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Hope Against Hope

Day 18: Hope Against Hope

In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.” He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. Romans 4:18-21


I spent the weekend with my daughter who exhibited an unusual calmness before such a big event. You see, in a few days, she will interview for one of the limited spots available at a notable institution. Thousands will wait in mind-numbing agony worrying whether or not they will be accepted, but my child will rest easy. It’s not because she’s better than the mass of applicants. By invitation, the university invited her to a preliminary interview before she began college three years ago, and this institution promised to reserve her place if selected and if she fulfilled certain requirements through the program. At the right time, she would automatically take possession of one of the coveted spots. This week’s interview is more of a formality. While everyone else will be sweating bullets because of the high stakes, my girl sits cool and collected. As I spent time with her this weekend basking in her tranquility, she painted a living breathing picture for me of what hoping against hope should look like.

Let’s face it. The phrase, “in hope he believed against hope,” can seem confusing. What did Paul mean exactly? How can a person hope against hope? Isn’t that a contradiction? When I come across conundrums like this, it causes me to look deeper to make connections, like this one with my daughter.

Paul uses language to communicate that Abraham’s situation extended beyond what a person would hope for naturally. Abraham had to look beyond that limited vision and extend his hope for what could not be attained outside of what God had promised previously. In spite of his reality, in hope (in God who was faithful to do what He promised) Abraham believed against the natural hope most people would normally demonstrate, (becoming weary and most likely giving up).

What About You and Me?

What does this look like with you and me today? I think it looks a lot like what my daughter is experiencing. She knows the promises made to her by the interviewing institution. The spot is hers, except that it isn’t. She is still hoping for it. It is not yet in her possession. But that present reality does not impact her trust in the institution or her level of anxiety. When the timing is right, she fully believes that the position will be obtained. Therefore, she does not lose heart, weaken, or waver.

In what situation do you need to possess this hope against hope?

May you not lose heart.

I pray your spirit is refreshed, and that you do not waver.



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House of Hope

Day 17: House of Hope

But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted; you consider their grief and take it in hand. The victims commit themselves to you; you are the helper of the fatherless. Psalm 10:14

House of Hope

When Houston and all the surrounding areas faced unprecedented flooding from Hurricane Harvey two years ago, many organizations streamed resources toward the areas to help those impacted. These are our people and Houston our home. Cooperating with Eight Days of Hope, an evangelical disaster relief organization, we helped families dig out from under the destruction and begin putting their lives back together.

As a family, we helped by removing moldy sheetrock, clearing debris, using power tools, and assisting with anything else needed. But my favorite part was talking with the homeowners. I met real people who were hurting. They felt hopeless and exhausted. Few could bear the enormous sums required to rebuild a home without insurance assistance. After the water receded, most homes appeared fine on the outside. Inside revealed a bleaker reality. Most walls stood gutted to the studs and up five feet.

Imagine the comfort and the hope these people felt when a crew showed up with the resources, labor, and even meals to do what they could not do for themselves. It was as if they were given a house of hope.

Bete Hosanna: House of Hope

I felt a similar response from the girls living at Bete Hosanna. That’s the house envisioned by our Ethiopian Nehemiah, now serving as AWAA’s transition home for girls. The contrast between where these girls spend most of their formative years and this home is night and day. Not only are there differences in terms of resources, safety, and opportunity, but Bete Hosanna provides a home environment, not just a physical structure. It is here where girls who have aged out of the state system receive job training, skills for living, and are taught what it means to follow Jesus by people who genuinely care about them.

But Bete Hosanna is more than these tangible factors. For the first time in their lives, each young woman is experiencing a new beginning. Healing is taking place. It’s a living example of God seeing the trouble of the afflicted; considering their grief and taking it in hand. For girls living at Bete Hosanna, which means “House of Hope,” real life-giving Hope is being awakened. You can literally see it on their faces and hear it in their voices. It’s a beautiful and necessary work that makes me so thankful for the vision AWAA had to stay when others did not.

