When Your Church Lets You Down

Empty Auditorium I was strolling through church minding my own business when a friend waved me over to her group of friends. “Hey, are you going to Orphan Sunday this weekend?”

“Orphan Sunday? What’s that? I want to go! I’m an orphan.” I replied.

She told me that, Orphan Sunday is the one Sunday  churches all over the world uphold the cause of the orphan. “Our church will be having a gathering this Sunday evening.” She told me.

I couldn’t believe it. How awesome! I walked away deep in thought, realizing  there really were people in the world who cared about those of us who are on the fringe.  I’ve spent so much of my life being on the fringe I don’t think about it all that much. But that doesn’t mean I never have the desire to be wanted and important…..to be loved.

Sunday morning came and I was ready. I didn’t know how I had missed the announcements leading up to Orphan Sunday, (I pretty much have to be hospitalized to miss church) but whatever. Orphan Sunday arrived and God made sure I knew about it.

I walked into the church locked and loaded for Orphan Sunday. I searched the horizon for signs, people, balloons, anything that would indicate we were celebrating Orphan Sunday.  To my surprise I came up empty. Confuzzled, I thought I had made a mistake, it must be a different Sunday. Surely, I was wrong, this couldn’t be Orphan Sunday because there was no celebration to be found. Anywhere. At all.

The church service started like it does most weeks and I anxiously awaited the announcements. The woman doing the announcements got up on stage, reported a few bits of regular family business and then stepped down. My jaw hit the floor. I couldn’t believe it, but it was true, Willow Creek Community Church whom I had grown to love so very much let me down. They failed to announce Orphan Sunday.

That night I attended a small gathering in the basement of my Mega-church. There were booths set up all round the room representing various organizations that reach out to orphans. Wide eyed I walked around the room soaking in every little bit and morsel I could. I listened to speakers and sat among the attenders most of who also held a booth at the event.

I couldn’t believe my church. My mind could not wrap around why this church that I love so very dearly did not invite its family to Orphan Sunday. But it was true. There I sat In a room that should have been overflowing and my wounded heart sunk as I grieved with God.

Orphan Sunday was only the beginning of my eyes being opened to the elephant in the room. That year I joined the leadership team for The Vulnerable Children’s Ministry at Willow Creek.

The following May, I traveled to Tennessee with The Vulnerable Children’s Ministry Team and attended the Christian Alliance for Orphans Conference (also called CAFO).  It was amazing!    The church was filled with people who love and care for orphans.  Realizing the impact a conference like that could have if we held one at our church blew me away. I immediately began to pray that God would bring CAFO to Willow.

Through a series of meetings and for what I am told miracles,  the doors that should not have been opened were opened and the CAFO conference came to Willow.  On May 1st and 2nd 2014 the Christian Alliance for Orphans Conference was held at Willow Creek Community Church and to my devastation it was never announced from the main stage.

My church knew that they were going to host a conference for a year, yet somehow the vast majority of the congregation did not.  The Christian Alliance for Orphans Conference draws people from all over the United States and even 25 countries world-wide. We are not talking about a little tea party here. CAFO is a massive two-day event.

Leading up to the conference I was frustrated each week that I realized again, and again that the conference was not announced to our congregation. I started to ask why this was and I was told things like,

“Willow can only announce so much from the main stage.”

“They have a lot to announce, they can’t tell you about everything.”

Really? They couldn’t do anything at all at the main church services to let us know?  It was a missed opportunity.  A sad, sad missed opportunity.  In their defense they did put up a short post on their compassion and justice blog telling people about the conference.  But to get to the post you really had to dig deep into the churches website.  In fairness they also announced the CAFO conference from the stage at midweek two days before the conference started.  Unfortunately, most of the congregation doesn’t attend the midweek service.

Thus, the window of opportunity for someone in our church family who might have wanted to attend the conference was barely open. If you happened to have an extra $200 and were able to spontaneously re-arrange your schedule for two days,  you could go.  But, this was no “easy invite”.

