Should I Stay or Should I Go?

I have had many conversations over the past few weeks and there has been one recurring question in some of them.

“Why didn’t you stay and help?”. As innocent as that question is, at the time for me, it was accompanied with feelings of guilt that I didn’t stay in Nepal.

I had asked myself that question, several times, in the days and hours following the initial earthquake on April 25th. I wondered, in my heart, if that’s why the LORD had allowed me to be there during the quake. There were many questions that were swirling around in my head as I also just tried to cope with the constant aftershocks and tremors that continued long after the largest quake hit. (At the writing of this post, 6 weeks later, Nepal is still experiencing daily aftershocks, with some measuring up to 5.8 on the Richter scale)

Was I supposed to stay and encourage and help and be a support to the people?

How can I help? What about my family back at home? I am a wife and a mother.

As a follower of Jesus, shouldn’t I stay to support the work of my fellow Christians? Is this my decision or God’s decision? How would I answer if God asked me to stay?

To be completely honest, I didn’t want to stay. I wanted to leave. I think it was part shock, part responsibility for my team, and part “I’ve had enough”.

We had tickets booked and all the arrangements for this trip had been bathed in prayer. I trusted that God was “on top” of everything. Yet my heart was waffling. There was so much chaos and confusion and I needed rest. I needed a rescue.

I didn’t share any of this with my team because I knew they were dealing with this in their own way and I didn’t want to cause them more stress. Being the leader of the team I had to weigh all of it heavily and carefully, taking everything into account. Trusting God would allow me to hear Him more clearly than ever before……I DID!!! I HEARD HIM!!

You see, I had already done my part.

Our team was in Nepal for two weeks at that point and we had had some amazing days of ministry to women that were bought and freed from slavery. I spoke at women’s conferences in Biratnager (East Nepal), in Dhangahdi (West Nepal), and ended our time with an “Encouragement Retreat” for the women leaders of the churches, the day before the earthquake in Kathmandu. Ironically, during that retreat, I encouraged the leaders to be strong and trust in God for whatever lies ahead. Little did I know that a day later, it would be an earthquake that would require an extra measure of strength and tenacity for these leaders that God had called to build the church in Nepal.

As the keynote speaker at the conferences, I challenged and encouraged the women to take a close look at three things: their identity in Christ, God’s provision and protection through the Armour of God, and finally the Power of Prayer.

During my time in Nepal, I have learned, through many stories, that many women feel very devalued in that culture. These women feel like they don’t matter to anyone. So when the LORD laid on my heart to encourage them in their Identity in Christ, I was able to encourage and empower them to live fully for Jesus while He healed their woundedness.

I remember vividly teaching the women how to put on their armour every day as a way of seeing God protecting them. I used daily items to illustrate each piece of the armour. At the end of each demonstration I had the women hold up their sword of the Spirit (raising their hand) and say, “I am ready for the battle”.

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Women standing ready for battle....a spiritual one that is.

Women standing ready for battle….a spiritual one that is.

In the “Power in Prayer” segment, I encouraged them to grow in intimacy with Jesus through prayer, having face time with Him. In reality, on several occasions, they taught me about prayer through their passion and desire for prayer.

Anointing each woman at the end of the conferences.

Anointing each woman at the end of the conferences.

Listening intently at a West Nepal church.

Listening intently at a West Nepal church.

A little fellowship between sessions.

A little fellowship between sessions.

For me personally, the Leadership Retreat was the most powerful. It was an oppportunity to encourage those on the road of ministry and also many who have been on the road longer than I have. It was a humbling experience and yet, one I would love to do again in a heartbeat. As a leader, I understand the loneliness we feel from time to time. I understand the responsibility and accountability we have to those we serve and also to God. We weren’t put in our positions by chance but by God’s call on our lives. We need encouragement to “press on” from time to time. We don’t have all the answers but we welcome the questions.

Leadership retreat.

Leadership retreat.

Given that we held that retreat for leaders the day before the earthquake made it even more powerful!!

Anointing the leaders for the next leg of the journey.

Anointing the leaders for the next leg of the journey.

We all have a part to play in this life. If you know what your’s is, go for it. Live it well and fully!!

If you don’t, then ask God to show you where He wants you, which is not to be mistaken with “where do you want to be?” All the while we need to keep in mind that our calling can look different from season to season.

Jeremiah 29:11-13 says, “For I know the plans I have for you”, declares the LORD. “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you Hope and a future”.

