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Our Miracle Wedding…

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OUR MIRACLE WEDDING…
This is one of the most unusual and Special update letters I have had the privilege of sending to you all!

Some of you know this, and others may not.  In a crazy turn of events and answer to many years of general prayer and 5 1/2 years of specific prayer, I married a wonderful South African man named Daniel Edward Nell on September 8th, 2018!

Our Love Story…(as Originally Printed in our Wedding Program)

Though we initially met at a board meeting in Kenya of
Afmin (now Emit), a ministry we both were involved with, our story together began 6 1/2 years ago.  After being counseled by a friend and ministry leader Chris DeWet, to invite Daniel to go on the first En Gedi Experience to Israel (which he declined), Laurie was making a trip for En Gedi to South Africa in September 2012.  To follow up with the En Gedi invitation, Laurie met with Daniel for an afternoon coffee, which turned into a late and delightful dinner.

Laurie and Daniel enjoyed each other, conversation and time together from the start.  After 3 months of talking by Skype and  a month of officially dating, Daniel came to visit Laurie in the US to meet her family in March 2013.  Though it was a wonderful visit in every way, Daniel was not ready to enter into a relationship and shortly after the visit, he broke off the relationship.  

In the aftermath of that breakup, Laurie was heartbroken with a lot of questions, especially for God, and she went through one of the darkest seasons of her life.  In prayer and counsel in community, Laurie believed she was led to continue to pray that the Lord would restore and bring resurrection to the relationship with Daniel.  This continued to be her place of faith for the next 5 1/2 years.

In a series of events not connected at all to Daniel, Laurie was called to engage in a ministry called Generosity Path in expanding “Journeys of Generosity” in South Africa, eventually including a move to South Africa in January 2016.

Laurie and Daniel did not see each other at all between April 2016 and January 2018.  Toward the end of that time, the Lord had been speaking to Daniel separately about Laurie and after a series of  “divine appointments” where they “ran into” each other several times, Daniel contacted Laurie on May 1st, 2018 for coffee.  That coffee turned into lunch, which turned into dinner, which turned into today, September 8, 2018, our wedding day.

There are many incredible details that make up our story, and we are unable to share all of those in this short note,  but our Love Story is a series of miracles and a living testament to the glory of our God and Father the King!!  

Our wedding and marriage is proof that NOTHING is impossible with our God! 

Here is a link to our relationship  photo album online for any of you who might want to see pictures.

Here are two short wedding videos that capture the absolute joy, miracle and fun of our celebration:
Wedding Video #1
Wedding Video #2 

Stories of faith breed faith, and my prayer is that our story of God’s work in the “impossible” brings fuel to your own faith journey.  

With great joy, celebration and increasing faith,

Laurie

Nike and Rethinking Sexuality

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I always enjoy passing along resources that have inspired or impacted me. These two books are recent reads, and they did both!  

Shoe Dog is an AMAZING business tale–the true story of Phil Knight and his business journey with Nike.  A hard core and determined entrepreneur, Phil Knight shares the joys, sorrows, challenges, failures of starting Nike as well as poignant end of life reflections in a down-to-earth and inspirational way.   

Rethinking Sexuality by Juli Slattery is a book about sexual discipleship in the church.  One of the BEST books I have ever seen or encountered on the subject.  Full of truth and full of grace–a rare combination around the explosive topics facing us today in regards to sexuality.  Whether you are a parent, a discipler, a person needing healing, a learner, or a curious person, this book is SOLID and such a breath of fresh air!  I highly recommend it.

READ MORE HERE:  Shoe Dog
READ MORE HERE:  Rethinking Sexuality

Faith Book…

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These last 6 years have been a school of faith in a deeper way than I have ever known before.  In my journey with Daniel, the Lord spoke to me repeatedly so many different ways, asking me to continue to pray, believing that He had Daniel for kingdom work and for me even though there was absolutely NO INDICATION that this would ever happen.  In fact, there was every indication that it would NEVER happen!

In 2013 (right after Daniel walked away and broke my heart) the Lord prompted me to keep a picture “journal” of God’s revelations to me, affirming my stand of faith every step of the way.  Little did I know that it would be a collection over 6 years.  If I would have known, it would have led to despair, I think.  SO many times, I thought I was out of my mind to continue on with this journal, but every time I would pray, I just knew that I didn’t have the freedom to walk away.

The week before our wedding, I finished our book of faith–a collection of @ 475 photos in my picture faith journal–each one with an explanation of God’s speaking to me during the 6 years of my faith journey.  What an amazing “Divine Review” with Jesus I had leading up to our wedding as I finished this book.

