love explosions (contents will explode under pressure)

I might as well face it, I’m addicted to LOVE.

Jeremiah 20:9 exposes Jeremiah’s own addiction,

But if I say, “I will not mention him
or speak any more in his name,”
his word is in my heart like a burning fire,
shut up in my bones,
I am weary of holding it in;
indeed, I cannot
.”

He could not hold in the love that God ignited within him. He was a man perpetually on the brink of a love explosion. And I am a woman lost in love. The boat of my control has capsized in the ocean of His goodness, no longer just on the waters of love, I’m swimming in it.

Over a month ago I went with my Arabic teacher’s sister (Sameera) to a hospital in Jerusalem to accompany her on her daily radiation treatment. She has cancer in her cheek. In the shuttle from Bethlehem to Jerusalem, we were chatting and I asked her if she had any pain. “Yes, I have pain in my cheek now. It comes and goes, but now it hurts a lot.” I told her a story of praying for someone who then got healed and added, “God wants to heal you. Could I pray for you?” “Yes.”

I prayed. All the pain left her cheek. I yelped a “woohooo!” there in the back of the shuttle. Heads turned. I smiled and laughed! JESUS IS BEAUTIFUL! Sameera was thrilled!

And when we arrived at the hospital I found myself in the cancer ward surrounded by people with cancer. haha! It was a Holy Spirit stake-out. God knows I can not resist a room full of terminally ill people. I get overcome with love and I am compelled to pray for them. So, I said, “Holy Spirit, send me a translator.” Instantly a woman walked into the room and sat in the empty seat next to me (despite the presence of several other empty seats). She spoke English fluently.

The Holy Spirit told me to ask her what her name (Wael’a) means. “The Courageous One,” she answered. haha! Wow! Perrrrrfect! So, we talked for ten minutes or so and I told her about the pain leaving Sameera’s cheek in the shuttle, Wael’a immediately said, “will you pray for me?” “Yes, of course.” She didn’t have present pain, but I did pray and she felt God moving. Then I told her I wanted to ask all the people in the room if they want prayer, would she translate for me? “Oh no. I can’t. no, no, I’m too afraid” she replied. “But your name means “the courageous one” I reminded her. “Yes, but no, these women are Muslim, they don’t want prayer.” “You would be surprised. I’ve prayed for a lot of Muslim women and many of them have been healed.” “No, no, I’m sorry. I can’t,” she stated. “Okay, that’s fine. I’ll do it on my own” and with that I turned to the two women on the bench to my left and said, “excuse me, I’m Dawn, and I came with Sameera. I prayed for Sameera in the van and the pain left her cheek. Do you want me to pray for you?” “Yes, YES!” they answered in unison. So, I moved seats to be near them and Wael’a burst out, “okay! I will translate for you!” haha! I prayed for both women individually and the second one, afflicted with cancer in her throat, felt fire on her throat, the pain left, and she began to cry as she was overcome with God’s presence. AMAZING!                                    HALLELUJAH!

Then I moved back to my original seat and asked Wael’a if she would translate for everyone else in the room. “No, no, I can’t,” she said. Then suddenly, she did. She leaned over and said, “she wants to know if any of you want her to pray for you.” I laughed, “please tell them about Sameera’s cheek becoming painless and this other woman’s pain leaving her throat.” So, Wael’a did. One woman’s arm shot up, “pray for me!” she exclaimed. I switched seats and prayed for the woman and then she and the man next to her asked questions about Jesus. It was gorgeous!

A woman in her seventies walked in with heavy countenance and her eyes appeared on the brink of utter despair. The Holy Spirit gave me a picture: I was kneeling on the floor simply holding the woman’s hands silently. I obeyed and knelt at the woman’s feet and took her hands in mine without words. She began to weep. Minutes passed. I asked her name and told her mine. I told her about Sameera and the other woman’s pain leaving and asked if I could pray for her. She said yes. I prayed. The Holy Spirit clothed us in weighty, golden presence. In time, family members came to say they should get going; and then the woman’s son appeared and I found out he is a doctor in the hospital! He was touched to see me praying for his mom. “Take as long as you want with my mom. We don’t need to hurry. Thank you.” he said. The family is from Gaza. And so, I sat for a while, even when another family member came over and began to pray a Muslim prayer over the woman’s head (which made me say, “Holy Spirit, it’s on!”) Eventually, I finished praying, the woman showed me her scar from her breast cancer surgery, and she got up to leave with her family overflowing with gratitude and verbal thanks.

It was just in time to go into Sameera’s appointment with her. Her treatment was quick.

