Monthly Archives: October 2012

Come And Die Daily.

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The weather was gorgeous, it was a Friday, and we didn’t have to go into work today because Nat wasn’t feeling very good.  I decided to take this opportunity to travel down to Raisethorp, a small town filled with little shops, and spend the majority of the morning there.  I needed to buy new shoes; my flats weren’t cutting it anymore.  The other RJ’ers didn’t want to be around me when I took those flats off, so I figured it was about time I bought a new pair.  I put on my nice Tave sandals, stuck my iPod in my ears, and started the 30 minute walk to Raisethorp.

When I arrived, I spent about an hour at the Muskaan Internet Café, where I checked my Facebook and e-mails.  After my hour was up, I went down a little further on Raisethorp and found the cutest little shoe shop.  The people who worked there were very nice people, and when I explained to them the type of shoe I was looking for, they were on it in a heartbeat.  I then realized a problem: I didn’t know what shoe size I was in South Africa.  So after I picked out the kind of shoe I wanted, we spent about 15 minutes figuring out what size I was. (I’m a 7 in SA, by the way.  And by being a 7, I didn’t feel like I had such big feet anymore compared to being a 9/almost 10 in the states.  That’s the last time you’ll call my shoes “boats”, Alyssa Cable.)

After my big shoe adventure, I was feeling pretty hungry.  I settled for some Debonair’s, this really great pizza place.  I got a hot vegetarian sub; my absolute favorite item on their menu.  As I’m sitting there starting to eat my amazingly delicious sub, my peripheral vision catches three young boys in tattered clothing and no shoes sitting outside.  I look at my sub, and I look at them.  I give out a sigh, think about how I’ll go and grab some milk tart at the area bakery to eat since I’m giving up this amazing food, pray over the sub, go outside, and hand it to them.

I’m going to pause for a moment right here.

Luke 9:23 is a powerful verse.

If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.

So if we’re looking at slogans for followers of Christ, it could be accurately captured this way:

Come and Die.

Hey, it gets your attention.  Not really the kind of slogan that draws people in though. Honestly, it kind of sounds like something from a horror movie.  And get this: the symbol for followers of Christ really isn’t any better.  It’s a cross.  An instrument of torture and death is the image that represents followers of Jesus.

You’d think that Jesus would pick another symbol.  Like, why not a dove, or a shepherd’s staff, or a rainbow?  Why choose two bloody beams nailed together?

We’ve tried to make the most of this symbol.  We wear it as jewelry and use it as decorations or ornaments on our Christmas tree.  But to those hearing these words in Luke 9, the invitation to take up a cross would’ve been both offensive and repulsive.  For the Jews, the cross was the means of execution that the Romans used.  It was a symbol of the Roman’s power and strength.

The cross was a symbol of humiliation.  The Romans had numerous ways of executing someone and executing them very cheaply.  People would be executed by fire, stone, sword, or even given poison to drink.  Crucifixion, on the other hand, required 4 soldiers and a centurion to oversee.  It was much more expensive than any of the other ways to execute someone.  So why crucifixion?  They would use it when they wanted to publicly humiliate the person being crucified.  They wanted to make a public statement that this person is nothing and has no power.

The Bible says in Philippians 2 that followers are to have the same attitude as Jesus who made himself NOTHING.

Here is Jesus.  He is the Creator, the Savior, and the King of Kings.  And now the one who had everything, made himself nothing.  He, who had the world at His feet, chose to come and wash the feet of the world.  If we are going to follow Him, it means humbly taking up a cross and making ourselves nothing.

The cross was a symbol of suffering.  You can’t carry a cross without suffering.  There is no comfortable way to carry a cross; it doesn’t matter how you position it.  Sometimes, people think that the pain and suffering in their lives is an indication that they must not really be following Jesus.  I mean, if they are really following Him, wouldn’t things seem to go pretty smoothly for them?  The biblical reality is that when people say yes to following Jesus, they are agreeing to carry a cross, and at times, it’s going to be pretty painful.

Luke 6:22

Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man.

2 Timothy 3:12

Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.

Philippians 1:29

For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him.

