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For Arthur

When I was a new Christian I had a co-worker who was the bane of my existence. He was rude, cruel, and crotchety. He bullied other employees mercilessly. After witnessing his abusive behavior for months I had learned to avoid him. One day I watched him hurl insults as he suddenly cut the power on a piece of heavy equipment another co-worker was using. This caused the huge machine to stop short so that the man using it fell forward into it, twisting his body and resulting in what must have been a very painful fall.

I felt my righteous indignation rise up. I lost my Christian cool. In defense of the injured employee I lashed out uncharacteristically and swore at the tyrant, calling him a name that I’m sure I wasn’t alone in thinking. I will never forget the look of shock on his face. Had another person said it, he probably would have just responded with an equally abusive retort, but coming from me, he was literally stopped in his tracks. He never expected the timid, quiet, little Christian girl to say something so insolent.

I instantly regretted it, but I could not take back my words. I was embarrassed and ashamed that I had not acted as a Christian should. For days after that, I became his target. Where previously he would hand me his paperwork at the end of the day, he started coming in and literally throwing the stack of paper on my desk with such force that it would scatter across the desk and onto the floor. He said, “You called me it, so I guess that’s what I’ll be.” He took every opportunity to belittle me in front of others and to point out my hypocrisy. I felt awful. I thought I had ruined my Christian witness with this man and with all my other co-workers. In a moment of weakness I had destroyed my opportunity to show them Christ.

I confided to a friend what was going on. She agreed with me that his behavior was out of control and that management should have stepped in to curb his antics long before that, but she also didn’t let me off the hook. She told me to stop feeling guilty for the way I reacted. No, it wasn’t the right reaction, but the past was past. If you’ve repented, you need to move on. You won’t help the situation by wallowing in shame. Then she reminded me that it’s easy to love people who are nice to us; it’s very difficult to love people who are unkind. She told me he was the perfect opportunity to practice my Christian love. He was an opportunity to practice turning the other cheek. He was an opportunity to learn to be a better Christian. He was not an obstacle. He was an opportunity.

I took her words to heart. From that day forward I did everything I could to show him godly love. I refused to react to his negativity and hurtful behavior. I went out of my way to make his job easier. I made it a point to ask how his day was going. I inquired after his wife and kids, his hobbies, his frustrations. I prayed for him constantly. He began to soften up. Instead of eating alone at lunch, he started to join me and another co-worker. His anger subsided. He not only treated me better, but he treated everyone better. He started talking about his life; his hopes and disappointments. He showed an interest in my well-being and after a while he was not only accepting my efforts, but reciprocating them. In fact, I have yet to see someone, anyone, make such a complete turn-around in behavior that I witnessed in Arthur. I’m not sure exactly when it happened, but somewhere along the way, I genuinely came to think of him as my friend.

I began to share Christ with him. I continued to pray for him. I told him he needed the Lord. He said, “I know, but I’m going to wait until right before I die.” I said, “The trouble with that is that no one knows how long they have.”

What neither of us knew that day was that within a few short months, my friend Arthur, would be dead. He was 36.

Truly no one knows how long they have. In fact, the day I had this conversation with Arthur was the last day he ever worked. I remember asking him that day if he was feeling alright because he just didn’t look right. He confided in me that he hadn’t been feeling well lately. The following day he called in sick saying he had the flu. He was out all the next week too. Shortly after that he was diagnosed with stage four Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

I had many conversations over the following weeks with both him and his wife during this time. I was as much of a support to them as I could be. I kept praying. I believed God fully for his healing. But this time, healing didn’t come.

His wife told me how much she appreciated my friendship. She told me that Arthur hated his job before I befriended him. Having a friend changed his whole outlook, she said. She would call me on the phone and cry about how difficult it was to deal with the whole situation and my heart just broke for her.

Ultimately, I think my friend died without knowing the Lord, but I am not the judge. I cried and prayed for months feeling I had failed him. But in the end, I know that he heard the gospel. What he chose to do with it was up to him.

I look back on him with fondness. He taught me one of the most powerful lessons I have learned in Christianity. He taught me to love even when someone is unlovable. He taught me that an angry and volatile exterior is often a cover for a vulnerable person who just needs a little compassion. He showed me that sometimes gaining a friend only takes being a friend.

Happy Birthday, Arthur.

In His Love,
Rebekah L.

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Praying with Rahab

Today’s post is a continuation of the Being Rahab series. If you aren’t familiar with these posts, I encourage you to read parts 1, 2, and 3 by following the links.

