Sunday, February 28, 2010


When I first drove down the street I now live on, I knew I was in Zambia.
The end of the pavement, the trash, all the people walking, the potholes.
Our street looked like the third world to me for sure. I saw poverty.

The longer I stay here, the more my eyes and what they see changes.
Before, they were just all poor and all in the same sinking boat.
Now I can see class distinctions even in this poverty.

I didn’t know that our compound was a wealthy one. In my terms, it was sub-standard.
In all my ideas of living Zambian, I am actually separated by status STILL.
The women who come here on Tuesdays and Fridays live nothing like me.

They don’t have two extra bedrooms.
They don’t have a drawer full of shopping bags from the grocery store.
They don’t have refrigerators to keep their food from spoiling.
They don’t have three bathrooms with toilets.
Many of them don’t have power.
One of them doesn’t have a roof.

Only having visited one of these ladies’ houses, I meet these beautiful women who are intelligent, beautiful, joyful and I forget where they come from.

Today I got to see another one of these homes. The home of my Zambian mother, Emily.
She named me “Lushomo” in her native tongue and gave me her last name.
My name is Faith.
I’m of the Tonga tribe.
What a beautiful woman.
We saw her home and my heart sank. It is surrounded by green, stagnant water right up to the door. She has made stepping stones out of cinder blocks to make a path from the dirt road to her door.

She is beaming with pride and I am broken.

That’s where my shame explodes onto the scene.

My Zambian Mama and a dozen other women come here, to our house and the service center, two days a week.
They come here and they wear me out. I constantly fetch water, cut fabric, boil water for tea, and kneel down to serve them. There is no please, no thank you. And that is their culture.

If I am completely honest, most days I cannot wait for them to leave.

And then I just see with my eyes where they come from.
We are not the same.

My changed eyes see my house as a palace.
A safe and comfortable place where these women can come and sit with enough light to see.
They are served.
They have a purpose.
They can drink tea and add five spoons of sugar.
They aren’t treated this way anywhere else.
Possibly no one has ever served them before in their entire lifetimes.
They want to come at sunrise and stay until dark. So let them.

I just didn’t understand before.

I can’t wait for them to be here tomorrow. I want them all to arrive an hour early and to stay into the night.

They are honored guests in our palace.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


I’m almost 23.
What a lot of time I’ve wasted.

I heard something over Sunday lunch this weekend that has already started to change my life.
The conversation was about the church and how it relates to evil.

“We storm the gates of hell”.

Storm the gates.

The gates of hell open up all around me and swallow people up in ways that I can see first hand. Ways that are not coated in sugary deceit, but sharp pictures that move in real time in front of my eyes.

It seems like evil and the impoverished spirit that comes with it devastates more than God can ever rebuild. But that is not truth.

Rebuilding is exactly the expertise of God. Genesis to Revelation is a blue print of his remodeling.

Lost causes are where the Lord makes his stand.
The cross being exhibit A.
And it wasn’t actually lost.

The cross that I stand under looks like a lost cause to most. It symbolizes death.
It’s Christ that is life.

And that is precisely where the wasted time comes in.
Twenty three years and I never knew what it meant to storm the gates.

I’ve done a lot of things, but storming isn’t one of them.
I’ve been American.
I’ve been having fun.
I’ve been in shape.
I’ve been working.
I’ve been on facebook.
I’ve been educated.
I’ve been accumulating things.
I've been youth directing.
I’ve been shopping.
I’ve been watching TLC.
I’ve been hanging out.
I’ve been accommodating.
I’ve been pleasing.
But I haven’t been storming.

I’ve been under the impression that somehow, the best thing I can do as a Christian is not to be like the rest of the Christians. Which to be quite honest is still true in more ways than one. I might as well be insincere if I’m not going to be storming. Just wasting away twenty three more years with my man-pleasing spirit.

And I’ve been so careful not to step on any toes, not to turn away the lost. But do any of the lost love Jesus because of my efforts to make them comfortable? Not one. They don’t love Jesus, they just don’t hate Christians.

My position is changing quite drastically.
Hate me. Lost, friends, enemies, Christians. Hate me.

Hate me for making you uncomfortable.
Be challenged.

The truth is not something I will ever water down. Not anymore. It’s not something I will ever lay aside for the sake of someone who doesn’t know it. Not to make anyone feel welcome. Never again.

The Truth is not judgment. It’s mercy.
The Truth is not timidity. It’s boldness.
The Truth is not comfort. It convicts.
The Truth does not condemn. It sets free.
The Truth does not cheat. It acts justly.
The Truth does not exclude. It welcomes.

Truth does not float and glide. It storms. It has stormed my life and confronted me with my last twenty three years.

The Truth gives me a joy to serve Zambian women on my knees.
The Truth STORMS the gates of hell.
The Truth threatens darkness.
Things that are lukewarm are spit out.
Things that are lukewarm make everyone cozy.
Things that are lukewarm never demand change.

The Truth sets me free from the opinion of anyone. Anyone.

It sets me free from pleasing man. It implores me to please the one and only Almighty Father.

