Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Tragedy Surrounding Us

It seems like the news cycle is constantly reporting yet another tragedy. And recently, several have hit home. Last week we’d just gotten home from church, when one of the brothers told me that a flight from Ethiopia to Nairobi—a route we often take—had crashed. There were no survivors. Then this last weekend, a cyclone hit north of us. While we experienced the brutal force of a cyclone two years ago where we live, this time it hit a highly populated city and the death toll continues to rise. 

These are just two of many tragedies that have happened recently.

My daughter recently wrote something about suffering and God’s redemption recently that resonated with me. I hope it encourages you today to not only strengthen your trust in Him, but also as a reminder for us to make a difference in the lives of those struggling around us today.

The other day, my mom forwarded me daily devotional by an author named Laura Story. A third of the way down the page were two sentences she highlighted in bold. It read, “God doesn’t promise our stories will make sense in and of themselves. But He does promise they will find their greater purpose in light of His greater story of redemption.”

Reading this reminded me of Job. Throughout the book of Job, we see him wanting an audience with God. He wanted God to directly answer his questions to why he was suffering. But instead of answering Job’s question, God talked about all of His wonderful and powerful acts, displayed through everything He has made. Then God reminded Job that no human has the power to do match that. And Job remained in the dark regarding why he was suffering, and why God allowed it. But we soon see that God wanted Job to recognize his inability to always understand—his human limits—because we are finite beings. In the end, it says that God restored what was lost and gave back to him twice than what he had before. (Job 42:10).

The fact that God has the power to not only restore what Job lost, but replenish him with even more than he asked for is incredible. God demonstrates his goodness, his power, love, and his faithfulness to those who trust and fear Him. 

The story of Job gives me hope. Unlike Job (Job 1), I am not a “blameless and upright.”. I am a sinner in need of repentance, mercy, and undeserved grace, because I have messed up. But still the story of Job gives me hope in times where I don’t understand why God is allowing my suffering. I have asked the Lord to make me a vessel for His glory and His kingdom come, but when His glory is being played out, sometimes there are things in my life that hinder this. Things he needs to take away. But we often just see and feel the effects of the subtraction. We feel the pain just as Job felt the suffering when he lost everything. Yet he still was somehow able to say “may the name of the Lord be praised.”

What gets me is that in Job, God gave back to Job for fearing Him, trusting him, and being faithful in spite of the horrible pain that took root in Job’s life. I feel often we get inpatient and just feel the pain and suffering and think that it is all in vain. But I know that my pain is not in vain. 

I don’t understand completely why I have had to experience brokenness, pain, hurt, and loss, but I know that it is not in vain. And I believe what it says in Romans 8 when Paul writes, And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[b] have been called according to his purpose.” God gives, but He may also take away. And the hardest part of that process is trusting that our pain we feel is not in vain.

It takes faith and strength to say, “you know what God, this hurts and I just want to give up, but I know my pain is not in vain and that you are using it. Your ways are higher than my ways (Isaiah 55:8) and you are the ultimate source of wisdom because I can’t and don’t understand what is going on. 

Just like Job and his friends didn’t and could not understand and find the answer to why God allowed suffering in Job’s life. What I do know that He gives peace through the pain, not only from personal experience, but through numerous mentions throughout scripture that promise peace.

If you read the rest of Isaiah 55:8-, it says: 

“As the rain and the snow
    come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
    without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
    so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
    It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
    and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
You will go out in joy
    and be led forth in peace”

The Lord takes away, yes, but he also gives. Whatever reason we are suffering, we must do our best to keep a biblical perspective on suffering. We must trust Him because He has promised that through trials, He will not forsake us (Psalms 9:10).

Let us be “joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer” (Romans 12:12).

Thursday, December 06, 2018

Celebrating Ten Years in Mozambique!

A couple weeks ago, we celebrated what God has been doing in our ministry for the past decade. We are grateful to everyone who worked so hard behind the scenes of the fundraising banquet. For those who donated to the silence auction, to our generous sponsors, and for the guests and speakers who came, thank you! It was an amazing evening to give thanks for what God has done and to see how people’s lives that have been changed.
On top of that, we were able to raise most of the money we need to purchase a replacement vehicle. After eight years of driving on backroads and through the bush, it’s finally time to replace our car that has about 175,000 miles on it! We have the opportunity to purchase a ‘new to us’ vehicle, but we still need to raise another $5000 in order to buy it. If you’re looking for place to donate before the end of the year, would you consider donating to African Outreach Ministries? Money can be earmarked for the vehicle. We are also looking for monthly financial partners to join us this coming year.
For a tax-deductible donation, visit www.africanoutreachministries.org.The donation link is on the bottom of the page. Please feel free to contact us directly with any questions.
A huge thank you to those who continue to partner beside us in this work. We are excited to see what God will do in 2019 and ask for your continued prayers.

