Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Mission Field In Our Backyard

When I first heard the words "Missions Trip" and "Clarkston, Georgia" in the same sentence I almost said no. When I thought of missions I always thought of the other side of the world, ministering to people who 'need me' or 'need help.' But in doing that I overlooked the thousand of people in my own 'backyard.' People that had never heard the gospel.


Clarkston is known as the, 'Most diverse square mile' because of all the different people groups that live there. People that our government has allowed to be located there as refugees. Most of the people you encounter there are from war-torn countries or have been oppressed by their government, trying to escape and many of those who come here are randomly selected to live in the states, where they are given barely enough to get by and left on their own after a few months.


I had the privilege, alone with three other ladies from my church to spend a week in Clarkston, and it was nothing like we had expected. On most missions trips you are going into a single culture and a certain group of people, but in Clarkston we were immersed numerous cultures, and numerous languages.


One of our assignments while we were there was to teach English classes (ESL) to Internationals within the apartment complex in which we stayed. We would split up into groups of two or three and go into the apartments and have one-on-one classes. My group was assigned to the home of and Ethiopian couple and their son, who had not been there very long and were quite eager to learn English. We would teach English by building on what others had taught before us, and sought to shine a light and share our story when possible.

The children in the community were fearless, and had never met a stranger (or so it seemed). As soon as we stepped out of the car that first day we were swarmed with curious faces and small hands grabbed our and drug us toward the playground or a bench to talk. They would melt your heart with one smile.

Most of the children we interacted with were from Eritrea, Somalia, Nepal, and numerous other places around the world.

And they always had a smile for you


But you had better watch out if they saw that you had long hair, because it didn't matter if it was up in a pony tail or not, they would take it down and put as many tiny braids in it was you would let them.

We also worked with interns while we were down there, they had the same goal as us down there except instead of just being there a week the interns lived in the apartments for the summer and facilitated a lot the ministry's going on down there.

One of their big missions was to go out into other apartment complexes and find refugee families, because the ministry desires to help them but unless they know where they are there is no way to reach them.

In order to find refugees we again split up into groups and would go door to door in the apartment complexes and 'search' for them, and would take a survey or who was an American and who was a refugee, what their needs were, etc.

During this survey we encountered people from Nepal, Jerusalem, Ethiopia, Somalia and many other countries.
One major thing that stuck out to me during out time in Georgia, was that the second largest Hindu temple in the states is in Georgia.

We think that since we are in the states we are safe from influences of other religions or that we are mostly Christians. When in reality we have temples to other gods in our own 'backyard.' Beautiful white structures, but on the inside is feels dark and empty.
Like this temple so beautiful and put together on the outside and yet filled with darkness within, as are so many people we interact with everyday. We can all look like we have it together but what's really on the inside? Is there darkness or light?


What are we doing to reach those in our own backyard? It doesn't have to be in Georgia or another state, it's your neighbor next door, or someone at work. Are you setting a Godly example to those around you? Do you care about those close to you enough to tell them of the reason for the hope that is in you? What is your story? And are you ready to share it with whoever asks?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

This Past Year

So I’m long overdue for an update, and I felt like I should share what God has been doing in my life in the past year. Last summer I came home for from Dallas, Texas for the last time. In the two years prior to then I have been living in Dallas for months at a time working with a program called EXCEL and then later on Advanced EXCEL. EXCEL stands for Excellence in Character, Education and Leadership, and is a program geared towards high-school aged girls. It is a very intense course and is a time for the girls to be away from a lot of distractions and to draw closer to God. During those two years Dallas had become like home to me and the others leaders and staff there were as close as family. So when the school shut down last year it was difficult to say good-bye because of all the relationships I had formed. But most of all it was difficult to leave because the environment there was very positive and encouraging, and that was because we all had the same mindset and focus. We were seeking to know our Heavenly Father on a deeper level and encourage these younger girls to do the same. We were pouring ourselves out daily but we were also being filled from His word and those around us.


