The Wait

by Russell Kelfer

Desperately, helplessly, longingly, I cried;
Quietly, patiently, lovingly, God replied.
I pled and I wept for a clue to my fate . . .
And the Master so gently said, “Wait.”

“Wait? you say wait?” my indignant reply.
“Lord, I need answers, I need to know why!
Is your hand shortened? Or have you not heard?
By faith I have asked, and I’m claiming your Word.

“My future and all to which I relate
Hangs in the balance, and you tell me to wait?
I’m needing a ‘yes’, a go-ahead sign,
Or even a ‘no’ to which I can resign.

“You promised, dear Lord, that if we believe,
We need but to ask, and we shall receive.
And Lord I’ve been asking, and this is my cry:
I’m weary of asking! I need a reply.”

Then quietly, softly, I learned of my fate,
As my Master replied again, “Wait.”
So I slumped in my chair, defeated and taut,
And grumbled to God, “So, I’m waiting for what?”

He seemed then to kneel, and His eyes met with mine . . .
and He tenderly said, “I could give you a sign.
I could shake the heavens and darken the sun.
I could raise the dead and cause mountains to run.

“I could give all you seek and pleased you would be.
You’d have what you want, but you wouldn’t know Me.
You’d not know the depth of my love for each saint.
You’d not know the power that I give to the faint.

“You’d not learn to see through clouds of despair;
You’d not learn to trust just by knowing I’m there.
You’d not know the joy of resting in Me
When darkness and silence are all you can see.

“You’d never experience the fullness of love
When the peace of My spirit descends like a dove.
You would know that I give, and I save, for a start,
But you’d not know the depth of the beat of My heart.

“The glow of my comfort late into the night,
The faith that I give when you walk without sight.
The depth that’s beyond getting just what you ask
From an infinite God who makes what you have last.

“You’d never know, should your pain quickly flee,
What it means that My grace is sufficient for thee.
Yes, your dearest dreams overnight would come true,
But, oh, the loss, if you missed what I’m doing in you.

“So, be silent, my child, and in time you will see
That the greatest of gifts is to truly know me.
And though oft My answers seem terribly late,
My most precious answer of all is still . . . Wait.”

Oh, how this so perfectly describes my anxious heart not wanting to be still! I’ve been praying and asking and seeking. I’ve pleaded with the Lord to show me where He’s leading.  I’ve gotten frustrated that I’m seemingly forgotten. But He hasn’t forgotten. Oh restless, impatient, forgetful heart be still! Knowing the Giver is infinitely greater than knowing the gift.

Gates of Hades

Part 3 in The Austin Stone’s “From Israel” series (see Part 1 here and Part 2 here). Matt Carter delivers a sermon from Caesarea Philippi.

The Gates of Hades at Caesarea Philippi: This was the center of pagan worship in the first century. The pagan gods here were loved and worship and honored. The people of this time dedicated their lives to gods they though would endure forever. Yet, how familiar are you with Echo the Mountain Nymph? or Nemesis? or Pan?

This is the place Jesus took his disciples in Matthew 16 where he asked “Who do people say that I am?”

psst… click the four arrows-facing-out button on the bottom right of the video to make it full screen.

The Gates of Hades from The Austin Stone on Vimeo.

Garden of Gethsemane

Part 2 in The Austin Stone’s “From Israel” series. Matt Carter delivers a sermon from The Garden of Gethsemane.

Holy cow… if you like the first video (seen here) you will be BLOWN away by this one. Garden of Gethsemane: the place Jesus prayed hours before he was crucified. He was right there! Right there! Can you even comprehend that?!? This is where our Savior spent his remaining time before dying for the sins of the entire world! I’m blown away.

psst… click the four arrows-facing-out button on the bottom right of the video to make it full screen

The Garden of Gethsemane from The Austin Stone on Vimeo.