The Bible tells us multiple times that following Christ is hard, painful, and we WILL suffer.  If we truly want to follow Jesus, there’s no way around that.

Ultimately, the cross was a symbol of death.  Jesus invites followers to die to themselves.  We die to our own desires, our pursuits, and our plans.  When we become followers of Jesus, that is the end of us.  Jesus takes the most despised and rejected symbol of his time and says, “If you want to follow me, take this up.”  He invites us to die.

Jesus makes it clear that following him means taking up your cross and dying to yourself.  That’s what a follower is committing to.  Unfortunately, many churches today have decided that this message is too uncomfortable and the cross is to offensive when looking at it in a follower’s point of view.  As a result, there are many fans who call themselves followers, but they’re not carrying a cross.

History and the Bible tells us that many of those who followed Jesus while He was here on earth, His own disciples actually, not only died to themselves, but ended up dying for their faith.  Matthew was killed by a sword in Ethiopia.  Mark died in Alexandria, Egypt, after being dragged by horses through the streets until he was dead.  Luke was hanged in Greece.  Peter was crucified upside down.  Thomas was stabbed with a spear in India during a missionary trip.  Jude, the brother of Jesus, was killed with arrows when he refused to deny his faith in Christ.  James was beheaded in Jerusalem.  A decision to follow Jesus is a decision to die to yourself.

C.S. Lewis puts it this way:

Christ says, “Give me all.  I don’t want so much of your time and so much of your money and so much of your work:  I want you.  I have not come to torment your natural self, but to kill it.  No half-measures are any good.  I don’t want to cut off a branch here and a branch there.  I want to have the whole tree down.  I don’t want to drill the tooth, or crown it, or stop it, but to have it out.”

We never choose to make ourselves less.  We fight and claw our way to the top.  If we find ourselves in a lower position, it’s only because we were forced into that position.  We never willingly give up our title.  But when the King of Kings died on a hill called Calvary, it was an example for us to follow.

I’m going to use Kyle Idleman, author of Not A Fan, and his example of what it means to die daily.  Think of your life as a 100 dollar bill.  Most of us think of dying to ourselves as this one big moment where we hand over our 100 dollar bill, or when we get saved.  That moment of salvation is the most important moment of your life, but to see following Jesus as a one-time decision is like saying after your wedding, “Now that I’m married, it’s back to life as usual.”  There is more to being a husband or wife than a wedding ceremony.  Instead of thinking of our lives as a 100 dollar bill that we give to God and that’s the end of it, we give our 100 dollar bill to God and He accepts it but says, “This is mine, but I want you to cash it in for pennies and give one penny back to me each day.”  It’s a daily death.

What does it look like to die every day? Well, it may mean spending your lunch hour serving food to the homeless at the shelter down the street from your office.  It may mean that next time you’re talking with your neighbor, instead of playing it safe and keeping comfortable, you bring Jesus into the conversation.  Dying to yourself may mean changing your vacation plans, and instead of taking your family to Disney this year, you take them to the Dominican Republic and volunteer in the feeding centers where hundreds of kids come each day for their only meal.  It may mean walking by that empty room in your house and asking God if there is an orphan child in another country that should be sleeping in that bed.  Dying to yourself may mean that you selflessly love a spouse who has cheated you out of the marriage you so desperately wanted.

Honestly, it’s only by dying daily that we are even able to follow Jesus.  There are many people who get frustrated in their efforts to follow Jesus.  They’re trying as hard as they can and they just don’t understand why they have such a hard time, or why they’re so inconsistent.

In 1 Corinthians 15:31, Paul says:

I die daily.

That’s the hardest part about carrying your cross…it’s so daily.  Each morning by the grace of Jesus, we are all invited to take up a cross and die.  That’s the only way we’ll follow Him that day.  Every morning, we crawl back on the altar and die to ourselves.  That’s Jesus’ invitation in Luke 9:23, but check out what He says in the very next verse:

For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.

It’s only by dying to ourselves that we truly find life.  When we finally let go of our lives, we find real life in Christ. In 1 Corinthians 1:18, Paul wrote:

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

Dying to yourself doesn’t make sense for the fan, but the follower understands that dying is the secret of really living.  That’s why we sing about the wonderful cross.

