Sunday, April 2, 2017
Saturday, November 17, 2012
I have always known this, that Satan is real, but have never really experienced it in a real and tangible way, until Thailand. I had plans this time; I felt more comfortable going, more knowledgeable about the subject, more prepared to reach out, and excited to see what God would do in the red light districts!
I was not prepared for such an as in your face attack that I experienced the first night I was there. I was not going to share this cause it’s hard and even embarrassing in a way, but I feel I have too in order to be free, to be brave and not let the lie win. There are some things I will leave out because it does not need to be known to understand the gist of the attack and how it affected me and my time there.
We started ministry in the district the way we always do by doing a prayer walk up and down the streets of bars before we go into one of them. This night we split into two groups and I was on the second team. We began our walk, talked to vendor friends, tied on Jesus bracelets, and spoke of Him. We got to one of our favorite vendor booths where Justin Bieber works (calm down gals, it’s just the nickname we gave someone on the first trip!) It is a booth full of cd’s and dvd’s of various American artists. As we were informed by our other friend, 50 cent, Bieber was no longer working there, his wife had baby and works another job now, (PTL!). As we came around a second time 50 was no longer there, but a new guy was, so we stopped and chatted and he was very taken by one of our team mates by how beautiful she was (and she is!) It was really cute, he just kept saying “so beautiful! Like Jessica Alba!” So, my team leader Connie said, what is your name, we need to give you a nickname like friends! He replied, Tom, Tom Cruise! Of course I was excited about this because anyone who knows me, knows of my affection for Tom even though he is Mr. Crazy Pants! :) She joked that if he is Tom that she is Nicole Kidman because Connie is a super model and very tall apparently, I have not noticed... ;) As we chatted he told her and the team – next time you are here call me and I’ll come pick you up at airport! Connie said, really? You have taxi? Tom replied, no, friend does or I get tuk-tuk! (A tuk-tuk is like a rickshaw, but motorized.) To which Connie said, really all of us in tuk-tuk? He looked at all 6 or 7 of us and said, Yes!
Then it all took a turn down hill.
He looked at me, pointed and said, well maybe not her, she is too fat, tuk-tuk break! And laughed. And laughed.
I’ve experienced attack or opposition before or people just saying rude things in general, but this was different not just good ole fashioned name calling and my team agreed. This was like a demon talking straight to my face through this poor guy! I don’t know how else to explain it other than, it was different, evil. I don’t think my team realized what was happening or being said at first, it got very quiet and for what felt like an eternity, but was probably really only 3-4 minutes went on about “how fat I was and how come so big and too fat” etc… I think I blocked a lot out honestly. It was surreal, I stayed calm, I listened, tried to joke and not show him that it bothered me, but mostly I was trying not to crumble right there and go home. This was NOT my plan, I did not prepare for This! My team leader Connie tried graciously to rebuke him and tell him that is not right, but he did not care, he was tool and I don’t mean like a “tool” when you are calling a guy a jerk. He was a physical, tangible tool of the enemy. See Satan know my weak spots and yours and will use them if it will make us ineffective and in a way, it worked. He saw where to plunge the knife, twist it, pull it out, and repeat. He has a job to do, and that job is to sit all day and devise plans to knock us down and make us weak and useless! As we walked away, I wanted to cry, but was reminded of Job and praised God because I’m not blind to the enemy's schemes, I’m not stupid, I knew it was attack and it was just not a random occurrence, that it was Personal for me and me alone. I thanked God that it only made HIM, Jesus, more real in my life and that where I was, was dark indeed! But, no matter the grace of seeing and knowing it is attack; it left me shaken because it was evil, in my face, and real! I shut down. I’m not trying to be dramatic, really, I’m not, I’m just trying to describe the moment and feeling of what went down. There is more personal stuff in it that I’m not sharing here because it’s not needed, but I continued on with my team in prayer trying to keep my head up and smile on while asking God what do I do now? The wound was deep; it threw everything in my face and laughed! I saw Connie keep looking back on me to check and see how I was, but if we talked about it then, I would not keep it together for the rest of the night and we had not entered the bars yet. I don’t remember if my team said anything to me or not after that? I think I was just in my head and that was it, most were probably glad it was not them!
