Thursday, August 14, 2008


Dear Friends,

If I had to choose a word to describe my past two weeks here in Kenya, it would definitely be FULL! Not full as in I’ve been super busy - but full as in my heart has felt so full of God’s presence, joy, and peace. I’ve truly felt like a vessel “filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:19). And let me say that it’s all a testimony to God and His working in my heart over the past year- and nothing to do with me. God has been speaking to me about fullness for over a year now and has been leading me on a journey towards it, but it seems like my heart is just finally beginning to truly experience and enter the tip of all that He’s wanted for me.

A friend sent me an e-mail as I arrived to Kenya saying that as she was praying for me, she saw a picture of a soaking wet sponge that just dripped blessing wherever it went. She saw that as I soak in the Holy Spirit, he is going to make me a dripping sponge that drips blessing wherever I walk because of HIS spirit in me instead of my own striving. I found so much freedom in her words to know that I simply get to soak in God and His amazing presence and He will do the rest. For the first time ever, I don’t feel pressure to squeeze as much “ministry” as possible into my days here. Normally I race around the village trying to visit as many people as possible, hug as many kids as possible, write as many e-mails as possible, etc. But this time is so different. I have such a peace in simply “being” here. If I spend a whole afternoon reading and journaling by the river, great! If I only visit one person during the day, but go overflowing with God’s love, great! I think I’m beginning to step into the quality of life and fullness that God created us for.

And the amazing thing is that I’m learning that we’re far more effective in this peaceful, full, abiding state than when we try to race around and “do” a bunch of things for Him each day. One of my Kenyan friends approached me the other day and said, “Kierra, when I look at you, I see hope. I see joy, peace, and hope. Something is different about you.” I asked him if I seemed different than last year and he replied, ‘Yes. Last year you seemed…somehow stressed.” Wow, I couldn’t believe how transparent my striving and stress were to him and others in this community. Thank you Lord for leading me down this journey towards fullness in you and for the new reflection of you and life in Christ that you are allowing others to see in me. This world doesn’t need more striving, stressed-out, workaholic Christians. It simply longs to see in us a reflection of the hope, freedom, peace, and joy that only God can give.

So although there’s been “ministry” that I’ve been blessed to be a part of these past two weeks, I didn’t feel like that’s what you need to hear today. I think God simply wants to invite you wherever you are to continue to “soak” in Him that He might make you an overflowing sponge that drips his presence and life wherever you go. More and more, I’m realizing that life isn’t about doing things for Him, but simply abiding in Him and allowing Him to fill us to overflowing so that He can touch others with and through us. I was planning to attach some pictures and share some stories of what God’s doing in this place, but as I tried to load the pictures onto my computer, I accidently erased them all. Yeah, big bummer! But then I felt this gentle nudging from the Holy Spirit, “Kierra, your supporters and friends don’t need to see a bunch of pictures of you doing all these “great” things in Africa. They don’t need to see you at all. They need to see me. So instead of pointing them to you and the supposed “greatness of Kierra,” will you simply point them to me? For in me is life and I am longing to overflow them with life as I am overflowing you right now). So there you have it – the King of Kings is inviting you into His presence and I pray you respond and experience the joy of His inflowing Spirit and life! (And don’t feel bad if your experience isn’t immediate. It’s a journey that takes time – but I can’t think of any journey I’d rather be on!)

Ok, one final thing. We are hosting our annual youth camp next week and would love your participation! First of all, will you please pray? We’ll have between 200-300 youth (ages 15-30) staying at our Training Center for 5 days for a time of teaching, worship, games, and fellowship. This is a hurting generation in this country – and one that seems to often be neglected. Most of the post-election violence at the beginning of the year was led and caused by groups of youth – youth who are angry, fed up with injustice, hurting, and longing for change. I’m sure that many who attend our camp will be ones who were caught up in the violence. Will you please pray that God meets them in a powerful way? Pray for the teachings, the conversations, the worship times, and for divine God encounters. Pray that each heart hears from his maker and the lover of his soul. Pray for unity and forgiveness and reconciliation and reversal of lies and strongholds of the enemy. Pray for the Holy Spirit to fill and love on these youth. Also, we still need to raise $2000 to cover the cost of this camp. Our normal funding for the camp didn’t come through this year, but we are still holding it in faith that God will bring in the resources. Though we require each youth to pay a small amount to attend, the amount they can afford is nothing compared to the cost of running the camp all week. If you’re interested in contributing towards the camp and towards these youth who are the future of this country, you can send a check to the ELI office at PO Box 67 Upland, CA 91785. Just write “Youth Camp” in the memo section. Thanks so much!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Exciting Update!

Well, in less than 24 hours I’ll be on a plane heading to my beloved Kenya! It’s been a whirlwind past month and I wanted to update you before I left to catch you up on some exciting things going on in my life and to ask for your prayers.