Now let’s rewind for a second.  I handed those boys my sub, not really with a great attitude.  I walked over to the bakery, and bought 3 milk tarts.  Why 3? I had no idea…until I stepped back outside and realized that those 3 boys were still sitting there.  I slowly walked over to the steps to sit down and eat my milk tarts, knowing all along that I bought those 3 milk tarts for a reason; knowing I should be giving it to those 3 boys.  On my way to sit down, I passed a young man sitting on a crate.  I walked past him towards the steps.

I sat down and started eating my milk tart. One was gone; then two.  I got up from where I was sitting.  I looked around for the boys, but they were gone.  I silently prayed, “God, I want to deny myself.”  I walked over to the man sitting on the crate, handed him my last milk tart, and walked away.

As I turned to walk away, I didn’t know why but I was in tears.  I started walking back up the hill towards my house, when I felt a strong pull to turn around and go talk to that man.  I kept saying in my head “God, no.  He’s going to think I’m weird or something.  I did my good deed for the day.  I’m not going back.”  And then I felt the Lord.  I’m not sure I could’ve felt Him any stronger in a public place than I did right then.  And He said “Abby, deny yourself.  Go.”  And I found myself turning around and walking straight towards that man.

Emilio is 19 years old, and he’s homeless.  His mom died, and his dad lives somewhere in Johannesburg.  After his mom passed away, he moved in with his grandma.  She passed away about 2 years ago.  Emilio has been on the streets for 2 years.  I sat down right beside him, and we talked for a little bit.  The stares I got from people as they walked past were stares of confusion.  I could just read their faces; “Why is that girl sitting on the ground talking to that man?”  But for some reason, sitting here with Emilio felt right to me.  I asked him what he was doing here, and he replied with, “Begging.”

Can we just take a moment to reflect on that word?  Begging.  Here was this young 19 year old man, in dirty clothing, sitting on a crate.  I can tell you right now from experience of being an 18 year old, we as young adults never want to stoop down to the level of helplessness.  It’s like there’s something ingrained in our brains that say, “We will never stoop as low as the person who is begging for help.  We are much more proud than that.”  And here sits Emilio; begging.  He knew he was helpless.  He had nowhere else to turn to, he had nowhere to go.  He told a random person who simply asked him what he was doing something that most people would honestly never admit to doing; begging.  Then the more I thought about it, the more Emilio showed me what I should be doing every day.  You see, Emilio knew he was helpless, and he admitted that to me on the spot.  Why are we as Christians too proud to admit when we’re helpless; that we are begging and we’re on our knees before the Savior of the world, broken and lost and empty and hurt.  Emilio painted the most beautiful picture for me.  Now here’s another crazy thing:

From the hour that I had been in that square, he didn’t ask one person for money or for food.  He was sitting there in his torn clothes; humbly sitting there.  For this being South Africa, that’s a HUGE deal.  There are always people everywhere, coming up to your cars or to you on the streets just begging you for money.  But Emilio; he was different.  It reminded me a lot about our lives as followers of Christ.  We boast and brag and sometimes over exaggerate about how much we love God, when honestly, our actions don’t show that at all.  We aren’t humble about our actions or service, and when we do something we think is pretty awesome, we feel like the whole world needs to know so they can admire our every move.  And then here’s Emilio, simply waiting.  He didn’t call out to anyone on the street saying he was poor, he didn’t move to anyone’s car and tap on their window asking for money.  He was simply sitting there, waiting.  Honestly, he was the most humble person I’ve ever met.  I yearn to have a faith that is humble in the way that Emilio is humble.

I’m not sure what compelled me to do this, but I can tell you right now that it was not by my own doing.  I never give money to strangers…ever. But I reached into my wallet, and pulled out all the rand I had left.  I held it out to him, smiled, and said, “I want you to have this.  I know it doesn’t seem like it, but things will be alright.  I’ll be praying for you.” Words can’t even begin to describe his face.  I could tell that he wasn’t expecting this.  He didn’t accept the money at first until I held it out to him again.  He took it, smiled so big, and said, “This means so much, thank you so much.  You’ll be in my thoughts.  Thank you so much.”  And as I walked away, I found a corner street, sat down, and cried.  I wasn’t crying because I gave away my money, I was crying because I couldn’t imagine how I would’ve felt if I told God no when He told me to go back.  I was crying because I was free.  I was crying because I met someone who, even though we never spoke one word about Jesus, showed me what it’s like to be a follower without saying A WORD.  Honestly, let’s be real here: there is NOTHING more beautiful.

