MORE than Just a number

The day had started just like any other day in our village. I had awoken early to do my chores before playing with my friends. When we were out in the fields a sound reached our ears that we had never heard before, it was a sharp popping sound and then we heard screaming. We ran back to our village to find chaos. The peaceful life that we had once known was thrown into utter chaos. We saw our loved ones running with pure terror on their faces. My neighbour grabbed me and quickly pulled me into the bush where we hid for hours. As the daylight faded the noise died away and we tentatively emerged to find everyone who had not had time to hide was dead!

My father ran to me with a frantic look upon his face, ‘don’t come any closer he’ yelled at me as I reached the edge of the village, but it was too late. The smell of death filled my nostrils, my eyes simply couldn’t comprehend what I was seeing, my village had been destroyed and the people I had shared a happy life with lay dead in the street. As my father wrapped me in a hug I looked down and saw my best friend lying on the street, but he only had half a face left, I couldn’t understand it. I tore myself from my father’s arms and ran to my best friend, he wasn’t moving. Why did his face look so bad?

My mother ran to me and dragged me away. We grabbed the things that we could carry and we walked for days to try and find somewhere safe. There seemed to be no end to the destruction. It seemed as if our entire county was turned to rubble with nothing but death and destruction meeting us at every turn.

As the days turned into months I was forced to become numb, my young mind could not process the pain all around me. My young mind could not comprehend how my best friend could be playing with me one moment and dead the next.

Finally! Exhausted and weary beyond belief, we find refuge. We are told we are given refugee status, finally my parents think we can put the pain of the past behind us and find happiness again. Sadly the ‘safe’ place we are taken to is far from safe. We are forced to live as if we are the criminals and did those horrible things. I want the images that flash through my mind to stop but they instead increase and torment me night and day. Every time I close my eyes I see my best friend lying in a pool of blood. I wake up with such pain in my head that I wonder if I’ve been wounded and I’m about to die. I wonder if the torment will end with death? I desperately want to get better but who will help me? Who will hear my cry for mercy?

Please watch this short video

My heart breaks for this 10-year-old child. I awoke in the early hours of this morning to write this story. I have no idea if this happened to this child and we may never know his story! We may never know his name, we currently only know him as just a number in the system – AYX18. My heart breaks and I’m ashamed that we treat people like this! God knows this child’s name, God knows how many hairs are upon his head and God desperately wants US to help this child and so many more like him! Jesus came to set captives like this free. One touch from Holy Spirit and this child’s life can be transformed forevermore. This child is MORE than just a number. But how can he know the truth? Who will tell him the Good News? Will he die thinking no one cared enough to help him?

I have no idea what the solution is but surely it’s NOT to deny medical help. I know that it CAN’T be left up to judges to defend those who cannot defend themselves. What a waste of money that this even had to go to court!

I pray that we will speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, that we will open our mouths for the speechless. I pray that we will ensure justice for those being crushed, plead the cause of all who are appointed to die. Let us use our godly authority to speak up for the poor and helpless, let’s plead the cause of the poor and needy. Oh that we would see them get justice, that we would judge righteously with godly wisdom and grace! Proverbs 31:8-9 NLT & NKJV paraphrased

“Some of you may think ministry is a grand adventure. Ministry, however, is simply about loving the person in front of you. It’s about stopping for the one and being the very fragrance of Jesus to a lost and dying world. Ministry is simply you loving like Jesus.” Heidi Baker from her book ‘Compelled by Love’

I pray that we will be compelled by love just as Heidi has been. She is an amazing example of how 1 person can bring life and hope to those in desperation.

What can you do when the problem seems so big? Here are just a few of the many solutions:

  • Write to your local members of parliament.
  • Write to the Prime Minister and Peter Dutton. Add your voice to the numerous other voices.
  • Join a local refugee advocate group, find out more here
  • Follow advocate groups on Facebook such as Love Makes A Way
  • Don’t be afraid to make a stand!
  • Don’t allow fear to hold you back from helping someone today.