Michael Blaser: Yep, that’s right – I met someone! God has brought the most amazing man into my life and our past month and a half of dating have been a gift straight from heaven. Michael went to Kenya with ELI in May and I conveniently got to help plan his trip. Though I thought he was amazing before he left, God didn’t let the sparks start flying for either us until right as he returned. As I talked with him to debrief his trip the day after he returned, I found a kindred heart that I have never connected with in such a powerful way. Michael is such a man after God’s own heart! He is deeply in love with Jesus and loves His people so sincerely. He’s a lover through and through and he has definitely won my heart. He’s goofy, totally fun, extremely caring, gentle, deep, passionate, humble, a leader, and so much more. Everything about him and our relationship is beyond my wildest dreams and imagination and I have sensed God’s peace, leading, spirit, and favor over us in a way I’ve never experienced before. So needless to say, we’re really excited for what God has in store for us and the journey ahead.

WOTH Retreat: What a joy to watch God refresh, heal, restore, and love on His precious daughters on this retreat. We had women attending who serve in 48 different countries around the world! Wow, talk about a powerful weekend to minister into the nations as we ministered to these mighty servants. I was amazed at how many women showed up to the retreat totally burned-out, depressed, depleted, hurting, lonely, and dry. But as we loved them throughout our time together, prayed with them, listened to them, pampered them, and asked God to minister to them, I watched Him breath hope, life, joy, peace, and energy back into his tired vessels.

The massage time was powerful for me! I massaged for 5 hours straight each day and was amazed at how much strength God gave me to persevere and finish strong. Thank you for your prayers – He definitely answered! One interaction stands out to me that I want to share with you as an encouragement. As I massaged one woman, I asked the Lord what His heart was for her. This is what He said to me:

“Kierra, you know how your heart has overflowed with love for Michael so much that it’s gotten to the point where you feel like it’s going to burst? Where the love you feel for him is too much to contain inside you and you feel like you might explode and it almost hurts? Well, that’s only the tip of the iceburg of what I feel for this daughter of mine. My heart is overflowing with more love for her than I can contain. And this is how it’s felt since the day she was born and how it will continue to feel into all eternity. For though human love comes and goes and has heights and lows, my love remains constant. I never fall out of love with my children and the intensity of my love never changes.”

Wow, I was blown away as I heard that. And the amazing thing is that this is how he feels about you and me and every other person in this world. Now if that’s not enough to put a smile in your heart today, I don’t know what is.

Hope Walks: I’ve mentioned in past updates that we’re holding an event called Hope Walks on November 1st to raise money for our kids in D.R. Congo. Basically, it’s an opportunity for kids here to raise money and walk on behalf of orphans and vulnerable children affected by the AIDS crisis in Africa. It’s a fundraising and awareness building day that we’re hoping will also unite churches and the community of Brea. I encourage you to read more about it at And I also encourage you to be involved! If you live near the Brea area (Southern California), you can register to walk online and join us for a fun day! Or, if you’re unable to attend, you can sponsor me to walk at Or, if you work for a company that might be interested in sponsoring the walk, you can give them the attached letter. We are looking for event sponsors right now to help us cover the cost of the event so that all money raised by the kids and other walkers can go straight to Africa without paying for any overhead. We’re hoping to raise about $9000 from event sponsors, so please talk to your companies, or pass this info on to others who might be interested. Let me know if you have any other questions, and feel free to pass my contact info to others. Thanks so much!

Kenya and D.R. Congo: As I leave for Africa tomorrow, I have a sense that God is inviting me on a 6-week honeymoon with him (others have told me this as well as they’ve been praying for me). I am excited to go and dive into depths of a friendship with him that I have yet to enter. I have such a deep desire to grow in my friendship and intimacy with Him right now and am excited to have six weeks away to do just that. I’m also excited to serve, love on our staff and kids, host the team coming, etc, but mostly I’m looking forward to soaking in God. I’ve felt Him say that this trip isn’t so much about going to “do” for Him, but to go and “be” with him. In John 15, Jesus says to His disciples, “I no longer call you servants, but friends.” In the past, I’ve always gone to Africa with the mindset of a servant, but this time I hear God inviting me to come as a friend. Jesus’ ministry flowed out of an intimate friendship with God – not just trying to do a bunch of things FOR God. That’s my desire as well. So please pray for me as He leads you in this! I would also love prayers for my health and protection (especially as I travel to D.R. Congo in Sept).

Thanks friends- I treasure you so much and truly love walking this journey with you!

Monday, July 07, 2008

He Restores My Soul

All right friends, I’m calling all prayers to enter into battle for me this coming week! I leave next Tuesday, July 8th to start set-up for the Women of the Harvest Retreat that we’re hosting from the 10th-13th. I’ll be serving on the volunteer staff team along with 33 other women to host a weekend of refreshment, healing, encouragement, joy, and restoration for over 100 women coming home for furlough after years of service for God’s Kingdom in countries all over the world.
The goal of the retreat is to provide spiritual, physical, and emotional refreshment for these ladies. We hope to remind them of their true identity as beloved daughters of the King, provide refreshing times of worship, study of the Word, prayer, and rest, demonste God’s lavish love through gifts, pampering, beauty, healthy physical touch, fun and laughter, and create a haven environment where we provide listening, counseling, small groups, and a chance to interact with others who “get their life.”
Wow, what a joy to participate in bringing this type of love and refreshment to God’s precious daughters! Throughout the weekend I will be providing massages, leading a small group of 7 women, helping with set-up & clean up each day, and providing love and encouragement in any other way I can.
I covet your prayers for the week as you intercede for me and these women. Please pray for:
Finger, hand, arm, leg, and back strength for me! I have never given more than 4 massages in a row before, so I am going to need some extreme Holy Spirit power to flow through my body the whole weekend.
Anointed hands for healing. I long for God’s healing power to flow through my hands as I massage and pray over these women. Pray for emotional, spiritual, and physical healings.
Wisdom, discernment, and a sensitivity to God’s Spirit as I lead my small group. Pray that his Spirit mightily touches each woman in my group and fills our conversations and prayer times together!
Thanks so much friends! I am excited to report to you all the incredible ways that God moves during this week!


