today, i looked into the eyes of a sick, homeless, and hungry man who was literally sleeping on a piece of cardboard on the ground. tonight, he’ll eat a meal, be given a bath, and sleep on a mattress with a blanket and pillow.

my heart has been simply ripped apart, and yet it’s also so very full. 
for Jesus is truly in this place. i have seen. yes, He is here.

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I’m for truth, no matter who tells it. I’m for justice, no matter who it is for or against. I’m a human being, first and foremost, and as such I’m for whoever and whatever benefits humanity as a whole.

Malcolm X

On earth as it is in heaven.

(Disclaimer: today’s “blog” is also a little bit of a “rant”, which may make you a bit uncomfortable. And for that, I am sorry.
But I will not, on the other hand, apologize for speaking out and speaking Truth. For today’s “blog” is also somewhat of a “plea”, one that I believe comes straight from the Father’s heart.
No, I am not in the least bit sorry for that.)

I think we all can agree that there’s something wrong with the world that we’re living in.

Seriously. Take a moment to think about it. I’m going to throw out a few terms; ask yourself how you feel while reading them.
Crime. Injustice. Poverty. Disease. Prejudice. Oppression. Homelessness. Addiction. 
Did hearing those give you a warm, fuzzy feeling inside? No! Of course not. Our reaction to words like that is negative because, whether we comprehend it or not, something deep within us knows that it isn’t right.

As a Christian, I can understand where it went wrong. Once upon a time, there was a garden, a utopia, and a disgusting serpent known as the Deceiver. And then Adam and Eve ate the apple and because of that, evil entered the world. I’ve heard it a million times; everywhere I turn, I hear pastors shouting at me about my “original sin.” And I’m not saying that they’re wrong; please understand that. But I am saying that the Church tends to get so hung up on sin and evil and all of our failures that sadly, they forget to tell the whole Story.

It doesn’t end in the garden, with Adam and Eve walking away in shame. It doesn’t end with God throwing in the towel; He’s not “up there in Heaven” wringing His hands, lamenting that there was nothing more He could do. Doesn’t anyone understand how silly that sounds? He is God—I AM THAT I AM. He restores; He rebuilds; He redeems! He became the Second Adam (1 Cor. 15.45), which means that “the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men” (Romans 5.18). Jesus reversed what Adam had done. Why is THAT not being preached from the pulpit?! That is the Gospel, the Good News; that is “the Messiah has come!”

What does all this mean, then? It means that what is wrong with our world doesn’t have to be our reality any longer. Think about it; there are billions of professing Christ-followers all over the world. Billions. What would it look like if each one of us started doing something, anything? If we took a moment to smile at a stranger? Feed a homeless man? Stand up for human rights? Hug the woman going through a divorce? Intercede for the nations? Support a missionary? Pray for someone who is hurting? Sponsor a hungry child? Can you even begin to imagine what an impact that would have?

I don’t know about you, but I’m not content to simply stand silent. “On earth as it is in heaven.” Jesus flat-out told us that this is how we should pray—which must mean that it’s possible…or else He’s a liar.

Are you hungry for justice, thirsting for righteousness? Me too. So please, for the love of all things holy, please; let’s start doing something about it.

the fight

i’ve been doing a lot of thinking today. mainly because the reality that i’ll be back in Liberia in three weeks is fully setting in. and i’m thoroughly excited, don’t get me wrong. i’m heading back to a land of beautiful people, smiling faces, bright colors and hot sun. there will be hugs and handshakes, joyful reunions, familiar friends, and snuggling children. Liberia means all that…and more.

it’s the “and more” that i’ve been thinking about today.

i know that in only three weeks, i’m going to be walking back into a spiritual warzone. that there is a very real enemy who hatefully opposes restoration of any kind. that it is his disgusting, evil plan to keep people oppressed, in poverty, nameless, faceless, worthless. it’s subtle—but it’s there.

that his greatest fear is Liberia and her people realizing their true identities in Christ and coming alive for the glory of God. that this enemy will use hopelessness, despair, fatigue, illness, doubt, fear, and loneliness to try and stop this from happening.

i’m not afraid. but i am aware.

for i also believe in a righteous King, filled with mercy and justice and truth, who wants us (that’s you and i, friends) to play a part in ushering in His reign. that “on earth as it is in heaven” is truly possible. that He who is in me is greater than the one in the world.

and above all, that His kingdom is worth the fight.

amen.

If this is going to be a Christian nation that doesn’t help the poor, either we have to pretend that Jesus was just as selfish as we are, or we’ve got to acknowledge that He commanded us to love the poor and serve the needy without condition and then admit we just don’t want to do it.

Stephen Colbert

i can see widows and orphans through my tears. i know my call
despite my faults and despite my growing fears.
(mumford and sons, the cave)

five weeks until the adventure begins! please pray as i prepare to return to Liberia and share God’s love with Liberia’s orphans.

*if you want to receive monthly email updates from me while I’m in Liberia, please send me a message with your email address so i can add you to my list. if you have any questions about further prayer requests or how to support my ministry, don’t be shy! send me a message; let’s talk! 

It’s now been seven months since I left Liberia, left behind a country and routine and job that had been my life for almost two years. In those seven months, so much of life has happened. Some of it has been good, some of it heartbreaking. It’s been seven months of constant emotion, of settling (but not really), of struggling to live an old life and be the old Elena that simply no longer…fits. I’ve travelled and mentored and lost a loved one and was reunited with friends that have become family. I’ve moved across the country and started a new life in Washington, serving with Orphan Relief and Rescue in the stateside office. I’ve committed in my heart and to God that I will continue to be a voice with action for orphans that no one else will help, that I will continue to serve the children in Liberia that have become a part of me—whether I’m on US or African soil or anywhere in between.

Still, I cannot deny that so much of me is still in Liberia, waiting for the rest of me to come back and resume living the call to “be love” to the orphans God has blessed my life with. I miss their faces, their hugs, their smiles. I miss the way their eyes sparkle, the feel of their hands in mine, the sound of their voices chanting for “Auntie ‘Leena”. I miss the blue of the sky, the green of the trees, the red of the dust.  I miss the heavy heat like a blanket, the sunsets bright like fire. I miss the handshakes and toothy grins, the laughter and the noisy chatter of the community, the weight of a small child nestled in my lap. I miss the way God speaks there. I miss the way I see Jesus in most everyone I meet. I miss the way He rips my heart wide open so that I can love like I never have before.

I’ll admit, there are many things I do not miss about Liberia at all. But I’ve come to realize that, just like anything, the bad comes along with the good. And there’s always a choice: a choice to accept what is, a choice to let the light outweigh the dark. Then, and only then, are eyes opened to see beauty that can be so easy to pass over.

Liberia has become a place where I find that beauty. It’s a place that stretches me, teaches me, shows me things I don’t think I could see anywhere else. Liberia has become my home. And the longer I’m away from it, the deeper is the ache to be back in it.

Until then, I wait. Even the in-between is holy ground. God is in this place, just as surely as He is in Liberia, drawing me back home in His perfect time. So I count the days, the weeks, the months—and yet I also seek the beauty here.