It is a DAILY struggle to take up our cross and follow Jesus Christ.  We have to die daily to who we are, what we want to become, everything about us.  Guys, IT’S NOT ABOUT US ANYMORE.  I’m not telling you this story to make me look good, because frankly, I’m embarrassed of the way I acted in the beginning.  Why couldn’t I just have had a willing heart when I first felt pulled to give those boys my sub?  Because I was struggling to deny myself.  I was hungry, I wanted to eat; but I knew I would get milk tarts later on so giving up my sub wasn’t a big deal to me.  I’d just go get more food later. Then, randomly buying 3 milk tarts: why not 1, or 2, or 4? Why exactly 3?  Because there were 3 boys out there; hungry.  And when I was selfishly eating those 2 milk tarts, God pulled on my heart.  When I realized those boys were gone, I walked over to the man I had passed earlier and gave one to him.  So why didn’t I make conversation with him in the beginning?  Why did I walk away from him?  Maybe it’s because I didn’t want to be seen in public talking to someone who was clearly in desperate need of help; who was someone that people were looking at with disgust; who was someone people were just walking past not giving any second thought to.  It’s when I started on my way home that I realized something: who do I think I am?  The King of Kings made himself NOTHING and died to set me free; to give me a life that I don’t even deserve.  And when I felt the presence of God in and around me, I knew I needed to go back.  So I did.  I took up my cross, and I denied myself.  I died to who I was.

Some people don’t really understand this whole “dying to yourself” thing; I’ll be honest by saying that I didn’t understand it until today.  It’s hard, it’s painful, and it’s a weird emotion; but it is BEAUTIFUL.  I have never ever in my entire life felt more amazing than when I denied who I was, died to everything inside of me, and gave up.  I totally surrendered to Jesus Christ today, and He used me.  He used me to feed 3 boys who probably won’t have supper tonight.  He used me to bring hope to a man around my age who felt that there really was no hope for him.  He used me to provide a young girl with a good pair of shoes to wear. (Yes mom, I gave her the sandals you bought me.  I’ll reimburse you if you want.)  And I’m not saying this for my credit; all glory goes to God.  Because I can promise you that NONE of those things happened with my doing; it was all Jesus Christ.

Jesus invites us to come and die DAILY.  It’s not a onetime thing; it’s an everyday thing.  We think that such a decision would make us miserable.  Is that what it means to follow Jesus; to be miserable?  We wake up every morning and commit to misery.  But when we die to ourselves and completely surrender to Him, there is a surprising side effect to dying; we discover true life.  In a twist of irony, we find that giving up our lives gives us the life we so desperately wanted all along.  It is so worth it.

Meeting Emilio was no coincidence.  He didn’t just randomly happen to be there that day.  I fully and firmly believe that God placed him right there on that exact street corner at exactly the same time I was there for a reason.  My dream is to meet Emilio again; maybe on that same street corner, maybe in a shop where he has a job, or maybe in church.  Wherever I see him, I want to thank him; thank him for helping me realize that dying to myself and surrendering to Jesus was the best decision I’ve ever made.

After I typed the previous paragraph, I ended up meeting Emilio again the very next day on the same street corner.  This time, we talked about Jesus.  He told me that he was in fact a Christian. I asked him a question that I knew I would even have a rough time answering, but I was so curious to hear what he had to say: “Emilio, with everything that you’ve been through, how do you know God is still there?”  He chuckled at my question and said, “You know, sometimes I have a hard time knowing He’s there.  But then I think back to everything He’s done for me; how He’s kept me alive on certain nights when I didn’t think I would make it.  And I know He will never leave me, no matter how bad things are.”  The whole time he was talking, that smile never left his face.