How You Can Be Involved

If you have not been a part of how America World is caring for orphans around the world, please consider getting involved. Long to see for yourself. Plead for this. Get your own knees hugged to death by a herd of toddlers starved for love and affection. Consider getting your hands dirty to be a part of how God is meeting the needs of the afflicted and the fatherless until a way is made to place the lonely in families.

And for those of you who have been doing this relentlessly, thank you. Because of your efforts, hope is awakening in dark places. We are so grateful.

Together let’s pray for this House of Hope in Addis Abba. The possibility is open for a second house for more girls. Additional resources are needed. Let’s join in asking God to provide these.

And if you are willing, ask God how He might have you be involved in caring for the orphan in cooperation with AWAA.



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Ask for the Moon

Day 16: Ask for the Moon

Then the king said to me, “What are you requesting?” So I prayed to the God of heaven. And I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor in your sight, that you send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers’ graves, that I may rebuild it.” Nehemiah 2:4-6

Ask for the Moon

Nehemiah might as well have asked for the moon when he petitioned the king and queen to rebuild Jerusalem’s walls. Who was he kidding? He’s just a captive. He possessed no ability to govern, build, travel with all the necessary supplies, or order people around. What kind of idiot did he take the king to be?

No. He didn’t worry about all that. All Nehemiah thought about was the taste of chocolate (per se) and the vision God had given. Was it outlandish? Oh yeah! Did he possess the qualifications or anything else necessary for the task? No. But the king had the power to grant everything required. And this unqualified cupbearer was prayed up hoping to see God move as only He could. And see it, he did.

We are just as hopeful about a situation in Ethiopia right now. In case you are unaware, international adoption is closed in that country. Private orphanages have been forced to shut their doors. To date, most agencies and service providers have exited the area. There are now very few caring for the millions of orphans still within the country. It’s a dire situation that is landing young women on the streets, without hope.

But God has been working, awakening hope.

In the heart of Addis Abba lives a modern-day Nehemiah. Amazingly she is perfectly educated, politically positioned, and relationally gifted to do what no one else could. Bete Hosana or House of Hope, AWAA’s transition home for girls, emanated from the dreams and efforts of this woman. It is here that lives are transformed and hope is truly awakened. But before I tell you about that, I need you to know about one critical moment in our journey. It was a crucial twenty-minute meeting like the exchange this cupbearer experienced with the King and Queen of Persia.

A few from our team sat around a table while Joe Wilson, the Chief Development Officer of America World, and our modern-day “Nehemiah” spoke as boldly to a high official as we know the cupbearer spoke to King Artexerxes. They did not hesitate in being outlandish. Oh yes. They asked for the moon as well, before this very important statesman. I watched in amazement as He listened intently, taking notes and making immediate phone calls. Only God could orchestrate such details and open these doors.

Unlike Nehemiah’s unfolding, we don’t yet know how this situation will turn out. We are sort of in the middle of the narrative, waiting and praying with hopeful anticipation. Would you join us in asking for the moon?

I realize it sounds like an outlandish request, but would you join us in praying for the officials in Ethiopia to re-open international adoption?

Could you pray for protection over the hundreds of children who are still in facilities?

Would you pray for God to provide the necessary resources for awakening hope in the lives He is leading AWAA to impact?

And if there is anything in your own life that requires an outlandish request, don’t hesitate to take it before the Lord.



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cheri strange speaker author she yearns

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Atypical Pleading

Day 15: Atypical Pleading

As soon as I heard these words I sat down and wept and mourned for days, and I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven. And I said, “O LORD God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open, to hear the prayer of your servant that I now pray before you day and night for the people of Israel your servants, Nehemiah 1:4-6

Atypical Pleading

The first time my twin boys from Ethiopia were introduced to s’mores they were attending a father-son camp with my husband, Chad. Apparently, around this amazing campfire, the brothers argued with my spouse, and insisted in broken English they did not like s’mores. They put up quite the resistance until Chad described the ingredients: chocolate, marshmallows, and graham crackers. “Oh! I like chocolate!” My boys knew little English at this point, but they were very familiar with the taste of chocolate.