I began the first post on this topic by discussing a woman who was forced into prostitution at a young age by her own family. At the time, it was my prayer that she would be like Rahab; a person with a questionable past, but an honorable future. I requested that our readers pray for her that she would have the faith of Rahab to believe God and allow Him to transform her life.

God has answered these prayers in an amazing way. She now regularly attends church, has thrown out all her former idols, has stopped worshipping at Buddhist temples, has committed her life to Christ and been baptized in His name. Truthfully, she is so far removed from her degrading past that I don’t really even like using the word Rahab in the title of these posts anymore. It was difficult for me to include it on the last update, and even more difficult on this one. Even though this is an anonymous blog that she knows nothing about, I feel she deserves better than to be identified by her past rather than by the incredible future that God is building in her. Yet, for the sake of continuity so that our readers are able to recognize and follow her story, I will continue to use it for now.

Recently, I have had the opportunity to pray with this woman a few times. She lives on the other side of the globe from me, but with modern technology she is only a click away and we’ve been able to video chat and pray together that way. Think about that for a minute, we are literally a few clicks away from evangelizing the world! Satan uses technology to put all kinds filth on the airways, violence in the media, and pornography at our fingertips, but we have the power to take technology and use it for good. Use it to witness to someone, use it to reach out and evangelize places you can’t physically get to. Use it for creating worship songs and Bible Studies. Use it for God! But I digress.

This woman has poured her heart out to me in video chat. I’ve been able to tell her what God has done in my own life and then to pray with her about her hopes, her fears, her past traumas, and I’ve been able to feel the burden lifting off of her as we pray. If you had told me a year ago that I would be having these conversations with her, I would have thought you were crazy. Even just a few months ago I would have thought it was impossible. Nothing is impossible to God! Nothing!

If I had stayed angry with her, if I had allowed my own hurt and bitterness to get in the way, I would have missed out on the incredible blessing that she is now bringing to my life. She is a remarkable woman who is learning to pray to the One True God. She is learning to trust in the Almighty. She is giving her life to the Savior. And I am being allowed to witness it. Truly truly humbling.

If you are having trouble forgiving someone I encourage you to ask your heavenly Father to give you a genuine love of God for that person. Ask Him to help you allow a love of God to grow in your heart. He may answer that prayer in the most unexpected and beautiful of ways.

If you pray for that person, you may find one day you are praying with them!

In His Love,
Rebekah L.

A Vision and a Prayer

So, as I have walked through New York City, following a fairly steady route throughout the winter, spring, and summer (between February and August, and less frequently starting in September), there have a few people who have become staple parts to my daily commute. One in particular is a homeless man named Bradley. Sometimes he’s more awake than others, and sometimes his words are more slurred than others, but no matter what kind of day he’s having he is easily one of the most personable people in New York. He might be filthy, but he is always smiling and always cheerful. He talks about his past with fond remembrance rather than bitterness, though he is from another part of the country and it’s been a long time since he’s had contact with any loved ones.

I don’t know exactly what happened in his life and what issues he’s faced that caused his decline from then, when he had a wife and a stepdaughter he still refers to as his princess, until now. We have a game we play, where he gives me a name, I look up its meaning on my phone, and he relates the meaning of the name back to the person they were. I don’t know most of the names he gives me or who these people were in his life, just a few snippets he’s given me.

I do know that the first day I met him I was hoping to pray for him, but before I could even ask he was expounding on how the government was a big conspiracy and how Jesus wasn’t real, His miracles were impossible and the whole Christianity thing was just a made-up story that people get fed today because the governmental powers that be think we’re dumb enough to follow it.

That was the one and only time I’ve seen him agitated. Suffice to say he was not receptive to the idea of prayer. But, That said, he has been heavy on my heart lately. I have been vaguely praying for him as God has led me, and praying into God’s plan for him, but the past few days God has gotten much more specific in how I’m to minister to him. Basically, He told me He wants me to do a bible study with Bradley, and gave me a specific place in the city where he wants this to happen. It’s near where I always see him, and it happens to be on some ground that I claimed for Jesus a few months back (possibly a story for another day, but long story short: God is pretty cool). He also told me in no uncertain terms that Bradley won’t willingly go there with me, and certainly won’t willingly read the bible with me (had God consulted me first, I easily could have told Him this part and spared Him the trouble of sending me the vision, but I digress). That being the case, my next direction was simple: if he won’t come with me, I am to go to him. Sit on the subway floor, by his side. If he won’t do a Bible study with me, I am to read my bible by myself, as I sit next to him. I am to simply talk to him. To seek God for wisdom and discernment on every word that comes out of his mouth. To seek wisdom and discernment over his heart. To let God fill my mouth with the words to minister to those places, and to supply the bible verses as needed. Eventually, there will be more direct bible interaction. God promised this, if I follow His guidance. In short, I am to go low and slow here.

