I am human. I struggle, I stress.
I am human. I struggle, I stress.
MY SWEET GRANDPA JIM, PASSED AWAY THIS MORNING, AT 82 YEARS OLD.
To my dearest grandpa Jim:
I wish I had told you how funny you were, or how precious your smile was when you would laugh.
I wish I had told you how much I admired you for working so hard to provide for & raise 8 kids.
I wish you could still be there someday at my wedding to cut in during the father daughter dance.
I wish I had told you how much I admired your faith & passion.
I wish we could play King’s Corners just one more time.
I wish I had told you thank you for raising my dad, for molding him into a man of character, for giving him your humor & for allowing him to dream big dreams.
I wish I had made sure you knew that you were the best grandpa a little girl could ask for.
This has been an amazing outreach: I've seen God move, & I've seen my students & myself be transformed.
I've seen the eyes of a prostitute light up when she hears that she has true value. I've worshiped with people in the streets of Mexico City. I've gotten to know and encourage survivors of human trafficking. I've hammocked with ngäbe tribal women in the mountains of Panama. I've heard the gut wrenching stories of men deported into Tijuana. I've done lots of dishes. I've translated- even when i felt inadequate. I've befriended people so very different than me, yet very much the same.
As beautiful as this outreach has been, as a leader I allowed myself to be under a lot of pressure. In the midst of all the beauty & chaos, I felt really tired. All of the details and the discipleship and energy needed to lead an outreach, the trying to be in control, it was almost consuming me.
At some point however, I felt something shift. I was sitting and talking with God asking him what had changed and His answer:
I let go, I laid it all down. The false idea that I had been in control in the first place, has broken. It took God about 6 weeks or so to break that in me, but He did it. During this outreach when things were meant to be planned for our ministry... they weren't. Sometimes we didn't know what we would be doing for ministry until the night before, sometimes we didn't even know until the morning of. God has so been stretching me, calling me, to let go of control & to trust that He has something for me & my team, even when I can't see it.
It's one thing to want to know & have things organized for yourself but when you have responsibility for a team & have 7 girls looking to you for details & plans, it adds a lot of stress. It has been so humbling to say, many times, "I don't know guys, let's pray."
I've learned complete reliance on the Holy Spirit as a leader. In driving directions, in ministry opportunities & in projects, the Holy Spirit, not me, has been our guide. We've come together as a team each morning & said "okay Lord, what do you have for us today?"
I love, I really love, having things organized & planned. This is my nature & God has totally shaken this up for me. He's kept me on the edge of my seat, trusting Him in every moment.
While organization can be a positive thing, God has really been nudging me to let go of my death grip on the details & enjoy the adventure that he has me on in that season. I haven't been able to rely on my own plans at all & it has brought me closer to Jesus, day after day.
In the Merced market district of Mexico City simple transactions are made: clothing items, shoes, fruits, spices and candies are sold for dirt cheap. Oh & so are women.
Each day about 500, beautiful & precious girls, many of them underage, line up against a chain link fence.
Waiting to be used & then discarded, until the next guy comes along. An encounter with these women goes for as low as $8 U.S. dollars per hour.
No matter how long or how many times I do red light district ministry. It never gets easier. I’ve talked with women & encouraged them only to have them bought seconds later. I’ve seen the hurt, the pain & the fear in their eyes. It’s maddening & gut wrenching. Why is it okay for women & even children to be bought? Why is it okay? The answer is simple- it’s not.
He who was without sin died in our place, paid for our sins, in order that we could enter into full and unhindered relationship with the Father. These women are already claimed & I refuse to believe that there is no hope for them, or for places like Merced. There is hope for God’s heart is to redeem these women, just as he redeems us. Although I cannot see it yet, in faith, I will still hold on to hope.
God speaks promises, encouragements over me and the minute things get hard I begin to lose sight of those promises.
I forget, I lose my memory.
God provided a family friend who would pay for my entire education at the university of my dreams: Baylor University. Rent, tuition, books and food all four years, all completely covered. I am forever grateful for the experience and the growth, the community and the adventures I had at that place.
When I didn’t have time to raise full time support because I jumped right in to working with Discipleship Training Schools full time, God provided for all my needs and more, pulling together a ministry team around me to support me financially and in prayer. I didn’t lack anything. But the minute I have a greater need financially as a missionary I start to stress about how it will be covered.
God is faithful, so why can’t I remember that?
It is a cycle:
I’m so done with forgetting. The character of God is not changing, so why would I think otherwise? He is ever faithful, ever good, ever loving, ever merciful and ever sovereign. Period.
