So many changes are happening in my life these days! Graduation, a trip to Africa, and now a new state, a new city, and a new job! With my job came a new blog, and I would GREATLY appreciate you visiting it to see what God is up to in my life!
Just cut and past this into your browser:http://erickabennett.myadventures.org
I crave your prayers and support as I start this new chapter of my life! God has big things in store, and I would love you to be a part of it!
To read about how I got connected to this ministry and what my passion is, check out my Biography
. To read about where I am, what I'm learning, and how God is moving in my life, check out View All Blogs
I can't wait to hear from you! Thank you all for your support and love thus far.
Grace and peace!
In HIS hands,
Back from Africa... and thankful.
There is much to write... much to share- but for now, I just wanted to let everyone know I'm home safe. There are no words to explain all I saw, felt, experienced-- but I will say this- I know the power of prayer more than ever!
Every prayer was answered. EVERY PRAYER. We were all concerned with my health on this trip, so let me start by saying I was completely healthy the whole trip- never got sick, never got hurt. *(there will be more to share about my health later-- God is SO good!) We were extremely well taken care of by AIM (if you ever get the opportunity to take part in missions, Adventures in Missions is definitely the way to go-- I can't say enough about this organization- the people are just incredible!)
I slept well every night-- only one night of an uneasy dream that went away when I woke up and prayed, and then one nightmare the very last night that I woke up from (I usually don't wake up) and prayed away-- other than that though, NO nightmares or even dreams through the whole trip-I slept soundly every night- such an answered prayer since many of you know I normally have terrible nightmares on mission trips (and was even on Malaria medicine that is supposed to give you extremely vivid dreams).
There's another answered prayer- no medicine side effects! None. I normally have every side effect possible for every medicine I take. Not this time! Another answered prayer.
As for our group- it was incredible-- no drama, no discord... shared hearts, unity, compassion, community, friendship, and love. Never have I been a part of such an incredible group of people. It was obvious we were all being prayed for- I asked that you pray unity for our group and to bind Satan from our group and that's exactly what we had... even those in leadership for AIM were amazed by it!
So thank you- that is really the purpose of this post- to say THANK YOU for your prayers. I know that I have so many amazing prayer warriors, and I can't begin to explain how evident your prayers were on this trip!
There is so much more to share, and I am continuing to process it all... it's overwhelming to be back. I can't seem to quiet my mind-- I wake up at night thinking and praying, and I wake up in the morning the same way. I've been wrecked and broken. I keep saying it's good to be home, but the truth is, my heart aches to be back... I ache to hold those children again...
Please pray for my heart as I continue to process, and try to figure out what life looks like for me now. Please pray I'll be able to share effectively the stories God has given me from these incredible people... from these beautiful children...
Thank you- to all of you- for all you've done to help me get to Africa. Thank you for letting me go, thank you for praying for me while I was there...
And thank you God for breaking my heart and for leaving a part of it in the hands and hearts of those beautiful children...
On my way to AFRICA!
For those of you who haven't heard from me in a while (I apologize- life has been insanely busy) - here's an update! I finished my internship at Farmville Baptist (what a blessing my church family has been, and what a blessing to teach those youth!) and on May 10th I graduated from Auburn University with a degree in Communication. At this point, I wish I had the time to reflect back on the incredible experiences I have had here at Auburn, and to share with you some of the ways I have been forever impacted by the people I've met, places I've been, and things I've seen. Sadly though, there is no time for reflection - only action!
My plane leaves Atlanta for Africa around 8 am Saturday morning. As I prepare to go I wanted to share this information from my support letter (since I didn't get to mail as many as I'd planned).
- - - - - - -
Dear friends and family,
You are getting this letter, because you have faithfully loved, supported, and encouraged me. Now, as I prepare to go on a mission trip to Africa, I will need that love, support, and encouragement more than ever! Many of you are probably shocked to hear that I’m going to Africa, but I assure you, it was not a reckless or hasty decision. Though this may be the first you’ve heard of it, for the past nine months God has been working in my heart and life to prepare me to make this commitment.
Last summer, I had two friends in Africa- Matt in Zambia, and Russell in Kenya. At the beginning of the summer, I had no desire to go to Africa, but I committed to pray for my friends while they were there. Little did I know what God had in store for me! Prayer can move mountains, and it can move people to Africa too!
While contemplating my desire to go, I took a class about missions. During class one night, a speaker challenged those of us who said we wanted to go overseas with this question: “If you really have a heart for the nations, then what are you doing here? Now? How are you reaching the nations from where you are this week?” He shared that if our call was sincere, we would be burdened enough to be doing something now, instead of just waiting on the chance to go overseas. Believing that, I’d like to share with you how God has been preparing my heart to answer His call to Africa, and what I’ve been doing here while waiting on the chance to go!
July 5 – an entry in my journal
The passion inside me for Africa continues to grow. My prayer now is that God will make a way for me to go!
