Because He Said So.

6 minutes and 51 seconds. That’s how long it will take you to read this, I ask that you take that time to hear what God commanded me to share.

I’ve started selling things, I’ve quit my job, and it is confirmed that my next destination is Nigeria. These past few months have felt like an absolute blur; an exciting and exhilarating blur, a blur nonetheless. I’m thankful for those of you who have patiently (or impatiently) waited for me to sit down at this computer and SHARE. I didn’t want this blog to be completely focused on my African progress, because its purpose is personal growth through Christ, so I’ll share that and more. Over the years, I’ve seen the sense community on my website grow deeper, and when I move, I’d love for you to move with me. Some of you may already know, via Facebook, but the position I’ve been offered is the Primary School Principal and Assistant Dean of the teacher college. My desire is to go long term, so I need long term partners. I’ve found that when I say “partner” the first thing that comes to mind is money. Yes, money is a part of it, but more than anything, I crave relationships with the people on my TEAM. So far, I have 3 former students committed to $5-$10 a month, and it makes such a big difference on paper and in my heart. I want to be able to share in joyous and not so joyous moments when I’m gone. I’d love a family to return to on furloughs. When God orchestrated this, it was never an image of me collecting cash and dippin’ the country. It was Him using me and my community to push the Gospel forward in service and love. The past 8 years of my life have been devoted to Southwest Louisiana and the lives of the children and families I was entrusted with. Now, God has created an avenue for me to expand beyond Lake Charles, and I’d love your support. If you’d like to partner, please contact me shakiyla.solomon@outlook.com Here are the websites if you feel led to join!

https://donations.rafikifoundation.org/Step1.aspx?varid=241&amt=25 This is the online registration. It asks for “Introductory Information” simply so I can know who you are and send thank you letters out.

https://www.paypal.me/shakiylas This is the Pay Pal account. Some people have asked how I’m doing right now financially, having begun the transition. Some days, I eat Ramen Noodles and thank God. Other days, people unknowingly send me groceries. If you’re interested in helping me as I transition OUT of the states, here’s a good place to start.

This is an image of where I am in monthly donations, verses where I need to be in order to go.

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Now, for the lessons. That’s my cute way of saying, God went upside my head because I didn’t listen. Y’all. WHY DON’T WE LISTEN? I was offered a position at a local Middle School, and when I tell you I was R E A D Y to return to a classroom, I was READY. I prayed about it and felt uneasy. I talked to a few friends and they felt uneasy. The uneasiness wasn’t because I was anxious about teaching, it was because I knew the devotion necessary for a long-term sub position. I know the way God calls me to love students, all students, and I knew that with this quest to Africa, I wouldn’t have the time or resources to be effective. Well, I decided I wouldn’t. I told Mrs. B “God said don’t become a mediocre teacher just because you don’t trust my financial and emotional provision.” In a podcast I was recently on, Tim Talks, Justin reminded me of the man going BACK to bury his dead father after Jesus told Him to move on and follow Him (Matthew 8:22) Not that the students are “the dead” but I’d finished my work in CPSB, and I was supposed to be focusing my heart and devotion on Africa. I was sure that “NO” was the answer. I walked into the Principal’s office. I told her why I couldn’t take the job. I started the next day. Stupid, right? I know. It was like, my flesh wanted to serve as many children as possible while I’m still in Lake Charles, but my Spirit had confirmed that my work here is done. I went home after day one in tears. I walked Aries, and fell asleep on the floor. I woke up at 3am and realized that I’d set up a meeting with a possible partner at 5pm that evening and slept/cried straight through it. You’d think I’d learned my lesson huh? Nah. I went back the next day and when I tell you God got me TOGETHER. Here’s what I learned:

Yes. We are vessels of His truth and love. Yes. He uses us. NO. He does not need us. I’ve had so many people tell me how much CPSB “needs” me, and it makes me pretty uncomfortable. It should, though. If in your service you’re busy throwing “I”, “Me”, and “My” around, I beg you to be cautious.

Dear servants of the Lord “HE DOES NOT NEED YOU!” He chooses to use you, so when He tells you to move, MOVE. I’ve had so many conversations with people making me feel guilty for my obedience to GOD. As crazy as it seems, most of them are believers, so it just reminded me that we are all broken vessels, being refurbished everyday.

