Sunday, February 17, 2013

Faith, Hope, and LOVE

Life in Africa is hard. Often things happen and we wonder and pray. Someday we hope to understand but until then we have faith in God's master plan. We also walk in the true love and freedom.

“Look at the nations and watch—
    and be utterly amazed.
For I am going to do something in your days
    that you would not believe,
    even if you were told. Habakkuk 1:5

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

When I started with AIM I was blessed to spend three weeks with over 30 adults and 15 children. We all learned more about life in Africa, missions, the African would view, and more. So many firsts were shared together and life long bonds were created. 
 13 But it is you, a man like myself,
    my companion, my close friend,
14 with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship
    at the house of God,
as we walked about
    among the worshipers. Psalm 55:13-14
My fun ABO crew!
Julie Gennaro and I at our last ABO dinner!

One family I loved spending time with was the Gennaro Family. They answered the Lord's call to live along the people in the hills of Losatho in southern Africa. This amazing family of eight packed up and said goodbye to Sunny San Diego and headed off to the cool windy hills of one of the smallest African countries. They came to work with a vocational training center in a small village. Chris, the father, has indescribable skills in dress making and tailoring. Whether cracking jokes with Chris and his lovely wife, Michelle, having a sleep over with their three daughters, or running around outside with their three boys I LOVED being with this family. They truly love the Lord and seek Him in all they do. Each child is growing more and more into the person the Lord has created them to be with loving and supporting parents. 
One of the CRAZY Gennaro boys!

Can you tell I love this family?! Well I do. This morning I could not help but lift this family up in prayer. With tears in my eyes I learned that last night Chris went to be with Jesus. The family was blessed to say goodbye and be by his side. After a heart attack and three weeks in a South African ICU, the Lord called His faithful servant home. Please lift this family up in prayer as they grieve the loss of a husband and father. We have HOPE that this family will see God's loving hand in this dark season. We have FAITH that God's plan will bring Him glory for the Gennaro's obedience and work in Africa. We ask that the LOVE this family has for the Lord will be a testimony for all to see.

because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people— the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel that has come to you. In the same way, the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world—just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God’s grace. Colossians 1:4-6 

With a sad heart I say goodbye but with a hopeful spirit I rejoice with the heavens as they welcome Chris home!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

10 More Days...

A face I will miss!
Sweet little WOO HOO man!
In just 10 days I will be landing in California. It is so hard to believe that almost 2 years has gone by. As the anticipation of 3 months at home becomes a reality I can not help but think of all the people I have missed. At the same time I am started to see how much I will miss Uganda, even more my Ugandan family. Oh, the life the Lord as called me to. A life of joy because of all the relationships I am blessed to have.

No matter what side of the world I am on, the Lord had given me people to call family. My Ugandan family is so sad to see me head to the States.  They are constantly asking if  I will be coming back. Just today I told a friend I was leaving in 10 days and she said "No! Three months is too long. You must come back before that!" Just as sad as my family on this side of the world is, the family on the other side is very excited. While SKYPEing with my sweet little man, I informed him it was just 12 more days and his reply was "Oh Yeah?! WOOO HOOO!"

As you could image my emotions are all mixed up at the moment. Should I feel sad? Do I feel happy?! All I know is in 10 days I say goodbye to sweet sweet friends, the part of being a missionary I will never be use to. But, in just 24 hours after these goodbyes I will be saying HELLO to people I have missed like crazy.  And in May the process will start all over again! So I am giving it to the Lord. Asking Him to allow me to feel what I need to feel while giving me peace and joy. All the while praying I do not look like a hot mess of emotions!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Holding On

Do you remember the spark?  The undeniable tugging on your heart that you were called to go, to serve, to preach, to love, and to share the good news and amazing grace of Jesus Christ?

To those abroad living out your faith in the capacity of missions, congratulations and thank you.  You are examples of what it is to walk by faith and not by sight.  You are storing up treasures in heaven where moth and rust do not destroy, where thieves do not break in and steal (Matthew 6:19-20).  Your obedience is precious in God's eyes.  There is no doubt that when your day comes to go home, you will hear His voice proudly say, "Well done, my good and faithful servant" (Matthew 25:23).

That spark turned into a blazing fire.  His Spirit in you has given you the passion to reach out to the lost and the needy for the sake of His Kingdom.  You followed His voice.  You obeyed.  For that, I admire you, and I pray for you.  So many of us here in the States are lifting you up in prayer daily.  But will you also pray for us?  Will you pray for those who have a passion for missions like you do?

Lynn heard God's calling in her college years.  She had a heart for Deaf ministry.  She learned of an American Sign Language (ASL) Bible translation project and had a desire to help translate the Bible into other sign languages around the world, as sign languages are not universal in form or in grammar.  She believed that her background in linguistics would be a good starting point for a ministry of this type.  She also desired to interpret in church settings so that the American Deaf community could have more access to church services.  She used to browse the internet looking for Deaf missions opportunities in other countries.  She dreamed with excitement and wonder at how God could use her in such settings.  What happened to the spark?

