Friday, December 11, 2015

In trying times, remember the one who can move mountains, stop storms, change hearts...no matter who judges or criticizes or condescends you...the only one that matters is the one and only God Almighty and Jesus Christ Our King. I feel today that someone out there is crying out for protection from the wickedness that is out in the world. Hang on...God is watching and He is in control.

Psalm 91

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust.”
Surely he will save you
    from the fowler’s snare
    and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his feathers,
    and under his wings you will find refuge;
    his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of night,
    nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
    nor the plague that destroys at midday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
    ten thousand at your right hand,
    but it will not come near you.
You will only observe with your eyes
    and see the punishment of the wicked.
If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
    and you make the Most High your dwelling,
no harm will overtake you,
    no disaster will come near your tent.
For he will command his angels concerning you
    to guard you in all your ways;
they will lift you up in their hands,
    so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
    you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
    I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
He will call on me, and I will answer him;
    I will be with him in trouble,
    I will deliver him and honor him.
With long life I will satisfy him

    and show him my salvation.”


Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Equipping yourself for Spiritual Battles: Your own private War Room

AUSTIN, TX – Last night my husband and I were invited for a pre-screening of War Room, a Kendrick brothers film (makers of Facing the Giants and Fireproof) that will be released for theaters in August 2015. I don't know how I got included on the list, but it was just what my husband and I needed to get refueled and reminded of the strategies of spiritual warfare. The minute we returned to America in 2010, we started getting busy and we had gotten to a busy place that is so common in America. Things in Africa are much simpler and slower paced. We are struggling to find time to adequately seek God. God is the only One that can weed out all the clutter in our lives. America is a clutter magnet and that is how the enemy gets you lost. The enemy fills your life with a forest of clutter so that you lose sight of God.

This morning as I was driving, I told my husband that I used to have such a close relationship with God. He used to lead my daily Bible lessons and speak to my heart. I miss that. God had taught me that He is constantly communicating with us, constantly sending us signs (believe it or not, I got that message while watching the horror movie Final Destination2) but we just don't know how to read the signs. Then, I started to see signs...Now, I can't see any signs. The difference from now and then is the depth and breadth of my prayer time with God. I used to be in the Word constantly. God shared with me that He remembers us always. We are the ones who forget Him. So, I am attempting to re-build my dwelling place where I meet with God and worship Him privately, where He reads my heart and shares with me the desires of His heart.

Its been tough. Heartbreak is the worst thing that comes between us and God, but its the time we need to be closest to Him. Heartbreak brings a flood of tears that cloud our emotions and our vision. Then we go on emotional numbness. But its okay. TD Jakes says in his book "Why? because you are anointed" that, despite what most people say, its okay to question God. He says that God will not be offended. He will answer your whys. Its not disrespectful to question God. He wants us to have that dialogue with Him. Wow! Everyone had been telling me not to question God, but He is the only one I can ask these questions. Without an answer, I remain in confusion and doubt. God knows.

And in War Room, the elderly lady says that in any battle you have to strategize against the enemy. So, our prayers need to be strategic.

So, I am now tasking myself to rebuild my war room, the place where I meet God face to face.

Beloved friends, I hope you are blessed by this blog. I hope you have a war room somewhere where you strategize and get with God. He is already there waiting for you. The Bible tells us to be still and wait on God, but it also tells us in the story of the prodigal son that God waits for us too, to come home to His safe place.

I would like to buy the War Room DVD and send it to my pastor friends in Africa. It has many messages about faith and family that are valuable to any culture and would bless Africa.

Love in Christ Jesus,
L

Thursday, April 16, 2015

There is Light Behind the Clouds....

AUSTIN, TX – Sometimes you are on a roll and running all over the place for God...then a stumbling block thwarts your momentum and cloudy days become stormy times...but never despair, God's plans do not get thwarted and every cloud in your way is strategically placed by the Almighty God...soon you will see the light peeking through the clouds and the momentum will begin to build again, better that ever.