Thereafter, we visited Sameera’s friend in the hospital (they were also from Gaza). And later took the shuttle back to Bethlehem.

Healing happened in those women that day. I don’t know what or how much, but I know the Son of righteousness has healing in his wings. And all of those people in that room had a GOD encounter and a love encounter. And they were changed by it.

And I know it was A GOOD DAY. And God is always in a GOOD MOOD. And He always wants to heal.

Be blessed today. Step out in boldness – even if you’ve never done such a thing before. God will respond. He will honor your faith and love. And He will heal people through your hands. And heaven will come to earth. Yaaaaaay! May Jesus get His full reward! Everything He paid for!

Have fun! It’s fun to be a laid down lover of Jesus! The most fun!

“A City Called By Name”

a song of promise for a city of destiny in HIM. Most of the lyrics are straight from Micah 5. And it’s recorded sitting on a balcony in the Bethlehem area. C’mon! Let’s agree with heaven for the FULLNESS of Bethlehem’s purposes in Him! YAY!

“The greatest revival the world has ever seen is coming to Bethlehem!” – Pastor Surpresa Sithole

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about ““A City Called By Name”“, posted with vodpod

Good Morning, Beit Sahour!

last night on a rooftop in Beit Sahour, some friends and I prayed for the city and the bits of this song swept together. (The words “Beit Sahour” basically mean “those who stay and see the dawn, or those who stay up all night”)

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Good Morning, Beit Sahour!“, posted with vodpod

HUG the nearest overseas worker!

A year ago, a Palestinian friend asked me if I have any brothers. When I replied with, “I have two sisters, no brothers.” His eyes grew empathetic. “That’s so sad” he said, “you must have at least one brother to look out for you, someone who will take care of things in the house too. You should have a brother.”

I chuckled. Though accustomed to the male-centralized culture, the deep sorrow and hint of injustice in my friend’s voice surprised me. “Elias, I like just having sisters. And we can all do things on our own. It’s okay. I’m not sad I don’t have a brother.” He shook his head, surely pondering the fragility of what it is to be a woman without a brother.

Yesterday, over a year later, I was praying with a friend and she said, “like our big brother Jesus.” Aha! The uncorking reality of Jesus as my brother, my BIG brother, set in. He always looks out for me. He always helps me to get things done. He is my protector, my advocate, my good friend. He even beats up the playground bullies and their demonic leader. He loves me. Perfectly. And he has taken a lot of blows on my behalf, for my honor, for my purity, and for my access into the family inheritance.

He’s the best big brother a girl could have. Looking back at the conversation with my friend, I would add, “Jesus is my big brother. I have two sisters and one BIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIG brother!”

And wow. I know His bigness infinitely better today than I did three years ago when I moved to Israel!

Much of that awareness is born of loneliness. Painful loneliness. Knowing the Lord and hanging out with Him out of desperation, even out of lack of anyone else to relate to. And really, there is great accuracy and great training in that statement because ultimately, HE is my beloved. And I long to live in a place of constant intimacy with Him. I want to know what is on His heart daily and I want to share with Him what is on mine. It’s a discipline. Sometimes, being vulnerable is exactly what I don’t want, but it’s still what He beckons me to.

I am blessed with a tiny community of overseas workers here – a circle of less than ten people. And I cherish them. We represent many nations: England, Canada, Australia, South Africa, and the USA. We all know the purging reality of Jesus’ words in Matthew 19:29, “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.” It’s not that we take pride in it, it’s that we know the painful, private, powerful secrets that come from that sacrifice. We know the way that this isolation cultivates inner strength and a global perspective so dear to God’s heart.

We also know that it’s weird. It’s a weird life. The ten of us likely wouldn’t be close friends in another setting. Our personalities, foci, hobbies, sense of humor, and even our callings are very different. Yet, we understand each other more than most of our families do. We are each other’s advocates. And we often hold many things in common possession a la Acts 2. We share cars, movies, travel plans, ministry, books, and, at times, our very homes. For example, I will have stayed in the homes of 4 of them by the time I move September 2. When one of us is on vacation we’ve watered plants, started cars, paid one another’s bills, and checked one another’s mail. It’s a great blessing.

Still, the freelance, non-set hours nature of our lives often means we don’t practice the solid disciplines of fun and fellowship. Of the ten of us we attend 5 different churches. We easily get isolated in our own ministry places and since most of us don’t have cars, it’s challenging to arrange to get together. And those ministry places are often very involved and easily extremely draining if we are not attentive to maintain fullness in the Holy Spirit, rest with God, and community with others.

