Tag Archives: Polish

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

Fresh Green from Scorched Earth

‘He will be like a refiner’s fire…then the Lord will have a people who bring offerings in righteousness.’ (Mal. 3:2, 3)

I had seen the vision months before: a blackened field, still smoking. A prophetic woman who knew nothing of the burning of many precious relationships due to my Catholic commitment in 2011 painted the picture. Before the vision, I felt alone in my suffering. When she gave it, I began to see God’s sovereign will in these losses. He was refining me for a new season. I thought of what John the Baptist said about Christ: ‘He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire, and will burn up the waste with unquenchable fire’ (Matt. 3:11, 12).

What emerges from the fire became apparent during our first Living Waters training in Poland last week. After several visits to this most Catholic country (perhaps the most devout in all of Europe), and in solidarity with beloved Living Waters Directors in Lithuania (Vilma Kaveline) and France (Werner Loerschter), Abbey Foard, Ann Armstrong and myself helped launch the most strategic advance I have ever witnessed in a nation intent on releasing Living Waters.

What set this training apart? Might it have been the 15-member worship team whose voices combined to break strongholds of unbelief and despair every time we gathered? Was it the humble, smart team of Polish small group leaders who served each member with compassion and spiritual acuity? Was it the 8 Polish Catholic priests who joined our leadership team and who modeled how to exercise spiritual authority through one’s vulnerable humanity? For the first time, I realized that a priest could inspire growth in chastity through personal disclosure (instead of doctrinal reminders). We know the truth; living the truth is where we all stumble, priests included.

Perhaps the leadership of Father Joseph had most to do with this advance. He is well-respected throughout the nation and constructed a wise strategy from the start by building groups in key cities and tending well to their leadership teams. He works cooperatively with bishops to ensure that every group is wanted and protected. A local priest sits on each team. Understandably, interest in our training was high. We convinced Father Joseph to limit attendees to 100 and registration was full and processed three months ago. For us, a minor miracle.

Actually, the power and cohesion of the Catholic Church in Poland is the miracle. Poland’s resilience throughout her turbulent history is anchored in the Church, who has been both fighting father and nurturing mother for Polish dignity. The nation ceased to exist for one hundred years as three empires divided and conquered her; the bloodbath of the first World War granted her national independence, which was shattered in World War 2 as both Russia and Germany leveled her then subjected her to communist rule. The Church unified and inspired her during those darks decades. Now Poland emerges as the jewel of Eastern Europe, for which most citizens give God the glory. Is Jesus, through Poland, the hope of Europe?

A scorched land, out of which hope grows green. The first night of the training, God reminded me of the blackened field I saw months back. Only this time I saw rows of saplings emerging from the ground. Well-tended by group and priest, each Living Waters member represents a young tree. What a privilege to partner with Father Joseph and friends in displaying Jesus’ splendor. May we increase the fruitfulness of His Church. May we become trustworthy witnesses of Jesus for a new generation of Europeans.

‘Open your eyes and look at the fields; they are ripe for harvest.’ (JN 4:35)

Please join us in San Diego on June 16th and 17th for the sixth annual RHN Hope 2017 Conference as hundreds gather to celebrate how Jesus has set them free from gender identity distortions. Preview with us the first full-length documentary film ever made–Tranzfomed–on how Jesus restores the transgendered. Register here today!

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Divine Mercy

Mercy is God’s ache for His children: a stream of unfailing love flowing from His heart towards ours. Through mercy, He woos us and invites us to exchange lesser loves for a double portion of His compassion.

The Greek word for mercy—‘eleos’—means ‘oil poured out’: Jesus’ life crushed like olives in order to become the antidote to our brokenness. That ‘ache’ of love is better conveyed by the Latin word for mercy–‘misericorde.’ ‘Miseri’ conveys the deep pity God feels toward us in His very depths, or ‘cor,’ which means ‘heart.’ From the core of His being, God aches with compassion for the sinful brokenness and salvation of His people.

St. Faustina Kowalska assumed Jesus’ ache for souls. Sensitive to human suffering from her birth in 1905, she began life as a peasant in a small Polish village. Early on she received God’s call to the religious life. Entering a convent at 18-years-old, she was an unspectacular nun; she dutifully fulfilled the mundane tasks expected of her and initially showed few signs of a rich mystical life. Yet she strove quietly to unite fully with the merciful God and to cooperate with Jesus in saving many souls through His mercy.

Jesus spoke to her continuously of His mercy. In the last four years of her life (she died at 33), she recorded the fruit of her mystical union with Him in a diary entitled ‘Divine Mercy in My Soul.’ This excerpt conveys well the goal of her short life: ‘Make known to souls the great mercy I [Jesus] have for them and exhort them to trust in the bottomless depth of My mercy.’

At the heart of her devotion to merciful Jesus and His children was a vision (see image) she received of ‘Divine Mercy’ in the form of the Lord Jesus clothed in a white garment. One of His hands was raised in a gesture of blessing, the other touched the garment at His heart. From His heart emanated two large rays: one red (blood), the other pale (water). That healing flood conveys beautifully Christ Crucified (JN 19: 34) when the pierced Jesus released a flood of blood and water as a healing flood; the vision equally conveys the Risen Christ when He appeared to His disciples in the Upper Room (JN 20:19) and initiated the forgiveness of sins as the first fruit of Resurrection.

St. Faustina conveyed her vision meticulously to an artist who painted what she saw. That image adorns churches and homes around the world; it expresses simply God’s tender and powerful mercies for us. Under that image, Jesus instructed her to write: ‘Jesus, I trust in You.’

That image and those simple 5 words sustained me in during my conversion to the Roman Catholic faith. I had no idea that my shift from evangelical healer/leader to the RCC would provoke so much division between loved ones and myself. A friend sent me the Divine Mercy image and I hung it in my room. As friends and colleagues fell away, I would gaze at peaceful Jesus, pouring out His life for me, and quietly repeat: ‘Jesus, I trust in You…’ I had nowhere else to go. Sleep came only as I entrusted my burdens to Him. His mercy stilled my broken heart and slowly restored it.

My good friend Michael taught me to pray the Divine Mercy chaplet, a particular prayer God gave St. Faustina. It contains beautiful lines like: ‘You died Jesus, but the source of life gushed forth for souls and an ocean of mercy opened up for the whole world. O Fount of Life, unfathomable Divine Mercy, envelop the whole world and empty Yourself out upon us…O Blood and Water, which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus as a fountain of Mercy for us, I trust in You!’ The most repeated line is ‘For the sake of His sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.’ When the DSM staff prays the chaplet, we substitute the word ‘us’ for particular ones bound to sexual sin who don’t yet realize how much they need His mercy!

St. Faustina initiated Divine Mercy Sunday, which is honored in the global church one week after Easter Sunday. Not a bad legacy for an uneducated peasant girl! There all sinners are invited to partake of Divine Mercy through confession and refreshed devotion to Jesus. On my first such Sunday, I wept nonstop as I considered the tearing of His heart for our broken Church and an even more broken world. No wonder Faustina was canonized by JPll in 2000, the first saint of the 3rd millennium. We need her message of mercy more than ever.

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