What's in a Name?

Usually, the name "Eight Oaks" elicits one of two responses:

1. "Like Twelve Oaks in Gone with the Wind?"
2. "Huh. Sounds kinda like a golf course."

We prayed and thought about what to call "this" for a long time, although to be honest it wasn't an agonizing decision. Towards the beginning, someone pulled out a Bible and read Isaiah 61. Those words resonated deeply, they reverberated within us as if God was plucking guitar strings in our hearts. I have heard some of the passages from this chapter many times, and I have read it myself, but in my personal experience verses 1-3 are the most popular. Ironically, the reason this chunk of scripture inspired us so much is due to verses 4-11.

I think sometimes, because we live in a first-world country with electricity and plenty of clean water--and because we are arrogant and weak--we conjure up romantic pictures of mission trips in which Americans come blazing into a third-world country with Bibles and medical supplies to "rescue" the poor and starving. I do not believe that Ghanaians need Americans: I believe they need Jesus. I believe Americans need Jesus. Just because we have a fast-food restaurant on every corner and government-funded healthcare does not mean that the United States is not as broken as the more ancient and financially poorer countries in the world. We are just mangled and hurting in different ways. Our actions as Americans might produce a few small ripples through Lake Volta. But the boys at the Father's House (one of whom is name Julius Moses) and these girls that we are praying for? They will generate tidal waves. They will change and lead their nation more effectively than we can imagine.

These young women are Eight Oaks of Righteousness not because the Lord has anointed us to "rescue" them, but because "they will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations."

We pray every day for these nation-changers. That when they become fathers and mothers "their descendants will be known among the nations and their offspring among the peoples," and "all who see them will acknowledge that they are a people the LORD has blessed."

I count myself as oh so fortunate to witness the Father's love for these girls. His compassion for them is so evident to me, even as they live a thousand miles away, even as they endure pain and suffering. I truly believe that in their little hearts, they feel the warmth of his affection: that they know He is coming for them, to "bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair."

And in my heart, I believe that the high schoolers I see every week will similarly alter the face of America. I believe that this is a new generation, with a fire roaring inside of them and a thirst for the Gospel. They can and will restore this country. To witness this change, to hear their hearts and see the Spirit take hold of them is one of the greatest blessings I will ever experience.

I thank God every day for allowing me to be a part of this revolution...for allowing me to watch these seeds sprout and grow into mighty Oaks.

"For as the soil makes the sprout come up, and as a garden causes seeds to grow, so the Sovereign LORD will make righteousness and praise spring up before all nations."