September was a full month. Our weekends were shared with people that we love. And frankly...that's really the point of life, or at least the life we feel called to!
Mr. McKinney and I had the privilege of hosting some friends as part of a planning and dreaming weekend for Stephen's House Peru. These friends of ours all share a role on the board with my husband and needed a weekend away to plan and layout next steps for growing fundraising support and awareness. After a couple options for "a little cabin in the woods" fell through I looked at him one night and said, "why don't they just come here?"
When we moved in to our home and began setting it up, we prayed (and continue to pray) that this would be a place for God to use to expand His Kingdom and let us love on others. He blessed us with an opportunity that weekend! Mamas and daddys without kids and I saw it as my opportunity to take care of all the worries of food, planning and cleaning and just let them come and respite for the weekend.
It was a blessing to have our friends here. But, the vision that was shared together that weekend and the story that was formed, will transform the lives of people in the southern hills of Peru. If you were to run statistics on this region of the globe, you would find villages of people that do not know Jesus. For those of us in evangelical circles, we call that and "unreached people". Living in the buckle of the Bible Belt, it is hard to think that there are people in the world who have never heard the name of Jesus or that can't go to a dollar store in their town and buy a new Bible. And, more than that, they have never heard the story of the free gift of His sacrificial Grace. They don't know that God sent His son to earth as a human. Jesus was born just like you and I are born. He lived on this earth. He faced temptation, heartache, loss, and betrayal. He had friends and enemies. He had to be a son, a brother, a teacher, a servant. And, He did it all for one reason.
You and me.
Sin entered the world through selfishness; a desire for more. And, sin created a chasm between us and eternity with God. Only one thing could build the bridge across that divide and that was a blameless, atoning sacrifice. Old Testament rules outlined how a person could be "cleansed" from their sin. But, it included lots of ritual, rules and a "scape goat"option. But, Jesus came and took care of it all. No more ritual, no more atoning sacrifice; His death provided once, for all, the free gift of salvation.
And, that's what that weekend was all about.
Matthew 28:16 offers what Christians call The Great Commission - go and make disciples. Jesus' last words to His disciples, followers, was to go into ALL the world and make disciples. Basically, go tell people this story that you have lived and heard. Spread my Gospel to the ends of the earth.
This group of friends that gathered in our home have fallen in love with the people that live in the southern mountains of rural Peru. Our weekend conversation was full of stories, laughter and tears. Weird things happen when you've made more than 15 trips to an area like this. You prep your tummy for weird food that you are not used to eating, but you check your heart for hospitality that you have never experienced. You prep your body for long days and no shower, but you prep your mind to tell the stories of a Creator God you have come to love and know is real. You prep your soul to love a people that live in a different hemisphere because you know you have a story that they must know and hear.
Back, 7+ years ago, these friends of ours traveled to this area for the first time and as they came to understand the geography and the Gospel impoverished nature of the region, they began praying and asking for a tangible way to teach adoption into God's family and a free gift of salvation. God began working in their hearts and they were introduced to a boy named Stephen. His grandmother had learned about these Americans that were in their village. Her grandson had been left behind when the rest of his family moved into the city for work. All his other siblings were old enough to earn a wage, but he was an extra mouth to feed and care for and was left behind. He had been passed around from aunts and uncles, even random people in his village, but no one LOVED him. His grandmother had brought him that day to give him to this team. "We do not want him, will you take him?"
We cannot imagine. We sit in the safety of our homes. We have food to eat, a warm place to rest, and someone who desires to spend time with us.
Our weekend together was spent asking the question, "How can we show the world Jesus, one LOVED child at a time?"