I have never done anything quite like this before. But I’m game if Jesus is. Interestingly, I haven’t actually seen Bradley since this has been revealed to me. Either way, I thank Him for what He’s shown me, and I stand expectant and believing for Him to do a work here. And so today I just ask that you pray into God’s will over this man and my role in his life. That I would hear God clearly throughout and fully lean on Him to guide my steps. That most of all, He would move in this man’s life and do a work in him until he is walking in the fullness of the identity God has for him. Umm…..and also that if I am meant to move on this, I would cross paths with the guy. Or at least be told where he is so I can go find him. The city is huge, and there are lots of places where a homeless man might go when the weather cools – sometimes it would be so nice if directives from on high came with a GPS. Or a major clearing of the NYC smog so I could use the north star like the wise men, but honestly at this point I think dropping a supernatural Bradley-tracking device in my lap is the easier option.  Umm…..and since wherever Bradley is, it’s probably somewhere like the subway floor (where I normally see him – he even makes himself comfy and goes shirtless and shoeless down there) or an alley, prayers for my protection would also be appreciated. Though I have to say, there’s nowhere safer than in God’s arms!

I will keep you posted if, after all this subway-sitting and alley searching, I also need prayers to supernaturally boost the strength of my washing machine.

Meanwhile, thank you all very much, and God bless!

~Rebekah A

Surrounded by Love

The Lord bless thee, and keep thee: The Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace. And they shall put my name upon the children of Israel; and I will bless them. ~Numbers 6:24-27

sun

My time as a medical student is closing up. I am graduating this Sunday and the church out where I’m at this month is one that I was blessed enough to be at for 6 of the last 24 months.  They have allowed me to sing a solo, a duet, and play the drums. I have been used to give messages, to increase faith, and see Him move in ways I never imagined. Last night at the end of service they gave me a graduation gift and had me speak.  As I have reflected on it and my last few years, I can clearly see just how much God has loved me and seen me through SUCH painful times of my life.  He has uplifted me when a guy who had promised a “forever” future with me shortly thereafter withdrew from me and broke my heart. He has picked the pieces up when friends have forsaken me.  He has given me new hopes, new dreams, and new people to love me.  I added the above scripture because I truly feel that from those who love me- they want God to shine upon my life.  They want good things to happen to me. They want the road to meet me.

Thank You Jesus!

Thank You that my life is surrounded by love.  As this chapter of my life closes up soon, let it be that YOU are all I need. May Your love continue to surround me as You allow others to come into my life to love me as well.  Such blessings- amazing Godly parents, friends who would never leave me, and soon, on Sunday, I will be called doctor. WOW! Thank You Jesus!

I praise You God!

I thank YOU!

Thank You Jesus for surrounding my life in YOUR love!!!

With a grateful heart,

Rebekah M.

Restoration (Part III)

“So David recovered all that the Amalekites had carried away, and David rescued his two wives. And nothing of theirs was lacking, either small or great, sons or daughters, spoil or anything which they had taken from them; David recovered all” (1 Samuel 30: 1-8, 18-19).

Four years ago I went through a very trying time in my faith. My spiritual family and I were hurt very deeply during this time. My godparents were falsely accused of many terrible things. Through much prayer, I eventually made the decision to leave that church and within a few days my god-parents were asked to leave as well. By the end of that year I had lost several close friends.

frriendsOne of these was a dear friend to me that I had defended repeatedly in her time of trouble. Yet when my time of trouble came, she turned her back on me. She sent me disparaging emails, unfriended me on facebook, and disconnected from me socially and spiritually. I was heart-broken.

Even my close friend, someone I trusted, one who shared my bread, has turned against me” (Psalm 41:9).

All communication between us stopped – with one exception. Every year on her birthday I sent her a one line email wishing her a good year and a happy birthday. Occasionally, I also tried to encourage her in other more subtle ways; for example, leaving uplifting comments on a mutual friend’s post in reply to one of her comments. We were no longer “friends”, but by way of mutual contacts I knew that she could see some of those things. For the most part, my efforts were ignored.

