Atlanta Bound


Sometimes, remarkable things happen in life where God speaks with such a quiet voice that we need to be alert or we will miss that it is He who has directed. Sometimes, these situations are more like guidance. Let me share an example that recently happened to me.

I had been involved in jail ministry for close to 4 years and was sensing my time there was coming to a close at least for a season. Abruptly, one Sunday, I knew I was done and felt the Lord had a new direction He was about to take me. Within a few weeks, a friend from Florida, Aly, who is president and CEO of Prayer Sisters International called me. She had recently returned from Africa where she had been asked to speak at a conference. “Betsy, I met some amazing women in Kenya who have been praying for someone to teach them the Bible. Would you be interested?” She went on, “While these women are leaders in their churches, they need someone to teach them.”

“I’ll pray about it,” I said. “That sounds right up my alley.” I love spiritual adventures and this definitely sounded intriguing. Two of the women, Josephine and Salome, are pastors along with their husbands, and the third lady, Grace, along with her husband, had started a Christian school with over 800 students. Two of the ladies are conference speakers with rigorous schedules. Wow! I felt humbled that God wanted to entrust such spiritual women to me for ministry in the Word. Of course, I said, “Yes.” So, each week I email them a lesson and then meet individually with them to study the book of Colossians. Our time together is sweet and God’s presence is evident.

But that’s not the end of the story. In conversation with Grace, she mentioned to me that her son lives in Atlanta, here in America. Until recently, he had been working with the Dream Center of Atlanta, a non-profit that reaches out to the homeless, addicts, at risk children, and trafficked women. “How, interesting,” I exclaimed. “It just ‘happens’ that I’ll be in Atlanta in early December. Our women’s ministry leader, Carolyn, is taking a team of us to work at Samaritan’s Purse processing center for the children’s Christmas shoebox ministry. I would love to meet your son.”

With that, Grace gave me her son’s contact information which I immediately followed up on. Carolyn and her team are always looking for new missions projects. Arrangements were made and we had an amazing time with the Dream Center staff. Carolyn felt it was an anointed time and her team, upon arriving home, immediately began forming a plan of how we can reach out in our community.

I tell of these events because this is how God often works. He is all about people and loves networking. God was at work when He spoke to me to teach the Kenyan women. It wasn’t a loud voice I heard. It was more of a knowing. Something in my heart felt a passion to do this. Nor was it a loud voice that said go work at Samaritan’s Purse in Atlanta for a week. It was an inner desire to help with that ministry. And it wasn’t a coincidence that a connection from Africa to Atlanta landed us at the Dream Center. God was moving all the pieces into place. Sometimes, His guidance doesn’t require a “voice” but rather a confidence of heart. Proverbs 16:9 “The mind of man plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.”


A Prayer of Faith

During my first six months in Israel I lived in a house on the Mount of Olives owned by our family friend, the Keeper of the Garden Tomb. Sadly he had been killed in the Six Day War, fought just four months before I arrived in Jerusalem.

Every morning I would wake up and open the shutters of my large window, for a straight-on view of the Mosque of Omar.  It was like a dream—hard to believe I was here…on the Mount of Olives—a few yards away from where Yeshua will stand when He returns.

In 1967, the Arab population was still in shock over the totally unexpected collapse of the Jordanian attacking forces. Instead of the Arab Muslim victory they were all expecting, the Israel Defense Forces defeated Jordan, Egypt and Syria and retook Israel’s ancient homeland of Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, Gaza, the Golan Heights and the Sinai Desert—in just six days.

I noticed the Arabs would drive their few cars very carefully and politely—so as not to anger any Israeli driver!  I could walk all over the Arab-populated Mount of Olives and felt perfectly safe.  That was then.

I used to walk north towards Mount Scopus—which is really just an extension of the Mount of Olives.  I would walk around the Hadassah Hospital which had laid in ruins since 1948 when Jordan conquered the West Bank and Eastern Jerusalem.  They had destroyed everything belonging to the Jewish population living there before 1948.

I loved to look down from the mountain towards the Dead Sea and across from there to the land of Moab.  It was always a breathtaking view—Jerusalem situated on the cusp of the heights that separate the watered west side all the way to the Mediterranean Sea, from the desolate and barren Judean Desert to the east.

Believe it or not, I had brought my dog Mimi with me from the U.S.  He was such a cutie that the pilot of the Alitalia flight invited me and Mimi to 1st class and insisted my dog could sit freely on the chair beside me.