This is how I have felt since I returned from Rwanda 5 years ago. This especially happens when you are in a life-changing high experience like working for God in a developing country.

Today as I struggle waiting on God and struggle with decisions and pains, I reflect upon a devotional from John Bevere...it starts with this verse:

Joseph said to them… “But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good…”
Genesis 50:19–20 NKJV

[FROM JOHN BEVERE'S E-DEVOTIONAL]
Joseph’s brother tried hard to destroy the vision God gave him. They threw him in a pit and then sold him into slavery. They thought they had ended it for Joseph, and Joseph had every reason to think his brothers were to blame for his misfortunes. But look at what the psalmist said:

Moreover [God] called for a famine in the land; He destroyed all the provision of bread. He sent a man before them—Joseph—who was sold as a slave. (Psalm 105:16–17 NKJV, emphasis added)

Who sent Joseph to Egypt, his brothers or God? We can clearly see it was God who sent him, as Joseph said plainly to his brothers, “It was not you who sent me” (Genesis 45:8 NKJV).

Hear what the Spirit is saying! No mortal man or devil can supersede the plan of God on your life. If you lay hold of this truth, it will set you free. There is only one person who can get you out of the will of God, and that is you!

The truth is that some people truly have been treated unjustly. But their becoming offended only fulfills the enemy’s purposes of getting them out of the will of God. If you stay free from offense, you will stay in God’s will. If you become offended, you will be taken captive by the enemy to fulfill his purpose.

Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. (James 4:7 NKJV)

We resist the devil by choosing to not become offended. The dream or vision God has given you will probably come about differently than you think it will, but His Word and His promises will not fail. Only our disobedience can thwart what God wants to do in our lives.

Bingo! I see a glimpse of light within my darkness. What has interfered with the mission God sent me on starting in 2007 is all part of His plan. I have had many words of discouragement, people who don't believe I can follow through on the mission, make me question "why?" and what was it all for. I have always known in my heart what I truly felt God called me to do and the vision of Urukundo for the Children ministry is still alive and burning in my heart. I have read of others who were sent on the same mission in another place and succeeded (or so it seems), making me question why I haven't succeeded, but now I see that I have not failed...its all in His plan for the right time and place and way. Perhaps my mission seems the same as theirs, but God wants to do it in a different way for me...

I want everyone to know that I have not given up. The enemy has tried to dissuade me of the validity of my calling....and to sidetrack me with other life hardships....but I AM ALWAYS FOR GOD, NO MATTER WHAT, AND GOD'S PURPOSE FOR ME WILL NOT DIE, NOT EVEN WHEN MY FLESH HAS DIED. I see now its all in the perspective of your perception. God used Joseph's brother's evil deed to send Joseph to the people of Egypt. I too am now in a time where God is sending me somewhere somehow. It seems like I'm sent nowhere for nothing, but just wait and see.

So, wherever you are, change your perspective and perception of where you are and why you are there. Most likely, if you are in the right way with your relationship with God, you are on the right track, although it looks gloomy....there is light behind the clouds.

I hope this message helps you see a glimpse of light...May God bless you mightily.

Love in Christ,
L

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Life after Rwanda

AUSTIN, TX – Its been 4 years since I have been in America and I just can't seem to find my new normal. You'd think it would be easier to transition back, but its not. Life after Rwanda is like getting back on the treadmill for the first time in 4 years, except the speed is pre-set to fast and I can't change it. I am trying so hard to stay on and not fall off. Stress and hurt is my most common sensation. My husband and I have been working hard to catch up with the life race and pace of America. We've had pockets of blessings and tidal waves of challenges.

Finding a new livelihood has been the most challenging. I am a hard worker. I face every task with all that I've got. But the American workplace in every industry has changed. Work ethics have changed. I am still trying to find my new normal as far as career also. This is all I can say at this point.