Anya and Nat came down to Raisethorp that same day, and they met Emilio as well.  We all sat down and talked with him, and he really seemed to enjoy our company.  The stares we got from people were quite amusing and awesome, to say the least.  We were making people feel uncomfortable; seriously, let’s be real here: that’s like the highest level of achievement ever.  No sarcasm intended.

The day after that, Anya and I walked down and brought him some muffins.  At first, we didn’t see him, and then out of nowhere he comes running towards us and says, “Friends!  I’m here!  I didn’t think you were going to come today.”  I smiled and said, “Emilio, we’ll come and see you as often as we’re able to.”  He smiled, accepted the muffin, and started to eat.

Day after day, we continued to go and see Emilio.  We couldn’t provide him with a new home.  We couldn’t provide him with a job.  We couldn’t provide him with anything that would actually get him back on his feet again.  But one thing we could provide him with was love.  To any person in Emilio’s situation, that doesn’t seem like a lot.  But for some reason, to him, it meant the WORLD.  A new house or a job couldn’t give Emilio what he really wanted; and that’s a family.  I never thought in a million years that I would become so close to someone who was homeless; who was begging on the streets day after day for the past 2 years just to get by.  But in the few days I’ve known Emilio, he’s taught me more about what it really means to follow Jesus than any person I’ve known.  It means being willing to go before God completely broken.  It means begging.  It means having faith that even though you don’t know if you’ll make it through tonight, God will pull you through.  It means being humble.  It means surrendering all you have and all you are.  I not only have a new friend…I have a brother.

I want to make one thing straight; this story isn’t about me.  It isn’t about what I did.  It’s about what Jesus did through me when I surrendered myself and gave up.  I gave up on keeping an image I was trying so hard to maintain.  I gave up putting myself first.  I gave up and finally denied myself, picked up my cross, and followed my King.  And it was by surrendering all of who I was and all of who I was striving to be that Jesus took this place in my heart, moved me, changed me, and took my hand while I walked and sat down beside Emilio.

Jesus invites you to come after Him, pick up your cross, and die to yourself.  Are you ready?

*Special thanks goes to Kyle Idleman for helping me find the right words to say.

Denominational Stereotypes: I’m Here To End A Rumor.

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I’m sitting on my bed, laptop plugged in and charging, my mind racing, and my fingers ready to type.  It’s a warm, spring, October day in South Africa, and the wind sounds beautiful tonight.  I wish so badly everyone I know could be experiencing this.  Talk about relaxing.

Lately, I’ve been restless; in my mind and in my heart.  I attend a Pentecostal church here in SA, also known for promoting the fivefold ministry.  Churches here don’t call themselves Pentecostal churches, but instead they call themselves full gospel.  Pentecostalism is the only form of denomination known in SA.  There are a few Methodist churches, but when I say a few, I literally mean a few.  They don’t know who or what Mennonites are.  In fact, someone I talked to thought Mennonite was another religion.  I laughed at that.  But seriously though, this is how much SA is formed of only one main denomination.  They don’t know of any other way to worship.

When I first told people back home that I was attending this type of church, you should’ve heard the responses I got.  I was already struggling hardcore theologically, trying to understand why every Sunday almost everyone was being slain in the spirit or speaking in tongues or having prophecies.  When I first started attending Northdale Christian Fellowship here in SA, I’m going to be honest by saying that I was downright terrified.  In fact, the first few Sunday’s I was there, I had to get up and walk out and just collect myself.  Their worship was something I never experienced before in my life.  I think most Mennonite’s can be honest when we say that speaking in tongues and being slain in the spirit just really isn’t our thing.

So here I am, a young Mennonite girl in a blown out full gospel church, just sitting in the congregation while people are falling over and being slain in the spirit and speaking in tongues.  Sunday after Sunday, this was happening.  I talked to Andrew and Karen, our RJ leaders about it and the questions I had, and they told me that if I was feeling uncomfortable, I could always look around for another church to attend.  I thought about that offer, but then rejected it.  I’m not sure how to explain it, but I know I’m supposed to be at Northdale Christian Fellowship for a reason.  And I will not leave, no matter how different their worship style is.  If we’re comfortable in our faith, something’s wrong.