“If you can find someone who is sick, help bring them healing. If you find someone who is hungry, feed them. If you find someone who is thirsty, give them water to drink. If you find someone naked, clothe them. If you can find someone who is broken, weak, or weary, love them to wholeness. And if you find someone who is mourning give them comfort.” Heidi Baker

The picture I used was taken from Pixabay, this is the link. It’s a picture that represents the many faces searching for hope, happiness and people who are truly desperate for help!

I believe we can do so much more. We can be better at this. Keep lifting up your voice over the things that hurt your heart. Keep fighting the good fight!

Thank you for so much for taking the time to read this.

Many blessings, Keona

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A Difficult Journey

Recently at the North-West Support Group for MND (motor Neurone disease) I was deeply moved by the plight of several of our members. These people have lost so much and particularly the ability to speak clearly and some are unable to speak at all. They struggle to understand and convey what is happening to them.

 There are numerous people in our community who are struggling with different health problems, some have experienced a stroke, been diagnosed with Parkinson disease, suffered head injuries, or battle with cerebral palsy (these are just a few small examples of the health problems facing our society).

As they struggle with numerous issues they also battle with loss. This loss may be with their voice, sight, hearing ability, independence….

 Think also about their family and friends, for they have also lost part of the person they know and dearly love.

What these women, men and children desire is compassion and empathy – for us to express concern for them as they face their difficult journey. For those who are struggling to speak, this is a frustrating act. As they struggle this may come across as anger because the brain is working quickly, but the ability to form words is simply not functioning.

Ways that we may help:

  • Acknowledge them by saying something like “it’s ok take your time “and them patiently waiting for them.
  • They may need to write, take time to read carefully what they are trying to express.
  • Support them in any way that you can – encourage them and display kindness.

All of us are only a heartbeat away from having something life changing happen. Imagine if you suddenly had the inability to speak, hear, see or walk. How would you feel if you could not communicate, walk, see, hear or be heard?

Whether you like him as an artist or not Eminem has put a challenge out there: “you’d have to walk a thousand miles in my shoes to just see what it’s like to be me!!”. To really understand another person’s life, you would have to walk thousands of kilometres in their shoes.

Let us not judge, and that is very hard to do at times, but instead pause and really think about how difficult their journey feels.

Let us, the people of Tasmania and the North-West Coast, start a movement in our lives and hearts to show move compassion and empathy to the people around us. It will make your life better as well as impact the people around you. Let us display more compassion and empathy to the people around us who are facing a difficult journey. If you accept this challenge it will transform the world!

Many blessings. Keona

My mum, Junene Stephens, is involved in the support group on the North-West coast and is the main author of this. I am so very proud of her and all that she does to try and impact the lives around her.

Christianity – Radical Faith – An open letter to every Christian

As the world swirls with unrest, angry debates and countless problems, it all can feel overwhelming. The world tries to strangle our voices and we can feel as if our little efforts can’t possibly make any difference. But I was reminded that now more than ever the world desperately needs us to stand strong! We are needed to declare God’s truth – for it is promised, in John 8:32, that the truth will set us free.

“And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32 New Living Translation

Jesus walked upon this earth with a radical message that wasn’t welcomed or received widely. Jesus made what was seen as absurd and blasphemous statements. Jesus revealed a radical faith that, even to this day, inspires his disciples. I know this because Jesus’ life changing message has reached through time to radically change my life!

In August 2016, I felt like I’d never impact the world. I was in the depths of despair, simply trying to somewhat function. I found the simplest task was virtually impossible to complete as my entire body battled with long-term illness. September 2016 I attended Majestic Women’s retreat with the desperate desire for healing. I’m so pleased to say that at 4:50am on the 4th of September 2016 healing was declared over my life by God.

I’ve got no special qualifications to speak on this matter of faith. All I do have is a long-term relationship with God and for the past 12 months I’ve been asking God to send the Holy Spirit afresh to restore and transform me. I am stepping out with radical faith because “..my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.” Acts 20:24 NLT.

I believe that we have been set into the world for such a time as this (Esther 4:14). That this definitely isn’t the moment to remain silent but rather there is a call to band together, as one unified voice, to declare God’s truths.

