Thursday, September 25, 2014

Tourniquets. Football. Band of Brothers. Iraqi Realtors

There are only some things that God can teach you on the "other side of yes." There are many things that we will never learn that God longed to reveal to us because we refused to follow that little voice of the Holy Spirit that says "I want you to go."

It is a huge privilege to be part of a church that is willing to step into the mess of our world to offer hope at a moment's notice. Something deep happens in your soul when you link arms with people of like faith and mission. The men pictured above are some of those men in my life. 

At each moment of our journey all of us found ourselves doing things that God had built us to do before this trip, while some of us were quick learners and were adding to our tool bag of life. By God's foreknowledge we were able to connect with a Group on the ground called CRI led by its founder Sean Malone. This team of warriors spends their time jumping into the unknown to offer hope too. 

We had an immediate bond with them, it was as if we knew each other since the day of our birth. Our hearts carried the same DNA. We loved the same God and carried the same mission. We were able to bring 14 trunks of medical supplies on our trip to Iraq to help supply them to care for wounded soldiers on the front lines. 

By the way, you should have seen the looks we received in line at the Chicago International Airport when people began to read the labels on our trunks.. as we stood in line... that were labeled on all sides, in a bold font, our Hotel address in Iraq. 

In any case one night we spent hours packing medical boxes and making tourniquets for wounded soldiers and then prayed over all the supplies. You never know what God has in store on the "other side of yes"...

This is a photo of some of the CRI people that we grew to love, and were privileged to meet on the other side of the world, in a war zone. You never know who God wants you to encourage, till you step to the "other side of yes." This journey allowed us to meet some brave warriors for Jesus that were pushing back darkness and bringing light to a very dark place...  

I have spent thousands of moments with my kids throwing footballs in the back yard. Yet, I never thought we would be standing with 8 men on the other side of world, tossing a football with children who had never touched a real American Football... and in turn offering them hope in Jesus and telling them that there was a church 6500 miles away that loved them.

We would have never witnessed the smiles, heard the giggles, watched the tackles, and sweated a dry-heat :)... and left with our emotions up to our throats on the "safe side of yes."

I'm not a realtor, nor was any man on this team, yet we have all sat in the room on many occasions with realtors. Yet, for the life of us we would have never, ever, ever, ever thought we would be sitting in room with eight men from America... trying to broker a deal with an Iraqi Realty Company. 

Sometime I will tell you the full story and all the amazing details that were happening as we spoke in English and they Spoke in Arabic... plus having notes passed to me from Jeff, reminding me that the Iraqi  realtor probably understood English so I better speak quietly or in English slang when talking among our team.

At one moment we all paused and were reminded to stop and consider what was happening there... we are sitting in Iraq trying to work a deal to help refugees that we didn't know one month ago. There are only some things God can teach us on the "other side of yes." 

As we sat there trying to figure it all out, in the 11th hour, on the last day, God spoke clearly to our Pastor Friend, Malath that there might be a better option.

It wasn't until a 30-minute road trip later, in the 11th hour, when we pulled up to this apartment complex that everything became clear, crystal clear. God had brought our team and our church to Iraq for this defining purpose... Rescue the refugees and give them dignity, hope, and a fresh start in these apartments. 

As we walked around these empty concrete rooms it was as if God knocked on each of our hearts and said in 100 % agreement, Yes! We knew God was saying this was his plan from the beginning of time. Yet all he needed was a church that was willing to say yes and step on the other side of it.

So the mission continues with hopes that 100's of refugees end up here, because people give to this dream. I got a feeling that it is going to be a big, really big offering, because this is the heartbeat of our God. He came to seek and save the lost and redeem dead things... Plus, Grace Community Church and this Community is loaded with people who love living on the "other side of yes."

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