God has been taking me on an incredible journey of freedom this past month and I am excited to continue down this pilgrimage with him. I learned about an 8-month course called “Sonship” when I was in Colorado last month, and I am now three weeks into it. Through readings, homework assignments, cd lectures, and phone discipling sessions with a professional counselor each week, the course leads people from living as orphans under the law to sons and daughters of the King living in the freedom of grace.
I have been challenged to the core as my perfectionist and people-pleasing tendencies have been rooted up and exposed for what they really are - the desire to promote the greatness of Kierra rather than the greatness of God. I’m realizing that my desire for the praise and approval of everyone around me is actually the desire for them to worship me instead of the King of Kings. It’s humbling to learn, but so healthy and freeing! I’m breaking free from the bondage of worrying about the opinions of other people as I understand my identity as a completely forgiven, deeply loved, sinner saved by grace alone. I am a daughter of the King free to simply point others to HIM! You can read more about the sonship course at

What I've Been Up To

Speaking - Thanks so much for your prayers for my preaching time at Sun Hills Church in Sacramento! God gave me a clear message for his children there about the fullness of life that He longs for them to experience, along with every other person on this planet. It was a joy to watch him move in many lives that morning - including my own!
I also had the joy of recently sharing at a VBS where the theme for the week was ‘Love Ilula” (one of the Kenyan villages we work in). The children spent the week doing odd jobs around their homes and neighborhoods to raise money to help us care for our 96 orphans in Ilula. It was amazing to hear parents tell about the attitude shift in their kids throughout the week, especially in Wal-Mart and grocery aisles. Suddenly children who used to whine and complain for every toy in the store were educating their parents about children around the world who don’t have toys or even food most days.
Still Writing - Though the process is slow, my book is still coming along. I am now completely finished with the first 7 chapters and should have the next three finished soon! The last five are works in progress, but I’m hopeful that I can finish the entire first draft by September.
Oh friends, as I listen to God’s heart and write, I am learning much about the fullness that he longs for us to live in. He longs to give you a life-transforming revelation of His love so that you might be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:19). He longs for us to live, serve, and love out of fullness! So often we do these things out of obligation, duty, guilt, or a striving spirit. But His heart desires to overflow your cup with His intoxicating love and fullness and for your life to simply be characterized by the overflow of that cup. The world doesn’t need to see more striving Christians - it simply needs to taste and drink of the living water that freely overflows out of our cups.
Training - I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to receive and give a lot of mission training these past few months.
The training weekend in Colorado was amazing! My ideas about community development, discipleship, empowerment, and the Kingdom were deeply challenged, stretched, deepened, and transformed. I came away from the weekend with such a heart to truly disciple people as Jesus did and lead them into an experience of His Kingdom in every area of their lives. I want to see His Kingdom come to transform communities across the globe!
It has been fun to also provide training for our teams and interns who are heading to Africa this summer. I love getting to challenge our short-termer’s mindsets about their purpose in going, their focus during their time in Africa, their approach to ministry, and the attitude of their hearts. It’s fun to watch light bulbs turn on in people’s eyes and the heartbeat of God begin to beat with their own.

Coming Up!

That’s right, my friend and co-worker Diana Hom and I head for Oahu on July 23rd! We’re excited for the SuDance events we get to serve at and for the lives in Sudan that will be touched and transformed through the help of the funds raised. We’re excited to be a voice for God’s forgotten children in Sudan at the events and churches we’ll be visiting. And we’ll be honest, we’re also excited for some fun girl time on the beaches and in God’s incredible creation! We’re hoping to learn some hula worship moves - who knows, maybe we’ll bust it out at church when we return.
Kenya & Congo!!!
I leave for Kenya on Aug 1st for a month of re-connecting with our staff and kids, hosting teams and interns, helping with the ELI annual Youth Camp, and providing massage, prayer, and love for our staff there. Then I’m off to D.R. Congo for a week with a couple others to reconnect with our staff and kids there, get updated info and stories for our Hope Walks Event coming up on Nov 1st, and seek to provide encouragement for those living and serving in this war-torn country. I can’t wait to see what God has in store and to get back on African soil! Bwana asi fiwe! (Praise the Lord!).

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Summer Plans!