Do not, I repeat, do not let the guilt of man drive you to disobedience to your Father.

We are often called to do things that this world can’t quite understand. God may tell you something clear as day, but because your family and friends can’t quite wrap their minds around it, you put it off. You postpone it. You ignore it all together. Stop that. Stop moving with the ways of this broken world and bask in the fact that the God of the universe is giving you direction. He is worthy to be trusted and entrusted with your life. I’ve been stuck on

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; holdfast to what is good. Romans 12:9

It may seem like a stretch, but I’ve decided that anything outside of God’s goodness is evil, and refuse to let it dictate my hope in His will for my life. Every day when I wake up, I want to be purpose driven. My service here is changing, but it will never cease. I’ve just decided that I will be hosting one last “good-bye” fundraiser and as silly as it may seem, if you are reading this, I want you to join me. Some of you live in other states, some other countries, so I’m more than willing to video cast you in. This fundraiser will be community-focused and produced. I will auction off items donated from LOCALLY owned businesses and have LOCAL talent remind us of the beauty that comes out of Louisiana. If you or anyone you know is interested, please email me. I want this to be authentic more than I want it to be “big.” I will give more information on my next post, but in the meantime, and in your life, be consistent. Love so intensely that people don’t know what to do with you. Serve when it hurts. Be influential.

Thank you for reading.

I love you.

Where Did the Auction Come From…?

Markia Stevens

Lately I’ve been asked where the ‘Abraham’s Tent Love Auction’ came from, and I guess I don’t really tell the “backstory” that often… Well, here’s a condensed version:

3 years ago Justin and Emily Martindale had this calling from God to have a fundraiser that would be beneficial to Abraham’s Tent. But different from most other fundraisers in the community, they wanted the main focus to be ‘The Arts’. Life did what it does, and Arty, their absolutely precious son, decided he wasn’t waiting much longer to come smiling into this world. The Martindale’s then asked myself and DeMyron if we would like to take the ideas to Abraham’s Tent and get the voices of the people. So, what we did was take clipboards with us to the Tent and after we played with the children and visited with the people we’d had relationships with, we asked them this, “What does love look like to you?” We took each of their quotes, gave them to local artists and the artists created a piece that was inspired by the quotes we’d gotten. For our VERY first auction, in 2013, we only interviewed children and I must say that it was the most amazing experience of my life. The picture that you’ll see on this post is one of the children that were interviewed; Markia Hicks. Markia is currently an Honor Roll student and is blooming into one of the most unique and loving people I know. She also gives the most marvelous hugs…
Well, we raised over $4,000 and that money went to whatever it was Ms. Pearl needed for the organization. For obvious reasons, we decided to do it again. Except in 2014 the theme was community. Instead of only interviewing children, we made it our obligation to interview people from as many different races, socioeconomic backgrounds, and age groups as possible. The question was, “When you think of a loving community, what does it look like?” We followed the same basic order of events and raised nearly $3,000. That year we auctioned off art, electronics, raffled gift baskets, and had poetry and musical performances. It was so sweet, you guys. We made a significantly smaller amount of money but I have no doubt that God was glorified in the fellowship that spewed out of that building.

In short, the reason this event is so close to my heart is because it started with a push from God to do something that would bring Him glory. There have been a few changes and shifts in ideas but the MAIN purpose still stands, to make God’s name glorified by way of coming together as one and serving one another. This year the theme of the auction is change. Without saying too much, I’m super excited about what’s cookin’.

I hope this small blog gives you a pretty good understanding of what this event stands for and if you’re in the Lake Charles area, I hope even more to see you there.

“They can’t BE what they can’t SEE”

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The title of this blog came from a man I can definitely consider a friend, leader, and brother in Christ. He said it with so much heart that I couldn’t help but carry it away with me in my spirit.

 I was watching a video last night, that’s January 27th, 2014, on the floor in my living. It was an interview between a 19 year old Black male (James Broadned) and an unnamed interviewer. The boy was awaiting trial for two counts of murder and pleaded innocent on both charges. That wasn’t all James had to say though. Throughout the interview, the interviewers asked him an array of questions related to the murder, the people murdered, the deceased’s families, his family, and his emotions toward the situation as a whole. Without completely giving you the dialogue of the interview, I will attempt to show you why I feel it is necessary for us, as a people, to step out into this world as an example eager for change.

