Stereotypically Basic Riots

Facebook geniusly stole TimeHop’s idea of doing flashbacks to what you were up to on this date since you created a FB. With most of the photos and statuses, I’ve thought, “Good lord. Deleting that… Ew… Can’t believe I dated that guy… What was I wearing?… MY BANGS…” etc. We’ve all been there. Don’t you judge.

But this one… 423657_815026159448_2139105754_n

It seems so dumb. Like, stereotypical BASIC. White girl holding a Starbucks cup. Wearing a Fossil purse (not mine tho…). I mean, leggings weren’t pants back then, so that’s out of the picture, and no, I’m not wearing Uggs. And we won’t mention the time that I actually was memed taking a pic of my first frappuccino in America post-Africa and it went viral…

But I just want to share the story behind THIS picture that so many people (even myself) would label as basic. [Extra lols: my instagram photo three days ago is a selfie holding a starbucks cup… ha… okay, maybe I am a little basic…]

This picture was taken January 28, 2012. I was living in Dakar, Senegal (West Africa) with 7 of my new best friends working with a campus ministry at Université Chiehk Anta Diop. We all moved there together in September of 2011 to spend the next 10 months launching a spiritual movement. We spent four months learning two languages (Wolof and French), building friendships with our students, getting Senegalese dresses made, loving each other (sometimes trying to love each other. Sorry Aaron.), loving the Lord and loving life.

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In the background though, there was quite the potential political disaster brewing. Abdoulaye Wade was serving as president during his second term. Sometime in the summer of 2011, he decided that because the term lengths for president were decided during his second term that his first term didn’t count(I know, idk either how there was even a second term when how did the first even end??). Basically, he wanted to create a loophole in the system and become president a third time. You know, ’cause democracy…

The public didn’t receive his idea well. I mean, who would? So.. riots began. Buildings burned down. Riots in the street. Tear gas. Rubber bullets. And a few people died.

After that, things calmed down long enough for us to get the okay to head to Senegal in September. So we began our year, diving into a place that was hard, but so incredibly lovable in some ways.

Even though things had calmed down “enough”, we were still wisely prepped for the “what ifs” of a government coup. We created a “go bag” that was to be kept packed in our apartment in case of an emergency. We had to keep enough cash in it in case the airport’s system wasn’t working and we couldn’t use a debit/credit card to buy a flight out of Senegal along with clothes, toiletries, contacts, anything valuable we didn’t want to leave.

As months went by, we began to experience this political tension in tangible ways. Riots in front of our campus over tuition and President Wade that included blocking streets and burning car tires and massive tree stumps. Students throwing bricks at police. The police would come to squelch the riots with tear gas. We got used to what tear gas sounded like and smelled like from a distance. (And two times up close… both complete accidents! Language barriers, man.)

The week before this picture was taken was so anxiety ridden. It was the week that the, shoot I forget who, parliament? Congress? Prime Minister? SOME GROUP was deciding if Wade had the right to re-run for president. Everyone had been talking about people planning riots and the potential of the government shutting down cell phone towers if they said they were kosher with him being president. People assumed the riots were going to get bad, so they wanted to block communications.

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Pacifique, my Congolese twin.

 

That week was a long, hard week. We already had plans to leave the night of the decision to head out to Spain for a conference, and were going to be gone for two weeks. But we weren’t sure if we were going to be allowed back into the country. What was going to happen? Would Senegal still be at peace? We didn’t know. And so we acted as if we weren’t going to be able to come back. We acted more boldly sharing with friends clearly, unashamedly the gospel over and over again.We said temporary goodbyes hoping that it would be only two weeks, knowing it could be longer.

The night of the decision was tense. Aaron, my team leader, made sure that we had all of our bags by the door and ready to go as soon as the announcement was made. We had to be dressed and ready the whole day. So we just waited, and waited to see what the answer was.

And then, we heard. “Wade is able to run again…” I hear Aaron yell from upstairs, “Get your bags! We have to go! NOW!” And within two minutes, we all raced down the stairs, got into two taxis, told the driver to avoid the route that we knew people had planned to protest at (which of course he took that route…) and made it to the airport.

When we arrived and made it into the airport we had like 7 hours until our flight. We all kind of sat there a little shell shocked, a little excited for Europe, concerned for Senegal, questioning what our futures looked like and just awkward.

As soon as we landed in Spain, we were all so heart-shaped-emoji-eyes at the idea of American food in the airport. And then we remembered: STARBUCKS. It’s kind of crap coffee. But it’s so American. And comfortable. And I needed familiar. So I dove in. This was my first cup, but I’m pretty sure I had like two more that day. And so much Burger King, which I haven’t eaten in America since I was 15. Senegal has no chain restaurants, so American food there is about as American as take-out Chinese is actually Chinese.