Whether you agree or disagree, God has a plan for each of us. His plan for me was to be in Nepal for the two weeks to teach, admonish, encourage, provide leadership and empower the women in the church with the power of the Gospel. His plan for me here at home is unfolding one day at a time. I continue to blog as therapy for myself, encouragement to my readers and glory to God for not only saving me from the tragic earthquake but for holding me and using me during the days before, during, and after the whole experience!!

Romans 12:3-8 says it better than I ever could.

“For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully”.

REFLECTION:

How has God nudged you to get involved in the aftermath of the tragedy in Nepal?

Have you ever been in a place of great debate about whether you should “stay or go”?

How is God using you right where you are?

Where do you sense God wants to use you today?

Do an inventory of the gifts you have and ask God to show you where He wants to use them.

Thank you joining me in my journey.

Kinita

 

 

My Wake-Up Call

Matthew 6:24 says, “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money”.

Our team at the top of the Monkey Temple for Buddhist and Hindu believers.

Our team at the top of the Monkey Temple for Buddhist and Hindu believers.

Saturday April 25th, 2015 will forever remain in my story for many reasons. That was the day of the tragic earthquake in Nepal that killed over eight thousand people and rendered millions homeless, not to forget all the people that will live with the trauma of that day in the deepest parts of their soul for months and maybe years to come. I am discovering that being a survivor of a tragedy like that challenges me to think about “what is really important to me”.

Since my conversion to Jesus Christ at the age of 14, I have grown to really love the LORD and have chosen to serve Him ONLY. Like most relationships, there have also been ups and downs in my relationship with Him. There have been times when I have grown in trust, faith, understanding and strength while at other times I was afraid, doubted, or held on to fear, pride, self-protection or other things that I believed were important to me. Yet, time and time again, God would bring me to scripture passages that would gently turn my heart away from those ups and downs and help me to focus the eyes of my heart on Him.

That day when the LORD shifted the tectonic plates, ultimately destroying physical Hindu idols and monuments made and worshiped by man, I believe He also crushed my idol of self-protection.

You see, protecting myself (aka: porcupine – see “blog post called “Anger Management”) was what was very important to me leading up to that day. You could call it my idol. Although I had confessed and surrendered it on several occasions, I guess it was never completely gone.

The Porcupine I used as a visual aid.

The Porcupine I used as a visual aid.

That day not only did the earthquake take down physical idols that were important to Hindus, my idol of self-protection was crushed – permanently.

Idols can be defined as things that are so important to us that we would be devastated if they were gone. They block our view of Jehovah Jireh (God as Provider). We then run the risk of missing the way He is providing for us in our crisis.

At noon on the day of the earthquake, the Hindu “rain god” was to be paraded through the streets of Kathmandu. The Hindus had prepared a way for the 7-story-tall rain god to move through the city by taking power lines down and blocking area roadways for it’s safe passing. The earthquake hit at 11:56 and was so powerful it toppled and destroyed that structure. To me that was a wake-up call to the church (Church = who we are not just where we go), the Body of Christ, the Body of believers to acknowledge our idols.

The remains of a Hindu temple following the April 25th earthquake.

The remains of a Hindu temple following the April 25th earthquake.

In the Hindu faith, the religion includes worship of stone gods and idols that are in plain view of passersby. In the Christian faith, however, as much as it is a religion, it is more specifically a relationship with a living God. This relationship with Jesus produces a transforming of our hearts and lives so we reflect a living God and not the things of this world.

Unfortunately, some Christians tend to hide idols (in their heart) while showing great commitment to God on the outside (perhaps through service or words). Let’s not forget that, “…The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7). I assure you, I am not exempt from that. The Holy Spirit reminds me everyday to hold things loosely so as not turn them into idols.

I believe that Christians would experience the abundant life referred to in John 10:10, “I have come that they may have life and have it abundantly” more effectively if we grew in our understanding and awareness of our internal idols.

I like the way author and pastor Tim Keller says it. In his Epilogue, he writes, “…idolatry is always the reason we ever do anything wrong”. He then quotes Martin Luther, “the fundamental motivation behind lawbreaking is idolatry” (referring to the Ten Commandments). There is something you feel you must have to be happy, something that is more important to your heart than God Himself.” (pages 165-166; “Counterfeit Gods”)

All this might sound judgemental to you (believer) but the truth is, as we read in 1Corinthians 5:12 and 13, “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside…”. We are also called to “build each other up in the faith” (1Thessalonians 5:11) and that is my hearts desire. In reality, when idols are brought into the light, they not only lose their power but we make more room for Jesus.

Want more Jesus?

“For although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him….They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served created things rather than The Creator”. (Romans 1:21, 25)

Hey believers, can we please stop feeding our idols and instead, can we be united in Christ and share Him with the world?

