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Saturday, February 25, 2012

More of His crazy God-Connections!

As you can see I have not posted anything to my blog since the first of the month.  I have thought about it, but there has not been enough time in the day or night to blog and do all the other things I believe should come before I journal about my life experiences.  I think some bloggers create postings and maybe save them for another day, unfortunately I don't have a library full of un-posted entries to share, at least not yet. 

Well, I have been told, once again, I should be writing all this down as it happens.  I don't know who will care about this in the future, but I guess it is possible seeing God's hands all over this ministry's early years might benefit some in the future.  I also pray this grants you some encouragement as you see God working so unmistakeably.  

So, here goes...

As I just re-read my post from earlier this month, "God Opportunities or Satan Attacks", I realize that this was an exercise to 'take my every thought captive to my Lord'. That post flowed, not from me, but completely from my Lord.  I don't know about you, but do you ever look back on some advice or spiritual truth you are able to give a needy soul, without notice, and KNOW instantly..."That was not me, THAT was God?"  I am sure you do!  There are those times when you and I simply become a conduit for God and His work.  I really don't understand how that happens, but it does.

As I look back at the past few weeks I have felt that way about many of the crazy God-connections He continues to orchestrate for His purposes for Signs for Hope.  Sometimes I ask myself, "Did that just happen?" 

What an incredible month it has been!  In many ways, incredibly challenging, and others--incredibly inspiring and faith-building! As the month unfolded with all the God-detours for my ministry (honestly, for me personally) I have been humbled once again, as I look back over the past three weeks.  His obvious step-by-step, holding my hand, leading me down His path for Signs for Hope cannot be ignored.

The first God-connection this month came when my daughter, Rachel, shared something about my ministry's need to become a 501c3 with a substitute teacher at her school.  Random conversation for two teachers...right?  It just so happened that this woman's daughter was the founder of a Christian non-profit ministry consulting firm in the Raleigh area.  Her daughter's background is business and law and God has called her to offer her God-given skills to benefit non-profits in "strategic planning, program development, and fundrasing" at a reasonable rate. We connected by email, then by phone, and then face-to-face on Sunday afternoon, February 12th.  As this new relationship began to emerge it became obvious to me and to her, as well, that this was a true God-connection.  Prayers for each of us have been answered!  The uncanny bond between us could only be crafted by our heavenly Father. She is walking me through the process of filling out the enormous paperwork required for requesting IRS non-profit status.  The deadline for filing this request is May 10th...less than three months.

My eyes are burning with tears as I reflect back on these crazy God-connections this month alone.  You will understand better why I am reduced to tears as I share more of them with you.  I will try to be brief, but these connections are significant and far reaching in His plan. 

Many of you know that Charles and I attended a "boot camp" for training on how to raise 100% full support for Christian ministry in Birmingham last week.  Let me stop here and make a comment or two about my husband.  Throughout this entire process...my returning to college in 2000, my transferring to Gardner-Webb in 2003, my commuting to GWU for over 5 years, God's calling me to "coordinate the adoption of deaf orphans in the world", my seeking to fulfill that call whatever the cost...my husband, Charles Lloyd, has been fully supportive.  When his schedule permits he joins me at meetings and conferences.  He joined me in Liberia for two weeks, last year.  Often he can accept what God is leading me to do even before I can.  This is such a gift and I refuse to take it for granted! Back to "boot camp".  Not only was our connection to this 2-day training led by God, but He also gave us three God-connections during those 18 hours of camp. 

The first came during a short break when Charles introduced himself to the couple sitting behind us.  By the way, there were approximately 75 recruits at this boot camp and probably 15 different ministries in attendance; FCA leaders represented the largest group.  This was a young couple and the wife was Asian decent.  Her background is speech therapy and she had recently completed her degree in Maine.  She was very interested in hearing more about Signs for Hope.  We shared dinner with this couple the last day of camp.  The wife had been saved in China during college.  She shared how God's Holy Spirit is moving unhindered among the Chinese.  Her husband has been involved in that moving for several years and they are training and preparing to return to China soon.  I don't know how God plans to use this connection to China, but I now know a Chinese speech therapist who has a heart for helping those who cannot speak clearly in knowing and accepting Jesus as their Savior.  Only He knows His plans for this God-connection!