Many of us have Palestinian friends, but many are new believers or immature believers and while they draw strength from us, they are not people we confide in, seek counsel from, or dream big with. And I admit that often, at the end of the day, I prefer relaxing and sharing life with those who are more culturally similar to me. I don’t want to have to be aware of how I should accept tea, or how I should interact with men in the house, and really, I want a break from feeling SO foreign, so different. I want a break from being conspicuous.

And so, it becomes increasingly paradoxical that surrounded by people, we often find ourselves acutely lonely. We find that those in our first countries, our friends and family, have moved on in life – they’ve married, had children; they’ve moved and changed careers. We feel that we are out of sight, out of mind. And to a degree, that’s natural and part of growing, but it also can increase the sense of foreign-ness. The country one is theoretically supposed to most fit it, now feels like a futuristic film taking place in 2034, where so much has changed in the place and in you, and you are so very unfamiliar with what used to be as natural as blinking, you feel eerily alone. You know that you look and sound like a native, but you have no idea how to use a debit machine at the supermarket, nor do you remember that you must stop when a school bus has its lights flashing. You are disoriented, almost like you’ve been in a coma for years.

I’m sharing this, not to make anyone feel badly or to complain (on the contrary, I love the honor it is to serve overseas!), but rather to give a glimpse inside the life of an overseas worker – in particular in the Middle East. I want to encourage people to ENCOURAGE and support overseas workers – to write to them, to send them care packages, to give generously, to invite them over for tea when they are in-country and really listen to their hearts, to welcome them as part of the family – because they are, we are.

I sometimes think I would never commission one of my sisters to live overseas and then not encourage her, hear her stories, ask how she is doing and what I can pray for, or send her surprise packages. I would remain actively her sister. That goes without saying for: we are family.

As I wrap up my time here (3.5 weeks left!) I am asking these kind of support questions of other overseas workers here. And I see this puts me in a good place to share what I’ve learned. And my heart burns to see the body of Christ re-configure their approach to overseas worker support. One woman I spoke with has lived here 12 years, she remained through the second intifada when the streets were speckled in tanks and curfews went on for months, she remained through intense bouts with fibromyalgia (she’s now totally healed!), and she just took her first sabbatical (6 months in her first country).

She said, at one point, “that’s just part of all this, isn’t it? loneliness.” Perhaps it is, but we should all give one big group hug to every overseas worker we know. We should ask the Lord which overseas workers we are supposed to focus on supporting and then ask Him “what does this person need right now?” And whether it’s a simple postcard with a Holy-Spirit prompted verse on it, or the person’s favorite spice she can’t find in the place she lives, or an extra $25 to help with the higher cost of water in the summer, or a group email from his former cell group proclaiming breakthrough, or an envelope full of photographs that will make her smile – we must loose the purse strings on our generosity and our love and bless the socks off those who have dropped their nets to follow him across oceans and continents to the place the Lord has knit in their hearts.

And as we loosen generosity, we break the spirit of poverty – not only in our own lives and families, but in the life of the one we are giving to, AND in the people she is living amongst. Moreover, we are actively tilling fields of the Great Commission, we are agreeing with heaven’s mandate to “Go into all the world” and we are doing it in fullness of faith, fullness of hope, and fullness of LOVE – loving the sent and loving those she is sent to. We must move into a higher revelation of love in the body of Christ. We must think of one another higher than ourselves and live out radical service.

This clarion call is ringing the doorbell in my own heart too. It’s drawing me to more laid-down love for Jesus and my neighbor. It’s asking me what my place is in supporting overseas workers. And it’s inviting me to be a stronger support to the body of Christ. I’m excited! I love it when we get stretched to live higher and freer!

In a way, I wish the support networks of my ten friends could read this blog. I want them to know how to encourage these precious, valiant friends of mine. I want my friends and every overseas worker on the planet to feel an increase in love and encouragement. And I want every church in the world to better know their overseas workers. And every overseas worker to better know her sending churces. So we can celebrate victory together, declare healing together, journey and mature together, and fulfill the Great Commission with ease and radical love.

What wondrous partnership the Lord has set-up! My heart, like a bottle of soda water, wants to burst for joy and thankfulness for all the overseas workers around the world and for those who sent them! wow! I love the family of God! We are the materials of the impossible turned possible. Hooray! The Lord be glorified in all the nations! <Jesus, thank you!>

for water or for worse, for richer or for poorer

The Judean Desert has never been known for its abundance of water. The same goes for Bethlehem which sits on the perimeter of the Judean Desert. And so it is that every summer in recent history Bethlehem experiences a water shortage. The people of Bethlehem expect it and especially those living in the refugee camps.

