No pastor is perfect.

No church is perfect.

I’m not here to bash churches and I’m not here to exalt pastors.

I’m here to get real with you about why God called a very sinful woman (me) who ran for years from the institutionalized church, to found an organization which trains pastors and churches.

I used to be a daughter of the church.

Dad would drive us in our old mini van, the one with the shattered window and cardboard taped across, and we’d arrive early to set up and we’d sit in the front row in the dresses Mum had sewn for us, and we’d learn the Good News from the same man who taught us how to play piano and how to ride a bike.

I used to listen with half an ear to my Dad’s message because the other half was listening to the gossip being whispered in the pews behind me, and to the news on the radio about all of the sadness in the world which none of us was doing anything about.

I used to blame the church for the hypocrisy I heard and saw. I used to blame my Dad. I was little and would scrunch up my eyes so tight when I prayed trying so hard to picture God, desperate to know Him when shouldn’t I have been able to see Him every Sunday in the people in the pews?

But I was naive. I had yet to learn that one of the most beautiful parts of redemption is that it’s impossible to redeem something that isn’t broken.

This brokenness led me through years of anorexia. I was starving for love and couldn’t find it in the cold-hearted Sunday morning ritual and I was still scrunching my eyes trying to see God.

But then I came home to care for my Mum who had brain cancer and my Dad, he’d switched churches by then and was meeting with the most humble, kindest people I’d ever met in a school gymnasium and he stood up there Sunday morning, exhausted from caring for his deathly ill wife, and he spoke the same message–the same, unfailing message that he’d spoken when his wife wasn’t ill. His faith hadn’t wavered.

He stood up there and he proclaimed a God who cared, a God who provided, a God who loved, even while his own wife sat slumped over in her wheelchair in the front row, drool at the corner of her mouth, wearing a diaper and unable to form a sentence.

And finally I saw Jesus.

In the crinkled corners of my Dad’s eyes, behind his smudged glasses, I saw the Son of God.

And today, I have the privilege of seeing Him behind the pulpits of many churches in eastern and western Africa.

This is not to deify pastors. They are human. They are not perfect. They are NOT God. And many in fact are hypocritical. But then there are those who are pure-hearted, humble servants who desperately long to help the world and can’t even help their own families.

There are those who, like The Lulu Tree’s Pastor Grace Soka, stand up before their congregation and preach about a God who provides, a God who cares, a God who loves, even while his own children sit before him unable to go to school and having eaten nothing since the night before. Children who sleep, three to a mat, on the hard dirt floor.

We live in an age of ambiguity but the Word of God still stands. It still prevails, in the raggedy holes of Pastor Soka’s shirt, in the shoeless feet of his children, in the crinkled corners of the jajjas’ mouths who sing Hallelujah through the service.

I used to be a daughter of the church.

Now I’m the daughter of the King, of the Alpha and the Omega, of the Great I Am, who uses the broken church to bring His people into His throne room.

Will you help me?

Will you help me help these men, help their communities? Will you stand with them until they can stand on their own? Partner with a pastor today and it will not only bring credibility to the church in  the poorest parts of Africa, but to the message that God DOES care, God DOES provide, God DOES love.

From one broken human being to another… thank you.

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Partner HERE in honor of your own Dad or husband this Father’s Day, and we’ll send you a handmade gift from our Lulu mamas as a thank-you… click the image above to learn more or contact stephanie@thelulutree.com. To learn more about our commitment to sending 100% of the donations overseas, please go HERE.

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