When asked what he came there to do during the interview, he simply replied, “I wanna tell yall my story..”

Throughout the interview the reporter had him re-tell the story of the murder, he was more than willing. In one instance the reporter felt it necessary to remind him that he’d killed 2 young men, Broadned laughed, the reported asked him if he had any remorse, he responded with, “do it look like it?” There was one major occurrence in this video that really took my heart and shook it to the core. That’s probably why I decided to write all of this in a blog.

Toward the end of the interview he started cursing the boys he killed, their families, God, and the Devil. The interviewer responded with, “some people may say you are the Devil..” and Broadned responded with, “maybe, look me in my eyes and tell me what you see.” Now, I was more than frustrated with the fact that the interviewer would even fix her mouth to choose those words as a necessary response, but that wasn’t what turned my stomach. That boy really asked her to look into his eyes in search of an evil that I can’t even understand sometimes.

Here’s the beauty of our God. He gave us His Son, who willingly laid His life down as a payment for the sins we committed, right? That’s our Gospel. In that laying down of His life, He became our identity if we would choose to accept Him and pursue such characteristics. So in that interview, when James would have said look me in my eyes, there would have been the confidence of Christ. But he didn’t. He absolutely didn’t. It is so clear to me and the thousands of people commenting on the video that the boy needs help but I’m not sure how many people realize that he is ONE in a MILLION. We can sit up all night and watch videos like this, go to boys’ homes, visit women’s shelters, boycott strip clubs on Bourbon, and give pity faces to the kids that are engulfed in these sorts of situations, but what we need  to do is move our feet. As children of God we are called to go into this world that we should know is dark and be His light. A light is POINTLESS in a place that already shines; this is why it’s so necessary for us to MOVE.

11 “For thus says the Lord God: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out. 12 As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered, so will I seek out my sheep, and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness. 13 And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them into their own land. And I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the ravines, and in all the inhabited places of the country. 14 I will feed them with good pasture, and on the mountain heights of Israel shall be their grazing land. There they shall lie down in good grazing land, and on rich pasture they shall feed on the mountains of Israel. 15 I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I myself will make them lie down, declares the Lord God. 16 I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, and the fat and the strong I will destroy.[a] I will feed them in justice.

Ezekiel 34:11-16

This is our God. He’s the example for believers. A couple of months ago I asked an acquaintance of mine if he could make a point to reach out to a young boy I met a long time ago. The boy has been following in the wrong footsteps and really tampering with a lifestyle I’ve seen and experienced lead to death and lots of heartache. It scared me, so I did what I thought necessary, and called on help. The person I asked apologized for their lack in the past, expressed how busy they’d been, and said they’d try to do better. I didn’t expect an apology, I just wanted help. As far as I know, the boy still hasn’t seen him. They haven’t had contact, and that hurts me more than I realized, especally after watching that video. There is absolutely no bitterness, just a lack of understanding. I get that we have our own lives, and I understand that sometimes we get busy, hell I understand that some people reading this may be thinking ‘THAT BOY IS NOT OUR RESPONSIBILITY’…but it’s not responsibility that should drive ANY of our work for the Kingdom, it’s love. I’m learning that more and more everyday.  No matter how busy or pre-occupied with life we get, we need to sit down and remember that

“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”

Colossians 3:1-3

this reminds us that our lives are HIDDEN in Christ. Synonyms for hidden include, UNSEEN, KEPT OUT OF SIGHT, & CONCEALED. This means that our lives are absolutely, positively, NO LONGER our lives. Our lives are lives granted us to go out into this world that has been DEEMED defeated and show the beautiful light we thank Him for every time we open our sinful mouths to sing

“Then sings my soul, my Savior God to thee, how great Thou art, how great Thou art”

Oh my goodness you guys. We have to share His love. I’m not saying we can save every boy from the death penalty, every girl from street corners, every kid from drugs, every anybody from anything really, I’m simply saying we need to stop saying “I’ll try to do better” and just DO. These kids can’t be what they don’t see, and man we can show them something really special, I just know we can.

I’m totally open to hear feedback, criticism, encouragement, suggestions. Anything really, I’m open to anything.

I’m gonna go pray now. My goodness I hope you do too.