I think I was short on water for a day or two last summer, that’s it. Well, this year I had the privilege of learning a deeper lesson – the lesson that came from a week without water.

It began one normal day when a father and his son from Aza Camp in Bethlehem showed up in their worn out white four-door Datsun-ish car that certainly predates my 30 years. It was around noon and it was quite hot – around 90 degrees with the fiery desert wind pushing the  flame into my eyes. The father explained they were without water and asked if they could take some of mine. I know the family, all 8 or so of them, and I was happy to bless them with water. Moreover, I’ve never known of a water shortage in my building.

So, they emptied their car of its many canisters and began to fill them up. The image reminded me of Elisha filling the jars with oil in 2 Kings 4. As they filled their “jars” I went inside to grab leftover eclairs that a friend brought the night before from the fridge. I put them on a paper plate and handed them off to the son. He smiled big. I was reminded of months ago when he and his friend (both 12 years old) spontaneously showed up at my apartment to ask for help studying for their English exam the next day. His face carries delight like a ripe apple carries the glow of the sun.

Well, they went on their way and I was so thankful to the Lord for the easy chance to serve this family. Easy took a turn the next day when I turned on my faucet and discovered I was out of water. Neighbors in my buiding assured me the tank would refill itself within two days so, since my landlord is out-of-country, I waited. Two days later my friend Natalie and I were on the roof of our four story building trying to siphon water from her tank to mine using a garden hose! Two hours later, gravity still stood in our way: the tanks were at the same height so, the water would begin to transfer and then halt.

So, I called the building handyman. And a few days later he showed up. Unable to determine the problem, he left saying he would return in an hour. Three hours later I called him. Despite saying he was on his way, it wasn’t until the next evening (Sunday) that he returned and the water returned with him. Granted, the hot water still has yet to makes its appearance, but I’m honored to have water again!

And it was amazing to me the thoughts that went through my head in my waterless week. It was amazing how the lack of water threw me off-balance. Sure, I could still shower by going upstairs to my friend Natalie’s place, and sure, I could still water the flowers using the building’s outside faucet, and sure I was touched when a friend came over to use my computer and ended up filling up my plain ol’ store bought water bottles with water. I was happy to have different sorts of blessings that the usual, but I was also off-sync. There was a large pile of dishes next to my kitchen sink because I had a game night at my place the day before the water left. I was washing my hands with water-bottle water. And my showers had to be planned ahead.

I felt like I was on a long walk with one barefoot and one shoed foot. I talked with God a lot: “Father, I must be able to be unaffected by my surroundings. I must be able to live without water, or electricity, or internet, or even in a time of war. I must be able to keep my peace, YOUR peace, in all circumstances. Help me understand how to better keep my peace. How to have your anointing IN, ON, and AROUND me ALL THE TIME regardless of the detours in my life. Help! Holy Spirit, teach me!”

I kept thinking of Sudanese refugees who trekked from Sudan to Israel in search of home. I kept thinking of the sacrifices they made, the strength they exhibited to simply keep their families and their own psyches in one piece, and how they lived in tents, in the open, in the homes of strangers for years. I thought about what my peace would look like in that environment. As much as my peace has grown in steadfastness over the last three years through overcoming: language gaps, culture gaps, financial stretching, lack of close friends, experience gaps from friends and family in the USA, physical hardship, and living in a place known for it’s lack of peace – I have so much more I desire in His anointing and the Holy’s Spirit’s habitation.

A week without water made me insanely thirsty. For more of the Holy Spirit.

I want to always surrender to the Holy Spirit, to always make a place for Him, to live in the righteous, joyful, fullness of John 7:38,

“He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”

I believe the Holy Spirit within me makes me a well, for myself and for others. I believe my joy as the bride of Christ in my wedding vows to Him, include “for water or for worse, for richer or for poorer.” I resolve to perpetually be filled and re-filled by the Holy Spirit – always flowing with water – even when my apartment, my city, my nation are not. Thank you, Holy Spirit that you make the impossible possible! Thank you for carrying out the Father’s faithfulness and Jesus’ atonement! I will spend the rest of my life getting to know you and surrendering to your wind.  I love you, Holy Spirit!

Andrea and I on Herodian: Herod's summer palace (2006)

Andrea and I on Herodian: Herod's summer palace (2006)

active / نشطة

“I have an idea”

“I have another idea”

And so Keyla’s* walking cadence blends with her thinking cadence and her rhythm of new ideas, always new, never old, comes and tells me (in Arabic – aren’t you glad I translated it for you?):

Keyla: Dawn, I have an idea.

me: yes, Keyla?

