Saturday, April 12, 2014

Never Let Go

The deep emotions shared by this team today & this evening as we prayed together and said our good-byes are a result of a Great Love. Over the course of this week we have shared stories, dreams, miracles, hurts, fears, and victories. We have built friendships and relationships with people we just met for a very short time or worked with for the entire week, yet those connections are for eternity. And not one of the Canadian team members will return tomorrow unchanged. For God has done a mighty work in each of our lives, and the lives of hundreds of children & Compassion workers in this beautiful country of El Salvador.

So how do we say thank you to those who have made this trip so memorable? How do we say good-bye to little faces with tears streaming down their cheeks, arms clinging in an embrace that could last a lifetime? How do we challenge those mothers, grandmothers, fathers and other family members to keep a strong faith in God during the storms of life? How do we encourage the people who tirelessly sacrifice their lives to the service of God for the sake of these little ones and their families? My only answer: Never Let Go. Our prayers for these dearly loved people must continue as we bring them daily before the Throne of Grace to present their needs before an Almighty, Loving, Sovereign God. Prayers for employment, for roofs to not leak, for enough food to feed their families, for safety from gang violence, for freedom from the cycle of broken families and absentee fathers, for strength and resources to run programs, for workers with hearts broken for God & His children, for church leaders with integrity.  And those are just the general prayers, not the specific pleas from each individual. We can never let go to the enduring Promises of God, as He proves Himself faithful day after day.

Never letting go also means we need to set apart time to really demonstrate love to our sponsored children by writing to them as often as possible. The joy of receiving a letter, in contrast to the sadness of being forgotten, is indescribable. The children need to hear we love them. They love to receive prayer requests so they can pray for us, and share their own requests more freely. And they need to be told they are special & that God has a plan for their lives. We can encourage them to become strong leaders for a better future for their families and their country.

We will never forget the blessings this trip has brought. I know, too, that we will not easily forget the lessons we've learned...those moments of epiphany where God has clearly guided our thoughts as He directs us in His path for the future. Most of all, I pray we will be bold to declare His goodness wherever we go... to share those stories of healing & redemption, power & peace with those we return to, as well as invite them to share in the joy of discovering God's deep love. Because God's love endures forever. And without a doubt, throughout each moment of this trip we saw first hand that Jesus makes all the difference.

Thank you for your prayers. We know we could not have experienced the blessings afforded us in this trip without them. And thank you to those who sacrificed so we could be your representatives in this country of beauty, pain & promise.

To close I'd like to share my favourite Spanish word, "esperanza". (I didn't know what it meant, but it is a wonderful sounding word which reminds me of a fizzy clear drink, spritzing up from a glass. Last night I finally learned its meaning: HOPE.  Thank you, Lord, for bringing Hope to so many people through your Son, Jesus!

From my heart to yours

Pastor Deve said that we should all blog at least once. With the Reilly contingency taken into consideration, I am posting my blog with 7 hours to spare.

As our week in El Salvador comes to an end, I can honestly say that my life is forever changed.

We started out with a powerful church service welcoming us into El Salvador. I was overwhelmed by the love that was shared with us. Why did they love us? Simply because we are their brothers and sisters in Christ.

One of the things that spoke to my heart the most about this church is the fact that there is no shame. No shame in their worship, no shame in their praise, no shame in their prayer - but above of things - there was no shame among their congregation. This is something that so many North American churches are missing. I can't even tell you the amount of times that I was going through struggles in my life, and when I walked into the church I felt as though I had a spot light on me. I was so overwhelmed with shame. I think that we get so caught up with being "perfect" Christians, that we are not open about our struggles and our sins. The reality is that it is not our judgement that is going to change people - it's the love of Christ.

I have been thinking and praying about this encounter with God that I have been experiencing and The Lord revealed this to my heart:

We are called to live our lives reflective of God. And what is God? God is love. And perfect love casts out all fear. When our lives truly reflect the heart of God it's brings freedom, not only to us but to the people around us.

"There are some of us that have never encountered the love of God, but he wants to encounter you. He wants you to feel his amazing love and his presence - and you would know if you have encountered the love of God because you'd never be the same again." - Kim Walker

Through this entire week, I know that I have been encountering the love of God through these children, these churches and through every family that we've met. And I know, because I will never be the same again.

Here, while surrounded by the worst poverty that I've ever experienced, I've never felt closer to heaven.

My prayer for you is that you will embrace the love that God is freely pouring upon you and that you will allow it to forever change your heart.

Colossians 3:14
2 Timothy 1:7
1 John 4:16-19

Much love,
Your sister in Christ,

The world is waiting to hear your story...

Well after each one of us said our good byes to our amazing compassion translator team and driver I stood back and watched how awesome my God is.  Not only did He bring our team together as a family but brought their team and ours and made us one. Their team as Steve said tonight were our advocates. Each and everyone played such a huge role in making this an amazing chapter in my own life. Today a young girl preached at our worship service during our last project visit. Five years old not able to read or write but the word of God over flowed out of her like a living well. God can change you, people can change you but when a child touches your heart the way some of us felt this week it will change us internally. Poverty is a scary and very sad thing when we are blessed to come from the stability North America offers.  But I never in my life have had The Holy Spirit reveal himself so bluntly as He did through these children. Compassion 2014 will forever change me.  I will be a better Christian, a more loving mother and wife.  Forever I will share my story, will keep my memories close and be obedient to Gods word. Because even these children's stories are rewritten and we could have met the young boy or girl that will bring this country out of poverty and provide a new generation for all these precious children and their families. 

In Christian love,      Erin Norcross-Cain