The more I have amnesia the less I have my feet planted on the solid rock of Christ, and the easier it is for satan to push me over.
Sometimes I feel like I’m a toddler: God gives me promises & I expect them immediately. It’s my promise and I want it now, why must I wait? It's been such a journey to figure out that God's promises are most of the time not fulfilled instantaneously.
God is a God worth waiting on, but in our human nature we try to take control & fulfill His promises for ourselves. We expect instant gratification or else we get frustrated, we give up, we stop waiting & do it ourselves, or we just move on.
Often I do all of the above.
As an old man Abram or Abraham, in the Bible, was promised to become a father of many nations. He was promised to have decedents numbering as many as the stars, but how could this promise ever be? They were old and his wife was barren, but our God is a God of miracles and He works for our good outside of the restrictions of time and space. Instead of waiting in faith for God’s promise to be fulfilled, Abram & Sarai took matters into their own hands. They created an artificial version of the promise God intended & as a result Ishmael was born. Eventually God’s promise was fulfilled, and Isaac was born, but the beauty of this promise was tainted because they had taken matters into their own hands.
I don’t want to create God's promises artificially, I want the real thing.
How did we get to this point? How did we become so unfaithful, so impatient, so fickle? Sin.
I know, that I know, that I know God is faithful. I’ve seen so many of His promises prove to be true in my life & in others' lives. They always happen in His way, His timing, through means I would’ve never concocted myself. They are always beautiful, always significant when they come to pass. Yet here I am, time after time, getting impatient. The desire to handle it myself, to take up control & forge ahead sneaks in, and before I know it I’ve created a mess, an unfulfilling, stressful mess. This mess, is not what God desires for us.
The best part is this: God desires good for us infinitely more than we could ever imagine, or even desire for ourselves. He want to fulfill His promises for us, He promised them in the first place but He has the bigger picture, & He knows what we need & when we need it. He’s got us. He is not a father who gives us a rock when we ask for a piece of bread. No, when we ask for bread He prepares a feast before us. We must trust in Him and have faith not just for His promises but also for His timing.
"I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord."
25 families. 25 sets of keys. 25 new homes built for the poor in one weekend in Mexico, all because of the power of yes.
This past weekend at YWAM San Diego/Baja, we celebrated the Homes of Hope 25th anniversary by building 25 homes for the poor. Homes of Hope is a ministry, pioneered by my parents, that hosts teams to come & build homes for impoverished families. The only requirement for families to qualify for a home is that they own & are making payments on their own land- the family is given the home free of charge. Each Homes of Hope build, a team comes in & builds along side the family receiving the home. In just two short days, the family has not only a brand new home, but a connection with new friends from a different culture, a glimpse of the immense love that Creator God has for them & most importantly a hope for a future.It is not only just a physical home- it transforms lives, it changes the way people think.
In 25 years of Homes of Hope, over 5,000 homes have been built for the poor, by over 102,000 volunteers in 19 different nations- & it’s still growing.
All of this has happened because of my parents’ willingness to say yes.
When God called them to move to Tijuana, Mexico all those years ago, as a young missionary couple, with three small children and no money, to pioneer a new YWAM base and a brand new ministry, they did something crazy: they said yes.
Not knowing what it would look like, how hard it would be, how many laughs & tears there would be, how many joys & challenges, or what exactly God had up His sleeve- they followed the dream God had put on their heart and it paid off. Even in the times they wanted to quit, they persevered & throughout these past 25 years & ongoing, God has proved Himself faithful.
You see-there is a power in yes.
In the Genesis when God called Abraham to go, he went. He took up his family & started going- not knowing the exact final destination. He believed in the promises of God & it was credited to him as righteousness.
God is looking for those who are willing. Those who are willing to walk this crazy adventure in trust and journey with the Creator of the universe as the guide. God is looking for those who will say yes.
I am beyond thankful that my parents said that first crazy yes to God and continued to say it.
As for me, I will choose to say YES GOD! Yes to whatever you are saying, whatever crazy idea you’ve placed on my heart, I give a full hearted yes. I’m all in with my yes, because when you say yes to God, He takes it and makes it something wonderful out of it.
I'm going to be really real here: there have been so many times I've felt inadequate in my writing or in my photography. I've allowed the negative voices & opinions of others & even myself- to creep up & set up camp in my mind.
Sometimes inadequacy begins to cloud my vision, until it becomes all that I can see.