July 7 – an email to my friend Matt, in Zambia
You have been on my heart DAILY since you left. God has really given me a heart for Africa (which continues to intensify) and placed a burden on me to pray for you and your group constantly- more than anything ever before.
July 8 – an email to my friend Russell, in Kenya
Over the past few months God has given me such a heart for Africa that continues to intensify! It's hard to explain, but it just keeps growing and growing- I have no doubt that I want to go. I can't wait to see what the details of me going will be- I'm so ready for God to reveal it!
July 12 – another email to Matt, in Zambia
He continues to intensify my heart for Africa and for you all there…
July 23 – another email to Russell, in Kenya
I want to go to Africa so badly lately... I just know I will get an opportunity to go there, and I hope it's in the coming year. I'll definitely be investigating the possibilities soon.
August – December
I took a “Perspectives” class at a church in Auburn to learn more about international missions.
I became a sponsor for Dama (5) and Erick (7), two Compassion International children in Kenya, Africa. (www.compassion.com)
I held a benefit concert for the Invisible Children of war-torn Uganda (www.invisiblechildren.com), raising $1,927 to send children to school in Africa.
God provided the $300 I needed to pay my deposit for the trip to Africa. I made it just in time to get one of the last 2 spots available!
I will leave for Swaziland (Africa) on May 26, and will return June 12. I am going with 21 other students from Auburn, through Grace Campus Ministries (www.gracecampus.net) and Adventures in Missions. We will be working with AIDS orphans – children whose parents died of AIDS, or are too sick from AIDS to take care of them. We will also work with some individuals who have AIDS. The reality that I am finally going to Africa continues to sink in everyday, and my excitement continues to grow (as if you can’t tell from the picture above! Ha!)
I have never even been out of the country before, and now I am trying to prepare my heart to go to the most AIDS affected country in the world (over 40%). I am overwhelmed to think of all I will see and experience, and all the ways it will change me, but I am compelled to go. Through fear and uncertainty, I hear the gentle whisper of a loving voice, my Father’s voice, saying “Go child… go to the poor and wretched. Go to the lonely and forgotten. Go to the motherless children. Go to the lost and dying. Go child… be My hands and feet. Take My LOVE, My HOPE, and My LIGHT to a dark world.” And so, I will go – with a heart full of peace and hands ready to serve!
I have been blessed to receive above and beyond the amount of money I needed to go. For this I am incredibly grateful. Still though, I desperately need you to PRAY!
Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should.
Finally, brothers, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you. And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men, for not everyone has faith.
2 Thessalonians 3:1-2
For protection (physically and spiritually)
For UNITY for our group
For God to work IN us
For God to work THROUGH us – pray that they will know Him by the way we love them!
And most importantly, that He will get the Glory for all we do, and that His name will be made great among all nations!
I will try to post more details before I leave, so that you will better know how and when to pray. Please add me and my group to your prayer list, and ask your friends and family to pray too!
Thank you in advance for your support. You are all blessings in my life and I am so thankful for each of you! Love, grace, and peace to you!
In HIS hands,
the hour came
and still I sit, unmoved, unchanged without
- within nothing's the same -
my pen tries to convey
What I feel in this place
What I am in this time
and the freedom that comes when you give up the fight
and rest awhile
in the beauty that is
unknown, untamed, unafraid.
And I can't help but smile
when I look in your eyes
unassuming, accepting, and so full of fire -
and we touch, and we feel, and we talk for a while,
and we laugh as the people rush by...
Then embracing uncertainty
leap into life,
and we dare them to tell us to numb our desire -
cause no matter the sacrifice it requires
this passion's too much to deny.
And this beautiful thing
is sweet to taste
the touch of grace
that goes unseen
but felt here in this place -
When you and I
can just believe
in everything we want to see,
And we can let our hearts run free,
when we embrace uncertainty.
BIG plans for small people...
