Africa, Bekah's Heart, Devotional

God Provides for Nico, God Provides for Us

As I was looking for something in Psalms the other day, I came across a note next to these verses that reminded me of a little boy, Nico, that lived at the orphanage where I served in Africa back in June 2010.  The verses come from Psalm 145:

“The eyes of all look to You, and You give them their food in due season. You open Your hand; You satisfy the desire of every living thing. … He hears their cry and saves them, the Lord preserves all who love him.”

Nico, like I said, was a boy from the orphanage. He was probably 10 or 11 and had some developmental and physical disabilities which meant he spent most of his day learning in the nursery school instead of kids his own age. Despite that he was one of the most joyful and fun little boys to interact with.  One morning we showed up at the orphanage to hear the news that Nico had gotten frustrated with one of the house mom’s and in the night, he ran away.  We were all obviously concerned for Nico, knowing that no young boy should be out on his own, but especially one who struggled to communicate.  While we were very concerned, there was nothing we could do.

That day three of us volunteers decided to go into town to run some errands and grab some lunch.  On our way to the store, we suddenly saw Nico in the street, begging for food.  At first his inclination was to run, but Morgan, one of the volunteers who had been there for quite a while was quick on her feet to simply offer to buy him lunch.

There he was begging in the streets, longing for food and attention. Yet, back at Musana he had 3 warm meals a day and all the attention you could ever need. He was looking for his desires to be fulfilled in all the wrong places. All he had to do was trust the staff of Musana to provide, but he decided his way would be better and ran from the very protection and provision he was longing for.

We are not much different with God, are we.  Take a look at those verses again:

“The eyes of all look to You, and You give them their food in due season. You open Your hand; You satisfy the desire of every living thing. … He hears their cry and saves them, the Lord preserves all who love him.”

When we look to God, He provides ALL we need.  He opens His hand to bless us.  He satisfies our desires. He hears our cries and saves us.  Just like we hear Nico’s cry in the alleyway that day, saved him, got him something to eat and led Him home, Our God desires to do the same for us each and every time we turn away.

God, help us trust you for ALL that we need.

“And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things and at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”  (2 Corinthians 9:8)

My friend Nico. :)
My friend Nico.
Africa, Bekah's Heart

Africa On My Heart…

As much as I sadly sometimes try to ignore it and go on with my “normal” life here in America, there is no doubting that part of my heart remains in Africa.  I may have only lived there one month, but in that short time, I experienced things and gave of myself in ways that leave me forever changed.  The richness of faith in light of physical poverty, the immense joy in the midst of unthinkably difficult life situations, the perseverance long past when I would just give up–these are the things I witnessed within people that make it impossible to just “walk away” and return to “life as normal.”

One of those courageous people is my dear friend Nsubuga Emmanuel, or “Emma” for short.  When I met Emma at the children’s home where I spent my days, I was blown away by his faith and trust in God despite an unspeakable life story.  He went to school across town but stayed each night at the orphanage after having to flee his home when his stepfather tried to kill him.

I remember shortly after arriving, Emma was talking with me in the library of the orphanage.  On the wall was a giant world map.  We had so much fun looking at where I grew up and where I would be moving to upon my arrival back in the United States.  And then, we simply sat their in awe and silence at the greatness of our God… One that knew each of us personally, where we came from, where we were going… One that held that entire world in His hand.

Today, I sit here yet again in awe.  This time, I’m not so much in awe of God and his goodness, but rather, I’m struck by how sinful and broken our world is.  In a conversation I had online with Emma yesterday he described a situation far outside our ability to comprehend here in America… a situation in which he, as a high school student struggling to support himself and finish school, is also having to sit down with leaders from multiple clans to make major life-changing decisions.  And by life-changing, I really mean that people LIVES are on the line.

As a son, his heart is filled with the responsibility and passion to care for his mother, struggling in her battle to fight against HIV, and his younger siblings.  He also realizes that fighting for what belongs to them, could mean the loss of lives for them or others.  As a Christian, he struggles to reconcile these issues.

So he prays.

He fasts.

He commits.

He relies on the One who can figure this all out.