While studying ASL-English interpretation, she was afflicted with a muscular condition that caused chronic pain head to toe.  Interpreting as a career was not a plausible option.  Even talking with Deaf people left her feeling sore for hours after.  Treatments weren't curing, and hopes for healing were getting crushed bit by bit.  Even in the struggle, God did not forget her.  He blessed her with an amazing husband who supported her and never made her feel like a burden.  They wrote worship songs together that glorified God.  Lynn continued to praise God in the storm.  God gave her jobs that were within her range of expertise and physical abilities.  She loved who she worked with and always strove to shine the love of Christ to those she came in contact with.  She learned to have a missionary heart wherever she was.  Then a baby came, a little girl who she loved with all her heart.  Her little girl was her ministry.  As Lynn met other moms, they also became her ministry.  God continued to put people in her life who she could bear witness to.  All the while, dreams of being a missionary in a far off country were slowly fading.  Passions were still there, but new ones had replaced the old ones.

As for Lynn's health, new hopes in alternative medicine and healthy eating sparked her interest.  She found some relief down this path.  She continues to follow a healthy diet but sometimes makes it an idol.

In light of the miracles written of in God's word, she sought out the prayers of other Christians, particularly brothers and sisters who have gifts of healing.  She experienced eye-opening, supernatural miracles on her own body, but she never had a complete healing for her head-to-toe pain.  In her own conversations with God, it became clear to her that He would heal her in this lifetime, but in His own way and in His perfect timing.  She trusted Him, but she held on tightly to her circumstances.

Putting much faith in her organic diet and alternative healing modalities, she carried the thought, Well, it's not the right time for me to go on a missions trip.  I wouldn't have access to all the things that have helped me feel better.  I already hurt, and without these things, the pain could worsen.

A girl who had seen the power of prayer firsthand doubted God's hand of protection if she were to go abroad, out of her comfort zone, away from her simple pleasures and home remedies.  This same girl who expected God's miracle of healing was holding onto her health like it was in her hands.  God spoke to her about this matter and said this:

"Listen, O daughter, consider and give ear:
Forget your people and your father's house. 
The king is enthralled by your beauty;
Honor Him, for He is your Lord."
-Psalm 45:10-11

In her journal, Lynn wrote this in response:

Today, I heard you speak.  You asked me if I would GO.  If you were to call me to the mission field, would I be willing to go?  If you stripped away the security and comfort I have here, would I trust You to take care of me?  Would I trust You to be my daily bread?  Would I trust You to guard and preserve my health without access to my home remedies, my raw milk, and my organic food?

In asking this question, You revealed to me my idol, that which I place before Your power and sovereignty.  Who am I to put You in a box, to doubt You, when You have given me the blessing and privilege of witnessing miracles?  This is big.  This is what You've been getting at all along.  This is the fear that has been growing inside of me, and its roots go deep.  You want to uproot it, but You need me to loosen the soil around it.  You need me to loosen my grip.  You need me to walk in the authority that You have given me, authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means harm me (Luke 10:19).  For no weapon formed against me shall prosper (Isaiah 54:17).

Lord, you spoke with and interacted with lepers, those considered unclean.  In the Old Testament, we read of the laws that said to steer clear of the unclean or else reap the consequences of becoming unclean ourselves.  But Jesus, you were higher than the law.  Knowing the authority You have, You touched the eyes of lepers and healed them.  You did not contract their disease, their uncleanness, or their sin.  You made the lepers righteous and pure, healed and whole.

Christ, You live in me.  The same power that conquered the grave lives in me (Romans 8:11), and You said that Your followers would do greater things (John 14:12).  If I am truly operating on that belief, then I need not fear the food that I eat, the products I use on my body, the medicine I take, or the treatment I may receive.  The same goes for my family.  They are in Your hands, and I don't need to fear.  Fear is not of God, but perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18).

So God, You know that I desire to eat healthy, to live a very natural lifestyle, but most importantly, help me to live and embrace the supernatural lifestyle of love that You have called me to.

I believe that Lynn represents a great number of Christians who once desired something bigger, but circumstances of this life took them in a different direction.  It's not to say that God hasn't used them on the path they are traveling.  Indeed, He uses our circumstances and struggles to increase our faith and to increase our passion for Him.  But those circumstances and struggles should not kill the dreams that were planted by the Holy Spirit.  We hope for what we do not see (Romans 8:24-25), so who's to say that Lynn and others like her do not have missions in their future?  May God's Spirit reignite their passion, and may the power of prayer break every chain that binds them to a lifestyle lesser than what God has called them to.

