Wednesday, July 6, 2016

See You in Sao Paulo, Part 3

  Click here to read Part 1. Click here to read Part 2.

Fun Fact: Sao Paulo is the largest city in Brazil and the 11th largest city in the world. It's almost the size of NYC and almost twice the size of Rio de Janeiro where the Olympics will be held in a few weeks. 


I lay awake in bed, unable to stand it any more. Obviously, Brandon needed my help. "So...has God given you a word for me?"


I poked him. "Well?"

Brandon groaned. "A word about what?"

I tried to play it cool. "I don't know...a word about anything."

He was so still, but I could almost hear the whirl of his mental cogs. "Not that I know of."

"Okay then." I rolled over and shut my eyes.

I felt his confusion, but it was late and we were tired so he let it go. 

No answer is still an answer, I reminded myself. If God didn't act, I wouldn't go. Plain and simple. I thought God was prompting me, but maybe He wasn't. I'd been wrong before.

Two days passed. The sun set on March 26, and Brandon hadn't said anything. A significant part of me was relieved. I wouldn't have to leave my kids, my Superman or my comfort zone. I could love Jesus and who He loves right here in north Louisiana. I wouldn't have to go to the trouble of raising funds and getting a passport and defending my decision to judge-y moms like me. I wouldn't have to prep two weeks of meals to feed my family while I was gone. Whew! Bullet dodged.

I hoped Erica wouldn't be too disappointed. I tried to convince myself I wasn't.

On Easter morning, I pushed thoughts of Brazil aside and threw myself into Easter things. I didn't slow down until that night when I went to a home group meeting in West Monroe led by Neil and Mei Powers, Whit Bass and others. (Shout out to my West Monroe peeps!)

I wanted to meet Neil and Mei who had prayed for my healing back in 2013 when things didn't look so good and to relax in God's presence after a busy day. But I wasn't allowed to relax. Which had nothing to do with sharing my testimony and praying for people. That's my idea of a good time.

No. The reason I couldn't relax is that people would not shut. up. about Randy Clark, Global Awakening and Brazil. They had no idea I'd just spent two weeks fasting to find out whether or not I would go. They had no idea I was even considering it. They were just excited about the work God was doing there.

Every time someone mentioned Brazil, etc., it felt as if a pin pricked my heart. Finally, I broke and asked for prayer.

I told everyone how a friend had asked me to go, how I'd fasted for two weeks, about the sign I'd requested, what had happened during the fast and the very important thing which hadn't.

Everyone joined me in prayer that God would move in Brandon's heart within the next few hours if I should go on this particular trip. They never questioned whether or not I should go to Brazil. Just the timing.

Before I left that night, I witnessed God heal a broken tooth on the spot. So how hard could it be for Brandon to encourage me to go?

I arrived home and found Brandon watching TV. I cuddled up next to him on the couch, half-expecting him to say something about Brazil. He took my hand and gave it a squeeze. "How was group?"

"Really good," I said. "We prayed, and God reconstructed a dude's broken tooth."



Apparently, the gold digger rerun was riveting.

As I drifted off to sleep that night, I asked God to give Brandon a dream or a vision or something. If nothing happened before we got out of bed the next morning, the trip wouldn't either. As it was, I was almost two days past the original deadline I'd given God.

(Note: God doesn't always respect your deadline.)

Sunlight streamed through our bedroom window, casting a glow upon our white sheets. Brandon glanced up from his phone and kissed my cheek, scratching me with his whiskers. I waited a long time before speaking. "Do you have a word from the Lord for me?"

Slowly, his eyes traveled to mine. "That's the second time you've asked me that."


"What am I supposed to say?"

I was surprised. I'd really, truly expected something. Oh, well. I stretched, preparing to rise. "That answers my question."

"What question?"

"Whether or not I'm going to Brazil." I then explained the sign I'd asked for during my fast.

A long pause. And he says, "The reason I haven't said anything is because I thought it was already decided you were going."


Remember the night Tim and Bruce tried to give my trip away? When Tim announced they would help sponsor Erica and another young person to go to Brazil, Brandon assumed Tim was talking about me and it was a done deal. So what that my name was never mentioned. Brandon "knew" I was going before I told him Erica had asked me.

No lie. It's reasoning skills like this that leave me in a constant state of bewilderment. And I'm expected not only to follow said reasoning but to pull it out of thin air.

"Why does my opinion matter anyway?" he asks.

*eye roll* "You're ridiculous. Full disclosure? I wasn't sure I wanted to go, and I needed your help, input and blessing."

He grinned pure mischief. "Full disclosure? Both times you asked me if I had a word from the Lord, I thought of Brazil."

He asked for the day to think and pray. I agreed and took the kids on an outing. I returned that evening, expectant. But in typical Brandon fashion, he wouldn't give me a straight answer until I'd lost my temper for him. (I don't know whether he's an adrenaline junkie or just insane, but the man thinks it's fun to make me angry.)

He fought a grin, then grew serious. "Selfishly, I don't want you to go, but I believe God does. And who am I to stand in His way?" Brandon went on to say he'd been reminded of the word God had given him for 2016--"Trust."

I blinked. This is not the man I married.

Something really big had happened. Something crazy. Something only God could do. The man who'd flipped his lid when I went on a two-night choir tour had blessed a two-week international mission trip. Without any pressure from me. Knowing he'd have two kids to care for in my absence!'s powerful.