Sermon on the Mount

Austin Stone is doing a 4 week video series, “From Israel” All of the videos are shot entirely on site from Israel. It’s incredible to see the words of scripture come to life in the places they happened 2000 years ago!

Here is part one. Matt Carter reads the words of Jesus on the Sea of Galilee. Take a few minutes to watch this video. I promise it will bless you.

psst… click the four arrows-facing-out button on the bottom right of the video to make it full screen 

Sermon on the Mount from The Austin Stone on Vimeo.

C.S. Lewis

This man is one of my FAVORITE authors of all times. (Hence why one of his quotes is depicted at the top of my blog.) The way he speaks truth so simply, so easy to understand. Complex theological ideas made into dialogue in a fairy tale story. I adore it.

“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver.”Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
— C.S. Lewis (The Chronicles of Narnia)

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”
— C.S. Lewis (The Four Loves)

“Will the others see you too?” asked Lucy.
“Certainly not at first,” said Aslan. “Later on, it depends.”
“But they won’t believe me!” said Lucy.
“It doesn’t matter.”
— C.S. Lewis

A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word, ‘darkness’ on the walls of his cell.
C. S. Lewis

“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”
— C.S. Lewis (Mere Christianity)

“Experience is a brutal teacher, but you learn. My God, do you learn.”
— C.S. Lewis

“I didn’t go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a bottle of Port would do that. If you want a religion to make you feel really comfortable, I certainly don’t recommend Christianity.”
— C.S. Lewis

“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
— C.S. Lewis (Weight of Glory and Other Addresses)

“If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”
— C.S. Lewis

13 Things . . .

. . . that have happened since I last updated
Which, lets face it, has been awhile:

Today I got stuck in an elevator.
It was a surprisingly enjoyable experience.

PLC bought a new car.
I miss the Patrol (aka The Beast)
But thanking God for providing.

I rode the Sulaymaniyah bus.
Payment for the ride is driven by the honor system.
I’m convinced it would never work in America.

My friend, Sazgar, helped me pick out Gili Kurdi (traditional/festive Kurdish dress)
Don’t worry, pictures to come.

I experienced culture shock for the first time at a foreigner’s party.
50 people attended (Dutch, British, Irish, Australian . . . but mostly American)
I realized Americans are loud and a tad bit obnoxious.

I visited Sulaymaniyah University with Kanar and Shaza, two good friends.
I almost felt as though I was at an American university.

I learned to sing Happy Birthday in Kurdish.

Angel and I made oreo balls.
SO good.

I sat on the top floor of our house for hours watching a thunderstorm with the window open.
I’ve missed the rain.

I bought a piece of artwork from my good friend and talented artist, Ismail.

I’ve read 5 books:
Unshaken by Francine Rivers
Unveiled by Francine Rivers
The Shack by William P. Young
A Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis
Crazy Love by Francis Chan

God has been teaching me a lot about faith and prayer
and even more about my pride.

AND 3 new kids are going to surgery in Turkey on Tuesday!!
I’ll introduce them in the next few days

Extreme Joy – Extreme Sorrow

I realize this post is WAY overdue. To be quite honest, I’ve been avoiding writing it. I feel as if I don’t have adequate words to give to you describing the events over the last two weeks. I’m praying even as I write this that the Lord will give me the words I need to say.

This is a very late update on the three precious boys PLC sent to surgery in Turkey over the last month: Meer (15 years), Ramyar (4 years), and Daryan (5 months).

Meer was in need of urgent surgery when we flew him to Turkey. His surgery was a little over a week ago. It was perfect and a full heart correction was performed. Meer will live. Praise the Lord! Last Tuesday he flew home to his family to Iraq. Meer will live a normal life, grow up, get married and have a family. . . and live.

Thanks so much for your support and prayers that make this possible.

Meer - Homeward Bound

Ramyar is the four-year-old boy we sent to Turkey with Meer just a few weeks ago.We love this little boy. His laugh is contagious. He is always joyful. He is so full of life.

