Throwing Pebbles in Guatemala

Oswald Chambers says, “Prayer does not equip us for greater works—prayer is the greater work.” As I blog about tossing pebbles out into the world that ripple change, I’m encouraged to see God at work through prayer.

  • God open doors for the Gospel through prayer.
  • God heals through prayer.
  • God convicts and restores relationships through prayer.
  • God sets captives free through prayer.

Today I’d like to do two things. First, let me introduce some pebble throwers down in Guatemala. It’s the yellow/gold country to the left of Honduras (purple):


Meet David and Regina White and their children, Cruz and Ben.whites-8-16

They are on mission in Guatemala loving people and sharing the Good News. Second, let’s do the great work of prayer and partner with them as they bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the people of Guatemala. Please pray for:

1)  Anointing of the Holy Spirit as they teach Bible studies in Muyurco, Lagunetas, and Nearar. Pray for the hearts of those in each village who will be hearing God’s Word.

2)  Regina as she homeschools their boys. For God’s power, peace, and patience as she juggles home, school, and ministry.

3)  Ministry partner Miguel as he takes seminary classes and for his bold witness to his family, neighbors, and friends. For God to meet his physical, spiritual, and financial needs.

4)  Village leaders: Rafa, Julio, Anacleto, and Reyes to stay strong in their faith despite persecution from neighbors and community leaders.  For God’s protection over them and their families lives.  For filling of the Holy Spirit to boldly share Christ.

David shared recently that “We cannot think of anything else we’d rather be doing with our lives.” What a joy to see the satisfaction that flows from tossing the exact pebbles God prepared in advance for this family to throw. Glory to God!

How to Raise a Miracle: Three Words To Transform Your Parenting

She was unlike any other mother I’d ever met. Her mile-wide smile made her molasses eyes sparkle. The labor and delivery of her son (her fourth child of eleven) took place in a mosquito-infested swamp. She was married to one man along with 11 other wives.

Her name is Eseza and she’s one of the most amazing moms I’ve ever had the privilege to meet.

day 3 (27)My husband and I boarded three planes, a subway, a van, and two cars to interview our Ugandan friend, Pastor Elijah Sebuchu, and visit his mother’s remote East African village. Before entering her cinder block home we walked past her “kitchen,” a fire and some pots set up under a crude palm-roofed hut.

Eseza welcomed us with hugs and bottles of water as if we were royalty. I turned on my digital recorder to begin the interview for the book I’m writing about Elijah, who sat close by translating her Luganda words into English.

day 3 (16)My heart ached as she spoke of the utter horrors of raising a child in the bush country of Uganda. Starvation. Disease. No medical care. Tribal massacres that forced her and her tiny children to flee their huts and sleep in a jungle creeping with machete-wielding soldiers, venomous snakes, and hungry tigers.

Listening to Eseza describe Elijah’s childhood was surreal, especially after getting to know him. I glanced over at the tall, polished, articulate, intelligent man beside her. A man who:

  • pastors one of Uganda’s fastest growing churches (270 church plants)
  • presented at the 2006 Global Summit on AIDS and The Church at the invitation of best-selling author, Dr. Rick Warren.
  • hosts a weekly radio talk show that reaches approximately 30 million Ugandans
  • serves as Founder and President of Hands of Love Foundation, an international organization that supports, empowers, and educates 1,800 of tomorrow’s finest Christian leaders
  • serves as Founder and Leader of a youth empowerment conference in Uganda that drew a whopping 7,150 delegates last year

The crazy contrast between this world changer sitting across from me and the terrible awful that permeated his childhood was perplexing. It made me wonder, and perhaps you’re wondering too as mother’s day approaches. And so I asked.

pic 75

“What’s the secret? How did you raise this internationally known man of God who is raising up pebble throwers and saving lives every day? How does a mother raise such a miracle?”

The next 20 minutes of our interview ranks among the top ten most impactful conversations of my life. This mom, who had endured tribal violence, starvation,  depression, torture from her husband’s wives, witchcraft, losing children to malaria, you name it … This ferociously strong, exceedingly exceptional woman proceeded to share other-worldly mothering wisdom unlike anything I’d ever heard. To this day, it is some of the most sacred parenting advice I’ve been given. And you’ll have to buy my book to hear all of it 🙂

My brain and recorder had collected dozens of golden nuggets for my book and I was full. Almost satisfied. But I had one final question before placing a period at the end of our interview.

“What’s the thing that mattered most in raising Elijah?”

She sat and stared in silence and we waited.