You see, there may be a number of people who don't believe in me, sometimes I don't even believe in myself. There are people who expect me to fail, there are people who will readily & openly voice their distaste for my work, but in all honesty- their opinions don't define me. Despite this feeling of inadequacy- God qualifies me. I may be the first person to say I don't understand or know why or how, but He does. He qualifies the unqualified. He calls me to this, the creator of the universe creates with me, this is a privilege not a burden. I will fight for this privilege. I am on a journey now towards believing in myself the way God believes in me & each day I begin to understand more and more of God's character and love for me.
I love photography & writing, these areas that God is calling me to in ministry- but these are the areas that scare me the most. Work in these areas is always up for criticism, easily judged, ignored or thrown aside. You must be ever vulnerable & sometimes fear, fear of man, tries to take over. I'm sick of letting fear of man hinder me. I'm so done with it. Even when I fail, God beckons me to stand up & try again- inadequacy doesn't even exit in His vocabulary.
I will fail, I will stumble & I will fall- but I will get back up again & I will keep going.
We must get over the inclination, the innate desire in us to expect perfection or "readiness" from ourselves. God does not expect that, so why should we? All He asks is that you be willing. He chooses to use us in the midst of our fleeting emotions, doubts and fears & all glory to Him, He can make us great.
He chooses to use you- to bring His kingdom on earth, to be His hands & feet, to be a physical manifestation of His love.
What giftings has God given you? Develop them. What has God called you to? Don't hesitate after it. Do it. Work hard. Fight for it. Push yourself.
TAKE THOSE FEELINGS OF INADEQUACY AND CRUMPLE THEM, SHATTER THEM UNDER YOUR FEET.
FOR GOD'S HAND WILL BE ON YOU, ALL ALONG THE WAY-GOD IS WITH YOU.
It lives, it is real, & how much power it has in our lives is determined by how much power we give it. We are not are not meant to live captive to this fear-there is hope. You see, we captives, we have already been set free, adopted as sons & daughters, washed & purified by the blood of Jesus. God intended us to live fully in freedom, but if we are not careful- captives are exactly what we become. We simply cannot afford to allow fear to cripple us, to keep us sitting, to keep us stationary, to keep us captive. All God is wanting is for us to run to Him & fear hinders that.
Lately, more & more, I feel God beckoning me: to stand in the face of my fears, to face them head on, to run towards Him with all I have & all I am, risking it all, holding nothing back. When we face our fears there will be uncertainty, but I can promise you, you can be certain about this one thing: God is faithful.
God's perspective is bigger than ours. He sees you, He knows your heart. Outside of time & unhindered by circumstances-He works for your good. Fear in itself is not wrong, but letting it constrain you, letting it chain & contain you-that is wrong. In the end it is really not about the fear itself-it is about who you are facing the fear with.
When you say yes to Jesus you say yes to a savior, but it is so much more than that. With a yes you are submitting yourself to transformation.
God will bring you to certain turning points, different moments where He is stretching and growing you, calling you to a greater faith, calling you to be transformed.
Once we give our yes to Jesus, He does not leave us where we are. The goal is to make us more holy, restore us. He brings us more and more back to a place where we reflect God’s image, back to how he intended us to look like in the first place. He accomplishes this in our lives through relationship with Him and in the midst of circumstances.
He is patient with us, gently bringing correction and speaking life into areas that are decaying. He takes us through this growth process- not all at once, but one area at a time. He walks through difficult circumstances with us, using them to bring refinement in our lives. In the difficult situations, God works to bring us to places of trust, reliance, obedience, faith, humility, peace and so on. This involves growing pains: these are not the common traits we default to as humans.
We are sinful, we are broken, but through God’s transformation, we can get there.
We must choose to submit fully, and learn to enjoy God’s process of renewing our mind and body.
Life here on earth is messy, we can walk through the biggest of storms, bringing confusion and doubt and when this happens we are left with a choice: try to make it through the storm on our own strength or allow Jesus to be our strength. The act of trusting Jesus brings transformation in our lives, it polishes us, it brings freedom. It is in these times that we learn things about God’s character, about ourselves and our callings.
The lie that life with Jesus equates to a perfect family, perfect job, perfect kids or perfect happiness, needs to be broken. Life with Jesus is beautiful and refining, but this transformation comes at a price. We must walk through things, have revelations, fight and allow God to change our hearts. Don’t get complacent, don’t stay where you are, God will always have more for you. We cannot afford to stay static in our relationship with God or this refining process suffers.
