Spring Fever

I bounced out of my house this morning, delighted by the fresh spring breeze and radiant sunlight. It just seemed like nature was making a statement. “We made it!” Although it’s still 55 and quite chilly, people seemed to be a bit more chipper today, a bit more radiant themselves.

Unfortunately there’s a curse that falls upon me every year, the dreaded allergy season. So while my heart is rejoicing that new life is coming, my body feels defeated and ready to shut down for another long winter.

It’s like with all of us, I think, when the Lord is birthing a new thing, it usually means something else has die. Right now it’s my face. My body has to adjust and take in this new pollen.While my mind and my emotions celebrate life and warmth my soul says, “it was better before!”

I wonder what ways I’ve said this to the Lord, what circumstances have caused me to despise a good thing because it makes me temporarily uncomfortable. Further more I wonder what ways the Church has overreacted with discomfort and missed out on a “Spring season” that the Holy Spirit wanted to bring our way.

ImageA Prayer for ourselves, for the church and for Japan as we look expectantly for God to do new things

“Father we welcome Spring. We thank you that the winter has passed, that flowers appear on the earth and that the time for singing has come (S.of S. 2:12). Lord, sometime were’ tempted to stay in our own personal winters, to cling to the old because our allergies towards the new thing make us uncomfortable. We put our faith in your new season, though, God. We believe that you’ve got great plans for us and for this nation. Would you fill us with hope and desire, pour your love and joy into us that no discomfort would stop us from following your Spirit into new and exciting seasons. We say ‘yes and amen’ to all you have for us this Spring and command our hearts, minds, and bodies to line up with the goodness of God.”

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Explode With Praise, Japan: Part 3

Global Mission Center: Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan

Within a day of the tsunami crashing up against the shore, residents of Iwaki and Pastor Akira Mori of Global Mission Center were praying and responding. Just two days later tons of supplies were sent to the church building. Mori and his team received donations from all over Japan, to then distribute and clean-up, a process that continued for 6 months and truly hasn’t been completed a year later. Since March 12th of last year Global Mission Center has been receiving volunteers from all over Japan, all over the nations. Their facilities are abuzz with life, joy and thankful hearts, people willing to serve in whatever way they can, just wanting to love Japan. From holding bbq’s to cleaning out seaweed factories and parading joyful music through temporary housing units, volunteers do whatever the Lord leads them to do, dropping unexpected blessings throughout the city and among the survivors.

The scene: May 2011, A woman lies lifeless under her blanket. Her room, just long enough for her body and wide enough for two feels too large. Although she’s 72 years old she’s always lived with her sister. Unfortunately, due to the lottery system, her sister and she were selected for different housing units. Now they’re 45 minutes apart, farther than they’ve ever been, and with no car, no knowledge of their surroundings they might as well be nations apart. She tries to be grateful that her sister survived, but some nights it’s easier to mourn a loved one rather than acknowledge that her lifeblood is still out there, alone. Guilt takes hold and the tiny housing unit feels less like a home and more like a cell, a prison from which she can’t escape. Doesn’t want to escape. Although many people have come by and knocked on the, door she never opens. Volunteers and neighbors leave supplies and fliers outside. From the outside you’d think the place was abandoned.

Until one day a strange thing happened. Young people come with guitars, with drums, a flute and with song. It was a distant sound at first as they marched up the hill to where the survivors had been relocated. But the noise grows and one by one the joyous parade of worshipers sings and dances their way through the aisles of steal doors. Children join the chorus first, playing and shouting as the worship spreads. Curious residents poked their heads out of the door and pulled their shade open. What was this? From the small crowd of believers their melody rises,

Let the silence be broken, and the winter be done
Will you come out of your hiding, kiss me sweet warm sun
Let the wind of your spirit blow the dust off my feet
I ran to you broken but now I am complete

They sing their prayers to the desperate ones, the lonely ones, the sisters shut up in their homes, too tired to hope for a better day. They sing for healing and wholeness to be restored to Japan

We know you’re in there, you children of the Most Holy God, we know the days are dark and the nights even darker

Today the silence is broken, the winter is done

Come out, young and old, come out of your hiding. Kiss him, Son who’s rising over Japan

He’s coming with the wind of His Spirit to blow the dust off your feet

Run to him, all you broken, and He will make you complete

She slipped on her shoes and stood up as tall as her 4’8″ body could allow. To see the commotion. To come into the light. It was too bright at first. After 6 weeks in the dark, six weeks in sadness, six weeks in hiding. And the parade came around, the song rose loud. Her blood began to flow. The flute went wild and the children twirled round. First her head poked out and then with a single step her 90lb frame shook heaven. They stopped for a moment to welcome her out, to welcome her home and welcome her back,

Hello Promise Land, we’ve waited for so long
To see what we’ve believed in, to sing this Promise Land song
Explode my soul, explode with praise
What he promised is what he gave

Back at the Global Mission Center the group of young people reported on their activities during the nightly meeting.  “It was fun. We met some survivors and had a good time praising the Lord.” A couple old people came out to listen, there was this one lady who seemed very interested. I guess we’ll never know the fruit…”

Back on her futon, alone again, numbness trying to creep in. She sang the song she heard that day,

Now the silence be broken, and the winter is done
I’ve come out from my hiding, kiss me sweet warm Son
Let the wind of your spirit blow the dust off my feet
I run to you broken, now make me complete

As the nightly testimonies wrap up, the voices rise from GMC,

Hello Promise Land, we’ve waited for so long
To see what we’ve believed in, to sing this Promise Land song
Explode my soul, explode with praise!
What he promised is what he gave!

