Driving home from breakfast last weekend we noticed a young woman cross the street a short distance in front of us. The first thing that caught my eye was the baggy blue T-shirt which just touched her legs and one purple sock next to the other bare foot.Read More
It is important in all of our efforts to reach out to those who are in sex trafficking to consider this, “We are inviting them out of this life and into what?” What hope are we offering? The journey of healing from the exploitation of trafficking comes in many different ways. At Shelter and Rain, one of our core values is restoration. The restorative journey is about embracing a life free from torment, of uncovering unhealthy patterns, mentalities, and allowing hearts and bodies to heal from the trauma of exploitation. It is wholeness in the midst of the reality of broken dreams, promises, and plans. It is not as some would say, “Oh that person has never been touched by pain or trouble…” but a wholeness because they have come face to face with who they truly are. Part of restoration is rediscovering purpose, dreams, and setting new goals. As when a home is restored, there are parts of the frame perhaps architectural designs that speak of what once was. In a similar way, when an individual is restored, there are parts that still bear marks and that tell a story in the midst of transforming into something new. So what might this look like?
In Isaiah 61, God, the ultimate Healer, speaks of a restoration in our spirit, heart, mind, and bodies.
Spirit: There is Good News!
The good news is FREE ACCESS TO GOD. No matter how much money in our possession, our spirits are in poverty without experiencing the life Jesus came to give - life with full access to a loving and redemptive God. The message of salvation is eternal life, freedom from torment and fear. How will those in exploitation know that something different than their norm is available unless someone steps in to pave the way? How we live our lives is the way that people taste who God is and the life that is also available for them to experience in the here and now, not when xyz has been accomplished. Much damage has been done in the name of Christianity, due to judgement and a lack of authentic love. When we love someone by enjoying them and valuing them where they are at, we proclaim the good news, you are a child of God! Have you ever taken the time to ask someone, “What have you always dreamt of doing with your life?” When we tap into the deeper desires of someone’s heart, we touch an eternal part of who they are, the place where God was made to dwell.
Emotions: Bind up the Brokenhearted.
Listen and you will be entrusted with places of pain. Each of us carries wounds and those wounds hold beliefs about who we are which often influence our response to the world and how we interact in relationships. It is not our job to fix broken hearts. We are called to bind up the broken hearted. A wound first needs to be cleansed, for ointment to be gently applied, and a soft bandage wrapped around to keep out dirt and infection. One of the things I love is when I have the opportunity to walk with someone into Jesus’ presence in prayer and ask Him, “Jesus, what do you think about this?” Inner healing takes courage. I commend those who have allowed themselves to look honestly at the wounds they have incurred and let God speak into them. His words cleanse away the lies and are a balm of healing. When we came alongside someone, listen, wrap our arms around them, and affirm the truth about who they are, we become a part of the bandage of their hearts. Emotions should never be belittled or disregarded, they are the doorway into a heart that is crying out, that is struggling with life, with God, with people. When we are willing to stand in love in the midst of angry outburst of pain and see the message of the wounds they carry, we receive an invitation from heaven to join in binding up their wounds.
Mind: Speak Freedom.
Our minds are a battleground. A white flag waved in battle symbolizes surrender. There are pathways of thought that influence our lives that need to be surrendered. This often does not happen without a fight. We go to battle with habits of thought in order to create new pathways in our minds. Addictions run along pathways that have been created in response to traumas, choices, and situations we have believed as normal in our lives. Sexual addictions are a deep rutted road. To overturn this road we need to not only establish roadblocks but create new vehicles of response to our needs and desires. We bring restoration to minds when we help reawaken dreams, destinies, and longings for justice that have often been derailed from an early age. Mental freedom is a battle but liberty is always available to those who feel captive.
Body: Set the Prisoner Free.