Ramyar was sent home from Turkey shortly after arriving. At four-years-old he is already inoperable. We are praying for healing. . . begging for healing for this boy.Ramyar’s family came to our office a few days ago to have a post-Turkey meeting. It was so bitter-sweet seeing him. . . more bitter than sweet. We were able to play and laugh with him for a few hours. The joy of having him in our office and seeing him so happy quickly awoke me to the realization that death is chasing after him. Without surgery, Ramyar’s broken, weak heart will stop beating in a year maybe two.

Please pray for healing.

This is a video of him and Joshua (a fellow summer intern) playing that day. Ramyar LOVED watching himself being filmed on our Mac computers. The first part is Ramyar and Josh playing and the second part is the two taking pictures on my Macbook. I’ve never laughed this hard while at the same time wanting to weap so deeply.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Extreme Joy – Extreme Sorrow”, posted with vodpod

Daryan was sent to Turkey a little over a month ago with an extremely sick heart. We knew the odds weren’t good but hope seemed to prevail when he made it though surgery. “His heart is perfect,” Dr. Cicek told us. We thought all he needed was time for his lungs to grow strong enough.

Daryan put up such a tough fight. . . so much so that we all thought he would pull through. Four weeks he fought for his life in ICU while intubated. The fight was too tough, though. His body, too weak.

Daryan Selah lost the fight at 5:40 AM on September 4, 2009. I am at a loss for words as of what else to say. His family is in pain. His mother lost her firstborn son. His family lost a precious baby boy.

Daryan

What now?

What happens when the reality of life and death for these kids is too much to bare?

Watching these children who are so sick…

Watching these families who are desparately searching for any kind of hope…

So, what happens when the reality of a child’s death doesn’t seem to match up with the goodness of God?

“A crisis of faith comes when God’s dealing with us seem to contradict his essential goodness, and can be passed through only by trusting God, even though we do not understand” -Beverly Hicks

Seeing children be healed and hope restored.

Seeing children die and famlies crushed.

Extreme joy, extreme sorrow . . .

Turkey Bound

On Tuesday morning, the Preemptive Love Coalition was able to send two more kids to surgery because of generous contributions to our organization! So exciting! Let’s meet them shall we?

Meer

This is Meer. Fifteen years old, he is one of the oldest kids PLC has sent to Istanbul, Turkey for heart surgery. Meer’s case is particularly urgent. He should have had this life-saving procedure years ago.  Also because of his age, he is able to understand what is about to happen to him. Meer’s surgery is scheduled for tomorrow.

Please be praying for peace for him and his family and pray for wisdom and guidance for Dr. Cicek (the pediatric cardiologist who preforms the heart surgeries in Turkey).

Ramyar

This precious little four year old boy is Ramyar. We met him just a few short weeks ago when his family came to visit our Iraq office. His family was able to collect all the things needed to send him to surgery (i.e. passports, echos, paperwork) in about two weeks. Amazingly enough, all of this usually takes months. Ramyar is borderline inoperable. In Turkey, diagnostic tests will be performed to determine if he is a candidate for surgery. These tests will determine if his little heart can handle surgery or if it is too late.

I don’t understand all the logistics of these complicated surgeries, but pray that Dr. Cicek finds what he needs to in the preliminary tests, that this child has a chance at a long, healthy life.

You can follow these kids over the next few weeks on The Preemptive Love Coalition Blog. You can also follow on Twitter ( Meer’s Twitter Page and Ramyar’s Twitter Page )

Also, I would ask you to keep praying for baby Daryan. Daryan is about five months old. He was sent to surgery in Turkey with the last group of kids, almost a full month ago. Despite staggering odds, he survived surgery. His heart is completely healthy, completely corrected, and in essence, perfect. However, his little lungs are not yet strong enough to control the increase in blood pressure. Daryan has been intubated and in ICU for the past four weeks (1/5th of his short life) on several drugs hoping his blood vessels will dilate enough to support his tiny little life. Dr. Cicek said that it is now a waiting game. Pray for healing.

