A New Calling

Three years ago, I was serving as a missionary in Burkina Faso. Little did I know that God would use my extremely poor internet to connect me with someone who lived across the world through social media. Even more surprising yet, is how He changed the course of both of our lives completely, by leading us both to serve on staff with a campus ministry called New Life at Penn State! Feel free to watch our video and find out how God used a small ‘hey I like your YouTube videos!’ comment, to eventually turning our worlds upside down…for Christ!!

Autumn and Kayla’s Story

Ephesians 3:20, 21
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

 

This job requires raising support each month, so if you feel led to partner with me, please feel free to check out this donation link or email me for more details!
Give here!

Autumn.Miller724@gmail.com

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Beautiful Silence

“The subduing of the heart leads to the silencing of the tongue; humility within leads to humility expressed. Only when we have been thus silenced are we in any position to begin to speak. And when we do, by God’s grace, we speak as those who have first been silenced.”

Have you ever been in a room full of people but feel like you’re in a different universe entirely? Have you ever been confronted by God’s presence in such a way that all you can do is sit in silence, because words not only seem worthless, but incredibly impossible? After studying James 3 at our weekly Bible study, we bowed our heads to pray whatever was on our hearts. This time, my heart was silenced. This time, I honestly couldn’t hear the prayers around me (good thing God can multi-task, because I know He still heard every single one). This time, all I could do was sit in awe as God confronted me. As much as I felt like I could break down crying, or crumble into pieces, there was an equal force that was quietly holding me together in perfect peace.

His presence engulfed me.

All my heart could manage to utter was, “God… you’re so Holy. Glorious. Majestic… but these words are not even enough…”

Even though I know these words are true, my human mind can’t even grasp just how true. How impossible it is to know the fullness of who you are, oh Lord!

Suddenly, I was flooded with thoughts from the book of Job. This man had loved God and walked blamelessly, yet behind the scenes, and with an amazingly divine purpose in the works, God allowed Satan to bring tragedy into his life in every way. No matter how many times Job’s friends tried to convince him that the tragedy was due to sin in his life, Job knew it was not. However, Job ended up talking a lot. And his many words led him to say some foolish things. Since what he could see with his eyes is that wicked men prosper, and good men suffer, he tries to reason that there must be no order or purpose in life. He cries out with all his might and demands God to answer him. Then, God does. With a thundering voice He rebukes Job with His own series of questions, “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge…where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth…” Job is utterly humbled, and quickly realizes that he knows very little, and though he thought he was wise in understanding of the workings of the world, it brought him shame. The only thing he can say is, “I am of small account. What could I answer you?”

Job was completely silenced.

I was completely silenced.

In that moment all I could feel was the Sovereignty of His presence, and all I could think of was His wisdom from above, which is so holy. Not only can we not see the whole picture of our lives as He can, He is in control of every single detail of the universe, great and small.

God has absolutely captured my heart, and has overwhelmed me with passion for this new work to which He has led me. I am in awe of His unique care and love for me, that He is constantly working in so many details in my life, even when I am hardly aware. When I think I have everything figured out, at times, God steps in and gently corrects me. When I think things are falling apart, I know that there is a plan and purpose that God has determined since the dawn of time. I don’t know the answer to every question as to WHY or HOW my life turned out the way it has right now, but I know that Christ died for me, and is risen from the dead! And every day that I am alive on this earth, my heart cries out, “To live is Christ! Wherever you lead me, I will go.” Even when my life does not resemble ‘success’ in the eyes of the world, I have found a Treasure, and in my heart I have wisdom from above which assures me… To Die is Gain.

God has brought me to State College, Pennsylvania. I know so little. But I know Him, and having been silenced, I will speak.

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Like grass in the desert

So teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12

 

I close my eyes and I’m in the desert of west Africa. The sun so offensive and brutal, the locals cry out “windiga zaabdame!”- the sun is hitting me! We skip from shade to shade trying to avoid the heavy hand of its rays. Rapidly and without warning, the sky grows dark, and a smell of dampness dances across my nose. The sky warns- ‘you have 5 minutes to find cover.’ Everyone obeys. You don’t want to get stuck in the forceful downfall of this rain. There’s a frenzy to rush off the roads toward home or the nearest shelter. Soon, the water pours out of the clouds at an alarming rate and magnitude. Floods rush through any open path, washing everything clean that had previously accumulated 4 inches of dust. Even the trees and shrubs get a bath, making everything a little greener… including the ground. In some places, what used to be a sandy desert floor is now a spectacular field of green. As the rain departs, there’s a breath of life- grass emerges from a seemingly dead desert floor. What beauty it displays and what charm it radiates against the brown on brown on brown backdrop of everyday desert life. And yet, how quickly it vanishes without the rain to sustain it. Rising in an instant, and in a blink it’s gone. The dust settles, and life to the eye is just a bit more dull again.