I admit it was difficult for me. I was hurt that she rejected me. I was angry that she was judging me without knowing or understanding what had really happened at the church. I was sad that we were no longer friends. I missed her.

It took me some time, but eventually I forgave her. She was doing what she felt she had to. In shunning me, she was following the direction of her leadership. I understood that to go against the church leadership is rebellion; she was trying to do the right thing. Yes, I had defended her vehemently to that same leadership when they were falsely accusing her of things, but she never knew that. Yes, she believed the false reports spoken about us, but they were constructed in such a way as to be very convincing. In the end I felt badly for her that she was still in that situation when I had found my way to freedom.

Indeed, while that was the most difficult time I have had to endure since becoming a Christian, it was also the catalyst for helping me to grow in Christ and to dig deeper into Him. I have been incredibly blessed in this last four years. I now attend a wonderfully loving church with very supportive leadership. I have been able to attend Bible College, coach the youth in Bible Quizzing, be involved in a Chinese Home Church and meet many wonderful new friends. Everything that I lost was restored to me and then some! Is the church I attend now a perfect church? No, of course not. But it is exactly what I need in my life and it has afforded me many opportunities that would have been closed to me at my old church.

“For I will restore health to you, and heal you of your wounds, says the Lord, because they called you an outcast saying: This is Zion; No one seeks her.” (Jeremiah 30:17).

I have learned that truly all things work together for good (Romans 8:28) and that going through that time helped to bring me to where I am now.  I also have a greater love and appreciation for those around me because I understand that things can change at any time and I know what a blessing it is to have them in my life.

Today, my dear friend that I lost four years ago sent me a friend request on Facebook. This may seem like a small thing, but I assure you, this is no small thing! Tears instantly welled behind my eyes when I saw it. Perhaps we will never be able to recover a friendship like the one we used to have, but I gladly welcome her back into my life. I pray she is well and that God is blessing her.

We truly serve a God of restoration!

In His Love,
Rebekah L.

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Jesus is the Great Physician

stethoscopeMy Muslim co-worker called me in tears yesterday morning to let me know that her daughter is in the hospital. She was admitted over the weekend and required two different surgeries to try to remove blood clots from her body. It was discovered that she has the same very serious blood-clotting disorder that my co-worker has. She is only 16 years old. Naturally, her mother is afraid.

I visited her daughter in the hospital this evening. I went to offer support and prayers for them both. My coworker has spent the last few days by her daughter’s bedside day and night so I wanted to go and make sure she could have a few minutes rest and have a chance to get a bite to eat. Her daughter doesn’t look good. She is very swollen, can’t move and is in a lot of pain, but I’m believing God for a full recovery. I told my co-worker that I would be praying for her daughter and that Jesus is the Great Physician.

Dear Readers, please join me in this prayer. Pray that my co-worker’s daughter will be completely healed and that my co-worker will know without a doubt that it was JESUS who did the healing. I pray that God would use this situation to show her that He is more than just a prophet; He is the Messiah, the Christ, the Living God; He is her Savior.

Jesus,

Thank you for the friendship that is blossoming between my co-worker and I. I pray that you would help me to be Your hands and feet and to minister to those You put in my path. Lord, please heal my co-worker’s daughter. Remove every remaining blood clot from her body and let her recovery from surgery be swift and complete. Use this opportunity to open their eyes to the truth of who You are. Help those of us in the body of Christ to honor You in all we do and to love all people with Your unfailing Love. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

In His Love,

Rebekah L.

Reaching People with Love

Love God Love People

Last week I wrote about Praying with a Muslim co-worker. Surprisingly of the two posts I have written on this topic, only one commenter has said anything negative. I actually expected it to be much more controversial than it has proven to be. I made a decision to respond to the negative comment privately (instead of on our site) after I visited his blog and discovered that he loves to have long, drawn-out, and very viscous public arguments. Indeed even our private conversation became a painful attack very quickly. I’m not afraid of controversy, but I like to limit negativity. There is a difference. The thing is, I love my Muslim co-worker. I do not agree with her religion, but I love her. For that reason I feel protective of her and don’t want her or others like her to be subjected to the kinds of hateful things he was writing in his emails to me. Everyone has the right to free speech – on their own blog. On my posts, however, I choose not to subject myself or our readers to hateful speech. It’s the same as how in your house you are free to watch any kind of television program you wish to, but in my own house I choose not to subject myself to ungodly programming.

