Saturday, March 30, 2013

Summit 9 and Divine Intervention

When I was a child I wanted desperately to see a real, Divine miracle.  The stories of Jesus and his disciples doing miraculous works were the ones that captivated me the most, and so I became so watchful!

What I didn't realize was that the chances of God feeling I need to walk on water like Jesus or Peter, were pretty slim.  And no matter how hard I prayed,  He did not go for making a chocolate cake appear out of nowhere like manna. It would have been very cool though!

Last year at Summit 8 it really hit home to me that most of the time God moves, and is working in our lives in small ways.  If we are vigilant, we will see Him. 

I went to Summit 8 based on a desire to go.  I was the non-existent director of a non-existent Orphan Care ministry at my church.  All I knew was that God wanted me to go.  That was something I knew for sure.  But as a stay at home mom, extreme introvert, with a general fear of new people, mixed in with zero experience in leadership, I was clearly the obvious choice to start a new ministry {please don't miss the sarcasm}.

This would be a very long story if I don't get to the point.  Once I arrived in California there were four very clear instances of God being in complete control of my destiny.  I told my husband and friends when I returned that it was as if I had been led around by an invisible hand for 3 days.

1. My husband and I had scraped together the money for me to go fly from Ohio to California, used his business Marriott points to book my hotel, and a very trusting missions director at my church had paid for my registration.  There was not a lot of wiggle room in my budget.  So when I found that the conference was a bit farther away from my hotel than it appeared on a map I was in a bit of a panic.  I didn't have money for a taxi and there was no shuttle.  As I was asking the hotel desk clerk if she felt it would be safe enough for me to walk this busy highway at night, a couple behind me overheard.  They were from Ohio as well and offered not only to drive me that morning to the conference to but to meet me every morning and evening to drive me back and forth!   They were a gift to me.

2. The one and only book that I had read about starting a church based ministry was, "Launching an Orphan Ministry in Your Church," by Jason Weber and Paul Pennington of Hope for Orphans.  Because of this, this was the first workshop that I went to.  I was having a hard time getting my Orphan Care ministry off the ground and so I wanted to see what they could help with.  Their focus of the workshop was the importance of working all the steps.  I, in my self-centeredness had skipped the most vital step of all.  I had taken the job onto myself and neglected to establish a prayer team.  But where God's hand comes into the picture was the next morning.  I was in line at the hotel to get some coffee when a man ahead of me introduced himself to me, noticed that I had a conference badge and wanted to chat!  It turns out he was from Hope for Orphans.  To which I replied that I had been at their workshop and read the book.  He wanted to know what I thought and so I told him that it didn't work for me..... crickets.  Then he got a huge smile, shouted to a bunch of other Hope for Orphans staff, "Hey guys make room at the table! We need to talk to this lady."  What proceeded was a sit down with the staff and authors full of advice for me. And me explaining how if you skip a step, especially the prayer one... the whole thing falls apart.  Their kindness and generosity didn't end at breakfast but extended through the rest of the conference. 

3. The third instance that I felt God's leading was at lunch the second day.  I was getting very lonely.  Most of the people had come with at least one other person.  At lunch that day I had walked past many tables and benches of people eating and chatting together.  As I mentioned, I am terrified of talking to new people.  I worked my way over to one of many lunch lines and stood in line for a salad. After a few minutes a woman in front of me turned around, said hello, where are you from etc.  She was very sweet and so I asked her where she is from.  She said Hillsboro, Oregon.  I was excited because this is where most of my family lives.  I asked her what church, and the one she named sounded so familiar, so I said "I think my aunt and uncle go to that church."  To which she asked me what my aunt's name is.  As soon as I said it her face lit up and she exclaimed that my aunt is a dear friend and taught my cousins Sunday School class for many years!  She immediately invited me to join her and her friend for lunch.  If you could understand the massive size of the Saddleback campus and the thousands of people there, and for me to get in line, lonely, behind the one woman in thousands that was from the town I was born in, who is friends with my aunt.... God at work. We had so much fun and chatted so long that I was late for my next workshop... which led to my 4th encounter.

4.  As I was hurrying away from lunch to find my next workshop, I noticed on a grassy hill, a woman sitting who looked very familiar.  As I drew closer I was almost positive that it was Adeye Salem.  The woman who had started it all for me.  One year before I had started reading her blog. No Greater Joy Mom.  Her heart for adoption, that is lived out in her own family, and on her blog advocating for other orphans (especially with special needs) is unparalleled.  It was from reading her blog that I had felt the Holy Spirit moving in me to rise up.  I did not want to let this moment go by without meeting her in person and thanking her for the work she does.  Without Adeye, I would not be at Summit.  We had a very nice visit, which led to dinner together later, sitting at the final general session and Steven Curtis Chapman concert, and then she drove me back to my hotel!  Adeye was as genuine and kind as she is on her blog and today I call her a friend.  One of the things we talked about most was a lack of special needs focus at Summit.  We agreed that we would spend a lot of time praying about it, and I'm so pleased to say that Adeye and her husband Anthony will be speaking at a workshop this year in Nashville!  Again, I cannot emphasize enough the fact that the Saddleback Church campus is much like a college campus.  There were multiple tents and buildings, many different paths to get places, and thousands of people there.  There was just no way I should have encountered Adeye on that path, late for my workshop, without divine interference.

This is why I will be returning this year to Summit 9.  I have seen God hard at work in people and organizations this year.  Because of the faithful work of the many people, families, organizations and churches, people like me get to go and be blessed and encouraged in our own journey.  I'm so very thankful for the many people who are living the call to care for the fatherless, and I can't wait to see how God will use Summit again in my life this coming year. As the prophet Jeremiah says, "is this not what it means to know God?"  And I want to know God.  And as for those miracles I wanted to see?  Well just last night, I received word from a friend who had a HUGE miracle happen for the adoption of her new son from Latvia.  On this Easter weekend, God is still proving that He reigns.

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