“I always prayed to God and laid hands on Elijah asking God to give him wisdom, patience, love, kindness, generosity. I always laid hands on him and spoke into his life, ‘you are going to be a national leader, touch many lives, be a giver, be generous.’ I always advised him and prayed for him. But if you want a person to receive what you are speaking to him you need to love that person. And I loved him most.”

A huge lump formed in my throat as I heard her say those three words.

“Love them most.”

day 3 (13)The glue that bonded all her pebble-throwing efforts to shape Elijah into a powerful man of Godly character was love. Love trumps all.

“If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all His mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, ‘Jump,’ and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing. If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love” 1 Corinthians 13:1-3.

“Love them most.” It’s my mother’s day gift to you as you endeavor to raise children who put love into action. As for me, if I pray eloquent, powerful prayers for my children and speak all kinds of truth I learned at Bible Study, but nag and guilt them, and stare at my iPhone more than I look into their eyes, then my words are fingernails on the chalk board of their hearts. None of us gains anything. We are all bankrupt. It’s all held together with love. Not love the thought, but love the verb.

Need a mother’s day gift? Please consider honoring your mom and Eseza with a donation to help open Hands of Love’s infant orphanage which was built and named in her honor. These fabulous young pebble throwers are making it easy for you. Just watch the video and consider throwing this very significant pebble to save little lives in Uganda.Screenshot 2016-05-03 16.39.15

Click here to see some amazing pebble throwers in action!

The Secret to Meeting the Most Fascinating People

in loving memory of Marie Bobola

susan pic1My friend Susan is a small but spunky, pebble-throwing prayer warrior whose hat collection rivals Princess Diana’s. She often shows up at our Monday prayer meetings colorfully accessorized from head to toe. But as much as I adore Susan’s fashion statements, it’s the statements of her heart that have rippled their way into my blog today.

susan pic5Three words stood out as Susan shared one morning about her recent trip home: purple poker chips. Susan’s 92-year-old mom, Marie, used to love to play bingo. At Marie’s assisted living home, Susan noticed that some residents were playing bingo using special chips. But her mom was playing with generic markers. She made a mental note to buy Marie a set of purple markers, her mom’s favorite color. Later, after hours of searching the internet to find just the right ones for her mom, she purchased a set of purple poker chips. Her mom was overjoyed to have her own set of signature chips to mark her bingo board each day.

During Susan’s time at the assisted living home, two sweet ladies took a very specific interest in her. The hours she spent listening and laughing with Geneva and Madeline left a strong impression—so strong that the retelling of it brought tears to Susan’s eyes. God richly blessed her that day as she soaked in quality time with an often overlooked generation.

Two short weeks after Susan’s visit, Marie took her final earthly breaths. Susan was beyond grateful for the moments she’d spent with her mom and for the seemingly small ripple of her poker chip gift.

waterSmall things done with love matter. They’re what pebble throwing is all about. Gestures of love shown to the next generation—whether that generation is behind us (our children) or ahead of us (our parents and grandparents)—are significant in kingdom terms. Why? Because Jesus said so. He taught His disciples that even a single cup of water given in His name yields kingdom rewards. Perhaps our Savior would say the same about the gift of purple poker chips.

A few weeks ago, I was checking out at Walmart behind a senior couple. The purple poker chips rippled into my mind. I smiled and greeted the husband, who replied with a few pleasantries. The cashier paged a manager for a price check and in the process, we were faced with a wait.

As we killed time chatting, I was struck by the couple’s wit and charm. I discovered that the husband was an author who had published a highly valuable civil war history book. I looked him up on Amazon when I got home and his antique book is currently priced at several hundred dollars!

cell phone

photo credit: Osman Kalkavan

I often forget about the rich tapestry of stories and contributions the older generation holds. I swoosh past fascinating people as I check my twitter feed in the grocery line, while the Susans of the world search high and low for purple poker chips.

Join me in tossing some pebbles with a generation who has treasure to offer if only we’ll slow down long enough to listen. Who knows what holy introduction might occur with a simple smile and hello? The most fascinating people are out there, just waiting to meet you.

If you’ve been a silent reader, thanks for stopping by. Please join our community by leaving a comment below.

1 Big Thing 3 Little Girls Did to Make their Neighbors Talk

Pebble throwers come in all colors, shapes, and sizes. Three pint-sized pebble throwers live right around the corner from me. They got busy tossing pebbles that rippled good into their community through a neighborhood library.

freelibrary1My friend, Kim, and her three elementary-school-aged daughters set up a book sharing program right outside their front door. The “Little Free Library” builds community among their neighbors, provides a rewarding family project, and increases the girls’ motivation to read.

Last year, Kim told her neighbor about her dream of building a weatherproof structure to house and share books. As God would have it, her neighbor Cami had a beautifully constructed book shed she wasn’t using and offered it to Kim.