Embrace God’s transformation for all it offers. Trust Him with the process, submit to it and once you do, the difficult challenges you are facing become less about the difficulty, and more about the character of God. We must get to a place of trusting God with whatever He wants to do. In these times, find out what God is teaching you and allow it to be accomplished in your life.
Those refining moments will come, but don't just wait for the testing. Be intentional now. Seek God for transformation in your life, now. Read your bible, spend time in life giving fellowship, spend time in prayer. Give God free reign to refine each and every area in your heart and watch Him work. You will be thankful for the outcome.
Take those refining moments and cherish them, for God has started a good work in you.
Unfortunately, slavery is a reality in our world today. Hidden in plain sight, almost everywhere you go there are slaves. On a daily basis, thousands of people all over the world endure things more appalling than you could ever imagine. Men, women, and even children are trafficked for the purpose of sex, abused and repeatedly sold for profit. Forced labor slaves work under back breaking, unhealthy and abusive conditions. Many are never saved out of this kind of slavery. Through YWAM I have had the privilege of doing ministry in several different red light districts all over the world. I have witnessed this reality first hand, I know some of its victims and I am passionate about seeing them set free. If I could walk straight into the red light district of Tijuana, Mexico right now and bring all of those ladies home with me, I would do it in a heart beat.
I may not be able to save every single women caught in human trafficking and exploitation, but I will continue to pray for them, interceding on their behalf. I will continue to go to them, be a friend and share God's love. It means something. You have to start with little steps to get to long distances.
To see the captives set free, that is what I dream about.
You see, if I were a slave I would want someone to fight for my freedom, to set me free; but the amazing part is this: I already was a slave, and I already have been set free.
A whole different type of slave, but a slave nonetheless.
I was a slave to sin, drowning in guilt and shame. Weighted down by anxiety and fear of man, trying to be independent and self sufficient and failing miserably. You see, you and me, we need a savior. We are so utterly lost without one.
I was enslaved to sin, but by Christ I have been set free. I not only now have freedom, I have hope, I have a future! I refuse to keep that gift hidden for myself. It is my duty to share this gift with others. There are so many out there who do not know or understand this gift of freedom. So many slaves out there who have the opportunity to be freed, they just do not know it yet. This is where we come in, this is our mission.
There is such a power in the idea of missions: in laying down your life and rights in order to be a vessel, filled up by the spirit of God and poured out among the nations. If you have accepted Christ in your heart, this is your mission. This is your calling: to go, to make disciples of nations, to help set the captives free, to be transformed and transform nations. Whether this takes place in the business sphere or the arts, working in a grocery store, in education, being a mom, or being a missionary out in the nations. We are all missionaries and must be intentional with our mission. We must not sit idly by, hiding the precious gift of freedom we have received. We must take on this calling, we must share what Jesus has done for us. People's freedom is at stake.
I was a slave, I have been set free. For me, the mission looks like this: going into all the nations and sharing the love of Christ, doing red light district ministry bringing God's light into the darkest of places, and training up and discipling creative media missionaries in the areas of photography and communications.
What does the mission look like for you?
There are slaves depending on you.
Standing on the edge of a cliff. Ready to jump, into the sea below. A mix of fear, adrenaline, anxiety, excitement. Cliff Jumping: it is fun, it is a rush but there is always the brief moment before you jump. The quiet and personal moment where you prepare yourself, is it worth it, this is potentially dangerous, should I do it?
During different seasons as a missionary I find myself back on the edge of the cliff. God is asking me to jump, unhindered, into whatever He is calling me to, but I find myself dwelling in the anxiety, the stress, and the what ifs rather than dwelling in Him. If I fully focused on God’s character all the time, there would be no hesitation, and I would have already jumped. But I am so very human and often I forget the character of God. Sometimes it takes me a while to jump.
I break down, I want to back away from the cliff, I start to step away and then I remember: the beauty and the faithfulness of God, the miracles I've seen, the people's lives I've seen touched by God, the moments I’ve witnessed a child of God come to know Him as Father, all the adventures I've had with God all over the world- I take a moment to remember and I know it is all worth it. I step back towards the cliff, I prepare to jump. I remember when I only had 70$ in my bank account and God asked me to give $60 away to another missionary. Later that day I got a job that would pay me exactly $60. I remember how God fully provided for me to go to the university of my dreams, without taking out any student loans, to get an amazing education and community that I never even imagined was possible for myself.
As a child I never worried about whether my parents would feed me, or give me a roof over my head, or take care of me when I was sick. I simply trusted, and they took care of everything. That is how God wants us to be with Him, to be expectant for Him to fully take care of us. He is a good, good Father. You can trust in a good Father.