1018 - Shira and Mimi in Jerusalem

So Mimi and I would roam the Mount of Olives taking pictures.  At one point, I tied Mimi up to a pole of some kind, as the whole Mount was empty of anyone else as far as I could see, and I wanted to be free with both hands on my camera.

After a little while, I went back to get Mimi, but he was nowhere in sight.  I ran around the whole area, but never saw a single person.  My dog was just gone.

I sat down on the mountain and began to cry and cry.  I said, “Lord, Mimi is the only “person” I have.  He is all I have in this new land.  I hardly know anyone here, and my dog is so important to me.  Lord, someone has stolen my dog…”  I was heartbroken.

Suddenly I got to my feet and said to myself, “I’m going to believe God to find my dog.”  I started praying in the Spirit, and saying, “In the Name of Jesus (back in 1967, Israelis had not yet gone back to using Yeshua’s original name!) I ask you Lord to find my dog.  I know you know where he is, and I proclaim in your Name that You will lead me to my dog!”

I looked around and still didn’t see a human being.  I just started ambling down the hill in the direction of the Old City, praying my heart out and proclaiming in faith that God would restore my dog to me.

I hadn’t gone far when I saw a youth walking a half block ahead of me.  I yelled at him and he turned around.  When I walked up to him, I wanted to ask him if he had seen my dog.  But I didn’t know a word of Arabic, or Hebrew, for that matter.

So I just waved my hands like I had lost something and I started saying “Erf Erf Erf.”  I didn’t think that “Bow Wow” would be a word that an Arab could figure out.

He looked at me for a minute.  And then he waved with his hand for me to follow him.  Still on the mountain, he began to take me through alleys this way and that, winding around a crowded neighborhood of housing I didn’t know existed.  I was proclaiming victory with every fiber of my being.  Finally he pointed at a door and left.

I knocked.  No answer.  More knocking, until finally a woman dressed in a traditional Arab garment opened the door.  I said, “Erf Erf Erf!”  I made my hands like I was carrying a small animal.  The woman shook her head as if she didn’t understand.  I continued, “Erf Erf Erf!”  Now my faith was working, and I had no intention of leaving the place without my answer to prayer.

Finally she disappeared for a minute and voilà!  Out came Mimi!  I smiled at the lady and without waiting for a response, took off with my dog.

At that moment, I felt the Lord clearly taught me a lesson I have never forgotten.  I heard Him speak to my heart:  “If you had just sat down on the mountain and cried your eyes out, sobbing and wailing, you would not have gotten your dog back.  When you stood up, spoke out your request in faith, and then just started moving, I guided you back to Mimi.”

And Mimi lived to a ripe old age in Jerusalem.

Just start moving!  Faith and action is what we have lived by all of these years in our ministry in Israel.

Plans Formed Long Ago


Sometimes, it takes many years for a prayer to be answered and interestingly, when we cry out to God, sometimes, we aren’t even aware of how amazingly He will answer in His time. Such was the case in 1988 when the first Messianic Jewish Conference took place in Jerusalem, a conference to celebrate Israel’s 40th year of independence.

As preparations were being made for the conference, the planners ran into a difficult and seemingly insurmountable problem. In searching for a motel to house the attendees, not one hotel would house such an event for Messianic Jews. Beyond that dilemma, the event was planned on the Biblical holiday of Shavuot and on a Sabbath Eve when it would be against the law to use any electrical equipment. No microphones, loudspeakers or musical instruments allowed.

One hotel, the Diplomat hotel, who was filing for bankruptcy, didn’t care about the law and agreed to host the event. Quickly, the hotel filled with guest registrations. Finally, an overflow hotel was needed for 50 Hondurans. Eden hotel, located down the street served that purpose.

The evening of the event arrived with hundreds in attendance. After a passionate teaching by Dr. Michael Brown, the Spirit fell on the congregation with many praying in tongues until the wee hours of the morning.

While seemingly nothing notable came out of the prayer time that night, by faith, many felt they had seriously impacted heaven in the spirit.

Now, jump ahead 30 years to 2018, the 70th anniversary of Israel’s independence. The U.S. is moving their embassy to Jerusalem, Israel’s capital. After TV coverage of the building that would be the temporary embassy, they noted two other buildings that would be used for added space. Yes, you guessed it. The Diplomat Hotel and the Eden Hotel that had housed the Hondurans.