After we arrived at the conference and checked into our hotel rooms, I turned on CNN. And headlining, “Mass Political Riots in Senegal…” Okay. Cool. Pretty sure I need to let the family know that I’m in Spain and not Senegal, and that I’m okay. I think I may have called home at that time, or sent a text. I can’t remember.

 

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Aljazeera Photo

 

The rest of our conference went well. Some of us were provided with counselors at the conference to help us debrief. Looking back, I wish that had been mandatory for our team, but I’m sure that’s all kinds of illegal-to make your employees go to counseling. Yeah, nevermind…

How did I cope? PORK. I ate so much pork every morning at the hotel buffet. I literally one morning had breakfast with a guy from the Paris team, Slovenia and some other friends and had 2 eggs, a handful of bacon and 4 sausage links… I’m not even ashamed. Senegal is a Muslim country, so no pork eaters allowed. Just kidding. It’s just frowned upon and you can’t find it anywhere. So basically, no pork eating allowed.

The week following the conference we were told it was okay for us to head back to Senegal on our original tickets, but to keep our stateside directors updated.

We came back to a country that was very aware their political system was broken and could not be their source of hope. And we listened. It was a very tumultuous time for a lot of people, but I do believe that God used that political turmoil for His good. A few scattered riots occurred after we arrived, a few even not about the election but rode off the momentum of those… Things seemed to return back to normal until the elections.

And no, Wade did not win the elections that April. He was actually beat by a landslide by a guy who many Senegalese Millennials claimed was in the illuminati with Rihanna, Jay Z and Beyonce. But I guess we’ll never know that one…

Thanks for listening to my story. It’s easy to judge a book by it’s cover, so I just wanted to share: things are always more complicated and more simple than they seem. Like this picture.

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The Undoing of The Tower of Babel

I love how intricately precise our God is in His redemptive plan. I cannot doubt the love He has for me knowing all the things and people He aligned in order for me to know Him. God is the redeemer of all the things that have gone awry through the fall. Here’s a few things I’ve been learning through the book of Acts and how it coincides with  Genesis 11.

And while staying with them he [Jesus] ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with  the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.

Acts 1:4-8

From my New Testament Survey class, I remembered to be looking for Acts 1:8 as a theme for the rest of the book.  One of the ways you can divide up Acts is geographically- Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the rest of the world. We can see the expansion of the Church by where it began to spread, through whom, and how.

I continued reading and got to the Day of Pentecost. This was what the apostles were waiting for. Jesus, essentially, said, “Go back to Jerusalem, wait for this promised Holy Spirit that the Father is sending…” Now, I know this story. They were all together, hanging out, probably praying. Then this storm from Heaven came in through the room and everyone had the Holy Spirit fall on them and then they could speak in tongues. Cool. End of story.

Nope. Not even close.

As I was re-reading this, I saw a couple really cool things stick out that I wanted to share because it literally blew my mind.

1. God will plan an outreach without your foreknowledge and do it better than you would have.

The apostles + others just received the Holy Spirit and were uttering in these different languages. They created quite the stir and people from other countries that were in Jerusalem were drawn in. They heard the apostles and other Christians speaking in their native languages.  Now, before you’re like, “Maybe some of them were bilingual…”, from what I counted there were 11 nationalities represented. Eleven. I don’t even know what that would be.. Octolingual+1?

Not only are the apostles and other Christians speaking it, they are declaring the glory of God to them. They are preaching the Gospel to people of other languages  for the first time. Obviously Romans was written after this, but we see that faith comes through hearing. God’s heart is huge for the nations and for the people in your town, next door and the nations.

Y’all. This was the first international ministry outreach and it wasn’t even done on purpose. Well, God knew and planned it, but it wasn’t planned by the apostles. Peter stands up, preaches the gospel, and 3,000+ are saved.

2. The fact that “speaking in tongues” was the first thing the Holy Spirit did when He came to live in Christians is of great importance in showing the missional heart of our God.

Let’s remember, Genesis 11 and the Tower of Babel. Synopsis: man wanted to make a name for themselves, so they all rallied together to build a city and tower that took them up to Heaven. They essentially, wanted to be gods and make a path to Heaven for themselves. So, God did the only loving thing a Heavenly Father would do and caused them to all speak different languages.

Now the whole earth had one language and the same words. And as people migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there.  And they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.” And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.”  And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built. And the Lord said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come,let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another’s speech.”  So the Lord dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth. And from there the Lord dispersed them over the face of all the earth.

