Holding hands with two realities

Please read these genuine and refreshing words!

I need words

It wasn’t what I was expecting to feel.

Lying in the middle of Namibian desert, the most brilliant starry sky above me, I felt tension.

A warm breeze swept over us as we lay, spellbound, on the side of the road. It was so still. We were so far from any forms of large civilization that the sky was pitch black and there were more stars than I’d ever seen before. I think we even saw the milky way.

*Photo credit: Creationswap *Photo credit: Creationswap

Breaking the stillness of the desert, of this holy moment, were strains of music that would drift over on the wind from a nearby community.

Earlier in the day we’d driven through the community. It was a smaller version of many of the townships in Cape Town; a tidy, but poverty stricken community.

The sounds of the community reminded me of the realities that live side by side…

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Southeast Asia Trip

please support my amazing friend Sabrina as she goes to love on the lost in SE Asia! 🙂

Wan-ting

SoOoOOooooOooooo, here it is — I am going to Southeast Asia this summer with Global Celebrations, led by Georgian and Winnie Banov!

🙂

I’ve known about Global Celebrations trips since 2010 or so, but never felt a stirring to go. So why this one and why now?

One reason is to prepare myself for the long term in the context of my current season. I’m not shy to admit that most of the time short term mission trips are more for the takers than they are for the local residents that we will encounter. Don’t get me wrong, I fully expect the Holy Spirit to bless the socks off of those we get to love on, play with, minister to, pray for, etc., etc., but I just felt that in my season as a young professional in the DC area learning about politics and foreign policy, working the 9…

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forgivenessssssss: I still believe there is nothing more beautiful than the love you have for me.

It’s a friday night, here in Cape Town. I haven’t posted about South Africa on my blog, because of the sensitivity of the work I’m doing, so if you AREN’T getting my email updates, let me know, and you can hear more about what I’m doing in this glorious city of CT. 

These past few days I have been learning a lot about forgiveness from God. First off, being forgiven, and forgiving others opens up your heart to receive more of the LOVE of God. There’s a verse in Luke 7:47, where a prostitute is crying on Jesus’ feet, and the disciples are questioning her. He responds with “she who has been forgiven of much, LOVES much.” That means that when we realize the greatness of forgiveness that we’ve received, it allows us to receive a depth of love from God that I see only comes from forgiving. 

I was talking with Jesus about forgiveness, and I was asking him what forgiveness means. This came up because I have been afraid to face some things from my past. He began by telling me that forgiveness is letting go of the past, and surrendering the control that a person or that their behavior has over you. I began to realize that I needed to forgive some people, because I was still allowing what they DID to me to have power over me. See, when you speak out a lie, you strip it of power, and when I verbally say, “I forgive you,” for what you did to me, you are negating your past’s control over you. God is so kind, because now I am not afraid to face my past because I chose to forgive. It’s so simple. 

On another note: here are some photos that don’t even begin to capture the beauty here in South Africa. These kids live in a township, which is basically really horrible conditions. Some of them don’t have running water or electricity. Crime, drugs, and robbery are rampant here, but these kids teach me so much about Jesus. Enjoyyyy 🙂 Much love from Africaaa! 

 

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Cambodia: there’s a fire shut up in my bonnnessss

So I am currently in Penang, Malaysia, spending time with one of my dear friends from college. Since she moved to Asia, I’ve been wanting to visit her. It was perfect since Malaysia is so close to Thailand. Malaysia is beautiful, and Penang consists of four distinct cultures: Chinese, Indian, Malay, and indigenous people. Penang is also considered the food capital of Asia, so I am enjoying the delicious food here! Pictures to come. This humid coastal city also has a house of prayer, called PHOP, where I’ve gotten to worship and pray, it’s been so refreshing for me! 

