Saturday, June 30, 2007

Enough and Never Enough

Sometimes I find it easy to become discouraged with myself. I strive to live by faith, and then in a moment of faithlessness I take it all back and worry or live in fear or question what God’s up to or try to control the outcome of a situation. Some days I’m a faith-filled woman, a powerful witness to the refining work of God. Other days I’m a sniveling coward, angry with myself for wondering where in the world God disappeared to.

We’re all like that, aren’t we? We want to operate out of faith, but we just can’t seem to sustain it to the extent we think we’re supposed to. We become uncertain, confused, bewildered, impatient, frustrated.

But let me tell you, from my vantage point, that’s nothing to beat ourselves up about, and here’s why: most of us don’t consider that God is always offering us progressively more challenging faith tests. We’ll never “arrive.” But each test causes our faith to grow, each failure teaches us the intended lesson. And every effort on our part is valued by God.

Some people, in their attempts to encourage us toward faith, would have us believe we barely live by faith at all. That we’re constantly disappointing God. They imply that if we were really pillars of the faith community, we’d never doubt. Never question. Never have a moment of dullness in our lives. Never need a nap or cry or yell at our kids or take antidepressants.

I don’t believe it. Some of the most extraordinary examples of faith come from people who struggled the most to live by it.

Remember those “heroes of the faith” in Hebrews 11? Abraham, for example, gets a whopping six verses dedicated to his faith, but think of all the times he didn't live by it. Like when he lied about Sarah being his wife because he was afraid someone would kill him in order to have her. Or when he impregnated his slave girl instead of waiting for God to open Sarah’s barren womb.

Good grief, the Israelites are lauded as examples of faith when we know full well that most of those who passed through the Red Sea by faith never entered the Promised Land because of their unbelief.

Don’t even get me started on the apostles who left everything to follow Jesus then spent the next three years arguing with him about what his ministry should look like, who he should talk to at Samaritan wells, and how in the world could they possibly feed all those people with five loaves and two fish.

The point is that for every step of faith we take, there are six more ahead that would not be steps of faith if they didn’t require . . . well, more faith than we have now. Praise God that we will encounter faith challenges at every turn, for it is through them that we are being transformed into the image of Jesus. And faith isn’t faith unless it involves the potential for doubt.

My friend Jerome Daley sent out a great newsletter today that touches on what I’m saying (you can sign up for Jerome's newsletter at He wrote, “God's deep yearning is for us to live in utter reliance upon and unprecedented partnership with Him. Yet despite this mind-boggling invitation, we hesitate. Our craving for control pulls at us relentlessly. And into this quandary, the gift He extends is . . . uncertainty.”

Uncertainty is a gift?

Absolutely! It’s only our enemy when we allow it to rule our faith-walk. And even then, God can redeem it. C.S. Lewis, in the Screwtape Letters, writes as the demon Screwtape: “He [God] wants them [believers] to learn to walk and must therefore take away His hand; and if only the will to walk is really there He is pleased even with their stumbles.”

The faith we have today is likely not sufficient for tomorrow. But God is. And He is able to challenge and nurture our faith if only we do not grow weary or discouraged and give up on ourselves. Because He doesn’t.

To Him, our faith is enough, but never enough that He will stop providing opportunities to grow in it.

And that’s the beauty of this journey.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Going Back

Last night my sweet sister Paula and I spent four hours booking flights for 5 of us to travel to Zimbabwe next October on a budget.

We are passionate about teaching the Zimbabwean church leaders and their wives more about authentic, simple, and transforming discipleship, the anti movements and a legalistic expression of faith being the norm there. And so the Leveretts and I will return, along with our shepherd Jerry Morgan and our brother Brian Mashburn who speaks so articulately on the subject--his life being the most powerful sermon of all.

