Copyright © 2016 - Meredith Raiford - All Rights Reserved

God the father, a prodigal son and a loving family.

I can’t tell you how many times in the past two months I’ve sat down to write these last few posts; to finish this blog. Mozambique was home to me. After feeling like a nomad and questioning whether I was wired to ever feel like I belonged anywhere, God took me back to Masana. It felt natural being there. After a year of absolutely nothing feeling natural, the sensation felt simultaneously strange and wonderful.

I love the masana family with my whole heart! I miss them. I miss each and every one of them because I love each and every one of them. I miss long talks with Sarah and Felix’s loud contagious laugh. I miss creeping and cutting up with Edson and Neddy’s big hugs. I miss Maya’s grunts, Melina’s shrugs and Roberto’s big heart and awkward jokes. For a season I got to be a member of their family, and it’s impossible to just move on and forget that.

Neddy and Maya Faye playing guitar

Neddy and Maya Faye playing guitar

Edson and Melina baking

Edson and Melina baking

Felix and Maya entertaining themselves...

Felix and Maya entertaining themselves…

Roberto, Maya, Sarah and Melina

Roberto, Maya, Sarah and Melina

God was and is so generous to me for sharing them with me and allowing me to know and love them. Im forever humbled by how he spoils me with getting to know and love so many amazing people.

My second prodigal son mural for Masana serves as a sweet assurance from God. I didn’t prepare for it before I left the states, mainly because I didn’t feel particularly burdened to. If you followed my time while I was there, or have since read my posts from my time there, you’ll know that I didn’t rush with painting it either. I lived in Masana and enjoyed the ministry first.

On the flight over I started praying about it. I knew then that rather than a painting about earthly family’s being prepared to welcome these boys home, this painting was meant to be about their Heavenly Father holding and loving them, unabashedly and without judgement.

In that first week of just hanging out with the boys, I considered several of them to use as my model for the prodigal son. The first I considered, sadly ran away with a (large-enough) sum of money out of Melissa’s bag. This happened the night before we were traveling north to reunite him with his family. The second, whom I was rather close with, got an opportunity to illegally cross the South African border and find work there with another former Masana boy. In the end he ended up staying in Maputo. But, in the time he was away, I came to consider the third and final boy; the one in the painting today.

Picture of Me and Louis from my first trip to Mozambique in August, 2015.

Picture of Me and Louis from my first trip to Mozambique in August, 2015.

His name is Louis (pronounced loo-eesh). Louis is both hard to love and impossible not to love. It’s a strange paradox. He is 16 years old. Physically, he looks maybe 12. Mentally I’d say he’s a little bit younger than that. Louis is boisterous and goofy. My first time in Mozambique I actually planned my painting schedule around when he’d be there, just because his antics made it impossible to get work done. His best friend is Melina, Sarah’s oldest daughter. Their friendship is adorable to watch.


When I first got back to Mozambique I asked after Louis, but nobody had seen him for a long time. On a weekend where we were away, Louis showed up to church and the members there became very worried for him. That week Roberto found Louis and brought him back to Masana. Louis was and is very sick. Seeing the once healthy spunky kid, emaciated, silent and worn down… well, it’s hard to find the right words for how it felt. Sadness and compassion don’t seem strong enough. But the truth is, I’ve never felt a stronger surge of compassion mixed with sadness than I did when I saw Louis again. He was a dim shadow of the kid I had known less than a year before.

After some testing and numerous hospital visits we were able to begin getting him the treatment he needs. Masana took him into their temporary housing and began looking for a permanent solution/family to love and take care of him. The reception was less than encouraging.

In the beginning of his time back, it was little 3 year old Melina who first began petitioning for me to “pinta Louis”. This became her mission, to see Louis in the new painting on the outside wall. She told me. She told Sarah. She told Roberto. It honestly didn’t take much convincing, because we had all come to the same conclusion. I needed to paint Louis as the prodigal son.

Big hug after photographing him for the painting.

Big hug after photographing him for the painting.

When I finally came to that conclusion, I was instantly reminded of how this painting was meant to be about a Heavenly Father welcoming and loving his son, rather than an earthly family joyfully taking care of their kid. I teared up, struck with awe and reassurance by how completely all-knowing God is. When I was flying over the Atlantic Ocean starting to pray over this painting, God was on the streets with Louis. While the Masana staff was beginning the search for family to take Louis in, God knew already how his family would respond. The whole time I was preparing for this painting and working on it, God knew what its final significance would be. He knew the story we would be left with and who it would be about.

