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!

The Aroma of Christ

We brought Uganda home on our feet. We’ve rinsed and scrubbed, yet our shoes still wear the orange-red soil that daily crept in between our toes as we served as missionaries. There are shadows of terracotta hands on our white t-shirts. The smell of burning trash and charcoal clings to our hair.

DSC_0385A few days ago, dozens of joy-ridden children sat on our laps, curiously fingered our long wavy hair, squeezed our hands, and searched our eyes for a look—one you-are-loved look. To be honest, as they snuggled in close, their scent was often pungent. But the overwhelming aroma that lingered after our time together was that of Jesus Christ. The smell that brings life in a place where death runs rampant.

DSC_0339There are two Hands of Love schools in Uganda that care for more than 1,600 abandoned and orphaned children. After spending several days at the more developed school near the big city of Kampala, it was time to trek to the second location. The Namadhi orphanage, located in the remote Kayunge district of Uganda, is way out there. It took our team nearly five hours to reach it.

As the Hands of Love van rattled and heaved along the bumpy, unpaved roads carved by the heavy downpours of the rainy season, we took in the unusual scenery. We noticed mud and wattle huts, half-clothed children playing with cardboard boxes, women carrying fire wood and bananas on their heads, and mosques.DSC_0411

Every four to ten kilometers or so, a concrete building with turrets appeared. The turrets were crowned with the unmistakable crescent moon and star of Islam. The building of these rural mosques is funded by Islamic supporters in the middle east whose investment includes a well. Thirsty villagers, who might otherwise walk miles each day to gather water, are offered a shortcut: convert to Islam and receive full access to the well. How ironic. The very source that brings them physical life is used to rob them of eternal life through Jesus Christ.

DSC_0450But at Hands of Love Namadhi, the smell of life pervades the air. Joy surprised our team at every turn. Children chanting “wel-o-come” greeted us with personalized signs and waved palm branches as if we were queens.DSC_0620

Though these Hands of Love children are dusty, they are loved. Though they are hungry, they are fed—both with sponsored meals and the Living Word of Jesus Christ. DSC_0414 (2)The fragrance of Christ saturated the atmosphere and we breathed it in deeply.

Our afternoon in the bush flew by. We blew bubbles, attended a school performance, taught classes, gave gifts, and loved the children.

DSC_0289We threw pebbles in every direction, touching as many young lives as we could. Later that night, our weary team returned to our Kampala hotel. We entered air-conditioned rooms and ran clean water in pristine showers until it steamed hot. The orange-red water disappeared into the drain, rinsing off the day’s dust. But the fragrance of Christ forever lingers in our hearts.

As you move through your day, what do you leave behind? Does the “scent” of Jesus’ love linger as a result of your interactions? How can you be more intentional about the way you love others to point them to Jesus? Please share a comment below!

Gifted Hands

This year, some very beautiful hands joined together to do some pretty serious pebble throwing.

Wrinkled, 70-year-old hands.

Smooth, 11-year-old hands.

Skilled hands and just-learning-to-sew hands.

View More: http://christinawillsonphotography.pass.us/sewblessedWhen I walked into the church café last week, the 71 dresses and 12 skirts stitched by our church’s Sew Blessed ministry were piled high. Piles and piles of magenta-stripes, rainbow florals, sparkly pink princess prints, and a dazzling array of other fabrics greeted me.

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On the other side of the globe, a group of girls wearing hand-me-down uniforms gathers in a dusty school yard. Their dresses are stained and torn. Their hands are dirty. But they hardly notice because they’ve always been barefoot and a little dusty.

Little do they know, a delivery is on the way. They don’t yet see the ripple effects of nimble fingers ranging from young to mature:  a display of dresses that would make the Queen of Sheba jealous.sew blessed dresses1

Our missionary team will soon check suitcases bulging with dresses for the Hands of Love girls in the Namadhi district of Kampala, Uganda in East Africa. The Sew Blessed women prayed that the dresses will do more than simply clothe the formerly orphaned girls. They tossed pebble-throwing prayers into the heavens asking God to whisper His reminders to the girls:

View More: http://christinawillsonphotography.pass.us/sewblessed“You are not forgotten.”

“You are not an orphan.”

“You have a Father in Heaven.”

“He sees you and He loves you.”

“In fact… He has a gift for you.”

When Sew Blessed began two years ago, the ladies never dreamed their ministry would touch the lives of orphaned children in Uganda. But they faithfully offered up their talent to THE Creatorthe Masterpiece Maker—and partnered with Him to be used for His glory. Last week, they stood in a circle with tear-filled eyes and celebrated how He’d done exactly that: He used a sewing circle to do exceeding abundantly more than they imagined.

camera-2What do you enjoy? Photography? Do you cut hair? Build houses? Take care of animals?scissors-and-combs There is no God-given skill that our Father can’t use to bless another.

How might God use what you love for His kingdom purposes? Are you being nudged to nurture or hone one of your gifts? Pause for a moment and ask Him:

Father God, You are the first Creator. Everything beautiful that I see on this earth was intricately woven together, in Christ, by Your gifted hands. Thank you for the way you have gifted me. Help me to recognize my gifts and see that I have something unique to contribute. Thank you that my “pebble” is completely different than any other. I offer up to you this pebble of                                                           (fill in your gift or skill). Guide me toward the next step to use my skills and talents to serve and bless others.

In Your Holy name,

Amen