Nevertheless, I could not shake the feeling, I prayed, I wrote, I asked to remove it, but it stuck with me like a scarlet letter. I tried to just stay focused on Jesus and get through and not waste a minute of my time there! I will say that I am blessed in that I have never felt insecure about who I am because who I am, is in Christ! Yes, I have insecurities like any woman and he did not tell me anything I don’t already know, but I don’t spend a lot of time focusing on it cause it’s just not who I am, I am confident in the Lord, but Everyone who looked at me after that I felt immediately judged by and I did not know what to do with that… It changed my countenance a bit for the rest of the time even though I tried to let it go. I did not talk about it in our debrief meeting, I did not tell my roommate, at one point Connie told me, just so you know, I disagree with him 100%, but we really did not talk about it and for whatever reason, “Jesus knows!” ;) i know my team had my back! The next night we were going to another district and as we took the trains to get there, I of course could not shake the feeling that encounter left me with. One of my sweet teammates came up behind me and said, Rae I don’t know why, but I just feel God wants me to tell you that you are stunning! I said, really? Thank you, and asked her, were you on my team last night or the other team? She said the other. I said, oh, so you don’t know what happened? She replied, no…? So I shared a bit and thanked her for her kind word. My two team leaders and friends, both told me at different points, just so you know, I think you are stunning! There is that Word again, I thought… Then I realized that day before the incident happened another teammate said to me, I have been meaning to tell you all day that I just think you are stunning! To all I replied with thanks. Strange God kept using this particular word, I’m not sure I had ever been called stunning in my life and now in the span of a week I had heard it 4 times, various ways, from different people!
Sadly, I think I fully realized this too late for that trip, but THIS, is what my Jesus spoke to me, “my daughter, my bride, the world does not see you the way I see you! They see your flaws and shortcomings, and all that you are not, but I see into your heart and YOU ARE STUNNING!” I would expect nothing less from my God, to take what the world does not see and understand and call her Stunning! I was made for my Jesus and that is the only thing I need!
I never saw Tom again. I was not sure if I wanted too, but I was willing. I heard later Connie spoke to him again, but all I can do is pray for him. This is the reality of the battle we are in; Satan will find your weak spot and fight to make you useless! I lost sight of that and God graciously gave me new insight! It does not change my heart for Thailand or take away the desire to go back, if anything, it makes the desire stronger because I’ve realized the girls in the bars face judgment from men and people every day and my Jesus wants to tell them they are Stunning and loved as they are, that they fearfully and wonderfully made! He may just even use me to do that!
Tuesday, July 31, 2012
Ask yourself – How beautiful are my feet? Are they beautiful like His? (Romans 10:15)
I believe sharing the gospel is mostly relational. We can have the whole Bible memorized, but we have to be able to meet people where they are at, so we can relate to their hurts and needs and openly share what Christ has done for each and every one of us! In John 4, you know the story, Jesus tells of his encounter with the Samaritan woman. Was Jesus surprised she showed up to get water? No. He knew she had needs, she had hurts, she had sin. He knew she would be there, He knew to meet her there to fill her need. What was His tool? Water. Simple. Effective.
My vision for Invite 10 is simple.
Invite 10 people who do not know the Lord to come to Harvest America. The beautiful thing is that if you are unsure how to share your faith fully, all you have to do is hand them a simple flyer, an invitation to come and meet your Jesus! What a privilege to share in the planting of seeds that others may harvest and God will reap! (John 4:35) Sometimes sharing your faith begins with small steps to build your faith…
- give an invite to your local coffee barista
- a person in line with you at the grocery store
- if you eat out, invite your server
- your neighbors
- take them to work and give personally to your co-workers
- give to friends and/or family that you have never known how to reach out too
You get the idea – keep your eyes and ears open, be aware of the people around you, be compassionate to their hurts and needs and risk reaching out. Make it a point to have personal interaction! You know hurt, you know joy, you know pain, you know love. Most importantly, you Know Jesus! Forsake all to follow Him. Even in handing out a simple invite you can offer the only water that gives life! My prayer is that you will have an everyday conversation that leaves an eternal impact on those you encounter!
Luke 4:18 – we all have fit into the groups that Jesus quotes here at one time or another; “The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed.”
Thank you for sharing in God’s Kingdom work! Pick up your Invite 10 packet at the Welcome Center!
Til All Have Heard,
Rachael Ward email@example.com – for questions, comments, or prayer. www.facebook.com/calvarynorthmissions
Thursday, November 17, 2011
I keep trying to write an overall trip blog. Not going to happen. There is too much to tell and so many faces to share their stories all at once. So I am going to start with one story...
Bua & Som - they work at Glamour Bar in Patpong district. They were standing outside drawing in potential customers as we were prayer walking the streets and stopped to chat. I got to share with them the redemption story and how Jesus see's them as the pearl of great value (mt.13:46) that the fisherman sold everything he owned and bought that 1 pearl because he saw the value in it. How Jesus gave up everything He had, His life, for them because He sees their worth!