As always in this crazy adventure, God is up to much in my heart and life, and I am excited to share it with you. I’ll take you through a quick journey of my summer plans (really exciting stuff), and then through a quick journey of where my heart and mind have been lately. So here we go:

As I look at my calendar for the coming months, I am completely blown away by God’s goodness, love, provision, and gifts. Here’s the schedule:
May 15th – 18th: Trip to Colorado Springs for a conference on Community Development and Discipleship among unreached people groups! I am so excited to spend four days learning and discussing holistic ways to bring the hope of God into communities who have never heard about Him before. I can’t wait to learn from some of the staff of Mission: Moving Mountains who have been working for 10 - 20 years among tribes in West Africa to introduce them to a God who cares about their hearts, souls, emotions, health, crops, and kids! (
June 6th – 9th: Home in Sacramento for a birthday celebration and family reunion as my sister returns from her year in Indonesia! The Higgins foursome will be back in action and I can’t wait! I'll also be preaching at Sun Hills Community Church Sunday the 8th and all are welcome! The services are at 9:00am and 10:45am and it is located at 1001 Suncast Lane, El Dorado Hills, CA 95762. I'm also excited to stop in Fresno on my drive back to do some training for one of our teams going to Kenya this summer!
July 8th – 13th: Serving at the Women of the Harvest Retreat in Irvine, CA. This one is super exciting!!!! I’ll be volunteering as staff on a retreat for women who have been serving cross-culturally around the globe and are home on furlough in the States right now. Once the women arrive at the retreat location, they are welcomed into a time of refreshment where they can relax in their hotel rooms, fellowship with other women, worship in English, receive excellent teaching from the Word, and be treated to a variety of pampering options, such as a massage, haircut, pedicure and color analysis! There will also be professional counselors and prayer partners to meet individually with women throughout the retreat. (You can read more at
So guess what I’m volunteering to do all week? That’s right - MASSAGE!!!! I’m so excited to spend a week massaging and ministering to women who have dedicated years of service to bring God’s hope to every tribe, tongue, and nation around the globe. I’m excited to love and bless them, but also to hear their stories and learn from them (I know that many have lived in foreign cultures for 20 years!). And YOU have a chance to partner with me in this! First of all, I’m going to need some major prayers. I’ll probably be giving five 60-min massages per day, so these hands and arms are going to need some serious divine strength infused into them! I gave four massages in a row on yesterday for the first time and my muscles are feeling it big time! It was a good wake-up call to realize that I’ve got some muscle pumping to do to get ready for this retreat. I’d love your prayers for divine strength and for the healing, restoring touch of God to flow through my hands into his precious daughters. Second, there’s an opportunity for you to partner with me financially in this. I need to raise $850 to cover the costs of the week, so if you’re interested in contributing to help me bless these women, you can send a check to ELI PO Box 67 Upland, CA 91785 (just write #315 in the memo section with a comment saying WOTH retreat). Or, if you’d like to schedule a massage with me, just let me know. I’m putting all my earnings from massage towards this retreat right now, so you can get a massage and contribute at the same time!
July 22nd – 31st: Hawaii!!! Here’s the crazy story: ELI has been partnering with an organization called SuDance that is seeking to impact Sudan through the DJ/music industry ( Together we’re working to find sponsors for the 200 kids at the ELI school in Southern Sudan. With the theme, “Re-mix the life of a child,” we’re excited to watch the music industry rise to the occasion to make a difference in this war-torn country. My friend Diana Hom (ELI’s new sponsorship coordinator) and I helped at a few SuDance events last month and were blown away when they invited us to fly to Hawaii with them to do some more events out there, connect with a key church, and vacation! Needless to say, we didn’t need much persuading – so on July 22nd, we’re off for an all-expense paid work/vacation trip to Hawaii. We can’t wait to see what God has in store for the connections we’ll make out there, the lives He’s going to touch in Sudan, and the fun of enjoying his breathtaking creation together! He truly is a God who continues to do immeasurably more than all I can ask or imagine! Here's a picture of Me, Diana, and DJ AJ Mora!
Aug 2nd – Sept 10th: Kenya and D.R. Congo!!! That’s right – I’m going back and I can’t wait! I’ll be in Kenya for the month of August reconnecting with our staff and kids, helping to host a team from Fresno and our annual Youth Camp, and experiencing first-hand the state of the country and people after the post-election violence and unrest. I know that there is still much pain and exhaustion in many lives from the months of unrest and I hope to be able to provide a listening ear, shoulder to cry on, healing massage, breath of fresh air, and prayers of faith for my friends and family there. I pray that God uses me to bring His refreshment, joy, healing, and hope in any way He can. Many of you have asked what the state of Kenya is like right now, so I’ll give you a brief update with what I know. For the most part, the violence has ceased and a relative calm is resting on the country. But the tragic affects of the past months will linger for years to come. There are still close to 300,000 displaced people living in camps with no homes to return to. Prices have skyrocketed and many families are struggling greatly to purchase food and basic necessities. Trust was broken as long-time friends suddenly turned on each other in the heat of the violence and the wounds of betrayal are still raw and deep. There were also hundreds of women and children treated for cases rape and sodomy in the Kenyan hospitals and I know that those physical and emotional wounds are still felt daily by the victims. So while the violence has died down, the country is still in need of much prayer, healing, and reconciliation.
During my time in Africa, I also hope to travel to the ELI school and ministry in D.R. Congo with a couple of our staff members. I can’t wait to see the 500 kids and staff at our school again and to get updated stories and info to share with supporters and churches back here. One event I’ll be gathering info for is a walk-a-thon called Hope Walks that we’ll be holding on Nov 1st in Brea, CA. Hope Walks is an opportunity for kids (and friends and families) in America to walk on behalf of orphans and vulnerable children in Africa affected by the AIDS crisis. Much of the proceeds from this walk will go to ELI’s kids in D.R. Congo. I’ll send more info about this event in the coming months because I’d love for you to participate, but for now you can read more at

So there you have it – the exciting travels of my summer! In between these I’ll be continuing my work in the ELI office and speaking to various groups and churches. I’m also still plugging along with my book. Though I had no idea what a long process this would be, I am still thoroughly enjoying writing it. I’m hoping to complete the entire first draft by the end of this summer and then we’ll see how God leads from there.

