Sunday, July 29, 2007

Fulfillment of a Promise

Our first LightHouse missionary with friends at Chiba University

Today was a really sweet day at church. We had a visiting missionary from Japan, and were commissioning Sam, who will be heading to Burkina Faso next week.

We also had updates on Adam, who has been serving in Japan all Summer, and Sean, who will be leaving for Iraq soon.

This afternoon I went back in my blog archive and pulled out this paragraph from a previous post. It was written in July last year, during one of those points where my heart just cried out for MORE. I had been on my face, pleading with God to show us the next step.

"I would love to find a group of believers who just want to come together, read straight Scripture, and discuss what it says. I want to pray and worship together for as long as the Holy Spirit leads. I want to hear testimonies of God's amazing power, and talk about our wonderful, magnificent, indescribable GOD!!!! I want to pour our hearts out on behalf of the nations, and intercede with tears and pleading for the unreached. I want to see the Holy Spirit move in power, and rejoice as lost souls come to Christ."

It is strange to read that now, and realize those words were written three months before LightHouse Church even existed. And yet that prayer has become a reality.

In the past nine months, we have seen every one of those things come to pass. We have experienced that level of fellowship, hunger for God's Word, and worship. Three people have come to Christ, and we have experienced the joy of baptizing new believers. We sent out our first missionary and are preparing to send two more. We've prayed for hours, studies for hours, wept for the lost, and rejoiced together in what God is doing. We've watched one house church grow into two--and God raise up amazing young leaders in John and Seth to head up those groups.

And now we are witnessing a whole new stage in the church, which goes above and beyond what we had dreamed of.

A few weeks ago, Adam had asked the church to get up and pray at 5:30 a.m.--covering him and praying for his Japanese friends by name as he finally got the opportunity to share Christ with them.

God heard our prayers! Two of those girls have accepted Christ(including the shorter girl in the picture above), and one has even been baptized. I can't explain the joy of seeing the "next generation." I remember when Adam became a believer, and what an amazing journey it has been to watch God radically transform his life. Now we are seeing the fruit of Adam's life and ministry.

Sean, who will be leaving soon for Iraq, also came to a personal relationship with Christ just a couple of years ago. We have seen God grow him into a strong, faithful leader, with a heart for the Middle East. Already we have seen the fruit of Sean's life as well, and are excited about what the future holds for him.

Adam told us this weekend that he believes that he is being called to Japan permanently. We'll miss him, but are excited to watch God's plan for him unfold.

We get him back for at least a semester before he goes career. He's already told us that he wants to challenge the church with fervent, active, gut-wrenching intercessory prayer. I can't wait. Bring it on, Adam. : )

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

This video was created by two girls for a social studies class. The organization mentioned is not legitimate, but the crisis is very real. Powerful video.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Rare and Beautiful Treasures

My two precious treasures

One of my favorite possessions is a little green plaque that stands on my entertainment center. The words on it are priceless: "By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures." Proverbs 24: 3-4.

I love that thing. It's really special to me--and not just because my Mom gave it to me. I love it because it reminds me of a valuable principle.

Occasionally I'll look around my house and acknowledge that "Better Homes and Gardens" is never going to feature us. That doesn't often bother me, but every now and then I'll start to imagine what it would be like to have fine furnishings, a housekeeper and an interior decorator. Those feelings usually follow some event that makes me aware of what I'm "missing out on."

This time is was an exquisite bridal shower, held in a gorgeous home and perfectly presented down to the themed and matching hors d'oeuvres. I walked away almost breathless. It was like a fairy tale.

By the time I got home, I was immersed in a full-blown mental drama. Step 1.......Self-pity. "If I didn't have to be in ministry, then I could afford to have a cute house." Step 2......rationalization. "It wouldn't hurt to just spend a little more on decorations. I don't think God expects us to spend everything we have on Him, does He?"

Step 3.......anger. "It's just not fair! Everybody else has pretty things except me. I don't even want to be a missionary anymore!"

Step life is in such despair! It's totally hopeless! I'm going to bed!

But as I lay there in absolute dejection, I notice the beautiful Thomas Kinkade picture hanging on my wall. It actually isn't a picture, but rather a jigsaw puzzle made into a picture. It was lovingly pieced and glued together by one of our college students, who wrote a note on the back and framed it. She is now serving in a far-off country, sharing Christ with an unreached people group. I wouldn't trade that picture for anything.

Next to it is a sketch of Jesus' face.....a drawing I made after a really sweet and intense time of fellowship alone with God. Just looking at it brings back those warm and tender feelings that come when God touches my heart in that most intimate and personal way.

Under that sits my nightstand--a hand-me-down from my grandparents. Inside it is my grandmother's Bible--right where it has lived for as long as I can remember.