This painting is a reminder of God’s character, His omniscience and His heart for us. It is a picture of a Heavenly father’s unconditional love for a broken son. It is a picture of God’s love for the individual, His love for Louis.

Free will is such a tricky thing. I love the ability to decide for ourselves how to live ninety-nine percent of the time. But there’s that one percent where I really just wish God would intervene and not let us hurt ourselves and others. But partial free will, no matter how minute the limitation, is not free will.

God will not force us to do His will. It hurts him far more to watch these boys whom he loves, choose to live on the streets. It’s easy to wish in their cases that God was a father who powerfully went out, grabbed his sons and brought them home to Him whether they wanted to come or not. But that’s not the kind of father that God is.

Picture of the original prodigal son painting I did for the old Masana in August, 2015.

Picture of the original prodigal son painting I did for the old Masana in August, 2015.

For better or worse, Louis has free will. The people he has lived with on the streets and his family back home have free will. We have free will. While God will never rob us of our choice, He is: always present, always loving, always waiting and always willing to welcome us home with open arms. There is no offense too great or chasm too wide to prevent us from experiencing the fullness of the love and forgiveness of God, if we choose him. We just have to choose to him; choose to go back home to Him who loved us first.

Today Louis is still at Masana, needing a permanent solution. I would ask you to keep him and the rest of the Masana family and staff in your prayers. Pray for wisdom on their part to make the best decisions possible in regards to his health and future. Pray for strength, encouragement and support for Sarah and her family as they continue to give their all, to love and assist the street boys of Maputo everyday. Pray for the boys living in the house and attending the program at Masana to know God on deeper levels; to come to points of surrendering their will and their hearts to God. And if you feel so led, pray for me. That I may learn how to healthily continue to love and care for the mission and people at Masana without living in continued heartbreak for not being called there in this season. (The same request goes for Melissa Pierce as well)

If I haven’t said this enough, or don’t say it again, you are lovely. And I am honored to have shared this journey with you. I just have one more post (maybe two) until I can close the chapter on this blog and my incredible crazy year of missions with God! Love love love, MER.

(Left to right) Me, Neddy, Maya, Melina and Melissa at the beach

(Left to right) Me, Neddy, Maya, Melina and Melissa at the beach

Me and Alexis driving a group of Masana boys to the water park for um de Juno! (national children's  day in Moazambique)

Me and Alexis driving a group of Masana boys to the water park for um de Junho! (national children’s day in Moazambique)

Closeup of Louis and the father in the return of the prodigal son

Closeup of Louis and the father in the return of the prodigal son

The final image of the return of the prodigal son

The final image of the return of the prodigal son

Coming Back

I pace the small room in my mind finding ways to keep busy. I glance to the side and see Him sitting down watching me. He wants me to sit down with Him. I know that. I want to sit down with Him, but I can’t. I need to keep busy. We’re not where I want to be and if I allow myself to sit down next to Him, this will all come into focus. This will all become real.

I know that I’m here. I do. I know that this is now my reality. I glance back over at Him and still He waits. He’s so patient. I miss Him so much.

A few days ago I came home after a week of visiting friends and family in Georgia. I cried as I pulled into the neighborhood; the initial foreboding to a greater storm that was yet to hit. I spent the evening talking and laughing with my family. I seemed fine. I thought maybe I was.

As I crawled into bed that night, deja vu of countless nights in this room, before this year had ever happened, hit me like a strong gust of wind. It felt intensely familiar and I hated it. Tears turned to heavy sobs as I was overcome by grief for the people and life I’ve left behind. Eventually, I fell asleep in my parents bed as my mom rubbed my back and my dad held my hand.

All of the books and mental prepping in my arsenal could not save me from the deep sadness and loss I have felt in coming back to the states. People talk of my bravery and willful obedience in going out, but believe me when I say it took far more for me to come back.

He’s so patient as He waits for me. I’m not angry with Him. And He’s not angry with me. Though goodness knows we could both work up a case for why we’d be justified in our frustrations. Me, that He gave me a love for a people and life and then made me leave it all once I finally felt at home in it. And Him, that He’s invested so much time in teaching me to trust Him and His plans, and yet still I insist on hesitating as I cling to my owns dreams and wishes.