One day as I was praying about the things I am currently wrestling through, praying through the list of things that are holding me back from jumping. God gave me Isaiah 42:16 He then reminded me of the Mt. Huashan hike:
I’m not fully there yet, but I am getting there. I may fall back and hesitate sometimes, but I am always reminded of God’s faithfulness. This one thing I do know, God is trustworthy.
To be one who is found faithful. One who will take the leap of faith, to not only jump into the water, but enjoy it. One who is willing to be led along precarious paths with complete, unhindered trust. One who submits fully to this adventure with God.
God is writing my story. He is safe to trust and He is a way better author than I could ever be. He knows what's best for me; As much as I am tempted, I refuse to try to create my own false version of the story. God knows how to give me abundance and I could never create that for myself.
Do you ever wake up and realize in many ways you have been waiting around for life to happen to you instead of living fully in the season you are in?
I’m not that young, I’m almost 24 years old. I’ve traveled to 24 different countries and I’ve seen a lot of beautiful and broken people transformed by God’s love all over the world. God has done so much in me and for me. I’ve come to know His unrelenting love and His unconditional grace. He is grooming me and growing me in leadership, and He has proved faithful in my life time and time again. Yet I often wake up and find myself waiting around. I realize I am waiting around to be of age to accomplish the dreams God has placed on my heart.
This is wrong, it is all wrong. My dear fellow youth, this is so far from God’s heart.
I’m not that young, but every so often I let my age or my circumstances hold me back and then I feel God nudge me:
While we all have unique and intricate callings over our lives as individuals, our ultimate purpose lies in knowing God and being known by Him. After and out of loving Him comes the next part: loving our neighbor. This a calling on your life regardless of what your age is but I believe this revival, this love as an action and not as a feeling, must start with us youth. We must love others and serve in humility, for love covers a multitude of sins. This pure and humble love, this sacrificial love, it drives the enemy crazy and I want to be apart of it.
God is raising up a generation of youth. A generation who won’t wait around for their calling to happen to them, to fall into their laps or for it to be laid out on a silver platter. A generation who will stop believing the lie that they will be more useful or more suited to serve God later on in life.
It is simple: we are called now, we are suited now, we are equipped now.
We are equipped, BECAUSE we are called. It is not about age or race or gender. It is about relationship with a living breathing God. It is about walking out the giftings that God has already given us, the gifts that He is developing as we speak.
What we must do is take forward the wisdom of our elders and God breathed inspiration given directly to us to bring His kingdom on earth. The time is now, you are never too young. Don’t spend forever analyzing your calling, or waiting for an angel of the Lord to come down and give you specific instructions on what to do next.
This past week doing ministry in Malaba, Kenya has been a whirlwind. It is amazing, it is chaos, but I met with God here.
We came here to minister in the different villages of the town and encourage the churches, to see what God had in store for us. I honestly didn’t ever know what to expect from each day, but each day God has brought us on a different adventure, through things we could’ve never planned by ourselves. We were welcomed with open arms by the church here- they have cooked us delicious meals each day, served us, and loved on us wholeheartedly. Kenya will be a memory I cherish. The landscape here is breath-taking, out in the villages there are little huts, animals roaming, gorgeous green hills. I also got to see an expression of heaven in the church here- pure colorful joy and unhindered dancing in worship- it was beautiful.
It has been an amazing week, here in Kenya, yet it has not been easy. The house we are staying in has a living room, one small room with a double bed, and a closet for us 11 adults and two children to use. The church blessed us by gathering some mattresses, so most of us sleep on the floor of the living room. It has been really fun being together as a team, playing games and just living life in close community. The challenge has been finding a quiet moment alone with the Lord. It has been almost impossible. Literally, as I write this: children are running by me screaming, as I hide in a corner on the floor, in the hallway. Anywhere you go: there are people, people everywhere. Even for me, an extrovert, this is challenging. What I have been craving is some simple moments of peace with Jesus, but they are hard to come by.
The main thing, that allows you to survive, if you want to survive well, on an outreach, is intimacy with the Lord. If you don’t have this deep relationship with God, it spells disaster. Without consistent time and communication, you burn out quickly, everything feels too hard, you forget your purpose, the complaints and negative feelings begin to drown out the beauty of it all. Yet intimacy with God is beautiful, it is refreshing, bringing new life and restored purpose. It gives strength and joy for a day that may otherwise be mostly difficult. It doesn’t erase the difficulties of life, but it turns surviving life into thriving. Easy answer, right? Intimacy. Unfortunately it is easier said than done: intimacy doesn’t just happen, it doesn’t happen magically, you can’t just wish it and it won’t happen by just thinking about it.