Despite their right to the land, he decides to sell it to avoid bloodshed and use the money to rebuild a home for his family somewhere else.  He helps his mother set up a store to create a form of income to pay for her expensive medicines and their daily needs.  He finds people to help rebuild a house.  He continues to navigate through life trying not to fear the tribal conflicts and simply do what’s right.  He is determined to continue to get his education in order to be able to find a good job and care for his family.  He does all this while currently suffering from malaria and various other health problems himself.

Today, I ask you to join me in praying for this amazing brother in Christ.  They were able to get a good start on the house on the new land (pictured on the right) however, the money they had from selling the land was not enough to complete the roof and the floor of the house.  The store they started will create enough income to finish the house in 7 or 8 months (which is actually amazing in itself) but they only have one month before they must be off the old land and out of the house.  I can’t help but think about the miracles series we just concluded at First Trinity as I ask you to pray that God would do the miraculous in this situation and that God’s power would be shown:

  • Give God praise that this situation did not end in bloodshed and they have given Emma’s family a couple months to live on the land before having to move.
  • Pray that God would reveal Himself in powerful, miraculous ways to the old clan members so that they would be changed from the inside out and that God would give them generous, loving hearts that long for Him.
  • Pray that the money would become available to finish the house for his family before he has to go back to school and they get kicked off the other land.  (From what I can tell, they need about the equivalent of 1500-2000 US dollars which is about 4-5 times most family’s annual income in Uganda.)
  • Pray for healing in Emma from Malaria and his mother from HIV.
  • Pray that Emma’s family would be encouraged in knowing that God is in control and will be their provider and protector.

Thanks in advance for your prayers for this amazing young man, his family, and his community… it means a lot to him… and to me.

(Feel free to leave prayers and notes of encouragement to Emma and his family in the comments and I’ll make sure he gets them.)

Africa, Bekah's Heart, Books, First Trinity

All People Matter

As a person who generally does not make habit of reading the forwards to books, I’m extremely glad that I actually read the one at the front of Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis.   This entire book has grabbed my attention and my heart.  I’m sure I will share other parts of this book as I continue reading, but for today I just can’t stop thinking about the very first paragraph of the forward by Beth Clark:

“People who want to make a difference in the world usually do it, in one way or another.  And I’ve noticed something about people who make a difference in the world: They hold the unshakable conviction that individuals are extremely important, that every life matters. They get excited over one smile.  They are willing to feed one stomach, educate one mind, and treat one wound.  They aren’t determined to revolutionize the world all at once; they’re satisfied with small changes.  Over time, though, the small changes add up.  Sometimes they even transform cities and nations, and yes, the world.”

What so captured my attention about this paragraph is how well it lines up with First Trinity‘s Core Value that “all people matter” and directly connected it to the idea of “transforming our world” in our mission statement.  We also see through this that a transformation of our world is actually possible when we focus on doing so–as both our mission statements and the forward to this book suggest–one life at a time.

Author Katie Davis, a 22-year old American mother to thirteen (yes, you read that right, THIRTEEN) adopted Ugandan children and founder of Amazima Ministries in Uganda, is one of those world-changers… and she does it one life at a time.

Later on in her book she shares some humbling statistics of people living in poverty around the world:

143 million orphaned children + 11 million who starve to death or die from preventable diseases + 8.5 million who work as child slaves or prostitutes + 2.3 million children who live with HIV

= 164.8 million needy children in the world.

As Katie says in her book, “At first glance that looks like a big number…”  I agree.  It seems like an impossible number, a number to big to wrap our minds around, and a number that surely I can’t do anything about!

However, 2.1 BILLION people on this earth claim to be Christians.  “The truth is that if only 8 percent of the Christians would care for ONE child, there would not be any statistics left.”

EIGHT PERCENT!  That’s all it would take.

Do you truly believe that all people matter?  Who’s life can you change today?  Maybe it’s a smile and kind word to the cashier that seems to be having a bad day.  Maybe it’s a hug for a grieving friend or a hot meal for someone hungry.  Or maybe it’s sponsoring a child in Haiti or Uganda or even the US to go to school and be fed or rescuing a child out of sex trafficking.  One life at a time, we can transform our world, through the power of God’s Living Word along with the gifts and talents, passions and desires, resources and time he’s given us.    Will you join me?