But I love Him and He loves me. I can never leave Him, and He will never give up on me. And so He waits as I pace, for me to come and sit with Him. I am ready to sit with Him. Grief and a broken heart take time to heal, but I will heal. I will be with Him, and I will heal. I will trust in Him, here and now, as I have in every other place and circumstance I’ve found myself in this past year.

Yes, I am different, but He is not. He is still good. He is still in control. I still choose Him. Wherever He has me, I will choose to sit and be with Him, and He will take care of me. That’s who we are, and it’s what we do. My God is a faithful, loving God. He is faithful in loving me.


Growing up I dreamed of Neverland. I daydreamed of taking care of lost boys and loving Peter Pan. I wanted to fly and dance and be brave. I wanted to take care of myself; to play at being grown up while still having all the fun of being a kid forever.

It’s not an uncommon dream. In fact I’m becoming increasingly convinced that the dream of Neverland is largely universal, whether people have heard of Peter Pan’s adventures or not. But Neverland, much like greener grass and that illusive pot of gold, is a fairytale.

The boys I spend my days with came here in search of their Neverland. Instead they were met with a cruel copy. Sure, they spend their days doing what they want with all of their friends. Nobody tells them what to do and they make enough money to get by (sometimes honestly, sometimes not).

But instead of bumbling pirates, they’re running from the cops. There are no feasts created by their imaginations. Rather, they scrape the rice pots from the lunches masana provides into plastic bags to eat for dinner later. And whether they go to school or not, all of these boys will eventually grow up.

This week I got to step into a new and unexpected role in the mornings at masana. Abigale, the US doctor who volunteers here left this weekend to go back to the states for a month. Earlier this week after learning that I wasn’t squeamish and am eager to learn new things, she took me under her wing and trained me to continue helping the boys while she is gone.

On Monday I helped in redressing a second degree burn wound. Last week while some of the boys were cooking their dinner over an open fire, one of them threw extra gasoline onto it resulting in another boy’s leg being covered in burns from ankle to knee. On Wednesday I held him as she showed me how to cut away the dead skin and detect and prevent infections in the blistered healing areas. Saturday when he came by I was able to remove his old bandages, clean his wounds and redress them entirely on my own. (Something I had no clue how to handle a week ago)

Tuesday provided a very different and much more impactful learning opportunity, both for me and (more importantly) for the boys. Masana was recently gifted a good sized set of HIV rapid tests. So in leu of classes Tuesday morning, all of the boys sat while Abigale talked to them about the truths of HIV, how to prevent it and how important it is for them to get regularly tested. At first all of the boys laughed at the idea of getting tested and didn’t want to think about it, but by the end of the talk, fifteen teenage boys agreed to get tested throughout the remainder of the day.

Fourteen of these boys tested negative. Considering the odds we were so so grateful for so many negative results. But, one tested positive. One scared teenage boy who was planning on going home this next week, tested positive for HIV, and just like that, his life will never be what it once could have been. Doctors are confident that there is a cure to be found for HIV, but for now, he will have to live off of medication provided by the US to keep his body healthy. If he still chooses to go home, he will have to tell his family of this taboo illness he has contracted since he left them. If he doesn’t, he won’t be able to get treatment, his health will decline and eventually it will fail him.

My heart hurts for these boys. The choices they’re making now, the kind of problems they are being faced with, would be devastating for many adults. Whether they create their difficulties or not, they’re still just kids. They’re kids who chased a daydream and found themselves trapped in a nightmare.

The longer they’re out here on the streets the more comfortable they become with the lifestyle. The more they adapt to this lifestyle, the harder it is for them to go home to their families. It’s a vicious downward spiral, leaving many unable to get out. While I can tend to wounds, I cannot fix this. I cannot heal the deeper hurt. I cannot make them go back home. So I pray. I love on them and I pray. I joke around and tease them and I pray.