Please pray for the Lord's will in these plans, that the doors into Zimbabwe will remain open, for the hearts of the leaders and their spouses, that the true and life-giving message of Christ will seep into the cracks and crevices of this oppressed nation. I offer a more personal prayer request as well: that God will provide the money I need to make up for my lost wages in October. I will be docked for virtually every day of the trip, and as the sole breadwinner for the family at that time, we will be acutely dependent on his promises for care and provision.

I pray to always live acutely dependent upon them.

I am eager to tell you how the Lord has worked in the Dos Santoses lives recently, particularly with their visa needs. But that story--while mind-boggling and one only God could write--isn't finished yet. Keep praying for them and check back periodically for an update.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Pamela Farayi Mutambirwa’s story

Nearly two weeks ago I felt inspired to type up the word-for-word story written down and handed to me by a precious sister in Christ while I was in Zimbabwe last fall. Pamela is married to her second husband—the first died from AIDS, as it turns out. She and her current husband have two little girls. I chronicled part of her story in my September 17, 2006 post.

God’s nature being what it is, just two or three days later I received a letter from Pamela, prompting more fervent prayers, thoughts, and action on her behalf. I’d like to share some of her writings with you here. May they inspire you, encourage you, and embolden you as they do me. I am sharing them largely as she wrote them, complete with grammar, punctuation, and spelling oddities.
Isaiah 43:1-3

December 5 2005 marked a very important day in our lives. Weeks before, I had been coughing my lungs out, I had lost weight (from 68 kgs to 40 kgs) my skin was looking terrible, I scratched and had a terrible rash, thrush, terrible temper, I was just on edge most [of] the time. I was experiencing a geographic process. I was peeling like a rock under intense heat and cold. No matter how much cream or what kind, it never worked for me. I was a living geography chapter under “CHEMICAL WEATHERING.” That day I cried “Lord help” and to my husband “I am falling apart piece by piece.” I needed help and it came with a drunken woman while I sat scratching myself, much like Job.

With a strange smile she greeted me. I replied.

[She said,] “You too are having problems with this rash, lets see your tongue, well, well, welcome to the club.”

I was taken back. “Welcome to the club?”

“If anyone asks you tell them you have heat rash but in actual fact, this is H.I.V. related—you are sick young woman, now go for tests and confirm and be given drugs—make sure you join a support group.”

I was terrified—these were deep waters I was in, what if my husband decided to leave after confirmation. I had to face the results. Without second thoughts I ran straight to where my husband was, in a little shop that we were renting (I am a caterer), I told him what had happened outside and without any hesitation, he simply said, “When?”

My answer was—“tommorrow very early.”

In the meantime business was not [on] our side. We couldn’t understand what was happening. We were seriously stuck. With all this on our plate, we prayed “God whatever the results are going to be, prepare us.”

You know, some people live a weird Christian life—weird because they do not believe in miracles, their definition of miracles is totally wacked. We received our miracle in a very beautiful way. Jesus said “Peace I give unto you, not as the world gives.” That was our miracle—PEACE and assurance that we had not been cursed. I told my husband that if the results were to come “positive” we should give it over to God so He can use the results positively for His Glory—which we did. We dedicated our results to God and He is faithful—we have started to talk to people, sharing God’s word as it has applied in our lives.

It was such a relief getting our results though they were positive, I felt a burden had been removed from me [Note: Pamela’s husband was also H.I.V. positive]. Much to the counsellor’s surprise we looked at each other with hope and relief, instead of being counselled, we seemed to now be counselling the counsellor—only God CAN we told her.

Back home, the landlord had come—disconnected our power, and left. The next day he [came] back and kicked us out at noon while everyone was watching, no income, no shelter, no food—just plenty of God, we were driven closer to the cross. Though he was defeated two thousand years ago, the devil brought hell in our faces by the second. It was too much for me to handle—I cried in front of our local pastor. “It’s far better to be H.I.V. positive than to be humiliated in public” I cried.