“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.” Isaiah 41:10 NLT

I’ve been married for over 21 years, I value my marriage and I desire to share what’s on my heart in an effort to protect marriage. “What I do hope is that my contribution here will not be derided as bigoted or homophobic out of hand, but that it will be seen as part of a civil discussion.” Rev Dr Michael Jensen. Link to his full blog

Marriage is much more than ‘a piece of paper’, it is a covenant – a solemn promise to engage in an exclusive intimate relationship and refrain from intimacy with anyone else.

A covenant is a contract or agreement between two or more parties.  Covenant is how God has chosen to communicate to us, to redeem us, and to guarantee us eternal life in Jesus. An extract from ‘Covenant’ by Matt Slick

The term “covenant” means “a coming together.” In the Bible, the word covenant is translated in Hebrew over 300 times! A covenant is intended by God to be a lifelong fruitful relationship between a man and a woman. Marriage is a vow to God, to each other, our families and our community to remain steadfast in unconditional love, reconciliation and sexual purity, while purposefully growing in our covenant marriage relationship. An extract from ‘What is a Marriage Covenant’.

So I believe that marriage is God honouring and on that basis, therefore, needs to remain as the definition “between a man and a woman”.

Again, I’d state that I don’t have any formal qualifications to speak about this matter. But for 2 decades now I’ve been asking God to grow me into the wife (and mother) He has designed me to be. I desire to be a virtuous woman who lives in awe, wonder and fear of the Lord.

“Charm can be misleading,

And beauty is vain and so quickly fades,

But this virtuous woman lives in the wonder, awe,

And fear of the Lord.” Proverbs 31:30 The Passion Translation

I pray that God’s will is fulfilled in my life, that I can make a difference in the lives of others by helping them to know the God of miracles. I can’t begin to declare I have the answers but I do know God and He’s got the answers and the solutions for EVERY question and EVERY situation!

I pray blessing, honour, favour, strength, courage, boldness and determination over every single Christians. I ask the Holy Spirit to impart a radical faith so that we have the ability to speak/do the things God is calling us to complete.

I pray that those who are stumbling in the dark will see the light – Isaiah 9:2. That they will taste and see that the Lord is good – Psalms 34:8. That their ears will be open to the still small voice calling them to an abundant life – John 10:10.

At 11:03 pm on the 14th August 2017, as I was trying to sleep, I was praying. I saw Australia as if I was standing on a huge map, Tasmania was to my right and the rest of Australia was above me. (I’m very new to all this so I ask for your grace) I saw this huge chair that was sitting on top of Australia and I could see someone sitting in it. Then it began to rattle and then shake, the movement grew into such violence that the person was toppled off. Then the Lord of Lord, the King of Kings, the great I AM came and sat on the seat.

What shook the seat were our prayers, our praise and our desire for the Lord to reign supreme.

All of Australia was then covered and protected under God’s royal train!

Oh Lord bring this to pass!!!

“Our Father dwelling in the heavenly realms,

May the glory of Your Name

Be the center on which our lives turn.

Manifest Your kingdom-realm,

And cause Your every purpose to be fulfilled on earth,

Just as it is fulfilled in heaven!

We acknowledge You as our Provider

Of all that we need each day.

Forgive us the wrongs we have done as we ourselves

Release forgiveness to those who have wronged us.

Rescue us every time we face tribulations

And set us free from evil.

For You are the King who rules

With power and glory forever!” Matthew 6:9-14 The Passion Translation

Practical ways to get involved:

Sign up to support Coalition for Marriage They are focusing on the “4 consequences: Gender Identity; Freedom of Religion; Safe Schools program; and Freedom of Speech”

Check out: Marriage Week – this is “an annual celebration, initiated in Australia in 2007, to reinforce and promote the benefits/importance of marriage and increase awareness and value of pre-marriage and in-marriage education.” 10th – 16th September 2017

Family Life Australia – “Family Life’s mission is to enable children, young people and families to thrive in caring communities.”

Join The Australian Catholic Marriage and Family Council (ACMFC) for a “month of prayer and fasting to be held in parishes, schools and homes across the nation during the month of October 2016.”

