I have just returned to South Sudan yesterday after being out for a week. On Christmas morning I got seriously sick. I managed to pull off the gift giving and church service before racing to my house and puking my guts out and living on the latrine for the next three days. Nothing would stay down, no antibiotic would work. I felt like the devil had his foot on my neck and I was again at my last will to fight. On Saturday morning at 3:00 a.m. I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and knew I had to get help. Every doctor, every foreign aid agency had left Yei so there was no help in the city for me. I managed to get a seat on the twice a week plane to Uganda. They ran all kinds of tests and found nothing? I was down to 125 pounds and was severely dehydrated. I had literally been working too hard for too long. I had come to a place, again, where something had to change or I would die, even if just spiritually.
I had thrown myself into caring for all of these children by myself, trying to make it all fit right. And two days before Christmas I received an additional 36 orphans from Juba, the city that had been shaken with gunfire the week before and the dead left in the streets. So now I had 147 children all looking to me, plus the mamas and the staff. I was beyond overwhelmed. I spent the next week in Kampala, Uganda resting and eating to my heart’s content. I did manage to gain back 7 pounds hallelujah! I had also thrown myself once again on the altar of the Lord, no turning back. I had come to a point where I needed to see more of the power and reality of God in my life. What? What about all the amazing things He did in Aweil? What about all the times He had come through for me? The something I wanted now was more than what I had ever wanted before.
I wanted to be in such unity with Jesus that I would not be shaken or waver from running into the fire with Him. I was ready for another baptism of fire, the sacrifice that would bring an intimacy with Him that could never be shaken. In this world there are always things competing for His affection. I thought that I had offered Him everything already. I lost everything in Aweil, I had been through such a fire in ministry and living there. What then was now competing for His affection for me? I remember sitting on my hotel bed on day two of my recovery in Uganda and watching the Christian video station. The song, “Motions”, came on and I just starting weeping. This was the song that had taken me over the edge into full time missions. It was my call. “I don’t want to spend my whole life asking, what if I had given everything?”
I was now faced with giving everything. South Sudan was on the verge of yet another civil war. The last Americans were being taken out of Juba. I was literally one of two left in Yei, which I later found out was four of us. But here I was living in a violent country, no medical care, no home support anymore, was I still willing to stay for these orphans, these ones that the Father loves? The story started to spread that I refused to leave them. I found myself sitting in a hotel room in Uganda being Skype interviewed by a Fox affiliate in my hometown of San Antonio, Texas, Fox News 29. The story ran on New Year’s Day and went viral. I was receiving phone calls from the CNN International desk, emails from the Navy Times Magazine, Facebook friend requests from people literally all over the world who were picking up my story on youtube.
God was doing bigger and more inconceivable things in my life than ever before. I was astounded by His faithfulness. I was on the last rope, the devil’s foot on my neck, and God pulled out all stops to show me that the biggest provision and outpouring of love and abundance that I could ever imagine was coming like a flood into the ministry He had asked me to take up. There is even now a Relief Page on FB set up for my babies, there has been a flood of people wanting to sponsor these children, I get over 200 hits a day of people praying for us and wanting to help. I have never seen such an outpouring of God’s love into my life as I have seen this week. When I arrived home yesterday, still weak and a bit thin, I just wanted to dance before the Lord with all my heart. I knew what God wanted of me and I was so ready to give it to Him completely, letting go of all control.
God was now asking for more. He wanted my ministry. He wanted me to be a Mary again, putting Him before ministry, before the orphan, before what needed to be done. I spent so much time just sitting and lying in rest, thinking and pondering upon Jesus, letting Him fill me again with His desire for me, and the ease of ministry I had forgotten. He was teaching me that I had to operate from this position of rest or everything I did would eventually fall apart. When I came back into South Sudan I was a walking revival. As soon as I reached our compound we set up the musical system and the new keyboard I bought the kids and we danced before the Lord and sang until we were exhausted, or at least I was.
That night I lay in my living room with one of my older girls as we listened to worship music and talked of the goodness of the Lord. We all went to be and at midnight gunfire started in the town of Yei. It went on for three hours, moving along the bush in the darkness. I went with our watchmen and two visiting missionaries and some of our older boys and we put all the houses on lockdown and lights out and silence. Locked in our houses we all began to seek the Lord with all our hearts FROM a place of peace and rest. The missionaries were commenting how amazed they were at how peaceful I was through it all. We could hear the gunfire all throughout the next three hours coming closer, moving away, never once fearing for ourselves. We were deep into the Presence of the Father’s heart and His love for us. One of the Iris Leaders from America stayed on the phone with us and we prayed and the house just shook with the power and might of the Lord. We declared the Word of God and prayed His Word and well, just had a Holy Ghost party.
I tell you, you will not see revival unless you offer the sacrifice of praise under fire. We were living sacrifices on the alter of fire and the more we worshipped our Lord the higher He took us away from the enemy camp below. When a fire is set and the flames burn hot, the heat causes things to rise. The atmosphere above the fire is rising up, up, up. I feel like we were in this place of offering ourselves as a sacrifice and the hotter the flame became the higher we rose. Whoa, so amazing. We seriously were never once afraid. We even managed to sleep for a couple of hours. I did go around and pack an emergency bag of passports, money, meds etc… All of my military training just kicked in, I as on automatic.
At 5:00 a.m. our cook got up and started the kitchen fire before I could stop her. So I boldly walked out the door and told my team to cover me, in prayer that is. I made coffee for all the mamas and cook and watchmen, making the children stay inside. Then at 8:00 the gunfire erupted again in spurts. Everyone back inside! Finally at 10:00 we were able to eat breakfast, although from inside our houses. At 11:30 I brought all the children together and we had an International House of prayer type church service under the mango trees where we played worship music as the children laid on their faces and we began to minister to each and every one and the staff, speaking the word of life and destiny over each one. Again we felt the Holy Spirit outpouring as He ministered to each one, all fear erased, peace remaining.
The day remained quiet. We found out later that the two feuding tribes went at each other all across the country, including Yei where we thought it would never ever happen. Our peaceful city of refuge was no more.
Where do I stand now. Well, we worshipped yet again tonight with all the children and peace surrounds us as we lock in yet again for the night. Even now I am listening to worship music reminding myself that my God reigns all my days. We have talked with the commissioner and have asked for permission to go to Uganda with the children. You can’t just up and take a country’s kids, unless of course you are under actual fire. We want to avoid that and leave before it gets worse because it will and that’s almost guaranteed. He has asked us to wait a day or two to see what happens. I like him and respect him and in doing this for him I believe that even more doors will be opened for us down the road. I don’t feel a sense of urgency and so we wait in stillness and in peace, knowing that God is in full control.
Pray for us to have continued protection, for the borders to remain open, for us to have continued favor with government officials and for us to be able to move when it is time with no interference from anyone. We are going to combine all of our Facebook hits over the next couple of days just to see how many nations are actually praying for us. It is more than 50 that we know of so far. How big is our God? One of my former military students has also started a FaceBook Relief page for us to raise money quick to help offset the costs of the additional 36 orphans we took in fro the Juba fighting and now our possible move into Uganda which would require starting all over again. Visit my FaceBook Page to connect to this relief page or go to www.irissouthsudan.org and connect that way if you want to be involved in this global effort to help us. These precious babies deserve a chance at life. That’s why I stay, for them. My love and blessings to all and to all a peaceful night as we hunker down yet again with our Lord and savior and deliverer Jesus Christ!