Sunday, October 25, 2009

the journey...

In less than a week, I will be setting out on an incredible journey, certainly the most daring adventure of my life thus far (though I am sure there will be even more daring adventures in the future!). On October 31st, I will be boarding an airplane with a couple suitcases thrown into the baggage compartment, a backpack on my shoulders, and a heart that is burning to change the world with the love of Christ. I will first be heading to Brisbane, Australia, to engage in some training where I will learn (as best one can) about how to minister to and work with victims of child trafficking. After three and a half weeks, I will travel to Phnom Penh, Cambodia. I am pretty sure that my heart has preceded me in arriving there. Over the past few years, I have done a lot of research, read a lot of books, seen a lot of pictures, and cried a lot of tears for the nation of Cambodia and her beautiful people. When I began learning of the widespread sale of young girls into forced prostitution in Southeast Asia, it felt like my heart was ripped out of my chest. I simply could not believe the injustice these young girls faced. Matthew 9:36 says, "But when He (Jesus) saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd." This is exactly how I felt about these beautiful young girls whose innocence was being stolen. I am moved with compassion for them. God has steadily increased my heart to make a difference in this area of the world and to do whatever I can, to make a difference any way that I can. So, when the opportunity arose for me to be able to volunteer with SHE Rescue Home in Phnom Penh, I jumped at the chance! I had been saving my pennies for just such an opportunity as this one. So, late last spring I embarked on a quest to make this volunteer experience a reality. Along the way God has sent so many confirmations to me to let me know that this is exactly the road He wants me to be traveling at this time. The complete peace I have felt through the entire process has been simply amazing and can be explained through nothing but the absolute sovereignty and grace of God. Proverbs 16:9 says, "A man's heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps." It truly is my heart to reach out to the world, but the Lord has certainly directed my steps as I sought His direction and earnestly prayed for His provision. He has provided so far above and beyond what I could have imagined and in ways that I had never even considered (such as free shampoo and conditioner from my hairdresser and an extra bonus at work to name just a few!). It has been such a blessing just to be able to step back and see how God is moving and working in my own heart and the hearts of others!
Though I know I am completely unqualified, I am excited to be able to work for the Lord in this way. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 says, "And He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is mad perfect in weakness.' Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong." I am counting on Christ to do great things in spite of me. I am well aware that I am going to be made uncomfortable and will feel out of place in an unfamiliar land, but I know that in my greatest weakness God is most able to use me. I have to be completely dependent upon Him. I have no choice, and even if I did, there is no better choice but to completely surrender everything to Him who holds the world in the palm of His hands, who knows the beginning from the end.
I am not entirely sure what my duties at SHE will entail. I have a rough idea of what I will be doing, but everything is subject to change based on what needs to be done. Blessed are the flexible! But, to give you an idea, I will likely be teaching some English to the girls and Cambodian staff, planning crafts and other activities for the girls, doing basic household chores, helping to de-louse the girls regularly, and helping to supervise the daily activities in the home. There are currently 18 girls in the home, ranging in age from 3 to 16. I am so excited to meet them, and my prayer is that I will be able to bond with them quickly!
As of now, I am simply asking for your prayers as I prepare for the journey ahead of me. I am planning to update this blog as often as I am able and will hopefully be including pictures periodically. I am inviting you to go on this adventure with me because I know that together we truly can bring real and lasting change to the world. Will you come with me?

Monday, October 5, 2009

You're my favorite...

Over the past several months, I have had quite a bit of time to just think about a lot of things. I tend to be a "thinker" anyway, but spending nearly an hour in the car each day going to and from work affords me a great opportunity to simply let my mind wander. My mind can wander while I am driving so long as my eyes don't, right? In addition to my predisposition to ponder, I majored in communication in college, which more or less means that I have become really good at observing and listening and analyzing both people's words and actions. 
So, what's my point in stating this? My point is this--I have been pained to see the judgment of people both in others and in myself. I will admit it. As much as I hate it, I make assumptions about people based upon their appearances. In Romans 7:19 Paul says, "For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice." This is exactly how I feel. And, I know God is working in me because I am learning more and more to look at others as He does and to have compassion and love for them regardless of who they are, what they look like, or what they are doing. It has really bothered me, though, how much I see Christians make judgments of others that are not theirs to make. I have taken to telling myself that it is God's place to judge, not mine. With that in mind, I know that it is my responsibility to think the best of others in every situation regardless of past (or present) behavior. A couple of months ago, I was reading through the book of James, which I have read numerous times before. However, during this particular reading I was stopped in my tracks by a passage I know I had read before. It was highlighted. It was underlined. Yet, I was almost sure I had never really read it before.
"My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality. For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes, and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, 'You sit here in a good place,' and say to the poor man, 'You stand there,' or, 'Sit here at my footstool,' have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? But you have dishonored the poor man. Do not the rich oppress you and drag you into the courts? Do they not blaspheme that noble name by which you are called? If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself,' you do well; but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors...For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment." ~ James 2:1-9, 13
In reading this Scripture, I was stopped in my tracks when I thought back to all the times that I preferred those who looked as if they deserved it or potentially had something to offer me. Who am I to shame God's creation by loving one more than another? That may sound a bit extreme, and maybe it is, but this is the revelation that God has been giving me regarding those that He loves. I don't believe that God plays favorites because that implies that there is a differing level of value. If I say that my favorite ice cream is vanilla, that means that I like it more than every other kind of ice cream. I simply do not think God operates that way. I have heard other people say that everyone is God's favorite, which I think is simply a waste of words. His love for us is so far beyond anything that we can comprehend, and any word that we use is insufficient in describing it. So, I am working to claim God as my favorite. Above all else. Above all that I can understand. I want to see people as He sees them, and sometimes I think I can see the crack of light under the door, shedding some light in the darkness, revealing to me a new truth...