Wendy Nowak | Director of Chapel Kids
I’ve always been a big fan of good surprise moments. I feel loved when someone plans something special with me in mind. I get excited about exploring new places and finding something interesting around a corner. I like a surprise outing with friends to change up my day.
My husband is especially great at giving surprises – from his surprise proposal on Christmas Eve 1992 in front of our families to surprise trips and parties through the years. There is something so wonderful about discovering something special has been planned carefully by another and then given to you as a gift.
I am a longtime believer in a God who rejoices in surprising us with His rich, unexpected gifts. I believe that we rejoice in surprising others, because He first surprised us. God’s greatest surprise of all until now, is Jesus’ resurrection from the dead to save and redeem those who believe. And more surprises await us in glory. Things not yet seen. But things as real as life itself.
The God of Great Surprises – July 2019
During the last week of July, God poured out surprises over many lives during the week of the Green Student Ministry trip to the Yucatan.
There are so many stories. For now, I have a few photos and surprises to share with you. I challenge you to watch and pray for His good surprises in the world for His glory! Are you waiting on Him in eager expectation?
This young man came to saving faith in Jesus after the team from The Chapel in Wadsworth extended an invitation to trust Jesus. He was one of 8 to receive Jesus the week before our team came down. We have known him from the very first years of Chapel trips to the Yucatan. We have prayed over his life. He will have quite a story to tell one day. He wants to be a pastor because he wants to help those he sees in the community struggling with alcoholism and other addictions. Please pray as this young man is discipled in faith in Jesus.
It had not rained in Ichmul for nearly 6 weeks and their crops were dying. They are dependent on corn for livelihood. We spent several days with the women learning of their prayer requests for rain for their corn crops, for grief in their lives, for healing in hardship. We shared how Jesus turns scars into beauty marks, and how God turned Jesus’ scars and wounds into beautiful rescue and healing for us. We shared how He has provided for our greatest need: LIFE in Him forever. Then we got to surprise these families with some ‘daily bread’ in the form of 110-lb. bags of corn for each family to take home.
That very afternoon, on July 23, during our siesta rest, God opened the skies AND brought a downpour of drenching rain upon the land and people. It rained for nearly four hours. We whooped and hollered and knew we had to celebrate with the people, who got to see a sign from God that He is truth, that He truly is the provider, that He cares and loves them, that His Word is true. He reigns.
Exceeding Abundantly Above
Friends, God is the Over-and-Above God. The God who abounds in love and faithfulness. The God who helps us continue to abound in the work of the Lord. The God of the best surprises.
At the beginning of the mission trip week, the Holy Spirit prompted my heart with the word “abound” – from I Corinthians 15:58
“Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”
The Greek word for abound in I Cor. 15:58 is perisseuó. Strong’s Concordance says it means “to be over and above, to exceed the ordinary (the necessary); overflow; to excel still more.
As we ran through the streets of Ichmul celebrating the rain with the people, I saw literal abounding in the work of the Lord. I saw the Spirit overflow in the next generation as they bounded through the streets to celebrate our God.
And these stories are not the half of it.
That week had Ephesians 3:20-21 written all over it: “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”
The Greek word for “far more” or “exceedingly” is hyperekperissou. These words describe God’s ability to bring superabundance on our behalf for His glory – surprises beyond what we can ask or think.
You cannot out-abound our God in your service to Him. He helps you and I as His church to abound steadfastly in His work all the while He himself hyper-abounds to us on our behalf in love and faithfulness and surprising overflow for His Glory. He is the Great Giver and Provider of every good and perfect gift. And He wants to use His church mightily to call people to His family of believers as we share the mystery of the gospel. This brings eternal good and glory to His name.
Will you trust Him? Will you call on Him and allow Him to lay upon your heart His will and agenda for today?
Will you pray that the people of Ichmul will receive the teaching from God’s word that fell like rain?
Will you pray for the person you love to know Jesus? Will you wait with expectation for Him to surprise you with His abounding faithfulness?
This fact should come as no surprise to us: the harvest time is upon us. God is moving among people to know Him forever.
What’s your part today in sharing God’s love and faithfulness with another? I hope and pray He hyper-surprises you today!
“I am the Lord. There is no other God.Isaiah 45:5-8 (International Children’s Bible)
I am the only God.
I will make you strong
even though you don’t know me.
I do these things so everyone will know
there is no other God.
From the east to the west they will know
I alone am the Lord.
I made the light and the darkness.
I bring peace, and I cause troubles.
I, the Lord, do all these things.
“Sky above, make victory fall like rain.
Clouds, pour down victory.
May the earth receive it.
May salvation grow.
May victory grow with it.
I, the Lord, have created it.
This same young man who was saved the week before we came, was joyfully baptized during our ministry week by Pastor Marcial. We watched and cheered and celebrated.
This mom of three boys got to be housed in a dorm among 25 females. Can I admit I was a little nervous to be surrounded by so many females? On top of that, this non-crafter was asked to be part of the women’s ministry and hammock crafting. God surprised me with special doses of girl-time and even extra time with two young ladies who gave up opportunities to do other types of ministry that week because they saw the importance of truly getting to know the women in this group, and desired to share life with them. God moved among us.
Our kids and adults were specifically prompted to pray for and share the gospel with the soccer players on Eli’s team.
And this one hit home: Surprise!
God took care of a specific need at home in our family that week. While some our family went to Ichmul and some family were home, God showed up on my kids’ behalf and gave us a blessing beyond what we knew to ask or pray for. Some surprises come after a long desert season of unexpected hardships, pain peaks and foggy valleys. There were many cries for help and wisdom. And God was there in the midst working out His plan. O, magnify the Lord with me!