As a Christian, finding your calling in life can be very difficult. When we talk calling, we’re talking about the God given call on your life to serve Him in whatever way He designed you to serve. For some people it’s full-time ministry, for some people it’s being a stay at home mother, and for others it’s showing the light of Jesus in the corporate world. Discovering your personal, individual calling can be tricky simply because we live in a world where we want an instantaneous answer from heaven about the framework of our lives and, as we all know, that’s not usually how God operates. Each individual believer has to spend time with the Lord in prayer, scripture, and through experience to discover their calling. For some people, they know at age eleven at Bible camp. For others, God develops their passions and drive for their calling in college. Sometimes, people are in their late sixties before they come to know Jesus and follow His direction for their lives. We don’t all hear the same way, and we aren’t all on the same timeline. The good news is, most people will tell you everything I just said. The bad news is, people don’t tell you that figuring out with Jesus what your call in life is, is only the beginning.
In my mind, I thought it was pretty simple after you get step one down. I’ve had a call for ministry on my life since I was a teenager. Over the years, God has developed passions, giftings, and talents for me to use in more specific areas of ministry. That alone is not an easy train ride down the mountain of figuring life out. Getting to a place of knowing where I wanted to serve was worked out through God using the most terrible, painful, heart-wrenching experiences in my life. Once it became more clear to me, I figured the hard part was over, all the doors would open, God would give me a ministry, everyone would warmly welcome me, and we would all be besties and it would look like the Jesus-loving version of F.R.I.E.N.D.S. Spoiler alert: It was not. I’m speaking from a place of only knowing what I [think] God wants me to pursue with my life for a few years. I’ve just dipped my toe into the side of the pool, and it’s been the most challenging years of my life. People don’t tell you that, and it’s unfortunate that they don’t because the most challenging, gut-wrenching, and tear-filled times have given me the most growth, benefit, and ministry experience.
Another thing that people don’t tell you is when you’ve found what you want to pursue, it can also simultaneously be the most discouraging time in your life. Before I submersed my life into ministry, I had no doubts that it’s what I wanted to do. When I actually started to jump into it, it felt like the sky was falling. The spiritual warfare gets heavy when you become a threat. Being a God-loving, Spirit-filled, calling-driven individual makes you formidable in the spiritual realm, and that’s when the enemy comes at you hard, and usually he aims straight at your identity. As a believer with a purpose, the easiest way for the enemy to derail you is through attacking who you are. If you view yourself as a worthless, shame-filled individual and you're focused on your own insecurities and pain, there isn’t a lot God can do with you until you get out of that pit. No one will tell you is that these discouraging times are some of the most important and instrumental in becoming firm and strong in your identity in the Lord.
When you find yourself on the road to your call in life, when you’re pursuing Jesus with all of your heart, when you dive into the pool head-first, don’t get discouraged. When you’re giving ministry your all but you feel the empty feelings of loneliness, cling to Jesus tighter and keep fighting. When people tell you why they think you should step away from your ministry, why making money or having fame is more important, remember God’s love for you and why you need to share it with others. When your character, heart, and emotions get a full attack from the enemy, rebuke Satan and his work, strongly proclaim God’s power on your life, and remind the enemy you are a child of God, and no one may tell you anything different.
The ride won’t be smooth. The grass won’t always be green. It won’t always be a happy sitcom about best friends loving Jesus, but there is nothing that has more worth, value, or satisfaction that knowing what God is asking you to do, and doing it.
Written by guest author Cassidee DeVeau
[for the homegirls]
Picture with me, that you are a flower amongst all the other wild flowers on top of a hill. Then all of a sudden the wind, rain, and billowing clouds come closing in on you. You suddenly lose sight of the sun that you were enjoying and the gentle breeze, and now you are focused on this harsh weather that seems to be coming out of nowhere. Do we ever feel like that flower that gets tossed to and fro by the winds and the storms of this life? The flower that longingly hopes it will be a sunny day, a day filled with warmth and sunshine? But instead you’re feeling overwhelmed by the storm that is coming in.
Just like this flower on top of a hill longingly hoping for the warmth of the sunshine to provide its nourishment, healing, and transformation… We as women need to be longingly in need of our Sonshine, Jesus. There will be times in our lives when the winds of discouragement, and the rains of loneliness and clouds of depression will come. But when the rain or the trials of this life may come we as women can have true joy, because of the two rays of promise that we are going to talk about tonight. So don’t focus on your feelings of loneliness, anger, bitterness, and discouragement… but focus on the Sonshine (Jesus) and His promises to us when we go through trials. He will be the One who will nourish our hearts when we are defeated, will heal us in His time, and will transform us into His likeness.
Have you been going through a storm in your life recently? Does it feel like you will never see a glimpse of the sunshine again? Do your trials rob you of your joy? Do you wonder “Why me”? Why do I have to go through this? Let’s choose today to not be held back by the storms raging around us, but to focus and follow the Son (Jesus) who brings about sunshine in our lives. We can sing in the rain in our trials by focusing on this ray of promise; that He will grow us.
"The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but the people who don't do anything about it."
