Hope is Rising.

I’d like to walk you through a picture-story of our time in Europe to express an experience that I can hardly put into words. Through these photos I hope to share what God did, the beauty we encountered, as well as what was in my heart…europe map

1. The Netherlands / ZandaamIMG_6940We stayed with friends of ours- Hein and Elise who are like family to us by now! It was a huge blessing to enjoy their home and also learn from them as they share about married life, work, and being God’s Love in their community.

One morning we were invited to share at a small gathering where many Iranian refugees were attending to find a sense of community and faith as well as prayer. Most of them were praying for their wives and children still beyond borders. It really moved my heart to think of myself in their shoes. Completely helpless to connect with those you love most. The situation forces complete reliance on God and His heart to prove good beyond disaster and disconnect we experience in this world. His desire is to not only to unite family, but to unite nations!IMG_6958All of this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation. That God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. – 2 Cor. 5:18-19IMG_6985IMG_6983IMG_7002
IMG_7059IMG_7025IMG_7044While in Zandaam we also shared the pleasure of exploring Hollands quaint history and beauty in it’s gardens, waterways, windmills and windy days! We also celebrated Barbara’s birthday with brunch in Hein and Elise’s beautiful backyard garden.

See what great Love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children in the family of God! – 1 John 3:1

2. The Netherlands / Riiland

In the following days we drove from Zaandam to Riiland, Holland- packed in our tiny car with matching bags as if we are a traveling soccer team. =)IMG_7058IMG_7055We arrived and were welcomed by The Lighthouse family to share and do life with their team. It was a special weekend of connection, learning, and worship together.

Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. All who have this hope in Him purify themselves, just as He is pure. 1 John 3:2IMG_7083IMG_7065IMG_7063One of my favorite memories was running with Barbara through the wheat fields to the top of the dam. It’s a mystery to see the ground beneath my feet that is, in fact, below sea level!…and I remain confused.

The misty skies and mysterious sea level remind me of what it means to run in this life by faith alone.IMG_7071Hope in His Love. The world does not know us..and we ourselves don’t know what we will yet be…but we know that we will be like Him – who is Love- so we hope for that!  – 1 John 3:3

And this hope will not disappoint us, because God’s Love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been freely given to us. – Romans 5:5

3. Germany / Starbach / Dresden

Meeting Barbara’s family was refreshing, and a bit like living in a story book. We learned about the grain business from her dad, while enjoying the tastiness of her mom’s delicious cooking and being spoiled by their delightful hospitality. IMG_7169IMG_7170IMG_7098IMG_7111IMG_7161IMG_7276IMG_7356One afternoon, we all jumped in the back of her dad’s 1958 truck for a rainy, and bumpy drive over hills of green farm land, to her dad’s favorite lookout spot.

Here, he prays for their community, for the local famers, for the government, and for his country. It was a privilege to be there agreeing with that prayer.

God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, so that what you hope for may be fully realized. – Hebrews 6:10,11IMG_7357IMG_7254IMG_7257IMG_7355IMG_7275IMG_7273Meeting this family, I am reminded of Gods delight in the details, in excellence in design, in hard work, in pioneering and praying through intense and even politically hard years, yet raising beautiful children with shining souls and bright futures.

Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of HIMSELF very clear to the heirs of what was promised, He confirmed it with an oath. God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of this hope set before us may be greatly encouraged. – Hebrews 6:17-18

4. Czech Republic / Prague

Our first train in Prague I felt a surprising contrast between delight and despair. I was meant to be taking in the romantic beauty of the city, yet there was a stirring in my heart for the Czech people to be free from a heaviness still stifling personality and true joy.

I was encouraged by the simple curiosity of a child still untainted by a culture that was created in the era that went before her.IMG_7302IMG_7325When I went on a walk with our host Lily, she explained that during Communist control, even previous apartment buildings were designed in a way that prevented people from living in community.

I thought about the impact that a design like this can have on people. Over time, isolation and lack of community slowly breaks humanity down into lifeless beings with no freedom to share and celebrate and have joy-filled connections. Without connection we lose motivation and hope. We need each other. IMG_7360IMG_7402IMG_7408God was so good to allow us to stay with Lily- she invited us to her dad’s birthday party where we experienced a family full of love and affection for each other.

At their church we were able to share our story of full-time missions and encourage their community to be reminded of God’s passion for his Body across the globe. The people were really touched and received prayer before leaving to carry the gospel to Estonia.