Let’s change the world and love as Jesus did, living with the conviction that




“I have learned that I will not change the world. Jesus will do that. I can, however, change the world for one person. So I keep stopping and loving one person at a time. Because this is my call as a Christian.” ~ Katie Davis

Africa, Bekah's Heart

Africa on the Heart

Today part of my heart is in Africa… here are a few reasons why:

  • I read the first blog update this morning from my friend Jessica who recently arrived at Musana Children’s Home in Uganda.  Jessica and I traveled to Musana last June together.  She is back there for the next month teaching and building a library for the children there.
  • One year ago today, I had the privilege of leading a Bible Study session at a youth conference in Kaliro, Uganda, Africa… an opportunity that appeared only days before the conference… an opportunity which allowed me to be the first American (really, the first non-African) to step foot in Resurection Church… the first non-African to be able to encourage a group of youth from 7 different congregation that they are not alone… that the body of Christ reaches far beyond their little village hidden among the trees.  I think today about the promise I made to those churches as left with them a piece of the sending cloth that First Trinity sent with me… a promise to pray for them.  Will you pray for them too?
  • Today at church we sang the song “He Knows My Name.”  The first Sunday Jessica and I were in Uganda last year (and therefore the first time experienced… yes EXPERIENCED, worship there … though this blog post doesn’t do it justice) a group of children from an orphanage performed this song.  Standing in worship at First Trinity today signing these words, took me back to that day… there’s nothing quite like hearing a group of orphans stand and sing boldly about their Father:

I have a Maker; He formed my heart.  Before even time began, my life was in his hands.
I have a Father; He calls me His own.  He’ll never leave me, no matter where I go.
He knows my name.  He knows my every thought.  He sees each tear that falls and He hears me when I call.

What a blessing that month was in my life.  Africa, specifically the children of Musana will forever hold a special place in my heart and it’s days like today when I remember them, that I can truly rejoice that one day we will be together praising our God forever in Heaven!  Yippee! Can’t wait for that day!

Africa, Bekah's Heart

Africa on the heart…

Today has been one of those “think a lot about Africa” kinds of days. 

– One year ago right now I was on a plane from Chicago to London, followed by a flight from London to Uganda.

– My friend Jessica, with whom I travelled with last year, and I played phone tag all day (and finally got to talk a little this evening.)

– I saw some facebook posts from a friend who is currently in Africa.

– As I was running some errands this afternoon, the song “Draw Me Close” came on the radio, reminding me of Joyce singing this song and playing her guitar for me one night at Musana just a couple weeks before she left this world to be forever close to her Savior.

Africa, Bekah's Heart, Internship Highlights, NY Adventures

But What If I end Up Some Place Like New York?!?!?

I didn’t want to clutter the other post from today with this story, but it is, as my staffmates would say “hi-larious” and just one of those things that confirms in my mind that God truly does have a sense of humor:


So during my last semester at Concordia I was trying to make the decision of whether or not to go to Uganda.  There were many things that were trying to get in the way… health issues, concerns about finances both for Uganda and then also for needed to get a car and move/get settled in a new apartment, etc.  I also had to choose whether or not to go to Uganda before knowing where I was going for internship nor WHEN I was going to need to show up there. 


During this time of prayer… conversation back and forth between God and I, I distinctly remember listing off some “what-ifs”, partly just so God could debunk them with some truth.  One thing I remember praying was, “But God, what if I go to Uganda and live this simple, slower, non-hurried life for a month and then have to jump into life in some fast-paced place?  How could I handle the culture shock.  Are you sure this isn’t too much God. I mean, what if I end up having to move to like NEW YORK a week after I get back or something???  


Now, for all of you that may not be from around here, I guarantee you that life in WNY is not the stereotypical fast-paced, hurried, crazy life we see in the movies from NYC.  So, thankfully that was not an issue coming back from Uganda, and as I said in my previous post, really this was the perfect place/congregation to come back to who understood some of those culture shock elements and mission work and just made that transition so easy.