So, what do you think? Could God’s ultimate purpose in bringing together the first Messianic Jewish conference in Jerusalem have been for what is happening today in the restoration of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and the relocation of the U.S embassy to Jerusalem? By the way, Honduras is the third nation to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Never underestimate the power of prayer.

Isaiah 25:1 “O Lord, You are my God; I will exalt You, I will give thanks to Your name; For You have worked wonders, Plans formed long ago, with perfect faithfulness.”

(The full article can be found at:   ).

Empowering Children

Jesus Smiling3Recently, we visited our daughter’s Vineyard church in Grand Rapids, a church that’s stepping out in the gifts of the spirit and finding blessing in the process. We were intrigued that the pastor is also empowering the children to minister in the service. No, I don’t think it was “Kids Sunday.” I think this is an intentional move to train the children early that they are an important part of the body and have much to offer.

Here’s how they involved the children in three ways. First, two children led the scripture reading and involved the congregation with responses written on the screen. Then they had communion with about half a dozen children picking up a cup and small roll and moving about the congregation serving us as we partook by pulling off a bit of bread and dipping it into the cup. Finally, at the end of the service, the prayer team came up front to pray for people and any children who wanted to join them in praying were invited as well. I needed prayer for an issue and felt the Lord wanted me to ask a couple of children to pray for me. Their mother was with them (as it should be) while her children prayed the sweetest prayer with such boldness and confidence. Their child-like prayers brought tears to my eyes.

Then an interesting thing happened. Bill and I both felt we had prophetic words for one of the children, a girl about 10 or 11 years old. We told her that we felt God was developing her into a leader and that He would continue to give her confidence to step out in ministry, that God had special plans for her in leadership and that He would use her gifts in the church. Bill told her he sensed a special anointing on her to speak into other’s lives, to call forth what God had put in them.

At that point, her mother became very excited and told us that she and her husband have been training their children in the gifts of the Spirit and that they had been praying that someone would bring a prophetic word to their daughter. And there we were. God had sent us to that particular child because He knew that she needed encouragement to step out in faith. Her mother was so grateful that we had stepped forward with a word in season.

With that, I felt strongly that the Lord wanted me to give her one of my books, “Speak to Me, Lord, I’m Listening.” It could be another tool for this family as they sought to hear God’s voice.

Can you see how gratifying it is to be used by God in people’s lives, all by partnering with God, listening for His voice and allowing and using our gifts to build up the body of Christ.

Let’s be a people tuned in to God so that when He sees someone needs a word of encouragement or comfort, we will be available for His use. All glory to God.

1Corinthians 14:3, “But everyone who prophesies speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort.”

Part 2 – How Do I Know God’s Call?


Sometimes our calling causes us to cower under the covers. Sometimes we respond with uncertainty and fear when we hear Him speak our name. Sometimes, we respond with dread. Because sometimes God calls us to do crazy things. Sometimes He calls us to build that great big boat when there is no sign of rain. Sometimes He wants us to go to Nineveh and risk our very lives to share His good news. Sometimes He calls us to care for people who seem downright impossible to love. Sometimes those unlovables live in a distant land across the sea. Sometimes they reside right under our own roof. So we love, not because we feel compelled. Not because the prospect propels us out of bed at the first light of day. We love simply because He commands us to and because He loved us first.

Sometimes our calling doesn’t make logical sense. Sometimes when He blinds us with His brilliance and we fall to our knees—ready to obey, others will dismiss us and doubt our place. Sometimes our calling seems far beyond our reach. Sometimes we feel shockingly ill-suited to the task. Sometimes when the burning bush beckons, we think of innumerable excuses to explain why we are not the best person for the job. But we get up and go. We march into Pharaoh’s court with our knocking knees and our stuttering speech because He who calls will also equip. He promises His presence and His power. And these things are more than enough.

Sometimes we won’t get to see the results of our work. Sometimes we may not see any measurable effect. Sometimes we will labor for years and see not one soul saved. Sometimes we won’t get to build the Temple or enter the Promised Land. Sometimes our prophetic cries in the wilderness seem to fall on deaf ears. Sometimes our witness will land us behind bars. Yet we keep our eyes on the eternal prize and strain our ears only to hear the ultimate “well done.”

And sometimes we don’t feel His pleasure. Sometimes we sense only silence. Sometimes we endure only the piercing pain. Sometimes we sit in the slimy belly of the fish. Sometimes we may beg for the cup to be taken away. “My God, My God!” Sometimes we feel forsaken. But we take up our cross and we follow Him.