I pray that they will not become hardened by this life and the disappointment of their dreams. I pray that they will not be enticed into the lifestyle that is so common among them, and for those who are already in it, I pray for the desire and strength to get out. I pray for homes eager to welcome them back, and the desire to return to them. I pray that God miraculously bring good out of this in each of their lives. I pray that they come to know God intimately for themselves. I pray that they know they still have hope, they can still have a better future. I pray that the enemy stop winning victories in these children’s lives. I pray that they see his lies for what they are, empty promises and dangerous traps. I pray that they stop giving into the easy temptations haphazardly strewn around their feet. I pray for supernatural protection, physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. I pray for redemption. I pray for restoration. I pray for God to have his way.

Lost Boys

Last week we had children’s day, a national holiday similar to Christmas here in Mozambique. For the day we took over 50 street boys to the local water park. The day was fun and carefree. The boys were goofy and hyper, like any other kids would be if they got to spend a day at the water park with all of their friends. During that time it was easy for me to forget the lives that these boys live every other day.

When we got back to masana after a big tasty lunch, the younger boys lined up and received presents filled with radios, flashlights, tee-shirts, snacks and candy. A little bit later the older boys lined up to receive the same presents. What I didn’t realize at the time was that the leaders were giving the little ones a five minute head start to get as far away as they could.

With such a wide range of ages on the street, it makes sense that hierarchies are formed based off of strength and age. The younger boys are often beat up and robbed until they hit their growth spurt and get to shift roles. Thus the head start to get a chance to enjoy or hide their gifts before the older boys caught up.

The other day as I was sitting with a handful of boys while they ate their lunch, something expected happened, and then something unexpected followed.

One of the little ones sat down with his milk, rice and fish. Before he got a chance to eat the first bite, the bigger kid next to him (with a bit of a nasty streak) reached over and grabbed a handful of rice and dropped it onto his own plate. The little boy reacted by immediately reaching over to grab his rice back.

The expected ensued.

A plate was flung in the air. A cup of milk knocked over. The little boy ran. The bigger kid followed. One bigger kid tried to hold the other off. He pulled away and caught up with the younger. A loud smack, a sharp cry and the little boy was left standing amidst scattered rice, hurt, hungry and humiliated.

The bigger kid was sent away for the day and the little one sat back down at the table with no food or drink.

Then the unexpected.

One of the older boys I’m closest with took one more bite of his fish and then casually passed his nearly full plate over to the wounded kid. He bashfully started eating. Then some of the other kids picked up his empty cup. One by one, four or five different boys poured a little bit of their own milk into his cup until they all had the same amount left to drink.

There was no show to their generosity, no expectation on his part. It was just genuine brokenness being met by genuine understanding and love.

It’s so easy for the world to look at these boys and see young addicts and thieves, hopeless causes. But when you take the time to get to know them, when you watch them when they dont know they’re being watched, sometimes they surprise you. Sometimes they teach you. There is so much good to be fostered in these young kids. They aren’t hopeless causes. They’re just lost boys, learning how to interact with the world and each other under terrible circumstances


Some of you may already know this, but I’m a bit of a perfectionist. (Surprise!) If I can’t get something just right, I don’t want people to see it. Which, is how I end up going so long without writing updates. I intend to write, and often times I’ll write three/fourths of several different blogs, but if I can’t make it completely honest and somehow beneficial or interesting, I scrap it. Maybe it’s a problem, maybe not. But, for now it is what it is.

Today I am going to try to write a whole post to y’all without overthinking it. If you are reading this, that means I have succeeded!

My life since I’ve come back here to Maputo has been so wonderful and full. I love it here. I love that I don’t have to adjust. I love that it’s familiar. I love that for the first time in over a year I feel comfortable, like I belong. I’m not saying that I’m going to move to Mozambique, because God hasn’t told me anything in regards to that. But, after such a long season of adjusting and readjusting with so much isolation, it feels unreal how good and whole my life is right now, and I am choosing to enjoy it.

I haven’t started my painting. Crazy, I know. It’s borderline uncharacteristic how relaxed I have been about getting started. With every other trip I’ve had ridiculous deadlines and boatloads of work. But here and now I have time, not a lot, but enough, and I am savoring it.

It’s funny, but I think living these next few weeks here in Africa is going to be the best possible way for me to transition and figure out how to live in America once this is all over.

