Matt’s story: ‘Your prayer has been heard’

IMG_0776Family

IMG_0777

About my little bro Matt…

He was 19 when he was diagnosed with paranoid Schizophrenia. For those who have known this illness, you know it’s not a quick visit to your local GP and an off the bat diagnosis. No, this came following years of pain, torment, violence, and imprisonment.

We were told these words. ‘Prepare yourselves for him to be institutionalized for the rest of his life’.

The 23 years that have followed have been both stable and tumultuous. As pray-ers we’ve wrestled with how to pray, with the dark feel of mental illness, the spiritual influence that accompanies, and the voices that have called us out.

We have seen God answer many prayers. We’ve fasted; we’ve travailed and cried as the pain of unanswered prayer pushes us to breakthrough for his life. When the time came for hi-security rehab for a while, we prayed and he received the best care. When certain medical intervention was/is needed we pray. When wisdom is needed over meds we pray. We refused to believe what had been spoken and saw the dedication of faithful people praying God’s word. All wrapped in the beauty of a Mom and Dad pouring out unconditional love.

Why do I tell you this? I love to tell God stories. He’s a good, good Father… Love this song. On repeat.

Matt knows God’s love and forgiveness. He has broken free from many addictions. He’s realized the dark influence of occult practices and disposed of anything attached to it. A good friend has been and prayed through his apartment, yes, Matt’s apartment – because he lives independently now. Shopping, cooking, paying his bills. Matt’s an encourager, he has the gift of generosity, he’s a great Dad. He’s currently serving at our old church in Stourbridge – Chawn Hill. Helping to cook meals at Alpha and helping with the Diners club – where a group of guys cook a meal and eat together. There’s the table again.

I tell a snippet of Matt’s story to encourage praying parents, siblings and carers and of course those who are affected by mental illness. Please understand I am not making light of a desperate situation by suggesting a quick fix prayer. I understand the depth of pain. What I do know is that God hears your prayers, every one of them, spoken and not. He sees your desperation. God is committed to answer your prayers. He is committed to show you His heart, He is for you. Remind Him of His promises, stop and listen to Him – He is faithful.

For the moments when you ask why.  The real Jesus turns to our questions of why, why this sickness, who is to blame — and he says it like a caress to the aching,“You’re asking the wrong question. You’re looking for someone to blame. There is no such cause-effect here.” (John 9:3 MSG)… “This happened so the power of God could be seen in him” (John 9:5 NLT). Anne Voskamp.

…and if you’ve run out of faith and hope – tell God that too and find a community who will support you. He gives strength to the weary. When the angel spoke to Zechariah he said ‘Do not be afraid; your prayer has been heardLuke 1:13 If you study this word it actually means ‘the prayers that you no longer pray have been heard’. I love that.

Prayer changes things. Answers to prayer reveal God’s love.

Matt’s life is a beautiful testimony of this.

And we are thankful.

Jesus: ‘Remember, what is humanly impossible is possible with God.’ Luke 18:27

‘I am the Lord, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?’ Jeremiah 32:27 

‘For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Eternal, “plans for peace, not evil, to give you a future and hope—never forget that.’Jeremiah 29:11

‘The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.’ 1 Thessalonians 5:24

Love, Michelle x

(Written with permission – thanks lil’ bro)

 

 

 

 

 

 

.

Walking in Thanksgiving

DSC05069 - Version 2

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving from our family to yours!

Here we are on the second day of my ‘Africa musings’. Read the first day here.

Gen 12:1 says Go to the place I will show you.

So I heard and I did. Gathered. Fundraised. Put on my best flip flops and travelled (flip flops not recommended 😉

During our fundraising activities a well-meaning lady told us that short term missions trips were a waste of time indicating that they did more harm than good.

What I love about visiting Living Waters is that we were not arriving there to take over and wave our magic wand of the West but rather to join in with the ministry and bless all that is already taking place – supporting teachers, and staff and simply being with the children.

Ensuring them all of a group of people in a faraway place, actually, a 14, 130km away place – who regularly pray for them, love them and think of them often.

‘Go where your best prayers take you’ says Buechner.

‘Put willing feet on your red letter verses and go’ says Me.

10711076_10152449982490954_7364837984647119140_nMarnie’s feet!

Isaiah 52:7 ‘How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of the messenger who brings good news, the good news of peace and salvation, the news that God reigns!’

This became a relevant verse as we climbed to many mountaintops to share good news stories. Personal mountains, fear filled mountains and blatant ‘I cannot do this’ mountains.

What did that look like? Where did those beautiful feet take our team?

They danced with African congregations (the first time I had danced the conga around church) these feet skipped over ropes and walked African streets sharing good news.

They dodged scorpions, dragged themselves through airport corridors, and kicked own self at times.

They stood in front of hundreds of people – as the team shared painful stories, of loss and redemption, testimonies of God’s goodness and grace.

They stood strong – supported by team members cheers.

They they chased bubbles and dogs and wore Converse with Sunday best…10624821_10152449901015954_5131216671648908056_n

They climbed from under a mosquito net during the night and paced a room in prayer as fever peaked and darkness raged.

These feet worked hard…

Each step we took was one of intention, digging our cracked heels into dusty soil.

As grateful passion was ignited to a burning flame because of our feet on the ground.

And now we are home, the all important question ‘How was it’?

A poignant question to ask this Thanksgiving weekend and I am reminded again to convert gratitude from Thanksgiving to Thanks-living.

I love Anne Voskamp’s thoughts on this ‘What if the question around holiday tables wasn’t –What are you so grateful for? But rather how are you changing the world because you are so grateful? What if gratitude always meant a question mark — asking how will you let your gratitude to Christ mark the world for Christ?… Thanksgiving is a verb – a way to walk, to respond, to give, to do, to change the world.

Buechner also says ‘Generally speaking, if you want to know who you really are, as distinct from who you like to think you are, keep an eye on where your feet take you.’

Let us find a way to walk this out.

More tomorrow!

Love, Michelle