Don’t get me wrong I was excited to come home and be with my family but at the same time I found it hard to see my purpose at home. In Dallas I felt like I had a purpose, and just couldn’t see why God was sending me back home, why I had to leave and why the school had to close. At the time it was hard to see what nowhere Virginia has to offer and what God’s plan for me there was. Everything has a season and my season in Dallas had come to an end and my season at home had begun. To be completely honest the first few months I was home were the hardest because I had only been back for a month or two while I was in Dallas. Once I was settled into life back home I was thrown a curve ball, my Dad asked me to go to trade school as an apprentice and get my Journeyman’s Electrical license, I was a little apprehensive at first because I’ve always had a heart for the world and wasn’t sure how this would fit in with ‘my plans’ even though they weren’t my plans. But I agreed and was signed up for class, trusting that God had a plan in all of it (which He always does), and figuring out that my plans aren’t always His plans. In reading Isaiah I was reminded of this, For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9


My first year of electrical school, was a little rough because I was in a class with twenty-seven guys and none of which (that I knew of) were Christians, except my younger brother (who was also taking the class). It was a complete shock and was completely opposite of where I had been for the past two years. My life had changed from teenage girls who were avidly seeking the Lord to construction workers who didn’t care and used choice words in every sentence. After a very trying year God revealed to me a small part of why He had put me there. He put me there to try me, to see if I was willing to stand up for Him and not be shaken by the things of the world. Did that happen? I honestly don’t know, I feel like there were times His glory was shown and others where I hid my light. Although, one of the biggest things that hit me at the end of that year was that during that time I was spending two hours every night of class with my sixteen year old brother, and we would encourage each other and just talk about what was going on in our lives and what God was teaching us. If I had not gone to class then I would not of had that time with him, and got to know what God was teaching him. It was also really encouraging to have him with me in class and see him not give into what the other guys were doing. If the only thing I got out of the class that year was the time spent with my brother then it was worth it. I wouldn’t trade that for anything and I only wish I had realized it sooner and had taken advantage of the time. Thankfully God has given us this fall and I now have a new perspective going into it.


Over the summer I had been blessed with the opportunity to reconnect with old friends, I spent a week on a cattle ranch in New Mexico with a close friend of mine who I met on a missions trip to Southeast Asia a few years before. We talked and remembered all the good memories and everything God did on that trip and really talked about why we went and if we could ever see ourselves going back. We both had different answers and reason why or why not, but during that time with her my heart began to stir to go somewhere again. The flame in my heart for the world had been rekindled. Then came the dilemma, after returning home from New Mexico I was ‘thrown’ back into working all the time. Our company had been going through a rough time and they needed everyone to work long hours and we didn’t get much time off and because of that and other circumstances I didn’t think I would be able to go on the missions trip with our church that summer. But God made a way and provided the funds and I went along with three other ladies from our church to Clarkston, Georgia.


My first thought was, “God? Georgia? Really? We’re still in America.” But God had bigger plans, we went to Clarkston not knowing what to expect and the first day we were there the organization we were with took us to a Muslim temple, the second largest Muslin temple in America! I was dumbfounded. I didn’t know what to think as we took the tour of this beautiful and elaborately carved white stone building. I was struck by house beautiful it was on the outside but once we went inside it felt so full of darkness and my heart began to break for the people inside who were throwing themselves before these idols and worshiping them. God was showing me yet again, that His heart is for all people from your neighbors, to those just a few states away to those on the other side of the world.


God also used the time in Clarkston to break the box I had been in and really pull me out of my comfort zone. He kept ‘poking’ me and saying, “You say you want to live for me, you say you’ll go anywhere I ask you to, but will you tell others about me? Will you be bold?” I was saying, “Yes” in my heart but I kept shaking my head “No.” I was afraid of being rejected, and God used a trying experience to change my heart. Our main goal in Clarkston was to find and minister to refugee families, half our group would work with the children and the other half would go to different apartment complexes and work with the adults. I was in the group that went to the apartments and I felt like a soldier shaking in my boots because I had no idea what to say or do. But the first two days we went through the apartments and no one answered their doors (which as scared as I was it really depressed me because I didn’t feel like I was doing anything). But last day, the one door that was opened to us was a Nepali woman who welcomed us in and she turned out to be the ‘spokes person’ for most of the Nepali refugees in the area. But I believe that it took those few days of closed doors to prepare me and teach me that God’s plans are bigger and I need to trust Him. He has equipped me for the fight and I shouldn’t be cowering in my boots. I need to step out in faith and trust Him.


One of the main things that God taught me during my time in Clarkston was that, He planted that desire for the world in my heart and has been using all these different experiences to prepare me for what He has in store. He has brought to life the verse in Acts One, But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” Acts 1:8 It has taken a lot of time but I am finally starting to understand and see that yes God has given me a desire for the world but until then he has called me to be a missionary right here, in America, in my hometown. Because If I don’t love my neighbor enough to tell them or am not bold enough to speak to a stranger who speaks my own language then how am I going to be bold enough to tell someone on the other side of the world? I am still learning and growing and praise God that He’s not finished with me yet. And that He is 'Semper Fi,' 'Always Faithful'. He has started a work and will be faithful to complete it in His perfect time, and for His glory.

“Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.” Ephesians 6:18-20

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Love Me - JJ Heller



He cries in the corner where nobody sees,
He's the kid with the story no one would believe
He prays every night, "Dear God won't you please...

Could you send someone here who will love me?"


Who will love me for me
Not for what I have done or what I will become

Who will love me for me

'Cause nobody has shown me what love

What love really means




Her office is shrinking a little each day

She's the woman whose husband has run away

She'll go to the gym after working today

Maybe if she was thinner

Then he would've stayed

And she says...


Who will love me for me?
Not for what I have done or what I will become

Who will love me for me?

'Cause nobody has shown me what love, what love really means



He's waiting to die as he sits all alone

He's a man in a cell who regrets what he's done

He utters a cry from the depths of his soul

"Oh Lord, forgive me, I want to go home"


Then he heard a voice somewhere deep inside
And it said

"I know you've murdered and I know you've lied

I have watched you suffer all of your life

And now that you'll listen, I'll tell you that I..."


I will love you for you
Not for what you have done or what you will become

I will love you for you

I will give you the love

The love that you never knew

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

When Everything Goes Wrong...

Do you ever have those days where you feel like everything is going wrong? Where you think it would be better if you just went back to bed, pulled the covers over your head and slept everything away? When everyone wants something from you and you are being pulled fifty different directions? Today was one of those days, I was at work, and nothing was going right, I didn’t feel like I could do anything else, and I felt like I would cry. It was at that moment that the song, “Savior, Please” by Josh Wilson came on the radio…

…I would like to share the song with you along with some thoughts of my own… the song lyrics are in BOLD and my thoughts are in Italic

Savior, Please – Josh Wilson

Savior, please take my hand
I work so hard, I live so fast

(This sounds so much like my life right now, always on the go and never stopping)
This life begins, and then it ends
And I do the best that I can, but I don't know how long I'll last

(I am giving all that I have and I am wearing out, I can’t do it much longer, I feel like my life is passing my by and before I know it, it will be gone)

I try to be so tough
But I'm just not strong enough

(I put up a front of being strong and tough, but I am realizing that I am not as strong as I thought)
I can't do this alone, God I need You to hold on to me

(I feel like I a toddler who is learning how to walk, I just keep falling and falling, I am at the point of tears and I stretch my arms up for You to pick me up)
I try to be good enough
But I'm nothing without Your love

(I try in and of myself, but I can’t do it alone, I can’t do it without You)
Savior, please keep saving me

(I need You)

Savior, please help me stand
I fall so hard, I fade so fast

(I feel like all I do is fall, again and again)
Will You begin right where I end

(I am at the end of myself, I cannot go anywhere else, will You take me?)
And be the God of all I am because You're all I have

(You are ALL that I have, ALL that I am)

Hallelujah
Everything You are to me
Is everything I'll ever need

(You are everything I ever needed!)
And I am learning to believe

(I am learning, slowly but surely)
That I don't have to prove a thing

(I am accepted for who I am, I do not have to prove anything to You)
'Cause You're the one who's saving me

(You are my hero, You make my bad days good, You bring the smile back onto my face, You keep saving me)


As I listened to this song and thought over these thing, I did all I could not to cry right there in the warehouse. I realized that I was trying in and of myself to do things and be someone that I was not meant to be. That I was doing things in my own fading strength that He was waiting to do in His unending strength. He was waiting for me to realize that He’s been there waiting to be, my hero, my strength, a shoulder to cry on, a helping hand ready to life me up, a joke to make me smile, my Savior, and ALL that I need.


My Lord, Savior, and Father is the one who takes the days when everything is going wrong and makes it right. He pulls the covers off my head and assures me that there is a plan even in the hard days. And reassures me that I don’t have to be everything to everyone, because there is only one person that He wants me to be, He wants me to be His and His alone. Today God took my bad day and made it new. Yes, I did allow myself to be miserable but I didn’t have to be that way, it’s your choice, how will you chose to live your day? Will you look to Him when you can’t do anything else?

Or will you look at yourself?

Friday, March 26, 2010

People...

"I Know All Those People...
...I Have Friendly...

...Social...

...And Criminal Relations...
...With The Whole Lot Of Them."

Quote by Mark Twain









Saturday, March 20, 2010

TRUST

He who trusts in himself is lost. He who trust in God can do all things.

Alphonsus Liguori

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Strength


“My strength is as the strength of ten, because my heart is pure.”

Alfred Lord Tennyson