Intimacy this week was a struggle. It was chaos. The times I tried to get away with God, life happened: someone needed me, I had to plan team stuff, there wasn’t enough time in the day, someone would start talking to me, I was too tired, or the noises around got too overwhelming, before I knew it I was already doing something else. This week, I got tired. I so desperately needed more time just with my creator to re-charge, to rest in Him and it did not come easily. I had to fight hard for intimacy this week. I had to intentionally steal away to get a few moments with the Lord, and when I did get those moments, they were absolutely precious.
“The Lord is my shepherd. I have all that I need. He leads me to rest in green meadows; He leads me besides peaceful streams. He renews my strength.” Psalm 23: 1-3
God has been teaching me here in Kenya, and this lesson I am learning translates beyond this one week in Kenya. It applies to my life in general, and it applies to yours. We need to learn to rest in Him. Intimacy cannot only be reserved for when we have all the time in the world, God desires to be with us all of our time. We get busy, we get tired, we prioritize Netflix, or Facebook, or emails. I’ll have a quiet time later turns into I’ll meet with God tomorrow, turns into well at least there’s church on Sunday. We run ourselves into the ground, trying to go through life without actually relying on God. Once we are out of energy, out of strength, then we cry out to God.
Intimacy takes discipline. It’s a battle. Sometimes the enemy doesn’t really have to attack us. We are the ones who allow ourselves to drift. Distractions take over, we lose sight of God, we let everything else pile up and then we begin to look less and less like someone who is being transformed into the likeness of Christ and more and more like a stranger.
This is not what God designed for us: we are designed for not once in a while, or a certain day of the week, but continual relationship with our Heavenly Father.
What if we did things differently, what if we actually lived out what we were created for? What if we pursued intimacy consistently and fervently and not just once in a while? What if we didn’t let the distractions and life take over, what if we prioritized and fought for this intimacy?
There can be intimacy in the midst of chaos, if you look for it. Will you look?
Everyone has felt this. One minute feeling good and happy, feeling purpose and belonging, security in who you are and what you stand for and then all of a sudden it all changes.
Rejection hits hard. The possibilities are endless: a look, a simple phrase, a change in body language or even flat out actions that can completely and quickly alter the way you feel.
This piercing dagger of emotions can overwhelm at times. It stabs you and all of a sudden you cannot see anything else, at first all you can see is the injustice of it all. They don’t see me for who I really am, they must not appreciate me enough, I didn’t do anything to deserve this. This is not fair.
Spiraling, thoughts turn into maybe I’m actually not good enough, maybe I deserve this, I must’ve done something to bring this on, I’m not really needed or wanted here, no one respects me. If you are not careful these thoughts can create a foundation in your mind that is not easily uprooted.
I have been here. It is not fun. It’s a place that I absolutely hate. If I could I would lock this place away and throw away the key, yet it creeps up sometimes.
Yesterday my team and I went and visited Home of Hope a special needs orphanage in a rural area here in Jinja, Uganda. My heart has never felt so broken and so full all at the same time. Precious children, so much joy, and adorable smiles everywhere I looked. I fell in love with all of them, as they tried to pronounce my name, laughed with me and just wanted hugs. They are absolutely beautiful, yet these children know full well what it means to be rejected. They have lived out rejection on a major scale. Ugandan culture says that a disabled child is a bad omen, a shame and a curse within a family. As a result these precious children are often abandoned, left alone in the streets to die- parents struggle under the pressure and the shame of trying to raise a disabled child, and they generally give up. As I stood there holding one of the children, tears filled my eyes. I was completely overwhelmed by the Father’s love over this little girl, by how perfect and treasured by Him she was. She is wanted by him, not rejected.
I have been thinking about it a lot, rejection is normal, but what are we supposed to do with it?
Jesus suffered the ultimate rejection: betrayed by one of His closest followers, denied by one of His dearest friends, He suffered an excruciating death on the cross. He who was perfect and without sin, beaten, bloodied and crucified by the very people He came to save. We play our own part in this- our sin helped put Him there as well, adding to the weight He bore on the cross.
Jesus knows rejection. So what does this mean for us?
Rejection, or the feeling of it anyway, is inevitable. I wish I could say other wise. We live in a broken and fallen world. It’s going to happen: we will feel unappreciated, undervalued, misunderstood sometimes, but we are not meant to stay in that place!
