The Power of Being a Friend

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2009, Eastern Equatoria, South Sudan

When I left the red soil of South Sudan, I left part of my heart planted in it.

I thought I would never again see that part of my heart come alive.  In the photo above our team had just traveled 4 very long days to reach an obscure village in an unstable region of South Sudan.  I’ll never forget the sudden wave of God’s Spirit as we arrived and I knew our pastor there and I needed to preach.  Almost every single person wanted to know Jesus.

I don’t know if I will ever get a chance to return to South Sudan.  But I am who I am today because of the countless things my Sudanese family taught me as they welcomed me into their homes and their nation.  I miss them so, so much.

Now, I’m in a new season.  One so new I feel I have barely touched the edges of what lies ahead.

I’ve been spending time with my sweet new friends from Congo and I am always amazed how simple God’s love truly is.  It isn’t complicated to walk with Jesus.  You just walk.  You simply live so filled you spill Him.

Imagine losing everything you have ever owned and being deposited in rural China where you can’t speak, understand or read and having to navigate a totally foreign culture where nothing is familiar and you have no home country to return to.  That gives a fairly accurate picture of what many refugees go through and the kind of a learning curve they have to embrace.

I think they are heroes.  To bravely dive in to a foreign landscape.  I know I wouldn’t have survived without my friends and the mamas in South Sudan who taught me their culture and bits of language and how to use the scary kerosene stove… who took me in and treated me as family and showed me what community really looks like.

I can honestly say I was never lonely.  Not once in seven years.

I pray to be as good a friend to my new adopted Congolese family as so many from Africa are to me.  Something as simple as introducing them to how to open a can using the American can machete i.e. can opener is the difference between them being able to enjoy what has been stocked in their cabinets and not.  Tomorrow it is cookie making 101 and hearing all about the kids first week in school!

Do you realize there are international populaces right at our doorstep? Some are immigrants, some refugees, some educated, some right from the bush and the nations are right here.  And what they need most are friends who will love them and model God’s love in the daily practicalities of life. 

I’m in the middle of raising support {both prayer and financial} through my sending church to allow me to focus full time on the ministries God is radically opening up in this season.  Here is just a little glimpse of the threads that are being woven into a beautiful tapestry of missions mobilization and equipping:

  • As of today I will be serving {volunteer mission work, hence the need for a support team} in a variety of capacities with World Relief here in Jacksonville.  I have been invited to come along side to help with teaching orientation for new refugees, to serve in the capacity of a “creative director” of sorts helping to come up with creative ways for them to help share the stories of what God is doing, to be a cross-cultural mentor for volunteers who need help learning to navigate different cultures and most of all I get love precious people from the nations.
  • You’ve heard me share about Create 61. I will be further developing our School of Indigenous Leadership and eventually be implementing parts of it in conjunction with partner host churches, school and organizations.  Also we will be partnering with like- hearted churches to come along side to help them start missional micro-communities and train leaders for missions/urban/cross-cultural leadership.
  • I continue to mentor and coach missionaries, to write and speak.
  • I continue to develop the business end of what I do to be a vehicle of cultural engagement, relationship building and reaching out to a much broader community than I would have access to without it.

Because I encouraged most of my supporters who had a heart for the work I started in Africa to continue to support the work there, I transitioned home with a very small fraction of my personal support base.

So I am basically starting over a bit and am having to trust Jesus for some really big practical breakthroughs that are needed, yesterday if possible.  According to my timeline at least. Hah.

Please know there is no pressure here ever, not even a shred.  I just want to invite you to become part of my support team in this new season and ask you to talk to Jesus about the invitation.  Please know that no prayer or financial seed is “small”.  Every little bit is huge.  Find out how to give or find out more information here.

I so appreciate each and every one of you.  It is one of my greatest joys to continue to journey with you into all that God has.

Bravely Yours- Michele