Here is a sample of the faith book pages…

He is SO faithful.  He keeps His promises. His word to me never changed.  He is the “promise maker and the promise keeper and He finishes what He began.”

What a joy to present this book to Daniel on our wedding day.  It will forever be a “stone of remembrance”–of our God, His word, His faithfulness, and my/our school of faith.  

There is great value in keeping record of our God, His word to us, and His journey to fulfillment of that word.  Journals (of all sorts) have generational power to testify of the greatness of our God and inspire faith in others!!  If you have never kept a faith journal individually or as a family before, it’s always a great time to start!

“How great is our God…sing with me how great is our God.  How great, how great is our God!!!” 

“Out of Africa”–Friends, Gifts and Joy

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On January 23, 2016, I showed up in Johannesburg, South Africa with a vision from the Lord (at least I sure hoped it was!), two suitcases, a place to stay for two months, and not a single friend in a city of 10 million.  Wow!!  Am I crazy or what??

I had no idea what kind of ride this would be, but looking back now, two years later, the Lord has surprised and amazed me…

He brought me here with a picture–a picture of light emanating from South Africa into the rest of Africa, changing the foundations.

As I have walked with Him in the midst of this picture, I have watched Him change hearts here in South Africa through the Journeys of Generosity (JOG)–an experiential encounter with God’s generosity toward us over a weekend of stories, small group discussion, Biblical readings and times alone with the Spirit of God.   People have encountered the Father’s love and generosity in a way that is transformational.  It’s amazing to watch.  JOGs are being done in other parts of Africa now, with South Africans leading the charge!  Light–His light emanating from South Africa into the rest of Africa.

Part of the “light” picture that I felt like He gave me was that there was going to be a strong movement of business people (and even specifically men) who are FULLY surrendered to the Lord and will take His kingdom through business into Africa in transformational ways.  I have seen some of this start to happen as well, and I continue to pray for this “band of brothers” that the Lord will raise them up in POWER to change foundations of culture through business.

In the midst of the joy of watching Jesus at work in the big picture of this country and continent, there have also been gifts–incredible gifts from my Father.  I have a community of friends that I love, pray with, laugh with, and even invite myself over to dinner at their home(s).  I have a beautiful place to live that faces a garden and feeds my soul every single day.  I found a wonderful hairdresser (Girls, you know what a miracle that is!! :-).  I have opportunities to go on safari and WORSHIP (Honestly, I don’t know that there is a greater worship experience for me than watching the majesty and intricacy of His creation as seen on a safari drive.  He’s magnificent, our Creator God).  I have experienced the body of Christ in different cultures and expressions every Sunday.  I had a visit from my family to share my world here with them.  Joy…gifts…friends…Jesus….

All in all, in my two year “review” this month, I am celebrating…GREAT is Your faithfulness, O God, my Father….

His “Songbird”….

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I LOVE to sing, not because I am good at it, but because the Lord constantly seems to be giving me a song…

Growing up at home, we only listened to Christian radio (A shout out for Evie, Amy Grant, Steve Green, Larnell Harris, and Sandy Patti! 😀) and classical music.  Friends laugh at my limited music repertoire including only two genres–except for Barry Mantalo’s “Feelings” and “You write the songs that make the young girls cry.”  Those were on the 8 track demo that came with our stations wagon.  I secretly listened to it while Mom and Dad were gone. 😂”

I laugh, but I am actually grateful.  The Lord speaks to me in song–in prayer times, in the morning, in the middle of a conversation.  There’s a lot of music He has put in to draw from and very little “interference” music.  I even found out a couple years ago, that my middle name “Linnette” means “songbird.”

In the last few years, I have seen Him speak to people in transformational ways through song.  Last year on several occasions I sang something He brought to mind, and someone cried, another received a picture, or a sense of God’s love.

It’s not like I have a great voice.  I don’t.  There’s nothing to take credit for.  It’s HIM!

Right before Christmas, I was at my church and a woman I have never met before from our prophetic team (people trained and tested by mature believers who have the gift of prophecy) gave me a “word.”

She said she saw me with a guitar, asking me if I sang.  She continued by saying that she sensed that I was called not just to sing but to change atmospheres.  😳 WOW!!!  Jesus has the power to change hearts/atmospheres, and He can do it through His songs!!

Shortly after that, I felt prompted to try out for our church worship team–for the first time in my life.  Last Sunday was my first Sunday.  What an incredible joy it was to look out over His body and sing–sing because He has called me to, because He wants to change atmospheres.