Oh, and while I’m talking about books, can I recommend one to you? It’s called “The Shack” by William Young and all I can say is that it rocked it my world and in many ways transformed by view of God and my relationship with Him. If you’re looking for a summer read – I HIGHLY RECOMMEND this one! And I’d love to hear your thoughts after you read it. Even for you friends who aren’t too sure about the whole God thing or are angry with him or feel like He’s abandoned you – I really recommend that you read this. It’s not a churchy book. It’s a raw, honest story of one man’s real questions to God in the midst of overwhelming pain and God’s response and dialogue. Read it and then give me a call so we can talk about it!

“Being” verbs
I’ll end this update with a little of what God’s been teaching me lately (much of this is from “The Shack.”). One of God’s names in the Bible is “I AM.” His name is a verb – a being verb. He is all about being verbs – verbs like loving, living, growing, sharing, laughing, learning, enjoying, and abiding. He’s about relationship – about being with us. I want to be about the verbs that God is about. So often, I am about “doing” verbs – things like working, accomplishing, producing, finishing, etc. I usually fall into bed at night thinking about all that I’m going to “do” the next day. But I want to start falling into bed thinking about who I’m going to “be” the next day. For this is at the center of God’s heart. He’s more concerned about who I am and about our relationship than what I’m doing throughout the day. So I’m learning to focus on being with him, being with others, and being present to each moment – and on being a woman of His love, grace, joy, and peace no matter what I’m “doing.”

Thanks for continuing to walk this journey with me. I love you all and love living this adventure with you.
In His Grip,

Abundant Life

I know that many of you are asking, “What’s next Kierra? When are you heading back to Africa?” Sorry, but I’m asking those exact same questions to the Lord myself! The future is still a bit of a mystery to me. As much as I love speaking in the States and providing ways for others to be involved in bringing God’s hope to a hurting world, my heart still longs to live in Africa full-time. But as I look into opportunities to do that, specifically working among unreached people groups, I continue to sense that it’s not quite God’s timing for me to move into that season. I know it’s coming, but for now He’s still calling me to serve Him and the people of Africa stateside. There is a book He wants me to finish, ways He wants to prepare me, and lives He still wants to touch through me here.
So while my heart longs to be overseas, I am learning to be faithful to serve in the place God has called me to now. I’ll be honest: some days it’s a struggle. But I find hope and strength in Colossians 3:4 as God reminds me of the lessons learned during my sickness. In this verse, Paul promises, “When Christ who is your life appears, you also will appear with him in glory.” During my eight months of extreme sickness, The Lord taught me the secret of abundant life through this verse. You see, Paul says, “When Christ who is your life appears,” not “Christ who is a part of your life.” Christ must become our entire life, and when He does, we will experience abundant life in any and every situation. Because in Him is life and He will never leave us or forsake us. If He is my life, I will always have abundant life - whether sicker than a dog in bed for eight months, working in the States, or living in Africa.
If I make “ministry in Africa” my life, then this season in the U.S. may feel void of abundance. But if Christ is my life, then I have just as much abundant life here in the States as I will when He relocates me to Africa one day. It’s so tempting to make other things our life: our ministry, our family, our friends, our jobs. But those things will never fully satisfy and they can be taken at any moment. I invite you to join me in this journey of making Christ our lives and finding life to the full in any and every situation.
Does this summer hold a trip to Africa? I hope so! Though it won’t be as long as my typical trips, I’m hoping to spend about a month there re-connecting with staff and friends, collecting stories to bring back to the States, and helping out with our few interns and teams. I don’t know the details or dates right now, but I’ll keep you updated. What I do know is that this summer and the coming year will be filled with abundant life in Jesus Christ my Lord!

Oh Say Can You Sing?

The funniest moment of our trip was definitely at the welcome assembly Kristen’s school put on for us. Everything started out well with teachers and students giving speeches about what a great teacher Kristen is and how much they appreciate her. But things deteriorated quickly when the headmaster announced that the next item on the program was to be a Higgins Family rendition of the U.S. National Anthem. Now if you know anything about our family, you know that we have absolutely NO musical talent whatsoever. None, nada, zilch. But despite our protests, we soon found ourselves standing in front of the crowd, two lines into that monstrous anthem completely off key and unable to contain our laughter any longer. We lost it. I mean LOST IT! I don’t know the last time I've laughed that hard. We had tears streaming down our faces and I couldn’t even stand because I was laughing so hard. After finally composing ourselves, our next attempt at the song resulted in a similar breakdown of laughter two lines into it. It wasn’t until our fourth attempt that we actually made it through the entire song (voices horribly cracking at “the land of the FREE”) and received a standing ovation in response. Our laughing faces beautifully graced the front page of two newspapers the next day and we are expecting a call from American Idol any day now.