This video of Daryan was taken in the few days following his heart surgery:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

 

Special Update 2

I will write a real update later but I just wanted to share with everyone on how the kids receiving heart surgeries this week are doing:

Ruzhan, the sweet little girl who received surgery this past Thursday, is doing phenomenal! Her surgery was a complete success and the doctor’s were able to give her heart a full correction which means she should never have to have another heart surgery! Ruzhan is now out of ICU and in her own private room with her father. She is no longer blue; instead, a beautifully healthy pink. Incredible!
Eleven-year-old Mohammad received his surgery on Friday. After having the pre-surgery exam, doctors found that his heart condition was much worse than previously thought. He had FIVE heart defects! The surgery was complicated and took much longer than expected but was completely successful. All five heart defects were fixed! It will take a few days for him to recover in ICU but he is doing so great. His dad was crying tears of joy at realizing the change this will make for their family. He should be a normal pre-teenage boy that can run and play football (soccer) within the next couple months! http://preemptivelove.org/BLOG/ This is an incredible video that one of the interns shot. The intern, Ben, was actually able to stand in on the surgery. I promise this video will leave your breathless! Watch it!
Mazyar, the 3-year-old little boy, who when I met him was all laughter and smiles, received his surgery on Friday as well. Mazyar also received a full heart correction. I am not sure if he is out of ICU yet but he supposedly doing wonderful. All that is left for this little boy is to find a Smile Train in Turkey than can fix his cleft pallet so that his new heart, bubbling joyfulness, and smile can all match.
The last one to go to surgery is fourth-month-old Daryan. Daryan’s surgery is scheduled for tomorrow, July 27th. This will be the most difficult surgery by far. The cardiologist in Iraq that initially examined him said that his heart condition was the worst he has ever seen. Dr.Cicek, the pediatric surgeon performing the surgeries in Istanbul, says that Daryan has about an 80% chance of survival. These odds really aren’t that great. Please be in constant prayer for this tiny baby tonight and tomorrow. Pray for Dr.Cicek to have wisdom and a steady hand. Daryan’s young mother is the one who travelled with him to Turkey. Pray for peace and comfort for her heart as she will be going through the unimaginable tomorrow. Pray that whatever happens, God is ultimately glorified and that this family is drawn closer to the Lord whether the outcome is good or bad. Pray for healing for this tiny baby boy.
Please go to PLC blog to see pictures and find out more details about these kids. See their innocent faces and the radical life-change they are gaining. http://preemptivelove.org/blog/

Special Update!

Wow, this is a record! Two updates in one week! So the purpose of this email is two things. First, to let you know of four more children are leaving for Turkey tomorrow to receive heart surgeries! And second, to thank all of you who are wanting to support me for the fall!

The first piece of exciting news is about the four children traveling to Turkey tomorrow. PLC received an unexpected financial gift this month, enough to send four children to life-saving heart surgery! The PLC staff and children will arrive in Istanbul tomorrow evening and the first surgery might begin as early as Wednesday. Here are the kids headed to Turkey:

