december 23, 2017 – Immokalee, Fl
“Podemos orar contigo,” i said. And she said, “Sí.”
Holding hands on her doorstep:
“Padre, te amamos.
Por favor, dé esta familia su protección y
por favor dé esta familia su amor.
Te agradecemos por todo.
en el nombre de Jesucristo. Amen.”
In return, she prayed over us. There were very few words I understood, but her heart was evident. She gave all glory and praise to God – “a Dios.”
i have heard people say that there is no language barrier able to stop the love of Christ, but never had i experienced it until this moment. in that moment, we were sisters in Christ, joined in prayer. gone were the divisions of language, culture, race, city limits, county lines. we were united in love and mutual understanding. i imagine this was a little glimpse of what it will be like in Heaven.
i told her, “comprendo poquito porque no se muchas palabras,” and it was evident she didn’t know any english. it didn’t matter though. the love of Christ was enough. it has always been enough.
december 22, 2017 – Dunbar, Fl
she asks me, “Can i play with your hair?“and i say a little reluctant, “well, of course.”
we talk about Christmas and toys and basketball and her family and her favorite color and favorite princess. we talk about school and her barrettes as they try to guess how old i am or strangle my camera to try and take some pictures. we dribble, play catch, laugh and dance. we have piggyback rides and cheesy smiles and big bear hugs.
i take up the little one in my arms. we swing around and we dance in the middle of basketball chaos. its magical. we talk about Christmas. i said, “do you wanna hear a story?” . . . “it’s not just any story, it’s one that really happened. it’s about someone who loves you SO much.” i begin to tell her the story of Jesus – how He created her, loves her, and cares for her everyday. i give her my love and hopefully show her a portion of the same love Jesus has for her.
some have said, “lauren, how can you try and relate with her? you’re white. you’re from a different background and a different culture. you couldn’t possibly understand or hope to make a difference.”
i am a different race. i am from a different culture. i am from a different background. however, is the cross not more powerful than racial discrepancies? is Jesus’ love not greater than cultural differences? is God not more preeminent than the different backgrounds between the two of us?
it is. it is. He is.
kids don’t care about color. they care about love. love is something we wanna see growing into a reality in their community.
God doesn’t care about color. He cares about His children, His creation. love is something He wants to see shown to each and everyone.
what is so similar and so special about these two separate events? . . . they were spur of the moment, unplanned, little “thank you God” moments. they both show the immense power of His love to overcome language, race, and cultural barriers. they show His practice of displaying His glory through His perfect plans.
many times i walk into situations having gone over board on planning, creating list after list and spreadsheet after spreadsheet. somehow, the process of writing things out, making lists, checking boxes, and crossing over tasks makes me feel like my life is somewhat together. really, over board planning gives me a false sense of security. every. single. time.
i am a planner by nature. i always have been, and as far as i can tell, i probably will be for a long while. i think its woven into my DNA. however, going against my nature, i’ve been learning to surrender CONTROL to the Ultimate and Original Planner and submissively and excitingly jump on board to His plans – even when they aren’t clear or when they are uncertain or when they are scary, new, daunting. And when His plans aren’t clear and when they are scary, new, and daunting and when we submit ourselves to Him, only His glory shines – not our own – for He gives power to complete that which is scary, new, daunting, and uncertain.
my favorite testimony to the Divine planning of God is Dwayne Jackson’s Hoops on Mission ministry. feeling God’s calling on his heart, Dwayne surrendered his own plans to the uncertain and unclear and scary, new, and daunting plans of God for him to be a missionary in the Dunbar community. He gave up what one would consider “security,” leaving a full-time steady income, and he embarked upon the journey of trusting whole-heartedly in the Lord’s provisions. Over three years later, Hoops on Mission is impacting thousands of children in the Ft. Myers community. this past friday night, december 22, 2017, over 300 basketballs and bibles were donated and distributed to over 300 youth from the Dunbar community at the Stars Complex. because of one man with a heart surrendered to the Lord and to His plans, thousands of children have come into contact with the love of Christ!
in high school, they tell you to plan, plan, plan for your future, and in senior year, EVERYONE asks what your plans are after graduation. planning becomes so emphasized that you’re almost crazy if you don’t have a plan for the rest of your life. But all this planning, it’s a false sense of our own selves being in control. when in reality, God is the one in control. God is the one with the plan.
we simply cannot plan little “thank you God” moments like these into our hour by hour planners. we must be available for them – humbly receptive to the Lord’s spur of the moment calls upon our hearts. if we are too busy with our own plans, lists, and spreadsheets, we will be way to busy to make room for His Divine plans. God desires a heart fully devoted and surrendered to Him – not a heart almost entirely focussed on its own plans while leaving a door cracked open to maybe peek upon what God may have in store.
i don’t know where i would be if Dwayne had not originally followed the Lord’s calling on his heart. i definitely would not be able to be part of such an amazing ministry, and a lot of kids would be without basketballs and bibles and the love of Jesus. Dwayne, i thank you for forsaking your own plans and for stepping out in faith to surrender control fully to God. i thank you for teaching the power of the cross to overcome racial and cultural differences in the Dunbar community. you inspire me to live everyday on mission. love you, family!