The Higgins Family in Indonesia!

That’s right! In the month of January the mighty Higgins foursome reunited in Indonesia, laughing and loving in true Higgins form. Though not all went as planned (I truly believe they could make a box office hit movie “Higgins Family Vacation” from the adventure!), we had a blast being together again and seeing Kristen in what has been her “home” for the past eight months.
I must admit that this was a deeply humbling trip for me and I definitely left the islands with a new hero - my sister! I embarked on the journey priding myself in being a hard-core traveler and expert in cross-cultural ministry. Well, on arriving to a humid land of foods that didn’t agree with my stomach and heat that stole all my focus and energy, I found that I’m not as hard-core as I once liked to think - in fact, I can be quite the wimp. But I was amazed time and time again as I watched Kristen lay down her life for the people of her city, joyfully embracing discomforts to love others with the selfless love of Christ. Let me share just one example that I pray challenges you as it did me:
The fan in Kristen’s room quickly became my favorite attraction, and I was dumbfounded to learn that this treasure was a new addition to her possessions. She had lived in unbearable heat and humidity for six months with no fan! “Why?” I asked. Her reply was heartfelt and genuine: “The family I live with can’t afford a fan (a $3 purchase) so I didn’t want one either. I want to live life with these people on their level. I don’t want to be the rich American who can come over and buy whatever luxury I want. I want to break down the barriers that separate me from them - not create walls. So I bought them a fan for Christmas and bought myself one as well. Now we all have a fan in this house!”
Kristen, thank you for your example of selfless love. Thank you for the reminder of the kind of love we are called to. Thank you for laying your life down for others. You’re my hero, girl!

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

His Healing Touch

I’m proud to announce that I am now officially certified in Swedish/American (full-body) Massage, Thai Massage, and Stretching Massage. I’ve been a busy student since arriving back to the States, but I’ve loved every second of it! It might sound strange, but massage was something that God very clearly placed on my heart this year and I know He wants to incorporate it into my ministry. My prayer is for each person I massage to feel the healing, loving, restorative touch of the Living God. I’m so excited to be able to bring it overseas to bless burnt-out missionaries, AIDS patients, others with terminal illnesses, and anyone else who needs the healing touch of God. I pray that as I bring it to unreached areas where people have never heard of Jesus, they will encounter His touch for the first time and I’ll have an opportunity to share Him with them. But it’s been fun to use it here in the States as well! I’m developing some great friendships in my classes and I love getting to pray for and minister to them as we practice on each other. I’m excited to continue new classes in the Spring and to learn more techniques to bless God’s sick, hurting, overworked, and stressed-out children.
If you’re interested in receiving a massage, or if you know someone that you want to bless with one, just e-mail or call me. It’s $35 for a 60 minute full-body massage. I wish I could make them free, but I’m trying to raise some money through them to be able to keep taking classes. I have a table and all the supplies, so I can come to you or you can come to me - whatever works best for you! And I have gift certificates that you can buy as presents for people. Oh, but missionaries are free, so let me know if you know a missionary who needs some loving on!

Knowing His Heart

As I sat pondering this thing called trust one day this summer, I asked God, “Lord, why is it that after walking with you for over 20 years, I still have so much trouble trusting you with certain areas of my life?”
“It’s because you don’t fully know and believe my heart for you, Beloved,” came the gentle response. “You will never fully trust someone if you don’t know their heart and intentions towards you. So ask to know my heart for you - I want to share it with you. And once you begin to truly know my heart for you, you won’t be able to keep yourself from trusting me - it will be so natural.”
I asked Him to share His heart with me that day and share He did! As I sat before His feet that afternoon in my hut, I heard my Lord speak 15 aspects of His heart to me. Things like, “My heart longs for my joy to be in you and for your joy to be complete. My heart longs for you to experience life to the full. My heart towards you is generous and I delight in giving you the desires of your heart.”
As I wrote them down that day, I knew I needed to spend some extended time soaking in each of these truths, meditating on scriptures about them, and letting my understanding of them move from a head knowledge to a heart knowledge.
So that’s exactly what I’ve been doing these past few months. I’ve been plopping on my porch in the morning with a candle and cup of tea and letting the Holy Spirit speak to me about the incredible heart of our God. And as He reveals these truths to my spirit, I close my eyes and just type.
But the thing is, the more I type, the more I’m realizing that these words aren’t for me alone. They are words for all of God’s children. They are words of life that He wants to share with others. So, even though I didn’t plan this at all, I believe I just started writing a book! For now, I’m continuing to listen and write and am trusting Him to lead each future step in the process as it comes. It’s a bit of a daunting and intimidating adventure, but one that I’m excited to embark on with The Ever Faithful One at my side.
I’ll keep you updated, but for now, can I encourage you to ask God to share His heart with YOU also? He wants to. He really does. And trust me, when you begin to get a glimpse of it, it will change everything!