I attended CAFO, jaw dropped and wounded heart. The general sessions for the CAFO conference were not held in the main auditorium. They were held in our lakeside auditorium. I had to stand for the first few hours because our lakeside auditorium didn’t have enough seats for everyone.  The main auditorium, which is much bigger sat behind locked doors, large, cold and empty. The Willow Creek family was by and large uninvited.

Our Pastor Bill has continually encouraged our congregation to invite people to church.  He has expressed how very important it is to not say someone’s “no” for them.  I had personally taken time to pray over every single seat in our main auditorium in anticipation of eyes and hearts being opened in our community to the plight of orphans and vulnerable children.  It never occurred to me that the CAFO attendees would never step foot in that room.  The thought never once entered my mind that a CAFO conference could be conducted right under the radar with so much of my church family completely unaware.

Adoption is the heart of the gospel.  You have to be adopted to get into God’s family.  When the church embraces the fatherless in their own community they are reflecting the true nature of God the Father.

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. James 1:27

Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. John 1:12-13

“But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “ Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.” Galatians‬ ‭4:4-7‬ ‬‬
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Reminder: Let Your Light Shine

I have remained somewhat silent lately in regards to my blog and social media. I have so much to say and yet it has discouraged me to find that my words fall on deaf ears. I went to my phone this morning and read….

  • Reminder
  • Reminder
  • Reminder
  • Reminder

These are various alerts that have been set to remind me to let my light shine. What light? The light of Christ in me. Jesus came into my life and changed me.  Anyone who knew me before would say that I’m not the same.

But I have been wrestling to let my light shine.  The resistance has been intense and strong.  The battle has been long.  If people could see what I see and know the God I know, they would have hope.  Where there is no divine  revelation from God, people cast off restraint and go wild. Where there is no hope, the people perish.

So today I’m taking the steps God is asking me to take.  I’m letting my light shine. God is good and He has been good to me.  This world and everything in it is passing away.  The enemy of my soul has persistently done everything he can to silence my voice.  The kindest thing the Lord ever did for me was give me a voice.  Even if He is the only one who ever listens, even if the Lord is the only one who ever hears, I will confess with my mouth that Jesus is Lord.

If I could give one bit of advice that I wanted people to hear today it would be this:

Turn to God, seek Him with all your heart. He is kind. He is merciful. He is love. Dare to believe that God is good and that He loves you. Jesus is real.

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians‬ ‭6:12‬ ‭
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“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Hebrews‬ ‭11:1‬

Dear God, Please open people’s eyes.  Help them to see the truth. In Jesus’ Name I pray. Amen! I love you! Love, Alison
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What Is The Greatest Commandment?

Matthew 22:36-37

I’m in Carbondale, Illinois. This is the place where I fully surrendered my life to Christ! I just watched the 2017 eclipse in totality! God is speaking! Are you listening? This is what you need to know.  The greatest commandment is to love God before anyone and anything else! We are to have no other gods before Him.   What do you worship? What can you not live without? What do you bow down to?

““Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’”Matthew 22:36-37
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭22:36-37‬ ‭NIV‬‬

 

Please Pray for Wendy

I received a prayer request from Billiance Chondwe who is a friend of mine. I first met Billy at The Christian Alliance for Orphans Conference in 2013.  I was standing in the lobby at the Best Western where I was staying and I felt a tap on my shoulder.  When I turned around Pastor Billy was asking me if I was attending the CAFO conference.  We got to talking and when I asked him where he was from he said Zambia.  That was when I realized he was the man I had seen on stage who had started Orphan Sunday. If you don’t know what Orphan Sunday is you can find more about it at http://orphansunday.org 

It was an amazing moment for me to realize that the God I love so much would orchestrate it so that of all people in the world, Pastor Billy would tap on my shoulder and want to talk to me. Over the years we have stayed in touch and sent many prayer requests back and forth regarding orphans and vulnerable children and adults that God has put in our lives.

