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Crossing the River

My name is Shannon and I want to share about my recent trip to Haiti. Before I begin, a little background: I am a nurse and I went to Haiti on a medical mission through Azusa Pacific University to provide health care in the villages of Northern Haiti.

 

The fusion of providing health care and serving the poor has been a dream of mine for six years. I have wanted to start a mobile clinic to deliver health care to the most unreached parts of the world. When I graduated nursing school, I asked some of my friends to pray for me and commission me into the profession of nursing. As one of them prayed, my calling was further confirmed. He had a vision of me at the edge of a large river with swift currents. He said I would have to cross this river in order to reach the people I was called to serve. He said on the other side, there would be people waiting for me, because I am meant to love and serve them.

 

For six years, I have been praying, waiting, studying, saving money, getting rejected from medical school, getting three degrees, all so I could get to those people. On the second day of my trip in Haiti, there we were. I couldn’t believe it! We had to cross a large river to get to a remote area of Haiti where people were waiting for us. They had walked over 5 hours to arrive there for medical care. Many of them had no access to medical care because of the rough terrain they live in.

 

I stood in front of this river, large currents, cholera-infected. We were required to cross it barefoot because the current would wash our sandals off. It was then that I remembered that vision. In that moment, I realized I was exactly where I was supposed to be.

 

In that moment, those six years of waiting didn’t matter. All the longing, the heartache, the locked doors, the many No’s faded away. God’s greater Yes always trumps the other No’s. As I crossed the river, I experienced so much joy. When you are in the center of God’s will and living out what you were born to do, He enables you to make unprecedented sacrifices even risking getting cholera. God put that Spirit within me. I arrived at the clinic and we treated over 100 patients and actually saved the lives of three children that day because we were able to transport them to the hospital and give them needed medications. They were in fact waiting for us.

 

I share this because I am sure many of us have dreams and visions for our lives. Perhaps God told you what you are to do or who you are to be in His kingdom years ago and yet your reality doesn’t seem congruent with what you have heard and been promised. But I want to encourage you and say that our God is always faithful. He will never fail and His word will never return to Him void. His timing is perfect and He will always come through.

 

And when He does, the pain of that labor leading up to the birthing of your destiny and calling will not only be forgotten, it will be worth it.

I want to leave you with one word I got while in Haiti from Isaiah 49: 1-4:

Listen to me, coastlands,

and give attention, you peoples from afar.

The LORD called me from the womb,

from the body of my mother he named my name.

He made my mouth like a sharp sword;

in the shadow of his hand he hid me;

he made me a polished arrow;

in his quiver he hid me away.

And he said to me, “You are my servant,

Israel, in whom I will be glorified.”

But I said, “I have labored in vain;

I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity;

yet surely my right is with the LORD,

and my recompense with my God.”

 

– Shannon

 

A God Who Heals

At the beginning of November 2010, Grant shared a word during a 70 Cohort meeting that he felt that the Lord was releasing a ministry of healing to us. He challenged us to believe God for something we haven’t seen before in healing. In the past when I’ve prayed for healing for people, even though I can say that at times God has indeed answered my prayers, I realized that there was a certain underlying dread I felt whenever someone mentioned to me that they had an ailment or sickness. Sometimes the dread was so heavy that even though I felt I should, I wouldn’t offer prayer. My dread was two-fold: I was afraid that God wouldn’t answer my prayers (and I would look like a fool) and I worried that the person I prayed for would have less faith in God after my prayer if he or she weren’t healed.