Sharing His Heart

I have been so blessed by the opportunities God has given me this fall to share His heart with others - especially His heart for the nations, the poor, and the oppressed. From churches to school chapels to home fellowship groups to dessert nights, I have loved sharing stories of Africa and our incredible God and watching Him touch, challenge, and inspire lives. This picture is from an event we did in Sacramento called “Hope Walks.” Over 700 kids and their families walked to raise money for our kids in D.R. Congo. We set up simulation tents where the kids could see what a bedroom or classroom is like for a child in Africa. I was the African teacher for the day and had a total blast!
I am excited because this is more of what my job is going to look like as we move into the New Year. My season as Team Coordinator is coming to end and we are currently looking for a new person to take over that position. Though I have loved walking the journey with the teams who serve with us in Africa, the coordination and administration of the job drains me, and I’m seeing that my gifts and passions truly come alive when I get to speak, to be out and about raising awareness, and to spend time with people rather than my computer and spread sheets.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Spilled Tea and a God-encounter

Friday morning I settled into my favorite place on our back porch with my tea, candles, computer, and Bible, excited to spend the morning writing with God. (He’s leading me to write a book which I’ll share more about in my next update). I had just turned my computer on when something fell on my head and to my horror, began crawling in my hand as I grabbed it. Not knowing what I was holding, I screamed and threw it, along with most of the tea in the mug I was holding. To my dismay, I watched the majority of my tea spill onto my computer and soak through the entire thing. I tried to dry it as fast as I could, but it was no use. Slowly the screen on my computer went dimmer and dimmer until it was completely black.

“Ok, don’t panic,” I told myself, “This happened in Kenya and God fixed it. He can do it again this morning.” So I prayed and asked God to revive my computer and save the hours of writing for my book that were on it. Sadly, nothing happened. “Well God, you must be up to something. I know you could fix this if you really wanted, so you must have some other plan for today. Show me what it is and how I can join you in it.”

I packed up my things and decided to drive to the laptop repair store down the street from our office. Maybe they could help. Praying the whole way to the store, I walked in with confidence that God would show up. And boy did He ever. I was met at the counter by a middle-aged man who I soon learned was named Jashwinder (Jesse for short). I told him what happened and we turned on my computer to see what he could do. And to my utter delight, it was working perfectly – the screen was bright and clear! “Thank you Lord!” I exclaimed. “Wow, I was praying that God would fix it as I drove, and He totally did.” Jesse didn’t quite know how to respond to that, but he said he’d still like to wait a little bit to make sure everything was working ok. As he fiddled with it, I began asking him questions about his job, where he came from, etc. He’s from India and moved to the States in 1985. But it’s been a lonely 22 years here. “No one seems to have time for anyone else here,” he said. “I miss India, but I can’t go back to visit because I’m still waiting for my paperwork to come through.”

As we continued to chat, I mentioned God again and he said, “Wow, you really believe in God don’t you?” “Yes,” I said with a big smile, “He’s my best friend. Do you believe in God?” “Yes, I believe in God. I feel like you have to – I mean all this can’t come from nothing,” he said. “Do you know Him,” I asked. “No, I don’t know Him,” he admitted. “I’d like to know Him, but I just can’t seem to figure out how.”

Throughout the next hour he told me about the beliefs of his religion Sikh (a form of Hinduism). He sadly admitted that he just didn’t have time to spend the 4 hours of meditation a day that was required to be able to know God. I listened and asked questions, and then shared about the God I know and how much easier it really is to know Him. Jesse was very interested and said that he would love to read a Bible if I brought one to him, and he was interested in coming to church as well.

As I was getting ready to leave, I said, “You know, I knew God was up to something this morning. He could have fixed my computer at my house, and I was asking Him to. He fixed it for me in Africa one time when I really needed Him to, and He could have done the same thing today. But He chose not to, and now I know why. He wanted me to meet you and for you to know who He is and how you can know him.” Jesse’s eyes filled with tears and he said, “Would God really do something like for me?” “Absolutely,” I said with a smile “that’s exactly the kind of God that He is.” “I can’t believe this,” Jesse exclaimed, “Nothing like this has ever happened to me before.”

After praying for him, Jesse looked at me and said, “I’m really glad you came in today. I’ve never met someone like you before.” And that one line brought tears to my eyes. It still does. Because what I heard in those words was “I’ve never met someone who really cared about me and where I came from, loved me with the love of God, and was bold enough to tell me who He is.” How sad. How can this man have lived 22 years in our country and never met someone like me? I wonder how many Christians have walked into his store and never once took the time to ask his name, love him with Christ’s love, and share the truth of God with him. Because the truth is, Jesse should have met plenty of people like me throughout the past 22 years. He passes Christians every day. And yet none have reached out to him.

We don’t have to travel to a foreign country to reach the nations. The nations are coming to us. The “unreached” are at our back-doors. They are working at our laundry-mats, lap-top repair stores, restaurants, and grocery stores. They are aliens in a foreign country who are lonely, struggling to find their place, and hungry for love and God. Will you seek to reach them with me? You don’t have to go to India to be a missionary. God may very well bring a Hindu from India straight to your neighborhood so that they might be reached with the good news. Will you keep your eyes and hearts open? Will you ask for opportunities to reach the nations in your daily life? Will you allow some spilled tea and a broken computer to lead a lost child into the Kingdom? Jesus isn’t coming back until this gospel has been preached to every tribe, tongue, and nation (Matthew 24:14). Let’s finish this task so our King can return! Our commission as His followers is clear: “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

So, what's next?

