Childhood Friends: Memories of the Past, New Adventures
Childhood friends, memories from the past and activities in the present don’t always come together to form new memories and new adventures. But, when they do, great blessings abound! Such is the case with my childhood friend, Joy and a wonderful organization called Azmera. Years had passed with very little contact between the two of us. Life was very full and busy for both Joy and myself.
One day, I received an invitation from Joy. I was less interested in the reason for the meeting as I was to simply hug my friend’s neck. God has a great sense of humor though. He knew I just needed to meet Christina, hear her heart, listen to her vision and see the excitement in both hers and Joy’s faces as they relived their trips together and times spent loving on God’s own children. I heard of Azmera’s heart to serve Kingdom minded woman who were serving abroad. Many as missionaries, some as spouses of missionaries, some who moved for career choices, some by choice of our military. Each longing for relationships from other believers who speak their native language. Many with needs known only to God. All with needs that could be meet when someone sees them as the treasure they are.
The reason for the people God chooses to place in our lives at can sometimes be an instant blessing, sometimes the blessing comes later… but, when God places people in our lives, there is a blessing to be found. Our earthly relationships are much like the parable of the hidden treasure we have read about in Matthew 13:44. “The Kingdom of Heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes sells all that he has and buys that field.” People are God’s treasures that are all longing to be found, cherished and loved.
Joy’s hope in inviting me to come meet Christina was that I would catch that same vision that the two of them shared. I heard Joy and Christina both share of the joy they had each experienced having been able to travel to other countries, be immersed in the local communities and find ways to host women in beautiful settings, care for their weary souls and tired bodies. I was intrigued.
Azmera creates an environment where everyday women who love Jesus and His servants can find treasure in fields and extend God’s love in very tangible ways to those very treasures. Some are nurtured and loved through licensed counseling, some through massages, some with new hair styles, manicures, pedicures, others through exercise classes, and others through arts and crafts activities. Each group of ladies bring their own unique offerings of talents and each offering is always just what is needed.
Serving with Joy brought our upbringing full circle for both us. We grew up in church together, beginning in the nursery! We learned together what service to God can look like, we watched our parents serve, make sacrifices for the good of our families and for the good of the church family. We were taught to live to give and serve. We were taught of the sacrifices of our workers and of our responsibilities to support them. A firm foundation was laid in our early years that would allow us to easily hear and trust God’s voice for ourselves and to know for ourselves what our responsibility as adults are to the Kingdom of God. Joy and I spent many late nights remembering the honorable heritage our parents blessed us with and just how much they truly taught us as children. We remembered how good it felt to be with friends of one’s youth!
The time with Azmera was busy and full of activity. We were tired when we woke and tired when we laid down at night. But, our hearts were full and happy and blessed. We cherished the times that we could recount the moments each day that we were praying with someone, hugging another, crying with one, laughing with many and most of all worshiping with one heart with a multitude of women called by God as His own.
I don’t think I was fully prepared for the depth of training Azmera gave each volunteer before our retreat began. I can tell you in hindsight that those extra early days training before the woman arrived were some of the best days I’ve spent. A group of strangers gathered together wondering how we would fit together and if our individual talents would be enough to bless our guests soon to arrive. Again, God chooses exactly whom He needs and equips us all for the tasks He sets before us. We spent hours praying with one another for the sweet ladies who were arriving to be under our care. And, God showed up and blew wind into their sails. We all were led into His presence through worship and then into His word through study. We watched as women came in weary, discouraged and some even crushed be restored. We watched as they left rejoicing and with a new set of friends who counted them as treasure worth traveling around the world for… I would encourage you if you are reading this and wondering if Azmera is worthy of your investment, whether in time or resources to consider again Matthew 13:44. “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes sells all that he has and buys that field.”