Keyla: You can stay in Bethlehem. Don’t move back to the US. Stay here.

me: (laughter) Thanks, Keyla, but God has said to go. I will miss you. And I’ll see you again.

Keyla: but even my mother cries when she thinks of you leaving. (pause) I have another idea.

me: yes?

Keyla: go to the US, get your husband, and bring him back here.

me: (chuckling) that’s a nice idea, Keyla, but I must go back for a time. I don’t know if I will live here again.

Keyla: but we will miss you so much. Who will dance with Jesus with us?

And so the conversation floats and glides each evening. For over a month I have walked three evenings weekly with three MBBs from a camp in Bethlehem. Keyla, Zaara, and Lydia. It is their initiative that established the habit. And it is a gorgeous time for discipleship as we walk up and down the hills of Beit Jala, through orchards and around wadis (empty river beds). They stop and pick figs, grapes, apricots, cucumbers, apples, plums, pears, sunflower seeds and the regular free bottle of water from the restaurant 2/3 up the mountain. We also gather spiritual tasty treats: Joseph’s overnight journey from the prison to the palace, what it means to wait on the Lord, how to maintain one’s peace, what to do about those who are violent against them, what GRACE is, and how we train our hearts to love EVERYONE just like Jesus did. Of course, the girls do not speak English so, I find myself getting a mental workout that exceeds the physical workout as I fold together Arabic sentences like an origami paper swan in my mind.

It’s amazing to see the way these women encounter Jesus. Since they are from a M family in a very M camp in an 80% M city amongst a 99% M people, they do not have a rubric for what walking with J looks like. They also are without a community of believers. Moreover, because of potential persecution, they remain low-key about their faith. ALSO, they are women and thus, they are their family’s honor – if they do something to dishonor their immediate family or their extended family their lives could be in danger.

One day I was gleefully dancing along our walking path, singing to my Beloved and they began laughing. “Who are you dancing with, Dawn?” “Jesus!” I shouted back. And thus, it began… they have all begun spontaneously dancing with Jesus as we walk and even after they return to their house. Zaara says any time she feels sad if she starts to dance with Jesus a huge smile comes on her face! And she remains happy. And when she sings praises to Him she feels His presence! haha! One day she said, “Dawn, I have a question.” “Yes?” I replied. “Whenever I go to a meeting and sing songs to Jesus, when I go home I can’t stop singing and often I wake up in the middle of the night singing songs to Jesus!” She looked at me expectantly. “Um, Zaara, what is the question?” I asked. “Why?” she said.

I grinned a cheshire grin and winked at the Holy Spirit. And thus began another talk about the Holy Spirit and the things He gives us. : )

I love these women. Every evening as we scale the hills, when they tire and I maintain steam, they say, “Dawn, you are ACTIVE!” haha! I suppose a more exact translation would be energetic, but active (نشطة) has a different connotation in Arabic. Yet, somehow the Holy Spirit stirs in me in the midst of their observation – the joy of the Lord is my strength! (Neh 4:12) Even physically as we scale large hills.

One day recently I suggested we replace our walk with a journey to King Herod’s summer palace, Herodian, about 30 minutes outside Bethlehem. The girls had never been. We had a joyous time! We even got to see the remains of Herod’s tomb which was discovered only two years ago! As we were atop the mountain, we spied an Israeli Army outpost with many tanks outside. The girls were intrigued. One of them blurted out, “I love the Jews!” And the others chimed in, “yes, Dawn says Jesus loves all the people so we must also. So, WE LOVE THE JEWS!” I was happy-struck! WOW! To think, when I picked up the girls at their house that day they were tired because they hadn’t slept much due to the Israeli Army barging into their neighbors’ house in the middle of the night and the confrontation that ensued. They said they were very scared, but nevertheless, later that day they were atop Herodian proclaiming their love for the Jews!

” For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier,

THE DIVIDING WALL of hostility,

by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near.

For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.”

Ephesians 2:14-18

From the Herodian we journeyed to Kheritoun – the largest cave system in all Israel/Palestine! It’s over 2 miles in length! After we poked inside one of the rooms the girls said, we should come back here again and sing worship song in English, Arabic, and HEBREW! (Mind you, the girls don’t speak Hebrew, but it’s remarkable to see the way reconciliation grows from their hearts!) They understand that, though it’s a hard call, they must love those their culture says are their “enemies.” They are living out a radical call to LOVE, to forgive, to approach those who have hurt them, and to sing praises to the Lord through a new river of unity!

