love as strong as death…

finding treasures at the gates of hell

I have spent this week attending a UN/government seminar on child protection (not my normal pass time but necessary to build the right relationships and support our key leader Cathy here in Juba, and apparently I got myself certified to give the workshop inadvertently- kind of humorous).

The rest of my week was spent filled with great joy visiting some of my often drunk and occasionally a tad violent friends in the markets of konya konya in juba, picking my way through burning trash mounds, traversing sewage streams, finding treasures at the gates of hell and believing for massive miracles this year so we can bring them all home.
Earlier this year at our Global Leadership meetings in Mozambique, I had a profound encounter where the 3 million faces of children orphaned and abandoned in this nation* flashed before my eyes for 12 hours, each one becoming etched in my heart forever.  I am finding them one by one. Jesus is calling us to step out farther than ever before in the realm of radical faith and trust Him for miraculous provision in degrees that boggle my brain and stretch me so far I can’t even see my comfort zones.
We have long walked the edge, but apparently it is time to step off and learn to fly!  I will share more on that in the soon coming days.  Suffice it to say we need to build a lot more space in at least 2 locations rapidly this year and I have not a clue how that will happen in the natural.
Yesterday I had a vision of one of our new little ones I just met dying, contorted on a green woven mat in the mud covered in her own filth.  I saw myself and one of our senior sudanese leaders walking in and commanding life.  I was disturbed by it to say the least all day long and into last night.  You know that knot that won’t go away in the pit of your gut feeling.  Uh-huh. Yep. That one.
This morning we went visiting in the market again.  We walked right by what has been dubbed the gates of hell, carefully walking through the mountains of decaying debris, my friends there helping me not fall into the sewage lakes on either side of the very unsteady decaying paths.  We eventually ended up in a muddy corner on the backside of the burning rubbish pits only to find my 18 month old newly discovered princess, who is not more than 20 lbs, lying on green mat with a raging fever, limbs and body contorted in a classic meningitis pose , covered in her own filth, barely breathing, totally unresponsive, literally dying before my eyes.
A strange sense of I have seen this before hit me as I walked out my vision in real life.  Amidst warnings of serious contagion, I walked in with indignation boiling in my spirit at the devourer.  NOT again.  Not this one.  I am so done with burying any more of my children.  One of our senior pastoral leaders and I scooped her up, commanded life, rebuked death and watched Jesus supernaturally heal and restore to life before my eyes in a matter of hours.  We spent the day taking her to the doctor (by the time she got there she was 90% better) only to find hmmmmm, nothing serious was wrong.  Go figure THAT one!  Come on Jesus!
News flash:  It is payback time!  Resurrection is dancing over thresholds of death commanding life. God’s supernatural love is stronger than the grave!
My new little miracle baby and her sister of 5 years (with me in the pic above taken when I met them 4 days ago) and another treasure of 8 years old are all tucked in here on the beds beside me sleeping safely maybe for the first time in their short little lives.  We will take them home to Yei tomorrow, along with 15 of the street girls in our partner center here who are coming for a holiday camp for 2 weeks so our center leaders here can take a much needed break.
I marvel at the LOVE of Jesus and long to bring every hurting, endangered one home.  So these three are more Christmas presents from heaven this year for me.  Thank You Papa for YOUR love that leaves the 99 and finds the one dying on a green mat, on the backside of a burning mountain of trash and brings her back to life before our eyes.
Your love is as strong as death- its jealousy as unyielding as the grave.  Selah.
(*Current stats place the total number of children orphaned in all of Sudan around 1.7 million or at 10% of the populous of children.  However anecdotal and commonly quoted statistics for orphaned children (probably a mixture of full and partial orphans, ie loss of one parent) have placed the numbers for the whole of Sudan as high as 3 million.
In some communities, children are assimilated into extended family structures and beautifully cared for by aunties and uncles.  But in our experience, in the places we have been working often this is easily distorted and many children do not receive the same care, food, education or love that the biological children of the family do.   In many cases even, the children can be treated as domestic servants in the home and are extremely vulnerable to trafficking and abuse.
We love the cultural structures for adoption when they work, but are here with a growing family because in so many cases they don’t.  May Jesus raise up a radiant Sudanese Bride who lives out the fullness of His culture of adoption and become a shining light to the rest of this continent of His life and heart.)

