Saturday, December 31, 2011

Yes! Highland, again!

Way back in 1999, God lead me to a church named Highland United Methodist Church and as the people and the ministry grew on Frank and I, I remember praying, "God never ask me to leave Highland".  Frankly, I kinda banked on it as a done deal and was quite shocked when He DID ask me to leave after eight wonderful years of ministry there.

Highland UMC had become our spiritual home and family.  I was determined to obey, but it wasn't easy.  During the months after leaving, to chase away the pain I'd admonish myself how arrogant I was to make such a prayer request!

Highland or not, I'm in ministry... one goes where God sends.

Not long after that, I accepted a position at Highland Baptist Church and realized my prayer WAS being honored.  I loved to tell people, I guess I had neglected to make my prayer specific.  Of course, I grew to love the people of Highland Baptist as much as those at Highland UMC.  In time, I knew I was exactly where I was supposed to be.

So when God asked me to leave Highland Baptist this past October, I was not as shocked. I figured I'd ridden the "Highland" theme long enough. The life span of my "Highland" days WERE finite and ministry life must go on.

Highland or not, I'm in ministry... one goes where God sends.


Cape Hope, South Africa
For Christmas my husband Frank gave me a couple of travel guides so I could learn a little bit about South Africa before I leave the US.  It's more my style to learn about a place while I'm there, but that's not always helpful when traveling abroad, so those books are coming in quite handy in that respect. 

But I had no idea those books would be yet another key to God's assurance that in going half way around the world, I'm going to be exactly where I know in my heart I'm supposed to be. I discovered the town of Stellenbosch is not only the second oldest city in South Africa, but it is located in the Boland... ....translation...  "Highland" area.  

Now my heart is singing praises to God, "YES! Highland, again!" 

I KNOW!  Don't you just love how God has a sense of humor, irony and symmetry? 

Saturday, December 24, 2011

God's gonna have His way!

Today is Christmas Eve, so if you are reading this today you are either procrastinating or you are done with your holiday preparations early.  If the first, log out - time is of the essence & you've got stuff to Do, friend.  If the second, log-out and enjoy some face time with someone you love. As for me, this will be a quick post, so I can finish my preparations for a house full tomorrow afternoon.


So tomorrow is officially Christmas, but it's been Christmas every day this week as I opened the mail box or email inbox.  I just HAD to stop and say..... 

I realize now that no matter WHAT, God's gonna have His way. At least that's the case when you hand yourself over to Him and let go.  That's what I've been attempting to do for quite a while and I must say, He's getting His way with my life.  The support from friends and family has been pouring in.  The promise of prayers and financial support are precious to me and evidence this South Africa thing is gonna happen... just as He planned.

I think I'm beginning to have a glimpse of what Mary might have felt on this very night long, long ago.

 "This is gonna happen!" she must have thought as she labored. "God's gonna have His way in my life through this child and I will be blessed. "

But months before that night Mary responded to God's plan for her life and her own words echo in my heart.

"My soul magnifies the Lord."

Merry Christmas! Go and be blessed.



Friday, December 16, 2011

One Step at a Time....


From my recent letter to friends and family announcing my trip to South Africa...  

A little more than a month ago, I stepped DOWN from my position in the local church as an act of obedience to God’s call in my life. God made it clear to me. I was to step down and wait for his direction in my life.  

It wasn’t easy for me to leave a congregation I was privileged to serve for almost five years, but I knew in my heart God had other plans for me. “But why so abruptly?”, I asked God and he was swift to answer.
 
He wanted me to step DOWN so I could step OUT.  He had tasks and projects for me I couldn’t possibly work on while serving in a local church.  So I stepped aside and started the waiting part.
 
God knows us inside and out and he knew waiting is HARD for me… real hard, so it’s no surprise my marching orders for my first step would come so quickly.  The big surprise is that my first step would be to travel to South Africa to write and edit materials for Ubabalo and OneHope to transform the lives of MILLIONS of children with the Gospel 
message.

