What if God fulfilled every promise immediately? Would the fulfillment be as sweet? Looking back over the past few years, I don't think that it would. Every promise and hope has a waiting season. A time to press in through prayer, to wait patiently in hope, to believe God and struggle with our own unbelief, to stand on His word and His promise, and to learn TRUST. Yesterday I saw a promise fulfilled....and today I'm believing God for yet another promise*.
Mary is a strong joyful beautiful African woman. Mary's story is like many other african women. She is unique in the fact that she is still married to her pastor husband and lives with him. Many african women are separated from their husbands or have lost them to war or disease. When I first met Mary, I found her living in a tiny room the size of an american bathroom. Just enough space to put one small twin bed with a curtain beside it. This is bad enough for just one person or one couple to live in...but then we have to add in Mary's 8 children. All of them shared this tiny room practically sleeping on top of each other. If that wasn't bad enough, there was a river of sewage that flowed right in front of their door. I personally remember this sewage because I fell in it one time. If I fell in it, Im sure her children have many times as well. Surrounding her home was unspeakable poverty and filth. Even worse, is that they were at the very bottom of a steep hill slum community where they were in constant threat of floods and their children drowning. She recently told me stories of how her neighbors houses were collapsing during the rain and their children injured. When I walked in the room where Mary was with her family, I found a string tied from each wall filled with beautiful colored beads she makes out of magazine paper. She rolls the paper into tiny beads, puts a sealant on them, and strings them into vibrant bracelets, necklaces, earrings, and purses. Mary struggled along with this business in hopes of making a few extra shillings to help feed her family. She would take her beads to the market and she might sell one or two in a day. The beads are incredible. Gorgeous, vibrant, creative, resourceful, even good for the environment since they are made from mostly recycled materials. I knew when I first saw these beads in 2007 there would be a market for them in America, especially if people knew they were going to support these women and their families. Thanks to our partnership with Mary, she has just MOVED UP! I purchase beads from the women at least once every month and went to buy beads from her last week and when we tried to confirm that she was home, we had to hunt her down in her new place!! When I walked into her home, my eyes watered with joy. I held back the tears and just praised God for His goodness and faithfulness. Mary is God's daughter and her family are all his children. They are not just unknowns across the world in Africa who no one sees or cares about. They are real people with unspeakable joy in the midst of despair. Mary and her family are now living in dignity. I believe every year the quality of her life and her children's lives will improve because of this business. If you would like to support Mary and her family and the other women we work with and serve, you can jump to our website and make a purchase or there are several women in Nashville who are selling them directly as well. It's amazing that when we make wise purchases, we can give someone a gift....and truly impact and change the life of someone in need and show them God's faithfulness. I have waited for about two years to see this story happen. To see Mary and her family move out all on their own without any words of encouragement from me. I was just a partner of hers, but I am so proud of her as she did it all on her own with God's help. The waiting was worth it. The work was worth it. The many nights of jewelry parties and lugging big suitcases around with me sharing the stories of these women and trying to get the word out on their behalf was all worth it and we'll keep going...to see the lives of more women and children transformed. We praise God for a promise fulfilled.
A photo of some of the necklaces:
Watch a video of how the beads are made HERE and meet Mary and Molly, two of the women we work with and support in their work! I always joke with them that they are famous in America! ;)
Also please email me if you would like to schedule a jewelry party during the Fall when I will be coming to the states. I will come and speak and set everything up for the purchases.
*It usually takes me a few days to write a blog as I only get 10 minutes here and there so I started this one several days ago...at the time I was believing God for another promise to be fulfilled in the story of a little girl named Hilda and wanted to ask for prayer on her behalf. Too much has happened with the story to write it all here...so that is for my next blog! God's grace, mercy, compassion, healing, and deliverance. He is LOVE.