Try and attend a prayer meeting Shift the Nation of Australia ‘October 31st 2017 is the 500 year anniversary of the Reformation. It is also the 100 year anniversary of the ANZAC ‘Light Horse Charge’ on Beersheba. The significance of these two events in church and world history is monumental. They have shaped the world we live in today!! November 11 is ‘Remembrance Day,’ where we remember those who gave their lives for our freedom. It is just 12 days after 31st October. The number ’12’ is the number of government.  The Lord encouraged  us to ‘Take these 12 days and make a ‘governmental shift’ over Australia, enthroning Jesus as Lord in our nation!’ 12 nights in 12 locations around Australia.’’

Partners In Prayer. Aussie Breakthrough Anointing 1917 and 100 years later – spiritual breakthrough! “We are not just commemorating the 100th Anniversary of the Australian Light Horse Charge at Beer Sheva on 31 October 1917 – we are uniting to fulfill our spiritual destiny! We Aussies have a Breakthrough Anointing that will carry the knowledge of the glory of God to all the earth if we arise at this crucial time and say “Yes” to who we are called to be!”

Keep up the good fight! Written to you with much love and many blessings, Keona

Songs to encourage you:

‘I Am Yours’ – Lauren Daigle – YouTube Clip; ‘Cornerstone’ – Hillsong Worship – YouTube Clip; ‘Our Father’ – Bethel Music & Jenn Johnson – YouTube Clip; ‘You Light Me’ – Zions Hill & Carolyn Billing – YouTube Clip; ‘Revelation Song’  – Kari Jobe – YouTube Clip; and ‘Our God Is With Us’ – Rita Springer – YouTube Clip.

Picture credit

Slay The Terrifying Giant

A truly terrifying giant looms before you

He is a giant of old and you know him so well

He has taunted you for way too long

His horrifying laugh has been heard roaring loudly at your defeat

This giant has robbed you of so many things

This giant has denied you from reaching where you need to be

You MUST slay the giant and no longer be a slave to fear!

But you’re afraid and your confidence has departed you

You shake deep within your core at the mere thought of having to face him

But don’t lose heart!

You’re safe under the shelter of God’s wings!

You’re loved more than you can ever imagine

There is a HUGE reward for slaying the giant

You may feel unqualified to fight, but be brave

The LORD of Heaven’s Armies is with you!

Feel his courage flow through your veins!

Allow God to equip you

Then with your armour intact and your weapons at the ready

FACE THE GIANT!!!!

Step into the battlefield unafraid

Plant your feet deep into the Good News

Allow confidence to grow deep within

The battle has already been won!

By His Word it is done!

You are the victor!

Go now and claim your reward

Today the LORD will enable you to conquer the giant!

Burst forth with praise

Set your feet to dancing

Celebrate the victory and declare God’s goodness!

Francesca Battistelli- Giants Fall (Official YouTube Lyric Video)

Project Yesu

Photo Cred – Felix Russell-Saw

Mercy Mercy We Cry

Why the delay in sharing this? Because I have been full of fear; doubt; and feebleness.

So why share it now? Ann Voskamp, in her book ‘The Broken Way’, reminded me that: “God believes in me. Christ in me makes me enough. I have more and become more, the more I pour out.” So I take hold of that and believe God loves me so outrageously that fear; doubt; and feebleness are being defeated in my life!

On the 30th of October 2016 Pastor Mark Ireland preached on mercy. As I processed just what that means for me I heard a headline on the tv news:

“Manus Island, Nauru refugees to be banned from entering Australia, Malcolm Turnbull says”.

Now I am forced to be brutally honest! The refugee situation is something I’ve been greatly confused and conflicted about. I feared what it would look like to have many refugees enter in. I feared so many things.

But I can no longer ‘put my head in the sand’. It is simply no longer an option! I am no longer a slave to fear! I boldly walk forth in all God has called me to be.

I truly believe that there is a solution! There is a way forward! I believe that as the desperate cry out for mercy we have no other option but to respond with grace and love!

Why?