BUT you do have to admit that it’s quite hilarious!!!! 


It’s a cool reminder to me that when God tells us not to fear (which he says more than any other command in the Bible), he’s not guaranteeing that our worst fear might not come true… He’s just saying that if it does, He will take care of us every step of the way!

Africa, Bekah's Heart, Internship Highlights

Prayers Prayed… Prayers Answered

As I’ve described in posts Saturday, Sunday, and Monday… the way I ended up in New York for internship is something that only God could orchestrate.  The stories are cool, but what is even more amazing is to see the ways in which God has answered so many specific prayers this year that were prayed even months before I even knew where I was going.  Here are a few examples with some excerpts from some of my prayer journals:

January 6, 2010 – “… To me, going to Africa the same summer as starting my internship seemed impossible, but You are the God who makes the impossible happen. Set my heart at rest to depend on your faithfulness. …”

I had planned to go to Africa the summer of 2009, because it seemed like it would be impossible for me to go the same summer that I was starting internship.  God knew that not only was it possible, but he knew it was the perfect timing being that I would be headed to one of the most mission-focused churches I’ve seen with people that truly wanted to hear my story and help me process what I had just experienced.  And if I could only express how much that sending cloth meant to me and to so many other in Uganda. 🙂

(Click here to read another funny God-story about the Uganda/internship combination.)

January 21, 2010 (the day of my placement interview for internship) – “…God, I also pray that you would help me as I reflect on my interview with Tim about preferences for internship. I don’t really know what I want. … Despite anything I said or didn’t say today, prepare the place and job description as well as preparing my heart for that position. … begin creating a support system in that place for me in some way.”

What I wrote in this prayer is true.  When I did my placement interview with Tim, I really didn’t even know how to answer the questions about what ministries I wanted to do and when I listed college-age ministry near the top of my list with a couple other lesser-common ministry areas, he kind of looked at me as if to say, “I doubt that’ll ever happen.” 🙂  And here I am on my internship with almost half of my time dedicated to college-age ministry.  Women’s ministry was also near the top of my list and it’s been a joy the past month or so to start up a Young Women’s Life Group.  God has cool ways of answering prayers.  (Neither college-age ministry, nor women’s ministry were even on the possible list to rank. 🙂 I just added them!)

Also, with that, “High School Ministry” was pretty low on my preference list at the time, but thankfully, God came through with the “prepare my heart for the position” part of the prayer too and I truly love that part of my job too and am so glad God knows my heart better than I do even!

Lastly, in that prayer, I prayed for a support system to begin being formed wherever I’d end up. I knew how much I depended on the people around me at school and that with all the transitions (especially with Uganda thrown in there) I knew I’d need people around me and again, I can’t think of a better place than First Trinity to find that.  Again and again God has shown me this love and encouragement and friendship that I need in ways that I couldn’t have even imagined. 

March 21, 2010 “…Father, I pray for my internship site.  In less than three weeks, I will know where I’ll be heading… but you already know. … I pray that as Tim makes these placement decisions, that you would reveal to him the perfect place for me to serve and share your name with the gifts and passions you’ve given me. …”

I thought I’d throw this one in there too just because it’s funny to me I said, “You already know God” and was kind of thinking, I’m sure that maybe Tim was starting to figure it out or something…. At this point, First Trinity hadn’t even expressed an interest to CUNE in getting an intern. 🙂  But, yes, God did know already.

April 10, 2010  “TONAWANDA, NY!!!  Well, at least I can write the town and church in here even if I can’t anywhere else.  First Trinity Lutheran Church.  Father, I praise you for this church and Sue, Jason and Pastor Chuck and I haven’t even been there. Thank you for the conversations with Sue and Jason today and consistently reassuring me that your hand is in this.”

If you didn’t know, due to Sue being on vacation and then Pastor being in China, they couldn’t announce the fact that they were getting an intern until about a month after I found out, which is why I couldn’t say much on Facebook, etc. but I COULD write about it in my journal and that I did. I continued to pray for this place and God has consistently answered those prayers again and again:

I didn’t know how I would pay for my Uganda trip and get furniture I needed in my apartment. Without me asking, they asked the congregation if anyone had extra furniture and now everyday, I am reminded of the Ciminelli family as I head to bed, and the Phillips’ as I eat dinner, and the Canfields as I turn on the lamps in the living room (and so many others who gave). 

