Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Battle Cry

"Suit up soldier, We're going to Egypt!"

It's a picture etched in my mind;
God standing there, speaking to my heart and myself eagerly nodding.

I got here to Egypt and dove into things just as eagerly as when I left home,
Things worked, weeks flew by, but I grew tired.
Nothing had changed to my work load, and while yes, it is a challenging place to live sometimes, Egypt itself hadn't changed any since I'd been here.
I got frustrated, I got angry with myself.
I continued to trudge through, not knowing why this tiredness was happening or what had caused it.

I failed to fully recognize that when God sent me here, He didn't send me alone.
I began to grow tired because I was fighting through things under my own strength alone.

Looking back at the picture now, I hear the words, "WE'RE going in."
I hang my head in shame, stupidly I had jumped the gun.
I forgot one of the most important truths of my faith, God is always with me.

I broke ranks, and as soon as I did, I was surrounded, exposed and outnumbered.

Our God is a God that lets us learn our lessons,
He doesn't let us take on more then we can bear.
Our God is great.

Just when I felt helpless, I realized why.
With my mind focused on God's strengths and truths the fighting got easier.
Nothing compares to Gods strength, darkness cowers at His voice.

God has been fighting here much longer than I have,
He has been using others in more powerful ways then I could have imagined,
and that Truth is humbling.

God has lifted my up and set me on a rock now,
I'm spending time with Him and learning more about His character as I do so.
As I spend some time reflecting I go back again to the picture of God instructing me.

"Suit up soldier, We're going in!"

I was suited up, I was strong, but when I stumbled, I found the holes in my armor,
The things I thought were hidden became my weakest points.

With God at my side, I have started on re-crafting my armor.

As part of my internship here, it was required that each of us take "Cell Pastor Training."
A course which focus' on raising up cell group leaders for the purpose of leading new church cells.
An aspect of the church which works on the Upward, Inward, Outward and Forward life of the church body.

Through my time in the course and through this newly focused time with God,
He has made it blatantly clear to me that I need to start a young mens study group within the refugee schools here.

The weakness that have been exposed are those that every young man struggles with on some level and with the insight and training that God has been granted me through this experience.
In no way am I set apart for this task, in no way do I have all the answers, but I have some experiences, some mistakes others can learn from.

The goal will be to provide a group in which these young men will feel comfortable in talking about the challenges they are wrestling with and through God's word and body, find restoration and a battle plan against that.

This time I suit up in confidence, with careful consideration for my weak points and a knowledge that God is fighting with me.

Thank you to you Jehovah-Nissi, The banner I carry forward.
Thank you to you Jehovah Shammah, The Lion at my side.

Onwards and Forwards,
Grace, Peace and Blessings,

Sunday, 4 November 2007

The Lonely Wanderers

Welcome back to Egypt,
Allow me to set the scene.

The unforgiving Summer sun has given way to it's meeker Fall counterpart, as a warm breeze gently wafts down the Nile valley.
A vast assembly of vehicals continue to jockey about the tiny streets of the city, time after time sounding their horns in a chours of disapprovement, humbled by nothing less then looming mounds of pavement placed in less then strategic spots admist the streets.
Mosques litter the skyline, spewing opression over the city 5 times a day, shouting skywards to their deaf god.
The streets bustle with smiling people, chatter of Arabic and shouts of, "Welcome to Egypt!"
My replies of "I live here," fall short.

It's a short walk to the church every morning.
Familiar faces, dodging traffic, the little things in life that qualify as routine.

I have long since begun my work with the refugee community here,
And as I've sunk my teeth into the situation, I've realized in many ways, I've bitten off more then I can chew.
I've established relationships within the refugee schools, met with such organizations as the UNHCR, Caritas Egypt and Tadamon group, but the most impacting thing is hearing the personal accounts of war, famine and flight.

Refugees flock to Egypt from all over Africa and the Middle-East, and while each story is similar, they are all unique.
Some have come to escape war and perscution, others thinking Egypt will provide work and opperutnities, while more hope to make the seemingly short jump to Europe or North America, the much anticpated, just out of reach, "lands of milk and honey."

It's the footballer hoping and praying he'll be signed by a major team, each day passing him by as rent and cost of living compound.
The story of a grandmother and her grandchildren, fleeing an never-ending war, hoping for a chance at an education.
The journey of a million people, thinking that Egypt will provide them something more,
A million people, lost in a country, a system, a shattered dream.

It's a sea, a flood, and we've just made a ripple on the surface.

I do not mean to say that all is hopeless however,
Our God is a God who provides, Jehovah Jireh.

Each day it seems a new organization springs to life here in Egypt,
The want to help is strong, but often lost in the sea of despair.

It seems it's much easier to focus on the negitives in life, the faults, the failures, the short-comings.
It's a broken world, it's a more then a sea, more then an ocean and it has a vicious under current.

But God has ordained us, He has set us apart, He's lifted us out and granted us the ability to walk above it all.
Carefully we seemly tread, afraid to fall back in, unsure of the new ground me stand.
And while we may slip, we may begin to sink again but when we cry out Our God lifts us out.

Our God Who Walks With Us, Jehovah Shammah.

While we still remain with the tide beneith us, we are set apart.
And as we stand up straight, we are able to see the amazingness that is this world, the beauty within it, the good, the true and the tested.

The same is true here in Cairo,
In knowing God is true, and seeing the good that He has already accomplished,
The sea seems a little bit smaller.

With countless organizations working towards refugee rights, education and access to healthcare and affordable housing, we can approach the situation from all angles.

And while the stories of hurt and heartbreak will remain memories, may they be numbed by the breaking light on the horizon, the knowledge that someone cares and the peace of Jesus Christ.

No matter where we seem to find ourselves, God is still there with us.

Grace, Peace and Blessings,