Paul talks in Philippians about how he has “learned the secret to facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need”… “How to be brought low and how to abound”… How “in whatever situation [we are] to be content.” (If you look that up, be warned its completely out of order. 4:10-12)

In this year I’ve learned a lot about how to live with less. I’ve learned how to be broken. I’ve learned how to fight for my needs and be satisfied without my wants. But in my rebuilding from brokenness, I’ve yet to learn how I can live again in abundance. It’s no longer natural or easy for me to live with so many of my wants taken care of on top of my needs.

It’d be easy for me to cop out and say that that’s a good thing. That it’s right for me to be content and joyful with less. That I don’t need more. That abundance is another word for materialism and that’s bad. But I committed at the onset of my being rebuilt this year that I wouldn’t allow any lies to embed themselves back in my mind. And a partial lie is just as dangerous as a full one when allowed to take root.

Paul says we need to find contentment in both. God has taught me the first part. Now it is time for me to figure out how to live in the second as well. I have trusted God to take care of me and be with me in my season of need, now I’m setting out to find him and our rhythm in this season of plenty. I’m so grateful that I get to learn that lesson here!

Everything changes. Some things don’t.

I’m listening to Etta James sing stormy weather in an empty Starbucks on a crisp spring day in Virginia. It feels perfectly ordinary and sweetly wonderful at the same time. My life is an exercise in adjusting; an ever changing Rorschach test in seeking out magic in the mundane and peace in the uncertain.

This time last week, I was praising God for bringing me my final two models for the painting right when I needed them. This time last week I was hot and tired staring at a wall that was at best underwhelming. This time last week I was willfully standing in faith that God’s faithfulness and power did not shift with my circumstances and feelings.

I can’t tell you which place of the two I prefer. I don’t know if I’m more at home in the excitement and the rush, or the quiet and peaceful downtime. The truth is, I’m often overwhelmed with gratitude for where I am, within moments of being a little sad with longing for the other. I’ve learned to actively seek after contentment; leaning into all the unique joys and gifts each day and place offers. Because with each day that I live in, I know, that in a few weeks time, all that I have in this moment will be switched out and replaced by a life that is entirely different and foreign.

In this year of multiple lives, I’ve learned who I am. I’ve become who I am. I’ve grown, stretched and gathered strength. With God’s active help and encouragement I’ve stripped off parts of my character that were bulky and restrictive; heavier than I realized. With his abundant love and grace he has healed my wounds and poured his spirit into me, generously and without reserve. I am a new creation.

He has opened my eyes to see his kingdom and my place in it. My purpose in life is not the pursuit of my own happiness but to pursue my God and his rightful glory. In that pursuit I am promised, not a fleeting unstable emotion, but rich joy and unexplainable peace. This purpose and my ability to pursue it does not change with my location.

When the sun rises and my eyes open with each new day, regardless of where I find myself, I know that God will be right there. Each day I have to actively remove new baggage that would hold me back and slow me down. Each day I have to actively choose to pursue him and his glory, rather than myself and my own natural desires. Each day I have to put on my armor and prepare for opposition. These things do not change with my location.

God is good and he is sovereign. He was at my worst moment. He is today. He is not a shifting shadow. He is a sturdy rock. He is the source of love and truth. He is generous and kind. He is great and mighty.

I neither leave him in, nor take him with me to each new place I go. He is already there.

“I can never escape from your spirit! I can never get away from your presence! If I go up to heaven you are there; if I go down to the grave, you are there. If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, even there your hand will guide me and your strength will support me.” Psalm 139:7-10

When nothing else is reliable or guaranteed, I have Him. He and I are a sure thing. He is my magic in the mundane. He is my sure footed peace amid the uncertain. If He’s all I can count on each day when I wake up, I can tell you with confidence that that’s more than enough.

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A Sprint to the End

So my life and my mind are a little bit tight right now as you can imagine. God is taking really good care of me, but this is the final stretch. This week equals long hours and constant brain work. By the time I get back home for the day, all I want to do is shut my brain off, eat and go to bed. That being said I still wanted to touch base with y’all this week.

For now, let me just say that God is really REALLY good. He wakes me up with reasons to praise Him. (Ask me about how next time you see me) Each morning these past few weeks he has spoon fed me the scripture I have needed to get me through the day. He has taught me to pray into and meditate on the scriptures he gives me. He sends encouragers to me throughout my days. He has been training me to put on the full armor of God each morning, piece by piece, before I leave the hotel. This practice has been huge in giving me the ability to endure through all the ups and downs and cheap shots thrown my way each day. I feel safe and refreshed. My soul feels like I’ve gone through a detox. There is a strength that surrounds me and courses through me now that I haven’t known before. I feel light.

