Guess what I got in the mail yesterday? A big box of books! My books! How crazy is that? I've been dreaming about this day for twenty-four years, and it was so cool to finally rip that cardboard box open on my living room floor and see the cover of my book peering back at me. It's like a dream, except for that all fifteen of the blue-bound copies were stacked on my dresser when I woke up this morning. I'm not dreaming!
What a fun thing to experience... When the UPS guy drove up, Aaron gave me this look that said, "This is it." It seemed almost providential that Aaron was home at the time and the boys were sleeping. We sat on the floor together and took them all out, reading the back cover and flipping through the pages. Wow. I can't even begin to describe how incredible it was. And I can't tell you how happy I am with the way everything turned out. Tyndale did an excellent job on the cover, the layout, the chapter breaks... Everything looks so great.
And God gave us about ten minutes to revel in it all. Then the phone rang.
I think I've alluded to our relationship with a pastor named Robert in Liberia, but I'll fill you in on a few more details... When Aaron and I went to Ethiopia to pick up our son, Judah, we stayed in a missionary guest house. At the time, there was a Life Water conference going on and there were a number of pastors from all over Africa in attendance. One of those pastors, a man named Robert Bimba, quickly found his way into our hearts. Aaron and Robert struck up a great friendship and we left Ethiopia promising to do all that we could to help support Robert in his ministry. Robert is the pastor of a church called Abide in the Vine Fellowship in the capital city, Monrovia. Abide in the Vine also supports two orphanages both named Christ Is Our Hope.
Anyway, now that we are settled back in our comfortable, North American lives, God is doing a very good job of reminding us of what he expects from us... We have indeed kept our promise to Robert and we have struck up a church partnership between the church that Aaron pastors (Bridge of Hope) and Abide in the Vine. We are also in the process of setting up a child sponsorship program for the kids in the orphanages. But just when we think we can take a break and pat ourselves on the back, God gently reminds us that we are nowhere near done.
Yesterday, as I sat in my glory surrounded by all these beautiful books, Robert called. We are blessed to be able to speak with Robert once or twice a week, and we always look forward to hearing his voice. But yesterday, Robert called with bad news.
It's the rainy season in Liberia and the people are, quite literally, struggling to survive. Last week Robert gathered his entire congregation and brought them to the church where they stayed for five days together, praying and fasting. The orphanages have run out of food, many of the children are sick, and Satan seems to be mustering armies against these already besieged people. And then, the morning after these beautiful children of God break their time of fasting and prayer, thieves enter the church and steal everything they can lay their hands on.
I was grinning over the books when Robert called, and all I could hear was Aaron's side of the conversation: "No. Oh no. No, you've got to be kidding me. Oh Robert, I am so sorry..." I thought we had lost one of the kids in the orphanage. And though I'm thankful that the only thing lost is a bunch of furniture, I still can't get my mind around how devastating this must be for the people of Abide in the Vine. And I absolutely can't understand how half a world away, my brothers and sisters in Christ have to plead with God for every meal they eat while I throw my extra away. While I get the joy of holding my books in my hands.
It's so wrong. And we will be held accountable for what we have done, and for what we haven't done. Every gift I receive is not my own--it is freely given from my God for his people, I am nothing more than the distributor. I better never, ever forget that.
Praise you, God, for continuing to remind me.