I would say, that these women are ACTIVE! Active in love, in learning Jesus’ ways, in learning to calm themselves and listen to the Spirit despite what their environment says. And they are paving an irresistible revolution! They are forerunners! They are making the way for their entire camp and their entire people group to follow Jesus in passionate pursuit! It is a high honor to know them! I can hardly wait to see what the Lord does in them in the years to come! WOW! WOW! WOW!

* names have been changed

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Palestinian Dress

YES AMEN YES AMEN YES AMEN YES AMEN YES AMEN YES AMEN YES AMEN YES AMEN YES AMEN YES AMEN

Okay. If you watched my first video update, you already know the skeleton to Joseph’s story. (Joseph is not his real name.) Here is the whole story from March until the beginning of June when he fully decided to FOLLOW JESUS! yeah!

a couple months ago my friend Peter, an American, met a guy, a Bedouin guy, from a nearby village – I’ll call him Joseph – and one evening while Peter and others were having dinner at my place, Peter got a call from Joseph asking him to come to the hospital to pray for his friend’s father who was on his deathbed. Peter asked if I wanted to go. I did. And so, 4 of us went. Peter and I prayed and sang over the dying man, talked with the family, and then Joseph invited us to his home outside Bethlehem. We went. Then we went to his cousin’s house nearby.

While Joseph and I were talking in the house, God gave me a word of knowledge about an event in his childhood. And so Joseph, shocked, began to tell me how his life changed from that moment on. This opened the door to lots of questions about God, His voice, His love, His presence. : ) And Joseph, eyes shiny, told everyone in the room what just happened and asked me if I would pray for his cousin – who is in his 40’s and really wants to get married. Well, the guy wanted prayer so I hopped over to him and prayed. I felt led to break some curses off of him; and I did, and he felt better AND he got engaged the following week! The family directly attributed this to the breaking of curses! (sadly, the engagement was broken a week ago). Regardless, this family really felt that God was moving in freedom and new patterns. <Praise the Giver! I love when God moves powerfully in Muslim homes!!! He’s a gorgeous lover! Overflowing in winks, hugs, and joy for who we are! He loves us SO much!>

Moreover, after praying for that man that evening, we prayed and prophesied over two of the other three people in the house! <C’mon Lamb of God! Revelation of atonement!>

Then, a few days later I got a phone call informing me the man we prayed for in the hospital died ten minutes earlier. I went to the hospital. He was already taken to his family’s home. He was sixty years old. His body lived through 4 heart attacks and many years in prison. His youngest child is 27. And despite his death, there is LIGHT beaming into his family. Though many Palestinian die early deaths, God is turning the tide. And I am thankful I was invited to pray over Hassan two days before his death. The Holy Spirit’s presence was energetic there in his hospital room, as I stroked his white hair and kissed his cheek while Peter knelt on the floor, interceding for this beautiful image-bearer of the King.

That evening, outside the hospital, Joseph informed me that he had a dream about me that I needed to explain to him.

Here’s the dream as told by Joseph:

I was inside a building, maybe a house, and I could see you outside walking on a path. I couldn’t see the end of the path, but it was well-lit. I wanted to be on the path. You spoke Arabic fluently and said to me, “It’s not that far away. Come with me,” but I was lying on the ground, I felt like I couldn’t move, like it was too difficult to get up and get on the path. You said it again, “It’s not that far away.” And you were wearing a traditional Palestinian dress, but it wasn’t a dark color like usual, it was light, maybe white or yellow, I don’t remember. And your hair was black. I wanted desperately to be on the path, but I was very anxious. I felt like it wasn’t easy.

And then I awoke. It was exactly 3:30AM and I was extremely thirsty. So I got up and got a drink. I didn’t go back to sleep. I couldn’t. I didn’t go to work that day. I just thought about the dream. I felt I had to talk to you in order to understand it and I called Peter to reach you, but his phone was off. What does it mean?

I explained to Joseph that in the dream the path is the Truth, the only way to God, which is through Jesus. And it’s not that far! It’s always close. It’s simply a decision away. When Joseph decides to say, “God I give you my life. I want Jesus to live inside me” God will pick him off of the ground and set him on the path. It’s Jesus’ strength. We talked for a long while about all of this. And He clearly wants very very much to follow Jesus, but he was afraid. I told him to talk to Jesus about it – to ask Jesus to reveal Himself to him.

