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Iris Encina
Joshua 1:5

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Nuts

But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33)

Dear Readers: Iris Encina is from Korea. When she recently presented this talk in public, she wore a movable sign on the top of her head, held in place by springs. The sign swayed unsteadily toward the audience and it carried just one word – “NUTS.” She works for the U.S. Postal Service, loves the Lord, helps others, and has a great sense of humor. Here’s what she shared:

Hello! My name is Iris Encina, and the title of this talk is “Nuts.”

I would like to reveal myself who really I am. N-U-T-S - nuts! My friend asked me “Are you a nut?” “Yeah! You are a nut!” I must have done something very silly. Anyway now I really look nuts! I talk like nuts. I say things that I shouldn’t say (I wish I could have zipper in my mouth!) and I stay in silence when I really need to say certain things. I always regret that I act like I’m nuts. I often spill over my coffee or water on someone’s food or table in a public place. If I try to be careful, even more happens. I walk like I’m nuts and bang myself to every corner in my house. When I try to avoid the corners, I usually run into them. So what can I say? I am a nut.

Why would God want to use someone who is a klutz like me? He is Almighty God who can make the impossible possible. Our Savior Jesus, who is full of grace and mercy, calls me and you; “Come, not because you are perfect; come now, because you are forgiven. Come just as you are. Life’s not all about you. It’s about Me.”

I’d like to share my Mom’s journey of faith and how she changed her world. My Mom was born and raised in a small town in South Korea. Back in those days women were not given the chance for even the most basic education except how to take care of their household. But when my mom decided to do something right, she would make it happen and she would never give up. So, she snuck into school where all the boys were and learned basic education. Then she had to get married to a certain young man. He was handsome, tall and educated, but his family was very poor. Her marriage to my dad was an arranged marriage by their parents. Some families arranged marriages for their child while their children were still babies. That’s how they kept their family’s name and wealth. Without a single date she was simply told that she was to be married to this certain man. She followed her family’s wishes and married my Dad. As you can probably guess, they didn’t have a loving relationship. That’s why many men had concubines and mistresses on the side. That was the culture of those days.

My Mom grew up in a culture that prayed and worshipped their ancestors and practiced witchcraft. One day she and her sister attended a crusade where they heard the Gospel preached. They gave their lives to the Lord that day. The joy of God filled in their hearts. That was the new beginning of her life. Right away my Dad threatened her about going to church. He told her that he would break both her legs if she went to church again and he would divorce her. In that time a divorced woman was the biggest disgrace that a family name could have. She was scared, but she decided to take it to the Lord in prayer. She prayed to God for direction. She decided to follow Jesus and felt so much peace in her heart. Then God even softened my Dad’s heart and he never forbade my Mother from going to church again. Prayer is so powerful. Because of my Mom’s unceasing prayer and witness to him, he started going to church now and then. But he didn’t want to receive Jesus as his Savior yet. Are you praying for someone’s salvation now? Please don’t give up! Because it took more than 20-years for my Dad to receive Jesus .Finally my Dad turned himself to Jesus when he faced the last stage of leukemia. He was only 55 years old when he went to be with the Lord. My Mom also ministered to her children and taught us to give God what belongs to Him.

We gave thanks to God and praise to God through our daily devotion. That’s how we finished the day. I still remember that she woke up very early in the morning and prayed for hours. She prayed for her family, church, community, country, and the whole world. She was truly a prayer warrior.

I remember that every morning a certain beggar used to come to our door asking for food. My Mom always treated him very kindly with compassion. I was about 5-years old and I was so afraid of him because he was very scruffy, dirty and a big man. Can you guess what his name was? It was Lazarus! You know the story about a rich-man and a beggar Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31. Of course we didn’t call him Lazarus. In Korean it’s pronounced NASARO. My Mom seemed so interested in him. She listened to him and talked to him about Jesus while he was finishing his meal. It’s so funny that he knew who Jesus was and some stories of the Bible. I believe that Jesus would have done the same.

When we found out she was on the last stage of colon cancer, I remember that she was not afraid of it at all. She rather comforted me because she knew that God was in control. She was hospitalized for chemotherapy for a while. She again witnessed to people who were visiting with other people. She surely didn’t waste anytime for Jesus; not even last minute of her life. I have a picture of my little mama who had a biggest heart for Jesus. This old hymn, “Since Jesus Came into My Heart,” was one of my Mom’s favorite hymns. I don’t mean to make fun of my Mom. But my Mom would sing it. “Since Jesus came into my heart, Since Jesus came into my heart…” Believe me, my sister and I tried to make her sing right. It didn’t work. She surely was a joyful noise maker. How I miss her joyful noise! I wish I could hear her sweet voice once more! She shared the love of Jesus to everyone she met and spoke of His love. I am so grateful for her. She was a great example to me and she taught me how to live.

I am so grateful that God has given me many opportunities to serve His church. But I do often feel that I am not good enough. That’s why I trust in Him more and I have to count on Him always. I enjoy it the most when I serve with my husband as a couple.

How fun it was that God used us to start a children’s ministry at our previous church. The church didn’t have a children’s ministry for a while. There were no children in that church. We were the only young family who had children when we visited the first time. We picked up many kids from our apartment for Sunday school and Vacation Bible School. The elementary school was right next to the apartment where we lived. Almost every family had children in that apartment structure. God made everything so easy. I believe when we obey what He asks us to do, He is not going to make us miserable. Not only He opens the easy door and makes smooth transition but also He will give us peace and lots of fun. We were very sad one summer that we had to turn some children down because so many children came to register for vacation Bible school.

I still remembered that our old apartment living room was filled with children. They sang “Jesus loves me this I know” so loud and they loved to hear the story of Jesus. I hope and pray that those children as adults will remember Jesus in their heart.

We found a wonderful home church in our new city after we moved to this area. Our family had a privilege to serve for children’s music ministry. This is joyful noise choir. They look like little angels! We sure did make lots of joyful noise. The best part was serving together as a family. My husband David and one of the parents played guitar and my older daughter, Beverly, played piano and my younger daughter Emily helped during the snack time and I directed music while my son was making joyful noise. I am amazed that God wanted to use undeserving people like me and my husband for His glory and kingdom.

Matthew 6:33 is one of my very favorite verses - “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

I joined the choir in our church a while ago. Singing in the choir to me is one of the most intimate times with God even though I am surrounded by many choir members. I send my prayer and love letter to my Jesus through the music.

The next three years will be a challenge to me. I need lots of prayers and Godly wisdom to serve His church as an elder-deacon.

I love to squeezy hug. This country is where I learned how to hug. Not just hug, squeezy hug! I didn’t know how to hug before because of the culture I grew up in. We bow when we greet people.

As disciples, we are not called to be successful but to be faithful - doing what we can, with what we have, where we are, to advance Christ’s kingdom “on earth as it is in heaven.” Does God ask us to be successful? - No! To be faithful! – Yes! Would you join me with Micah 6:8? Ready? - “What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.” And when you do, “…all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33)

God bless you,
Iris Encina


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