To our left was another young couple with E3Partners.  As soon as I saw the E3 I knew I would have to meet them.  I had been introduced to the focus E3 has for reaching the Deaf for Christ at the Southern Baptist Convention of the Deaf (SBCD) last summer.  E3 partners and the International Mission Board (IMB) of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) have joined efforts for this Great Commission call.  As well as, a few other large evangelistic organizations.  If you don't already know, the Deaf Affinity Group (Deaf peoples around the world) is listed in the top three unreached people groups.  Less than 2% of Deaf people--not just in North America, but world-wide--are Christ followers.  We had dinner with this couple in their home on Saturday night.  Precious godly couple with a 9-month old baby girl.  Only He knows His plans for this God-connection!

The third God-connection came during our working lunch on the second day of camp.  Each individual or couple was randomly matched with another individual or couple to practice the presentations we had learned for face-to-face meetings seeking full-support raising.  We were matched with Steve.  Steve has worked with FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) for a couple of decades and he is currently in the Nashville, TN area.  After we began sharing some of who we were, Steve shared that his wife was from Knoxville, TN.  Both Charles and I are from Knoxville and still have family there.  Their second daughter is in the process of adopting from Ethiopia, and their youngest daughter had been a dorm parent at the Tennessee School for the Deaf (TSD) in Knoxville during college.  I quickly told Steve that the football field at TSD is named in honor of my Deaf grandfather and that both my grandmother and grandfather taught there many years.  Steve finished his story by saying that he and his wife had been invited to visit the uniquely built Brentwood Baptist Deaf Church, located just south of Nashville, and that they had so enjoyed worshiping with the Deaf there.  I have been there several times over the past decade. 

What?  How could this be?  Of all people in that group of 75, how could we be matched with Steve.  Adoption and Deaf connections in the same individual!  Only He knows His plans for this God-connection!

Before traveling to Birmingham, I was connected to a precious family that has adopted four Deaf children, as well as one who is hearing and then three biological children of their own.  What a sweet meeting Charles and I had with this godly mom.  She is truly a wealth of experience and information for families following God's call to adopt Deaf/HOH children and for me, as well.  Only God knows His plans for this God-connection!

Late Saturday morning, our "day of rest" in Birmingham, I received a phone call from one of the most consistent encouragers I have in the adoption arena, Dwain Gullion, with ABBA Fund.  I was connected to ABBA Fund when I invited them to join us in March 2010 for Share His Hope.  From the beginning, Dwain has taken the time to encourage me and to connect me with others.  We did not actually meet until the Empowered to Connect conference in Nashville in September of 2010.  God has given Dwain a heart for the Deaf and he is doing his part to make sure I am connected to others, as well as, to research how funding for interpreter's can be secured so they can travel with Deaf couples adopting their Deaf children from far away lands.  Dwain is responsible for the next two God-connections so far this month.  

Dwain's call was in response to a facebook update I had posted.  He asked if I had been connected to Herbie Newell at Lifeline Christian Adoptions in Birmingham while I was there?  I had not, but Dwain was insistent about my meeting up with Herbie, if at all possible.  Dwain told me he was driving to the beach as we talked but he would pull over and send an introduction email to Herbie to grant us the possibility to connect.  Dwain gave me a disclaimer saying sometimes Herbie is out of the country or might not respond back for a couple of days, but he felt he had to at least try to facilitate this connection.  I received Dwain's, introduction to Herbie, email within a few minutes.  I quickly responded giving Herbie our possible available times to meet later that day or Sunday after church.  Dwain had asked where we planned to attend church on Sunday and come to find out Herbie's family attends the same church, Brook Hills.  In about 30 minutes Herbie responded to my email and asked if we could meet after the 9AM worship?  Of course we could!