Our prisons may look different but freedom from physical bondage often involves a deliberate move away from what is familiar into the unknown. No matter what level the exploitation has been, it is a risk. Are we willing to walk with others as they courageously step out of exploitation? Will we embrace them even when they take a step back? When someone leaves exploitation it often takes a combined effort of resources and support. The environment and people they left met a felt need. Acknowledging what was good while separating from the negative is necessary in establishing a new normal. Grieving is a part of this process. Learning to listen to what our body is saying are ways we physically are restored. In Hosea we read how God led someone out of the life. The first place He took her to was the wilderness. We rejoice when someone leaves the life but to them it often feels like a desolate, lonely place. In this barren land God then speaks tenderly to her and it says that He turned her troubles into doorways of hope. There will be times those who have come out of exploitation will be overwhelmed by the trouble they experience in life as a result of what they have know. The promise is that on the other side of these troubles is a doorway into hope. We must speak hope and affirm our friends when they feel like giving up and going back. God brings restoration through a bond He creates built on righteousness, justice, steadfast love, and mercy. He is still doing this today. (See Hosea 2:14-20.)
A Safe Home:
Our vision at Shelter and Rain is to provide a place of healing, a safe home for women who have recently exited the life. The fulfillment of this dream will take a team effort. We believe the transforming power of God and encountering His love combined with a community of those who care and support these women in their restorative journey is necessary for this to be a success. This is a time when God is inviting us to join Him. What can you offer? We invite you to enter in to God’s restorative work today.
|Photo Credit: Fordtograph-E|
Watch and Engage.
Unanswered questions from 2016 sit like a paperweight on my heart. I am desperate. Desperate to know that this life is making a difference. Desperate to hear from Heaven that it matters, that we have not gone astray.
Disappointment. We have all tasted it. Resolutions for the new year often end up in the dust of daily demands. It is not a resolution unless it provides some kind of solution for our life. And this solution needs to be rooted in our soul, becoming a part of who we are not just an item we check off. What motivates true change comes from our resolve within.
Have you ever felt small and insignificant? Recently recollections came of a time in my life when I had just moved out of my parent's house, was renting a bedroom at a friend's, and working at an after school program 3 hours a day. With a car that didn't pass smog check, I spent a lot of time at home. It was a season where I felt insignificant to the world. During that time a friend gave me a beautiful map for my bedroom wall. While looking at it one day, I heard the question, "Where do you want to go..." I had every reason to think up a place near where I lived. But it pressed again, "Where do you want to GO?"
I want to go to Thailand.
That was the dream, my passion - to live and love overseas. In Thailand, this Cali girl met a Kansas boy, an artist, a dreamer, an entrepreneur, someone crazy enough to follow a dream. When he left after that first two weeks of volunteering, I walked away after giving him a hug and felt like I was going to cry. What was the matter with me?? At that time, I didn't even know that he liked me! It was a year later that we drafted this...some of the dreams we hold for our world. Our passion is to see the people set free and restored through the power of God.
To be completely honest, we don't know what we are doing, but it's happening. How? Through risk. Do you remember the story of Peter walking on water? He watched Jesus do something impossible and He stepped out to follow Him. It happened in a moment of panic and loneliness. They were striving to reach land while the waves and wind were against them. I have heard people talk about 2017 being a year of breakthrough. In order to break through something, there needs to be an obstacle. The thing is with Peter, he didn't see the wind and the waves as an obstacle, He just saw his close friend do something impossible, and He wanted to follow. Our downfall comes when we look at the impossibilities, and let them dictate what we can or can not do.
In this new year, we need to surround ourselves with people who will push past the odds with us. My Kansas boy and I are incredibly blessed to have a pastor and his wife who are big dreamers, and also big doers. They do with crazy faith. I want you to know that even if you feel small and insignificant, even if your dreams seem out of reach, that you were made to take risks.
|Photo Credit: Fordtograph-E|
For me, it is to engage in the anti-human trafficking movement. This is a generation that speaks out against injustice and inequality. In the last few years huge strides have been made in trauma informed care. Sure we have had revolutionaries who fought against slavery, this is no different, but the way our culture values not only freedom but true inner emotional, mental, and spiritual freedom is unique.
Survivors of human trafficking are my heroes. They are overcomers. Did you know that it is common for a victim to return 7 times before they can truly break away for good from their exploiter? But does it have to be this way? Is anyone pushing to see this change? This is the kind of breakthrough that I am talking about. I love talking with survivors. They inspire me. Every survivor is also a leader. Their triumph in overcoming insurmountable odds shows me that it is possible, that someone can not only survive but thrive.
