many if not all of the dots, but in the moment I couldn’t connect them.

Thankfully, the Lord is the master dot connector! And so here we are, as an organization, now ministering to thousands of pastors who are in turn ministering our material to tens of thousands of people.

The work has solidified, personally I’ve navigated the concentration stage and with the work picking up momentum, we know exactly what we do and how we do it.

Simply put, we are equipping and encouraging indigenous pastors around the world.

We do this through:

1. Building authentic relationships of mutual prayer and encouragements via email, facebook, phone, and texting.

2. Sending out Capturing God’s Heart on a monthly basis – this is a topical Bible study that is assisting in the spiritual formation of both pastors and their congregations.

3. Providing Walking in Spiritual Authority, a CCI Discipleship School curriculum comprised of three parts – The King’s Heart, At the Cross, Spiritual Authority.

4. By being on the ground with our colleagues around the world, participating in pastor’s conference, preaching and praying the heart of God, bringing inner healing and deliverance.

I’m heading to Mozambique in October. Pastor Daniel along with 9 churches have been waiting for me for over a year and a half. It’ll simply be good to in fact show up, to fellowship and to experience the Lord touching and encouraging and healing lives and hearts.

It is his specialty after all!

“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11

To find out more head over to Capturing Courage International.