 This past week, my friend and I visited Cambodia for a few days. It was a whirlwind of a trip since our time there was so quick, but its brevity was definitely worth it. Cambodia has a very sad history. As a history major, not only was I interested in what happened during the Khmer Rouge (1975-1979), but I was also intrigued by the culture and people of Cambodia. I went to one of the killing fields, which was outside of Phnom Phen, unfortunately only one out of the 150 killing fields in all of Cambodia. It is estimated that Pol Pot, the leader of this regime killed about 3 out of the 8 million people in Cambodia. After seeing the killing fields, and hearing various narratives, my heart was broken. Cambodia is also known for its child prostitution. So many children are trafficked and sold into sex slavery, because Cambodia is extremely poor, and because there is a lot of corruption in their law enforcement. What I saw in this country stirred a yearning for this people inside of me, and I knew that I would be back to Cambodia someday to take a stand against the injustices that these vulnerable children face. I had the joy to capture some beautiful faces there, and I was so encouraged when I walked into a shop where they sold items made by women rescued from sex slavery. The man working there LOVED Jesus, and his name was Peter. There’s a picture below. Cambodia has been my favorite country in SE Asia so far, even though I’ve spent the least amount of time there, I cannot wait to go back. In the next week, I plan to spend time building relationships with my friend’s students. She teaches English, and a lot of her students are Muslim or Buddhist. I will also join in on a night of outreach for prostitutes, and join the prayer and worship times at the house of prayer. Well enjoy the pictures and beautiful people below. Much love from Asia. –Sarah Jane

 

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Meet Peter: he sells products made by women who were rescued from sexual exploitation in Cambodia so that they can walk in a life of fullness and freedom! Rajana Association, so cool. 

Cambodia photos. :)

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A little lady + her bananas. So precious 🙂 

 

 

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My favorite little boys I met on the streets of Phnom Penh.

 

 

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These children captured my heart. Cambodia has been my favorite Asian country to far here, and the street kids are at high risk for sex trafficking. 

 

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The three tower of Angkor Wat: A UNESCO world heritage site, and one of the seven wonders of the world, dating back to the 12th century. So cool! 

 

 

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Me in front of Angkor Wat! It was so HOT outside, seriously. 

 

 

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My beautiful friend Catherine, and travel buddy! 

anecdotes of hope

Faith is being sure of what you hope for, and certain of what you can’t see. I have about one week left in ChiangMai, and I am so thankful for the time I’ve spent here. The people I’ve met, the love I’ve shared with people, and the hope which has been birthed inside my heart for broken spirits to become whole. God has taught me a lot about perspective and about thankfulness. It’s really humorous when culture shock hits me sometimes. One day I was trying to get my hair done, and I was struggling to explain what I wanted to the Thai hair dresser. I left frustrated because I couldn’t speak Thai, although all I could think about was craving gold fish, or needing something American! Many times also I ask a taxi driver to take me somewhere, and we drive to several wrong destinations, before we arrive at the right one. There’s a saying here: ‘sabay-sabay, ’ which means easy, or comfortable. This is their beautiful way of life, one day at a time. The ebb and flow of living day by day here has caused me to stop, to be still, and to take in more beauty that surrounds me. I realized that I crave rice every day, and could easily eat it with every meal, and I also realized that I am thankful that God allowed me to be born in America. For a long time, I was frustrated that I had so much, as a westerner, but now, God has replaced frustration with thankfulness. 

 

I could share story after story of women that I meet. But I will share one in particular, that continues to stay in my heart. I met a women named Rose. As soon as I sat down in her bar, she spilled her story out to me. She just wanted to be heard. She explained that, ”no one wants to be in the bars,”  but that she works there to make money for her children. As the oldest daughter, it is her responsibility to provide for her parents and children, and to send that money back home. She began to cry, which also is uncommon in Thai culture to show such vulnerable emotions in public. She says that no one wants to work in the bars, because of the ways that HIV/AIDS are easily transmitted. My friend and I told her that she could have a different job, and she is seriously thinking about leaving, which is awesome especially since she was so open with us the first time that we met, and the times after that. She even said that she felt like she lived a “double life,” trying to cope with the life of sexually servicing men, while just trying to survive to provide for her children. Please pray that she would have the courage to leave.