REFLECTION:

Ask God to show you the things or people that “if they are removed from your life” you would be devastated.

How powerful are the idols in your life?

What do you need to take down so you can make room for MORE God in your life?

Are you being lead by your idols or lead by Jesus?

Thank you for joining me on my journey.  Blessings on yours.

Kinita

Be Prepared

(It has been three weeks since I have been home. Today in my devotions was Luke 21:19, “…by standing firm, you will gain life”. I wrote this blog post three days ago. I love how God keeps me on track)

As I write these blogs about my experience in Nepal, specifically during the time of the earthquake, I have been reviewing my journal entries leading up to that day. There was an undeniable connection between those entries and the day the ground shook beneath my feet. From Scriptures to Oswald Chambers’ comments, the LORD was preparing me for that day. Through the following scripture passages and quotes from Oswald Chambers, God was preparing my heart to, “stand firm” so that I wouldn’t give in to the chaos around me.

Journal entries:

Oswald Chambers’ comments

— “the burden is lightened by the sense of companionship.” (with the Holy Spirit).

— (based on Matthew 11) – “No power on earth or in hell can conquer the Spirit of God in a human spirit, it is an inner unconquerableness.” (yes, that is a word).

— (based on 2 Kings 2) – “do not forecast where the temptation will come, it is the least likely thing.”

— “you have remained true to God under great and intense trials, now beware of the undercurrent.”

— “unguarded strength is double weakness.”

— “kept by the power of God” is the ONLY safety.”

— (based on 2 Corinthians 1) – “our capacity in spiritual matters is measured by the Promises of God and not by our education or intellect.”

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Scriptures:

Psalm 55:9, “…destructive forces are at work in the city…”

— Psalm 55:16-18, “As for me, I call to God, and the LORD saves me. Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and He hears my voice. He rescues me unharmed from the battle waged against me, even though many oppose me”

2 Chronicles 15:7, “But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.

2 Chronicles 15:15, “…they sought God eagerly and He was found by them. So the LORD gave them rest on every side”.

(Morning of the earthquake)

2 Timothy 2:3,endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus”.

2 Timothy 2:4, “no one serving as a good soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer”.

2 Timothy 2:7, “reflect on what I am saying, for the LORD will give you insight into all of this”.

2 Timothy 4:2, “Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage – with great patience and careful instruction.

Practicing spiritual health, spending quality time with Jesus, is the only thing that can truly prepare us for a crisis. Be it physical, financial, emotional, relational, or whatever. Basically any kind of crisis.

With the help and companionship of the Holy Spirit we are able to see, with our own eyes, Christ in the middle of any crisis.

I write like this because I want to share what the LORD has done in my life and to give you an eternal Hope in your journey.

I don’t expect all my readers to agree with what I write, but I do expect that somehow what God poured into me and how He prepared me through Oswald Chambers’ words and various Scriptures, would also encourage you in your journey as you not only face the crisis in your story, but also live.

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REFLECTION:

How do you prepare for what life throws at you?

What are some lessons you have learned from crisis’ that you have experienced?

How has God’s Word impacted your life?

Thank you for joining me on my journey.  Blessings on yours.

Kinita

Victim or Vessel?

Morning after sleeping on the veranda of Dr. Rongong.

Morning after sleeping on the veranda of Dr. Rongong.

After spending that first night on our friend’s veranda sleeping in white plastic lawn chairs while bundled up in comforters and headcoverings, we sought shelter at the U.S Embassy. At first, they wouldn’t let me enter because I am a Canadian citizen and carry a Canadian passport accompanied with my Resident Alien Green Card. My teammates, however, are full U.S citizens and therefore had full privilege and access into the embassy. I didn’t, so I did what I do best. I paced and cried and prayed and sang and cried and prayed, over and over again till I got some results.

My song choice? “I will wait on the LORD, I will wait on the LORD, I will wait on the LORD, till He calls. I will wait on the LORD, I will wait on the LORD, I will wait on the LORD, till He calls”. (set to the tune of “I will trust in the LORD”). I sure put on a show for the security cameras.

When the first guard came out, I motioned to see if I could come in and he said, “no, we are still talking about you”. Did I really reach celebrity status? NOT!! So I continued with the song already mentioned. This time with more determination. I wasn’t going to let a person decide my path, I was going to “trust and wait on the LORD” (Prov. 3:5-6) with every exhausted fiber of my body. Finally, a guard came out and with tear-stained face, I was ushered through a security room, through a courtyard, and finally into the rescue shelter. God made a way. Man just held the door open.