Mohammad. Mohammad is eleven years old and has a fourfold combination of heart problems called Tetralogy of Fallot. I don’t know the details of his condition but like most heart problems, Mohammad’s heart does not circulate enough oxygen to his body resulting in his skin, fingernails and lips turning blue and a lack of energy. Mohammad can’t play football and run around with other children because his heart isn’t strong enough. If not fixed, Mohammad’s heart will not sustain his life. Though his surgery is somewhat routine, Mohammad’s quality of life will be greatly improved. Though routine, there are still risks and Mohammad’s older age makes the risk higher.
Mazyar. He is a precious three-year-old little boy whose condition is complicated. His heart will not be fully corrected with just one surgery. Mazyar had his first heart operation last year and this will be the second stage of the heart repair. Mazyar will need several surgeries as he grows to fully correct his heart. He also has a cleft pallet. We have looked into some cosmetic surgeries in Turkey that might correct this, but that will be done sometime in the future. We played with Mazyar today at the office. He is just like any other toddler; he is full of life. His laugh is contagious and one cannot miss the love his mother has for him. Multiple times today she would pull him into her arms and hold him showering him with soft words of love. It was a sobering moment to think of the difficulties this family has faced (and all the families for that matter). I can’t imagine receiving news that your child has something life-threatening and you are powerless to change it. It will be an incredible journey for PLC to walk alongside this family as we are hopeful that Mazyar will continue to improve after each surgery.
Ruzhan. This shy but beautiful eight-year-old girl entered the office today. She quietly sat with us and colored, smiling widely when we told her her picture was “zor juana” (very beautiful). I do not know the extent of her heart condition but she is in need of this surgery. Ruzhan came to us from a connection PLC has with some Americans living in a city on the norther border of Iraq. The business these Americans run came together and donated 50% of the money needed for Ruzhan’s surgery to PLC. How incredible is that? ONE organization is funding her surgery. What if just one business from each state of the US funded one surgery this year… 50 innocent Iraqi kids would have a chance at life.
Daryan. Daryan just turned four months old today. His heart situation is extremely serious. The Kurdish doctor we use here in Iraq says Daryan’s condition is the worst he has ever seen. Daryan is malnourished and extremely small and weak for his age. The odds are stacked very high against this little boy. It brought tears to my eyes to see this tiny baby this morning who is probably half the size he should be.  There is not a very big chance that he will survive surgery, but without it, he will surely die. I want so badly to be able to do something, to change this for Daryan and his family, to even take his place and give him a chance to grow and live…. all the while feeling powerless because really, what can I do? The amazing thing about this is that we do not serve a God who only works in easy situations. We serve a POWERFUL God who holds the worlds in the palm of His hand. Who is the ultimate healer. I am reminded of the verse that says His ways are higher than our ways. It’s in times like these that I have to trust His ways whatever they may be. So, join alongside of me in praying wholeheartedly for Daryan’s life and the lives of Mohammad, Mazyar and Ruzhan.
I will try and keep you updated on these kids as they arrive in Turkey, are examined to determine if they are a candidate for surgery, and for the outcome of the surgery. PLC has a blog that will be updating every step of the way, probably faster than I even receive information. I invite you to check this often and prayerfully. http://preemptivelove.org/blog/ Please pray for these families as they travel tomorrow. Pray for peace for their hearts as they are in a strange land hearing a strange language and carrying very heavy hearts for their children during this confusing time. Pray for Dr. Cicek, the pediatric heart surgeon who will perform each of these surgeries. Pray for wisdom for him and that the Lord would guide his hands. Pray ultimately that not only will their physical hearts be healed, but also their spiritual hearts. Pray for the PLC team as they travel with them to Turkey. Pray that God will give them the exact words to comfort, love and offer peace. Pray for rest also as the next couple weeks will be long draining days at the hospital.

I know I have said this before, but I can’t tell you how thankful I am for everyone’s support. God has blessed me immensely through your prayers and financial support. In my last email I talked about my support needs for the fall. A few of you inquired about how to send support. I am amazed at how the Lord is already guiding hearts to give in different ways whether that be through money, prayers or encouragement. All three are SO very important for my being here. I know the Lord will in turn bless you richly. My dad is setting up an account for me in the U.S. for my fall support. If you feel led to give please make out checks to him (Steve Spelce).  My dad will then be able to send the funds to Iraq. I want to say again how thankful I am for you helping me to be here. As cheesy as it sounds, I really couldn’t do it without each and every person. What an incredible example of true fellowship and a model for what the Church should look like.

If you feel led to give, email me and I will send you the address in which you can mail support.