Hope That Does Not Disappoint

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And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. – Romans 5:3-5

I took this picture a little over 5 years ago in the dusty nether-reaches of the world’s youngest nation. It has been hanging on my wall ever since I returned back to the USA in 2013.  This image of the next generation reaching through the unknown into God’s hope for their future.

This year has been the most tumultuous yet since I founded the work in South Sudan in 2006.  The nation has been plunged back into war and the family I love so dearly is teetering on the edge of some very difficult decisions.  Even with money in the bank, there are no beans left in the markets to buy.  Roads are shut down, churches have emptied, schools are closed, gun fire is frequent and every single day is a miracle.

The base I founded stands as an incredible testimony of the love and power of Jesus in the face of insurmountable circumstances.  They have not run. They have stayed and worshiped in the middle of crisis.  Theirs is the only school that has remained open and functional.  They are reaching out and seeing God transform hearts even in the middle of the greatest crisis they have faced yet.

Yei, South Sudan was my home for 7 years and is still the home of a very big part of my heart.  My health did not allow me to stay forever like I expected and it is still wobbly after a 3 year battle to get it back.  But God knew what was coming and He put the exact right leaders in place for this season.

One of the leaders shared recently:

“I was also told this week that some of our neighbors have been very encouraged by our faith… when they hear us worship so many nights and mornings all during the week that they know God is with us and they are safer staying close to where He dwells… This was so encouraging that people feel safe because they feel God’s Presence…”

The team there is God’s absolute best for my adopted family there and there are no words for how proud I am of them.  I know my writing here has been scarce.  Family health crises, my own health issues, a car accident this summer, unexpected moving and more has had me just trying to keep my head above water.  But it all pales in comparison to what is being faced by those I love a world away.

I had previously posted a list of updates about the current situation and more details.  These had to be removed due to deteriorating a security situation at the discretion of the leadership there out of an abundance of caution.  Please DO give.  Everything else here holds true.

I am asking all of you to prayerfully consider how God might have you respond.  Yes, they need prayer.  Yes, God will meet their needs.  But He meets those needs through an outpouring of resources from His kids all over the world.  From one who has lived some of this reality for 7 years:  Every single thing they are trusting Jesus for is astronomically expensive.  Not to mention the very real possibility of having to start over and manage (i.e. provide for) two front line mission bases.

Pray.  Ask Jesus what you can give.  No amount is too small to be significant. Then, follow His lead extravagantly.  I can no longer give you a direct link for security reasons but feel free to contact me and I can give you the link to how to give to their needs.  Email me at michele@illustratedgrace.com.

May we be part of God’s answer to their needs and a tangible expression of His love, a reminder that in no way does confident expectation in Him ever disappoint.

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