 

The following Monday, an acquaintance of a friend from church called me and asked if I could pray for her and some issues that were coming up with her daughters. I agreed and we all met to pray that evening. While the woman was sharing about various struggles, she casually mentioned that she was unemployed because of a problem she was having with her knee. In fact, her knee was causing her so much pain that she couldn’t sit still for more than a few minutes and also couldn’t stand for very long. She was scheduled to have surgery at the beginning of December. I remembered Grant’s word from Saturday and even though it wasn’t the original reason she had asked me to pray for her, I announced that we would pray for her knee and felt a certain surge of excitement that maybe this was the beginning of the release of a ministry of healing Grant spoke of. We prayed for quite a while for many things and God seemed to be releasing healing to her in many areas of her life. At the end of the prayer time I asked her how her knee felt. She was surprised because she said it didn’t hurt and we had been sitting for over 30 minutes. She got up and started twisting it all around saying it actually felt good. Her face was joyful. My friend and I were amazed! I saw this woman again a couple of months later and she reported that her knee was still doing well. This was the first time I had seen a super-clear connection between prayer and a healing.

A couple of weeks later I had the opportunity to pray for my sister’s baby who was born two months premature. As a result of being born so early, she was regularly having apnea where she would “forget” to breathe and would turn blue. As you can imagine, this was very distressing to my sister and her husband. After Thanksgiving, I went to visit my niece at the hospital and felt led to pray for healing for her apnea. I just connected with my sister this morning. Her baby was able to go home from the hospital a month earlier than expected. My sister told me that after I prayed for her baby that she didn’t have any more apnea spells. Praise God!

 

A couple of weeks later, my husband went to Berkeley to speak at a conference. He called me in the morning because he woke up with conjunctivitis (both of my boys had conjunctivitis over the weekend). One of his eyes was red and painful. Because of his schedule, he wasn’t going to be able to get medication before he had to make his presentation. I prayed for him and his presentation over the phone. When he got home from the conference, he told me that the redness and swelling in his eye had almost disappeared completely by the time he gave his presentation. Praise God again!

 

I feel that God has released to me a new confidence in his healing power. Moreover, God has been strengthening my understanding that he is a powerful God who desires to heal his people and love us deeply through the daily pains and difficulties of life.

 

– Armi

 

God Healed Me of Malaria

On July 13, 2010 I returned from a trip to Nigeria. Six days after my return I became sick. I knew from the symptoms that it was malaria. The doctor I saw attributed my stomach pain to excessive acidic gas and prescribed medicine. That took care of my stomach pain but not the body ache and headache.

 

There was no relief either for my body temperature.

 

I contacted Nigerians that I know in New York, Maryland, and here in California for assistance. They all responded with what they had for malaria. Every drug I took brought temporary relief, but not total cure.

In the meantime my situation was getting worse. Headaches continued every day until the morning of September 18. That morning there was the 70 Cohort prayer meeting in the church chapel. I was weak, feeling like vomiting, and my head was aching terribly. I didn’t think I could attend the meeting because of the way I was feeling. But at the last minute I went to the chapel. I made sure I sat way behind just in case I would have to rush out to the bathroom. Pastor Mike led the session with a reading from Isaiah 28. Then he prayed before we were to split into groups.

 

During the prayer I was complaining to God that He had not healed me of the malaria that was ravaging my body. I was reminding Him that there was nothing impossible for Him to do. I reminded Him of the miracles of healing He performed when He was here on earth. While I was doing that I had the prompting that I was in the right place and that I should ask for prayer. With that, as soon as Pastor Mike was through with his prayer I gathered myself and went to him requesting prayer. I explained to him my situation. He prayed. After the prayer, my headache grew worse but I kept telling myself that I had been prayed for so I was healed. I went back to my room and slept. When I woke up, the headache, the stomach pain, body ache, and the high body temperature all disappeared. To Him is the glory.

 

– Salihu

 

God Makes A Way

July 27, 2009 I was laid off from at Huntington hospital. A separation package was offered but for reasons of conscience I did not sign the agreement and left with no severance pay. Huntington did set me up with an organization which helps people find new jobs. This helped some, but it was difficult to stay motivated after a few promising leads fell through and it seemed nothing was opening up.

I continued to work a few hours a week at another position, while collecting unemployment but overall was making less than half the money I had been making. Brenda & I wondered how we’d be able to keep paying the rent. We cut back some, but this was not easy since already felt squeezed before the layoff.

 

During this time I was also meeting with a group of unemployed professionals through the unemployment office. There I gained some encouragement and built up a few skills. Yet, I also began to realize that it’s hard to find work through others who are also looking for work.