To listen to the song by Jonathan and Melissa Helser follow the link below.

Explode My Soul

Continue to pray for Japan. The issue of loneliness, hopelessness and depression isn’t restricted to temporary housing. Many survivors have returned to their homes without their loved ones. Others haven’t been directly effected but are still under the heaviness that lies over all of Japan. Pray that the Church would explode with praise and cause darkness to flee!

Explode with Praise, Japan: Part 2

Mobile Cafe: Kneeling under the knee high tables men and women gather with foreigners and Japanese alike to share coffee and tea. For nearly a year relief workers have been visiting residents of temporary housing units, setting up coffee pots, tables and treats to encourage residents to come out of their isolation to share time and space with other humans. A mobile cafe.

The scene: An elderly man talks with a smile. As he nibbles on his cookie his smile grows. Ten minutes later he’s eating the same cookie. His smile is forced, like a dam trying to hold back a wall of tears on the inside. Until the dam breaks and words come flowing out. He lives alone now. He’d been married for over 50 years, but his dearest friend and partner was lost in the tsunami.    Through a cracked voice, “I don’t know how to cook for one. I keep cooking for two and ending up with leftovers. I forget she’s not with me.”

Picture this: opening the mini fridge to a wall of tupperware. She’s gone, you have to remind yourself. One egg, not two. The lonliness is exhausting. In childlike desperation you leave your unit and wander over to a cafe that foreigners have put together. No more energy to hide, no attempt at self-preservation, “I don’t think I’ll live to see the summer”, you say to the relief workers, “I don’t want to”.  A monster has taken up residence in your head, suicide, a destructive demon who parades himself as your own thoughts. As you tell your story to the volunteers they put their hands on your shoulder and pray to an unknown God for healing and deliverance. In your own words you agree,

Explode my soul, let these walls come down
All these prison thoughts crumble with the sound
Of my deliverance from my enemies
I stand up beside you, let’s watch these giants flee

There are many in Japan who are trapped behind the walls of their own fear, behind old concepts of shame and self-hatred, behind a tormenting desire to die. As believers we have authority to uproot and tear down. Let’s pray for Japan that walls would be torn down and hearts would be made accessible to Jesus, to joy and to healing.

Explode, Japan, with a revelation of safety and acceptance. Come, share your story, your loss and your grief, let your walls come down. So many prison thoughts, condemnation and fear. Crumble under the love of Christ and be delivered from your enemies. We’re with you Japan, standing alongside you, the world, the Church, the Trinity and all his heaven hosts…we came rushing in to watch your giants flee. Abundant life will scatter your enemies, will cause suicide to flee. Lonliness be torn down and intimacy be established. Explode with praise, Japan, and let your walls come down. 

To hear the song follow the link

Explode My Soul

Stay tuned for the rest of the “Explode with Praise” series this week. 

Explode With Praise, Japan: Part 1

A Four Part Devo adapted from the lyrics of “Explode My Soul”, by David and Melissa Helser

Part 1: Temporary Housing

Let me set the stage:

A small community in rural Japan.  Untouched by the tsunami but effected by the hundreds of new residents who’ve moved in. A different culture. A different dialect. Rumors that they’ve been contaminated. Some people say they carry high levels of radiation and mothers don’t want their children by them. Schools don’t know what to do with them. The youngest of the pilgrims are bullied and the oldest find it difficult to start new work.

Now listen, let your heart be still and hear the cry of thousands of Japanese who had to flee. They’ve been living in steel boxes, many of them, and have little if any hope of ever returning home. As they lay down together, closely knit, some sharing a futon or huddled under the same duvet, they pray to a nameless God,

Whisper my name, so only I can hear
Call to my heart, chase away my fears
Stand up in this place, fight for the one you love
Won’t you come surround me, so I can rise above

Many, most of them don’t know to find refuge in the Father. So we pray for them:

Whisper their name, Jesus, so intimately each one would hear. 

Call to their hearts, Father, that your love would chase away their fears. 

Fear of death, fear of life, fear of  being left alone…

Stand up in this region, Jesus, fight for the ones you love. 

You will come, Holy Spirit, and surround them so they can rise above

depression, suicide, hopelessness and apathy. 

Surround your lost children so they can rise above. 

To listen to the song, follow the link

Explode My Soul

Stay tuned for the rest of the “Explode with Praise” series this week. 

Regeneration

From the heart and pen or Erin Rufledt

http://kck.st/yHs7jt

Please…let me tell you a story.

There are more than 300,000 evacuees living in temporary housing units in the Tohoku region of Japan, one year after the earthquake and tsunami that shook everything.