In 2009 the church I was serving and thousands of churches across the US and Canada, partnered with the International Bible Society through Group Publishing and Operation Kid to Kid to purchase, pray over, sign and ship out Gospel Outreach soccer balls along with Ubabalo Scripture Booklets to South Africa.
 
Later in 2009, my dear friend and fellow Ambassador for Group Publishing from Los Angeles, Gloria Lee, traveled 10,000 miles to South Africa with a team to distribute those soccer balls. While there, Gloria met John and WanYi Yip and witnessed first hand what Ubabalo ministry (that means “God’s Grace” in Xhosa language) was doing to spread the Gospel message through global sports ministry.  Gloria was so blown away by the impact Ubabalo was making in the lives of the children of South Africa; so much so she returned to the states sharing what she’d experienced and praying about how she could possibly become even MORE involved with Ubabalo’s growing world wide sports outreach ministry.

That’s where I come into the picture.  I was one of the people Gloria shared her amazing experience with while together at a national conference in early October. Admittedly, I didn’t totally understand exactly HOW Ubabalo and OneHope could impact so many lives with an all volunteer leadership team, but I DID know first hand how effective the Gospel Outreach balls and Ubabalo Scripture Booklets were because I used them to teach the Gospel on mission trips in the US as well as given the soccer balls to others on mission trips to Turkey and India.
 
I recall Gloria and I laughing and dreaming about how amazing it would be to serve in the international mission field again, part time or full-time. I shared with her the memories of my two international mission trips in 2004 and 2005 to Guyana, South America and how I still felt a strong call to train others outside the US how to reach children for Christ. 


Four weeks ago, Gloria Lee contacted me and invited me to do just that!  John Yip of Ubabalo needed two writers to join with OneHope on a writing team for two weeks in Stellenbosch, South Africa… and then Gloria said pray fast because we’d need to fly out January 20th!

Next post - details on the Ubabalo- OneHope writing project.....  

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Preparing - Everything is possible with God!

For weeks, I've been preparing for the upcoming trip to South Africa to write  with Ubabalo and OneHope Partnership Team.  Part of the process was to wrap my head around the project.  I think I'm going to be working on that one through out the entire process, but I've got a much better grasp of what God's asking me to accomplish in South Africa.

Another part is to prepare my heart.  Again, that will be an ongoing process where I will need MAJOR prayer support to keep me strong.

The big part, and for me, the scariest part, is raising the funds needed provide for the journey. I've been on International Mission Teams but was always blessed to pay for my expenses.  This time I needed to involve others by asking them to become a financial partner in my journey.  Prayer, Bible study and the counsel of Gloria, my partner in this project and journey, helped me admit my pride and selfishness and get past that emotional hurdle.

This past week, I got down to business and finally prepared my prayer and financial partners request letter.  It took me an entire day to create, write and edit it, but by day's end, it was exactly what I wanted and need to say, so I am thankful. I'm almost ready to print, prep and mail.

Thanks to John Yip in South Africa, Gloria and  I are working through the last hurdle...helping financial partners be able to make their financial partnership donations tax deductible. As soon as I get those final directions and details, I can send out those letters. God willing, they should be in email and mailboxes by late next week.  I've dedicated Monday to the finalization of that project.

Early in the coming week, I anticipate I will be purchasing airfare for the trip. Please pray that the prices will stay in the range of reasonable.  Also, pray specifically my partner Gloria and I can arrange our itinerary so our first leg puts us in the same city and together on the flights to Cape Town. Right now, we're hoping to meet in Chicago, NY or DC without a long layover. It looks like for the rest of the journey, we will touch us down in Paris and Amsterdam, then on to Cape Town.

Whew! I'm still finding it difficult, some days impossible, to imagine all of this is going to come together. I continue to prepare my heart, giving this all to God.

I understand I can only prepare so much on my own for much of this is impossible for me.  I am continually reminded... "Everything is possible with God! Mark 10:27" Partly, because that's this summer's Big Sky VBS's theme & key verse. Partly because it's the ONLY verse that happens to be in my refrigerator staring at me every day. Or maybe it's ALL because of this trip, God's placing these specific powerful words in my face, my head and my heart! I don't know, but those words are propelling me forward!

