Dear friends of Iris around the world,
We in Iris continue to face more need, challenge, opposition, helplessness and perplexity than we can bear, yet daily God shows up and we soldier on. We are jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us (2 Cor. 4:7). We often feel under great pressure, condemned to failure. But we have learned that this happens that we might not rely on ourselves, but on God, who raises the dead (2 Cor. 1:9).
We cannot overstate how much more help we need in every way. We need administrators, organizers, technicians, engineers, mechanics, builders, doctors, nurses, teachers, farmers, computer and Internet geeks, donors, etc., ad infinitum, along with every kind of spiritual gifting. The reason is that Iris is not simply a church, or a children’s center, or a relief effort, or a Bible school, or a mission training base, but all these and more as one example of an entire Kingdom environment. We exist to demonstrate an all-encompassing love that flows from God’s heart, a love that the unsaved have never seen before. We are here to seek and save the lost, and in the process give them a foretaste of heaven and our unshakeable inheritance that is to come.
We came to Mozambique, one of the world’s poorest countries, to prove the Gospel, both in our own hearts and lives and among the neediest people we could find. And the Gospel has taken root all around us. Churches are being added to our number weekly, mounting into the thousands. After so many years of cruel colonialism, communism and civil war, the overall climate of Mozambique has changed, deeply affected, we believe, by the Gospel. It has recently been voted one the most peaceful countries in Africa. Its economic growth rate is amazing. Major energy resources are being discovered.
At the same time these blessings are being countered by the enemy in countless ways. We face all the same issues of repentance, discipleship, character, leadership and doctrine that confront churches everywhere. Witchcraft and immorality continue to be major forces. Poverty and disease are still extreme blights, especially in the bush where unimaginable destitution beggars the western mind. Untold thousands of AIDS orphans are still without care. Hospitals are horror stories of negligence and inadequate resources.
And now wild swings in weather patterns have brought massive flooding to Mozambique once again. Whole villages and towns are under water, displacing hundreds of thousands of people. Foreign aid is barely trickling in. Families struggle to survive in the open on muddy high ground without food, sanitation and clean water. Disease, rotting animals, garbage, mosquitoes and malaria are descending on the people who are largely neglected by overtaxed aid workers. And the rain continues…
In the equally massive floods of 2000 and 2001 a massive cry for God arose all over the country, launching the ministry of Iris into more revival in power than we could have imagined. Once more we are here to overcome the world with faith in our God and Savior Jesus, who has become to us everything that is good and perfect. Here in Africa we function on more than natural human initiative and compassion, which so quickly reach limits. No, rather, we tap into a secret source of life, infinitely vast in mystery, yet so richly accessible that children receive it easily. And it is not an impersonal, unknowable force or inspiring idea, but our Creator Himself. In His grace we can grab onto Him and fall exquisitely into a love that makes us more than conquerors to the glory of God. In Him we continue to fight the good fight of faith in Mozambique in spite of every device of the enemy, and aim to present as many as possible to God, perfect and complete on that Great Day (Col. 1:28).
We draw close to God, but not in a utilitarian way. We do not seek intimacy with Him just to get His power working for us. Our love for Him is our ultimate joy, our complete comfort, our motivating force, our reason to live, our only totally satisfying romance. To express this I quote here an email excerpt from a teenage girl in Australia who at 14 was unexpectedly apprehended by God in a most overpowering way:
I have no words to describe how blessed by Jesus I feel! Never in my craziest dreams would I have predicted all that Jesus has given me! All I know is that I am undeserving and that Jesus is bountiful in mercy and grace! My life feels like a wave of the ocean — I cannot stop it, I don’t know where it came from and I did nothing to build it. I am simply the water who is in love with the wind! Jesus is the wind and I am simply dependent upon Him, I cannot do anything without all of Jesus! I am totally lost, completely empty, severely broken and totally wrecked without Jesus. I need God so much, I cannot breathe without Him!!!!! I want to cry because I am so needy yet in the presence of my King, I am restored to the strongest foundation of life.
My life is not my own, I do not know what to do with myself! I feel so abandoned to everything I once knew, every plan I had placed carefully for my future is somehow insignificant and empty… I need the breath of life which comes from Jesus Himself! I am desperate for the Holy Spirit because I am undone without Him! I am lost in this world yet somehow safe and found… My Jesus is all I am and all that I have is all that He is!!!! I cannot breathe without Jesus, I cannot live, I cannot walk and I am nothing without God. I am broken, empty and burdened in darkness without Jesus, but in Him I have all things and I am safe!!!!! Jesus is just so perfect, it is ridiculously amazing!!!!!!
Jesus is all that we need and He is everything we need! Jesus is all that we have and He is all that we are! I just really need Jesus! There is always more and yet there is always enough! Who can live without Jesus!? His heart is precious, beautiful, lovely, fiery, passionate, furious, contagious, humbling and pure. We are called to this exact perfection! Oh, how our hearts ache and long for more of Jesus! He is our desire, He is our focus, Jesus is our reward, Jesus is our passion, and our lives are laid-down sacrifices of perfect love. Who can desire anything but Him?! We are just simply lost in this massive wave of love; it keeps building, it continually rises, and the higher it lifts, the more afraid we should be, yet the more thrilled we ought to become!!!!!!! Waa, it is SO powerful!!!!!!!!!!!! Holy Spirit, you are so welcome here…we just need so much more!!!!!
This relationship, this intimacy with God that bears endless fruit is what we are in Africa to impart, and not only in Africa but wherever we are led to minister in the world. In this spirit we thank God for you and your participation with us in the Gospel through support, prayer, relationship and practical help. We are after that which accrues to your account. Thank you for loving us and remembering the poor, for being interested in our world and all that we face. May our comfort and encouragement be yours in return! We love our family in God, of which you will forever be a part!
Much love in Jesus, always,
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