For my 23rd birthday, I decided I wanted to have my first gig in the coffee shop scene. A random way to celebrate, maybe, but it's what I wanted. Thankfully, we were able to pull it off (with my friends Zach Benson and Josh Adams playing with me, and Sandy and Trish Toomer letting us perform at Toomer's Coffee). It went GREAT! It was packed, and people had a blast! Of course we didn't make any money really ($5 each in tips), but who cares? I loved it.Then, a few days later, I started thinking...For a long time I've been feeling like God has BIG plans for me. Now I don't know what that means exactly... maybe they're big plans in man's eyes- maybe they're just big in God's eyes... either way is fine with me! But one thing I know for sure... God didn't give me my voice back to do nothing with it.I have these big dreams... these crazy big dreams, and this passion to do something BIG with my music. Of course, making $5 at a coffeeshop wouldn't do much. But then I thought, "what if people knew it was for a good cause? what if all these people came back to listen? and what if they all gave? even just 5 bucks? what could we do?" From those questions came the idea for a Benefit Series-- 3 shows, benefiting 3 causes I'm passionate about, for 3 months. I pitched the idea to Zach and Josh- they were on board. Then, to the Toomers where I heard: "this is something we could get behind Ericka! You know... it never was about the coffee." That last sentence got me. I wanted to shout! We all had the same vision! My little idea was becoming a reality.A BIG reality.We decided our first show would be to benefit Invisible Children (www.invisiblechildren.com). We only had a week, but in that time God moved in amazing ways! Through connections with friends from Auburn (Courtney Hurst), the Invisible Children organization got on board, the Auburn IC contact (Sarah Chaplin) got on board, and we were placed in contact with the IC Deep South Roadies (Will, Lauren, Matt, Kathryn). The Toomers got behind the idea 100% and started promoting online with blogs, links, streaming video, and podcasts. IC hooked us up with promo material to use all around Auburn. In no time, the night of the show was here.It's now been a week since the Invisible Children Benefit Show. Looking back, I am still astounded. How is it that everything could come together so quickly? How could it have gotten so big, so fast? How could we have packed that many people into a little coffeeshop? and how could a coffeeshop full of college kids give $1,927.00 in just one night?!It all started with one question... " what if ". What if you asked yourself some questions?What if you took a risk?What if you refused to accept mediocrity?What if you let yourself dream BIG?What if you refused to fit into societies expectations?What if you followed your heart?What if you let your passions take over?What if you gave away your life?What if?I'm fully convinced that God has BIG plans for small people who are passionately pursuing Him. What if you traded your plans for His?There is much I want to share right now- so much- about my incredible job, my music, my mission dreams, and my plans to go to Africa... but all that will have to wait. For now, I just want you to concentrate on the "what ifs" in your life... and see what God tells you!I'm learning how to do that, and how to catch His vision... little by little, and let me tell you- it's a beautiful thing.For more information about the Benefit Series, check out:www.toomerscoffee.comor download the free podcast off Itunes (just search Toomers Coffee).
Meet my little ones!
I recently had the wonderful opportunity to "adopt" two children through Compassion International. Meet my little ones!Damaris "Dama" Baya
Dama is 5 years old and lives in Kenya. Art and running are her favorite activities, and she also sings in the church choir! She is one of 8 children, and her birthday is May 8th. Isn't she beautiful
?!!Erick Mbeva Musa
Erick is 7 years old and also lives in Kenya.(I just HAD to have him when I saw how he spelled his name! haha!)
Bicycling and running are his favorite activities. His birthday is November 16th. Isn't he adorable
Both of these precious children live in an HIV/AIDS affected area of Africa. I don't yet know if either of them have HIV or AIDS, but it is something their region deals with daily. Both their families struggle to make money- usually only making around $20 a month! Through Compassion International, I will be able to sponsor these two children until they are 18-22 years old. I'll be able to write them letters and get letters back, and hopefully someday I can go to Kenya and meet them!
Everything I've read and heard about this organization is amazing! It's faith based and gives these children opportunities to grow mentally, physically, and spiritually- making sure they all hear the gospel! If you'd like to sponsor a child of your own, just visit: www.compassion.comPlease keep Dama, Erick, and their families in your prayers!
Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." - Matthew 19:14
Tonight I found out an old family friend committed suicide. Three self-inflicted gunshot wounds to the chest... I can't imagine... to be honest I'm still in shock. She was a dear Christian woman and a member of my church- there every Sunday. None of us ever suspected anything was wrong, but we’ve now found out she'd been battling depression.
I keep hearing suicide stories about people who were struggling with "depression", and the more I hear, the less I believe it was just that. I think our society explains too much away with medicine and technology, when it's really often a spiritual battle! I just can't imagine any other way you could get that desperate and hopeless, unless you were believing lies from the enemy.
With that in mind, I realized that there may be others in my life with the same struggles, who need to be reminded of the TRUTH. And so, I sat down to write. This is what the Lord gave me....
It's gray outside today.
She shuts herself away
to hide from the cold on the other side of her front door.
It matches the cold she feels inside
and no matter how she tries to fight the dark,
her soul can't find the light.
"Just end it all"
says the voice in her mind...
A voice so familiar it feels like her own,
convincing her she's all alone.
The voice continues the onslaught of lies-
locked away in her room alone she cries
believing still that the voice is her own,
Never thinking that she could be wrong.
So Satan continues
weaving a web
of tangled lies within her head,
watching her heart and spirit break
until she feels she can’t escape.
Desperate to be free she searches her mind-
He offers more lies, an escape of some kind:
“Some pills, a gun, a razor tonight”-
He tells her that’s how she’ll make everything right.
Hopeless and broken she sees no other way.
Desperate to find an escape from the pain
She takes his suggestion,
embraces his blame,
and watches her life slip away.
And all the while, LOVE watched in tears
praying and hoping she’d see He was near
Offering HOPE and TRUTH and LIGHT,
Ready to fight away the night.
Arms outstretched to comfort and heal
with POWER to make the enemy yield.
Offering life abundant and free
from the destructive lies of the enemy.
And still He stands,
The source of TRUTH
Above the fight that rages on
To give you HOPE
When yours is gone
So don’t give up
You’re not alone.