 

So in this I believe in faith: that these women will know their value and worth as people, who are worth fighting for because God loves them. I stand in the gap, and say that they will have a voice, because that is the heart of God. Please pray for these women: and for the men that go to them. I recently spoke with a man, who has lived here for six years. He said that it was a “western concept,” to think that men were exploiting women in Thailand, and that they were actually helping the Thai women to have a better economic livelihood. He talked about western morality versus eastern morality, as he asked a girl..(while I was near him,) what she would give him in exchange for a drink. I felt nauseous… BUT, Instead of being angry with this man, God broke my heart for him, and I went home and wept for his lost soul. Though this man thinks like this, please pray that God would transform his mind to think of this issue through the kingdom’s perspective.

 

So// I will be in Thailand for about one more week, and then I will visit Cambodia shortly, and then spend about two weeks in Malaysia, encouraging a friend, and seeing what a YWAM base is doing in the red light district to help women there as well. After that, I will head to Cape Town, South Africa to live in a safehome, and work with survivors of sex trafficking for about six weeks. Please continue to pray that God would give me his perspective, and that all that I do would be out of an overflow of being compelled by love. 

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Decorations from a Buddhist festival. Image

This is Rose. 🙂 a lil blurry, but fullll of love:) 

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Village north of ChiangMai. 

 

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I’ve been enjoying photography a lot here. This little girl is so precious. My sweet sister, Grace let me borrow her Nikon to take pictures. I love capturing the beauty of people here. 

 

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Rice fields where the villagers work every day. So beautiful. 

 

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Exploring rice fields. 

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This woman captured my heart. 

 

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Our village mom braided all of our hair. I had the chance of visiting this village with a group from YWAM Germany. Such a blessing. Image

My birthday was so great! I got to ride elephants, and spend time with one my dear friends, Catherine, who came to visit for a few days. 🙂 

because he died, I will never LACK.

Hello dearest friends, I’ve been in Thailand for a month now, and God is showing me so much. I am having a crazy love affair with Jesus like you wouldn’t believe. He reminds me daily that if my obedience or the things that I do for him are not out of a place of love, then they are not worth anything. If I obey him every time he asks me to do something, then I succeed; that’s all he asks, is that we love him with everything. He asks us to become fully possessed by love. So, in coming to Thailand I thought I would be working with women in the red light district, which I am, but I also find my myself working in a café, every day, and discipling new believers. Hahaha, God likes to test our hearts to see if we will become offended. And let me tell you, I was offended. I began to complain to God about my expectations not being what I though they would be, I began to complain because I was mistreated by some people here. And also, that is the quickest way for the enemy to steal our joy, is through distraction from Jesus. Well, Jesus asked me if I would work in this café or: “wash dishes” for him. He asks us to obey him because there is no other way to honor him, except to have our hearts fully possessed by his love. I found that after worshiping, and letting my heart be overcome with lovesickness for him, it was easy. Offense could not stay. I refuse to let offense or to allow the way others treat me to affect my intimacy with God. To stay in this place of love, a desperate reliance upon God is needed in all things. To be poor in spirit is needed. What does that even mean, I ask God? It means to be completely dependent upon him, entirely reliant on him for all things. Let’s just say that I am humbled oh so daily, because I realize that I cannot do anything without my sweet Jesus. It sounds so easy to say, but it’s so different in reality.