Its been challenging for us to find our new HOME. We've trekked to Los Angeles and now Austin, but nothing seems right. I just miss people, places and situations of the past more and more. Its difficult to find a spiritual base and I just feel so empty inside.

I am struggling even to find my new normal with God too. Perhaps it was the biggest mistake not to return to my hometown of Houston and my home church. My newlywed husband and I came into America in a very weak state, with no support system and very little finances. It would have helped to have at least had friends and familiarity around. To have a stable re-fueling base. To have the spiritual support of my home church. But what choices we made is what we've had to live with. I have to confess that one reason I didn't exactly move back home was that I was afraid my expectations of coming home would have led to disappointment of things that have changed and moved on. But all in all you cannot run away from expectations nor disappointment. Wherever you go, it follows. This I have learned.

There are a lot of personal challenges that I wish I could share, but I must keep private. Lets just say that its been an emotional roller coaster of facing my mortality and trying to understand God's choices for me. I'm still riding that roller coaster. Don't get me wrong. I still love God and believe wholehearted in Christ. There are just some very heartbreaking realities I've had to face. And I have to say that, for survival sake, I have moved on pretty quickly, knowing that I may still have to re-visit the grieving stage.

I have worked all my life to rise up in difficult professions, and its like in the four years I was away in Rwanda time ate up my credits. Getting back in the job market I have had to take many steps back, a tremendously humbling experience. I am feeling so de-valued. My skills are still strong, but the world has changed its work ethics. Its like in Rwanda, I stepped back in time and was living in slow motion. Now, back in America time has sped up and I am steps behind. Before and during Rwanda, I was a successful mid-manager, having built creative marketing departments from bottom up, having launched multi-media advertising brand marketing campaigns and coordinated promotional events for commercial and nonprofit causes. But no one is willing to accept what I've done in the past for almost 20 years nor believe that I can still do it. Its heartbreaking.

I have been so blessed to have wonderful life friends, but their lives have moved past mine. We are still in touch, but people get busy with life. Finding new friends has not been easy.  Its like a wise friend in Rwanda once told me "everyone is out for their own benefit." He meant that everyone connects with each other only for the value you bring to their lives. When you cease to be of value or benefit to them for whatever reason, you are no longer needed. Its a tough but true realization. Making new life friends is not something you seek, it finds you. Then it takes time to see people for who they really are.

So, as I continue on this rough journey to find my new normal, I have only this blog to share my thoughts. I know many followers have moved on since I returned, but that is ok. I am so happy to see some of them on fb, so blessed in their lives. I just can't sleep tonight and needed even a virtual friend to talk to. I still hold on to God's promises because I never lost faith in God, however rough the wait is. I know that he has a future full of blessings and peace planned for me. As challenging as my life has been, I know I have been so blessed to find Christ and I have been so blessed with wonderful friends and experiences. As painful as things can get, the enemy cannot steal, kill nor destroy my blessings because they are engraved in my heart forever.

I will always have a bridge that connects me to Rwanda. I would not have traded my mission in Rwanda for anything...the experience is priceless. Whatever I had to give up to go to Rwanda was worth the sacrifice. I have many friends for life on the other side of the world. The stories I could tell and ongoing relationships are countless.

I will always have a bridge that connects me to America. And as challenging as America can be, its also my home and I love America with all my heart. As the song says "God will make a way when there seems to be no way." I have faith.

And I am not going to be afraid of posting this. I pray protection over my words in the name of Christ. God bless you if you are reading this. Love and peace is still the goal in all of this. -Amen


Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Waiting Period...Finally a Breakthrough

PREVIOUSLY UNPOSTED ENTRY - 08/26/13

AUSTIN, TX – Its been a long time since I've posted on this blog. I praise God for continually remembering me and carrying me through the challenges. Sometimes it seems like life is a journey on Noah's ark, waiting in the flood for some relief and sign of hope. God remains my first and last passion. I continue to carry God's clear vision in my heart, even while its path goes in directions I never foresaw.

