I Chronicles 16:11; Psalm 14:1-2; Matthew 6:33; Luke 12:11-12, 31; Acts 17:27
This Is Where God Is
Lidgerwood Presbyterian Church
Jennifer and I returned from our vacation across the globe on Tuesday evening, after traveling the equivalent of 46 hours straight, from Maasai Mara, Kenya, to Nairobi by van, from Nairobi, Kenya, to Dubai by plane (and then bus), from Dubai, UAE, to Seattle by 15 hours of plane (and then trains), and from Seattle to Spokane by plane and minivan.
And those 46 hours followed almost three weeks of incredible sites, experiences, and people, including our son Andrew in Kyrgyzstan and our C.E.O. director Edina in Kenya.
Today, I want to show you some photos (I narrowed it down to about 75), and in the process of showing you some of what we experienced tell you stories of how we encountered God – God’s presence and God’s power, God’s patience and God’s peace, God’s persistence and God’s people.
And Jennifer, who always catches things I miss, sees things I don’t, learns things I remain stupid about, is also here to add her insights as we share.
And when we’re all done, I hope we leave some time for some of you to also share stories of how you have experienced God so far this Summer.
Our bulletin cover and our Call to Worship, and our Sermon Notes page list a few of the dozens of Bible verses that talk about seeking God. Let’s take a quick look at those as we start flipping through some Kygyzstanian photos.
Psalm 14:1-2, “The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good. The Lord looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God.”
Acts 17:27, “He has done this so that they would look for God, somehow reach for him, and find him. In fact, he is never far from any one of us.”
I Chronicles 16:11, “Search for the Lord and his strength. Always seek his presence.”
Matthew 6:33, “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
Our first stop was in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, northwest of China, in the mountains along the ancient Asian Silk Trading Road. Kyrgyzstan is part of what used to be the USSR and has been an independent nation for fewer than 30 years. Mostly Muslim in religion and mostly rural, farming, in industry.
Everywhere we went Andrew introduced us as his parents and siblings, and everywhere we went the men would gather around and start talking, in their best English, to ask what I did for a living…. There are lots of ways to respond to that question, but to limit the potential walls that might grow, I simply answered that I work for a Christian Church, a Protestant Church. That answer seemed to open doors for sharing about their faith system and so we could talk, a little, about how we were similar and how we were very different.
Knowing that people can only see the light of the Gospel when the Holy Spirit opens their eyes, it was my job to faithfully reveal that light in ways that could pique interest.
From my personal devotional reading this morning I ran across this promise in Luke 12:11-12 & 31. Hear the Word of God: “ When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.” And, “Seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.”
I was invited to participate in the slaughter of a lamb, a sacrificial lamb – I was reminded of the Old Testament requirement of a sacrificial lamb as a sign of our repentance and contrition. If I had to sacrifice a lamb for every sin I ever commit, I would consider my action and my disobedience to God much more seriously….
I experienced God in the majestic beauty of mountains and wildlife, in the warm hospitality of the people we encountered, in the respect and admiration and love people of every generation and walk of life had for Andrew, in the humble act sacrifice.
Kenya: very different natural beauty, very different warm, generous hospitality, very different wildlife, renewed relationships with orphaned children and their caregivers, and with Edina Nekesa Wanyonyi (our spiritual daughter), and hospital stays (but these are Jennifer’s stories).
I experienced God in more directly Christian atmosphere, and again, in the care of brothers and sisters sharing their all with us strangers in their midst, family from across the globe.
Where have you seen God this Summer? How have you sought His presence and power?
Let’s encourage each other to continue to seek His Kingdom, every day!