“Put this in your purse.” My husband thrust a sippy cup my way. “And this,” he tossed me a bib. As I dug and rearranged my wallet, my business card case, a few peppermints, some lip gloss, forty-eleven coupons, a tube of hand cream, a pack of tissues, and my pressed powder compact to fit the cup, he says, “We should probably take these.”
I raised my head to see a couple of diapers and a wipes box staring me in the face…
We are the same age – only I’m not in jail.
Asia Bibi is a 37-year-old Christian living in Pakistan. Like me, she loves the Lord and can’t help sharing His goodness. At the farm where Asia works, the other local women are Muslim. All of them.
On June 19, 2009 the discussion around the farm became heated. The Muslim women told Asia about Islam and Mohammad. Asia waited for her turn and told them about Christ. She shared how Jesus died on a cross for our sins, then asked what Mohammad had done for them.
“Jesus is alive,” she shared, “and Mohammad is dead.” The women were angered and began to beat Asia, until some men came and locked her in a room. Soon, they announced from the mosque’s loudspeakers that Asia would have her eyes blackened, so they could parade her through town on a donkey.
Before they could do any more harm, other Christians intervened and begged the police to save Asia. They took her into custody, but under the pressure from Muslim leaders, could not release her to her family.
Asia, like Paul and Silas, sits in her jail cell and prays. She hasn’t seen her children since December 2010. I cannot even imagine the heartbreak of being away from my babies so long.
Friends, this isn’t a story from ancient Bible times. This young woman is imprisoned today – in 2011. When we drive to church in air conditioned cars and sit on cushiony seats and spend an hour clapping and singing, it’s hard to imagine others don’t have that privilege. They can’t exclaim, “Praise the Lord,” in Wal-mart when they find the jelly they’ve been hunting.
Please be in prayer for Asia and her family. She is one of many.
Her story and others like it can be found on the website www.prisoneralert.com. Each of the prisoners on this website have been imprisoned for their faith. Sign up for their email to remind you to pray for these prisoners. You can also send encouraging letters to Asia and other prisoners. The site helps translate the letter in the native tongue of the incarcerated.
Want to be a sheep?
When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Matthew 25:39-40 NIV
From time to time, I like to share people and books with you that I think you’ll enjoy. This is one such occasion.
I’d like to introduce you to a sweet woman of God I met at the Glorieta Christian Writer’s Conference several years ago. Her name is Pamela Sonnenmoser, and she has a newly released book out called Praise & Paraphrase. Here is a little interview to help you get to know Pamela a little more.
PAMELA SONNENMOSER, AUTHOR OF PRAISE & PARAPHRASE
Tell us a little about your background and how you got into the ministry.
“My parents were evangelists and from the time I was a little girl, I thought I wanted to go into some kind of ministry. As I grew up, dreams of reaching people for God took a back seat to reaching for happiness and peace in everything the world had to offer. For six years I wondered in the wilderness of worldly pleasure. When I finally came back to the Lord, I thought he would never be able to use me because I had done too many horrible things. In 1996 God spoke to my heart in such a way that I knew He wanted me to surrender that prideful thinking and submit to His calling on my life. I finally realized it didn’t matter what I’d done before. It only mattered that I gave my life completely to the Lord.”
What was your inspiration for Praise & Paraphrase?
“I have always loved object lessons. I think having parents in ministry helped me to find examples of God’s truth in things we see every day. It seems like no matter what I am doing, the Lord uses the normal things in my life to show me what He is trying to teach me. When I speak, I use a lot of these stories and object lessons. People kept asking me to repeat the stories, so I decided to make them into devotionals. Eventually, Praise & Paraphrase was born.”
What new lessons is the Lord teaching you right now?
“Every day there are new lessons, just like every day there are new mercies. Right now I feel like the Lord is really teaching me what it means to be fully consecrated to Him. I mean, more than committed, more than surrendered, and not just saying we are His, but living that out every moment of every day.”
Now that Praise & Paraphrase is out in bookstores, do you have any projects that you’re currently working on?
“It seems like I am always working on something new. I love it. Right now I am excited about the release of Pamela’s Healthy Pantry at the beginning of March; but this summer the book that is closest to my heart is being released by Beacon Hill. It’s called Beside the Empty Cradle. It’s such a personal book for me, because it’s our story of battling with infertility and the process to becoming content with God’s plan for our lives, even when it wasn’t our plan.”
God is really moving in both areas of your ministry (speaking and writing) – what projects do you have on the horizon?
“It seems like there is always something new going on. God is really opening doors for the speaking ministry right now, and I am working on two more book projects this year. More than anything, projects that I say yes to have to line up with what God is speaking into my life. I love to do a lot of different things, so I am sometimes too willing to say yes, ahead of listening for God’s direction. I used to try to plan the next thing before the current projects were even half finished. I don’t do that anymore. There are a few things I am praying about right now, but until God says, ‘Go,’ I am finishing the current stuff and speaking around the country as He provides opportunities.”
When you’re not speaking and writing, what are you doing?
“I enjoy doing so many things, my favorite way to spend down time in the summertime is with my husband, John, on our boat in the Missouri, River. I am also blessed to have amazing, godly girlfriends in my life, and I love spending time with them. It’s always fun to find things we can do together that might be encouragement, support or help to someone else.”
Where can readers find your book?
“Praise & Paraphrase can be ordered directly from me at www.freshcupministries.com or on Amazon, and from your local bookstores.”
Please share an excerpt from Praise & Paraphrase.
All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.- Hebrews 12:11
I love baked potatoes. Not nuked potatoes, but baked in the oven at 350 degrees, for an hour – BAKED potatoes. If you only bake them for 10 minutes they will still be hard. The potato cannot yield to the heat of the oven in just a few minutes. It needs the full baking time to be perfectly done – crispy skin, fluffy on the inside.
Sometimes as Christians we don’t want to stay in the heat very long. We want God to perfect our faith with a microwave instead of the fire. But there is something different about a Christian that tries to take a short cut around the fire. Just like those microwaved potatoes aren’t the same as a REAL baked potato.
What I really love is a great twice-baked potato. To be twice baked the potato spends an hour in the heat, then it is taken out, cut open, its insides are scraped out and crushed. Good things are added to it and finally everything is put back into the shell. That potato has to go back into the oven at that point; back into the heat. Finally it is perfected and ready to serve.
I want to be like a twice-baked potato; perfected by the process God requires, having all of myself removed and having the extra things that come from the Holy Spirit added. I want to be yielded by His refining fire again and again. I long to be ready to serve the glory of God.
Thanks, Pamela! Friends, you have a chance to win a copy of the book over at Pamela’s blog. Visit Fresh Cup Ministries to find out how to enter. I’m definitely looking forward to getting the book and reading more!
Three minutes and thirty seconds. That was it.
You might be more understanding if this story started with a number like three hours or even thirty minutes, but no. Three minutes and thirty seconds was all I had to wait…