Genesis 11:1-9

Here’s the cool thing: God cares about all the nations. He cares about the people that you and I can’t communicate with because of this barrier. As He gave the first church this gift of speaking in tongues as the first gift, we see here that He is undoing the Tower of Babel. The people who built the tower of Babel were trying to make a way to Heaven. It was an unsuccessful one. God has given us a way through Jesus.

The apostles had this message of Hope, but they only had it in like Greek, Aramaic and Hebrew [I think.]. God gave them the gift of tongues to be able to share the way to Heaven and share the hope offered in Jesus. That’s really cool right? I mean, it could have been anything that God did, but what better way to advance the kingdom than the ability to proclaim it in all the world’s languages?

I love finding more and more glimpses of God’s heart for the nations, but also I love seeing how He loves to invite us into partnership with Him. It wasn’t the apostles that could have advanced the Gospel. It’s His Spirit that causes us to love Him. It’s His Spirit that moves in us and through us. God can redeem the whole world without us, but He chooses to involve us in His work. I am just so amazed at how awesome that is.

It’s late, so I probably could have done a better job explaining that. Thanks for sticking with me to the end if you’ve gotten this far. 🙂 Please comment below with your thoughts and if this post encouraged you, please share the link on Facebook! 🙂

DISCLAIMER: I’m not taking a stand for or against modern day use of speaking in tongues, by the way. I am just sharing thoughts on what’s in the Bible. So. Yep.

My Unspoken Spoken Word

Well, I started writing this a few months ago, and quite honestly forgot about it until today. I finished it, maybe? Is art ever truly finished? It doesn’t rhyme, so sorry about that.  Theology goobs, you’ll like this. 🙂

Please, Stott. I just Kant, Immanuel.

Theology so cracked out it makes me want to Barth, Karl.

Coming from every direction, false hopes being spread like butter on bread to people searching for affection. Searching for truth. But deceit and lies flowing from the lips of Lex, Luther.

Shaking inside, knowing Christ’s love for all, makes me want to look in the face of deceit and scream, “Berkhoff Satan.”

We need restoration and redemption I Begg, a Resurgence if you will, from top to bottom, Spurgeon all these false hopes, dreams and uncertainties of  who we are meant to live for. And just…. Just give them Jesus.

Let’s pull a Studd and run from the Bell to run a rescue mission as close to hell as we’ll ever get, Christian.

Gather the saints, elevate the truth that God is Here and Now and Jesus is Lord. He is the way, the truth and the life. He made us, formed us to be like him and to know him. When he looks at us, I imagine him to say, “I Grudem.”

And Calvary, a joy so full in such a sorrowful day. When Jesus died for me (and you) so that we can know Him.

This ain’t no Calvin and Hodge comic strip. The urgency is real. If eternal life is found in Christ, and there are one billion people having yet to hear the name of Jesus let alone the hope He offers, what are we doing?

Get in the Carson, take the Ottobahn, put the pedal to the metal and spread the gospel to all the nations so that one day people from every tribe, tongue and nation can…

Gather the Piper and sing praises to His holy name and be Soren on wings like eagles. Sproul‘d out, arms high in abandonment to the one true King, the Lord of Lords who forever reigns, Jesus Christ.

David Platt is My HeartSong.

David_Platt

Okay, okay. I’m a little late jumping on the “Let’s celebrate David Platt becoming the new President of the IMB” train, but I’d like to say that as always, I’m fashionably late. This was the best move the IMB could have done. He’s great for the job. So, now you know where I stand… *SIDENOTE: The whole “my heartsong” is an inside joke with some Cru girls. I’m not in love with David Platt. I’m in love with someone else named Jesus of Nazareth, have you heard of him?

David Platt isn’t afraid to cast a big vision and boldly challenge the church in areas of missional involvement. He’s most known for his book “Radical,” and that he is. But you know what? I love it. While there is this “avant garde” feel to the Radical movement, truly, he’s just pulling us back to the foundations of our faith and what God has called us to.

We can see, and I can’t remember who said it (Al Mohler?), that in America there’s a market for Prosperity Gospel Theology because we create that market. It’s simple supply and demand. In general, our US churches have gotten so caught up in “American-ifying” Jesus that He doesn’t resemble the God of the Bible nor is he even remotely applicable to people in other countries. The real Jesus is for everyone.

A friend, called Cobylicious, was talking about how they were doing outreach in a third world country and dozens of kids gave their lives to the Lord only to come back disappointed the next day because their houses still had holes in the roofs and they were still poor. That’s what they had grown up hearing about Jesus. Believe in Him and you’ll be rich. You will, just not in the earthly sense of things.