And so….after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised. He received his inheritance…JESUS. The only firm and secure hope for all his kingdom descendants- to enter Gods presence and receive eternal salvation. – Hebrews 6:15IMG_7335IMG_7721IMG_7417IMG_7432IMG_7434So let hope rise. And darkness tremble in your holy light, that every eye will see JESUS– Our God! Great and mighty to be praised!

God of all days, glorious in all of your ways- Your majesty, and wonder and grace are in the light of your Name! Let hope rise.

6. Poland / Swidnica

In Poland we met with a young mother named Paulina. She welcomed us into her home, fed us at her table, and shared with us all that God is doing in her small town of Swidnica. We were amazed at this connection we could not have planned ourselves. Paulina was full of expectation with our arrival, and we had barely been in Poland a few hours.IMG_7631IMG_7608IMG_7609IMG_7612IMG_7622IMG_7623Later that evening we went with Paulina and her family to the ‘Resting Place’ – basically a central space where they meet weekly to seek God, to pray and worship in their small community.

We were amazed at their hunger. They don’t have much in the eyes of the world- but a genuine, simple and bold way of worshipping the King of Kings! They looked at us with eyes full of expectancy and love, waiting to hear a word from the Lord. They came one by one, full of faith, ready in prayer, and in a moment were touched by His Spirit. Their hearts soft and ready to receive Him.IMG_7634We have this hope. JESUS. As an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. – Matthew 6:26,33

5. Germany / Berlin

Driving into the city I immediately felt a next level German efficiency and rigor! We toured Berlin with our friend Marvin, who took us by U-Bahn through the city center, to the Berlin Memorial, as well as the Holocaust Memorial. IMG_7563IMG_7531IMG_7537IMG_7897IMG_7550IMG_7558IMG_7904IMG_7568In the midst of the tour we were feeling strung-out and strange with the intensity of the city. We decided to re-connect with each other at the house of prayer at Marvin’s church.

There we soaked in the moment and gathered together to pray for Berlin and for revival in Germany. I was completely overwhelmed by God’s Spirit and could only feel His heart for the people- for the pain of the past- for the oppression caused by communism and control. I felt the intense heaviness of the burden and God’s heart just pouring out His love for His people, that they would reach out and find Him as He truly is. That they would allow His love and grace to banish every darkness and find hope arising there.

As we left the house of prayer to make the walking journey back to our hostel, I couldn’t shake what the Spirit was doing. I wept uncontrollably.IMG_7573IMG_7582We descended the stairs to the underground subway where young people were gathering and partying, it was all I could do to not start bursting out the name of Jesus! For in His mercy to save them from their aimless goals and dead end pursuits…from their obvious cries for attention, seeking worth and beauty and lusting for food that will numb but not satisfy.

And I wept. My spirit groaned deep within me.

For the very dream of God is for all to come to Him; full of hope and expectation. He IS who He says He is! He is the best friend who knows you. He says you’re never alone because you are His! Because He died for you! He satisfies every distant dream and longing, with HIMSELF. He IS the very food we crave. He IS the bread of life. He IS the Father to the fatherless. IMG_7600IMG_7601IMG_7604We get it all wrong. We think hope is having expectation that our worldly circumstances will change, and if and when they do, then it’s all worth it. No. Hope in God! HE alone is worth it. This life is temporary! Hope in what the world offers and you’ll end up with depression, anxiety, fear, hunger for power and control, temporary highs, restlessness, loneliness, temporary relationships and torn families.

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His word I put my hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning. Oh my soul, put your hope in the Lord, for with Jehovah is unfailing Love and with Him is full restoration. – Psalm 130:5-7

7. The Netherlands / Amsterdam

Our second time back in the Netherlands offered one cloudy day to explore the city. It was rainy in Amsterdam, but the city provoked my curiosity.

Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you restless within me? Hope you in God, for I shall yet praise Him, who IS the health of my countenance, my God, my Creator, the Maker of the heavens and the earth.- Psalm 42:5 IMG_7701IMG_7694IMG_7685Hoping for different, ideal, or secure circumstances is a temporary satisfaction and a weak foothold. Hope in God is secure.

Hope in His Love- His never changing nature is a solid foundation for living this life as it is, not as we wish it to be.