To those in missions, I would ask that you pray for those of us who desire to join you on the missions field but feel inhibited by our circumstances.  We mean well, but we lack a peace that says, "It is well with my soul."  We are holding onto something.  We are waiting for God to part the seas before we step out in faith.  What we need is to step out in faith, and I believe that as we go forward, He will direct our path, part seas, and move mountains because we are seeking first His Kingdom and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33).  Dear missionaries, we are praying for you, and we thank the Lord for your faithfulness in serving Him and drawing others into the Kingdom of God. 

In closing, I'd like to turn your attention back to Psalm 45:10-11, the verse that God used to speak to Lynn.  He asked her to rewrite it in her own words, personalized to reflect her own circumstances and struggles.  I challenge you to do the same.

"Listen, O daughter, consider and give ear:
Forget your people and your father's house. 
The king is enthralled by your beauty;
Honor Him, for He is your Lord."
-Psalm 45:10-11

Here's what Lynn wrote:

Listen to me, Lynn.  Hear my voice and think about what I have to say to you:

Forget the opinions of your family members, your parents, your sisters, your husband.  Forget about the opinions of your friends and acquaintances, Christian or non-Christian.  Forget about the views that oppose yours.  Forget about the people who mock your beliefs and your faith.  Don't live in bondage to them.  Don't live to be accepted by them.  They are not your audience. 

The King is your audience, and He is enthralled by your beauty.  After all, He made you that way, and He wants to continue to embellish you and crown you with the riches of His Kingdom.  He loves you.  He receives you.  He accepts you.  He enjoys you.  He wants more and more of You.

Honor Him.  Spend time with Him.  Love Him.  Rely on Him.  Surrender Your all to Him.  Hold nothing back.  Release it all, and let Him have complete control over Your life and circumstances.  Be desperate for Him.  Trust Him to meet your EVERY need.  He is good, and His love for you endures forever.  He is your God, Yaweh, the Great I Am, the Pearl of Great Price, Jehovah Jireh, Jehovah Raphah, and He wants You.  He is love.  Embrace Him and rest in the arms of His peace which surpasses understanding.  Yes, honor Him, for He is your Lord.


Thank you for reading, and blessings to you all.

Your Sister in Christ,
Marsha Lynn Hoyt

Keep Your Eyes Open!

I am so excited to post this news! There will be some guest bloggers coming soon!!

God has touched tuned my hears to worldwide missions.  He is doing so much outside of Africa. The world is so big and yet so small. Missions does not mean packing up and moving 1/2 way around the world. Yes, for some but God is calling each of us to be apart of what He is doing HERE and NOW!

There are amazing things happening all around us, so I am thrilled to highlight some of it. Also if you have some great stories of how God is moving, missions, and loving others contact me. I would love to hear all about it!

So, keep your eyes open....some great new posts are coming soon!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Being a Very OPEN Book...

For those who know me well....I do not have poker face nor hide my feelings well. So it would be no surprise that I am willing to open up about how I am feeling, how I am really feeling.

In just 24 days I land back in the States! First time coming back, I am over the moon but I am also so scared! Really think about it with me for a moment....

My home is third world country. The last year 1/2 have been so trying, growing, powerful, and amazing but with ever lesson learned I have become more African in my way of thinking. English is just one of the language I speak on a daily bases. Death, HIV/AIDS, poverty, and spiritual darkness are now realities for me. Options are also very limited and at times nonresistant.

In a nutshell my life has changed! While my life has changed, life for my loved ones back "home" has moved forward. Some people are married, babies have been born, new homes have been moved into, and so much more. I love them and they love me, but our lives are so different. I know things are going to be different, and expecting things will be different.  I pray that God will help my heart be ready for all the change I will face.

I am praying for this change but also for the fact I will be back in the "Land of Plenty."As much as I am wanting to go into Target and stock up on things, I know will be overwhelmed! There will be countless times I have breakdowns, meltdowns, and feel like I do not belong. All of this is known....but not yet where I am.

The more I think about the joys of home assignment, the fears in me also come out. Today after reading a wonderful article (A Great Read For all Friends and Family of Missionaries!) about missionaries heading on furlough my face must have been very cold. My dear friend Godfrey came into my office and asked "Sister, where is your smile?!" That is when it hit me... these days I am a ball of emotions for the world to see! I told him "I am trying to find it. Really I am!" He laughed and said it is there and that I just need to trust in the Lord.

Oh God, thank you for using people to remind me that all I need to do is trust in you. Yes,  I am so excited to go "home" but also afraid. So scared I will not fit in and understand things around me. Help my spirit to let all this fear go. Open my eyes to your faithfulness! This time at home is not for me. It is for you to get the glory for all you are doing here in Africa! You are using me to share all you are doing and at the same time you are blessing me with time to connect with family, friends, and supporter. Thank you for that. Help me finish well these next few weeks before I head to the States! -Amen