Our team in unity felt called to “sing” in the first service for healing.  My friend with cancer and pain was at that service.  She texted me Monday afternoon to say she had her first night of no pain on Sunday night, and it has continued.

That’s just one example, but praise Jesus that He has the power to change things–ANYTHING.  Nothing is impossible with Him.  He is my Father…The KING!

“All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name…”,

Russians and Intimate Relationships…

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What in the world Russians have to do with intimate relationships?  Well, not much, except that they have them!  😀

I enjoy passing along resources that have inspired or impacted me.  These two books are recent reads, and they did both!

Red Notice is a book of business intrigue, unbelievable corruption and amazing perseverance, and not only that, it reads like a first class novel, but it’s all TRUE!  Higly recommend it!

Scary Close challenges treasured paradigms of relationships and self-protection.  His style may be a stretch for some at first, but it is well worth persevering!  Don’s vulnerability inspires others to take a closer look at the things that may hinder the type of relationship(s) we so desire.  If you are a couple, you might want to consider reading it together as it is worth discussing.

Pete and Deb Ochs

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This next month is FULL of events.

I have been asked to serve over this next year as a “mentor” in an “Accelerator” program for non-profit and for-profit promising entrepreneurs. Our first event is happening next week.

Early February, we are hosting a week with Pete and Deb Ochs—an amazing business couple from Wichita, KS.   God has both humbled and used this couple to build his kingdom in unique ways, including starting a successful business in a maximum security prison in the US while also discipling and investing in the inmate employees.  You can see their story here.

While here, Pete and Deb will be intersecting with the South African business community in many different venues/settings around personal humility and living His kingdom in business settings.  We will also be facilitating two Journeys of Generosity during that week.

The Lord recently reminded me that the next month has NOTHING to do with events but everything to do with Breakthroughs.

South Africa has been at a point of crisis, and other countries in Africa are as well.  There is such a profound need for the children of the King and citizens of His kingdom to rise up in this country and continent, and bring His kingdom in Africa as it is in heaven.

I ask you to pray with me for—TRANSFORMATIONAL BREAKTHROUGHS!!

Two Worlds…

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Living between two worlds…both a joy and a challenge…

This season of my life has served as an incredible reminder of what it is to live between two worlds.  As a follower of Jesus, I am always an “alien and stranger” on earth, but some seasons highlight this truth more than others.

While in the US, I fully give myself to the joys of family, friends, familiar surroundings, and known activities/traditions.  Even in the midst of that joy, there is sometimes an ache that a whole realm of my life is unknown to those around me while still very, very present in my heart and mind…South African friends, new traditions and activities that I have grown to love, new experiences that have broadened my sense of the King and His world.

On the flip side, while in South Africa, I give myself fully to wonderful friends, new experiences, and kingdom work that brings great joy.  However, there can sometimes be an ache at the lack of a sense of history, the knowing of my “roots”, and the familiarity that can only come with time.

One world often excludes the other and yet also enriches the other in unseen ways.  It is both a strange and beautiful experience.

In a fresh way I am realizing all over again that I am not a citizen of earth.  My true citizenship  is secure in heaven and doesn’t change.  I am known there FOREVER and fully, and there is a shared history with friends that dates back to the foundations of the earth and has everything in common through Jesus.

There is one King.  He is eternal and doesn’t ever get elected or dethroned.  I have a home that has been built with my specific desires and being in mind from which I will never have to move…built by One who knows exactly what I need.

He has visited and been a citizen of both places, and He knows all aspects of my current worlds.

In this season, I am so grateful that Jesus is “the sure foundation of my times.  A rich storehouse of wisdom, salvation and knowledge….”  He is my source of joy and hope as I transfer from one world to another, belonging totally to each in different ways, but often feeling a bit abnormal in both because I really belong to another world all together–an eternal one!!

Signature :: Laurie

It’s Time…

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South Africa is at a time of crisis–a serious time of crisis (read below for specifics)…

Even before the crisis arose with the force of the last 3 weeks’ events, Angus Buchan (pictured above.  If you have never watched the movie, Faith Like Potatoes about his life, it is well worth your time.  Amazing…), one of the father’s of faith in this land had already felt lead by the Lord to call a collective time of prayer for the nation–a million people of all colors and races on a farm in Blomfontein (4 hours from Johannesburg).  Here is his invitation.

There is a call on South Africa to be light and life–within its own borders and into the continent of Africa.  There is a significant battle waging between the forces of light and darkness, and we are asking the Light of the World to step down into this darkness in POWER.

Will you stand with us in praying for the nation of South Africa on Saturday, April 22nd.  The prayer meeting starts at 2:00 p.m. in South Africa, which is 8:00 a.m. Eastern Standard Time.  The prayer of righteous men/women avails MUCH!