22 thoughts on “love as strong as death…

  1. Maama, thanks a million times for taking this “ONE”. It would’t live a minute if you never showed up. Surely He wants that One to live, and led you there.

    Heavenly Blessings upon you!!


  3. Michelle,
    I loved reading about rescuing your children. I am sitting hear at my desk bawling because of God and His awesome LOVE. Praying for you girl from South Georgia. Love you and hope to come and meet you one day in Sudan.
    Love, Connie

  4. oh Michele my love you make me fall in love with Christ all over again!! yes His love is stronger than death on earth, may you keep letting His love conquer death over and over again. We love you and hug you and bless you with His great love yet again!
    shampa and family from India

    1. Shampa- I love you sweet sister and miss you… so much. I can’t wait to spend some quality time with you somewhere on the planet! Hugest of hugs- Michele

  5. Wow. Amazing stuff. LOVE to read your blogs. May 2011 take you deeper and higher into the burning heart of love.
    Thank you for who you are and your inspiring walk.

  6. I love you love you loveyou, my aawesome sister inGod!Thank you for being amazing and faith full 🙂 Love, love, love and my prayers, -Jennie

  7. I have read your book and have just recently subscribed to your blog. You bring the hope of the power of Jesus to me every time I encounter you. I have also quoted you on my FB and others were also blessed. But I long to have that River of Life flowing out of me and I am encouraged that he can do great things. I am considering attending Iris Harvest School. Yours is only 2 weeks, is that right? Normally I would question 2 weeks being enough to off-set the cost (which I assume flights are high?), but perhaps in this case I am wrong. How do I learn more about this? How do I learn about possible becoming more involved in your work instead of “just” reading from a distance?

    Blessings to you and may Jesus continue to bless his children through you.

    1. Iris Harvest School is two months and is in Pemba- it is worth every penny and second! I couldn’t recommend any investment higher. Let’s talk about more involvement ideas… there are many potential ways to be involved in what Jesus is doing here… I will email you shortly. Thank you for your heart for His precious ones clear across the world.

      1. Thanks so much for taking the time to write! Please do email me when you can. I would love to hear about involvement ideas!–has been on my heart for months now. Blessings at this amazing time!

  8. Michelle you are so awsome.. I miss you and think of you and the children all the time. I have had two trips cancelled to Uganda but I know it will be in God’s time. Do you ever have a chance to see Pastor Dongo? I hope to see you and the children again soon, it has been too long. Blessings to you and your Yei family.

  9. So moved at your story of the little one being healed by Jesus, he is an amazing God isnt he, Also that he told you before in the vision. thank you for your obedience and love for these little ones, may you be strengthened and empowered daily as you go in his name.I long to see those miracles of his here in England have two friends suffering with cancer and both love the Lord believing for them his intervention. Happy New Year Michelle. xx

  10. Michele,
    Bless you, bless you, bless you for all you’re doing for The Kingdom! I read your book and was inspired to do even more for our Lord. Keep “stopping for the one” as Heidi says. In HIs love, Cathy Fernjack

    1. Marcia- love your blog and His heart that shines through it!

      Well as I always say 😉 I live with one foot in heaven and one on earth. Literally. Kinda fitting for someone with a life message of living in two realms at once!

      May your 2011 be a year of open heavens!

  11. Oh the deep, deep love of Jesus! Your post was so descriptive I could walk the trash heaps with you. This account brings to mind once again that the kingdom of God suffers violence, and the violent take it by force. Righteous indignation rose up in you Michele….may it rise again and again as you journey through this call on your life. Praise the name of Jesus who causes us to triumph in all things! Much love to you!

    1. Sandi- I miss you! I need to come to TX to see you again and have some of your amazing pancakes 😉 I pray all is well with you and your clan- Hugs from Sudan-Michele

    2. AMEN! I love you sweet sister and can’t wait until our paths cross again… remembering amazing worship times and the time you made me cry with happy birthday! Thanking Jesus for you!

  12. God bless and increase you Michele! Thanks for sharing your/Jesus’s compassion for these children. I’m challenged to increase my intercession for you and your children and co-laborers.

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