It never ceases to amaze me how a little light can chase so much darkness away.
I sat in my little apartment in Florida this morning having coffee with one of our Iris First Coast core team who is making the same trek I made to Mozambique seven years ago. I can’t help tonight but remember God’s extravagant goodness poured out along Pemba’s turquoise ocean shores and red dirt paths. And be unspeakably grateful.
I could never have imagined then what the journey these last seven years have held, and it is only just beginning. It is a little sobering to think the babies I held and rocked in South Sudan are now talkative elementary school children more than halfway to becoming teenagers. Children why do you have to grow SO fast? And the seven year olds, well what a difference seven years makes.
Almost seven years ago this young man was much shorter than his adoptive very fair mama he chased down when she left where he was staying.
It is one thing to receive from and participate in a move of God’s Spirit as it happens around you in a corporate atmosphere charged with revival. Please do hear me. I will go anywhere God is moving because I am always ravenously hungry for more of Who He is. But it is very difficult to know what has really become a part of you until you step beyond that amazing corporate atmosphere. For me, Mozambique was about being radically encountered by Jesus. But I had to leave Mozambique and go to South Sudan to find out the depths of what God accomplished on the inside of me.
It is extrememly difficult to know what you really have woven deep into your spirit, the expression of God’s moving, of His glory which you carry until you are sent out and step beyond the supercharged corporate atmosphere. We never know what we truly carry until we move beyond the corporate experience out into seeing how God expresses Himself in and through our journeys each and every day.
I was clueless as to what I carried from previous seasons until about three years into pioneering in South Sudan. And now four years beyond that I still only know glimpses, snippets. But I know more now than I did 7 years ago. Most importantly of all, I know more how much I need Jesus, how much if heaven doesn’t come through I don’t stand a chance. Our family in South Sudan only stands as strong as we kneel.
I had such a wonderful time seeing my sweet children. And while this trip was less of a leisurely visit, oh how I rejoice to even have a few hours with some of those dearest to my heart. And God’s extravagant grace. I can’t even begin to tell you how divinely orchestrated this trip was, down to hours of God’s perfect timing. Thank you for praying.
Jesus reminded me of something this last weekend as we kicked off our first Night of Worship and the Arts with our Iris First Coast family and friends here in Jacksonville. Sometimes we only really understand the visions and promises He gives us after they begin to happen. And we can say “this is that- Oh I get it!”
On my way initially from Mozambique to South Sudan I stopped over in South Africa to pray in 2006 and had a profound encounter with Jesus. In this experience, Jesus put a very dark African baby in one arm and a fair-skinned, none to ethnically distinct baby in the other. At the time I thought He was referencing South and North Sudan. But as worship rose right here in FL, not very differently from the dust and prayers rising like incense from our family in Yei- both raw and untamed. I realized He was speaking of something even greater than I could then see. A base here in FL and a base in South Sudan, but one family moving in step as one to the rhythm of the heartbeat of the Lamb.
This June marks a season of completion and one of totally new beginnings as we pick up and steward the story of God’s glory filling the earth both in Yei South Sudan as well as here in Florida with greater wisdom than ever, with a love that is utterly fearless, a gentleness that is fiercely bold, with a commitment to God’s character and truth that refuses to waver and with vision for the next season overflowing with the promises of heaven.
The road remains more unpaved than ever. And the invitation remains the same. A shared journey deeper into the heart of God. Where the smallest flame of His light makes even deepest darkness flee before its shining.
P.S. If you would like to find out more about what God is doing in South Sudan… stay tuned. I have some exciting things coming your way very shortly. Please keep Iris South Sudan in prayer. The Yei base especially has been in a very tumultuous season of transition, but God is doing amazing things even though it has been a difficult part of the journey. We need prayer for miraculous provision on many fronts. And we stand rejoicing in God’s incredible goodness!