African Outreach Ministries Ten Year Celebration 2018 from S & L Harris on Vimeo.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

2019 Animal Calendars for Sale!

We still have some 2019 Animal Calendars left over from our fundraising banquet that we need to sell. The calendars were donated, so except for the shipping, all the money donated will go directly to African Outreach Ministries. These calendars are 8.5 x 11 with premium glossy card stock.

One Calendar: $23 including shipping 
Two or more: $20 each plus $5 total shipping

You can pay for the calendars via check, Pay Pal, or credit card (via Pay Pal). These make great Christmas presents and are some of our best animal photos from over the years!

**Due to shipping costs, we are only able to ship within the US. For large orders, let us know so we can ensure we have enough. I will update this page when they are gone, so please order soon!


There is a link at the very bottom of our website home page where you can link to AOM (click on the yellow donate button) and make your donation there, then email me the address where you want them shipped! 

If you would prefer to send a check, you can make it out to African Outreach Ministries and earmark it for AOM Calendars. Be sure and send an email so we can watch for the check. 

Mail to:
African Outreach Ministries
5401 E Hwy 287
Midlothian, TX  76065

Once your payment is received, we will get the calendars in the mail. 

Thank you for your support of African Outreach Ministries!

Scott and Lisa

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Christian Fiction Scavenger Hunt Stop #19

Welcome to the Christian Fiction Scavenger Hunt! If you’re just joining us, the hunt begins at www.LisaBergren.com, with Stop #1. If you complete the loop of 26 stops, writing down the clue on each author’s site, you can enter to win all 25 books
as well as Amazon gift cards, an iPad and more! 

Without further ado, it’s my pleasure to introduce you to my guest for the Scavenger Hunt, Susan Sleeman! Not only does Susan write fantastic romantic suspense, she also runs a great website for suspense readers, TheSuspenseZone. If you love romantic suspense, she should definitely be on your go-to list of authors!

Here’s her professional bio:

SUSAN SLEEMAN is the bestselling author of over thirty-five novels with more than one million books sold. She writes romantic suspense novels that are clean with inspiring messages of faith. Readers love her series for the well-drawn characters and edge-of-your-seat action. She graduated from the FBI and local police citizen academies, so her research is spot-on and her characters are real. In addition to writing, Susan also hosts TheSuspenseZone.com.

Here’s the summary of her latest book:

Fleeing from her dangerous ex-boyfriend, on-the-run single mother Nicole Dyer takes refuge in a cabin—and is discovered by the ranch owner, Deputy Matt McKade. It’s easy to fall for the handsome lawman and his kind family, but staying at the ranch endangers them all. When everything Nicole loves comes under direct fire, can Matt keep her—and her heart—safe?

You can purchase her book from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, CBD, Apple, or your local bookstore.

And here’s her EXCLUSIVE content that you’ll only find in this hunt!

Christmas Memories and Traditions
My most recent book release, Christmas Hideout is—surprise, surprise—a Christmas themed book. I have now written six books that occur at Christmas time, and I have to say it’s fun to add the Christmas element to a story. It’s such a wonderful festive time of year that adding those elements to a book give me great joy and readers love the holiday themed books. 
However, I also have to say that it can be challenging to make the Christmas part of the story unique and interesting. So as I was thinking about the book, I started thinking about Christmas traditions and memories. 
My fondest Christmas memory is the birth of our youngest daughter, Emma. She was born on December 20th, and she was so tiny that she fit in her Christmas stocking that a friend made for her. I love this picture and cherish the memory.
As for traditions, one of my favorites was going to church on Christmas Eve where the Sunday School classes did their Christmas program. Santa arrived at our house while we were at the service. My grandfather was in charge of putting out the presents, and we always thought he was habitually late for church. When we got home, we celebrated Christmas with my dad’s family. Christmas Day was always celebrated with my mother’s family, and I knew that during the year my grandmother was busy knitting sweaters for all of her grandchildren. We all loved opening that package, putting on the sweaters, and posing for the annual sweater picture. I knew these things would happen every year. No question in my mind.
Another favorite was that my mother always made cut out sugar cookies. My sister and I helped decorate them, and I remember playing with the last bits of dough with my child-sized rolling pin. 
But as an adult, these are not traditions I could carry on except baking the cookies and going to church on Christmas Eve. I bake the cookies with my children’s help but our Christmas Eve was a bit different. You see my hubby was a church music director so his responsibilities always came first, and we had to find a way to celebrate Christmas around his busy schedule. The only time he had available on Christmas Eve was an hour between services and after the late service which was often a late-night candlelight service—way too late for children to be up. 
So a tradition of eating appetizers and Christmas cookies during that one hour of free time was born. All the prep work was done in advance. The appetizers were quick and refrigerated, and the meal could be pulled out at any time he arrived home. He would rush home to have as much time with us as possible, and we would share this meal along with opening one present. Here’s one of our favorite recipes.