Nehemiah had clearly tasted of the goodness of God. You can almost hear it in the language of the text. His approach to prayer is atypical. We don’t know how, when, or what provided the Hope, but Nehemiah knew enough to believe he could plead with God because He was able and trustworthy.

Consider your own situation

Think about what you might have set on the shelf, or pushed to the back of your mind as insanity or just too impossible for God to change. When was the last time you prayed in an atypical pleading like Nehemiah?

I sat down and wept and mourned and continued fasting and praying. Declaring God’s character — asking him to be attentive — “

Have you done that? Or have you just toyed with the possibilities and dismissed them as crazy. Maybe you have assumed that God is unable and unmoved. Or it’s possible you are secretly thinking He will not be faithful to you.

Maybe there is something to the heart and actions of Nehemiah. Are you THAT serious? Do you really want God to act?

Could it be some atypical pleading is in order?

We don’t have any biblical evidence that up to this point Nehemiah had seen God move in any real or miraculous instances. In so many ways, Nehemiah could be like you and me. Oh, he’s tasted. But I’m not sure he’s yet seen. Instead, he’s just praying like crazy and fasting.

The previous tasting of God’s character, considering what He had done in the past, and hoping toward what He promised in the future–impacted Nehemiah’s own satisfaction in God. This atypical pleading for what he could not yet see also shaped his expectations of how God might lead him to participate.

What About You?

Would you do the same today?

What if God’s character and His ways became as familiar and pleasurable as the taste of chocolate on our taste buds?

Suppose we allowed this delight to impact our participation in His plan?



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cheri strange speaker author she yearns

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Longing to See

Day 14: Longing to See

A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet. On Shigionoth.

O LORD, I have heard of your fame,
I stand in awe of your deeds, Lord.
Repeat them in our day,
in our time make them known;
in wrath remember mercy. Habakkuk 3:1-2

Longing to see

Last summer my daughter, Sophia, and I traveled to Ethiopia with a small team from America World. It was the first time she and I had been back since her adoption eight years ago. In the span of those years, international adoption has halted and most private organizations specializing in orphan care have shut down operations and exited the country. AWAA has chosen to downsize, remain present inside the country, and continue serving those in need.

Just because the rules changed doesn’t mean the orphan crisis has resolved. Children continue on without families or any hope by alarming numbers. And because you can’t know what you don’t know, the two of us went.

longing to see

The focus of our visit was two large facilities for girls, from birth to eighteen. We held babies. Toddlers swarmed me at the kneecap for hugs. In fact, one little cutie continued to circle around again and again. They braided our hair and fell in love with my Sophia. I quickly made friends with a hoard of teenagers. I was there, and I cared. But you need to know, this is nothing short of a dire situation. The heart of America Word is longing to see God move here.

longing to see

God’s People Long to See

Not only was Nehemiah longing to see the same in his day, but we find Habakkuk sharing the same hearts cry. Things in Jerusalem were not going well. Doom and destruction were clambering at the gates. He knew his history lessons and Bible trivia. Jehovah was known to be a God of miracles. He was the God who saves His people and listens to their cries for help.

Habakkuk was longing to see God step in and act. He was calling for a revival of Divine work because, even though he had not seen it, personally, this man had tasted of God’s goodness, His mercy, and His ability to fulfill promises.

So, he does what you and I should do in our own situations. Look again at the opening verse, but this time in the Amplified Version.

A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet, set to wild, enthusiastic, and triumphal music.

This desperate prayer is an ode planned to wild, enthusiastic, and triumphal music. That tells me, even though Habakkuk has not experienced anything yet, he’s giving God the benefit of the doubt. This man has set the tone for believing God for what he cannot see.

What about you?

Are you longing to see God move in a situation personally?

What would it look like for you to set a triumphant tone to your prayers today?



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cheri strange speaker author she yearns

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