So, yes, sometimes God’s calling looks like a miraculous virgin birth or the parting of a sea. And sometimes it looks more like a wander in the wilderness. Sometimes it looks like a nail-scarred hand. And sometimes—blessed Sunday—it looks like redemption and an empty tomb. Always it looks like discipleship and requires obedience.

So may we have courage to face the furnace when necessary. May we have the tenacity to circle the city for the seventh time. And—regardless of whether it comes via an angelic announcement or a burning bush or a still small voice—may we have keen ears and willing hearts that will hear and heed God’s call.

Kelli Worrall is a professor of Communications at Moody Bible Institute. This essay is excerpted from Pierced & Embraced: 7 Life-Changing Encounters with the Love of Christ (Moody Publishers). 05.01.2018



How Can I Know God’s Call?

Puzzled FaceProfessor Kelli Worrall explains how to discern God’s call on your life.

Jodie came to my office one afternoon last week, contemplating “the call of God.” She is preparing to graduate, and she doesn’t yet know what the future holds. Should she stay in Chicago and continue in her current administrative job? It pays decent money, and the ministry she works with on the weekends would also love to keep her around. Or, should she take a riskier route and pursue an unpaid internship with a ministry on the West Coast?

Working with this organization sounds like her “dream job,” but sorting out the logistics—the housing, the transportation, the funding, etc.—feels like an insurmountable obstacle. Or, should she return home to Tennessee to live with her parents for a while? She would treasure the time with them, and she could save money more quickly for graduate school. But other than family, there’s nothing much for her there, and moving home feels like taking several steps backwards.

At one point, Jodie looked over at me with wild eyes, grabbed hold of her hair with both hands, and pretended to rip it out at the roots. “Why can’t God just make it clear?” she cried. WHAT DOES GOD WANT ME TO DO?

As a Bible college professor, I have conversations like this on a regular basis. Several times every semester, students show up at my door, asking for help to discern: What does God want me to do? What is He calling me to? How can I know for sure? Or even—certainly He can’t want that!

Okay—let’s be honest—it isn’t only my students who are asking these questions. Even though I am well into my forties, I sometimes still wonder and pray in this way. God, should I continue down this path or should I take a turn? Should I say “yes” and walk through this seemingly wide open door, trusting that You will give the strength? Or, for the sake of my family, my health, and my own relationship with You, do I need to say “no”? Or, Lord, this is so hard; does that mean it’s not Your will?

In November 2015 Dee Ann Turner wrote an instantly popular Relevant magazine article called “4 Keys to Discovering Your Calling.” And because “calling” is often on my mind, I read with great interest her four points:

  • Your calling is the thing that gets you up in the morning
  • It’s what others tell you that you do best.
  • It’s the way you use your energy to make an impact.
  • And it’s the moment and the activity in which you feel God’s pleasure.

These are helpful points to consider. And I do agree with them—to a certain extent. Certainly it is wonderful when God calls us to something that lights a fire in our soul. Certainly people may occasionally acknowledge our strengths, and I enjoy pointing out the abilities I see in other people. God gave us those skills, no doubt, and He doesn’t intend for them to go to waste. Certainly, too, God sometimes allows us the satisfaction of experiencing our own effectiveness, of seeing a project succeed or a problem solved, and it is certainly rewarding when this is the case. And certainly there are seasons when we sense His great pleasure throughout the process.

Certainly these things are true. BUT…..(tune in tomorrow for the rest of the story)

Who God SaysYou Are

Who God says you areOne of the crucial issues in our walk with God is knowing who He says we are. Often we come into God’s Kingdom with a skewed understanding of who we are. This is a list from God’s perspective so we need to line up our thinking with God’s view of us. This involves renewing our mind, adjusting our viewpoint to agree with God. He is the One who created us and therefore who He says we are can be counted as absolute truth. So, read this over and if you find yourself hedging on any of these statements, ask Him to bring correction and new light to your understanding.

Hidden Treasure

Tulip2As I rummaged through shelves in the garage one day last week, I remembered I had stored a dirt filled container of tulip bulbs for the winter. Ah yes, there it was. Sitting in the dark on a shelf, I found the pot. Not only was it hidden in darkness but something had been placed on top that shielded the pot from any exposure to light. As expected, the dirt was completely dried out as there had been no exposure to water the entire winter.