My hubby may now be retired, but we still have appetizers and Christmas cookies on Christmas Eve. It just doesn’t feel like Christmas without them. So how about you? Do you have any interesting or unique Christmas traditions at your house or favorite memories?

Thanks for stopping by on the hunt! Before you go, make sure you WRITE DOWN THIS CLUE:
Secret Words: and now

Got it down? Great! Your next stop is # 20, Susan Sleeman’s site. And if you get lost, a complete list of the loop with links can be found on Lisa Bergren's website.


My book for this scavenger hunt is A Secret To Die For which is a stand-alone romantic suspense novel set in Texas. Because of the setting, I'm giving away a Texas mug right here on my blog as an extra bonus! 

If you're already signed up for my newsletter, just leave a comment below with a way for me to contact you. Let me you're signed up, and that you'd like a chance to win the mug. 

If you're not signed up for my newsletter, there's a link on this blog (right hand, side bar toward the top) where you can sign up. Not only will you get updates on my book releases, you'll also get a free ebook copy of Blood Ransom, a Christy-nominated suspense novel! Let me know you've signed up and be sure to leave a way for me to contact you!

Enjoy the hunt!

Lisa Harris


1. Only one entry per person per giveaway is allowed.
2. Giveaway open to residents of the 50 United States and D.C. Void where prohibited.
3. Winner provides shipping address.
4. Giveaway ends on October 28th, 2018 at midnight mountain standard time.
5. One winner will be selected at random by random.org to receive the Texas mug pictured above.
6. The prize winner will be notified by email on October 29th, and posted on this page after they respond to my email notification. If I do not receive an email response from the winner within 48 hours of notification, another winner will be drawn.
7. You must have access to the Internet and a valid email address in order to enter or win.
8. Your chances of winning depend on the number of entries.
9. No purchase is necessary to enter.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

You won't want to miss this. . .

And there's less than a month left! 
No. . .it's not my next book, but it is something very close to my heart.
We're getting super excited about our upcoming Banquet and Silent Auction where we will be sharing about our ministry in Mozambique. If you're in the Houston area and would like tickets to the event, be sure to check this out. There will also be an online auction that anyone can be a part of!
It's going to be a wonderful evening, and I'd love to see you there!
African Outreach ministries is a 501 (c) 3 organization serving Southern Africa since 1990

For more information, please visit our ministry website.
If you have any questions, please email me or Jennifer.

Friday, October 05, 2018

The Therapy of Story

No matter who we are or where we come from, we all have at least one thing in common. At different points in our lives—maybe even right now for you—we experience loss. It might be the loss of a job, of a marriage, or of a dream. It might come as a phone call in the middle of the night, or the exhausting reality of watching a loved one slowly slip away. It has a way of making us vulnerable, and yet it’s also what makes us human, because no one is untouched by loss. 

While I love a happy ending in a story—and of course just as much in real life—our journey is not only full of different seasons, it’s also rarely void of pain. The first book I wrote was from a deep place of hurt while dealing with infertility. The characters I wrote about helped me deal with that pain and was a catalyst in helping me heal. As a reader, this can also happen when we pick up a book. Readers have told me how they’ve connected with a character because of similar circumstances they’ve faced, and in turn have been challenged spiritually. And it makes sense. When we connect with a character because of something he or she has gone through, the story impacts us and stays with us long after the last page is read. 

In A Secret to Die For, Grace Callahan is a psychologist. On a day to day basis, she deals with the pain and loss of her patients, but she also understands grief on a very personal level after the death of her little girl four years ago. Detective Nathanial Quinn has recently experienced trauma with the loss of his partner in an explosion and is dealing with PTSD. When Grace is thrown into a life and death situation with Nate, she finds herself able to relate to him on a deeper level because their shared understanding of loss.

While loss and trials are never easy, God has reminded me over and over throughout the years that he never promised us a life free from pain. In fact, the opposite is true. John 16: 33 tells us that difficulties will come. But there’s another promise he’s given us as well that we can hold onto when hard times hit. Isaiah 43: 2 says, “When you go through deep waters, I will be with you.” 

Did you hear that? We are not alone. He will walk through the pain with us.

He also asks us to put our trust in him—not in our circumstances. Is that always easy? Definitely not. But though him we can find hope no matter what is happening around us. In the story, Grace discovers this same profound truth in her own life.
Somehow, though, in the middle of feeling as if no one understood, she’d begun to discover there was One who did understand this journey of grief. Sometimes she’d hear God’s quiet voice in the wind. Feel his presence in the words of a song. She realized that he could feel her pain and that he understood the depth of her loss. Because he’d watched his own Son die as well.

For Grace and Nate, their losses play a large role in bringing them to a place where they discover unexpected love with each other, and together they are able to help each other find peace through Him. It’s not a peace that makes any earthly sense. Instead, it’s a peace that “exceeds anything we can understand.” Philippians 4:7 (NLT)

May you find peace in Him!

Lisa Harris

(This blog post was first published on the MTL blog.)

Grab your copy today!