I’m catching up on Testimony Tuesday Testimonies today! I have 2 that you are just going to LOVE! I know it’s not Tuesday, but God has a Word for you today.
I have been blessed to know Kay and her family for years and her walk with Christ is so inspiring. I recently spent a weekend with her at the WMU conference and was encouraged by her wisdom, faith, and trust in her Creator during a very difficult weekend for her family. Her strength and faith is a testimony to all who know her.
As you read Kay’s testimony, think about how much you “help” God and how much more He can do through you if you’d only surrender to His plan. I needed to hear this today. I hope you are encouraged by it, too.
“Look at the nations and watch—and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told.” Habakkuk 1:5.
I have a tendency to be the General Manager of the World! God gave me administrative and teaching gifts, and as everybody knows, people with those gifts just have to be in charge. So, over the years I’ve found myself trying to “help” God along with my planning and “handling of stuff.” Sometimes my plans have worked out well. Sometimes, well……I should have sat quietly and waited to see the great things God wanted me to see without my interference!!
One of those times comes vividly to mind.
A few years ago my pastor announced that a mission’s team would be leaving our church and going to Munkac, Ukraine. A group of Gypsies had been given land in Munkac, they had acquired a church—New Life Christian Church, and Pastor Jonas needed some help with Bible School at the church, Backyard Bible Schools in surrounding villages, and a construction project. My husband and I felt that this was a trip that we wanted to be part of, so we started attending the planning and prayer meetings with the team. It didn’t take long for me to wonder what I was doing going on that trip. I don’t do construction work although I’ve sold houses for over 35 years, and while I do love children, I’m just more comfortable teaching adults. Team members would sit around planning crafts and Bible studies for the children and I’d just sit there with very little input. The construction team would discuss how to get the tools over that they needed to take, and I’m sitting there thinking that they don’t need me swinging even a hammer. Lord, I prayed, why am I going on this trip?
One Sunday night as we were planning, Pastor Lance announced that he had heard from Pastor Jonas’ contacts and Pastor Jonas wanted our team to spend some time with their women in Bible Study. He asked for a volunteer and my hand, eyes, and heart immediately responded. That was why I was supposed to be on the team! Pastor Lance put me in charge of that part of the trip.
We had no idea how many women we’d encounter, but MY planning began immediately! I was visiting with my sister several days later and while we were just sitting around, she asked me if I’d ever seen a Knifty Knitter. I don’t knit! But something about that little device intrigued me. A Knifty Knitter is a loom on which you twirl yard around spindles, and with a special tool, loop over and under repeatedly until you knit a hat. You do not need any talent to use this tool. You don’t even have to speak English to use it. Ah……a perfect project to get the women together, to give them a tool that would be useful to them, and while we are sitting around “knitting”, God’s Word could be taught. MY idea was….what if this project would give them a reason to get together and study God’s Word long after our team left Munkacs. So I started trying to figure out how to purchase as many knitters and yarn as I could. The ladies at my church are givers, and oh how they gave. They gave enough knitters and yarn to fill my dining room. We could not walk in there for the yarn!!! Some ladies donated Space Bags, so we scrunched yarn and more yarn, and finally filled 6 huge suitcases with nothing but yarn and knitters. I think some of the team members thought the project was crazy and burdensome, but I felt that God had placed His hand on this project. That yarn just had to get there. I was not sure how it would be used, but the yarn HAD to make it to Munkacs.
And, if we’re going to have a knitting circle, we have to have a planned Bible Study. So, I (note the word, I) started planning that as well. I figured I’d just do a basic Jesus study, you know, His birth, His ministry, His death, His resurrection, His coming again, because I (note the word, I) figured we’d have 5 days of Bible Study to the same women. I printed snapshots of Jesus in all stages of His life. I had hundreds of them. I also printed 100s of pictures of my first grandchild, Megan who was 2 at the time and 100s of sonogram pictures of Jake, my second grandchild who was due to be born 3 months after our trip. At the time, I (note that word again) thought that having those pictures of my children would give us an “icebreaker”. You know….they get to know me so we can connect.
So, off we went to Munkacs. We stayed in an old KGB building which the Gypsies were using for a church. Does God have a sense of humor, or what? What was once used for evil had become a house of prayer and praise!
Bible School started early the day after we arrived and boy did the children come…hundreds of them…but no women….from the Gypsy camp.
By the second day, I’d still had no opportunity to meet with any women. I pulled out the Knifty Knitters, though, during our downtime, and we team members made hats. We figured we’d just give the hats to the children who we sadly noted had almost nothing to wear. Eventually some of the pastors of the village churches came in to learn to make the hats. The yarn was hit among those at the church building, but still, there were no women. I was beginning to question why I had insisted on lugging all the yarn over.