We often spend so much time and energy drowning in our problems and our feelings, trying to stay afloat by our own strength, as Jesus waits patiently for us to simply lay them down at His feet. The amazing thing is, Jesus took not only our sin but all of this messiness we try to carry our sorrow, our rejection, our sadness on for us on the cross, we really don’t have to bear this weight ourselves.
As sons and daughters of God we are given victory over rejection.
All we have to do is claim it.
If ever you feel rejection remember: Jesus is right there with you in the midst of it.
I am getting ready to go on a two-month outreach to Uganda. I am going to Africa! The adventurer within me jumped at this immediately, but lately I've felt mostly just felt tired. Extreme excitement and expectancy has slowly morphed into what am I doing? It would be easier to just stay, more comfortable, less money spent. Honestly it doesn’t just feel overwhelming- it is overwhelming. I have no idea what will happen, who I will meet, how I will feel or what it is going to look like.
On top of all of this, this time, as an outreach leader I have way more to think about. The excitement of the going can be drowned under the weight of everything: the expectations, the to-do list, the pressure, and the logistics. Everything from a to z seems to pile up. It becomes an uphill battle that feels as if I will never be able to win.
Through this process, I've been learning: facing the field isn’t easy, but there is something beautiful about it.
In this season I’ve had the privilege of being in the business of discipleship and now I get to take that same adventure out into the nations. I’ve been able to walk with people as they seek Jesus and see His transformation in their lives. Not only do I get to now go and do that in the nations, I get to see God move in the hearts of men in a brand new place I’ve never been before. I get to fall in love with the people of Uganda and serve them with all that I have. I get to learn more of God’s heart and experience an unfamiliar culture; I get to encounter within this culture a completely different expression of worship from my own.
A couple of days ago I felt God nudging me to come sit with him by the ocean. For a few minutes I sat there, in awe of His creation, in awe of His faithfulness as He spoke encouragement and life over me. The warm sun, a cool breeze, a few simple and precious moments with my heavenly Father- and I was caught up in Him. Everything, every burden and worry fell away as I sat there with God.
And God spoke:
"The difficulties do not outweigh the beauty, they are in fact overshadowed by it."
It may feel overwhelming preparing to face the field. Facing the unknowns, the stress of getting everything planned and ready is challenging but is it all so worth it. Everything difficult about going out onto the mission field is so insignificant in light of what you gain by going. The beauty is in the going: walking hand in hand with God into the unknown you gain an adventure, an increased dependence on Him, character growth, a faith increase, a glimpse of the beauty of the Father, an expanded heart for a different people group, moments to learn and grow in relationships, and opportunities to love and speak life over people across the world.
The challenges, the difficulties, the experiences good and bad, God uses all of this to refine us, to mold us like clay more and more into His image. He uses little details, like our struggles and our joys during the adventure to make us better and for us to know Him more.
My challenge is: TRUST.
I must submit to Him, submit to the process. I need to go into missions with open hands and an expectant heart, ready and eager to watch how God moves.
I’m all in for this journey in the field, and I’m not so overwhelmed anymore.
Ever find yourself singing in church during worship wondering how you sound? Worrying about if people will think you sound bad? Sadly, I have. And I have a feeling I’m not the only one.
To many of us being a worshipper means: you have to have perfect pitch, hit all the notes and look good while doing it.
God has been challenging this in my heart, and I believe
He wants to challenge this in yours as well.
During prayer times God has been speaking to me about my identity as a worshipper. When I heard God speak this I quickly began to doubt: “but I can’t really play an instrument, I’m not a singer, I don’t know what I am doing. God I will worship you, but not too loud for others to judge, not on a stage, not if I’m the only one singing out.”
I added my own conditions to what God wanted of me,
and He took me into the red light district to shatter them.
Every Saturday a group of us head into the red light district of Tijuana, Mexico for a prayer walk. We walk through the streets, we pray, we bring the joy and hope of the Father to people, we love on the lost, we go in, worshipping in the midst of darkness.
Each time we go we bring a guitar, we sing out worship songs wherever we feel led to stop. We sing out and declare hope in a place that has stopped hoping for anything but the reality it sees. Beyond the specific worship songs we sing, we have been having times of spontaneous worship. As we worshipped, something changed within me, I no longer cared how I sounded or what people would think of my voice, I simply sang out the songs and phrases that God put on my heart to declare and it was liberating. It is liberating to not be held back by a fear of man, but to fully give myself to be a worshipper of God, whatever that looks like. Singing out in worship, I almost forgot I was in the middle of a red light district; I was caught up in the glory of the Lord.