The following morning I was able to get a call out to my husband on the U.S Embassy phone. Tears streamed down my face as I heard his voice and clutched his every word. Although I was in a somewhat safe place physically, I was still scared. I wanted normal. I wanted comfort. I wanted the noises in my head to stop. I wanted the ground beneath my feet to stop moving. I wanted the psychological tremors in my heart and head to cease. I wanted to deny that I was at my breaking point. But since I don’t do denial, I can admit that I had had enough. I was spent. I was at my breaking point.

Toward the end of our conversation, my husband said, “babe, remember, you can either be a vessel or a victim”.

It didn’t take long before those words took deep roots in my soul and began to give me the Hope I needed to finish strong. I have since asked God to help me continue to live them out.

Following the phone conversation with my husband, I decided to journal what he might have meant and how that was impacting my heart at such a critical moment. At the same time, a newly acquainted friend Sonia came in and asked if anyone would like to help in the kitchen or in any other way. Right away, I knew it was “vessel” time. I jumped up with great enthusiasm and headed to the kitchen to sign up to serve breakfast to the almost 300 people that were in the Embassy that day. The room was filled with a variety of people – military personnel in uniform, Peace Corp volunteers, military families along with their pets seeking shelter, U.S citizens who were on Hindu pilgrimages, climbers, and many others. For some, this was their first meal in two days. It was a humbling experience, to say the least.

My newly acquainted friend Sonia.

My newly acquainted friend Sonia.

My job was to serve the rice and potatoes. How hard can that be right? Then I heard Ken’s voice again reminding me, “babe, you are a vessel NOT a victim”. A vessel pours out.

I served with a smile that became a gift to so many. While many returned the pleasant gesture and even responded with, “thank you for the beautiful smile”, others came up to the counter with distress and anguish in their eyes and a grumble or complaint on their lips. The pain I saw in their eyes and face, matched what I was feeling in my heart. On several occasions, as I served, I felt the burning in my eyes as I fought back the tears from flooding my face, all the while knowing I would eventually have a time and place to shed those tears. But right then, the moment wasn’t right. Being on the serving side of the counter strengthened my heart and fed my soul. But the reality was I was no different than the people I was serving. We were all facing the same crisis of uncertainty. We all needed a rescue and a place to lay our heads. We would all be carrying the same fear from this earthquake. But that day, I was called to be set apart. I was challenged to NOT be a victim, BUT a vessel. I’m so glad the Holy Spirit helped me be a vessel. I feel so blessed to have been poured out in such a practical way.

I remember one man who complained about the rationed portions we were giving him. I got angry in my heart and fought the tears and mumbled under my breathe, “we could take that away you know”. (I never said I served perfectly. I just said I served.)

Special friends we made at the Embassy.  Malcolm (red shirt) and Jewleon (black shirt). So blessed by their friendship and support during our time there.

Special friends we made at the Embassy. Malcolm (red shirt) and Jewleon (black shirt). So blessed by their friendship and support during our time there.

I learned that day that an ungrateful and complaining person is still hard for me to appreciate. But God had called me to be a vessel that day and I was going to submit to His leading.

When a person is a vessel (one who pours out) she doesn’t hold back when tipped in the right direction. So I kept serving. I kept pouring out. Oh, the joy I felt that day in those few hours. I almost forgot I was in a shelter needing protection myself. I also forgot that my shoulder was burning with intense pain.

Our accommodations at the U.S. Embassy. It was called the "Multi-Purpose" room, and lived up to it's name!!

Our accommodations at the U.S. Embassy. It was called the “Multi-Purpose” room, and lived up to it’s name!!

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As I am home now with my husband and children, I am continuing on my healing journey. I am also realizing that disciples are vessels because of what Christ has done for us. If we stay as victims we lack the appreciation or understanding of what Jesus did on the Cross for us.

Before the trip, I kept the following phrase close to my heart. “Broken and Poured Out”. Yes, the ground broke beneath my feet in Nepal, but the LORD is using it for His glory and pouring me out according to His choosing.

In closing I want to add a quote from Oswald Chambers.

“It is one thing to choose the disagreeable, and another thing to go into the disagreeable of God’s engineering. If God puts you there, He is simply sufficient”. (“My Utmost For His Highest” by Oswald Chambers. May 14th entry)

I chose to go on this mission trip to Nepal, which meant choosing the common discomforts I would encounter in any underdeveloped countries. But I didn’t choose the earthquake. God did. I believe God moved the earth that day for His purposes. He broke the earth and at the same time He broke hearts – mine included. I am not the same person I was before the trip or before the earthquake. I don’t want to be. I want to be healed but only to the point of His choosing.

