Recently I was reminded of a time when someone asked what my favorite birthday ever was, and my parents were in the room when I answered. I said, "It was when I was a freshman at Berry College and my mom and dad drove over to spend my birthday with me and brought a picnic with all of my favorite foods - fried green tomatoes, okra, macaroni and tomatoes, green beans, etc." I could see my mom had tears streaming down her face when I answered, and I asked her what was wrong. She said that year they were completely broke on my birthday. They had to use change from their piggy bank to fill up the car with gas to get to Rome to visit me. She had been so upset and she told the Lord she didn't have money to buy me anything. The Lord told her, "You have food. Make some of her favorite dishes." Mom found that she did have several of my favorite ingredients in the fridge and pantry, so she just started cooking. They drove over and surprised me, and still to date that was my very favorite birthday. Just to be with my parents, and to be with people who really KNEW me and knew what I really loved. Isn't God amazing? Sometimes we feel that our gift isn't grand enough and we're ashamed to offer what we have, but God only wants our willingness, and for us to bring what we have, then He takes our little offering and makes it into something really beautiful.
It’s like the kid in the Bible with the loaves and fishes. There was no way that child could feed the thousands that needed food, but he simply offered what he had to the Lord, and Jesus took that, multiplied it, and fed thousands.
And there is the widow in 2 Kings who came to the prophet Elisha pleading for his help because her sons were going to be taken away as slaves because she couldn’t pay her debts. Elisha asked her what she had, and she said she only had a small jar of olive oil. He told her to ask her neighbors for all of the empty containers she could find and go back to her house and pour olive oil from her little jar until it filled all of the empty containers. She did as he said, and her tiny jar of olive oil filled ALL of the empty containers, which she then sold to pay off her debts and save her sons from servitude. This was a miracle from God, but it required her simply bringing what she had. In her case all she had was a little oil and her neighbor’s empty jars.
An American missionary here told me a story about when the Lord first called them to the mission field. They went to a big church in Spokane, Washington, and she was looking around the room and saying to God, “There are so many people in this room Lord that are so much more qualified to go overseas and do what you’ve asked US to do." She said she received a very humbling answer from God as He said to her, “Yes there are. There are 29 people just in this church who are much more qualified to do the job I've asked you to do.” “Then why US Lord?” she asked. “Because you said YES,” The Lord answered.
Humbling huh? Sometimes the best thing we can give God is just our willingness. Even though we may look around and see people more qualified or with more resources or more talent, we just simply need to bring what we have, and let God do the multiplying.
Sometimes, after having Emi, I have thought I don’t have so much to offer anymore. I am only able to be at the Community Center a few hours each week with my Xhosa and Zimbabwean girls.
After becoming a mommy my time is so limited, my resources are limited, I can no longer travel around singing or sharing at churches like I used to do, I can’t visit the teams with Marius, and sometimes it doesn’t feel like I have so much to give. (Yes, even on the mission field we feel like this too!) Aside from learning how to be a great mom to Emi which I believe is of the utmost importance, there is also this theme swimming around in my head, and God has been showing me real time that it is truly about just giving what I have. Here are a few recent examples.
There is a sweet elderly lady in our complex named Ouma Miriam. (Ouma is the Afrikaans word for Grandmother). I met her one day several months ago when I was pulling Emi around in her red Radio Flyer wagon. Since then, Emi and I go to visit Ouma Miriam every week, and we’ve grown to love her very much. She just turned 89 and I was asking God how I could bless her for her birthday. I had my last Betty Crocker cake mix and icing (from the States of course) and so I baked her a cake, picked her a little bouquet of flowers from around our little townhouse garden, and wrapped a few food items for her – a jar of curried carrots from my sister-in-law, some homemade rusks (similar to biscotti), a little beaded cross bookmark, and some toffees. Emi and I took the cake, flowers, and presents over in Emi’s wagon, and we had a tea party with Ouma Miriam to celebrate her birthday. We prayed for her after tea, and with tears streaming down her face, Ouma Miriam told me she couldn’t remember the last time somebody prayed for her. Now isn’t that great? A little cake mix, a short prayer, and wallllaaaaaaa…… God multiplied my little something small into something really special!
Another example is my water aerobics’ class. I go 2-3 times a week to help strengthen my knee to prolong this knee replacement surgery. I am at least 30 years younger than most of the other participants, and I love it. I’ve made so many new friends, and I've been to several Ouma’s homes for tea, as a result of meeting them in this class. One lady even started a conversation with me in the locker room and ended up inviting me to sing in their Methodist Women’s Group meeting! I was their guest speaker a few weeks ago and it was really great!
I met another lady in that class who was a former prostitute and drug user. While she was in rehab she had an encounter with Jesus, and she has never been the same since. God has given me many opportunities through this class to meet new people and encourage them, and to share about Jesus. It’s so cool, and it is just about being willing to be used wherever we are with whatever we have to bring.
I hope this blog finds you well. Please know that we love you and thank you for helping us serve here in South Africa! You may not feel like you have much to give but I assure you, you are making a difference in lives with us here. Many many blessings!