Tuesday, June 14, 2016

A Letter to Orlando

Dear Orlando,

            It’s a tragedy what has happened to you this past weekend!  Terrorism is a horrible thing because it causes fear in those who allow it to breed fear.  A bully picked on you this weekend and I hate bullies, especially when they mess with those I love, those who mean so much to me.  It stirs up a fight deep within my heart! 

I’m struggling because I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for you!  You were there for me during a time in my life when I needed you most and I want to be there for you!  You are a city where I experienced more mental and spiritual growth than I have in my entire life.  You are a city that brought so much healing, teaching, and love into my life. 

You taught me about myself.  You taught me about who God is and what my role is in His story!  You introduced me to Brazilians for crying out loud, a people group that I’m crazy about and couldn’t imagine life without them!  You are the city that taught me how to become passionate about injustice directing me down the road I’m on today!  The 8 years I spent living with you are some of the most precious years I’ve ever had. 

My heart is broken as the horrible story continues to unfold because I want to be there for you!  I want to comfort you during this time of fear, mourning, and vulnerability because you were there for me.  But I can’t because I am halfway across the world in Thailand dealing with the vulnerability here.  I wish I could be in 2 places at once but I cannot, I’m not God. 

Speaking of God, He can be in more than one place at a time so I have to rely on Him to be there on my behalf.  Since I cannot be there to help comfort you in your time of mourning I’m doing the only other thing I know how to do, I’m actually praying for you!  I’m not just saying I’ll #prayfororlando I’m actually gonna do it.

I want to share with you what God spoke to me as I interceded on your behalf this morning and afternoon.  As I prayed this morning God gave me the scripture from 1 John 4:7-21 which talks about the love of God, “perfect love.” 

The Holy Spirit reminded me of your nickname, “The City Beautiful.”  The Holy Spirit lead me to pray for unity among all people groups.  In that unity God will make beauty from the ashes of this devastation. I saw a vision of all people coming together in unity and as they do the Christians come forward to comfort those mourning and searching for answers.   

To my Christian family, particularly my family at First Baptist Church Orlando, whether you realize it or not, you are missionaries too.  It’s on your signs as you leave the church property every Sunday.  “You are now entering the mission field.” You have the answers they are looking for!  Don’t keep it to yourself!!!  Share it with everyone, everywhere you go and when necessary use words!!!  Over the past several years God has been preparing and equipping you “for such a time as this” with the #LoveOrlando movement. 

The nations have come to Orlando on a regular basis to visit a freaking mouse that is supposed to make them happy!!!!  Some of them maybe even come from unreached people groups.  Now is the opportunity to show what the love of Christ is really about.  To make them curious about this Jesus that comforts an entire city in mourning, bringing joy beyond belief!  Let them come to experience Jesus and His joy first and then the mouse second!!!

 This afternoon I saw a vision of a bunch of TV’s with the world spinning on them.  As the world was spinning and North America came in view, Mickey Mouse ears popped up on the screen from the spinning Earth.  I asked God to help me understand the vision and this is what I got. 

The world is watching you.  You are the family vacation destination hosting the “happiest place on Earth.”  But joy and happiness is not a fantasy feeling.  It's not a fleeting thing that comes from your favorite movie or taking your picture with an adorable mouse.  It’s a real, lasting feeling that comes from a real, loving, Creator God, the creator of joy and happiness.  It’s something you can experience even in the midst of tragedy and they are watching to see if you do.  They are watching to see how you respond to this tragedy.   

When I think of Orlando I think of family.  Orlando is a place where families come to have fun.  It is a time of bonding and unity as the family vacations in that place, building happy, joyful memories that hopefully last a life-time.  The cost for going on this type of vacation is high, extremely expensive, but they do it anyway to make lasting memories and build unity within the family. 

These 50+ lives that were lost was a high price to pay to bring unity to the City Beautiful.  But the City Beautiful can make something beautiful of this terror by uniting together in love because “perfect love casts out fear.”  This terrorist wanted to put fear in your hearts but you must choose to redeem that fear with “perfect love” instead and in doing so expose the incredible joy that awaits your decision.

I miss you!  Know that I'm praying for you!  It was fun going down memory lane with you today!  #Orlandostrong 

“You can’t determine your circumstances, but if you have the right attitude you can get the best out of your circumstances and rise above them.” ~Elmer Towns

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