Pico do Jaragua aerial shot Sau Paulo 2010 by chensiyuan

Erica and I will be gone September 22-October 4, 2016 with a group led by Randy Clark through his organization Global Awakening. Our trip is called “Lighting Fires.” We’ll partner with the local church and engage in “power evangelism,” which is what happens when evangelism meets the miraculous. We’ll be trained, equipped and set loose to carry out the Great Commission of Jesus—
 “And [Jesus] said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature . . . And these signs will follow those who believe: In my name they will cast out demons . . . they will lay hands on the sick and they will recover.” ~Mark 16:16-18
We'll receive training each morning, do street ministry in the afternoons and participate in evening meetings during which people will receive healing and decide to follow Christ. People are healed every night! Cool, huh?

Just a year ago, I believed the "Missions" chapter of my life might be closed for good. How a girl goes from being a shut-in with an incurable disease to being healthy enough to go on an international mission trip in less than a year, I don't know. But wow. Just...WOW! And yay God!

Erica and I invite you to partner with us financially in the mission to bring the Good News to all the world. Please make all checks payable to ChristSource Ministries, write "Brazil Mission Trip" in the memo, and mail to 301 E. Alabama Ave. Ruston, LA 71270 by July 14. ChristSource is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Your donation is tax-deductible. If you are unable to support us financially, please partner with us through prayer. Thank you!

Sunday, July 3, 2016

See You in Sao Paulo, Part 2

Click here to read Part 1.

 View of Sao Paulo
View of Sao Paulo
Image by Kalexander2010 via Flickr Creative Commons

It was nearly midnight when Brandon and I drove through Farmerville on our way home from the Siegmunds'. I let the words fall softly. As if speaking them too loudly might shatter the small-town quiet and any possibility there was of going. "Just so you know...Erica asked me to go with her to Brazil."

He said nothing. I said nothing else. No decision had to be made until the end of March, so I didn't mention the trip again.

We left a few days later for a week in Branson with the family. While away, I came to two realizations:

First, I wouldn't go if Brandon didn't fully support the trip. Reluctant consent wouldn't satisfy me. I refused to twist his arm or wrestle him down with the force of my will. He'd have to approve my going. Bless it.

And that was almost impossible. He'd always taken my overnight absences as a personal affront. Furthermore, I'd broken trust in the past, so him encouraging me to leave the country for two weeks would require an act of God.

Second, I wasn't sure it was right to go. Let me explain.

  • I have this thing about wasting church resources on sending American missionaries to foreign countries to do things locals should be doing. To put it mildly, it annoys me. Don't spend thousands of dollars to fly across the world and steal construction and babysitting jobs from the people you're supposedly helping. Send the money. Equip the missionaries. Put the locals to work. The end. Not all "mission trips" look like this, but too many of them do.
  • I'm against evangelizing an area only to abandon it days later. Again, it's a waste of resources because there's no one left behind to sustain a move of God. I can't take part in anything of the sort in good conscience. Been there. Done that. Threw away the t-shirt. 
  • Confession: In the past, I've judged mothers who leave the mission field at home to go to the mission field abroad. My kids are the most important disciples God will ever assign to me. I'm called to steward my time with them well. Is it right to leave them to serve people I'll never see again?
  • Finally, to go would be to leave others with the burden of caring for my kids. Could I ask such a thing after all they'd done for me while I was sick?

On March 13, I began a two week fast to seek God's heart on the matter because--ultimately--His opinion is the only one that carries real weight.

I asked God to give me assurance about going in the form of the most impossible thing I could think of--that my husband, Brandon Keaster, would not only allow but encourage me to go to Brazil without me making any attempt to convince him that he should. If God wanted me to go, He'd have to tell B, and He'd have to do it by March 26, which was the day Global Awakening began accepting applications for the trip.

I prayed to this effect day after day. Brazil was never mentioned by either of us.

One night near the middle of the fast, I'd almost convinced myself that God wasn't acting because it was wrong for me to leave the kids. Maybe I was sinning by even entertaining the thought. (Mom guilt is no joke.) And even if I wasn't, did I want to leave my kids for two weeks? (No.) Could I?

My eyes watered at the thought. I remembered how much those 10 days in Minnesota hurt.

I sat down with Micah and Sara at bedtime and opened the Bible to our place in the book of Mark (10:23-31). After a brief note from Jesus about how all things are possible with God, verses 29-30 read--

So Jesus answered and said, "Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel's, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time--houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions--and in the age to come, eternal life..."

Tears welled in my eyes. Jesus answered the concerns of my heart right out of his word in the exact moment of my need.

Afterward, I learned more about the kind of work Erica and I would be doing in Brazil. We'd partner with the local church to preach the gospel and pray for the sick. There would be no job stealing from the natives. I discovered Randy Clark isn't a one hit wonder kind of guy. His ministry, Global Awakening, has established roots in Brazil. Finally, I spoke with my parents, in-laws and grandmother. They agreed to help with the kids if God gave me the sign I asked for.

Only one thing remained. If Brandon woke one morning from a dream in which clouds parted, the sun shone, and a booming voice told him to ship me off to Brazil for two weeks, I knew the money would come. Money was a non-thing compared to what I'd asked.

But the days tripped along, one after another and Brandon said nothing.

To be continued... 

Erica and I will be in Sao Paulo, Brazil September 22-October 4, 2016 with a team led by Randy Clark through his organization, Global Awakening. We invite you to partner with us financially in the mission to bring the Good News to all the world. Please make all checks payable to ChristSource Ministries, write "Brazil Mission Trip" in the memo, and mail to 301 E. Alabama Ave. Ruston, LA 71270 by July 14. ChristSource is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Your donation is tax-deductible. If you are unable to support us financially, please partner with us through prayer. Thank you!