  1. The Well it’s in our national anthem:

Beneath our radiant southern Cross,
We’ll toil with hearts and hands;
To make this Commonwealth of ours
Renowned of all the lands;
For those who’ve come across the seas
We’ve boundless plains to share
;
With courage let us all combine
To advance Australia fair.
In joyful strains then let us sing
“Advance Australia fair!” 

While other nations of the globe
Behold us from afar,
We’ll rise to high renown and shine
Like our glorious southern star
;
From England, Scotia, Erin’s Isle,
Who come our lot to share,
Let all combine with heart and hand
To advance Australia fair!
In joyful strains then let us sing

“Advance Australia fair!” 

  1. It is biblical

We are urged to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves and defend the rights of the poor and the needy – Proverbs 31:8-9

Job 4:8 warns us: “my experience shows that those who plant trouble and cultivate evil will harvest the same.”  New Living Translation (NLT)

Galatians 6:7 confirms this warning:  “don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant.”  (NLT)

But there is also solutions contained in the bible:

“So whatever you say or whatever you do, remember that you will be judged by the law that sets you free. There will be no mercy for those who have not shown mercy to others. But if you have been merciful, God will be merciful when he judges you.

Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?

You see, his faith and his actions worked together. His actions made his faith complete.”

James 2:12-13, 15-16, 22 (NLT)

“God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” Matthew 5:7 (NLT)

“Give, and it will be given to you. You will have more than enough. It can be pushed down and shaken together and it will still run over as it is given to you. The way you give to others is the way you will receive in return.” Luke 6:38 New Life Version (NLV)

Let’s become a generous nation! Let’s walk in all God calls us to!

  1. Good News!

There is another way! There is a person of great faith that has a solution! Something not thought of before! Something beyond comprehension! I know there is someone with a well thought out plan, researched data and spreadsheets. I know that someone has a clever and compassionate strategy!

Let us reveal the heart of God to these people! Psalm 68:5-6 declares that God is a father to orphans – He is Father to the fatherless, and He defends the widows – a Champion for them even! God places the lonely in families; he sets the prisoners free and gives them joy! (NCV, MSG & NLT paraphrased)

May we as a nation rise up to defend those weak and afraid!

May we remind those who feel forgotten that God is their loving Father in heaven.

God has heard their cries for mercy and responds!

He urges us to be His ambassadors, to show His love and mercy to the poorest of the poor.

God wants to turn mourning into joy!

God wants to turn fear into hope!

We cannot ignore this!

We cannot sit and do nothing!

Mercy we must become!

Compassion we must reveal!

We need not fear, for those who come with wrong intentions will be transformed!

Hate will become love as we extend God’s grace!

Lord God calls us a new to life! Even better than that He calls all to an abundant life! A life that will overflow with His goodness and grace! If we allow His power to work through us we can accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think! This is promised in John 10:10 & Ephesians 3:20

Cry out!

God has something new! It will transform lives! It will transform this state! It will transform this nation!

It begins with mercy! It begins with grace! It begins with generosity!

So arise – deep cries out to deep!

Let’s take on a new disposition, a new state of mind; let us incline our ears to their cries for mercy!

Let us show them compassion, refrain from passing judgment!

Let’s extend acts of kindness, compassion and favour!

Let us reach out in faith to touch the lives of the lost; the broken hearted; the displaced…. the solution that Australia designs will be a model, an example, to the rest of the world!

“How we walk with the broken speaks louder than how we sit with the great.” Bill Bennot

Test this word:

“See that no one pays back evil for evil, but always try to do good to each other and to all people. Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. Do not stifle the Holy Spirit. Do not scoff at prophecies, but test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good.” 1 Thessalonians 5:15-21 (NLT)

Again, I say test this word! Ask God to reveal to you His great plan for your life in this. Seek and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal your part to play.

“Australia needs to be open to the world, not turn inwards in troubled times” Tim Costello

Love Alone Is Worth the Fight (acoustic) Switchfoot cover- Lauren Daigle – YouTube clip

Love Broke Thru – TobyMac – YouTube clip

Tim Costello’s article

Pic cred Will Milne