One thing that I found interesting was the fact that even though God called me to be a voice for Orphans, many of my friends and family have not seemed the slightest bit interested in the orphan crisis. I have discovered that a lot of what I have to say has fallen on deaf ears. Yet steadily over the years Pastor Billy has checked in with me and I have been thankful. I have been thankful to know that on the other side of the world someone is sending prayers up to God and standing in agreement with me for the people God puts on my heart.

This week I received an urgent prayer request for a young lady named WENDY NAKAMBA. After praying about it I asked permission to share the need here at An Orphan’s Battleground.

Below is a copy of the request I received from Pastor Billy.

“Greetings from Pastor Billy. I pray that you are well and the Lord is richly blessing you indeed.

We do have a girl named WENDY NAKAMBA aged 25years old whom the Lord permitted me and my family to meet 4yrs ago when she drop out of school at 21years old in her first semester studying General Nursing because she was always sick due to her been HIV/AIDS positive.

We used to see her always struggling with her grandfather who was in the late 85years old so we committed ourselves to support her with prayers, food and sometimes school fees. This year by Gods grace she is in her final year to complete and graduate with a Diploma in General Nursing but she has been given deadline on 11th August to settle her $265 she owes the school failure to which she will be not go on Monday 14TH August, 2017 for RURAL and URBAN experience which plays a key role towards her graduation by end of November, 2017.

We as a family we have decided to take her and she stays with us therefore your support in prayers and any contributions towards the above amount will greatly be appreciated.

Any financial support towards her can be sent to : CATHERINE NANYANGWE (My Wife).

Once again your help and prayers will be greatly appreciate to see this girl graduate and contribute positively to the well being of her life and nation. I also forgot to mention that she has no family because her grandfather eventually went to be with the Lord hence we took her in.

I wait to hear from you soon as the Lord enables you please.

Pastor Billy”

What struck me about this request was how easily the financial need could be met by so many people here in America.  This is pocket change for some people but for Wendy it is a game changer.

“Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will reward them for what they have done.”
‭‭‬‬Proverbs 19:17 NIV

Pastor Billy sent an update telling me he is thankful for the prayers and that $50 has been donated.   Wendy was sent home from the school even though Pastor Billy sent someone who pleaded with them to give them until August 14th as he looks for the Lord to provide. They are still in need of $215.

I invite you to be a difference maker!  Here’s how you can help:

  • Pray for Wendy that God would provide for her financially,  physically, spiritually and  her emotional needs.  Pray that Wendy may know that there is a God in heaven who loves her and will make sure she is taken care of.
  • Share this prayer request!
  • Give your financial support to Wendy. If you are able to fund Wendy’s financial need in part or in total please contact Pastor Billiance Chondwe at billiancechondwe@gmail.com

 

 

An Empty Chair on the Fourth of July

I gave blood again this week.  I’ve been doing it for a few years now.  I’m not saying this to brag.  It wasn’t my idea to begin with.  When God put a call on my life, He gave me some very specific things to do and being a voice was only one.  He called out all the stops and one of them happened to be that he wanted me to share my blood.

I wasn’t keen on the idea.  Think about it.  Who wants to give blood?  I remember bargaining with God.  I told him that I would give blood if LIFESOURCE needed my blood type more than any other kind.  I didn’t know much about blood types, but I remembered from school that some people were universal donors.

I will never forget calling LIFESOURCE and asking if there was one particular blood type they needed more than the others.  I knew there was, but I was hoping it wasn’t mine.  I explained that I had committed to donating blood if I was a universal donor.

The woman on the other end of the phone sounded older, almost like my grandmother.  She had most likely had a similar conversation with others who had walked down this path before me.  She knew exactly how to draw me in. She had a cheery way about her, and in a soft gentle voice she replied,  “Why yes, I would be more than happy to help you out.  We need all blood types, but we get especially excited about anyone who has O-Negative blood.  What type are you dear?”