Someone once gave me the word undignified worship. And this is something that I have been working towards. Being able to worship unhindered by what others may think, to worship in ways that others may deem lacking in dignity, but to do it knowing that all that matters is I give my all to my King. Regardless of whatever musical talents we have, what we look like, or how our voice sounds: we are called to worship God with all that we have.
King David sets this example for us. In 2 Samuel 6:
“David, wearing a linen ephod, danced before the Lord with all of his might while he and the entire house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouts and the sounds of trumpets.”
David, almost naked, dances before the Lord with all of his might. When one of his wives despises him for it he speaks out:
“I will celebrate before the Lord. I will become even more
undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes.”
This is the place we need to get to. A place where we are so in love with the Lord, and unhindered by what others may think. A place where we stop taking things so serious. A place where we find our voice and sing out the songs that the Lord puts on our hearts, regardless of if we are singing in the right key or not. A place where we dance wildly before our King.
Want to join me
in undignified worship?
Stepping into the red light district in Tijuana, Mexico you can feel the hopelessness. You can get lost in the chaos. You can lose track of the innumerable girls lining the walls, and the untold stories of the girls working within the bars. You can get swallowed up in a sea of customers there for a “good time.” You can be over taken by the despair that is all around you.
The funny thing is, I find life there.
When we visit the red light district we go with purpose: we pray, we worship, we talk to people, and we declare life over the city. When we worship there something in the atmosphere changes. As we sang I opened my eyes to see a small crowd of people around us. We were able to talk with them and pray for them. One man came up to us asking how he could ask Jesus into his heart- breakthrough. There was such a hunger for Jesus.
All of a sudden I met Selena. She held my hand as she told me her story: A 42 year old woman with four children, she earns a living by selling her body in the red light district of Tijuana. She showed me the scars she has on her face from where her husband had beaten her. The burden of her life too much to bear, she had considered ending it, continually getting drunk to numb the pain. When we met her she was at a turning point: desperate for a change, desperate for a savior. I got to pray over her restored identity, speak into her value as a daughter of Christ. I got to tell her that those burdens are not hers to carry, that Jesus carries them for her.
I found myself in the middle of a red light district with a prostitute crumpled into my arms, weeping and begging to have more of Jesus, begging to change her life. I’ve never seen anyone so desperate for Jesus in my life. We were able to give her the number of a church and shelter that we partner with in the area and by the time we left she had walked to go get all of her stuff and exchanged her heels for tennis shoes, ready to run after the new life that Jesus has for her.
Many people see Tijuana or any red light district for that matter as a lost cause. What I see is the potential for new life. In the darkest corner of that red light district, Jesus is there. Even in that darkness He gives new life to the lost. As Christians we have a calling, to go to the broken and the lost and to let them know that there is a savior who meets them in the midst of their brokenness.
There are no lost causes. There is no too late.
I don’t know how many years Selena was in prostitution, but I do know one thing: she has new life ahead of her. Jesus doesn’t give up on people and neither should we. There is a need, a need for people who will go to the broken, in their neighborhoods, towns, cities and nations to declare to them that their Savior is simply waiting for them to say yes to Him.
God wants to release transformational breakthrough into the nations, will you be a part of it?
The first two weeks of Compassion in Action DTS are
in the books and God has already proven
His faithfulness to bring transformation.
After only a few weeks I can confidently say, DTS is just as impactful the second time around. As I see God move in the lives of the students and even staff I am blown away. I love being a part of seeing God bring freedom to people, of seeing people learn that God communicates with them in real ways, of hearing peoples stories and doing life with them. This will be my next few months, and I cannot wait to see all that God does.
Being DTS staff is a full time job.
Tiring at times, but so fulfilling.
The lecture phase continues until December
when I will be co-leading an outreach!
God has given me many dreams. I have dreams of going into all the world, using my camera to expose injustice and to tell the untold stories of God's people, dreams of doing a documentary about the deportees in Tijuana, giving them a face and a name, dreams of doing a documentary about global poverty, dreams to see Homes of Hope started in India, dreams of one day seeing a PhotogenX DTS run at YWAM San Diego/ Baja.
I don't know what forms they will take or what order they will happen
but one thing I am certain of:
Because of this calling, I need people to come around me in the form of prayer and monthly support. I need people who believe in me and what God is doing, people who want to be a part of my ministry through Youth With a Mission. I have jumped into ministry full time and I have such a peace from the Lord that He will provide for my needs.
If you need more information, I have a page regarding support on my website, or email me and I would love to provide that for you!