Their conversation extended the ripple effect of a pebble thrown by Cami’s dad.

  • Cami’s father used his gift of woodworking to build a mini library for his daughter’s use.
  • After she finished using the handcrafted bookcase, Cami recycled it by gifting it to her neighbor, Kim.
  • Kim’s passion for reading and community-building rippled into her daughters.

and finally . . .

  • Kim’s daughters shared it with their neighborhood.

Plus, Kim’s family experienced an Ephesians 3:20 wave of blessing when they discovered that the donated library was stocked with Gideon Bibles (from Cami’s dad) and other books for Kim’s girls to share.

freelibrary2croppedKim beams joy at the mention of the mini library. “I love when children and parents visit the library to choose and donate books.  Neighbors hang out and chat while their kids browse.  And the best part is that little hands can manage it.  The girls take turns organizing the books and enjoy discovering new additions others donate. A small collection of children’s books has grown to a larger collection, including an adult shelf and a DVD library.  All seem to truly enjoy it!”

pile-of-booksIf you, or another pebble thrower you know, would like to join in the fun, simply visit The Little Free Library website.  The Little Free Library program was birthed to promote literacy and the love of reading by building free book exchanges worldwide. Did you know that there are over 32,000 Little Free Library book exchanges around the world where more than one million books are shared annually?

That’s a lot of ripples!

Do you know any pint-sized pebble throwers? I’d love to hear your stories of how they are changing the world, one pebble—or book—at a time. Do share with a comment below…

3 Gifts Haiti Gave Me

One of my favorite people on this planet has a signature saying: “relationship is better than meat.” I can’t spend even one hour with him without hearing him quote it. 

I couldn’t agree more. Wherever I go, but especially when attending writing conferences, I try my best to build relationships. I met today’s pebble thrower, Stephanie Wilkins, at a writing conference a few years back. StephanieI recently read Stephanie’s blog about her mission trip to Haiti, and I just had to have her share. I hope her pebble throwing will inspire you like it did me…

Why do you think pebble throwing is important? As a Christian with the love of Christ in my heart, I want to give back because of His great love for me.  So when the opportunity arises, and I feel His leading, I am drawn to serve in different capacities.

Tell us about how you throw pebbles for those battling chronic illness: In 2013, the Lord prompted me to begin No More Band-aids, which is a ministry of encouragement for those who suffer from or care for those with chronic or stress related illnesses.

So you recently when to Haiti… why? For many years, God led our family to serve as hosts for foreign missionaries, but this year we were called to help in a different way.  My daughter and I signed up to serve in Haiti through Mission of Hope. The ripples that we have seen from our trip have been amazing. By far, the biggest ripples are the gifts I received from our time there:

  1. the joy of connecting new Haitian families with Mission of Hope assistance
  2. a new understanding (for me and my daughter) of the Haitian culture and their stresses
  3. an increased ability to help others understand themselves through my ministry of bible study and blogging

How did you get connected with Mission of Hope? Through the youth department at our church, First Baptist Atlanta. About 20 students and 10 adults attended the trip. The purpose of our trip was to share the love of Christ with the villagers  as we gathered information and did health and wellness training.  We also painted houses in the villages.haiti beds

How did the trip change you? The “discomfort” at our camp that I thought was so hard (insects, heat, lack of hot water) in no way compared to the discomfort that the Haitian villagers live with on a daily basis. The Lord showed me this as I worked side by side with them in their communities.

In the book of Matthew we read that Jesus came in human form to experience life as we know it. He gave up the perfect atmosphere of heaven for us so that we could touch, feel, and see Him in a tangible way. sky-690293_1280His example shows me that to reach people, you must go to them and understand where they are coming from just like the woman at the well.

If I can’t understand where people are coming from, it’s hard to relate or to communicate truth to them in a way they can understand.  So making a difference in the life of others requires sacrifice even if it’s only your time.

What was your biggest takeaway? I’m sure I gained more from the trip than the Haitians did from me. I have a greater appreciation of what full-time missionaries do and how much they sacrifice to bring truth to nations in need of Jesus Christ.

travel-778338_1280You don’t have to go overseas to be a missionary, but if you get the opportunity, I would encourage you to do so because it’s an amazing experience.  The trip changed the way I love others by introducing me to more people around the world to love and  showing me the need for courage and sacrifice to do so.

Processed with Moldiv

Any final thoughts? Giving of yourself to others for Jesus Christ never returns void. It might not be what you thought you would gain, but God in His infinite understanding knows exactly what he wants to teach us and all He asks is our willing participation.

What about you? Have you taken a mission trip? Please share a few take-aways in the comments below!