 

I open my eyes and I’m in America. Still in awe of how quickly a life can vanish like the grass in west Africa. Every day I think of a man who I loved like a father, who loved me like his own daughter. He was tall and strong, wise and compassionate. He was a man who loved the Lord with an un-dying passion and taught me how to live out the gospel in everyday life. He gave and sacrificed much for his family and anyone in need. His eyes were full of life, so trustworthy and kind.

 

In the blink of an eye everything changed.

 

Dear cancer, you didn’t win. All you did was take him home to the One he loved with his whole heart. Even though you caused him pain, and though we’re still left with its effects, even this heartache is temporary. This life is a mist; a vapor that appears for an instant and soon is gone. You may have the appearance of power, but it’s my Lord Jesus who reigns. It’s my Lord Jesus who defeated death and allows him to live forever and ever in fullness of joy and peace, to the glory of God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

And soon I will see him again in glory.

 

“But we do not want you to be uniformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.” 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

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Holy love

His love is killing me. Literally. It’s exposing me, it’s changing me, it’s transforming me, it’s destroying me. I quite seriously don’t understand His mercy. This love… it’s irrational. He knocks me to the ground with unbelievable power. It’s like a gentle whisper that could bring a thousand towering mountains to the floor in a single breath. The mightiest of armies would flee at the sound of this voice, this Truth… but I have nowhere to go. And though it’s painful, there’s honestly nowhere else I’d rather be. He holds me still and peels back my ribs to put new breath in my lungs. He sits in the middle of my chest- His mercy sustains the beat of my heart. His love is absolutely relentless. I’m not the same anymore, and I pray I’m more like Him every day.

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Having nothing, having it all

Her husband left her with two babies three months ago. She lives on less than 50 cents a week. She has no education. She has next to zero material possessions. She lives in a tiny mud brick house that is quickly deteriorating under the fast, heavy downpours of rainy season. The unrelenting sun beats down all day long, heating the mud bricks like an oven and baking the residents inside even as they lay down their heads at night on a mat in the dirt, completely exposed to mosquitoes and scorpions.  At any moment her husband could choose to return and kick her out on false accusations of sleeping around. He has the right. He can take the kids. He can take the house. In this world, she has no hope.

She is poor. This is life.

We go to visit her. Her kids explode from the dark doorway, smiling and falling over themselves with pure excitement to see us. She follows behind them. Emerging from the mud bricks into the glorious sunlight is a strong, gorgeous woman. The warmness in her heart melts away her tough exterior. Even though she has nothing to offer, her love provides more hospitality than kings. She shows us around her house, and too soon it is time for us to leave. I walk away wondering if I’ll ever encounter her again. Suddenly, I am stopped and told that she wants to tell me something. I turn around and walk toward her, bracing myself with every intention to do my best at interpreting her French and mustering up a coherent response.

She takes my hands…

To my surprise, she does not speak, but stares deeply into my eyes. I am caught in her glance, and in her eyes I see suffering, I see courage, I see loss, I see hope, I see strength, I see hardship, I see thankfulness, I see pain, I see joy– I see Jesus.

I see more in her eyes than words could ever say. After what seems like hours, although only a few seconds, she says to me with a gentle voice, “que Dieu te bénisse”.

I walk away in awe…..she is blessing ME??? I don’t deserve that.

Though truly, I’ve never been more blessed or honored to see a tiny glimpse into this beautiful heart. Words we never had, but the bond between us I’m certain that death itself could not break. She is clothed in strength and dignity.  She is a woman who fears the Lord.

She is rich. This is LIFE

“…as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything.” -2 Corinthians 6:10

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Shout aloud and sing for joy

One minute I had a free, relaxing weekend ahead of me, and the next, I was catching 2 buses and a bush taxi, travelling across the country with Abbey.  There are times when I’m extra thankful to God that He gave me extroverted qualities, so that when adventures pop up out of nowhere like this, I am filled with a rush of excitement and abounding in energy (often neglecting finer details, but that’s another story).  For the two weeks prior to this impulsive voyage, Abbie and her Ouaga team had been involved in training Burkinabe children’s ministers, who gathered in Sobara, and facilitating children’s camps that were conducted by these children’s ministers in the surrounding, unreached villages. Upon her arrival back in Ouaga, her heart yearned to go back to Sobara to be with the teams as they finished their work in the villages, to hear the testimonies, and to celebrate and praise the Lord for His great and mighty works through these outreaches. She didn’t have to waste much time talking me into going with her, my heart was there too.

After 10 or more hours of driving and shuffling from bus to bus to a very squishy ‘there’s hardly air in here how am I going to survive’ bush taxi, we quietly arrive in a village called Sobara.  We are greeted with smiles by a handful of familiar faces and strangers alike as we sit down and breathe in the sweet, fresh air of the wonderful, green landscape.  Just as I think to myself, “where is everyone?”, a faint sound in the distance answers me.  Quickly approaching is the sound of many voices, singing loudly- praises to the Lord.  The beat of the drums and the voices increase in volume until finally a van bursts into view, carrying way too many people than it can “legally” support, with some hanging on the back and some on top, all exploding with joy and excitement.