He went on to say, “That night I asked Jesus to show himself to me. I didn’t feel anything happen and I don’t remember having any dreams that night. Yet, whenever I think of you or your name comes up, I am filled with deep peace. And I see something white. And I’m really happy. Once I even cried.”

“Today even though my friend’s father died and I was sad and thinking a lot about death, when I think of you or now when I look at you, I am filled with joy. I am overwhelmed with peace. I feel something stirring inside me now as you are speaking. I believe in you. I see your white heart. I know you are honest, I trust everything you say.”

“I need you in the next few days. I am thinking so much about this thing, but I don’t exactly know what this thing is I’m thinking about. I feel like I need your help so much.”

“I feel like I have this thing in one hand and in the other hand is my family, my friends, my girlfriend, my culture. I feel like everything would change if I choose this thing. I am scared. My family would be angry. My friends would think I am very weird. Maybe they would reject me. I feel like I would be totally alone.”

Joseph and I dialogued about his concerns, Jesus’ faithfulness and power, and the liberty he was getting a taste of. By the conversation’s end he said: “I think I will make this decision to follow Jesus this summer, but I need some time.”

Well, then he had another dream:

All I could see was a huge mountain in front of me. It was gigantic. And I felt like I had to get passed it, but it was impossible. I couldn’t go over it or around it. I was overwhelmed with despair. THEN, all of a sudden I realized there was something inside the mountain making it shake! And I knew it was YOU! And you suddenly ripped the mountain in half! I could see your head above the mountain and your body was inside. I could now walk straight THROUGH the mountain!

Joseph, like a kid with too much candy, recounted this dream with zeal, exuberance, and spurts of laughter. He was ecstatic. The previously “impossible” became not only possible, but in some way already DONE. He could go through the mountain! When Joseph told me the dream, I explained that it’s because Jesus’ power is inside me that I can rip mountains in half- and that anyone who has decided to follow Jesus has this same ability. Joseph was tickled. It was evident he was encouraged that though the obstacles looked insurmountable, he too could have the ability to move mountains once Jesus lives inside him. (My friend David calls this dream “Dawn Richardson Action Hero” – haha.)

Not long thereafter Joseph broke up with his almost-fiancé because he saw that she and her family were too religious and they stood in the way of his decision to follow Jesus. And on his first Friday in over a year, he wasn’t with his girlfriend and her family – instead he was in Jericho with us, visiting and praying over an elderly woman whose demon-possessed son killed himself in September by throwing himself off a building. (David and I met both woman and son last summer.) Joseph said he was anxious all morning because of breaking up with his fiancé and because many family members were beginning to tell him, “you are changing. You are acting strange. What’s going on?” Yet, as we prayed for the elderly woman outside her house, a deep peace and joy enveloped him and once again, he felt confident to continue walking toward Jesus.

Days later, while shopping for a Mother’s Day gift for his mom, he noticed a traditional Palestinian dress much like the one I was wearing in his dream. And he bought it for me. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit made it clear I could receive the gift; and I was delighted because of both its prophetic significance AND the fact I was told by the Joseph’s family that when his 40-something cousin gets married, I should wear a traditional dress (which I didn’t have). Perfect. Revelation 19 wedding supper of the lamb images everywhere!

So, April 28, the day before I left for America, Joseph asked to see me. My friend David came along. Joseph asked me to go with him to his cousin’s house to pray for her. “Why?” I asked. “My cousin has cancer in 72% of her body” he replied. “Oh! Well, let’s go then!” I said, delighted that Joseph easily believes God heals people. : )

We went to her house. And from the moment of eye contact, I saw it: demon possession – not just the presence of the demonic, but some kind of willing pact existed. It was going to be a long night; and I was thrilled that Joseph had brought us and excited for Jesus to begin to set this woman free! Well, it was almost two hours before her kids went to bed. She had not mentioned cancer. I asked, “how are you doing really?” And she explained her two year battle with cancer: four surgeries and still a bleak outlook. I told her stories of Jesus healing people. And I asked if we could pray for her. “Yes.”