Each one of these is a person with a story: a story of survival and of loss, yes — but also a story of hope, of family, of longing and memory and regeneration. This project aims to create space to share some of these stories in artful, visual ways, through a combination of photography and narrative.

So! We’re going to Japan. To sit with people, to listen and learn their stories. To gather them, in words and images, and to send them out into the world with both honor and grace.

Working with the Japan-based Iwaki Global Mission Center, an organization dedicated to both physical rebuilding and ongoing “heart-care,” our team of three will spend lots of time with survivors and volunteers, listening and documenting their stories and lives. Our findings will become a short multimedia collection of stories to be published on the web, as well as a printed book.

But…we can’t do this alone! Will you join us and help make it happen?

Behind the Scenes:

The weight of story, weaving through all times and cultures, is profound. Magnetic. As people we are instinctively pulled into to the richness and glow of human stories — the ways we carry them and speak them (sometimes with words, many times without), and the sacred space that is created when we share them. Stories give us a way to open up a space that is so vulnerably, heartrendingly human, and to invite others in.

As a documentary photographer, I’ve often been captured by the people I’ve photographed, and have wished that I could better communicate the story behindthe image…I’ve wanted to find a way to give voice to untold stories in multi-dimensional, multi-sensory ways. This project is an adventure in leaping in this direction; delving into image and story with the simple but profound hope of capturing beauty and fostering true human connection.

The Project Outcomes:

With the raw materials of photographs, audio interviews and other personal treasures, we aim to construct an artful multimedia storytelling piece and a small printed book of stories. The softcover book will be printed in a short run through an online custom-book publisher like blurb.com, with copies available for purchase after the release date. A PDF of the book will be made available to our Kickstarter team — you! — upon publication.

Part of this project is an element of uncertainty, the delicious risk of adventure — the truth of not knowing exactly what stories we’ll find until we have our feet on this new ground, and strange air in our lungs. So much of the beauty of story, after all, is in getting swept up in it…in not knowing the ending when you set sail, but experiencing the unknown of the middle. So, we’re asking you, in backing this project, to take the risk along with us…to enter into the story, too. We’d be so very honored and grateful if you would.

It’s going to be quite an adventure.

The Team:

Erin Rufledt is a documentary photographer, graphic designer and art director based in Kansas City, Missouri. You can see some of her work here.

Angie Steinke is a teacher, potter, writer, caretaker of hearts and a summoner of stories. She lives in Kansas City with her husband Joe and their youngest son, Devon.

Kate Bryan is a writer, artist, travelling seeker of beauty and lover of wide-open spaces. She is a manager at Paper Source and calls Kansas City home.

Katie Cornick, our field contact and liaison in Japan, is a wild world traveler serving with 24-7 Prayer in Asia. She sometimes blogs about her adventures here.

The Beginnings:

This project was born out of a conversation I had with Katie Cornick, a good friend who is currently living in Japan and working with the ongoing recovery efforts as a volunteer with Global Mission Center and CRASH Japan. (CRASH is a disaster relief and assistance organization based in Tokyo that operates five bases in the disaster zone and to date has mobilized over 1,800 volunteers.)

Katie told me that, often, when she leaves the temporary housing units, men and women will hold tightly to her hands, thanking her and reminding her of what she has been entrusted with.

“Please, don’t forget us. Please, remember…please tell our story.”

The weight of this request has settled into me like seed into deep soil. This project, then, is an attempt to artfully give voice to these stories, and in the process to explore the very nature of story and how stories connect us, and in some way, even make us human.

We are undertaking this project as a way to stand as advocates for the Japanese in a season of great challenge and great possibility…to create space for remembrance and honor, in the small space of individual stories. To celebrate one another, even in the darkness of tragedy and the tangle of healing. To help us remember.

To support the Regeneration project follow the link to our kickstart page

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/972683012/regeneration-japan-stories-of-hope-and-healing

 

Erin Rufledt is part of the Kansas City Boiler Room, a 24-7 Prayer Community that believes in establishing joyful families of  God throughout the nations.

Stations for 24-7 Prayer Rooms

Take off your shoes...Introduction to the Prayer RoomGod wants to meet you now!The "Sands of Time""The leaves of the trees...""Jesus, heal me!"
Bringing ourselves into the lightShare your testimony...Art: painting & drawing!Breaking free from attachmentsIt is for freedom that we were set freeWelcoming people to the Prayer Room
Creative Prayer stationYoung people love to use artGiving time and space for creativityFrom floor to ceiling!Displaying the artDraw a picture to God
A prayer journalCome and sit at the tablePost-it note prayersWhat is the song He sings?God's words over a nationWriting out His song over your nation

Stations for 24-7 Prayer Rooms, a set on Flickr.

Here are examples of 24-7 prayer rooms and many creative kinds of prayer stations. These prayer stations are designed so that one person or a group of people will be guided in prayer in a focused way. Prayer stations facilitate multiple, creative expressions of prayer, and they are especially helpful in engaging young people in communication with God!

Feel free to take these ideas, use them for yourself, or adapt them for your own context. We will update this album as more photos become available!