We finally got accommodation at a place that can only be described as “a place to put your head.” It was raining, room was too small, but why need a bigger one, when we had sold some of our belongings to start the business and buy food, and rent. We started again our confectionery work, we sold our wares to a local businessman who ended up cheating us—we stopped. We left the little room we were renting for a cheaper one, it was like moving from Sodom to Gomorah. This time we had not even [one] cent to start anything—people who we owed money started claiming their monies—up till now, we haven’t paid them. Like I said “only God can,” this time we lived as the children of Israel in the desert under the words of the new testament verse “Therefore do not worry about what you shall eat or drink . . . ”

We had our daily bread and manna, in the form of mushroom. It was so plentiful we had enough to sell and buy soap, meali-meal, pay rent. No matter whether other[s] went before us, our 5kg allowance always was there, same place, same time. We started again, doing confectionary—it was short lived, every sale had something it needed to buy, either soap, food, rent or refilling of ingredients. We smiled a little when we were offered to look after a deceased couple’s property, it’s a payless job but we thank God every day we have a place a bit more permanent. My body felt strange sleeping on a bed for the first time since 2003, my brain must have worked over time adjusting my system so as not to get dizzy and fall (laughing).

2006 March this year we got a job at $1500,00 salary rate [Note: Zim dollars. At that time, I’m guessing it had the value of about $3.75 US]—life has eased a little, we can buy food though most of the time it is the wrong food, for our health, we can take our drugs, but winter came it was our worst enemy, with 3 blankets and 3 thin jerseys [we] were at the mercy of the cold. Flu ruled, and coughing was as regular as breathing but we survived. Our job is not really able to give us security as we can spend one month without meat for sale, we fear we could fall back to the days of hunger. But God says in Isaiah 43:1-3, “I am with you always” . . . and in Psalm 91 lies a beautiful promise, so yes in the material sense we are faced with a tough time, but, hey, where is God, He doesn’t go on vacation, if He can feed ants, bugs, birds and water the trees etc., what about us, who were bought and redeemed by the precious blood of His Son—Jesus Christ. He will surely breathe a life saving idea to provide food and clothing. God is not going to come and drop a basket of goodies or a trunk full of clothes—He gives an idea, but only if you seek His face.

He will provide because He is Jehovah Jire.
He will heal because He is Jehova Rapha.
He will give peace/protection because He is Jehovah Nissi.
He will arise and fight for me because He is Jehova El Shaddai.

So as I close this first story all I can say is “For I know whom I have believed in, and I am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.” Being H.I.V. positive is not a death sentence it’s an opportunity to share God’s power of grace to the lost.

Give yourself to Christ whatever your ailment is, could it be cancer, kidney failure, heart problems, paralysis. God is very good at using what we call “right offs.” You feel like a right off? God can do anything. Do not grumble “Oh why me.” Who did you want it on? God allows sickness to come to us because He just wants to be glorified. Give Him the ailment and see Him work with it after He used a donkey to speak. Everything is His—try Him. Keep the disease between you and your doctor/s and you are inviting the devil to use you, and he will ride you until you are worn out like a tireless rim, but God will bring peace. Try my Jehova “taste and see that the Lord is good.”
Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

My name is Pamela Farayi (meaning rejoice). I am 35 years old, born in 1971 on August 8. I am married to Tendai Mahachi (Tendai means thanks). We have two daughters, both H.I.V. negative, the first is Dion Esther, the last is Chelsea Chiedza (Chiedza means Dawn/Light). I am a caterer, hairdresser, decorator, typist, tailor/designer.

It is my hope that you had pleasure reading this first article as much as I had pleasure writing it. Do not have a pity party for me, just simply hand this to the next person in distress. May the Lord God whose name is Jehovah, the Lord of Hosts, Al Shadaai, Prince of Peace, the great I AM, the Rock, the Living Water, (the Greatest Cook) keep you and in a world so confused may He give you the greatest miracle He gave us, PEACE, to dwell in your lives. Remember, He is Jehovah Rapha, the cure no matter how you feel, and by His stripes we have been healed. When taking your medication, pray over it as you pray over food. Do not forget to quoting God’s promises.

“Arise and shine for your light has come.”