I have so many wonderful memories of that Bible.....watching Mamaw read it on the couch early in the morning when I got up.... of her carrying it to church each Sunday..... and teaching the ladies in her Bible Study (which she did almost up to the day she died). But my favorite memory is how every morning she would set it on the table, right next to my grandfather's plate, and before we began to eat we would start the day in the Word of God.

That worn Bible, with it's ragged cover and tattered pages is one of my greatest treasures. Next to it I have some of my Dad's prayer journals.....written during trying years on the mission field. Inside are gut-wrenching, honest prayers filled with joy, pain, thanksgiving, and even questioning. Those journals are priceless.

There are so many heirlooms that I've gained from my godly heritage......riches far greater than any material inheritance I could ever receive.

I notice a scripture verse scribbled on a scrap of paper and taped above the light switch in my room. That's something handed down from my Mom, too. I remember finding memory verses stuck all around our house when I was little--on the mirror, the back of the door, above the kitchen sink.....wherever she was likely to be spending a lot of time. The amazing thing is that I still remember many of those verses!

As I study the items in my house, I realize what a vast storehouse of riches are all around me. International dolls cover the mantle, and prayer maps are taped to the dining room wall....symbols of a desire to see God's glory spread throughout the nations.

Pictures of my kids smile back at me from every room. What a sacred gift they are to me!

One wall of my kitchen is entirely covered with painting, drawings, and sculptings.....all made by my children. On my refrigerator are letters that Living has sent from Tanzania, along with photos of all the people who have touched our lives.

Even our old, dilapidated furniture is priceless in its own way. As a child, I loved to hear my parents tell of how God miraculously provided the items in our house--and usually just in the nick of time! Now we have our own stories to tell--of a couch given to us by a dear friend when we literally had nothing to sit on, and a table found by students and brought to us when we first arrived in Pennsylvania. I can't think of a single piece of furniture we've actually had to buy. That's how amazing God has been to us!!!

When people come to our house, they may see rooms filled with hodge-podge, mismatched decorations. But from where I sit, I see a home overflowing with rare and beautiful treasures. So.......I think I'll just keep things the way they are. Martha your heart out!

Wow! It's been a while!

I can't believe it's been so long since I last posted. But so much has been happening here in Pittsburgh that I don't even know where to begin. Here's a picture of our first day as a church meeting in the new space.

Sometimes I feel like we're on a whitewater raft going down adventure river. The way is winding and pitched, making the journey thrilling and even a little scary. We never know what to expect, or what may be waiting for us around the next bend. But we wouldn't trade it for anything.

For example.....who would have thought three years ago that we'd not only have an established campus ministry, but also be planting a church in Oakland? Or that we'd be sending out our first two missionaries.......borrowing the PBC baptistry three different times.......moving into the Connections coffeehouse for large group worship......and starting multiple house just eight months of being a church?

We look back and are still amazed. Only God could have done this. We have no idea how our support money keeps coming in, apart from the faithfulness of God. We had no clue how to start a campus ministry OR a church.....and yet God continues to grow and build them both. We didn't even know if we would like this city.....and yet we've fallen in love with Pittsburgh and our community.

Thanks for all your prayers. Thanks for fighting for us. There have been some tough moments. But as we look back and see what God has done, we can't help but be thankful.

"God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord." (1 Corinthians 1:9)

Monday, March 19, 2007

Latest images coming out of Zimbabwe

Keep praying for the people of Zimbabwe. Several people, including women and students, have been detained, beaten up in police custody, and denied adequate medical care. Tensions continue to mount, as does police presence in the streets of the main cities.

Monday, March 12, 2007

The news coming out of Zimbabwe is not good. Each report just gets a little worse.

Here is the latest update

Tensions mount in Zimbabwe

I haven't posted in a while, because this International Day of Prayer for Zimbabwe ( has taken what little time I have beyond campus, church plant and family.

But I am pleading with you to get everyone praying that you can. Tensions continue to mount in Zimbabwe, and already the situation is beginning to turn violent.

Here is a press release issued today by the U.S. State Department.

U.S. Government statement on Zimbabwe Government Arrests Opposition Leaders

Press Statement
Sean McCormack
Washington, DC

March 11, 2007

Zimbabwe Government Arrests Opposition Leaders

The United States Government condemns the brutal and unwarranted actions of the Government of Zimbabwe March 11 in attacking its citizens peacefully gathered
to exercise their legitimate democratic rights at a prayer meeting in the
Harare suburb of Highfield.

The Embassy reports that one person was killed, a number were injured, and over 100 were arrested. Police have refused to inform lawyers of the whereabouts of
those arrested, including Movement for Democratic Change leaders Morgan
Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara; and Lovemore Madhuku, head of the National
Constitutional Assembly.