I’ve been told that this community is quick to tear others down and only look out for themselves. While I’ve definitely seen that in action, I’ve also experienced something quite different. Many of the people here have come around me and become my biggest supporters. Interestingly enough, most of the people who spend time with me and look out for me here are either burned out or uninterested in Christianity and the church. I love them. I love what God is doing in their lives. I pray that this painting be the smallest gift they receive as a result of my time here.

The painting is coming along. This final stage is where I become a bit like the angst ridden artists you see in movies and read about in books. Think more Michelangelo, less Van Gogh. (I’m a little anxious and a little broody but I’m not about to cut off my ear.) The deep desire for perfection and the ability to see where it is lacking is what makes me able to create work like this. But when everything in a painting is missing just a little bit of that ambiguous something extra, it’ll make you want to throw a bucket of paint at the wall and call it a day. Knowing my plane leaves in four days when nothing feels right yet, definitely adds to the pressure and excitement. I normally have more of a cushion built into this final phase.

Part of the beauty with this painting though is that I get to lean into the excitement and off the pressure, because I know God will finish what he has started here. Through all the rain storms and all of my flat tires these past three weeks I have been able to rest in that truth. I rest in it now.

I’m not satisfied with where the painting is right now, but I’m not supposed to be yet. If I was, I wouldn’t have the drive to really sprint through to the finish line and give these last few days my all.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up… So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees.” (Hebrews 12:1-3,12)

Sunshine and a Smiley Smiley Face

This past week. How do I begin to boil down all the important happenings of this past week. It’s been work filled. It’s been hot. It’s been productive. It’s been challenged. Sometimes it’s been a fight. Sometimes it’s been a joy. So much work is happening at such a rapid pace. When my right arm starts to cramp from the repetitive motions, I switch to my left for the bulk areas.

I’m waking up at sunrise and coming back from work a little before sunset. The sun is both friend and enemy right now. I can’t work without it, but I sometimes struggle to keep my energy up under the full blasts of its rays. The mornings are the most draining.

I have regular faces that stop by to watch and spend time with me, based off of their own morning and afternoon commutes. My favorite is a five year old little girl named Kiara. She tells me which colors to use and shapes to paint, regardless of what I’m actually working on. I normally oblige her. She asks roughly five questions a minute, and every so often insists I stop working to pick flowers with her or search for our favorite baby goat. She is my daily smile. God knows I can’t work like this without a kiara in my life.

For those of you who would like to see this lovely little fairy princess, I’m pleased to tell you she will be in the painting! She will be the girl with the purple slippers, pretty pink dress, both arms, two eyes, lots of beads in her hair and a smiley smiley face. (These were all of her conditions on me being allowed to paint her.) We had a photo shoot earlier this week where she danced, jumped, skipped and twirled for roughly 50 photos. I’ve yet to choose the winning picture.

Despite the growing number of familiar faces around me, I still have days where I come home tired, rundown and lonely. I crave open laughter and honest intentional conversations. But this is just the brief season I am in. What I lack in this one area is replaced with overwhelming surplus in others. I know that these six weeks that I’m living in right now are going to be ones that I look back on in years to come with wonder and joy.

I’ve never been more in tune with the Holy Spirit than I have been here, and I wouldn’t trade that gift for any one of my heart’s other desires right now. Physically I’m exhausted. Spiritually, I never want to leave this place.

A six week painting

My mural in Mozambique took me three weeks to do. My painting at Elim took around five and a half. Colombia took three and a half to four. After a while of working on projects like this you get to a point where you can look at a wall and gauge fairly accurately how long it is going to take you.

Right now, I am painting a six week painting. I planned six weeks for this painting and by the time I have finished it, I will have invested six weeks into it.

It’s big, quite big. The first time I stood in front of it, face to face, I was struck by how intimidating it was up close. It seemed smaller from the road. I’d been watching it every morning from a distance as I drove past, but this Thursday was my first time actually taking it in in person. I hesitated. I stared. I laughed from nervousness. I laughed from the ridiculousness of the task I was taking on.