Well, the next 2 hours were pretty involved, but easy because of Jesus’ presence. The woman first heard an angel tell her to place her hands palm-up on her lap – a good sign, but the demons got fiesty and she began to move her arms around, slowly and strangely – which she continued for nearly all of 2 hours. I asked God about it and felt okay ignoring her movements. God led clearly. I prayed and placed my hands where He said, and with each re-location of my hands – the part of her body I was touching would shake violently, then she would feel “something” leave that part of her body. YAY JESUS! Then God told me she welcomed witchcraft into her house. “Do you have witchcraft in your house?” I asked. “Look on my window,” she answered. David pulled back the curtain to discover a plastic bag containing vinegar and a mirror shard. “We need to destroy this,” I said. “What else do you have?” “The bowl on the counter,” she replied. David picked up a glass bowl containing water, salt, and a strip of fabric from the woman’s clothing. “Anything else?” I queried. “Yesterday the mirror in my bathroom was glowing on its own so I broke it off the wall and threw it away.” “Okay, is there anything else?” I questioned. “No, that’s it” she stated.

I explained how welcoming such things gives them authority, but Jesus is the highest authority and so, He is the only one that can defeat all these things and bring total freedom. Then God said to sit down and tell her the gospel. In classic Jesus-sync, the moment I sat down David began to tell the woman the gospel. : )

I asked her if she wanted to surrender. She said yes. I saw it wasn’t a full surrender, but God said to go ahead, so I did. And she repeated a prayer after me. And then her whole body went limp in the chair. I was so happy for her to have that deep moment of release. : )

So, God told me to prophesy some things over her and to blow into her hands. I told her what I was going to do, and I did it. And with each breath of mine, her body went limp and she said, “something just rushed out of my arm!” hip-hip-hooray for our Warrior-Lord!

Before I left I told her I was leaving the next day and would be away a month, but she should call my friend Pastor Khader in Beit Sahour the very next day because he works with Jesus to clean people out and set them free. And I asked Joseph to make sure she did.

She felt bales of hay lighter by the time we got up to leave. Her eyes were clearer. Granted, she did try to give me a pinch of salt to sprinkle on the stairs as I left, which I strongly refused with, “You don’t fight witchcraft with witchcraft. Jesus is the only One who really brings FREEDOM.” Anyhow, we all left jubilant. We know it’s the start of her eyes being opened and we are excited! Woohooooooo! Let things in darkness be brought in the Light!

The next day I called Khader to give him a heads-up and he explained she already called and she said to him, “I see that you have many spirits who obey you. I want to exchange power with you.” Oh boy. Also, the woman admitted that she got cancer right after she began practicing witchcraft (which God showed me the night before so, good group confirmation!) Well, Khader and I had a nice chat and I asked him to get 2 women in his church who would pray weekly for SALVATION breakthrough for this woman. He thought that was a great idea and said he would do so. (Three cheers for TEAMWORK!)

Moreover, in all of this, my joy bubbled because Joseph was able to be a part of deliverance, healing, prophecy, faith, hope, and love in a variety of venues. And he was thrilled to have all these “date nights” with Jesus. Haha.

Weeks later, while I was in Cyprus, Joseph sent me a text: “when will you be back in Bethlehem? I have great news! And I am so happppppppppppppppppppppppy!” Initially, he refused to spill the beans, but a week later, while I was in Jordan I asked him if he was happy because he found gold in the ground. He responded with, “Yes, but don’t tell anyone.” Which, naturally, prompted my response of, “what? How could I tell anyone, I don’t even know what you are really talking about!?”

And then came my favorite text message of all time, which is still saved in my phone:

“i w i l l f o l l o w j e s u s”

I broke open the jar of my praise. I yelled. I danced. I sang. And the Holy Spirit tickle-tackled me. That single sentence left me glowing, positively radiant inside and outside, for days. Moreover, the YWAM friends I stayed with in Jordan were pretty encouraged and happy too!

So, right after my return to Bethlehem, Joseph explained it like this, “I don’t know what exactly happened. I just, how do you say it? Surrendered. And I am so happy all the time now.”

Yeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah JESUS!

Haha. I love it. I love the whole story.  It is absolutely beautiful when one gets to be part of a story in which you simply lean back, moment-by-moment into Jesus and He moves powerfully. One’s lean into Him, is a YES and AMEN to the YES and AMEN of who He is. He only did what He saw the Father doing. He did YES and AMEN. He was YES and Amen. Sometimes I think that if all Jesus’ acts were recorded and they did fill all the books in the world – like John’s idea in the last verse of his book – all of the books would simply say, “Yes” and “Amen” over and over, endlessly through all the books. Zillions of books blanketing the earth in two words: “Yes” and “Amen.”

For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ.

And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.”

2 Corinthians 1:20

<Jesus, teach my spirit this constant song. Teach me to lean into your example.

Teach me to YES and AMEN all the time.>

YES AMEN YES AMEN YES AMEN YES AMEN YES AMEN YES AMEN YES AMEN YES AMEN YES AMEN YES AMEN