My whole life, I’ve been told that Pentecostalism is almost like a cult.  I’m here to stamp that rumor into the ground, because from what I’ve seen, it’s not a cult.  The Western culture almost hates to accept any form of supernatural or charismatic worship, because, let’s be honest here, it is pretty insane, scary, and totally over our heads.  We don’t understand it; and that’s the point: because it’s not a part of our culture.  The people who have told me it’s like a cult are the people who have never even attended a worship service or a Bible study in that type of setting.  I’ve been attending this church for almost a month now, I’ve sat in on the Bible studies, and I’m here to tell you that fivefold ministry is in fact Biblical.  Are there things I’m still struggling with theologically about these types of churches? Oh yes.  Do I still have a lot of questions? Heck yes.  And am I still confused on their style of worship?  Double yes.  But just because I don’t understand the way they worship doesn’t mean that it’s automatically a cult.  In my opinion, I don’t have to be slain in the spirit or speak in tongues just to feel the Holy Spirit, because I’ve felt Him so many times at my home church and we don’t do those things.  But that’s how these people here feel Him; it’s how they get connected.  And I’m finally beginning to understand.

It’s been hard hearing the responses of people back home about these types of churches, especially from the people I love.  I want them to understand, but they don’t, and that’s okay because I can’t expect them too. In the end, everyone’s opinion about if fivefold churches are actually Biblical or not will be different.  And to be honest, I’m not sure if there’s a right or wrong answer. But if you have never sat in on a worship service in this denomination, what say do you really have, you know?  No worries fellow Mennonites, I won’t be leaving my background any time soon.  But it’s about time we let go of the denominational stereotypes and come together as one body under Jesus Christ.

Not A Fan.

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Fan: an enthusiastic admirer.

 

Jesus had tons of fans.  When he spoke sermons, thousands of people came to gather to hear what he had to say.  Imagine a football stadium where thousands of people came to watch the Steelers kick some butt.  They come with signs, their faces painted, and a whole lot of rowdiness.  True fans know everything about the Steelers; how many times they’ve won the Superbowl,  how many players are on the team, and everyone’s name and number.  But do they really KNOW the Steelers?  Their life stories, their struggles, their family life?  The honest answer, which might be hard for those diehard fans to admit, is no.

 

Jesus had thousands of fans.  People heard about his miracles.  People saw what he was doing.  People would come from everywhere to see what this man was going to do next!  Jesus must’ve felt pretty awesome to have all those people as fans.  I mean, who wouldn’t?!  But you see, that’s where the issue lies.  These people knew about Jesus, the miracles he performed, and the sermons he preached.  But they did not KNOW Jesus.  They only knew about him.  Jesus got serious, and he decided that it’s about time he defines the relationship.  He didn’t want fans.  In fact, during one sermon he preached, many people got up and left because Jesus wanted more than their fandom…He wanted them as a whole.  All of them.  And those fans thought, “Well, that miracle stuff was good while it lasted.  Let’s peace out.”  And they did just that.  I can picture the disciples thinking, “Jesus, dude, what are you doing?!  You’re losing all of your fans that we worked so hard to get!!”  But Jesus didn’t care how many people he lost due just because he got serious and wanted to define the relationship.  He wanted true followers.  And a lot of people walked away because they were only fans.  They were only enthusiastic admirers.

 

If I ask you if you are a fan or a follower, most of you who are Christians would say follower.  And it’s those that say they’re followers who are at risk of being fans.

 

When I first started reading Not A Fan by Kyle Idleman,  I really wish Josh Knipple, my friend and pastor of Crucified Church, would’ve given me a little warning.  You know, one that would’ve said, “Abby, this book is going to completely mess up your life.  You’re going to get angry when reading this.  Your life is going to be changed.  This book is going to interfere with your life and who you are.”  That little warning would’ve made me stop and probably not read the book.  I liked my life the way it was going.  I always considered myself a follower of Jesus.  I mean, I am here in South Africa.  But when I opened Not A Fan and started to read it, my life has been turned upside down.  I started to realize that for so many years, I’ve only been a fan of Jesus.

 

I wanted to stop reading.  I didn’t want to hear anymore how badly I’ve gotten this following Jesus thing so messed up.  But I just couldn’t stop reading.  Every night, I would fall asleep reading that book.  Every morning before work, I would read a chapter.  I couldn’t stop.  I didn’t know what was happening to me; my perspective on everything was changing.  I found myself crying every time one chapter was over because I was so moved.  I found I was able to explain things better when trying to talk about Jesus.  I found myself speaking up to the church I attend in South Africa about what I believe.  I found myself tearing up when talking to my co-workers about the Holy Spirit.  I found myself understanding the sermons Jesus was talking about.  I found myself on my knees on my bedroom floor before God, asking Him to take all of me.  And this stuff didn’t just happen for one day.  It was continuously happening.  The first thing I told myself when this was happening to me was, “I’m so happy Josh never told me what this book would do to me.”

 

Someone recently told me, “I honestly don’t like that book.  This Christian thing is hard enough without people saying you’re doing it all wrong.”  There is a lot of truth in that, if we’re being honest here.  But I’m going to burst this person’s bubble for  second and tell him that that’s the point.  “This Christian thing” is hard enough as it is.  We don’t want to be told what we’re doing wrong because being a fan of Jesus is hard enough.  Now imagine if Jesus would tell us to walk away from our families, have Him be our one and only, risk our lives, and become His follower…oh wait.  The point is, Kyle, the author of Not A Fan, isn’t telling us what we’re doing right or wrong.  He’s simply describing the difference between fans and followers, and he leaves it up to us to decide what we feel is right or wrong and where we stand on the fan or follower scale.  That person who told me how they don’t want to be told what they’re doing wrong proved that God stirred something in their heart.  If you walk away from that book absolutely hating it because in interfered with your life, then Kyle did his job.  And he did it well.

 

I can’t sit here and tell you that I’m a follower of Jesus, because I feel that to amount up to what being a follower really means is much more than what I can grasp right now.  I’m learning what it means to be a follower.  And the scariest part about all of this is that I didn’t even mean to learn that.

 

A few nights ago, I just got finished reading the book Radical.  I was crying, and I wasn’t sure why.  I closed the book, lifted up my hands, and just cried…and I couldn’t stop.  The tears were just falling from my face, and that night, God met me where I was at.  That night, I was called to give up my life for the sake of Jesus Christ; my old self died that night.  I was called to spend the rest of my life telling other people about the man who saved me; who gave me salvation and grace when I least deserved it.  And I realized that I wasn’t crying because I was scared; I was crying because I couldn’t even IMAGINE a better way to live the rest of my life.  Going is a command.  The calling is where and how long.  But going; we’re commanded to do that.

 

“Go.”  I think I will always be going.  I realize that this means I might never get married because finding a man who is willing to sacrifice his dreams because his wife feels called by God to always be going is hard.  I realize that I may lose my friends.  I realize that my family may think I’m crazy.  And I realize that I might lose my life.  But to be able to tell someone about what Jesus has done in my life, and to be able to tell someone that they don’t have to live the way they do anymore because there is grace freely given to us…man, THAT IS WORTH IT.

 

I realize that some of you might be thinking I’m crazy, and I’m here to tell you that yes, this is crazy.  A month ago, I never would’ve thought like this.  But the Holy Spirit is real, alive, and He is moving and working inside of me!  You will be considered crazy for following Jesus.  And that is the best compliment you will ever receive in your life.

 

My name is Abigail Cable, and I am not a fan.

Empty My Hands And Fill Up My Heart.

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I never thought I’d ever really love work, but at my job at Masiebumbane, I LOVE working. My first day involved me working at the soup kitchen serving kids food, but I also got to do more than that. I got the chance to form relationships with these kids who never thought a white teenager would talk to them. The reality is pretty sad, eh? I’ll never forget their faces when I approached them with the greeting, “Sawubona!” which means hello in Zulu. Some laughed at me, some looked at me with shock that I even knew how to say hello, and some looked scared. But the second I asked them to tell me their names, their faces instantly lit up! They got a lot of enjoyment out of me attempting to pronounce their crazy Zulu names. My favorite part was playing soccer with them; I’ve never seen better 8 year old female soccer players in my life.

There are 2 things I’ll never forget. I sat down with these two Zulu girls, 13 and 14 years old. I wish I could remember their names right now, but so many Zulu words are going through my head at the moment that I can’t remember. Their faces, however, I will never forget; and I also get the pleasure of seeing them every day for the next 9 months. While I was sitting there, they were teaching me some Zulu words, laughing as I was struggling pronouncing the words with clicks in them; the words with x’s and q’s. (It’s much more difficult than they make it seem.) The 14 year old stopped and said, “Abby, this is cool! Weird, but cool.” I replied with, “What’s cool?” She smiled and said, “You’re young, you’re white, and you’re talking to us.” I didn’t think any words could be so sad, yet beautiful at the same time.

Today, Rob took us to see how the gardening works for the people of Mpophomeni that are infected with HIV/AIDS. The gardeners of Masiebumbane plant gardens in their yard that provide those people with healthy food, making their lives easier and healthier while living with HIV and/or tuberculosis. (TB) Rob took us to this one family’s garden, where we got the chance to meet the young girl living there; she looked to be about 12 years old. She greeted us warmly, and we shook her hand. She talked to us for a little bit about school, her 96% in economics, and music. She loves to sing, and she told me that sometime, she would sing for me. (A child after my own heart, I’m telling you.) Rob told us both that we’d be seeing a lot of each other for the next 9 months, as she’ll be coming up to the area where I’ll be working with children. She seemed really happy about that, and so did I. When I first saw this girl, I knew there was something about her that would stick with me for the rest of my life. I’m not sure what it was, but I felt connected to her. As we got back into the car, Rob said these words to me that I will never forget: “Abby, she’s a special girl, and you should form a good relationship with her.” He paused for a moment, and then continued. “You see,” he said, “She’s HIV positive, and she also has tuberculosis. But just look at her; she’s so happy.” I looked out my window to see that smiling, beautiful girl carrying laundry outside to hang. As we drove away, I silently started to cry. This was the first person I’ve met in my whole entire life that was living with HIV…and she was only 12 years old.

Let me make this clear; she will not die from HIV/AIDS; no one actually dies from that. What happens is that the immune system is weakened immensely from HIV, so if someone catches a common cold and they’re also infected with HIV, they can die. Any small thing can trigger death for them because of there being almost no immunity in their body. Will her life be shortened? Yes. And I think that’s what really kills me the most. We complain every single day about stupid, petty things that are going on in our lives. But what about that little girl? She has EVERY SINGLE RIGHT to not want to get out of bed. She has EVERY SINGLE RIGHT to complain about the situation she’s in. But she doesn’t. Instead, she’s a beautiful, joyful, at the top of her class, singing, smiling, 12 year old girl, who may recognize that her life is shortened by the situation she’s in, but refuses to let that define the way she lives. I cannot think of anything more beautiful than that.

All the time, life seems unfair. I’ve been struggling with that a lot here. Why does being white give me superiority? Why do people live in these townships with little to next to nothing? Why does that girl have HIV and tuberculosis? I don’t have the answers; and I don’t think anyone ever will. Those are questions people have been struggling to understand for years now, but the understanding of it all is just too vast. One thing I’m beginning to understand more though is how big my God is. We’ve been through a lot of radical things these past few days: I was being followed by two men and had to think of a plan of action to escape, I saw a Zulu woman being beat up by a Zulu man in public and no one stopped to help her, Nat and I got pulled over by traffic control and immigration authority on our way to work and got threatened to be deported because we didn’t have our passports on us at the moment, we’ve gotten lost in downtown PMB, we get stared at everywhere we go, and I met a young girl who was infected with HIV/AIDS. The South Africa team is definitely putting the radical part in Radical Journey. But one thing I’ve really noticed was that during those moments, God’s hand was over me, us, my team. He never left us once. During all of those circumstances, even though I was scared, I felt my Savior there; my comforter, my rock, my provider, my Dad. He’s emptying my hands and filling up my heart.

Psalm 121:3 He will not let your foot slip- He who watches over you will not slumber. ❤