Peter had to step out of the boat. We have to get out there in order to see impossible things happen. Maybe I am crazy to say that I want to see a victim leave once and leave for good. I believe it is possible. Why? Because Mary Magdalene did it. Did you know that Jesus cast 7 demons out of her? Seven. She never went back, she was never harassed again. And what did she do? She followed Jesus around, she watched Him, she gave to Him and served Him. (See Luke 8:2-3.)
Victims of trafficking have demons they fight, demons that speak to them, that yell at them, that push and pull them back and forth, beating them from inside just as their tormentors, their pimps have done outside their skin. These are the demons of terror, manipulation, control, unworthiness, self-loathing, that exploit from within. Are we fighting with them against these demons? Are we speaking life? Mary Magdalene's life was transformed when those demons were cast out and I have a thought that it was in walking with Jesus, in learning of new way of being loved, that she was healed. This is why I believe in restorative relationships.
Friends, it has already been done, and it can happen again.
My life intersected with three women this past week in exploitative situations. In each encounter, I had a decision to either step out or stay in. You get what I am talking about? Am I going to give her a hug, or am I going to walk by? Am I going to buy her drink, or am I going to dismiss that thought and carry on about my day?
It really only takes a moment. As the seconds of a watch tick by, we are given moments to watch and move on or watch and engage.
The world is crying out for us to engage. We are not bystanders, we participate because frankly, the time of breakthrough, of healing and freedom has come. What risk will you take?
|Photo Credit: Fordtograph-E|
In a sexually charged culture, we build our identity around our sexual experiences.
|Copyright 2016 by Fordtograph-E|
- Outreach to local strip clubs.
- Awareness and prevention initiatives for youth.
- A coalition whose members create a web of services to help victims and survivors.
- Developing a response to meet gaps of care for adult survivors.
- Investing in the long term recovery of survivors through ongoing restorative relationships.
- Global collaboration in anti-trafficking efforts.
|Christmas Giving Trees|
I don't know if you are like me but I cringe at the word settle. Hearing this word offers a sentiment of somehow giving up a life of transience and spontaneity, and embracing a more sedentary, rhythmical life. This view also pushes against my inner world that is constantly reaching out, dreaming forward, taking steps to impact this world with change. I was given a painting once. During a conference I attended, an artist stood at the front and spread paint across a white canvas as the sessions rolled on. At the end, she called my name and gave it to me. The tittle of the art piece, Transition. Taped to the back is a paper with these words,
While running errands on the south end of town, my eyes caught sight of a young woman standing at the corner of the parking lot. "Need Help to Get to Arizona" her sign read as traffic passed by. "Hello!" I asked as I pulled up. "Do you need help?" Her story consisted of needing money so that she and her husband and baby could return to family in Arizona. "Where are you from?" I asked, "Romania." Interesting. This was at the end of October 2014.
That following Spring I was driving alone and saw another young woman near the same location, similar sign. Parking my car a little ways off, I approached her on foot. Handing her a bag filled with some small snacks and a water bottle, I attempted to chat with her. Apologetically she responded that she didn't speak any English. Her appearance looked familiar. "Are you from Romania?" I asked, "Yes!" "Who are you here with?" The story came out that her boyfriend was currently at Wal Mart getting the car fixed. When I asked her how she had come to America, she opened up and shared that she had come through a Mexican man and that she had no legal documents.
Throughout the past 5 years while involved in raising awareness regarding the trafficking of persons, I have often been met with disbelief and comments like, "That doesn't happen here!" Are you sure?
Another gal I met while working there was from Wichita, her boyfriend was in jail. An exuberant young person, she boasted of many things and eventually was asked to leave because of her negative influence including drugs. I had my concerns about her.
There are many more stories I could share.
Trafficking is determined by identifying influences of either force, fraud, or coercion. If someone is being controlled for the personal advantage of another person, money being withheld or required for things that person is not responsible to pay, if they are soliciting help and not able to keep the money, these can all be a part of their involvement in human trafficking. Even if it doesn't begin with sex, it often leads there.
In 2011 when I left Thailand after volunteering with Nightlight International, I was unaware how my life could help those affected by human trafficking in the states. Part of it has been learning how to identify it here. Often we have an idea of what human trafficking looks like and are missing it completely. I don't think it is by asking them straight out if they have heard about human trafficking or are being trafficked.