Jesus assured us of God's promise when he proclaimed.  "Everything is possible with God!" Mark 10:27.  I don't know what impossible things YOU are going through today or in the weeks and months to come, but I invite YOU to share those with me, so I in turn can pray for you!

Email me lsburney@mac.com or post your prayer request as a comment below.  I'm going to be on my knees a lot in the coming days, so I'd be MORE than honored to pray for you!


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

And what will I sacrifice?

Sunday afternoon, while driving back from leading a training workshop in Eastern, NC, I had some quality time to think and pray about funding the trip to South Africa.  Honestly, I was kinda squirming in my seat. Again, I was feeling very uncomfortable asking friends and family to invest in my journey, so I began praying to Jesus asking him, "What do you want me to do?"

Jesus began NOT with "write the letter".  He clearly asked me to look deeper.

"Lisa, don't DARE ask others for help unless you are willing to sacrifice yourself."

So for the rest of the journey home,  I tried to answer the question... "What will I sacrifice?"  I thought He was talking about sacrificing material possessions... raising a little dough by selling things of value... of value to me or actual monetary value.  I have a lot of stuff, but most of my "stuff" is just that - "stuff" and it wouldn't generate much cold hard cash.  But I was beginning to realize Jesus was asking me to sacrifice some of the "stuff" for a much bigger reason than cash.

God gave me this very challenge many years ago when my son Ian and his youth group were raising funds for a mission trip to Ireland.  God asked me to donate my beloved sailboat to a silent auction.  What? Are you kidding me? I loved my sailboat because it represented something I loved to do - sail! When I finally realized I was selfishly hanging onto it when selling it would help our Youth Group get to Ireland to support reconciliation camps for Protestant and Catholic teenagers, it was easy. I let it go!  I can surely do that again.

So yesterday, I looked around my house, thinking what else can I let go?

  •  I considered my baby grand piano, my violin, my banjo and my guitar.  I love to play them all, but I don't - at least, not very often.  I found out it might take too long to sell the piano, but I'm totally looking into it! (Anyone out there in the Raleigh area looking for a beautiful elegant baby grand for your living room? Call me.)
  • Gold -  I hear the price of gold is at its highest ever.  After watching Rock Center Monday night and seeing what poor people in Africa have to do to mine gold, I'm thinking it's something I shouldn't want anymore. I'm looking into selling a few pieces or more, if needed. 
  • Yard Sale -  I know it's Christmas and winter is coming and it might not be a good time for a yard sale, but I have lots of stuff that would raise some cash.  
BUT as I was writing this post, these word of Jesus rushed into my thoughts and immediately made me hang my head in shame.

 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Matthew 6:19-21

"WHAT will I sacrifice?"  Really Lisa? How arrogant? How petty?  Clearly, Jesus  clearly doesn't care about, nor want, my "stuff". He wants my heart, my will and my devotion.

He just wants to be sure my stuff is not in the way.


Monday, December 5, 2011

Three little letters changed my life....


I wrote this in 2004 and the words inspire me today. 

 Hearing three little letters was all it took to convince me that God was calling me to join the 2004 Highland Guyana Mission Work Team.

Many years before, my husband was the pharmacist on a medical mission team to Mexico. His eyes would sparkle as he told me about the bright faces and joyful laughter of children that accompanied their mothers to the clinic each day.  He said he wished I had been there to see them.  I just laughed and told him that I didn't have any special skills.  I was just a Children's Minister with no medical training and I couldn't speak Spanish.  "What good would I be on a international mission team?"  He would just smile and say, "You needed to be there to play with the children. Let them see Christ in you!  Isn't that enough?"

Eight years later, I found myself sitting beside my husband in a meeting to find out more about Highland's first mission trip to Guyana, South America.  As our pastor and veteran UMVIM team leader, Jim Lee, shared his stories of past teams' building projects, I figured that I could hammer, paint and haul sand with the best of them. When he spoke of the poverty and lack of resources, I realized I had plenty and ought to share. 