They cannot contain it.

They don’t stop singing or dancing as they unload themselves from the vehicle, and without breaking beat, they gather themselves into a circle of worship. One song after another, until eventually we need even more instruments to express the immensity of our joy, attempting to worship our God as He deserves.  We transition beside the church, where the balafon and drums are played. and played. and played. and played. (And didn’t end until about 3 am, fyi) Somewhere in the middle of that, the ones who were involved in the children’s outreach camps gather inside of the church to give testimonies, pray, and celebrate the goodness and faithfulness of God. As I listen to the translated form of their testimonies (thanks, Abbey), I am amazed at the work of God in each and every heart in that room, and the ways they saw Him moving the past two weeks. The villages that they stayed in for the duration of the camps are known for their sorcery, so it was no surprise that nearly all of them came under severe demonic attack. Almost every testimony involved them staying up to pray all night long. One village even rejected a team for what they wanted to teach the children. Vans broke down. Motos had flat tires. Mysterious bugs living in the sand bit up their arms and legs. They ran out of water. But they trusted in the Lord and persevered through the trials. They prayed and prayed and prayed and worshiped and sought Him, and God gave them the victory. Over 1000 children heard the Gospel in unreached villages. Many came to know Him as their Lord and Savior. People were healed of sickness. And, astonishingly, in one of the villages, the chief lowered his status to bring US water and to serve US for the duration of the camp. (This never happens. Position and status is everything here.) The children who have heard the Gospel will take it home to their families. Thousands of people have been and will be touched by the love of Christ. This is no small thing.

No wonder they don’t stop singing. God really is THAT glorious. He really is THAT worthy. He really will never forsake us. He really will give us the strength to persevere through trials and persecution and struggles and attacks. If God is for us, who can be against us?? He really does want all peoples from every tribe and language to hear His Gospel, and He will enable those who carry His Gospel to reach these people… We just have to be obedient. This is why we exist. We believe in a God who is worthy of the praise and worship of every tribe and nation on this earth, and so we will go and proclaim His Gospel to every tribe and nation on this earth until Jesus comes back.

Oh and by the way, after our team had been out in the villages for 2 weeks and spent their last day praising the Lord all night long, we got up early the next morning to head home in the van that had previously been broken down. Our hope was that it would make it to Banfora, where there was a mechanic who could help us get the parts we need. We drive it one minute down the road and stop for gas….and the worker decides to put diesel in it instead. So we spend the next 3 and half hours removing the gas tank from the van, dumping it out, cleaning it, finding a welder to fix broken bolts.. and finally, we’re back on the road. We get another kilometer down the dirt path and the van stops working… again. We have just enough transmission fluid to turn around and get back to the village and spend another night there. The next day, we wake up early to get a bush taxi, but when we get there, they won’t take us because we have too many people. So we have to wait another hour for the next one. When we finally get on it and have every reason to be utterly exhausted and frustrated, instead- our team sings. Not just in a way to take our minds off the situation….they just can’t stop giving glory to God. The praise and adoration in our hearts is true. We sang to our King for the entire 3 hour drive to Banfora. One woman who got on the bush taxi for a brief ride, ended up getting off, smiling, and saying that she was going to start going to church. There is something about the joy that God gives His children that is simply captivating to the world around us. Without Him, it’s unattainable. With Him, there are inexhaustible fountains of joy.

After the bush taxi, and two more buses, we succeeded in smelling bad enough to cause Heidi to roll down her windows, gasping for fresh air as she drove us home.

 Isaiah 12:1-6

To Him be the glory forever and ever. Amina!!!

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Emptied.

I am weak. I am proud. I am boastful. Here, I have nothing to offer. I am dependent. I am needy. I can’t rely on any of my own skills or talents. I can’t speak the language. I can’t drive. I can’t sew or cook or perform a normal function in my own house without asking 10 questions. I have nothing. He has brought me to a place where I need Him more than I’ve ever needed Him. I need the prayers of the saints and encouragement from brothers and sisters in Christ more than ever. I’m afraid. I’m afraid of how much I’m being humbled. I try to mask the fear with false confidence. I try to act like I have it all together- but I don’t. It’s like one ugly mask on top of another ugly beast. The blind leads the blind inside of my heart.

“Son of David, don’t pass me by. ‘Cause I am naked, I’m poor, and I’m blind.”

If I truly lay down my life, these are the times when His power is displayed in the most magnificent and mighty ways. I have nothing. I have nothing but the God of the Universe. The Holy God of Israel is my Father, and His Spirit lives inside of me. I have more than enough. When I am weak, I am strong. I have nothing to offer, except HIS love and HIS power that conquered the grave. I. lack. no. thing.

Father, have mercy on me. I lay down my life before your throne. I need You. Give me the strength to die every day, so that I can truly live.

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