To my surprise, when I removed the covering, I noticed about a half dozen tiny green stems poking through the dirt. How can this be? This plant had been hidden from light and water for almost a year. How is it possible that these bulbs not only weathered the winter in darkness but began new life without a trace of water?

I took the container into my kitchen and began a crusade of water and exposure to light. Slowly, the stems grew longer and others appeared as well. It looked like there would soon be a large crop of tulips in full bloom right in my kitchen.

In this process, I kept thinking there must be a spiritual lesson here. What was the Lord saying to me? Perhaps, it was a reminder to never give up on people. Even when their lives appear to be in a dark and arid land, a spark from God could be moving them upward. Maybe a little encouragement from a friend, a little watering would bring them to their destiny.

Or maybe the lesson is that just as the darkness of the dirt held a hidden treasure, so God’s word holds hidden wealth in a secret place as He speaks to us. The tulip bulb was pushing through the dirt to grow and reveal its glory in the beauty of its flower.

Isaiah 45:3, “I will give you the treasures of darkness and hidden wealth of secret places, so that you may know that it is I, the Lord, the God of Israel, who calls you by your name.” 

When God reveals hidden things to us, it’s so we can know Him more intimately, so we can appreciate and enjoy the beauty of Jesus. Watch for hidden treasures in your life.


The Cup

CoffeeThis is Easter Week and I wonder what you know about the cup Jesus had to drink. Do you ever hear a sermon that inspires your faith in God to new levels? I do…every Sunday a Brighton Chapel. Pastor Rustin used a visual aid by bringing in his favorite cup that he uses for coffee every morning. He shared how he looks forward to his first cup of coffee in the morning flavored with French Vanilla creamer. It’s a pleasant start for the day.

Then he reminded us of Jesus’ cup, the one that Jesus asked the Father to remove. In Matthew 26, Jesus was overwhelmed with sorrow and said, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

Have you ever wondered what exactly was in the cup that caused Jesus to be so distraught? What was so distasteful about this cup? Rustin explained that Jesus knew what He would be facing at the cross, all the violence, false accusations, betrayal, rejection, humiliation, flogging and the excruciating pain of the crucifixion…all these awaited Him… in the cup. Beyond that, He would be carrying the overwhelming load of all the sin of the entire world, the very sin that beckoned God’s wrath. The One who knew no sin would literally become sin. II Cor. 5:21, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

Did you catch the good news at the end of that verse? Jesus chose to drink the cup of God’s wrath so that we could be free to enjoy God’s righteousness, his mercy and grace. Jesus laid down His life so that He could give us the cup of the New Covenant, so that we would never have to fear God’s wrath. Romans 5:9, “Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.” Jesus loves us so much that while we were yet sinners, He died for us. What an amazing cup He drank so that we could drink from the cup of new life in Him with all the benefits of salvation.

Walking in Victory

VictoryRecently, I attended a conference put on by four local ladies. Three of them, Ingrid Lochamire, Connie Gochenhaur, and Donna Bontrager spoke about a difficult trial in their life. Two were still in the midst of the trial and one was on the other side. Yet, it could be noted that all of them were walking in victory because they saw Jesus at work in their midst and they had chosen to trust Him with every outcome. Yes, it is possible to live a victorious and triumphant life while in the midst of a painful trial. II Cor. 2:14, “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place.”

Connie had learned to praise and thank God that He was working even when no outcome was yet visible. This is what walking in faith is all about, believing in the unseen and expectantly waiting on and trusting the Lord. She went on to relate that we don’t need to pray like a beggar. When we know who we are in Christ, we can boldly approach God and bring our requests with confidence.

The concept that most struck me was when she said, “Satan wants to define us by our trials but God wants to design us through our trials. (I’ll let you chew on that for awhile.)

Brenda Yoder finished the evening with a compelling teaching from Genesis 22, the story of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his only son, Isaac. Brenda expressed that worship is more than singing on Sunday morning. It has more to do with a lifestyle of giving God the sacrifice of what’s most precious in our life. Are we willing to worship by laying down what we most desire? She challenged us to think about what is most valued in our lives. Just as Abraham was willing to lay his only son on the altar of sacrifice, we, too, are called to do the same with relationships, finances, heart desires, pleasures, trials and difficulties, the things that we tend to cling to. It starts with a heart to lay it all before God and to trust Him. Then, just as God provided a ram for the sacrifice at the last minute, our trust leads to His provision in our situations. Phil. 4:19, “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”