I won't go into great detail here because several of the things Herbie shared with us are still not public knowledge.  But Lifeline Christian Services' partner, called (Un)adopted, is developing programs to support orphans in various countries, with their Uganda, Liberia, and China programs possibly including Deaf children in that scope.  The family I mentioned earlier, that has adopted four Deaf children, have been a great influence for Lifeline, since three of their Deaf adoptions were facilitated by them and they attend the same church.  Herbie shared some key names of officials and ministries in Liberia with me and I pray these individuals and ministries will benefit the work Signs for Hope is currently doing at the Deaf Mission in Liberia, which is an incredible God-connection from 2009.  I cannot begin to imagine all this particular God-connection for Signs for Hope will encompass.  Only He knows His plans for this God-connection!

The second God-connection Dwain made for Signs for Hope was with the new CEO for Abba Fund, Daniel LaBry. Allow me to just paste Daniel's response to me after receiving Dwain's email introduction connecting us on Thursday this week:

Becky,

I just spent some time on the Signs for Hope website -- what a blessing. Love your story. My former pastor for 9 years in Virginia also grew up in a deaf family ... his father is Carter Bearden, a well-known deaf evangelist in the Southern Baptist circles. We had a vibrant deaf ministry at First Baptist Church Woodbridge (Virginia). Needless to say, I have a special place in my heart for ministry to the deaf and look forward to learning much more and seeing how we can work closely together -- starting with these families.



I look forward to connecting more as I get settled into ABBA Fund in March ...

Grace and peace,
Daniel


I am speechless!   I have had the honor to be under Carter Bearden's teaching in a seminary class and in multiple ASL workshops over the years.  Only He knows His plans for this God-connection!

Last Saturday, there was another God-connection forged simply by my following through to contact a woman I had known from years ago.  Her children and our children attended Asheville Christian Academy at the same time.  Her name just kept coming up and I knew I had to contact her.  I emailed her and called and left a message at her office.  She is a CPA for small businesses here in Asheville.  She promptly emailed me back to say she had been on the Signs for Hope website and would welcome Charles and me to fill her in more about our last four years.  She called later in the day and before I could really explain to her why I was contacting her, she volunteered her services to help us with the initial set up of the record keeping for Signs for Hope...pro bono!   We have a meeting with her this coming Wednesday.  Only He knows His plans for this God-connection!

I know you are exhausted with this long post, but I have to finish with the most recent God-connection this month.  In my opinion, it is as impacting as all the others and I believe all of them to be God ordained.  

Two or more years ago I was actively seeking/praying for board members for Signs for Hope.  I am beginning to think this will be a life-long search!  I am fully aware of the gravity of developing a strong board for a non-profit's success.  Of course, my God already knows who will comprise the Signs for Hope board, I just have to 'ask, seek, and knock' until I find them.  They do have to be discovered before I can submit the paperwork for the 501c3.  While this God-connect began more than two years ago I actually got to see it become tangible last Wednesday.  God has graciously brought a like-minded, godly woman with Deaf family members to join the Signs for Hope team as a board member. I could say so much more about this God-connection, this does not even scratch the surface for what this woman will bring to Signs for Hope, but I am sure you and I will see His fruit unfold from this relationship in the future.  Only He knows His plans for this God-connection!

I cannot tell you how humbling it is to watch Him put all the pieces together creating His masterpiece for adoption of Deaf orphans/children by our heavenly Father. 

Now, maybe you can understand a little better why it is so easy for me to become teary-eyed (weeping this time) when sharing this with you.  I am so humbled to be included in God's plan for the Deaf orphans and the multitudes their lives will ultimately touch.  We often wonder/ask "Why me?" when something devastating happens.  I NEVER thought the opposite could be possible.  In the midst of all this God-activity...I am asking "Why me, Lord, why have you chosen me for this?  I am so unworthy and so in need of You and Your constant forgiveness.  Why would you let me see this incredible working of Your plan?" 

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In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another:

                 “Holy, Holy, Holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of His glory.” 

 At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.
“Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.” Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.” Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”



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