Well Thailand is not what I thought it would be, but Jesus promises to lead us beside still waters, and to restore our souls. That means that even in times of testing, we will never lack, and we will always have enough in him. He is always enough.  God brings my heart to place of being content through his perspective and through thankfulness. I think that missions is often depicted as a grand and glorious, and even romanticized. But leaving your family, giving up your language, and comfort in a known home is not always easy. I am learning so much from people who have been invested somewhere for longs periods of time. When I feel lonely or dry, I just think about how other missionaries must feel. But in the end, when I feel lonely, or frustrated with how things are going here, I just press in, and then I get radically changed by spending time with God. His love makes it worth everything, and he is so worthy of it all. Love never fails ever. This reality makes my world beautiful. This paradigm allows me to press in deeper when I feel like giving up, to believe in the impossible for my prostitute friends here, and to know that in times of testing, the result of suffering is HOPE. Hope that cannot disappoint because it’s from Holy Spirit.

 

beauty from ashes

Take courage sons, , for me must go under the heart of darkness, and set them free. Bu don’t lose heart when you see the numbers, there’s no measure for, the faith that we bring// it’s given to us, to overcome. If we run, where the spirit calls us on, the greatest things, have yet to come, with the dawn, we will rise. –josh garrels.

 

God is so sweet to me in Thailand. Today I spent time resting, reflecting, and pondering the transformation God has already done. For one, he took my heart, which was so broken and messy two months ago, and he placed an anchor of hope in my heart, the kind that doesn’t disappoint, (Rom 5). Second, he puts me around hungry people. I met this girl, so eager to receive love (she is pictured below and I talked about her in my previous post.) She stood me up three times, and in one day called me thirty-five times. This girl is hungry for love, and come to find out, she is even a pastor’s daughter, but she is fearful. As a lover of Jesus, I get to tell who she is over and over, until she believes it enough to leave the sex industry, and her pimp. (She has the option of leaving, through a program we provide here).LOVE always overcomes. It is always enough. I could see the beauty of Jesus so clearly when I finally saw her on the streets, let’s call this girl Hope. When she saw me, she gave me a chocolate rose, with a tag that says, “I love you.” She was so sorry for not meeting me, and gave me a long hug. What?!! Hope’s heart was longing to be seen, even though she never came when she said she would. UNRELENTLESS. Jesus comes after my heart daily, beckoning me to be fully his all the time. He wants to ravish my heart with his love, that I would be fully possessed by him. In pursuing Hope, I have seen the Father’s heart so much, and I have been so encouraged, that though Hope calls me while she is drunk or high, or while she is with customers, she still calls, and she still wants to be heard. So here I am, willing, so willing to stand in the gap on behalf of those who don’t know that their voice is heard by Papa God.

 

Third, I met a girl while walking one day, who I’ve mentioned before. Let’s call her Rachel. When I met Rachel, she was dating a 65 year old man, and she is 23. I met this man, and while he was friendly, he was pretty controlling, and insisted that she quit her job to move in with him outside of the city. The day after I spent time with her, she texted me in broken English, and said, “I’ve been thinking a lot about my life, and I decide to break up with my boyfriend.” WOW. I didn’t even talk about Jesus, but he is stirring in her heart for sure. Please pray for Rachel though, because she recently got a new job, at a brothel, I am almost certain. Rachel has an amazing heart, and came to the city in order to make money for her family in the village, to send back to them. She has invited me to her village, and I have gotten to share the gospel with her, but pray that her heart opens to receive Jesus. I know she is searching a lot for hope.

 

Ok, last story… tonight I went with a group to prayer walk an area filled with brothels in the less touristic side of the city. So instead of the customers being foreigners, the customers are Thai men. It is hard to tell which ones are brothels, until the sun goes down, and then you see girls peeking out behind the doors. These girls are trafficked in from Burma, and are actually an unreached people group called the Shan. As we prayer walked, I felt the Holy Spirit wanted us to turn left onto this street, right by this one brothel. We stood in this alley way just worshipping Jesus, and crying out to him for justice. I asked God if we could go further into the alley way, but he said, “not yet.” Then, I looked next to me, and there was an angel around twelve feet tall standing at the entrance of the alley way. Now, I don’t see angels ever, but I definitely saw one tonight. God told me to welcome in his ministering angels into the alley. So we did, and as we did, the spiritual atmosphere shifted. I felt so much peace and joy. As the angel entered the alley, then God said that we could enter as well. As we walked down the alley, I could feel a lot of demonic presences, and we found more brothels, but I know that God’s angels were welcome, and something changed in that atmosphere that night because we stood in prayer and worshipped. Please pray for this area, as it definitely a poorer part of Chiangmai, and the group of people I ministered with tonight are opening a prayer house to intercede for the unreached people groups, and trafficked women in this part of the city. The area is very dark, but again, several girls also saw angels around the neighborhood previously this week, so God is on the move. This was a super powerful time for me tonight, and I felt to honored to be a part of interceding for the neighborhood.