I was struck by the similarity in advice given by survivor, Rebecca Bender, and Dr. of Psychology, Dan Allender.
This past month we took time away to road trip out to California and back. This trip spanned nearly 6,000 miles. We returned exhausted yet inspired. Beauty inspires us. Did you know that it is easy to begin to fight for the hearts of others while missing the own fight for our own heart? Those of us who feel compelled to help others, are we letting our own hearts be cared for? Are we pursuing the things that we love? We had just come out of a very intense season. We were exhausted and made an intentional decision to get away. One of our favorite places we visited was Crater Lake National Park. Boasting as the deepest lake in the US, Crater Lake was breathtaking! With sheer cliffs down to it's edge, crystal blue water, and towering pines, our hearts were in awe.
Even in all this beauty, we had to take the time to sit, and just take it in. Sometimes, in all this transition, it is easy to think about what is next, to anticipate the next thing. I am personally being challenged to just "be" in these moments. To quiet down and listen to my heart and what it is saying. It is hard. It is a fight. Today as I take a moment to sit and reflect on the things I love, and the things that make me come alive, I must remember a few things:
Be willing to say "No"
Embrace your uniqueness
Often what you love will seem "fun" and not "work". Don't overthink it. Go with your gut. Sit in God's presence and let Him uncover your desires.
While we were there, we were asked to share about our vision for missions. Human trafficking, the fastest growing criminal industry in the world, was the overwhelming problem that weighed on our hearts. The fact that there are more slaves now than at any other time in human history, calls for action. We shared how God had put a burden on our heart for the men, women and children in Thailand, and specifically how we envisioned God redeeming their lives through prayer, the arts, and true community through family. Each time we refined and shared it, there was something that begged to be heard. At night we would lay in bed wrestling with what this Voice was saying to us. Somehow, although Thailand was so heavy on our hearts, there was a greater call, inviting us to look in our own backyard. Really, Kansas, God?!
Kansas, and Wichita, Kansas specifically, has been identified as the 5th largest originating city. What this means is that pimps and traffickers come looking here, to lure boys and girls who are the average age of 12-14 years, making promises only to turn and sexually exploit them. Often, when we hear the word trafficking, we have pictures in our minds of internationals, bound and drug across borders. This is true. However, the misconception that we are exempt from this lucrative business is deceptive. When you place words like runaway, escort services, strip clubs, pornography, and the like, it brings it closer to home. Prostitutes are trafficked because trafficking includes force, fraud, or coercion. In a city where there are drugs there is money and often the sale of sexual services so the demand can be satisfied. Some would argue that those who prostitute wants this, that somehow it is to satisfy her own "needs". But how much was this a "choice"? Where abuse and fraud have been all they have known, this "choice" may appear to be the best option in sight. Let's ask this, "What has led them to this point, to this decision?" The answer often less about "choice" and more often about "survival". Trafficking has never been simply an international issue. Today we need to look in our own backyards, our own streets and schools. Who may be at risk today?
I got to church today and was met by near 15 children! I could hardly believe it! Just this past week I had spoken with Pon about how I wanted to teach the children on Sunday afternoons and here they were! It was crazy. As I am walking downstairs followed by a bunch of laughing kids, I prayed, "God, help me to be able to communicate in Thai!" One of the mothers was there and she had all the kids sit down together in a circle on the ground. I got out the Bible story book and started telling them about John who baptized Jesus, of how the Holy Spirit came down upon Him and of how God's voice was heard from heaven. Today we reviewed the three voices that we can hear, God's, Satan's and our own. Some of the older kids were distracted but most of the children followed and understood what I was telling them. The kids then drew pictures of either God's voice or the Holy Spirit which is like, rain, wind, water and some of the kids drew pictures of God speaking to them. Then I passed out some instruments and we all danced around while listening to "Supernatural" and then "Be Still" in Thai which definitely helped to calm everyone down. The kids loved the music shakers and little tambourine. This all lasted for about an hour and then they all went outside to play. Here are some pictures from this afternoon. They took many of them themselves. :) Please be praying for these children. Many of them come from buddhist families where most likely one of their parents is a Christian. Pray that the Holy Spirit stirs inside of them a hunger to know God and that they personally encounter Jesus in a real way. Pray that God would raise these children up to be the future leaders and revolutionaries of their nation. Pray also for me, that God would give me creative ideas in knowing how to communicate truth and an ability to understand the children when they speak to me. Thank you so much!