We hold President Robert Mugabe and the Government of Zimbabwe accountable for
the government’s actions today, and for the safety and well-being of
those in custody. We call for the immediate release of those detained, and for
the provision of medical treatment for those injured.


Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Guest Blogger--Ashleigh Dozier

I met Ashleigh two years ago, when she and several of her sorority sisters from Texas A & M came to serve with us here in Pittsburgh. Ashleigh's heart for the Lord and love for kids was evident from the second she got here.

I wanted to share with you a recent email I got from her, because it just blessed my heart so much. She has now graduated from A & M and is teaching inner city kids.

Ashleigh with some of the kids she worked with on her mission trip to Rio Grande

Today I was reminded of His grace and love for EVERYONE. It is my job to not only love on my kids that so desperately need it, but to guide them. "Love them like Jesus...Carry Them to Him. His yoke is easy. His burden is light. We don't need the answers to all of life's questions. Just tell them He loves them. Stay by their side and love them like Jesus"

Over the past day He has started to open my eyes to a new ministry approach. Anxious???...Yes I am. Overwhelmed??? You bet cha. Trusting in Him???...completely. I am nothing and He is all. He is all knowing, all powerful, always present, always active, and always in control. He is love. He is joy...and...He is peace. Without life would be meaningless. He is my hope, my friend, but most of all He is my savior.

As a believer I am called to be a light to this dark world. He has called me to take up my cross and follow Him no matter what the cost is. He's reminded me how much I really do need Him along with the rest of the world.

I want to know Him. Not just know who he is, what he's like, what's he's done. I want to KNOW him. I want my kids to KNOW him.

My heart breaks for those kids who have given up hope. Who don't see the light. Who don't know him and feel helpless. And I anger because on countless occassions I do nothing to show His grace and mercy to them. I should be living it. I should be pouring Him out in all situations to them.

Do I? No......not all the time! I let myself get in the way. I also hurt because I want to take those babies who don't ever hear I love you and aren't held and love them.I want to because He does.

I want my girls out there that don't feel loved and beautiful to know that they are. To know that they are more precious than rubies. They are His creation. He wants them to be called His daughters... Princesses of the Most High. I want them to walk away from bad situations and relationships and walk into His arms! Strive to be Proverbs 31 women.

I want the guys to grow into young men of Him. Not young men of the street who turn to violence and crime to feel a sense of belonging, power, and fufillment. Because of this hurt and this anger I am determined to step it up like He has called me to do and to challenge you to do the same. We can train up a generation for Christ if we set ourselves aside and just run hard after radically and SERVE.

We must Know Him and make Him Known!

But the coolest part about the whole deal is that we really aren't doing anything. He is doing it all and just using us to do it. What an honor to be used by Him. To get to be His hands and feet...not because we have done anything to deserve that, but simply because He wanted it to be that way. He is sovereign, majestic and loving. Just my thoughts :). Pray it up!

Hood Kids

hood kids

but good kids

not bad kids

just misunderstood kids

watch mom shoot up

and dad shoot bullets

and combat the words

that scream I'm useless

I'm not

just hot

and mad at dad who split

and mom who took him back

even though he split

her lip the third time

I watch from the sideline

and grow full of hate

from parents' guidelines

and you, pastor

push me faster

to hate

taking our crumbs to fill

you already full plate

your frock is stained

you mock the name

of He who commissioned

cuz you're more concerned

with titles and pensions

don't forget the babies

don't be so lazy

cuz I need you greatly

it's not about parking spots

and who pays a lot

but who gives a lot

and who prays a lot

for me

the lost sheep

but nobody's looked for me

don't you know God made

the Good Book for me?

but I need direction

some protection

much affection

not rejection


man of God

woman of God

be of God

and keep your eyes peeled

for real

we're crying

and dying

but still trying

though momma ignores us

and daddy abuses us

I'm sure that God still

wants to use us

when momma doesn't hug us

and daddy slugs us

I'm confident that God

still loves us

cuz I'm a hood kid

but a good kid

not a bad kid

just misunderstood kid

and I need your help

before it's too late

and I walk the same path

that my parents made

look at us

behind the chain linked fence

pain wrenched kids

such tainted kids

who were struck

but never fainted kids

we live hellish lives

but can be saintly kids

if you just TRY!

until then

we'll continue to die

continue to cry

the hood kids

that no one really cares about

it's so obvious that no one

really cares about 'em.

Will YOU care for him? Will YOU love her when she doesn't act quite right? Will YOU be patient and affectionate towards him? Will YOU hug her and her parents? Will YOU do whatever it takes to present the Truth in a way he can understand and grasp?

Will YOU at least try?

Update on Pastors

Keep praying for the Zimbabwean pastors, that they will not have to go to trial.