My husband and I have been on this journey to get re-planted in America and its been quite a trip. God has tested us and we've finally made some breakthroughs. We are planted somewhere that we can see roots forming. It hasn't been easy. Its been a process of praying and waiting. Not being very public about our struggles, but bringing it to God. Now, finally we have made some breakthroughs and we can see light.

We have planted our lives in Austin, Texas. I struggled with finding decent work and financial stability. The four year inflation of life in America really took a toll on us and my husband JP had to begin his career at the bottom, which was humbling for both of us. Nevertheless, God has come through for us and fought for us. He now has a nice full-time job with great medical benefits that takes care of his diabetes. He is waiting to get his permanent green card, but meanwhile got his first provisional driver's license (learner's permit). After three years of trudging through the employment market, I finally landed a great job in corporate America with great benefits. We have found a great home church here in Austin, where JP plays lead guitar for Saturday services. The wait was long and tested our faith, but we are strong followers of Christ and we know that God has great plans for our family.

Please keep us in your prayers as we continue to get stability. Please also pray for God to provide the way and means to revive the ministry. Urukundo for the Children is still alive and real in my heart. The dream is to revive it in full force in a few years. God has brought me many education connections that I believe has a purpose in my life. The dream is to build something with perpetual results to change the world. Our young people are the future and if we do not build them up and develop them for leadership and global consciousness, there will not be a world left to pray for.

If you are in trying times, please be assured that God has not forgotten you. I know this because I have been in and out of the desert waiting on God and He always comes through and provides the perfect way out. There is a purpose for the waiting period that God knows about. Its to prime and prepare us for the grater task ahead and the greater glory ahead. The enemy is strong, but not stronger than the force of God Almighty. Be encouraged that God does not forget us. Anticipate and look forward to the breakthrough ahead.

Love in Christ Jesus,
Linda

Starting over...

PREVIOUS UNPOSTED ENTRY - 04/27/12

Dear Friends and Family,

As I look at my last posting on January 2011, its been more than a year since my last posting. OMG, I apologize again as life just got ahold of me and Jean-Paul. We have had quite a time trying to get settled in America. We are finally here in Austin, Texas after spending almost a year in Los Angeles, CA struggling. We came to America October 2010 with only what we earned from selling EVERYTHING we owned in Rwanda, which wasn't alot. God really blessed us with enough to get JP's visa and our airplane tickets and a bit more to start off in an apartment.

It's been a mix of emotions returning to America. I was so happy to be back in the comforts of family and familiarity (however, my family still remained far), not to mention some American luxuries that we take for granted. However, one thing that I could not prepare for is that time has moved on, America has progressed, people have gone on with their lives while I was living in a less developed country. In order to survive in Rwanda, I (a master multi-tasker) had to teach myself to slow down and adjust to the less urgent pace of Africa. Returning to America, I've had to speed back up. I also lost some value in the job market as I was a volunteer humanitarian worker for 4 years. Coming back into the job market has been tough. Some people can value the time I've spent in Rwanda, but others cannot. I was a teacher and a marketing communications professional before I left for Rwanda. In those years, America leaped into an age obsessed with social networking (which is also invading Africa today). During my time in Rwanda, I used social networking to keep in touch with people, but the internet was so slow and I didn't have TV to keep me up on the latest industry norms.

Another challenge that I faced as a returning missionary was that I returned to another city and no longer had my church family support because apparently the mission ended as I crossed the international borders. In an instant I had to switch modes and go from  a daily life with mission purpose - focused on bringing Christ and compassion to anyone around me, to a lost world of unemployment and struggling finances. Then, I had a new husband, who is also new to America, that I had to assist in getting adjusted to all the changes.

So, to make a long story short, its been a whirlwind year for us...almost 2 years back now.