I love the U2 lyric - "grace makes beauty out of ugly things." Prostitution is ugly, Trafficking is ugly, the red light districts are... ugly. Bua and Som happen to be two of the most beautiful people I met there inside and out. Our friendship started by talking outside the bar. Each night we made sure to stop by and see them at work, but as our team left at the end of our trip, my teammate Sarah and I had a few extra days in Thailand to visit the friends we had made.
I had been questioning on the trip how effective I was in bar ministry, or rather, questioning how to be more effective in bar ministry with these girls in the amount of time given. So as I was praying througout the week the question kept popping into my head "where are these girls during the day?" Yes, most likely sleeping, but if they work 7pm to 2am and sleep til 1pm in the afternoon, they still have a good 6 hours before work, so how do I find them then? I was sharing this with Sarah as we walked to Glamour bar and outside was Bua and Som and so I took the opprotunity and said "hey, lets go have lunch together tomorrow, ok?" and they lit up and said "yes, yes, have you tried...." and so began their quest to take up to some spicy thai food haha! God provided right away the answer to my prayer, to hang with them outside the bar!
We met the next day and just got to be girls! They took us to the largest mall I have ever been in, 8 stories! We had some food (which we were not fans of haha), and some coffee. We talked about girl things like favorite types of stores, colors, boys we like, and yes, even Twilight! Its a universal language "girl talk", no matter the language barrier girls can always argue who gets Edward and what color is best in a scarf! We got to ask more about their work, their families, and what they want to do in life... Som, would like to be an airline stewardess, but it is so expensive she may never get too, she was married and he was not nice, and she is now a butterfly. Free. Bua, is only 21 and has a 5 year old son who lives with the father, she wants to be a receptionist. Dreams seem more simple there, maybe because they come at so high a price?
I was so blessed that day to see them be who they really are, dress in their normal clothes and talk about dreams! We started a friendship that will cross oceans, cross borders, and if the Lord permits, share in eternity with them. It was a lot of seed planting but the Lord knows who will reap that harvest if not Sarah or I, maybe another saint. Pray for them and their friend Ning who joined us later that day. Bua shared she reads english better than she understands it talking so I took the opprotunity to write out the gospel for her to read and share with Som and Ning.
Those girls are reminder to me of how grace makes beauty out of ugly things...
Saturday, November 12, 2011
Ministry is hard here.
It’s easy to start a trip like this with thoughts of grandeur and the need to resolve and defend. Quickly we find it’s more about the simple expressions of love that speaks volumes of who you truly ar. No one has ever been able to show me the love of Buddha. No one has ever been able to share with me how he died and rose again for me. No one has ever been able to tell me that he created me to worship him, that I was not created to be sold.
I look in so many eyes of women, young girls, children, and ladyboys and see no hope that anyone and any god can save them. I would even go so far as to say that I see some of that same desperation in the men who frequent the bars as customers. It just wears differently on them.
This is life, no less, no more. Which is why I believe simply loving on them without expectations is a huge testimony of how God loves us and calls us to share that love. No other god loves like that!
So when we walk the streets of Pat Pong, we walk with a purpose to be light and show love. We smile, say, “Sawatika”, give out friendship bracelets, and share however God leads us. Taking the time in a bar just to hear a girl’s story can be so powerful when it seems like most of her life revolves around pleasing others, why would we care?
Again, it’s simple, relational ministry. Are we moving mountains? Maybe not yet. But that’s the Lord’s job, not ours. We are called to worship, to be a Light, to love at all times… even to the men. The heart of our Savior loves both the women and the men equally … and so should we.
The gospel is not for the “cleaned-up, ready-to-go” soul. It’s for the broken, the lost, in need. For the girl forced to sell herself in a bar in Bangkok to the girl in Phoenix, Az waiting for the one man God has for her. In His eyes, we are the same, a daughter of the King. That’s what Love does.
I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself – Jeremiah 31:3
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
I planned to blog more here but time did not permit, nor has my mind have time to process all my thoughts, so I'm down to my last night and thought I would share what's been the highlight of my time here and will blog about the other things later. Thank you all for your prayers and support, they are felt in abundance!