One thing I think David Platt does a good job at is communicating the urgency of the gospel going forth-the life changing, eternity directing HOPE of the gospel. He sees the need for laborers to go out to reach people who have not heard. People who are praying to gods that cannot see, cannot hear and most of all cannot save. And instead of being in the despair of that, David Platt sees our (the church’s) specific need to be a part of missions and challenges us to let go of the “here and the now” so that nations can be “there in the end”.

David Platt, congratulations on the IMB position. I am hopeful God will stir hearts through your leadership and while the harvest is plentiful, many more laborers will answer the call to go to the nations.

 

Pink Sunsets and Africa

NEWSTAFFTRAININGCRUAlthough we’ve only really known each other for about 3 weeks, Elise and I ebb and flow together pretty well. We generally keep each other grounded to some extent. Well, last week was not one of those weeks. You see, we’re currently taking two Master’s level theology courses in two weeks. [Sidenote: help?]. It’s a lot of reading, a lot of studying, great projects, and very little sleep [ESTJ PROBS]. During this hellacious (um, maybe not the most appropriate word to describe our classes) prepatory training, we had a few minor [relative] spaz-oid moments. I was stressing; she was stressing too. We kind of fueled each other’s anxious flames… especially the day we got our placements, which will have to wait until another blog post.

Well, amid the glorious ruin of IBS classes, we made a great decision. While feeling a little [also relative] stressed with all of our assignments, we thought, “Let’s go down and read by the water!” On our way down, we see these two men and their dogs. I looked at Elise and said, “I just need to play with a dog for like five minutes. I’m going to pet that dog.” So I did.

As I was receiving much needed pet therapy, we struck up conversation with these two older men about life, Florida, Chattanooga, and Atlanta. It came up in conversation [or maybe I just always miss Africa and love talking about it so I inserted it in there…] that I lived in Africa. We talked a little bit about what I did there, Senegal, and how they needed to bypass all other American Dreams, sell all their possessions and just go ahead and move to Africa [what’s life without a little adventure, right?]. Okay, so maybe I didn’t pressure them into selling everything, I did recommend visiting Senegal for mass amounts of time [nama naleen torop!].

Towards the end of the conversation, when the sun was setting, the man on the left said, “Do you know why sunsets here are pink?” Being a person who is baffled at the fact that the technology exists that can tell us at what moment the sun will set, I have no idea as to why the sunsets colors are the colors they are. Bypassing the first answer that popped into my mind, “Jeeessuuuss..”, I respond inquiringly, “Why?” He then leans in to tell me, almost like a secret, “Africa.”

“The sunsets here are affected by the heat and dust that comes off the Sahara belt. It makes our sunsets pink.”

Be still my wildly beating heart…

I walked away from that conversation enamored by God’s specific love for me. Of all the people I could have run into [’cause let’s be honest, Florida is full of old people with dogs…] God placed these two men there. As Elise and I were sitting by the water and the sun was setting, I slipped deeper and deeper in love with my Savior. He sees me. He sees my heart.

He knows that part of me is and will always be there. He knows the depth of my heart that cried out, “Why?” when we saw so few students giving their lives to Christ. He reminds me almost daily that while I love Senegalese people, He loves them more. He beckons me with every pink sunset to pray for lives within the 10/40 window to move from the domain of darkness to the Kingdom of His glorious Son.

And being faithful, He will act.

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To A New Creation.

Great-Is-Thy-Faithfulness

One of the things that I love about the Lord is His faithfulness. He is so steadfast in His pursuit of us; He never waivers. This is an indescribably hard character trait to fully grasp since even in our most dire efforts, we can only copy His faithfulness. Our best efforts at reproducing this quality resemble a parrot mimicking his master. While with His help we can reflect His faithfulness, His faithfulness is always more steadfast, more pure, and more full than ours. Daily, I’m left wondering how He is so faithful. But He is. Always.

I have had several conversations over the past week that made me think, “Lord, you are so good and so faithful to me.” I want to share a little bit about one of those conversations, and how I am seeing His faithfulness at every stage of life.

To A New Creation

I chatted the other day with an ex-boyfriend [I know, first mistake right?] that I dated way before I became a Christian. He was asking a lot of really great questions about faith, life, and the different lifestyle I live now that I’m a follower of Christ. He made some kind of comment, that I believe was genuine, and to the tune of, “I just can’t see a free-spirit like you ever being caged to something like Christianity.” As I tried to explain the freedom that’s only offered in Christ, it hit me. The way that I used to live (getting plastered every night, doing occasional drugs, and other things we won’t address here) was his view of self-liberation. And it made me so sad.

