Thursday, May 27, 2010

God was at my bank this morning!!

You know when you are going about "your" day and God decides to step in and completely MAKE your whole day!? Well, that was this morning at, of all places- the bank. I had walked in expecting to spend 2 minutes with the teller, when God redirected me to the Customer Service Lady for an hour! During the "bankish" talk, South Africa came up when she saw International Fees on my account, one thing led to another and I was sharing with her about my time in South Africa. Tears began to well up in her eyes as she began to tell me about her 18 year old daughter who is going down a very dangerous path because of anger from events in her childhood. I could hear a voice in my heart telling me to open up to her about my own past and issues that I had faced. She then began telling me even more, right there in the middle of the bank tears in her eyes about her own past. I was able to tell her that God had changed my life and was in the process of healing me, and that I had witnessed many youth experience God's restoration and that there was hope for her daughter too! What is even more crazy is that as she looked down to close my account on her computer she sees my address; we live in the same neighborhood! How funny is God!! Please be praying for "the bank lady and her daughter" and for God to open doors as she gave me her card and has asked that I call her to talk more. Please also be praying as her and her daughter look for treatment centers for her daughter. WARNING: Your next trip to the bank could take an hour and could have eternal results! Let's not get too busy in our own lives to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit.

Back in America and no where to go.....

Hello all!!
I have been back in America for about three and a half weeks. It has been very very busy at my house! During the past three weeks, my older brother has graduated from Samford University and has gotten married, my younger brother has had awards banquets and chorus concerts, and my sister has been to her Prom and is getting ready to graduate this weekend from high school. I have also had a very eventful time getting settled and trying to listen to God about where He is directing me. I had applied and been accepted to Seminary; however, I now do not feel this is where God wants me to continue my education. After much praying, crying, and seeking counsel, I will be taking the next few months to study, take the GRE and apply to Graduate schools in order to get my Masters degree in either Counseling or Social Work. I struggled with this decision, but knew this is what God wanted at 1am last Friday night. He gave me Isaiah 45 to confirm this decision.

Isaiah 45: 2-3 " I will go before you and make the crooked places straight; I will break in pieces the gates of bronze and cut the bars of iron. I will give you the treasures of darkness and hidden riches of secret places, that you may know that I am Lord, who call you by name, Am the God of Israel."

Isaiah 45: 9 "Woe to Him who strives with His Maker! Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth. Shall the clay say to him who forms it, 'What are you making?' Or shall your handiwork say, 'he has no hands'?"

God has promised to go before me where ever He sends me, even if the path seems "crooked" to me or I see gates and bars ahead (studying for the GRE, applying to competitive schools, attending a secular university). He promises to see me through for HIS glory! I wanted to question, and say "Why, God?" "Why didn't I know this before I applied and was prepared to leave for Seminary", but God gave me verse 9 of Isaiah 45, and He reminded me of Isaiah 55:8 "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways, says the Lord." I have come to see that the classes offered at public universities will better equip me to handle the type of issues that have become routine and that I expect to be dealing with in South Africa working with at-risk youth and families in the future. I would ask for your continued prayer while I am making this transition and as I continue to seek God about exactly where He wants me to be for the next couple of years. Thank you all again for walking with me on this journey the past two years. I can't wait to see where God takes me next!! I will continue to update my blog if you would like to follow as I am continuing this journey with God.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


Last Wednesday Night, I was given the opportunity to host a dinner for my weekly Home Cell group at my apartment. Home Cells are weekly Bible study groups made up of church members that live in the same general area to get together for a time of study, worship and prayer. My home cell has been my family since I have been in Johannesburg, and I am so very grateful for them. We have about 20 members that meet each Wednesday night; since I live far from the church and the home cell that I attend, I am not able to rotate and host. So, last Wednesday we had an Italian Dinner at my apartment and had a sweet time of fellowship and singing. God showed me how blessed I have been to have such support and love around me these past two years; I could not have asked for a better home cell family.