Tonight I have been thinking about love verses exploitation. As I walk into the horseshoe plaza and sit on a coushioned bench in a windowless room, with women, holding onto a pole and dancing in front of me, I think, and feel so many things. When I have a girl sitting beside me, who seems more interested in getting a customer that night than talking with me, and yet in her eyes is something, a hidden longing for something more, and a little girl then throws herself into my arms, I catch a glimpse of why I am there. When I get a text message from a girl whose family expects her to pay off their debt because she is their daughter, and not only to pay off their family debt but the motorcycles her uncle bought and then to pay for her baby's formula, and in her text she says she cries every night but she doesn't see how she can leave this job and make the same amount of money, I wonder what hope there is. When I unexpectedly meet a girl on the streets who only a month ago looked like a little girl and now is dressed all up, wanting to meet just the perfect man, I think of my little sister and feel this ache, this longing, when, when will they see? When will they see that there is so much more to life than money? When will the economic structure of Thailand shift so that families no longer pressure their daughter to go to the city and then justify their work because of the money she can send home? When will bars where it seems Satan is getting the upper hand at exploiting God's most beautiful creation, stop being frequented by men from around the globe? When will the women really value themselves for who they are?
As I sit in a bar, talk with a girl on the street, I sometimes wonder if it is worth it. It hurts. It hurts to get close, to embrace and then to see them continuing down the same destructive path. But when a woman, I met in the bar only once, calls me and tells me that she wants to learn to speak English, she wants to take me and my friend to see the city of over 400 ruined wats and then she comes to our Christmas party and says to me, "I see that Christians think..." and "I want to become Christian too..." I see that somehow it is worth it. As I think about the thousands of women who are prostituting here in Thailand and it seems overwhelming, I have to focus on love. I want the world to know, to see, to realize that in the midst of darkness, in the midst of situations that seem hopeless, there is a God who loves and sees and He sets up divine encounters so that one by one, people can encounter Him.
Honestly, the only way that we who are a part of the ministry in Thailand can keep going into those bars, can keep meeting those girls time and time again, is because of love. It is because as we have those encounters on the streets or in the bar and are able to exchange even just a look, heaven just touched earth. I think that sometimes we as Christians don't realize the power and love that we carry. Our lense is too narrow. God is a God of the impossible. Each time I meet a girl, I see it as a gift. Knowing a girl's name, getting to talk with her, put an arm around her, look into her eyes and know that the God of the universe sees her, that is a beautiful thing. When I start to question and feel overwhelmed, instead of looking through the lense of the world that says this is the way it is and will always be, I look up and see that God is holding keys of freedom and He is passing them out. As we are talking, the words that we say to someone, may be the very key that God uses to bring them out of darkness. Sometimes we may not see how the key is used, but it is His business, to set the captives free. Will you join in being a part of this? In being a part of the revolution of God's love? Of His love even in the darkness, even when things seem hopeless and the world gets tired of hearing and seeing the needs, will you still let love carry you and move you to action? Will you be a part of seeing the revolution of love overcome the exploits of darkness, will you carry keys to the captives? Will you let heaven touch earth through you?
Thursday night this past week, I couldn't go to sleep. I was listening to Hometown Glory by Adele, just love the raw richness of this song. I took my computer and started writing...what came were lessons, truths that God was putting on my heart to impart to the kids here in Thailand before I leave to visit the states. When I finally fell asleep near 3am, my spirit felt full and refreshed. Then Sunday came. One of my Thai friends had asked me to be a part of the worship team for church. As I looked out over the group that had gathered, I saw that there were many children who had come, several I had never met before. I was really excited when I saw my friend Uh Oh, who is Thai, walk into the room. She had been a translator when a team from Bethel church in Redding and Expression 58 in LA had come to do a week of teaching with our children. Today was the first day that I had seen her since then.