I prayed for wisdom and guidance to balance my work/ministry with my need to just be alone with God and renewed and refreshed.  God provided a beautiful apartment in which I can come home each day and relax in Him.

The list can go on and on … and does go on and on.  God never ceases to amaze me!  So, there… now you have the crazy story of how I ended up as an intern in New York! 🙂  What a great 9 months it’s been so far!!

Africa, Joy, Music

Hands That Hold the World

Below is a song I heard recently that I liked and thought some of you might like as well.   Enjoy!



Tanzania by Alli Rogers

It’s eight hours later in Tanzania.
When Jen lays down
Mary’s just opening her eyes.
Her child’s feet land on the ground
and dirt scatters,
And she feels left out in the open,
always left out in the open.
She says, “son, wear my shoes to school today”.
He turns and smiles and walks away,
and she thinks to herself…


Someday I will wake
where the earth is clean and safe.
My children have a place to play,
not here in Tanzania.
And someday I will live
in a house that’s built by
hands that hold the world.


It’s eight hours earlier in Chattanooga.
Mary sits down and Jen’s just put the coffee on.
Katie Couric is talking news and fashion,
and Jen feels pushed into a corner,
always pushed into a corner, she says
“Baby I know what girls at school are like”.
And her daughter rides off on her bike,
and Jen thinks to herself…


Someday I will wake
where my children get a break,
And there are chances that they’ll take,
not here in Chattanooga.
Someday I will live
in a house that’s built by
hands that hold the world.


Well it’s hard to be mother,
and it’s hard to be a woman,
and it’s hard to live in Africa sometimes.
It’s hard to be mother,
and it’s hard to be a woman,
and it’s hard to live in America sometimes.


But someday I will wake
in a body that won’t break,
On ground that doesn’t shake, not here.
And someday I will live
in a house that’s built by
hands that hold the world.

Africa, Bekah's Heart, First Trinity, Haiti, Poetry/Songs

An (Un)divided Heart

Wow! What a week!  I had an absolutely WONDERFUL time in Haiti with the FT team and plan to tell you all about it here (and hopefully in person) in the days to come.  What’s standing out to me most right now is best described in a comment a friend posted on my Facebook wall yesterday that read:


“How many places can you leave a piece of your heart?”


I am beginning to wonder this very question myself.  The comment was prompted by the fact that I had received an e-mail newsletter from Musana Children’s Home in Uganda, where I spent the month of June.  My week in Haiti brought up so many memories of that trip.  The other exciting connection between these two experiences is that the newsletter outlined all the building projects that have taken place and been completed in the months since I left Musana… new verandas for the cabins, a beautiful new church, a dining area, a kitchen and more.  To hear of how these things have come together so quickly gives hope for the process that has begun at the Children of Israel Orphanage in Torbeck, Haiti.


In this all though, I agree with my friend, that my heart can quickly become divided…and even broken.  Not only would I still rather be in the WARM weather wearing a skirt in Haiti, I would love to still be there loving on those children, twisting wires on the cabin that they will one day live in, learning new words in Creole in order to better be able to share the love of Christ with them. 


Yes, a portion of my heart remains today in Haiti.  And a portion of my heart still remains in Uganda.  And a portion of my heart is in Seward NE and Wichita KS and at camp and more.


When I stop to think about it, I start to wonder “REALLY… how many places CAN I leave a part of my heart?”  But earlier today I was reminded of a quote by Elisabeth Elliot that seems to fit this situation:


"One morning I was reading the story of Jesus feeding the five thousand. The disciples could find only five loaves of bread and two fishes. ‘Let me have them,’ said Jesus. He asked for all.  He took them, said the blessing, and broke them before he gave them out. I remembered what a chapel speaker, Ruth Stull of Peru, had said: ‘If my life is broken when given to Jesus, it is because pieces of me will feed a multitude, while a loaf will satisfy only a little lad.’"