 

Around the end of June 2010 I learned unemployment benefits were going to be discontinued and Congress might not reinstate them. With Grant and Brenda’s strong encouragement I spent less time at the unemployment office and began looking more in earnest for any kind of work. I applied for sales work, construction, painting as well as looking for other ministry positions.

 

Then “out of the blue,” one year, one week and 5 days after being laid off, I got a call from Randy Boer. Randy told me that a friend of his who I had met before told Randy that a chaplain position was opened at Mission Hospice. They were ready to offer this position to someone else, but they were open to interviewing one more candidate. I called and was asked to come in that same afternoon. The interview went very well. The director said I was the best qualified candidate that they had. He said if all worked out I should hear from him within 24 hours. That was 4:30 PM on Thursday. Friday, Brenda and I waited and prayed. 4:30 came and went. At 5:30 my cell phone rang. It was the director. He offered the position, I accepted. He asked if I could start the following Tuesday. My answer, “Yes!”

Again it had been over a year and I did not know how we could make it on the money that I had coming in. Yet month after month God provided, sometimes in totally unexpected ways.

 

Four months in my new work has challenged and invigorated me. God provided a great team of people to work with. Areas in my life that had been blocked are beginning to open up. One key to moving forward has been holding on to the fact that God has provided this job and that it is really His work. I’m learning more to step forward in the confidence that He alone (and not any circumstances I face) is Lord, He does make a way in the deserts of life! Praise God!

 

– Steve

 

A Paradigm Transformation

I’d been worried for months that Steve might lose his chaplaincy job at Huntington Hospital. However, I believed the Lord would surely prevent this because since we had no savings to speak of, we wouldn’t survive otherwise. The Lord had his own (better) idea, however, and Steve was laid off at the end of July 2009. I estimated our savings would last us about 1 and a half months. As it turned out, Steve was unemployed for one year and one week.

Steve’s unemployment benefits weren’t enough to cover our living expenses. I regularly had nightmares about being evicted. But astonishingly, during the first 4-5 months, our checkbook balance never seemed to drop. Neither did we touch our savings. It seemed that God was recycling his miracle with the widow with the bottomless oil cruet and jar of flour.

 

After December, our balance started dropping, but unexpected sums also came in every month from different sources. Consequently, we were always able to cover our expenses. We never knew where the next month’s rent would come from, but it always came.

 

Meanwhile, the Lord began doing an important work of healing my frantic fear of destitution. Although we’d seen tough times before, I’d never really believed God would provide for us if we didn’t scramble to provide for ourselves. But now I saw he was providing for us, one month at a time. So my trust grew.

 

Then in late June, Congress failed to pass the extension of unemployment benefits, meaning that Steve’s benefits would end in one month. And the job market was worse than ever. I freaked out. God was going to let us crash after all. The faith I thought I had accumulated collapsed like a pancake.

 

Only God’s grace enabled me to maintain my discipline of prayer, Scripture reading, and listening for words. During this agonizing time, I tried hard to keep my eyes on Jesus and remember how God had provided thus far, but my heart would quail in spite of myself.

 

About two weeks later, the unemployment extension bill came up again. This time, thankfully, it passed. Obviously, unemployment benefits were only a temporary stopgap. But soon afterward, Randy called and told Steve about a hospice chaplain job he’d heard about from a friend. Steve followed up, was interviewed that very afternoon, and the next day, he had the job.

 

Interestingly, this job turned out to suit Steve better than any of his previous chaplaincy positions. He’s enjoyed and grown in it in wonderful ways. Given the way things converged, it’s clear where it came from: the Sender’s name was written all over the package.

 

This whole experience also brought me unexpected blessings. It’s too simplistic to say “God taught me I could trust him.” I can’t overstress what a profound paradigm shift God began to work in me through his demonstration of faithfulness in a prolonged time of trouble. Because of it I see him now with new eyes, and experience a new closeness to him. I’m extremely grateful.

 

– Brenda