When worship was over and the kids were dismissed...I was even more happy that she came to join us. Today, I really wanted the kids to realize how many God's thoughts are for them, more than the grains of sand, we can't even count them. Uh Oh helped translate and when we talked about how our hearts get dirty and how Jesus wants to clean them and fill them with good things, we had the kids lay on the ground and ask Jesus what He wanted to put in their hearts; what He sees when He looks at them. One of the boys, who is 5 said that he saw a black heart. Then he asked Jesus to clean it. As Uh Oh prayed with him, he said that he saw a sun. One of the girls who is near 10 was having a hard time listening and seeing but when I asked her to picture a garden and where she was in the garden and she saw also Jesus giving her a gift. We all got out paints, and the kids got to paint what Jesus had shown them. The five year old boy randomly started painting and on the top wrote S...H...I...N ...Uh Oh finished with an E at the end, SHINE...which fit in beautifully with the sun he had seen earlier. A father, who had brought his two young children, sat there painting with them, water, a wale while his oldest son painted white covered mountains.
When our time was finished, we all went downstairs to the main worship room. Entering, I saw that there were several people up front who were receiving prayer. Soon I realized that this father's, wife was there as well and she was experiencing a lot of turmoil and was wailing. Their youngest child, a little girl asked, "How is my mom?." I was a little concerned about her being there, but she didn't want to leave. A group of women who are experienced in ministering in the area of deliverance prayer, were there with her. The father lovingly had his hand on his wife and was interceding for her as well. After a short time, the ministry team had her sit up, and the woman started throwing up as the evil that had been tormenting her, physically left her body. Then she became quite again as the Holy Spirit enveloped her with His love. It was one of the most beautiful things that I have ever seen before. The team spoke lovingly to the little girl, explaining to her that her mom loves Jesus so much and that no bad things can live with her so they have to leave because she is a daughter of God. When it was all over, the little girl There was something special about the whole family being there to see their mom set free.
God really is in the process of making all things new! I love what He is doing right now and that I have the opportunity to be a part of loving the people of Thailand. I can't even describe how much joy it brings me to see children grasping truths of who Jesus is to them. It makes me want to jump around and dance for joy! And actually, I got to do that today...but that's another story :).
(Art is done by children)
Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010
Cole, Sandy and I got caught in the rain tonight! It was so fun!! The raindrops were so big and as we were running down the street to the hotel near by, I opened my arms and as I lifted my head to the sky this huge raindrop came and hit me on the forehead!! There is something about getting caught in a sudden storm that makes me soo happy :) I love being caught off guard by things that happen in nature. It seems like there have been so many thunder storms here lately. When we were in the hotel there was one point when there was a huge crash of thunder and at the same time the hotel lights flickered off and on again. Sandy was like, "I think we were just hit!" There is something about being hit by the unexpected and finding joy in it. Like earlier that night. We were all walking to dinner and the sky in front of us exploded in brilliant light and color! We all just stood there for like 15 minutes exclaiming about how beautiful it was as the Thais just walked around us not even glancing up. At one point all the colors of the rainbow were seen across the expanse of the sky and there was no rain. It was like, "God, what are You doing?"
Later that evening, we went to our apartment and spent some time in prayer and worship and reading from 1 John. It was like, ya...this is what real fellowship is like. It was real, raw and healing. We got to expose and share some of our personal struggles and where we are at with God and receive His love. One of the things we talked about is how when we grow up with feeling a lack of love, this orphan spirit is created in us that causes us to not fully trust that the love of God is enough. We spent some time in repentance and letting Jesus restore us. It was beautiful. We got to talking afterwards about how this is what real community is. It is when we can be real and exposed and there is no fear of shame or withholding of love. If the church doesn't do this, they are misrepresenting Jesus. He said He is the Light and that those who walk in the light have fellowship with Him. In the light, there is exposure and freedom.
As I think back to the events of just a few nights ago, I can't help but smile at the ways that God just loves to take me off guard with His presence. There can be a lot of darkness here. But God's voice is thundering across the nation, His tears of laughter and love and compassion are falling down, to catch us at the most unexpected moments. He is washing this land of Thailand, cleansing it. And then through a sunset, His glory is revealed. I love my God! I love the people that He has put around me right now and that I get to share life with. I love that it is in the unexpected events that take place every day that He catches me in His intense love and I get to be touched and experience His presence just like the followers of Jesus did, over 2 thousand years ago. So get ready, for the unexpected...