A painting this size, I thought, definitely needs at least six weeks to paint. But I don’t have six weeks to paint. I have three.

I had six weeks. I could have had exactly six weeks to paint this wall. But God told me to wait. While the team was here, He told me to wait and pray. Once the team left He told me to keep waiting and keep praying. Another week went by as He led me to understand what He wanted to do for this community, but not what He wanted me to paint, or where He wanted me to paint it. As time continued on, I became so invested in His plans for the people here, that the painting and my desire for answers began to shift to the background of my thoughts and prayers.

Each day as I drove to my various filler sites I drove past this wall; big, glaring, completely blank and ready for paint. I didn’t even notice it at first, but by the time my other potential site fell through, I wasn’t disappointed. I wanted this one.

They say to be careful what you wish for. Believe me that thought went through my mind Thursday morning. At that point I still didn’t even know what I was going to be painting. My mind and sketchbook were as blank as that big grey cement wall.

After three weeks of prayer though, I knew without a doubt that God had sent me exactly here, for exactly now, to be apart of something much bigger than this wall. If He wanted me to have six weeks to paint it, He would have given me six to paint it. That’s the simple truth.

This wall was ready to paint three weeks ago. Im the one who needed time. I was willing, available and able of course, but now I know that I needed to fight for this place first. I needed to catch the vision and know, really know, the importance and purpose of this painting before I could start.

In this mural I am convinced that the prayer that has gone into it is equally as important, if not more so, as each stroke and color that will go on it. Marvelously enough, God has allotted equal time for both aspects. If I’m being completely honest with myself, I even have to recognize that of the two, the painting is far less ambitious than my prayers for this community. But I believe Him for both.

The Holy Spirit’s enthusiasm for this place is contagious, and I am overwhelmed and overjoyed that He chose to include me in what He’s doing here! Doing a six week painting in three weeks time is comically ridiculous. But this painting is just one small piece of a much greater plan. If I am going to believe Him for the fullness of what He is doing here, then I am going to have to trust Him to take care of all the smaller aspects as well.

So that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to trust Him. I’m going to lean into what He is doing here without fear of failure. I am going to keep fighting for this community alongside Him in prayer. I am going to put on my strongest SPF and paint my heart out for the next 3 weeks. I’m going to be amazed at how great and powerful my awesome faithful God is.


The Lord Provides. This post is very belated, but definitely worthy of the throwback. This is the testimony, the meaning, the purpose behind the Jehovah-Jirah painting in Colombia. Sadly the tight space where the main painting is located kept me from being able to take good photographs. The painting itself though is fully accessible to those it was intended for, and I have to remind myself that that’s what matters most. I wish you could all see it in its fullness. I wish that I could look back at pictures and see it in its fullness myself, but as it is, these partial glimpses will have to do. =]

The main painting at the top of Santa Cecilia is a combination story taken from 1 kings 17 and 2 kings 4, about Elijah and Elisha’s widow’s with oil. [online passages linked at the bottom of the post] As I prayed over my painting for oasis, God made it clear to me that these stories and the name Jehovah-Jireh were the subjects I needed to paint about. As usual, God revealed the significance of the painting to me, piece by piece, little by little, up until my very last day working up on this mountain in Bogotá.

This painting is the same as the others this year, as it is a flag of identity for this ministry, a marker of what God is doing there. The Lord provides for the single mother and gives life and freedom to her children. He is using this ministry and these people at Oasis to provide for the needs of the mothers on the mountain, and to breath life into their children.

In Genesis where God is first referred to as Jehovah-Jireh, the passage reads, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided”. [ Genesis 22:14 ]

On this impoverished mountain that overlooks the capital of Colombia, the Lord will provide. Though overlooked by most, the mothers striving to provide for their children here are not overlooked by the great Jehovah-Jirah. He hears them. He sees them. He cares for them. He will breath life into their children. He is husband, father, protector and love.

I cannot possibly express how much I adored this ministry, these people and this culture. I fell in love with Colombia. In my time at Oasis, my soul was revived. I was provided for in all my needs and wholly refreshed in my purpose and mission.

If you’d like to learn more about Oasis, the kids there, and the heart behind their mission, follow this link to visit their page.

1 Kings 17:8-24
2 Kings 4:1-7