Almost on a whim, I decided I HAD to attend a conference focused on A-land. It has been 2 years since I have attended, and I missed it. I missed the people, the heart behind it, and the praying. Definitely the praying. Hearing the prayers lifted up to heaven on behalf of a broken, desolate, struggling, yet hopeful place is overwhelming. Even the times we have prayed in silence have been the loudest cheers of praise and cries of desperation to God I’ve ever heard. These are the people who taught me to pray. So I had to come. Thursday I packed up and headed to Indiana to experience what is my favorite year of this conference so far.
There’s too many things to process right now that the Lord has impressed on my heart and spoken to me about (at least, I really hope it was HIM.) Thursday night and Friday morning were such sweet times of encouragement, mixed in with seeing old friends and slipping away to finish school work, that I forgot one of the reasons I came up here. The Memorial Service.
Last July, a group of workers headed to an unreached, difficult region for a clinic. Hundreds of people were seen and shown the love of Jesus to through medical care. The trip into this area is difficult, considering you have to hike and climb to get in. One the way back, the team was ambushed by gunmen who found “sensitive materials”- so each person was shot (except one man). Among this group was a friend of mine, Cheryl, and a long-time worker, Tom. Cheryl’s dad and Tom’s wife came and spoke at the Memorial tonight, and it was no less than amazing. I thought it was going to be an emotional time with lots of tears. It turned out to be a sweet account of Tom’s last days with his family. How he called his wife 2x a day whenever he was away from her, for 40 years, even in this remote area. How Cheryl always had a heart for the oppressed, even as a child. How nationals saw the difference in these individuals, and reached out to their families after the event. At the end, a song Cheryl wrote to her friend and sister was played. It focused on the theme in Isaiah of “do not fear, He has redeemed you…” and her words of comfort were inspiring and humbling. Humbling is the best way to describe this service, knowing that these are treasured stories of God’s dedicated workers, who died living for His name, now experiencing and living in His glory.
Afterwards, I spoke to Cheryl’s father and shared a bit about her impact on my life. The biggest thing Cheryl spoke to me about was living in a mindset of worship. I asked her once in 2008 how it is to be in A. for an indefinite amount of time- she responded “I ask myself at the end of everyday, did I worship? If yes, then it’s been a good day. That’s all I am living by right now.” I’ve repeated this to different people so many times since then that I didn’t even remember it was Cheryl who told me until after she died and I was saying it to someone.
So, I have more to process and think through, but I know that today I have worshipped, and I am so thankful for this time of refreshment, reminders, celebrations, and stirring.