Tuesday, November 03, 2009

A gift we received from Becky, entitled, "Kenya." Plus an actual sunset from the border of Uganda and Kenya (from my trip there).

Over the coming days, I hope to write about and (whenever possible) use the words of, those who have gone to the field or have been impacted by BJ's surrendered life. There are sooo many stories to share. It's only fair to share them with you, since many of you have followed this blog from the beginning.

We have been overwhelmed over the past two years, with how many people we have heard from. Quite literally, we hear from believers around the world. Somehow, the Lord has placed our book in the hands of people whom He then inspires. Many of them have written to us. Some we maintain correspondence with.

Each story is compelling in its own way. I pray you are blessed by them. They are just too moving to not share.

The above photo is of a painting completed by a young woman currently serving in Kenya! I began hearing from her after she finished reading "I Would Die for You." She had already served in Kenya for a short time, when she was 15. She was led of the Lord to return upon graduation from high school. She is currently serving for around a year. We were blessed to be able to help support her with funds from "BJ's Hope" (the scholarship fund endowed by MercyMe's song "I Would Die for You," and other private donations).

Here is part one of her story, in her words:

My name is Rebecca (Becky). I was born and raised in Wisconsin. I have a mom, a dad, an older sister, and two younger brothers. Recollecting my childhood memories, I can say that my family was far from perfect, despite my mother's attempt to impress others in public. My dad worked as a traveling salesman. So while he was gone most of the time, my working mother was left home with four children to care for. Before I go into detail, I must make it clear (because I know that you are legally bound to report abuse) that my present situation at home now is different, and my brothers and I are not being emotionally or physically harmed at all, in anyway.

Although my relationship with my mother is great now, things were not always that way. My mother verbally and physically abused me. Although I am not proud of what I have been through, I recognize what happened to me and know that I am stronger because of it.

When I was young, I lived most of my childhood in the fear, never understanding why my mother would be so angry at me, or what her anger would lead her to do. Most commonly, she would verbally abuse me. “Worthless,” “stupid,” and “an accident,” were the names I usually responded to when she was upset.

When she was very upset and became physical with her anger, I chose to be unresponsive because it was my only way of coping with the situation. Constantly I felt trapped, I had no one to talk to about the situation, and after a while I was deceived into thinking that I deserved what happened to me. I am unable to describe the situation in great detail because it is too painful to discuss. Please, just trust me when I say my childhood was less than perfect.

I went to a Christian school. On the whole, I disliked the school because I did not belong. The average class size at this school was 6 kids. I was very fortunate to receive a superior education but I suffered socially for the majority of my adolescence. I had no friends at school, and I felt the pains of loneliness in my heart.

In my seventh grade year my male teacher told me that I could never accomplish my dream of becoming a doctor because I was a woman. It hurt so much to go to school and feel like I would never amount to anything no matter how hard I tried. [After this, I had] to go home and go through my family’s struggles and have no control over [that] situation.

I am ashamed to say that I thought about suicide a lot, as a child. [I was] too naive to have any idea how to do it. I had nothing worth living for. I did not matter at school. I felt I was not loved at home, and the existence of God was a joke in my life.

My mother was a proclaimed Christian and made my family go to church every Sunday.
She would raise the same hands she would hit me with to God and try to impress
everyone. Using my simple reasoning as a child, I knew that I never wanted to be like my mother. My mother was a Christian, so naturally I did not want to have anything to do with God.

Going into my eighth grade year, my life finally started to look a little better. My parents decided to send me to public school [where] I had [the] hope of real friends. I was very apprehensive as my class size shifted from 2 to 200. I was in complete culture shock. I found out very quickly that I did not know how to socially interact with my new classmates. I was never really taught how.

Eventually kids got curious as to who I was. [When] I told them that I was from a private school where I read literary classics and was taught Latin, I automatically had the label “smart girl” branded onto my forehead. Although most kids would hate the "smart girl,” label, I absolutely loved it because I was finally something. I had something I could live up to, something that people would know me by, other than worthless. Things were looking up for me, I actually had friends.

As things improved for me at public school, home life became better. My dad got a new job where he was able to be home more and help my mother.

As freshman year approached, my mom told me that I had to start going to my
church's youth group. I was not overly excited about the idea but I went because I was willing to do anything to try and make my mother love me.

At my youth group people were very impressed because I knew the Bible very well. Quoting Scripture I had to memorize while I was at [Christian school], people recognized that I had impressive biblical knowledge for a 14 year old. Similar to public school, the people at my youth group labeled me, “smart, perfect girl,” and I did not mind because I could finally be something other than worthless.

I thought I had everything figured out as I entered high school. People at school
and my church had an expectation of me to be a smart perfect girl. I could finally
fulfill what people wanted me to be. I did everything that a smart perfect girl would do, I aced all of the challenging classes I took, I was involved in numerous clubs. I volunteered on a regular basis.

When I was offered the opportunity to go to Kenya, Africa with my youth group, I decided to go. [I was] merely thinking it would be another thing to add to my lengthy list of accomplishments that would impress college admissions offices.

While we were in Kenya our team set up a water purification system, converted a
car to run on cooking oil, established a church, established a computer college that would help educate people, and most importantly held open air crusades. The crusades that we did took place in crowded market places in the slums of Nairobi. Hundreds of
people gathered to watch us. Sharing a testimony of what God has done in your life at
one of these crusades was a requirement to be a part of this team.

Public speaking has always been a fear of mine, so naturally I was not ready to jump up and speak. Luckily, my teammate Christina went before me. Christina had recently become a Christian and had incredible faith, but little knowledge about the Bible and its teachings. Because she was so inexperienced, I did not expect anything great to come out of her speaking; however, I was completely blown away by what she said.

When she talked people were moved. I specifically remember her praying for this old man, and when she did he fell to his knees and wept. What Christina did that night made me re- think everything about how I had been living my life. It made me question if I really knew God. I knew about his word, but I realized that I truly did not know him. That very night I prayed from my heart for the first time ever.

The next day our team was getting ready to do another open air crusade, and it
was my turn to speak. I was more nervous than I have ever been in my life, but I knew that I was going to be alright, because I had everything I was going to say all planned out. My testimony was very lengthy and impressive, using many large vocabulary words in hopes of impressing people and living up to the perfect smart girl expectations.

Right before I stepped on the rickety wooden stage, my youth pastor prayed for me. As he prayed, I truly believe I heard the voice of God for the first time in my life. It was not a voice booming from the heavens that I heard, it was more of a gentle whisper that said, “Tell the Beach Story.” It was the strangest thing that I had ever experienced in my life, and I had no idea what to do as I stepped up on the stage and grasped the microphone in my hand.

Her story will continue... be sure to come back by to hear "The Beach Story."

(Becky gave her blessing to share her testimony. Some of her story has been edited, and names changed, to protect her family. She continues to serve in Kenya, and covets our prayer support! She is just 18.)



At 11:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow! Can't wait for the rest!

Thanks Brent.

At 2:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Insert commercial "here" lol
Looking forward to the rest of the story! \0/


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