God has been working the past 2 months, and I would like to share specifically about our time at youth camp this year. Lyndhurst Baptist Church youth traveled 7 hours to Kimberly, South Africa for the Southern Africa Baptist Union Camp. We took about 40 youth to the camp; many other churches were also represented. We experienced much spiritual warfare from the time we got on the buses until we arrived back in Johannesburg beginning with vehicle troubles. The bus broke down several times, and we lost a tire on the way back; the other vehicles in the caravan also experienced car troubles. What should have been a 7 hour trip took 10 hours going and 11 hours coming back. Needless to say, the devil did not want us to go to camp. God moved in many of the youth’s lives while we were there especially in one of the breakout sessions and night services which dealt with sin and transparency. The campers were also given an opportunity to go out into the community and have a time of ministry in one of the nearby townships where they could interact with people and share Christ’s love through sports. This camp will not be remembered by our youth for the “spiritual high” that camps are usually remembered for but for the intense attacks of the devil to discourage and distract. One of our youth was taken to the hospital in a stretcher for a neck injury acquired on the waterslide, and another had an asthma attack.

However the most devastating and biggest attack that the enemy tried to use was deep routed prejudice. Our youth group is made up of black urban youth and the camp leadership was majority white; as you can imagine this made the week interesting and at times very intense as our youth were treated differently. This experience although very disheartening to everyone was a time of learning and sparked a flame in our youth to use their voices for change. The youth learned how to appropriately react to authority and how to go about handling grievances while not reacting violently or out of anger; this was not an easy lesson to learn especially in the heat of the moment. Each of us, youth and leaders at LBC, also began to look at our own views of people who are different than us and allow God to open our hearts to our own personal prejudices.

We are all called to be one body; however even in the churches (and sometimes especially in the church) we claim to be one body, but we are actually several bodies – the white one, the black one, the Indian one, the Chinese one. Granted worship styles may be different, the level of comfort might not suit us, but whatever excuse we might be using or trying to hide behind, I challenge us to look inside our own hearts. We can’t begin to ask others to change their views and prejudices until we have dealt honestly with our own. This isn’t an easy topic to address here in South Africa as racial segregation only ended in 1994; it is a struggle for South African Christians, black and white, to live surrendering deep racial views to Christ allowing Him to shape and chip away all that He disdains while having grown up learning contrary views rooted in culture and perpetuated in families. These views are also prevalent in our own American Christian culture although they might be masked and even so accepted that they are glossed over. What goes through our mind when a group of young black guys who don’t quite dress like us come into our churches? How do we choose the schools where our children attend? Is the “level of education” a mask for separating your children from those who might need the light of Christ that your child and family could portray? How many blessings have we missed out on because we chose to surround ourselves with friends and acquatnances who look, act, talk, and live exactly as we do? I pray that we as the body of Christ live out equality and open our lives up to whoever Christ puts in our path. Can the world see Christ in how we relate to others or are our churches and homes to this day still more segregated than even the world?

Galatians 3:28
“There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

1 Corinthians 12:12
“The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ.”

Serving With You in South Africa,
Sarah Maddox

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Unforgettable November 2009

This month has been a month in my personal walk with God that I will never forget. It has been one of the hardest months of my life, yet it has been one of the most freeing and rewarding months of my life. God began to show me at the end of October that there were several issues that I had deep within my heart that I had to feel, to express, to deal with, and to let go of. Through every single step and in every moment God was with me in this journey. God spoke to my heart and whispered that He wanted everything in November; HE wanted to BE everything to me this November, and He wanted all of Sarah this month. I surrendered not fully knowing what I was about to walk into but knowing that deep healing from my past needed to take place that had me in bondage for many years, and God was the only One who understood it all. He asked me to let go of everything, and I mean everything for 30 days... ANY involvement with the youth at Lyndhurst Baptist Church, girl's Bible study, caffeine, make up, home cell group, relationships, communication, music, other books.

God taught me that He IS more than enough for me; He IS big enough to heal me. He IS "God" enough!! He showed me what true unconditional love is and what it means to trust. He held my heart very gently as I walked a journey from the very beginning of my life to today looking at issues, circumstances and memories that had become my identity and had affected my relationship with God and how I relate to others. God peeled back layers of hurt, anger, doubt, worry, and fear that I had built up around my heart for many years in an effort to protect anyone from getting too close to me and that I had used as response mechanisms in dealing with my past. I experienced what people mean when they say "minute by minute reliance on God." God was my strength and got me through literally each minute on those very difficult days when everything that I had come to rely on and run to had been taken out from under me. God showed me that He uses everything we go through to bring Him glory and to bring others to himself. I know this will be a continued process for me as I take steps each day toward healing, restoration, freedom, and liberty, but the end of November marked a new beginning for Sarah Maddox because I have found who I am in Christ; I have found freedom in being who He created me to be, and I have learned that He (without anyone or anything else) IS more than enough for me!