Well, I arrive back to L.A. on Sept 15th and will start work again in ELI's office as I follow-up with this summer's teams, help train next year's, and do some speaking at chapels and churches.
I'm also planning to get my massage license!!! I am so excited about this as it's something that God has really put on my heart this past year. I love giving massages, but really want to get trained professionally to use this gift in ministry, especially overseas. I know there are certain massages you can learn for AIDS patients, cancer patients, and people with other terminal illnesses. Plus, I'm excited to use it to bless people in ministry who are tired, burnt out, and need a little love poured back into them. I know that it may also be a tool God uses for me to connect with and minister to people in unreached or closed areas (meaning you can't go there as a "missionary"). The possibilities are endless for what God may do with this talent and the lives He will touch. My prayer is that as I massage and pray over people, they will feel the touch of the living God and experience physical, emotional, and spiritual healing. I actually started this ministry during my time in Kenya and watched God touch and heal quite a few people (by the end, I was giving at least one massage a day). And yes, I definitely want to bless friends with it too, so once I start my classes this fall, feel free to give me a call and I'd love to come practice on you!
And I will continue to pray this fall about where God is taking me next. I will keep you updated as He leads.

A Day I Will Never Forget

We were up at 6:00am packing the van with sacks full of rice and mosquito nets to bring to a remote village still unreached by relief workers; a village where my hosts, Moses and Samantha, (an amazing Cambodian Pastor and his wife) were hoping to plant a church (they have already planted about 500 churches throughout rural Cambodia!).

Four hours later we pulled into the village where people had been waiting since sun-up. Word had gotten to them that help was coming that day and they walked for miles hoping to receive food for their starving families. Before I knew it, Moses had all the adults sitting down so he could share the message of God's hope with them and directed me to entertain the 40 kids while he did so. Not knowing more than a couple phrases in Khmer (the national language), I was so thankful when Samantha came over to help translate for me.

"What should I do with them?" I asked her. "Teach them Jesus Loves Me," she replied. Ok, I thought. I can do that. And thus started a fun repeating game as I said a word from the song and the kids tried hard to say it after me. After they could successfully say the first line, "Jesus loves me," I asked Samantha to translate it for them in Khmer. She just looked at me and said, "But they have no idea who Jesus is - they've never even heard that name before." I was speechless for a minute. I knew that there were lots of places in the world where people had never heard the name Jesus, but I had never been in one before. Yes, I've been around people who don't know Jesus or anything about Him, but at least they had heard the name before.
Samantha just encouraged me to continue teaching the song. I obliged, still in shock, and got to the line that says, "for the Bible tells me so." I asked her, "Have they ever heard of the Bible?" "No," she replied, "They've never heard of it." Again, I found myself struggling to take in this information. Sure there are lots of people who have never read the Bible and don't know what it's about, but these kids didn't even know such a book existed.

At that point, I stopped the song and asked Samantha and the kids if I could tell them a story instead to help them understand the song. They all nodded enthusiastically. "Ok," I said, "This story started a long, long time ago back at the very beginning of the world. Does anyone here know who created the world?" "No," they all said with wide eyes, "Will you tell us?" Tears filled my eyes and I struggled to continue. I guess I assumed they would have some belief about how the world was formed, but all that met me were curious little faces, eager to hear where everything in this world, including them, came from. Wow, where do I even begin? I wondered. I felt completely inadequate and humbled to be the one sharing the truth about our Creator and Savior with them for the first time, but did my best to fight the tears and begin the story.

I really have no idea how much they understood of what I shared that afternoon. From creation, to Adam and Eve, to Heaven and Hell, to Jesus and his death on the cross, I'm not sure what made sense or tied together for them. But I did my best, and my interpreter did her best (I don't think she always understood me, but we tried J). I do know that at least these kids have now been introduced to the person of Jesus and the God who created them. And I pray that Moses communicated the message well to their parents who can then explain more to them at home. And I rejoice knowing that plans are in motion to start a church in this small village where people can come to learn more about this God who is deeply in love with them.

I don't know how to describe the emotions swirling in my heart as we left the village that day: a strange mixture of sadness, joy, urgency, and calling. So much of this world is in desperate need of good news – news that we have, but keep to ourselves. They are hungry for God, for Truth, and for Hope; and He is even more hungry for them - for a relationship with them. And He's asked us, His church, to go and take the Good News to every corner of the world. When will we take him seriously and finish this task He's given us? People are waiting. Jesus is waiting.

I sense that this type of ministry is what God is calling me to next. I'm not exactly sure the details of where, when, or how, but I'm seeking God's guidance in all these areas. I'm excited to see where He leads. One thing I know: even though my experiences in Thailand and Cambodia were amazing, I definitely realized that my heart is in Africa. I felt so homesick for Africa the entire time and really feel that's where I belong for now.

Here is a picture of some of a baptism that Moses did in the village. About 60 people were baptized that day. Praise God!