 

Thank you all for praying and covering me in prayer. I can feel your prayers as some days I am very tired or overwhelmed, and then I have a burst of energy, or divine perspective on things.  Peace like a river. 

 

Here’s a little poem I wrote last year about God’s heart for justice:

Emancipation cries

It’s fetters no more

His heart realigns

With mankind he restores

To unity in him

He wants them to see

That they are new within

Always to rest and be free

 

This is Hope 🙂 On the far right is my friend Jessica, she loves Jesus, and has a similar heart for justice. Hope gave us both the chocolate rose seen below! 

Image Yummy Thai food! Everything here is so fresh! ImageImage

One of my new friends Josh. He was in Thailand for a conference. He brought me such sweet community. 

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This is a view of the Great Wall. I got to visit on my layover in Beijing. My friend my Summer, met me at the airport and paid for everything! I was so blessed. For reallll! 

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Here I am, at the Great Wall. Epic. Everyone should go. 

 

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A waterfall in Chiangmai. I love the beauty here. 

 

 

 

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A view of the city! 

 

 

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ChiangMai is surround by these glorious mountains! 

 

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Being silly. These little girls are at risk for sex trafficking. So the ministry I work with builds relationships to educate the kids in the slums to prevent them from trafficking! 

 

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Some precious girls I met in the slums.:) 

 

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A little area where I run in the mornings. 

 

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I am spoiled in Austin with good coffee, but I FINALLY found a place that is almost at good as the coffee in Austin at houndstooth, my favorite coffee shop, praise the LORD! 

she called to me from across the street

Isaiah 49:9-10  Say to the captives, “come out!” and to those in darkness, “be free.”.. He who has compassion on them will lead them beside springs of water.

 

 

…. She called to me from across the street…

 

My friends and I were praying in the red light district. Across the street, we could see several girls in high heels yelling to customers, trying to get business from men walking down the street. My friend, Joshua begins to pray for breakthrough for these girls, and as he prays this, a girl literally walks over to where we are. Talk about Holy Spirit’s timing! She smiles at us as she realizes that we are praying. My friend Jessica and I just hug her, and tell her that she is beautiful. I see tears in her eyes, as she says, “you pray,” and says, “I don’t want to work bars {anymore.}” We tell her that she has a way out, but she says that her madam, (pimp) wouldn’t let her leave. She is only twenty years old. Make-up is plastered on her eyes, but it didn’t hide the tangible emotions of sadness that enveloped my fiend and I as we stood by her. For a Thai to show that much emotion is a huge, since Thais usually don’t show sadness, even if they are sad. Second, she asked for prayer! This is so incredible. She is so scared of leaving her pimp, but it’s so evident that God is stirring a hunger in her heart. I also learned form others that she is a believer, but that she won’t leave the bars because of her fear. Please pray for this lady, who is so desperate for HOPE, that lasts. Pray that she would have the courage to leave her madam, through a program we have for her here in ChiangMai. Pray for supernatural communication, as her English is limited. Pray that she would feel so loved, and pray for an opportunity to build a deeper relationship. Although I make plans to hang out with girls, they often cancel on me because they were with a customer the night before, and are hung over until the next afternoon. This city is amazing, believe with me for freedom and justice for these girls!