But also be praising the Lord for what He has done through this situation!!!

I just got a report that one of the pastors, while in detention, led all of his cellmates to the Lord, before requesting to be moved to a new cell. Apparently the scene was much like something you would have seen in Acts--with people singing, praying together, and praising God.

What Satan intended for harm, God used for his glory!!!!

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Pastors Detained in Zimbabwe

Here's the story coming out of

HARARE - Eight Zimbabwean church leaders have been released on bail after being detained for allegedly holding an illegal political meeting in a church on the evening of 26 January 2007, said officials siad today.

The church leaders were charged with breaching a section of the criminal law codification act outlawing political gatherings without police permission, for the meeting held in the town of Kadoma, southwest of the capital, Harare - as previously reported on Ekklesia.

Pastor Lucky Moyo, a spokesperson for the Christian Alliance, a coalition of mainly Pentecostal churches campaigning for good governance, said: "The pastors have been finally released today on 100,000 dollars bail each."

Magistrate Remigius Jemwa remanded the case to 5 March 2007. Pastor Moyo said: "The Christian Alliance had organised the meeting ... to launch a chapter in Kadoma. It was attended by scores of Christians from across denominations. The meeting was for Christians who felt they cannot remain silent while the country burns with companies closing, inflation hitting everyone hard and the majority of the people are suffering."

The cleric added: "We are not aligned to any political party and we don't mind who rules this country as long as they are accountable and respect the rights of all citizens. We are just against the prevailing situation characterised by looting and misgovernance."

Meanwhile, leading civil rights activist Lovemore Madhuku, chair of the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA), was arrested in Harare over a brief protest last week against plans by the ruling party to extend President Robert Mugabe’s term by another two years in 2008.

The NCA said: "Madhuku is currently detained at Harare central police station, where he is being interrogated by police assistant commissioner Bothwell Mugariri."

Zimbabwe is in the throes of chronic economic crises with four-digit inflation, massive joblessness and at least 80 per cent of the population living below the poverty threshold.

Please pray for these pastors and their families. Not only is the cost of bail a hardship, but the authorities can be ruthless to anyone who is labeled as oppositional.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

International Day of Prayer and Fasting for Zimbabwe

This excerpt is from an article by Zimbabwean journalist RW Johnson, published on January 7th, 2007.

SUFFER the little children is a phrase never far from your mind in today's Zimbabwe. The horde of painfully thin street kids milling around you at traffic lights is almost the least of it: in a population now down to 11million or less, there are an estimated 1.3 million orphans.

Go to one of the overflowing cemeteries in Bulawayo or Beit Bridge, and you are struck by the long lines of tiny graves for babies and toddlers.
Hyena attacks on humans, previously unheard of, are increasingly common.

"So many babies, not all of them dead, are being dumped in the bush that hyenas have developed a taste for human flesh," a game ranger said.

A staggering 42,000 women died in childbirth last year, compared with fewer than 1000 a decade ago.

A vast human cull is under way in Zimbabwe, and the majority of deaths are a direct result of government policies.

Ignored by the UN, it is a genocide perhaps 10 times greater than Darfur's and more than twice as large as Rwanda's.

(You can read the remainder of the article here.)

The crisis in Zimbabwe has escalated to an unimaginable point. We MUST do something to help the victims of this humanitarian travesty.
Please consider joining us for an

International Day of Prayer and Fasting for Zimbabwe
Wednesday, April 18th, 2007
We need to get the word out to as many people as possible!!! Prayer can change the course of a nation. Prayer can heal a broken people.

If you are interested in being part of this event, please let me know as soon as possible. We need people to help with publicity and mobilization. For more information, contact

Friday, January 05, 2007

A new year, a new generation

Just this week I heard of a young lady who is planning to convert from Christianity to Islam. She is actually the third student I know who has done so, and all three grew up in church.

Sometimes I wonder what the future holds for our kids. My concern is compounded when I read articles like this one from PBS and this one from the Guttmacher Institute.

But in the midst of it all, there is a generation of students who are standing strong. In the past three weeks, over 50,000 college students have assembled to worship and glorify God. Here are videos from Urbana (Dec. 27-31, 2006, St. Louis), Passion (Jan. 1-4, Atlanta) and West Coast Prayer Rumble (Jan. 4-6, San Diego). (Okay, those videos are not showing up for some reason. But you can find them all on You Tube. I'll keep trying, but am challenged in this area.)

Oh Lord, I pray that you will raise up from this generation a people set apart for you. I ask that they will die to self-idolatry, to prosperity and the distractions of the world. May they be pure and holy and zealous for your name. May they take the message of your glorious grace, no matter what the cost, to every nation, tribe and tongue. For Your Name, and Your Renown, are the desire of our souls.