I’m on vacation this week. People will ask where I’ve been when I return to work, likely expecting an answer like “a tropical beach”. But the truth is? I will never be able to find the words to adequately describe the beauty of where I’ve been this week.
This week I’m hosting 7 of the most amazing young women who gave up comfort, security and complacency to become missionaries. The stop here in Cincinnati, OH is just one of many as they carry a message of love and hope across the United States to college campuses. By Tuesday, I was already blown away. I have no sandy beaches to speak of, no sun-kissed skin, but if you will indulge me I will take you on a bit of my journey so far this week…
Sunday night I was up late sitting on the couch when I heard the footsteps coming down the stairs. Two of the girls came down to grab a midnight snack. I was hungry too, to get to know more about this journey they were on… “Bring your snacks over here and sit with me for a bit. Tell me about your journey…” I was blessed to listen to the testimony of a young woman who proceeded to tell me what brought her to this point. She said something very profound that resonated with my testimony .. “I grew up in church, I believed, but honestly? Other than what I was taught, I wasn’t digging into the scriptures on my own. But at 16 years old, while praying, the Lord spoke to my heart about my being like a tree. He then told me to read a certain passage in the bible. When I turned to it? It was a reference to a tree! This started a hunger for reading the word and getting to know Him for myself. It is a Living Word and it speaks to my heart and guides me on this journey.” That was only one of many amazing small nuggets that crossed the lips of this on-fire, beautiful young lady who is traveling the US on a “Carry the Love” tour with the Circuit Riders. As she and the other young woman continued to speak, their stories stirred my heart and fanned the flame burning in me. In turn, I was able to share with them an illustration I had heard that morning. They got excited and shared about the profoundness of that illustration, and how it related to this journey they are on. As I closed my eyes that night, I’m sure I had a smile on my face and a big, warm and fuzzy feeling in my heart.
Monday’s blessing came when I was asked to go meet a man in his early 80’s who has been a preacher and mentor to many. The love of this man’s life, and faithful companion who helped spread the gospel, recently passed away. We sat in his living room as he shared about his wife, their marriage, and the days as a young Evangelist. My eyes really got wide when he hit on the subject that guides me daily – “Go after the One”. He told how he would go “calling” back in the 70’s and 80’s at least one night a week. He’d pray “Lord, send me the one” and then pull out of his driveway, not knowing where he was going to end up, but the Lord would always take him to the one who was praying “God send me a sign”. One night he passed a gravel lane, got that nudging from the Holy Spirit, turned around and went back. As he walked up to the mobile home out in the middle of nowhere he knocked on the door and introduced himself. He said he was there to talk to the folks about the Lord to which the lady who answered the door replied “My husband is blind and dying. I was just reading him the scriptures, please come in.” The preacher went in, spoke to the man, read him the word, prayed with him and assured him that when it was time to go home he would close his eyes here for the last time and wake up looking at Jesus with new eyes. This stirred my heart and reminded me that God’s love will be in fervent pursuit of us to the very last-minute.
The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. – 2 Peter 3:9
We held hands in a circle and prayed with the old evangelist before we left. I felt the presence of a sweet, loving Jesus in that moment. I arrived home late Monday night. The young women had just arrived from Miami University and shared with me stories of how lives changed during their worship session. Chains broken, identities restored and prayers for fires burning to continue carrying the message of hope once this team moves on to their next destination.
One of the young women asked a simple question that launched into my being able to share a bit of God’s grace and mercy on my journey. She simply asked if I worked at an airline. That question started a story of God’s goodness and promotion way beyond my education. In turn, that lead into my current love story. Both sweet, sweet girls said “We needed to hear all of this. This was for us!” As I laid my head down to rest that night I recalled being on a mission trip in South Dakota. I was weary and tired from pouring out. That morning I prayed “God I need some alone time with you. I need filled up.” Sure enough, my assignment that day was to go help clean a church. When we got there? There was not much to clean. But there was an amazing Pastor who said “Please, take time in the sanctuary and pray.” That Pastor then spoke life into me with the stories he shared. Tonight? Hopefully? God was using me to help feed the spirit of these girls who are so humbly and graciously constantly pouring out to others on a journey that likely leaves them wary as they travel from town to town never knowing where they will lay their head at night, but just fully trusting the Lord.