Children are the future and hope of a nation. When children are empowered and learn that they have a voice, the nations tremble. Children bring an innocence and hope that quenches the darkness. The praises of children silence the enemy. That is why he hates them so much. That is why he seeks to thrwart their destinies through wicked schemes. He has no mercy. He wants only to destroy. Children are the weapon of a nation and either they can be used and manipulated or valued and honored. Here in Bangkok, my heart cries out on behalf of the children. During the clashes in May, they were being used in the camps of the red shirts, being propped up onto tires that blockade a street, becoming human shields, weapons of war. The weapons of war that God calls these children to be are weapons of justice and mercy. These past 6 months here in Bangkok, I have had the amazing opportunity to work with the children at Nightlight. There is a bright hope and future for these children. Their mothers are making decisions of hope and life and these children are going to reap a great inheritance and become the leaders of their nation. When these children grasp the truth of who they are as children of the most High God, they become dangerous. They start asking for things that human reason says can't happen. They ask for the impossible.
A few days ago, before leaving for our kids center, I was thinking about the kids and this desire, this ache rose up within me and all I could do was pray, "God, pour out your Spirit on these children." "You have got to do it...I can't. I want them to see You." That morning, when I got to the room where the kids were, I saw there were only 3 older children and a few babies. One of them was a girl I will call Min. She is 5 years old. This little girl has the gift of dance. As soon as I walked in, she and another girl Gi were insistently asking if I could turn on the Thai children's worship music so they could dance. Soon they were twirling around with streamers in hand. It was beautiful. Afterwards I pulled out a Bible story book, sat cross legged on the ground, with the three kids sitting around me. After just a short time it was just me and Min. She was enthralled with the stories of Jesus. In my broken Thai I was telling her about the boy who didn't want to live with his dad but go away to party, about the men who were in the lake and they didn't get any fish until Jesus wanted to use their boat and sit and talk to the people and then their boats were full of fish, to the final story of the little boy who gave Jesus 5 pieces of bread and 2 fish. After reading the story about how there weren't enough fish and bread but when Jesus prayed, God made enough for everyone, Min asked me if she could ask Jesus for clothes, and shoes and a purse and makeup and God would give them to her too? I smiled and at the same time my mind was thinking that that is not exactly how it works but then again...He says ask, doesn't He? :) She was laying across my lap at this point and after closing her eyes she said, "Jesus, I want ...." naming each thing. And then she turned to me and asked,
"When is He going to give me those things?"
"I don't know, why don't you ask Him."
(Closing her eyes..."day 18, what day is today?"
"Today is the 14th."
(She counted on her fingers.)
She then closed her eyes again and I asked her to ask Jesus to take her somewhere. She said something about water and swimming. :) "Can you see Jesus?" I asked. She shook her head in a negative. So I just waited...every now and then she would open her eyes and look at me and tell me what she was talking with Jesus about, there was more about the clothes and makeup.
After a lil while I led her in asking, "Jesus, can you take me to heaven."
I was just holding her, and praying quietly over her. Suddenly she opened her eyes and a big giddy smile had crossed her face. "I saw Jesus." she said. "And what did He say?" I asked. "I am a good girl," she said. :) I can't tell you how much joy this brought me. It was her who made the connection between the five loaves and fishes and her own life and the Holy Spirit did the rest. I love how much faith children have. I love the life that they carry. I love that they ask for the impossible. Will you? Today, many children are being exploited and used and yet God is raising up an army of worshipers, an army of children of faith. They are in every nation. When I was in Cambodia I saw this sign that read, "Please protect our national treasures." Children are treasures. Let us do all we can, wherever we are, to value and give voice to the children of our nation. They really are powerful in bringing the Kingdom of God.
Psalm 8:1-2 "O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth! You have set Your glory above the heavens. Out of the mouths of babes and infants, You have established strength because of Your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger." (ESV)
Thank you Katie for the photo of the worshipping children. :)