However, we did successfully reach two anniversaries of marriage. We stood the newlywed test and are still madly and passionately in love and blessed. Don't get me wrong, its not perfect and we have our challenges, but its perfectly made and blessed by God. The love of God and the love we have for each other is truly the glue that keeps everything together for us. Marriage is alot of work, but a work of God. We praise the Lord for giving us strength and love. Many people have asked us about whether we have a baby yet. We have been working on it. Life in America is not easy. Financial strains and managing daily life is stressful on our physical, practical and spiritual existence. But we can and will do all things through Christ Jesus. We trust that God will bring things together and our family will be born from the grace of God. We want to make sure that when we bring a child into this world, that we are prepared to give the child the best of life. So, the answer to that question is that we and God are working on our future family. All prayers are welcome.

As I take on whatever jobs come my way to support us, I long for the wonderful days filled with purpose. I long for the days of being the vessel that God uses to bring hope and joy to the people of Africa. I long for days of sitting in my living room and sharing God's miracles with young people. We will return one day, strong and fully stocked with resources to change lives for Christ.

Life is short.Cherish the days you have. Whether you past was filled with joys or sorrows, they are days gone by. Look ahead at the things God has in mind for you.There are treasures stored up in Heaven and Earth waiting for you to surrender your path so that God can lead you towards the true path to retrieve your  blessings. I thank you for reading my blogs for all these years. I will soon be putting up a new blog to start the new chapters of my journey with God. Please keep me in your prayers to seek God first and foremost. I have left the third world country for now, but my mission has not ended. In God's eyes, I am still a missionary, on special mission, on a new season, in a new place, fighting for the cause of Christ - that all may seek His face and rejoice. I pray for you all to find the joy of the Lord in your lives and to keep a tight grip on it.

With love and blessings to all,
Linda (Huang) Bigirindavyi

In the Presence of My Enemies...


PREVIOUS UNPOSTED ENTRY...Some time in 2009
"...He restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. my cup overflows." (Psalm 23:3-5)
In times when you are stuck in the "valley" and "death" overlooks you, waiting for an opportunity, God seems so distant, but He's so close you can't get a focus on Him. As I go through daily life, with vultures surrounding me because they smell Jesus on me (vultures thrive on devouring the blood of Christ), I shout His name silently in my heart, "JESUS, HELP ME!" It's in these times when it feels like life has taken a full circle back to where you were in the darkness, but I know its an illusion that the devil has created to make you think you've fallen back into that desolate place of helplessness. I know its not the same - GOD IS WITH ME.

As I paddle through my existence in a foreign land far from all familiarity, far from family, far from comforts, I am not immune to enemy fire. The devil works in universal patterns. He uses what looks safe to entrap you. He uses fellow Christians to stab you not only in the heart, but in the back. He does this because it hurts more when it comes from "family." My only resort is to stand still and pray. If I move, I will trip on his traps. I get on my knees and I shout a silent prayer. I don't want to lay any clues for the enemy. The other tactic of the enemy is to get you to hang yourself in some entanglement.

Lord, I am back on the edge of the precipice, waiting for you. My fellow neighbors of Christ sabotage me out of envy. I do nothing. Just the slight pretension in Christ's name is sacrilege. Oh, Lord, forgive them though they know not what they do. Lord, place a mirror before them and let them see the decay in their visage as deceit and envy, greed and fleshly hungers devour their faces. I'm reminded of the book, The Portrait of Dorian Gray, where the beautiful man of proper countenance and true vanity sees himself decay. Every love of self is like a virus eating away at his flesh. Lord, these Christians need your conviction. Please have mercy upon them.

I feel empty and afraid as they try to steal my livelihood. I grab onto my Lord and His Word like a lifesaver. Lord, I know you are in control. Hear my pain. Protect me from their stabs. Lord, anesthetize my heart that I would not bear the pain of their deceit. Lord, when the afflict me, they afflict you and vice versa. Lord, your living Word stands and I stand before it next to you. Lord, your Grace is sufficient for me! I know who you are and I stick by it, despite the dangers.

"But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.'" (2 Corinthians 12:9a)
"The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged." (Deuteronomy 31:8)
"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." ( John 14:27)