1 john 3:18 "dear children, let us stop just saying we love each other, let us really show it by our actions."
this verse sums up our trip, if not our lives. bar ministry can be sensory overload to say the least. dim lights, bright lights, loud music, smoke, incense, girls dancing, inappropriate surroundings, etc. its a lot to take in and more importantly a lot to try and NOT take in all at the same time. one night we divided into teams of two and prayer walked the streets of patpong. that night we not going to go into the bars, but just talk to the girls working outside the bars, the street vendors, and those that sell "sexy shows". my teammate Sarah and i decided after walking and praying we would sit at one of the outdoor, corner bars and see who we could talk too. as we sat there we saw a little girl who we assumed was the daughter of one of the men who sells "shows" sitting on a dirty wood flat trying to put together a bracelet we gave out earlier in a ministry gift bag we made for the kids. she was having trouble so we invited her over to sit with us so we could help her and buy a her a coke. well, where there is one kid, there are more just around the corner.... so twelve kids later haha we introduce to you "little Pong" our red light district version of VBS. before Sarah and i knew it, we were sitting at the bar with 4-6 kids at a time making bracelets, drawing pictures, playing an absurd amount of tic tac toe, and singing Jesus loves me. my bar ministry just took a drastic turn!
the people did not know what to make of this! what foreigners choose to sit at a bar with kids and just play with them and buy them cokes? these are the kids of the vendors, show sellers, dancers, and some vendors themselves (the kids who sell items, I was just told by Rahab Ministries today, are more then likely the kids who are also sold underground). it does not seem to happen here, there is no ministry outreach to the children of Patpong, these kids are inundated with so much darkness that to me the real question is, how could we not? to allow them a little space to just be kids and distract them from the surroundings was a amazing blessing for me and a game changer for the rest of my trip. the smiles and laughter they expressed was answer enough for me, God blessed Sarah and i with so much joy to just "be" there with them and play and draw despite the language barriers.
the first night the surrounding adults gave us looks of uncertainty, but were curious as to what we were doing and would come up to the table and smile while keeping a watchful eye on us, the second night they warmed up a bit and stayed and asked our names, by night 3 and 4 we were welcomed by them shouting our names across the streets of patpong to say "hello Rachael!" and shake hands, even our bar maid was showing us to what table we could use and bringing more chairs for our growing VBS! by our last night, heartfelt goodbyes and tears as we send the kids back to what they know, long nights from 7pm -2am and only God knows what else. i could do this every night, this would be my ministry here, the effectiveness of simply showing love, His love by our actions with these kids opened so many doors to share with the adults and be a light. even the western men stopped and asked if we were teachers or if we worked here and if not, why we would sit here and play with these kids? my only answer is because its what Jesus would have done, simple, relational, real. light casts out darkness, that's what little Pong did, in a place where it seems only darkness reigns, The Creator allowed us to take over the night to bring Him glory, let your light so shine before men.
on that corner for just a few nights our friends stopped selling sex shows around us and allowed themselves to enter into the joy these kids were having and i am amazed and humbled at the work of the Lord. watching these little ones and how the adults reacted to us showed me that maybe the best defense again trafficking or selling yourself is to end the cycle before it begins, red light ministry with the kiddos!
"Jesus love the little children, all God's children everywhere. red and yellow black and white they are precious in His sight. Jesus loves the little children everywhere."
ps - please pray for Bap and her friend in the picture above, they more than likely are trafficked underground.
In His Love,
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Matthew 6:34 says "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."
We have been commanded ("do not") to not worry about tomorrow. Jesus came so that we can have life and have it more abundantly. Are we truly experiencing abundant life if we are not living in the moment, but for the next moment? No, we are cheating ourselves of the blessings and hidden treasures that the Lord has for each one of us and I bet it breaks His heart to see us experience so little and miss so much! One of my favorite things about mission trips or traveling is that you are free from you "life" back in the states, you are not caught up in the everyday things, but completely able to focus on what God has before you in that day and able to experience each moment He has planned for you. It's the most freeing feeling and forever changes your views of what life should be and what you think you "need" to be fulfilled. And it allows to find joy when you get stuck in the Only elevevator in Tumen, China!
One thing Jesus often teaches is that we look without seeing. In John 4:35 he says to the disciples to not look at the harvest and say in four months it will come. He tells them to lift up their eyes and look for it is already here! (rae's version ;)) I know there have been times in my life when I was rushing to do something in my schedule that after the fact something struck me and I remember thinking, Oh man, sorry Lord, I completely missed that! I could have shared, I could have helped, I could have listened... Now my prayer is that I would allow the Holy Spirit to be stronger than my flesh so that I don't miss these treasured moments! On the other hand the other day I set my schedule, my plans for the day aside and got to share coffee for over 3 hours with a new friend and see the Lord work and it was great! Totally threw off my day haha, but I would not change it for the world! It was an abundant 3 hours!
We are human and we Need each other, we need to be in each other's lives, lifting one another up and carrying each others burdens. We are made to be a community, living and working together for the good of the harvest, not for the good of our own future plans.
My challenge to each of us would be to start our day asking the Lord to show us the moment(s) He doesn't want us to miss. That we would no longer look without seeing, but that we would see to be fulfilled. Live in the moment.