Here is more information about the situation in South Africa right now…

South Africa elects a party, and not a specific person.  The party chooses the president.  Since 1994 the ANC has been in power.  Nelson Mandela was the chosen president of the ANC at the time of the abolition of apartheid.  The ANC elected Jacob Zuma as president in 2009.  There is a two term limit of 5 years each.  He has been charged with over 600 accounts of criminal activity–including rape, corruption and fraud, to name a few.

At the end of 2015, Zuma had a finance minister that was opposing his nuclear plan as well as a South African Airlines bailout, both of which have had suspicion of fraud and racketeering.  Without consulting the party, Zuma fired the finance minister and replaced him.  There was such a national outrage and fall of the rand that Zuma fired the second appointed finance minister 2 days later and appointed one that was acceptable to South Africans.  The 3rd finance minister, Pravin Gordhan, also stood against Zuma’s initiatives for the last year.

Two weeks ago, Zuma, again without consultation, fired Pravin Gordhan, and replaced him with one of his own men who has no finance experience and would agree to his desired plans.  This action has resulted in more collective outrage among all races and tribes of South Africa than has been seen before.  The South African Sovereign credit rating was downgraded to “junk status” at this latest move, which is a huge deal for the economy.

As such, there have been 1000’s of South Africans marching in the streets, demanding for Zuma to step aside.  I participated in one of those as well.

Because of his financial undergirding of so many members in his party and the corruption all around, so far the party has not been willing to courageously demand his resignation.

There has been a demand for a “no confidence” vote, which has been tried twice before to no avail.  The vote has not been secret ballot, and no one wants to be targeted by Zuma by opposing him openly.  There has now been a motion to have a secret ballot, which is being considered by the courts.  The “no confidence” vote, which could essentially impeach Zuma, is not being set for late April or early May.

The prayer is that Zuma will be forced or choose to resign, but an even greater prayer is that the government will be purified of the corruption and that the King of Righteousness will step in through His people to bring justice and righteousness to this country.

Racial tensions can also be very high, but there is also more of a national outrage at this behavior than I have ever seen, but another prayer is that truth will prevail and that there will be unity in this country among tribes and races like never before!!

Thank you for standing with us in prayer for this beautiful and unique nation!!

Boundary Lines

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It was a grand story how it all came about and there is quite a history around the particular street I moved to—one that the Lord spoke to me on when I was jogging almost two years ago now.

Two years ago in April, I was staying at a place called “Mustard Seed Guesthouse.”  I had been looking for a place to stay, and I found this place on line and loved the name, especially as I was standing in faith for some things the Lord had spoken to me about in South Africa.

One morning I decided to go for a jog.  As I ran, I turned onto a street called “Boundary Lane.”  Almost immediately as I turned onto that street, the verse “Your boundary lines have fallen in pleasant places, surely you have a delightful inheritance” starting going through my mind on repeat (Psalm 16:6).  It was the strangest thing.  I was also listening to a playlist on random with 300 songs on it and right at that moment Chris Tomlin’s song “Boundary Lines”  started playing on my iPod.

As all this was happening, I was saying to the Lord, “there must be something special about this street.”  I even stopped at a house where some people were outside their house to ask about a certain property on the street which was beautiful but rundown.  It turned out that the man I talked to was a real estate agent and he knew all about the street and the property.

When I came back last year (a year an a half later), I contacted this same real estate agent to ask if there were any garden cottages for rent on Boundary Lane.  He didn’t know of any.  After that conversation, I didn’t pursue Boundary Lane any further but ended up going to Pin Oaks, the place I stayed during my first year in South Africa.

I started looking for a new place toward the end of last year, as I wanted something a bit bigger where I could have people over and practice hospitality.  I looked at so many rental properties, but most of them looked very stark, and I didn’t have peace about any of them.

So, I was back to square one.  As a last resort, I decided to go on Airbnb and see if there might be a listing that would be willing to take a longer term renter.

I found two houses that might be a possibility that I approached.  I knew the general area the houses were located in, but there is no way to see a specific address on Airbnb unless you actually book.  Out of the two houses, one owner responded and told me I could come over right way to look.  I asked for her address and she said BOUNDARY LANE.  I almost fell off my chair…a garden cottage on Boundary Lane!!

So, I’m now living on Boundary Lane in an absolutely charming little place where “my boundary lines have fallen in pleasant places and where my inheritance is delightful!”

I walk this street on a regular basis, praying and claiming the inheritance that the Lord has given me in this country!