23 Days
July 14th, 2011 by Kirk Norman

I know this blog says the Author is Kirk Norman, but this isn’t Kirk. This is Laura Alfonzo, and I’m filling in this week while he and his wife, Elizabeth, work with six of our New Wine youth on a mission project in Ringwood, Oklahoma. Just 23 short days ago this outreach was nothing more than a desire planted in the heart of my cousin, Devera. Today God has taken her desire expressed to me in a passing email, and turned it into something none of us could have ever imagined. But then that’s what God does.

My Aunt Pat has lived in Ringwood most of her life, and with my uncle they raised three children and farmed the land their small farmhouse sits on today. Because of life’s circumstances, she and her children have been unable to adequately care for the property since my Uncle Chalk died several years ago. The repairs and needs had become overwhelming. When my cousin shared with me her desire to organize an effort to help our aunt I wondered if this might be the much prayed-for project for which Uncorked Youth had been searching. As it turned out, it was. Since that morning when I opened Devera’s email, God has set in motion what Kirk affectionately calls a “God twister” and we have had the joy and blessing of sitting in the eye of the whirlwind as He has orchestrated every detail. In 23 days we organized a trip, made arrangements for accommodations, developed a plan of attack, and then the generous love gifts of food, meals, money, materials, Gatorade, water, ice, and precious prayers have poured in, bathing our efforts and giving us motivation and determination to see the project to the end.

I had the opportunity to work with our youth all day on Monday of this week. I must admit to you, when we drove up to the house early that morning, inside I had twinges of doubt that our little rag tag group, though pumped and excited, would be big or strong enough to accomplish the vast needs that stood before us. (I don’t know why I so often forget that in our weakness God always makes up the difference and more!) Within just a few hours, it became abundantly clear our efforts were being multiplied by a God who had planned this mission long before 23 days ago, and could do abundantly more through us than we could ever ask or imagine. And trust me, we had asked and imagined a lot! I left that evening so inspired by our kids, and though their young bodies were tired and heat-worn, their sweet spirits were strong and encouraged because they knew they were being used by a mighty God to change the lives of those they were serving. What a glorious lesson and reminder, for them, and for me!

I’m happy to give a full report to you of what our group, with God’s help, has accomplished over the past 4 days: trees have been trimmed and overgrowth removed from around the house in preparation for a new roof which will be completed later in the summer through the gifts/efforts of the Ringwood churches; two porches/steps rebuilt and made strong and safe; a hand rail added to the ramp on the front porch to make it easier for my aunt to navigate in and out of the house; soffit and fascia wood repaired/replaced/painted around entire house; window screens and frames scraped and painted; flower beds weeded and mulched; siding patched and caulked; weed-eating around entire property; decorative fence reinforced; storm cellar door repaired; patio cleaned and swept; beautiful flowers planted in flower pots; and I’m sure a dozen more loving tasks I just don’t know about.

But I think the biggest miracle in this week’s “God tornado” has to be the impact of His unconditional, sacrificial, humble, and grace-filled love on a family who had lost hope, become bitter, and let the disappointments of life wear them down. Kirk, Elizabeth, Tim, Sidney, Joshaua, Kirsten, Emily, Alex, and the other adults who trekked to Ringwood throughout the week to lend their help and support, let that love shine, and in so doing reminded a disheartened and discouraged family that God still loves them and heard their cries for help. I’m reminded of Paul’s words to Philemon, “Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of God’s people.” (Phil. 1:7) I too have been touched and changed once again by that refreshment.

Have you lost hope? Do you ever feel God has quit listening? Do you ever feel like you’re by yourself and begin doubting your ability to manage life and hear God’s voice clearly? I know I do! I often wonder why God isn’t doing something to make my life easier and lose faith that circumstances could ever change for the better. It’s in those moments I believe God gives us glimpses of hope and joy by showing us how He uses others to refresh the lives of people like Aunt Pat. Instead of giving in to the whispers of worry, let’s listen to God’s promises for peace: “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7, NLT). Be encouraged today and have hope… He is always at work.

View pictures of the work on Uncorked Youth’s Facebook Page.

3 Responses  
  • Jan Helsel writes:
    July 28th, 2011 at 3:29 pm

    I was on the New Wine site this morning and came across your comment about HOPE ! I lose my keys once in awhile, also, but you know what? I ALWAYS find them again, and that is the ‘key’! to always find them!! “My hope is built on nothing less….”
    Thank you for this reminder !!

  • FRANK writes:
    July 21st, 2011 at 11:20 pm

    Laura, I didn’t mention this to you. But, what
    a great job on this message. Hope is like a set of keys. Always there when you don’t need them
    and suddenly when you need transportation right
    now, they’re no where to be found. I lose my
    keys a lot.

    Love you

  • Regina writes:
    July 15th, 2011 at 1:28 am

    Thanks be to God! Thank you Laura

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