I almost couldn’t speak. As my mind began to reel, I gazed into space. God knew all along! Why would I ever think I could bargain with God? I had laid down my life, I had surrendered all and if that meant giving blood then that would be the way it was. It didn’t matter that the idea of it sounded horrible or that I hated needles.  My selfish idea that I needed my blood and couldn’t share it didn’t matter.  I was brought back from the recesses of my mind by the sound of her voice.  “Hello?  Are you there dear?”
Continue reading An Empty Chair on the Fourth of July

When You’re Sad on Mother’s Day


Isaiah 30:15

Today is Mother’s Day. I remember when this holiday was a jumble of emotions and the work that it took to contain them all. First, there was the grief of my mother’s death. I thought that pain would never subside. By the time I had children of my own, the world was less than kind towards the ache I felt in my heart.  As if I should have been over it long ago.  I was given the message that Mother’s Day was only for happiness and joy. So I wrestled to keep my emotions in check.

I tried to focus on the positives, like the fact that I got to be a mother. And being a mother has given me tremendous joy! I love, love, LOVE being a Mom!

The second grief was unknown to most of the world. It was my secret that I kept locked up in my heart. God tells us in Proverbs 4:23 “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.”  But my wellspring was muddied by the secrecy of the abortions I had gone through when I was 17.

I kept these secrets hidden in my heart and I didn’t let anyone in for fear they would discover what I had done. Mother’s Day was a warfare for me because it attacked my identity in Christ.

There is no condemnation in Christ Jesus. The Bible says to confess your sins to one another and pray for each other do that you can be healed.

I had to get over two main stumbling blocks to get to a place of peace and joy on Mother’s Day and in life.

  1. Truly grieve the loss of my mother.
  2. Truly grieve the loss of my first two children.

I was in a Mothers of Teens class several years ago and the teacher recognized & called me out on my unprocessed grief from my mother’s death. I didn’t see it coming, nor did I appreciate when she pointed it out to me in front of the whole class. I had made some remarks and in the process mentioned that my Mom had died when I was nine.

It was not long after that experience that I spent an entire summer paying $125/hr to sit and cry in a counselor’s office. I cried and grieved my mother’s death and all that went with it. It was difficult work. I had not known how freeing it would be to face the pain, resolve it in my heart, and be able to stand up and move forward.

God truly heals broken hearts! I know because He did that work in mine.

The second stumbling block for me was the grief wrapped up in the loss of my first two children. This was hard in a way that I can’t find words fitting to express.  I had to come to terms with the truth of what I was capable of and what I had done. I had aborted my first two children.

I went to a place called Carenet and they walked me through a Bible study called Forgiven and Set Free, by Linda Cochrane. The study lasted eight weeks. Each week there was homework for me to complete. Every time I sat down to do my homework I was met with grief.  It came out in anger and deep sobbing groans and moans. When I finished my homework I would wipe my tears, take a deep breath and put on a fresh face. The important part is that I allowed myself space to grieve.

This season began a new kind of warfare for me. There are many (way to many) people who share the same secret. Those people rose up against me. They made all sorts of excuses about why abortion isn’t so bad in certain circumstances. Honestly, I believe  my coming out threatened some of them. Whenever we see another person overcome adversity, it silently speaks to us suggesting that we too could overcome adversities.

The very thought of overcoming overwhelming odds and circumstances in and of itself can be a threat. It gives rise to the resisting and negative thoughts that tell us we’ll always be stuck and wounded.

The Bible says there is a season and a time for every activity under the sun. If you discover that Mother’s Day brings up a jumble of emotions for you, ask yourself if you have any unprocessed grief to work through.

This is my story. Each of us walks our own path.  There are so many reasons why a holiday like Mother’s Day might not be a joyful celebration. It could be that you no longer have a mother, never knew your mother or have a bad relationship with her.  Perhaps it’s not about your mother.  Many people walk down the path of infertility or the loss of a child that died. There are so many reasons people may be sad or mad or find they want to avoid the holiday altogether.