I will say though that this person brought up some points that made me realize some people may misunderstand the nature of my interactions with my Muslim co-worker. I considered posting his entire initial comment here so that I could go through it point by point, but it would make for a very long post and I want the focus of this post to be love. But I’ve decided in the future that I may allow the initial negative comment to be posted, along with my response, but then limit subsequent dialog if it starts spiraling down the rabbit hole. Those are just my own thoughts, the other Rebekahs may handle comments on their posts differently.

Here’s the thing, people are won to the Lord by love. They are not won through clever arguments, coercion, or Bible thumping. They are certainly not won through curses, threats, or hate. Rebekah M. recently wrote about this in her post: The God of Love. You see, it was the LOVE of God that compelled Him to die on a cross for me. When the Lord talked with the Samaritan woman at the well He did not attack her with ugly words. He did not ignore her (which was customary in His day). He did not condemn her. The Samaritan woman had at least three things going against her: first, she was a woman. Generally men wouldn’t speak to women who weren’t in the presence of a male relative. Second, she was a Samaritan. Samaritans were considered to be lower than dogs to the Jewish people. Their worship was tainted with pagan rituals and beliefs. Third, she was a woman of ill-repute. She lived a very ungodly lifestyle. None of this stopped Jesus from reaching out to her. He had compassion on her. His compassion didn’t mean that He condoned her activity, no, He was honest with her and told her she needed the living water that only He could offer. He treated her with love.

Likewise, I am doing my best to love the people around me with a godly love. My Muslim co-worker knows I don’t agree with her religion. We have had many conversations about who Jesus is and what He did. I am praying that one day she will get the revelation that what I’m telling her isn’t just what I believe, it is TRUTH.

I can completely understand people being uncomfortable with what I’m doing with my Muslim co-worker, especially as it relates to our mutual prayers. I myself have gone into this with much caution and prayers. I have saturated it in prayers. My personal prayers every single day are for God’s will in this situation. We have also prayed about this many times in our family prayers. People at church have prayed. I have asked God to close the door if He isn’t in it. But the door has remained open and I have seen how He is drawing her through this. She’s asking many more questions about Jesus now. Our conversations are focused on God. She wants to know more about what I believe. She wants to know more about Him. She doesn’t yet realize that what is holding her back from knowing Him is the weight of tradition and the comfort of ritual. She doesn’t yet realize that it is her fear of familial and cultural expectations that are blinding her, but I believe in a God who knows how to take off the blinders!

One thing this commenter wrote to me was how Muslims pray towards Mecca and that by doing that with her I’m praying toward an idol. Actually, he’s made an assumption (which I can understand because my post wasn’t very clear) that isn’t true. I pray next to her, but we don’t face the same direction. I actually do that on purpose. She prays on the floor on her prayer mat while I pray seated at my desk which faces a different direction. As I mentioned in my first post on this topic, it is much more like we are praying at the same time, rather than praying together. The thing is, she is going to pray regardless, with or without me being present. Because my office is one of the few places she can do this, I’m almost always going to be there. I can choose to sit silently while she praises Allah, or I can choose to lift of the name of Jesus.  If I’m there praying in the Name of Jesus, there is a chance she will feel His Spirit move in a way she hasn’t felt before. There is a chance she will feel HIM reaching out to her. There is a chance my prayers will awaken something in her that will lead her to Truth. It is very clear to both of us that the focus of our prayers is different. She knows I’m praying to Jesus and that I believe He is the only way.

Condemning her won’t win her to the Truth, only love can do that. I remember very clearly sitting in a church service where the preacher was talking about something controversial. He got the whole congregation laughing and poking fun of people. What he didn’t know is that I came out of the lifestyle he was making fun of. When the congregation started laughing, it felt extremely personal, like they were all laughing at me. Even though none of them knew about my past, it was a humiliating experience for me. I didn’t feel love, I felt contempt. If the Lord had not already converted me, I’m sure I never would have stepped foot in a church again.

We need to be sensitive and compassionate if we want to win people to the Lord. Yes, it’s VERY important that we don’t participate in ungodly activities, but the best way to separate someone from their ungodly ways, is to show them the love of Jesus. Jesus won me with love, and I have faith that He will win my Muslim co-worker with love as well.

In His Love,

Rebekah L