Then he mentioned those three little letters, V - B - S.  My husband turned to me with a knowing smile and I knew God was calling me to serve the children of Guyana.
Interactive Bible stories - a new concept for these kids

From that moment on, there was no looking back.  In a few short weeks, our team planned and packed three days of Vacation Bible School and 200 school kits along with our work gloves and construction tools and headed to Guyana.




Serving with the ladies of Guyana



Along side my husband, my team members and our Guyana friends,  I hauled, spread and tamped sand to build a concrete floor for Ebenezer Methodist Church in Sister's Village outside of Georgetown, Guyana. We worked from early morning until mid-afternoon, then changed t-shirts and lead Vacation Bible School for the rest of the afternoon - got up the next day and did it again.  With simple tools, a lot of elbow grease and a simple Gospel message, I watched lives transform.  

One of those lives was mine. I can't wait to return in 2005 to continue the transformations."

The 2005 Guyana Team
I did return in 2005, but my international mission work has been on hold for the past five years  - even though my new church gave me a week of extra vacation so I could serve on an international mission team.  Ironically, God had different plans and limited my  work to the US.  



Now God is calling me to venture out again, both geographically and spiritually, using skills I thought would only be needed here in the states.  I'm going to South Africa to prepare and write materials others can use in the mission field. 


This reminds me God will take care of my needs for support.
And this time, it wasn't three letters that made the difference. It was three words from a dear friend -"Go with me."  Wow! 

Friday, December 2, 2011

I'm asking for your support!

Had a wonderful long conversation with my friend Gloria Lee about an upcoming volunteer ministry opportunity. After Gloria filled me in on the mission details, I knew in my heart God is telling me to shed my pride and ask others to help me with financial support to be a part of this world changing project and I need to stop agonizing and simply ASK!  God willing, I fly out January 20, 2012.  Whew!  

I'm still trying to wrap my head around the idea of traveling halfway across the world to Stellenbosch, South Africa to write and edit sports and life coaching curriculum to win the world for Christ. The project is a partnership between Ubalalo and OneHope.

Here's the project-


Gloria and I will participate in a writing workshop January 25-27 in Stellenbosch, South Africa to write 4 Ubalalo Scripture Engagement products (in English), and help lay out a 5 year partnering plan between Ubalalo and OneHope. The products we will write are: 
  • A 32-page full colour Ubabalo handbook for Trainers 
  • A 32-page full colour handbook for Coaches
  • A 32-page full colour handbook for Young Players 
  • An Interactive DVD that will contain all other Ubabalo content useful for the Trainer & Coach.

Due to Ubalalo's global expansion over the past few years, the content is already written, so the writing workshop will shape and condense the content into the 32-page format making sure each product presents the Gospel message.  


I now know God's been preparing me to do this all along.  With masters in Curriculum Instruction and 15 years writing, editing and training others to teach the Gospel to children, I'm specifically equipped and ready for the task.  Matter of fact, a few years ago, our Vacation Bible School participated in the initial project by sending special color coded soccer balls with the original Gospel based coaching lessons. I've actually utilized the soccer balls and teaching materials on a mission trip to Tennessee. 

Gloria Lee, my dear friend in ministry on the West Coast, was on the mission team to distribute the soccer balls gathered by VBS's across the US and met with the leaders of Ubalalo and OneHope while in South Africa. She was taken by the global impact of this all volunteer ministry and offered to volunteer as a writer. When Gloria received a call asking her to invite a co-writer she immediately thought of me.  After much prayer, I see this is exactly what God had planned for me all along. 


Follow this link to Learn more about OneHope


 Follow this link to  Learn more about Ubalalo

I'm asking for your support!  Pray for me as I begin the process of asking for financial support and prayer support.  Time is of the essence, so I must work quickly.  I know I need God's guidance but most of all I need to place this all in His hands.  Pray for wisdom, courage and a humble spirit as I proceed.


And if you feel called to support me, financially, spiritually or with words of advise and encouragement, please email me...  lsburney@mac.com 







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