I believe in divine appointments. I believe He will use us to say just the right thing at just the right time to let someone else know He’s with them. These young women staying with me this week? Is definitely a divine appointment. The connections, the stories, the encouragement has had God’s hand all over it. As I started to drift off for the night God was speaking to me with a quick movie trailer running in my mind… How I started the evening sharing about the love of Jesus with an 83-year-old. I went to encourage him, and he ended up encouraging and blessing me with his faithfulness. Coming home to young women in their 20’s telling of stories of God moving on college campuses that fanned the flame burning in me. God using the story of this 51-year-old woman’s struggles and triumphs to encourage the next generation. Words are failing me now as I type, but the revelation of just how good His love is, how it endures forever, was wrecking me.
“so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children. Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands. They would not be like their ancestors – a stubborn and rebellious generation, whose hearts were not loyal to God, whose spirits were not faithful to him.” – Psalm 78:6-8
Tuesday’s encounter… Early afternoon I’m sitting at my computer and I hear one of the girls face-timing with young women and men on this tour all over the United States. It’s quiet in the house, so I can hear… I hear them talking about the signs, wonders and miracles they are seeing. I hear them pause and all start praying out loud for the services that night. And then? They start reading the scriptures out loud to one another – talking about what it means to them. I sat with tears streaming… humbled, in awe, excited… these young men and women are not just talking the talk – they are living this out! And THAT’s why lives are being transformed! They asked me to come with them to the college campus that night and witness them “Carry the Love”. As I walked up to the campus chapel the sound of music was coming out of the windows. I walked down into a basement where the girls were waiting to help other young women regain their lost identity. We then moved to the sanctuary to worship. I was feeling the presence of the Holy Spirit so thick, falling in that place when the Lord said softly… “Kris, open your eyes and look around… remember what I told you at the beginning of the year? You are in the midst of the waters that are stirring… of the “new thing” I told you I was going to do. Take note, there’s an army rising … a chosen generation on fire once again to take back what the devil has stolen. You’ve heard them. They are having dreams.” I opened my eyes and looked around… black, white, Hispanic, Asian … young men, young women, all with different talents and gifts but all united as one, using their gift for God’s glory. I saw them with hands lifted in sweet surrender crying out for more of God. I witnessed young, strong men go up and pray over one another, fervent prayers. And then? A young evangelist stood up with his bible and read to us out of 1 Samuel 14. He spoke of how it only takes 2 to have a desire and crazy faith to change the course of a city or a nation. This message FIRED ME UP! I came home and started reading the dreams and goals I had posted on my fridge. Started working out the steps I need to take for the next women’s event I’ll be hosting. Not sure yet where or when, but I know how! If God puts a dream in your heart? If you have crazy child-like faith? He provides.
When people ask where I went for vacation? I went someplace priceless – the ultimate vacation destination – I’ve been in the presence of God. I’ve been given, so undeservedly, a front row seat to a revival sweeping the land. To a generation who’s said “No more! It’s time to take back the identities the devil has stolen. To raise up young women to be brave like Deborah and young men strong and brave like Gideon.” I don’t know what I did to deserve this – but I’m sure thankful! I keep hearing the Lord say “It takes both the wisdom of the old and the strength of the youth” – We are called to serve right alongside one another – no matter our age or race. We are called to be one body – with one message – JESUS SAVES!!
I’ve been singing this old hymn all week…. “The circuit riding preacher used to ride across the land with a rifle in his saddle and a bible in his hand. He told the prairie people all about the promised land as he went riding, singing down the trail….”