Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Hard Truth About Real Miracles and Answered Prayers

Miracles. Answered Prayers.
I talk about them.
I think about them.
I hope for them.
I tell stories of them.
I claim them, even, from time to time.
But some days, I fear them.

While January may soon be over, I'm still mulling a bit about last year.
It was a big year for us.
That's an understatement......it was enormous.

We dealt with a full year of electricity grid load-shedding.
We had months at a time when we never had electricity on for more than 24 hours at a time.
We had weeks when the lights were off for more hours than the lights were on.
This is an inconvenience God has led us to live with {we have no back-up power source}.
We prayed for the government to fix the situation.

The first three months of the year were spent getting the last few pieces in place to formally organize our first Bible study into a full church.
Six years worth of work.
More than six years worth of prayers.
We dealt with hard days, long nights, oppression, trials, disappointments.
We were in a constant spiritual battle.

After two-and-a-half years of praying for healing, we found out that Lili would need heart surgery.
God wanted her surgery to be in Ghana.
We took the happy pictures in the days leading up to the operation.
Wondering if these would be the last pictures we'd have together.
The morning I let them pull her from my arms and carry her into the operating theatre was one of the most terrifying things I've ever had to do.
Watching her fear-filled eyes as her body was racked with the pain of healing.
Juggling the full care of Lili in the hospital with the care of the rest of the family at the Missionary Guest House across town.
We begged God for strength, for miracles.

We made some drastic changes in our diet.
We needed cooking equipment we didn't have, things that were very costly and difficult to ship.
I was afraid to pray for these things.

We were given two months to find a new place for the church meet.
We hunted for two months and found nothing.
We prayed, and worried, and prayed, and searched, and prayed some more.
We desperately needed a miracle.

God answered every single one of these prayers.
He piled miracle on top of miracle.

He did not give us the electricity we wanted, but he gave us the grace we needed to endure the tests.
He gave us the physical strength we needed, though many nights we didn't sleep much.
He taught us a good deal about patience along the way, too.

Biblical Baptist Church was born in March.
This group of baptized believers chose to join themselves together to reach Ghana and the world for Christ!

Lili had her heart surgery.
We survived the long trips and the rotating twelve hour shifts at the hospital or with the family and the difficult recovery and the follow-up appointments.
Lili had a perfect check-up with her pediatric cardiologist in December.
God gave us all the money we needed to pay for the surgery and the two week stay in the capital, plus enough left over to buy our first family car in Ghana!

God provided every last piece of cooking equipment I needed {plus a few extras I wanted!} for mere pennies from a family that was leaving the field.
We also got almost their entire library of living books, some future curriculum, a fresh set of cloth diapers {as our set was about rags after three babies}, and an almost-new, much-needed refrigerator.

On the Saturday before our last day to meet at the public school, God led us to the perfect place for the church.
An excerpt from our most recent prayer letter....

"Just one and a half blocks away from our current location was a private school complex that had closed down a year and half before, and the owner was willing for us to rent the property. Five minutes later, we were looking around the property and talking about the situation. To make the process of obtaining land in Africa less tedious to you American readers, I will tell the outcome. We were allowed to meet the following Sunday and were able to meet the proper owner of the land. After meeting the elderly gentlemen, he agreed for us to rent the facility for five years AND told us that we could extend the time of rental to as many years as the church wants, whenever the church has the funds to do so. He also agreed to never increase the price, while also paying for the documents to be recorded and signed by the local court system so that they would be binding and no family members could have them changed. Before our move, the church was using two classrooms of a public school {which were only available on Sundays, plus the complex was used by other churches}..., but the Lord has now provided us with a private complex that includes three finished rooms (joined so they can be used as an auditorium), one storage room, and three half-finished classrooms that can be used for Sunday school rooms and other things, along with a spacious compound,
for less rent than at the school! {For those of you thinking that this is typically cheap African prices, this is a miracle. The government schools are the cheapest rentals I have seen until now).
This whole matter has been a great blessing.... Our church has a great location, with a great future, for an unbelievable price, and they {the church members} made all the decisions and funded it all themselves."

Our God miraculously answered all these prayers.
as this new year stretches out before me, I'm afraid.

I'm afraid, because I've learned much about myself.
I'm afraid, because I know I don't pray for the things I think I can get for myself. I don't pray for help when I think I can do things myself.
I'm afraid, because it is easy to think that I don't need miracles when the seas are smooth and the sun is shining.
When all is well, who needs a miracle?

I'm afraid, too, because I've learned the hard truth about real miracles and answered prayers this last year: I've learned that they only come out of great need.

It's hard to be in need.
It's painful.
It's scary.
It's uncontrollable.
And that is the exact place God wants me to be.
The place where I grow in faith, and He is glorified.

So in this new year, I must choose to surrender everything to Him again.
I must give up my wants, my needs, my rights.
I must allow myself to be in great need.
And when I'm willing to go to those hard places, I can know there's a miracle just ahead.


  1. So transparent and human, Patty. This is why we need to ask God to increase our faith. He does! These are such lovely answers to prayer, in God's timing. Thank you for glorifying Him.

  2. I hear ya, sister. Those hard, dark places are scary, but only to us. God knows what waits ahead, and He'll take us through the darkness and show us a marvelous light. :) Love you all and miss you much!