Psalm 18:20-24 (The Message)
"God made my life complete when I placed all the pieces before him. When I got my act together, he gave me a fresh start. Now I'm alert to God's ways; I don't take God for granted. Every day I review the ways he works; I try not to miss a trick. I feel put back together, and I'm watching my step. God rewrote the text of my life when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes."

John 8:36
"So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed."

Monday, November 2, 2009


Watching quietly in the background;
Listening silently in the shadow.
Waiting to see it lived;
Longing to see it defined.
I did not have;
But I desperately need to see.

You are defining these titles for me.

One can see in your little girl’s eyes, you make her world spin. She fully trusts as she
jumps into your arms…
…she feels the definition of “Daddy.”
Your eldest son still believes you aren’t afraid of anything. He wants to be just like you…
… he sees the definition of “Father.”
You both were arguing as you stepped out of the car, but you gently squeeze her hand as
you walked into the church…
… she experiences the definition of “Husband.”

I wonder what it’s like to have a father.
How different it would be if mommy weren’t alone.
I wonder what it feels like to say “Daddy.”

Since I don’t know, I’m watching you. Yes, You. I am
Watching quietly in the background;
Listening silently in the shadow.

Waiting to see it lived;
Longing to see it defined.
I did not have;
But I desperately need to see.

You aren’t only daddy to the ones you look like.
You aren’t only father to the ones you conceived.

You are building a definition of “Father.”
You are shaping a definition of “Daddy.”
You are modeling a definition of “Husband.”

…What are you defining for Me

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

My chains are gone; I've been set free!

I feel God is telling me to open up about some of the personal struggles that I have been going through for the past several months. While being in South Africa I have come face to face with insecurities, temptation, and battles like I never did in the States, but I have also experienced God's grace, love, faithfulness, and healing like never before in my life. He has healed me from bondage that I has been strangling me since I was very young. This has not been an overnight revelation, but four months ago was the turning point. Was I going to allow God to search me (every part of me), deal with issues, and cleanse my heart and life, or was I going to continue running and denying that there was an issue I had to face, ignoring that it was affecting my relationship with my Heavenly Father? Fearfully trusting (if that is possible), I surrendered to God's spiritual operating table.

Since I was in 8th grade I have struggled with my self image; at times it was more extreme than others and it manifested itself in various forms throughout the years. This issue stemmed from many things that I faced when I was younger. However, God made the severity of the issue very clear to me a few months ago and showed me how much this was hurting my relationship with Him. At times this issue manifested itself in the way I was eating (not eating some months or emotionally over eating), at other times it was the way I dressed hiding myself because I did not believe I was good enough or that people would judge me, other times I would pass up opportunities because a voice inside of me was telling me I was not worthy or pretty enough. It not only affected me psychologically and emotionally, but it also affected my relationships with other people. I would keep my distance emotionally, not allowing anyone close for fear they wouldn't love me and that they would hurt me. These are just a few of the areas of my life that this issue had a hold over.

In April, I began seeing an IMB Missionary here in Johannesburg, South Africa who is a counselor. These past few months have been very difficult at times, but God has been SO faithful to me. He has healed me and restored me. He has shown me that I have value and worth to Him and that He loves my unconditionally no matter what. He will never reject me or hurt me; He LOVES me! I have value because of God's love for me. This has been an issue in my life for many years, and I know the process of healing will still take time, surrendering every day, each meal, every moment, every thought, but God is powerful! He is my healer; when we surrender it all to HIM, our hurts, struggles, and fears, He takes it and does a mighty work. When I couldn't; He was able! When I felt rejected; He responded! When I hated myself; He loved me! When I stopped; He began!

Isaiah 49:16 "I have engraved you on the palms of my hands."
Zephaniah 3:17b "I will take great delight in you. I will quiet you with my love. I will rejoice over you with singing."