REFLECTION:

In what direction is God tipping you?

How do you respond to disagreeable moments in your life?

What are you prone to do when a door appears closed to you?

Thank you for journeying with me,

Kinita

I LOOKED UP (Part 2 – the story continues…)

This was my fourth trip to Nepal to serve with a ministry that buys and frees slaves. We hold women’s conferences in a church and as the speaker, I encourage the women to grow in their relationships with Jesus Christ through various topics that lend themselves to the Discipleship process already going on there.

I am very intentional in preparing a team for the ministry, opportunities and experiences we might have there. The number one way in which I insist they prepare is to, “stay in The Word“. God is writing each of our stories and as we stay in His Word, we will grow to see how it weaves into the fabric of our lives. I cannot stress enough how important it is for ALL of us to take time to “seek first the Kingdom of God…” (Matthew 6:33).

This trip would prove to be one that would challenge each of us to rely on God through the unique relationship we had cultivated with Him during that preparation.

In the hours following the initial earthquake….. (excerpt from my journal on April 25, 2015, following the Nepal earthquake).

“Fear, anxiety and emotions are running high. I think I am internalizing them now. I pray, I sing, I claim the power of God. The aftershocks continue as we sit outside the church. We are being encouraged to move to the open field behind the church to seek greater safety”.

As I walked out to the clearing I began to sing, “I’m gonna go with Jesus anywhere, no matter the roughness of the road….”, a worship song we have often sung in our church. The Holy Spirit reminded me of Psalm 91:1, “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”

That day, I also chose to trust God with every shaking fiber of my body.

 

field for squatters and animals running wild. Lots of human and animal waste and trash littering the area.  A very rough place to walk.

field for squatters and animals running wild. Lots of human and animal waste and trash littering the area. A very rough place to walk.

Once in the field, I look up and see power lines criss-crossing the sky, which presents more danger and uncertainty if they were to fall. But before more fear can take hold, the Holy Spirit showed me what He wanted me to see instead.

"I lift up my eyes to the hills – where does my help come from?  My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.  He will not let your foot slip..."

“I lift up my eyes to the hills – where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip…”

For the first time, in a few hours, I felt a twinge of peace in my soul that “everything was going to be alright”. God was truly present and He would see us through this. No matter how uncertain the circumstances were going to be, I could be certain that God would continue to be faithful in this situation. Looks like He chose to calm His child instead of calming the earth storm.

We hung out in the field for awhile and once it was “safe enough” (which was debateable), we headed back to the church site.

By now you might be thinking that “Kinita is really good at memorizing scripture”. I assure you, I am not. I can usually remember the words of a passage but not where it is found. Or I will remember that a certain book and chapter of the Bible is significant but can’t remember why.

A random white bird landed on a branch near by during this time.  Perhaps as another visual reminder of the Holy Spirit's presence.

A random white bird landed on a branch near by during this time. Perhaps as another visual reminder of the Holy Spirit’s presence.

That day, I believe the Holy Spirit gave me the help I needed by speaking those words into my ear. When I got home, I looked them up and found them in print.

Believers in Jesus…..here’s how it works. When we say, “we died and we are now hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3), it means first we have died to our own desires, passions and expectations and that God is our protector, shield and guard. The Holy Spirit is our companion. Unfortunately, so many people say this and then in a crisis, run and hide behind idols. That day, something died in me for good. Even though I can’t quite put into words what died in me that day, I can say with more clarity and vigor, that God’s Words and His Presence became more alive and palpable than ever before in my life.

We have an incredible gift of His “Shadow” (Psalm 91) and yet some still choose the things of this earth.

Please understand, I haven’t arrived. God continues to refine me. My prayer is that God will use this experience in my life to give you the Hope that He wants for you.

That day as Kathmandu was lifted approximately 1 meter in the air (statement made in a report I read), I believe I was lifted onto God’s shoulders as a reminder of His care for me (Luke 15:5 was prayed over us before we left on the trip).

Although I continue to deal with some physical ailments from that day, my heart is stronger today because of how God showed Himself to me when I looked up.

“Shoulders” by King & Country …was a great inspiration and a song I held in my heart throughout this particular trip and as I prepared for going.

Thank you for journeying with me. May the LORD be gracious to you when you look up.

REFLECTION:

Where is the earth moving under your feet and causing you uncertainty?

What is the earthly storm you are going through?

Where are you looking?

How do you respond to the “aftershocks” surrounding the crisis in your own journey?