Rattle the gates of hell.

Sunday, February 14, 2010


Reality surrounds me and pulls me down.

It's hard to say exactly what things are essential for survival when you are surrounded by orphans, widows, and families who have so much less than food, clothing, and shelter.
When you enter homes that never experience all three of these luxuries on the same day.

I have to remember that bread is not the only food that satisfies.
Clothes are not the only things that make a man presentable.
Walls and roofs are not all that shelters.

Man still cannot live by bread alone.
The lilies are still beautiful in their fields.
A mighty fortress is our God.

Maggie is a mother. She has four children. She has a husband. He hasn't worked in six years.
I went for a walk with Maggie.
She needed an ear, just my listening.
Maggie's face is tired, like every mother's is. Her burden is just so heavy.
She's been forced out of her home. She can no longer afford to send her children to school.
She may be forced to leave her husband.

After we walked a while we reached our destination, her house.
I felt like a soldier entering a target that had been hit.
No roof, the tops of every wall singed in black.
Broken concrete, rubble everywhere.
And then, in the very back...
Two small rooms with curtains covering the openings.
Two rooms with no doors holding the few belongings this family of six has left.

When it rains Maggie's heart is at home, as the water takes over her life.

Shane and Shane ministers to me as always, under Maggie's burden.

When darkness is surrounding me
By Your Spirit, Lord help me sing-
You are working all things out
Lord, I really need to hear you speak
Remind me in the waiting
You are working all things out

For the good of those who are called by You
For the good of those who are in Love with You
That's why we sing-

Holy God of light
I lay down my life
Holy is the Lord
Even in the storm
Be glorified.

We like to take the blessing from You
Shall we not take the trouble too?
You are working all things out

We like to take prosperity
Shall we not take the suffering
You are working all things out
Holy are you Lord
Even in the storm
Be glorified.

Part of me still wishes that someone understood.

If only you could visit Maggie's house.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


That's the only word that I can find to describe the last week spent here in Zambia.
There are many moments of absolute joy,
like when a baby that I have never seen smile lets out a laugh.
Even joy just watching their bellies grow and hold 100ml of formula instead of 25.
Joy in having our GEMS staff over for dinner and baking them a chocolate cake from scratch.
Picking flowers out of our garden and putting them in pitchers in our kitchen.
Watching women help bake and eat banana bread for the first time.
Learning a new phrase in Nyanja and listening to the people laugh at the muzungu speaking their tribal language.
Being sold eggs at the "white man's price" and handing over the asking price plus a little extra.
Lonnie, the lizard in our bathroom that is always hanging out directly over the toilet when I have to go.
Actually pausing to weigh our options when we're in the street and a minibus is coming....the hesitation while we decide whether to remain in the road or brave the puddle on the side of it, not knowing how deep it might be...then jumping at the last second.

All of these things are what bring me lightness of heart when everything around me is so real and so sharp that it could cut me deep, just too deep.

The heavy things...

The two children who ran away from My Father's House Orphan Homes in Chongwe, back to their abusive mother.
The baby of that same family that was still young enough to be brought to The House of Moses, escaping the razor blades its mother used to take out her pain.
That mother, who in her past was taken to a holding cell by the police when she was found out walking after dark. Her cellmate was a pornographer. He forced her to have sex with a dog while he filmed it.
Abuse is rarely simple.

Maggie, my sister, who lives in two rooms of a burned down house with her husband and four children.
Babies being left in gutters only to be drug out into the street by dogs and then run over by minibuses.

Catherine, who can't sleep at night because people throw rocks on her roof. They found out her husband is unfaithful and somehow they want to punish her?

Feel that weight. Let it sink into your shoulders. And then remember there is joy.

For while we are in this tent,
we groan and are burdened,
because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed
with our heavenly dwelling,
so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life...

Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us he Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

We live by faith, not by sight.

2 Corinthians 5

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


I have always been an entertainer.

A hostess, party planner, welcomer.
There are few things that I love more than welcoming people into my life and making them feel at home in my house, giving them a safe place of rest.

Like my Grammie, I love to make food for guests and serve them at my table.
Like my Lisa, I love to plan and organize occasions to be in the presence of friends.

In Zambia, as you can imagine, the entertaining that I do looks a bit different.
As I see the differences, I see all the joys of entertaining that I've never known.

Here, my guests are Zambian women who have come over for a baking class.

Orphans with hungry bellies, soaked by the rain.

Little girls with babies on their backs.

Mamas who have walked miles with their toddlers to our reading program.

Babies with leaky diapers who want a warm chest to snuggle into.

And all I can think of are the people who entertain angels without knowing it....Hebrews 13.

And all I can pray,

Abba, let me always invite you to dinner in my home.
Let me always invite you in.
Let the orphans be my guests of honor, with your presence in their midst.
Let us all share in you.
Let me entertain you, Father.
Be served at my table. Sit at the head.
Drink deep and fill your belly.
Be welcomed. Be at ease. Be in the company of your family.
Be my guest.
Be entertained.