“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Give up your vain pursuit of self, give hope to the poor in spirit. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.” – Luke 12:32-33 IMG_7703IMG_7705IMG_7678For all goodness, and every perfect gift is from above; it simply comes from the Father of Lights -the Creator and Sustainer of the heavens- in whom there is no variation…no rising or setting or shadow cast by His turning like the moon in an eclipse. For He is perfect and never changes! – James 1:17

When nations choose JESUS alone- Hope in him will bring justice where there is injustice, peace where there is anxiety, unity where there is division. We need you, God of Love. God of Mercy. Show us how to love. Make us more like Jesus.

For every tribe and people and nation…

May the God of peace- who brought up Jesus from the dead, giving us an eternal covenant with His blood- May He equip you with hope and all that you need for doing His will.
May he produce His Love in you, through the power of Jesus, and every good thing that is pleasing to him. All glory going to Him forever and ever. – Hebrews 13:20-21

It is Him, I hope to give you. Go and change the world!

Josina Marchel Village

Yesterday was probably one of the most special and moving days of my life.

On Thursday, after my classes, I felt God whispering to go up, go up on the hill above base as far as I could.

I thought it was for the view, so I set off with just my music and a water bottle to go higher up.

When I got as far as I could I came to the gated entrance of the Iris school. I thought this is as far as I go, but the guard opened the gate and motioned for me to go on.

I went in and felt so at home, I walked into one of the classroom buildings and became so overwhelmed with Gods presence and the burning intensity of my own dream to build schools and what education means for this country. I couldn’t stay long as a few students started filtering into the room for class. I wiped my tears and tried to sneak out, as I didn’t want to be a disruption. –Sometimes seeing a white person around is quite the disruption.   I walked across the red dirt campus and stood by a tree to observe. Eventually three teenage boys walked over to say hi, and had lots of questions for me in broken English. (The kids who are in school get very excited to practice their English and are very curious about life in America.)

Surprised by their curiosity and polite conversation I stayed with them talking and trying to relate in our mixed languages. They told me they would receive their grades for the semester the next day and asked if I would come back for this. I was delighted by their eager faces and honored by their request. After getting permission from my house leaders, I joined the class the next day to receive their grades.   It was so special and I was very proud as the three of them received the best grades in the class. They have high goals and dreams of becoming a businessman, a doctor, and a biology teacher. After class, they asked if they could show me their village. I gathered four other girls from my house and met the boys at the gate for our adventure.

And what an adventure we had. I had asked Leonardo, the oldest to take us to meet his family. He warned me that his house was a far distance, but I assured him we were strong girls and were up for the walk. After all he does this walk twice a day it couldn’t be that bad.As we strolled through the village our eyes and hearts were gaping wide at the life and commotion held hidden in this culture we had ventured into.IMG_2019-0 We thought our student life in mud houses without running water — bucket showers and pit latrines was a sacrifice. While seeing the poverty and lifestyles of the village people, my humble accommodations seem like a palace. My daily meal of rice and beans is fit for kings.

We walked and talked about life and cultural differences with the boys. Leon taught us how they used different plants for nutrients and washing their skin. IMG_2004-0    IMG_1918-0Even in their poverty, there was a distinct difference between homes and the standard of living between neighborhoods.   We walked through tiny alleyways, crossed muddy streams filled with trash, traveled dusty red roads and the ‘long walk’ we started out on I realized was probably more than six miles one way to Leon’s house.       When we finally arrived to the house we were amazed by what we saw. As the only man in his family, he had built their humble home from bamboo and some scrap sheet metal. The bamboo was tied together by stripped rubber tires. Three people live in this room with a fire on the ground to cook their food. They have one battery powered lantern for Leon to study by and read their Bible at night.      They laid out straw mats for us to sit on outside and we played with the kids and rested and loved on them.  Their faith in God is beyond comparison. They are happy. They trust Him with everything. They have the greatest faith In Him to provide for their family day to day, for water, for food, for clothing, for protection.   What can separate us from the Love of God?

Even Leon’s friends, the other two boys who walked with us, were visiting his home for the first time and were amazed and grateful for their own humble homes close to school. They teased their friend about how he should get a motorcycle so he doesn’t have to walk so far every day.

We prayed for Leon and his family, asking for more of Gods presence and protection, His loving hand on them is so evident.

We left them with some food we had brought along, and continued to the homes of the two other boys.       What can separate us from the love of God?

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?
Your Heavenly Father knows ALL that you need. What can separate us from the love of God?

Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?

I am convinced that neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in ALL creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus.