Last week, one of the special occasions at the shop was for this lovely group of ladies:
I know them as the Tuesday Ladies because they met on Tuesdays while I was with the group that met on Wednesdays with the same bible teacher, Beth Sanders, who was a missionary in the Philippines for many years before their family moved back to the States a couple of years ago.
It was like a family reunion of sorts!!!
For the past few weeks, I’ve been noticing that through the shop, the Lord has been allowing me to see sisters in the faith who have been my mentors, teachers, prayer partners, and fellow sojourners. The sight of them brings back to mind the truth and encouragement that God sends me through the village He has placed around me. There are more faith encouragers I am thankful for but I don’t have all their pictures right now.
With Beth Sanders, we had wonderful times together learning about God’s Word. We had guests who would share God’s story in their lives and it was an inspirational feast every week. We went on little trips and watched movies, learned how to be better persons, better wives, better cooks, better teachers. Whatever good “better” we could be, Beth helped us learn it. (I’m still learning btw.) Beth, like God, loves us the way we are but wants us to be the best we can be. She is great at encouraging us to bloom where we are planted.
Even when Beth moved back to the States, she and her husband Martin continue to be my spiritual parents. They are like our extended family. I’m so blessed with the times we get to meet up. With Viber, we are also able to keep in touch and giggle together ’til dawn sometimes even as we take up our own crosses to follow Jesus Christ.
Edith was my first one-on-one mentor. While we learned Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Life, I sometimes asked questions in class. Later that day, I would receive a text from Edith with a bible verse that answered my questions.She also taught us how to cook!! Yum! Later on, she and I started meeting every Monday to pray for the requests of the Wednesday Ladies and all aspects of the Wednesday session from the teacher and her preparations to the attendees, to the music, to the technical equipment which have an interesting way of jamming whereas they work fine during dry-run. Those Mondays helped me gain an appreciation for prayer and praying for others as we saw God move every week. Edith patiently started with a devotion each week and from her I learned how to meditate on verses by observing the words and phrases and how to apply them in real life in real time.
My next one-on-one mentor was Heidi. She taught me out of the prosperity gospel mentality. She fearlessly gave biblical counsel even when I didn’t want to hear it, almost begged her to give me other counsel. Telling someone what she doesn’t want to hear comes with the risk of losing that person. But it was clear to her what was important. With a compassionate, loving approach, she will tell it like the Word says it is, not like the world says it is. Week after week, we met up and she patiently walked me through my endless questions. Great thing: not only is she a seminary graduate well-grounded in the Word and faith, she is also a trained educator with her own school. She was uncompromising in telling me gently “this is the way…” But she doesn’t quite tell me “walk in it.” She asks me questions and then allows me to answer them myself and she gives me more questions. She allows me to tell myself the “walk in it” part and works through slow learner disability, for instance, in learning certain words like “submit” or “surrender” for a year or five or so. (What’s the difference with numbers, every minute could feel like forever anyway. Once I think I finally learned it, I need to relearn from Square 1 again. Every minute.)
Heidi kept telling me she is not the affectionate loving type of bible mentor but to me, she is all love. Oh how I miss her since she moved to the other side of the world.
My next one-on-one mentor is Princess. To me, like my other mentors, she is the epitome of the woman of God, ever humble, she is like David who is after His own heart, the ultimate shepherd focused on the goal of drawing others to Christ. She is also fearless in giving biblical counsel. “That’s our calling to follow Jesus,” is what comes to mind when I think of her. Princess led us through books and movies and continues to lead us into fellowship together that we may spur one another towards love and good deeds. Tirelessly, she gathers our group together for accountability in our spiritual walk. She prays for us when we are present or absent. She is loving, approachable, non-judgmental, diligent, and fun!
Being with my sisters is like coming home. It’s a wonderful gift to have truth tellers, like the breed of the little girl who tells the emperor he has no clothes instead of the whole crowd who will say good things while he walks around being a fool. We are one another’s sharpening iron in a circle of unconditional love, prayer, and friendship… until we can’t remember each other’s names and we’ll be comparing diaper and walker brands not for our babies but for ourselves.
Within the group, everyone is also a mentor and encourager for everyone else. (I love my sisters! Yay!) But we call Ruth fondly as our “assistant Princess-pal” who shepherds us when Princess is taking care of her first ministry, her family.
Ruth is very nurturing, motherly, and can be counted upon (as with other sisters in the faith) to pray for our needs. She is a businesswoman willing to share what she has learned and how we can marry faith with business without compromising integrity.
Coney told me around ten years ago after she spoke to the Wednesday Ladies, “You have the gift of bringing people together as well as the gift of expressing yourself in words.” She came by to bring faith encouragement not just to me but to my staff the other month. Sweet encounters that leave their edifying mark…
I have prayer partners, Steph, Ann, Malu, Betta, Jen who are like the paralytic’s friends whose faith brought on his healing. The cripple was able to get up, pick up his mat, and walk.
There’s Pastor JP, Danny, Albit, Erwin, Joey, Ricky, Roy, Jonathan, Glenn and other pastors and their wives, Roochie, Dawn, Gina, Jhie, Cecile, Aggie, Sasa, Ate Ellen who are pregnant with their living stories of hope, with their ready prayers and lessons to share. Deliverance Team mentor, Tita Thelma, teaches, “God can not move if you are the one controling and it’s still all about what you want. You have to surrender Everything.”; Gia teaches “Stay delivered. Keep sin out of your life.”
I have been blessed with many mommies and sisters who are channels of God’s love and prayers. At times of sudden disaster though, I also go to Deonna. She is so busy with probably literally tens of thousands she ministers to. But by God’s grace, every time I had sudden disasters, she’s there to dispense hard-to-obey bible commands like they were Lindor Truffles, her counsel gentle and prayerfully considered, and the certain closing prayer to follow filled with hope and expectation based on who God is. Wheeeee!!!!!!!!!
There’s Pastor Peter. Last year during fasting, after my hundred-mile-an-hour complaint that I can no longer do what God is asking me to do, he looks at me seriously, piercingly, and asks, “Do you want to do it your way? Or God’s way? You choose.” I’m thinking to myself, “What do I want? Pharoah and his army closing in on me from behind or the Red Sea ready to drown me ahead?” I know the answer Pastor Peter wants me to choose. But I’m stomping my feet tearfully saying, “I can’t.” He calls Deonna over. They pray over me.
[It’s like being teleported to the Sea of Galilee and Jesus asks Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” I am Simon, back to my old self before I knew Christ. When I look into the loving eyes of Jesus, He doesn’t ask, “Are you never going to deny Me thrice after professing love-unto-death devotion to Me?” nor “Show Me proof of sincerity/ eligibility/ lovability.” Simply, “Do you love Me?”………..He’s not asking me to do anything He hasn’t done for me. He will love me no matter what I choose; He’s not scaring nor obliging me. But if I know He’s all-knowing and all-loving who wants the best for me, I will be shortchanging myself if I leave the center of His will. He gives me freedom to choose but I just don’t have the freedom to choose the ensuing consequence. He’s leading me not for Him but for me… And the village He’s placed around me makes His Word pop up like an interactive book I’m in. Jesus lives. He’s got skin on… that of my faith family’s. They help me grasp His awesome love and amazing grace. How can I resist loving Him?]
I’m back with Pastor Peter and Deonna. My blurry sight turns a wee clearer as the tears stop abruptly halfway into their merry roll. I’m not going to do it in my feeble strength, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
I see that I didn’t see… God opened the Red Sea. “God’s way,” came my faint choice.
They made me see an option that’s invisible but as present as the air that sustains my very life.. surrender to God’s way. His ways and thoughts are higher than mine. I can lay down everything that burdens me and give Him the floor to move; who knows, He might move the floor… So for those days when I wish Horatio Spafford who might call me Little Sister, would say “It is well with my soul…faith shall be sight,” when I want Lou Fellingham to sing to me again, “I will say of the Lord He is my refuge,” I will remember I am not alone.There are even people whose names I don’t know but in brief encounters, a kind gesture, they are part of God’s faith relay in our common race to run to the finish.
I thank the Lord for each and every one (pictured or not, named or not), fellow sojourners who have taught, encouraged, prayed for and with me, shared with me and joined me in my faith journey. And it looks like on their DNA is they do not point to themselves but to the Lord and His Word. Thank you for standing firm in your faith through the assignment God had for you that you can share with me your hope in Christ. If not for your love and obedience to Him— to be His mouthpiece sharing His Word, hands and feet sharing His hope, I might have missed out on His grace. You are all channels of God’s love . Thank you for raising me up as His child even though I still have a lifetime of growing to do. I pray that He continue to use you mightily to share Him with others as you have with me. May my thanksgiving for you spur me on to pay it forward.
I know that God sends each and everyone of us a village to raise us. May our eyes be open, may our hearts be grateful when we see them!
With much love and thanks!
Little ol’ me