On the third day when Bible School at the church was over, we were invited to go to a village outside of Munkacs for a one afternoon Backyard Bible School. We put a tarp on the ground and started to set up for the kids to come. Come they did…and so did the mothers. I was so excited. I could finally get to work with the women! We set out another tarp for the women, but, I have to tell you, that all that planning I had done back in the USA just didn’t seem right. It was five minutes before I was supposed to lead them, and I had a horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach that all that I had planned was wrong! So, literally five minutes before I opened my mouth, God gave the scripture that I was to use with them. There was no time to plan what would “fit”. I just had to let God do what God does best and step out of the way. Psalm 139 was what God had planned. So I began to read and with the help of an interpreter, shared with the women how special they were to God. I got to verse 13 and my tears started rolling:
13 “For you created my inmost being; you KNIT me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body.”
The Knifty Knitters and yarn and so many pictures of that sonogram of Jake came immediately out of my bag. The women understood the scripture. It jumped off the page. They had never seen a sonogram before. We DO take so much for granted! Each took a picture of Jake and carried it close to their bosoms. They also took the Jesus pictures. God planned that blessing for me and I praise him.
It was also at that meeting that my salvation testimony changed. Always before when I’d given my testimony, I told how I’d been in Sunday School and church forever and at age 9 gave my life to Christ. But on that day, in Munkacs, Ukraine, my salvation testimony came to life. Those mothers brought their children to Backyard Bible School so that they could learn about Jesus. All of a sudden it dawned upon me that their testimony was mine. I came to have a relationship with Christ because MY MOTHER took me to Him. I charged those women in Munkacs to keep pointing their children and grandchildren to Christ.
The next day we went to another village. By this time I knew that Psalm 139 was the “Scripture of the Week”. This time we sat down in a small church building…in a circle…to study with about twelve village women. This time, I only got to verse 2 before God showed me His Spirit.
2“You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.
4 Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely.
5 You hem me in behind and before me, and you lay your hand upon me.”
I looked over and the village pastor’s wife had huge tears running down her face. I was afraid that I’d said something wrong so I asked the interpreter to intervene. That sweet pastor’s wife testified that while she was working in the field that day she was so hot and tired that she could barely move her feet. She prayed while she worked that God would help her complete her task. Her tears were testimony that God had answered her prayer. He had “hemmed her in”. Nothing more needed saying! We just pulled out the Knitters and enjoyed our sisterhood!
The day we women sat in the plum orchard and knitted was VERY interesting. The men of the village came to see what the women were doing. They tried to help with the knitting! We were living out the knowledge that God knit us together, and we were hearing the reading of God’s precious Word. Nearly all of the Jesus pictures disappeared that day. The men actually took them from the women…for themselves. I figure that the people God intended to have them got them!
The final day that we went to a village is a special one that I’ll never forget. Again, the women brought their children to Backyard Bible School, so I got to meet with about 10 of them. The 10 were a diverse group. Some spoke Hungarian. Some spoke Russian. Some spoke Ukrainian. None spoke English. So my interpreter would say what I said in Hungarian, and then the one who spoke Hungarian would interpret into Russian, and on and on. This time there was no knitting. This time I read one sentence. Just one sentence! The testifying began. One woman testified that her husband had been ill…so ill that the doctors gave them no hope of keeping his leg. But the Christians in the village prayed diligently for him and God healed him and his leg. Another testified that her husband had died and she was left with 5 children and had no way to care for them. But the Christians prayed and are helping her and God is providing for her. Another shared that her baby was due any moment and asked us to pray for her. We joined hands and I prayed for each of them, lifting their cares to God. As soon as I said amen, they started asking me questions about where I came from and about my family. I still had pictures of Megan and the sonogram of Jake so I shared them. They were in awe of that baby in the womb…something they had never seen. I told them that was my grandson. They moved me to the middle of the prayer circle. Around me, they lifted the pictures of that sonogram and all prayed aloud in their own tongue for Jake. They prayed that God would bless that child and that He would raise him up to be a mighty man of God. I cannot even begin to tell you what a blessing I received from that group of women. These women had NOTHING but they had everything!
So, while I had planned (note the I) to bless the Gypsies with my knowledge of Christ, God turned the tables on me. The Gypsy women blessed me far beyond what I had planned for them. Yep, God did it again. He showed me things I could not have imagined even if He’d told me!
I’m still good at “helping God”. I’m sure He gets a kick out of my planning sometimes. I have learned, though, to ask Him to change MY plans anytime He deems necessary. I’ve learned that His ways are so much better!