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Lifestyle: Throwback

[et_pb_section bb_built=”1″ fullwidth=”on” _builder_version=”3.0.47″][et_pb_fullwidth_header title=”Lifestyle: Throwback” subhead=”June 29, 2018 | Lifestyle” background_layout=”dark” background_overlay_color=”rgba(38,38,38,0.32)” _builder_version=”3.0.92″ background_image=”https://truestoryproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Lifestyle-Throwback.jpg” custom_padding=”200px||200px|” text_orientation=”left” header_fullscreen=”off” header_scroll_down=”off” image_orientation=”center” content_orientation=”center” custom_button_two=”off” button_two_icon_placement=”right” custom_button_one=”off” button_one_icon_placement=”right” /][/et_pb_section][et_pb_section bb_built=”1″ _builder_version=”3.0.47″][et_pb_row _builder_version=”3.0.47″ background_size=”initial” background_position=”top_left” background_repeat=”repeat”][et_pb_column type=”2_3″][et_pb_text _builder_version=”3.0.92″ background_layout=”light” custom_padding=”||1px|”] [dropcap]I[/dropcap] had the opportunity to speak with two elders, a faithful mature couple from my church, and their friend who was visiting. It’s significant because together they ran an orphanage in Zimbabwe for about 20 years until the couple moved back in the late 2000’s.

I was in a unique position to draw upon their individual knowledge and wisdom as well as their experience of working with the Lord together. This month’s theme is ‘Lifestyle’ so I was eager to ask questions and understand their thoughts and reflections on a lifetime spent walking with the Lord.
Abraham and Sarah, our couple, ran the orphanage in Zimbabwe for 26 years and saw the Lord move and work in many people’s lives both physically and spiritually.

Esther who continues to work at the orphanage after 28 years and pastor the local church is the third voice in this conversation.

I’ve edited for brevity, but the message they wanted to convey is, I hope, faithfully told as follows:

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Me: Firstly, what does it mean to live a Christian lifestyle, and truly live for the Lord?

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Abraham: When I first became a Christian, I didn’t really understand it. It was more of a tradition. All my family in previous generations had done it. They had all been Christian. I knew of the Lord but I didn’t have a personal relationship.

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Me: What changed that for you?

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Abraham: It was about 44 years ago. Six weeks after my first wife passed away I was left alone with four young boys. I sat in my office and tried to read my Bible. I say ‘tried’ because I was challenging the Lord. I told the Lord that I found it very difficult to accept that He loved or cared for me. Why he would allow this to happen if He says in scripture that he loves us so much. Then it was just as real as you sitting there I heard the Lord speak to me audibly. He said, “Stop feeling so sorry for yourself and start praising. Start giving thanks and praise for four healthy sons.” So I sat bolt upright and said, “Lord, that is true. I have four healthy sons. Thank you!” This experience woke me up. Changed me completely. I knew he was real.

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Me: What has been of the most encouragement for you all in your lives?

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Abraham: If you have a personal relationship with the Lord it makes all the difference. It is the difference. When you can feel the presence of the Lord, when you know that he’s always there, he’s always with you, always around you, that you’re never ever separated from the Lord, that is the encouragement you get.

Esther: Nothing majorly dramatic I think it’s been little things along the way. They may seem inconsequential but aren’t. Mainly It’s been a constant awareness of peace. Peace that I know where I’m supposed to be.

One of the significant things, more in recent years, I went through a very difficult time when I was actually fighting to stay in the country (Zimbabwe) as the government had given me a very short period of time to leave the country. It went on for a long time. It was horrendously emotional. I didn’t share it with many people at the orphanage. I didn’t want them to worry about it. I woke up one morning and couldn’t get up. I had had enough and decided I couldn’t fight anymore. A colleague of mine thankfully came to my house wondering why I was not yet up and got me to church. I was reminded during the service of a scripture in Isaiah. The way it was presented in the service was actually a fulfilment of a prophecy that the Lord had given me before I even came to Zimbabwe. I left that service knowing I could keep going, and that God was in control. I had been reminded of the Lord’s promise. That was enough. So I say again, its been the little things. Confirmation and encouragement here and there.

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Me: Would you reject the idea that Christianity should be a religious lifestyle?

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Esther: I have a relationship. I don’t like religion although I think some disciplines are crucial like connecting with Jesus every day. It’s how I can carry on.

Abraham: Having a relationship is the difference.

Esther: You’ve got to get alone with God. Come before Him every day and be still. It’s not so easy in a busy world but you’ve got to turn your phone off and put it away. For me setting time apart often in the mornings or even in the afternoons (if I can) with the word of God open is so important.

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Me: Christ tells us to take up our cross daily and follow him. How important is this and what does it mean for you?

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Sarah: I’ve often thought about the cross and that verse. I think it means that in each tricky situation where a sacrifice is involved to get alone with God. You can either do it the uncomplicated way, my way, or the more difficult way which is God’s way. It’s taking up your cross. To do that daily you have to discipline yourself.

Abraham: It’s essential!

Sarah: I’ve learned to live my life through getting into the presence of God and reading His word. It’s that kind of lifestyle. So I would agree with Esther , you could say it is religion, but in fact to me it has been life. In times gone by when we needed to hear from God about what to do next concerning the children’s home we turned to the Lord and he’s never failed to guide us. The word of God has been the mainstay of my life.

Esther: There was a sense for many Christians at that time in Zimbabwe that we had to stay deeply anchored in the Lord, and we had to stay sharp spiritually. Because any vehicle that came up to our gates could have been full of armed people who were ready to massacre us. We had to stay in a place where if God said to do something then you did it.

Abraham: I’ll tell you something, not at any time was I terrified.
Sarah: We didn’t have any sense of fear because we knew the Lord’s angels were around us. I know it may ridiculous to some but there was a sense in which there was an amazing adventure going on.

Esther: There one thing about this that’s very relevant to young Christians today; It’s the tendency to want the Christian life to be easy. To want it simple with where all the answers come. For us going through those times it really sharpened us a built us up. It strengthened our faith in God.

Sarah: It was a privilege

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Me: It sounds like this whole experience has changed you massively. But not everyone is called to Zimbabwe or even experience the things you experienced. What would you say to Christians who are genuinely trying to live life for God in a not so hostile environment.

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Esther: I think what you don’t do is go looking for difficulty. Whatever the Lord puts in front of you, whatever challenge, don’t shy away from it. I would say you should do three things: Seek the Lord, Pray through them, and praise through them.

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Me: What would you say to young Christians growing up in a world that has so much on offer.

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Sarah: Examine your motives for why you do things.

Esther: That’s right, check yourself. Make sure the things you’re doing are bringing you more into line with his will, and more into line in your relationship.

Abraham: From an early age I can say that I knew when I was in the wrong place. I always felt the Holy Spirit leading me into and away from certain decisions and circumstances.

Esther: Another thing I’d add is that somethings are beneficial for you but not for me. There’s not always a clear line. Do not go with the crowd! That’s why it’s about relationship.

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Me: How would you describe your walks with the Lord in a word or a sentence?

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Esther: Fun! It’s an adventure! It’s the most intimate relationship.

Abraham: It’s commitment. And the best is yet to come. Always. The Deeper you get the more interesting it becomes.

Sarah: I think it comes back to the Holy Spirit, and just saying, “Lord, fill me!” on a daily basis.

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