I started praying through our conversation and just got so overwhelmed with the fact that even at those moments or utter rebellion, God saw me and was merciful enough to withhold so many consequences that my actions merited. As uncomfortable as this conversation was in some ways, the Lord was allowing me to remember where my future, hopes and dreams were before meeting Him. I was enslaved to sin. I was an addict of finding people’s approval to the extent of being walked all over in so many ways. I was not only caged, but I was dead.  There’s only so long that “lifestyle” could have gone on before something happened.

I am so incredibly thankful that the something that happened was that the Lord stepped in and redeemed my life. As I sat there reflecting on a conversation that would generally make a lot of people frustrated, I just wept out of thankfulness!  It could not have been orchestrated any better. I just marvel at the work of the Lord in composing all the round about ways that I would come to know Him. He was faithful to me before I even knew Him. He is faithful to me today to answer my prayers in such sweet ways that draw me closer to Him.

I am thankful for my mom urging me to go to UTC. I am thankful for Andy W. and Doug B. who introduced me to Paul and Jason. I’m thankful for Megan H. who dragged me to the Cru Bible studies the first few times. And I am eternally grateful to my spiritual father, Paul, for laying down his rights and making Christ known to college students.

Y’all this is the reminder that I need, daily. Christ not only changes lives, He is the author of life. That life we thought we had before was counterfeit, a sad replicate, to what Christ offers. There’s true freedom, joy so deep, genuine acceptance and everlasting hope found in Jesus. That’s the message I am excited to bring to college students stateside.

He is faithful and true. His love endures forever.

The Surprising Sovereignty of God

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Sometimes I am shocked by God’s sovereignty. It shouldn’t surprise me, but it really does every time I experience Him as my sovereign Lord. It sets me back a little bit in humility thinking, “Wow, Jesus! You care that much to show up in my life in THOSE details and in THAT way.” It just really does amaze me.

Tonight I sat down to spend some time with the Lord and just began to pray. I am on steroids that have been dubbed as made by Satan himself, so I have been feeling so moody, grouchy, hungry all the time, and struggling with insomnia. [Sidenote: Prednisone, you’re horrible]. I sat down to pray about my emotions and really wanting to push through those to meet God in a sweet time of worship through the word. Over and over I kept hearing, “Feelings and experiences do not equal truth.” That’s odd. But thanks for that Jesus, I guess.

But you know what? I needed to hear that. I struggle, really, with projecting emotions and past experiences onto other people and God. And as a result, I have a hard time believing God’s word.

I started to look at a journal from STINT and was encouraged by the entry for April 29, 2013. It was on the miracles of Jesus in Matthew 11. It noted that we can know and trust that Jesus was the messiah because He fulfilled every prophecy concerning the promised savior. I was so excited to read that, “Matthew 11- evidence Jesus gives that he is the promised Messiah: blind receive sight, deaf hear, lame walk, dead are raised, poor in spirit have good news. Isaiah 61:1-3. In all these miracles, we see Jesus is reversing and undoing the impacts of Genesis 3.”

I began reading where my ESV yearly devotion left off, in Isaiah 30. I began reading about Judah not trusting the Lord’s promise to save them from the.. ugh.. history is so not my thing. Assyrians? Anyways, instead of trusting the Lord, they rebelled. They sought out protection from tangible allies (ie Egypt. Less we forget, God had to rescue them from the Egyptians via Moses). They ran back into the arms of oppression due to fear and lack of trust. They allowed their emotions to steer them away from trusting the Lord.

Depressing right? Well, it gets better.

I continued reading in verse 15, “In repentance and rest you will be saved, in quietness and trust is your strength…” The Lord had already promised protection and deliverance. He’s asking them to trust Him. Repent. Trust. Be still and know.

I continued reading and then all of the sudden something clicks. In the promises of God from verses 19 onward, we see something eerily (probably not the best word) similar to Matthew 11.

[19] “You will weep no longer. He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry, when He hears it, He will answer you.” The deaf hear…

[20] “…He your teacher will no longer hide himself, but your eyes will behold your teacher.” The blind receive sight…

[21] “Your ears will hear a word behind you, ‘This is the way, walk in it.’….” The deaf hear, the lame walk…

[29] “You will have songs as in the night when you keep the festival. And gladness of heart when one marches to the sound of the flute, to go to the mountain of the Lord, to the Rock of Israel…” The poor in spirit will have good news…

Amazing.

The soverign God of the universe, who holds all things together, orchestrated this time together with me. I am just so amazed at how the Lord speaks to us and sees us. How funny is it that this was my reading for today and it aligned with something I read while living in Africa exactly one year ago today. Amazing.

Is He speaking to you today? If so, comment below with how! 🙂