My take away point is that healing is possible. The Lord heals in many ways. God heals with His Word. He sent out his word and healed them; he rescued them from the grave. Psalm 107:20  God heals when we confess our sins and pray for each other.  Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. James 5:16

Healing is a process that usually takes place over time.  For me it took a long time. This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says:

“In repentance and rest is your salvation,
    in quietness and trust is your strength,
    but you would have none of it. Isaiah 30:15

Ecclesiastes 3New International Version (NIV)

A Time for Everything

There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

    a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. Philippians 4:8 

 

 

 

Don’t Quit

This post is all about perseverance. I want to encourage you to keep going when you want to give up. There are three things God directed me to do.

1. Pray

2. Read God’s Word

3. Fellowship With Other Believers

Before I surrendered my life to Christ I learned a lot about perseverance. I carried a poem in my pocket called “Don’t Quit.” I wrote this out one day for my kids because it has so encouraged me over the years.

Don’t Quit

When things go wrong as they sometimes will, when the road you’re trudging seems all uphill, When the funds are low, & the debts are high, And you want to smile but you have to sigh, When care is pressing you down a bit– rest if you must but, don’t you quit. Success is failure turned inside out, The silver tint of the clouds of doubt. And you never can tell how close you are, It may be near when it seems afar, So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit– It’s when things go wrong that you must not quit.  Author Unknown

But honestly, this poem didn’t cut it for me. Then one day I was given this picture

Some days I feel like the frog. I showed it to my friend and she laughed out loud and said,

“Okay Alison, go be the frog!”

That’s when I began to cry out to God and I had other people pray for me too!

James 5:16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

He directed me to his word. The word of God is alive and active and it has power to transform your mind. He is the vine and we are the branches. Apart from Christ We can do nothing.  There is so much hope in God’s word to encourage us. Here are just a few verses that have encouraged me.

Proverbs16:3 Commit to the Lord whatever you do,
and he will establish your plans.

Philippians 4:13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

Joshua 1:5-6 No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them.

Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

2 Chronicles 15:7 But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.”

Lastly, it is important to gather together with other believers. We need to worship together, hold each other up in prayer, study God’s word. The Bible says,

Do not forsake the gathering of the saints!

What about you! What do you do when you feel like giving up or quitting?

Running My Race


Since God called me to live intentionally for Him, I have been running this race called L.I.F.E. Living for God has been the most challenging and rewarding thing I have ever done. God has given me direction and purpose which has proved to be exciting and at times daunting. I have had to learn to fully depend on God, which has been the most difficult lesson of all. My race has proven to me where I am strong and where my faith runs up short.

I’ve been watching the world around me as I go and it has become quite apparent who is walking with God and who is not. I wish I could reach into the lives of some very lovely people I know who are tormented by all kinds of fears and anxieties and give them what God has given me. But I can’t. I cannot open the way for another person to believe, #OnlyGod can do that. So, I continue on in this race. I see the news reporting on politics, violence and basically anything they can find that will stress a person out. I run and I watch and I run and I pray. I pray that all people who don’t know God as their Father and his son Jesus as their savior will come and be blessed with a peace which surpasses understanding despite their circumstances.

Philippians 4:7-8  Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

Bring Your Bible To Church

img_6847It’s time for church & I’m hungry! God’s word is my food! John 6:35 At my church the Bible’s are kept out in the hallway. It’s really inconvenient if you forget to grab a Bible before sitting down. Imagine going to a dinner and being delighted by aroma of the food. The food entices you, but you sit there starving because the food is out of reach.

Psalm 34:8 Taste and see that the Lord is good;
blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.

Life in this world is filled with all sorts of troubles but God’s word is filled with all sorts of goodness. Now I’m in the habit of  bringing my Bible with me almost everywhere I go. Why? Because I can, and why wouldn’t I? Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. John 14:6 He set me free & He will do it for you too! John 10:10

2 Timothy 3:16-17 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God[a] may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Romans 10:17 Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.

John 1:14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.