If I experience brokenness in my life when I give all I am and have to Jesus, it’s really an okay thing.  It’s because pieces will feed many, whereas, if I prefer to keep up a mentality of self-preservation, I may not feel as broken or torn in moments like this, but I certainly, will not feel “whole.” 


Psalm 86:11 says “Teach me your way O Lord, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.” 


THAT is where wholeness is found… in seeking the One and only truth and walking in His way.  Teach me that Way, O Lord! Back in June, God’s Way took me to Africa.  This past week, that Way took me to Haiti… and yes, those beautiful children in both places stole a little piece of my heart.  Today, though, God’s Way brings me back to New York.   When my prayer is to have an undivided heart, focused on Christ, I can rest in knowing that no matter how many places I leave pieces my heart, as I take each step in the the direction of God’s way, my heart will become more and more whole.


“If my life is broken when given to Jesus, it is because pieces of me will feed a multitude, while a loaf will satisfy only a little lad.” ~ Ruth Stull

Haiti11 (373)



(A song I wrote a few months ago that seems to fit with this post:)




Teach me Your way, oh Lord,
and I will walk in Your truth.
Teach me to fear your name with an
undivided heart.


Teach me your peace, oh God,
which transcends all understanding.
In Jesus Christ please guard my heart; give me an
undivided mind.


Teach me to love, Oh Lord,
with all my heart, with all my mind,
with all my strength, with all I am, teach me
undivided love.


Undivided – perfect and true
Undistracted – focused on You
Undiminished – Constantly
Unswerving, whole hearted, giving glory to Thee

Teach me Your way, oh Lord,
Teach me Your peace
Teach me to love, Oh Lord, 
With an
undivided life.

31 Days of Hope, Africa

HOPE {Day 1} We NEED Hope

Where to begin?  This is day 1 of a month long journey of intentionally looking at hope and I discovered something today. When you set out to focus intentionally on one thing, suddenly your eyes are opened to it everywhere.  I feel like I could fill 31 days of blogging about hope just from the thoughts, ideas, Bible verses, stories and more that went through my head today alone.  I’m not sure where to start but I guess if you boil all of my pondering down from today, I land on this one thought:


We NEED hope.


I remember my Musana kids and my trip in Uganda where I saw people who had nothing but where still able to live a joyful life because they had… hope.  That’s kind of what “Musana” even means… sunshine or ray of hope.


I think about the upcoming trip to Haiti at First Trinity and continue to hear stories from the earthquake last year and even before the earthquake, the need is so great in that country.  People simply are holding on and are able to make it through each day because they have hope.


I ponder what it would have been like to be one of those miners stuck in the ground for 69 days.  I heard today that they were down there 17 days before they  had any communication with anyone above ground.  Hope for rescue, I’m sure, played a crucial role in their survival.  I loved hearing that the camp they set up for the families of the miners was called, Camp Hope. 


It would be easy to say “of course those people need hope; they’re from countries that are poor and they don’t have anything else.  But I’d even venture to say that we almost are worse off here in America when it comes to lacking hope.  We get caught so easily in Satan’s lies thinking that “things” and “stuff” and “power” and “control” and “relationships” and….. and…. and…. will give us what we need.  But when the things break, the stuff gets old, we lose power and control, and that significant other walks away, we get caught in despair. 




And we need to find hope in something that will never move or break or leave.  One of my favorite passages is from Lamentations 3.  After 2.5 chapters of lamenting how horrible life is, the author suddenly switches his mindset and states: 


YET this I call to mind and therefore I have HOPE:


Consumed.  I feel that’s a good description of what it might be like to not have hope… consumed.  But praise be to God that in a world that seems to be losing hope faster than the speed of light, we do not have to be consumed.  For we can trust in the truth that God’s love for us is GREAT!  Even if you have nothing else to hold on to, hold on to this fact:




That fact doesn’t instantly make everything better, and there still may be challenges to face, but what great HOPE is found in knowing that there is a God who is greater than this mess of a world we lives in and HE LOVES US!


Rest in that hope!