When God calls people to something, He usually isn't discreet about it. If He burdens your heart or directly calls you to an area of service, generally speaking, it's pretty clear. Sometimes the means and the exact direct and game plan are fuzzy, but it's easy to identify what God breaks your heart for. For myself, God has made it clear to me the last few years what my ministry calling is. For one thing, it's the global church. The other, very big thing, is ministry and awareness for sexual abuse survivors. I can tell you I have literally no idea in the world how I will serve in those two areas long term, but there's no denying that they both have a big ol' chunk of my heart.
My problem is, as I'm sure many Christians feel, I don't know what God will do with that, so I put it on the back burner sometimes because I don't really know what to do about it.
On sunday, a lot of different conversations from that week had led to me talking to God in the car, on the way to a pre-church Target run, about starting a ministry. I realized I went to a gigantic church, and besides a few events, there isn't a ministry directed solely for sexual abuse. But statistically, in a church where thousands of people gather every week, that means thousands of those people are victims. So amidst of telling God He should do something, He said to me, "Oh lil' lamb-chop honeybunch, that's why I made you." [In my head Jesus frequently calls me lamb-chop and honeybunch] So then, in my sassy and very "realistic" [pessimistic] nature, I said, "yeah ok Jesus. How does a kid like me, who's young and WAY under-experienced/underqualified, even begin something like that? Mmmmmm, yeah, no."
Funny thing, usually when you put your sassy-pants on when you're talking to Jesus, He gives you a little reality check moment swiftly following. So I went to church and the first twenty minutes of the sermon, the pastor was talking about this ministry that trains young people for a year, then sends them out to church plant, and they plant eleven churches a day. Eleven. a day. They feel God's burden and direction, and they go. Then, following that intro, the message was following up in the series our church is on, called "Favor with Kings". Favor with Kings is a book, by Caleb Anderson, that's about God's purpose and the passions He gives us, developing a plan of action, empowering people, and the dreams God puts on our hearts. Do you see where this is going?
After the service, I headed to a luncheon with some of our church's global partners from Congo, Camille and Esther Ntoto, founders of Africa New Day. Africa New Day is a ministry that is dedicated to empoweing and creating opportunities for the underprivileged, and is centered around ending gender violence, along with equipping the next generation of African leaders. Esther and Camille live in the Eastern region of the Congo. Eastern Congo is extremely war torn. The country as a whole has a net-worth greater than the United States because of the natural resources, but because of the governmental corruption and the violent war and militia groups, the wealth is stripped from many of the Congolese people, which causes extreme poverty. 3.5 million Congolese children are not able to attend school. The country experiences violent tribal conflict, which is mostly a result of the history of the country. In 1885, the Belgian king, King Leopold II, enslaved the Congolese people to harvest and profit from the rubber and ivory. 10,000 Congolese died at the hand of King Leopold's slavery from starvation, forced labor, the dismembering of hands, feet, and limbs as punishment, and intentional extermination. Leopold also divided the Congolese people into tribes by measuring their facial and body features, which is why the Congolese people today have various tribes which result in tribal wars. In the Congo, rape is used as a form of warfare. Because sexual violence is so destructive and causes deep pain and trauma, it's an extremely effective and common form of warfare. At this meeting, Camille and Esther shared parts of their stories and why they started Africa New Day. They explained that Africa New Day has a ministry for men that tackles the root of the problem in sexual violence. They teach men how to be leaders, to fear and love God, the correct and Biblical version of masculinity, and how to respect and treat women in a godly way. They have a ministry for children to educate them, to keep them in school, to grow them in God's word. Their ministry for women is directed towards literacy, vocational skills, restoration, and helping them break the cycles of violence. They also have ministries for leaders and a media ministry.
Wowza. By the end of that, Jesus had out-sassed me a little bit. Before the ended, Camille had referenced that quote from Einstein, "The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but the people who don't do anything about it." Just a little Jesus punch, right to the face. He made it abundantly clear that the purpose He has given me is not to be ignored. He is working in GIANT ways. And He is definitely not afraid to let you know that, trust me. I get so caught up in my own self. I'm just a kid, I don't have a lot under my belt. But God doesn't call the qualified, he qualifies the called. Don't get me wrong, I have no idea what in the world, in what capacity, I will be working in this ministry just yet, but God is making it clear, I will be doing it.
We serve a God who is a lot bigger than our ideas, our inadequacy, and our unqualified resumes. Our job is not to tell God it's not possible, our job is to jump on the Jesus bus and say let's do it. It's easier said than done, and it's a life-long process, but God didn't make His Church to be a people that sits and waits for Jesus to return, He made us to be the light to the broken world. We're His workers. We're the tools He's going to use to bring healing, redemption, and love.
Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
About: Africa New Day
The topic that I've been avoiding and avoiding and God has been bringing up over and over to me is racism. I have been running to the hills trying to get out of this one. I'm from Utah, one of the most predominantly white places in the country, and I can tell you after visiting home last week that no one's conversational topic of choice up in Utah is racism. Injustice doesn't really become anyone's topic of choice until it happens to them and they're fed up with it.
I really didn't want to get my foot in my mouth with such an intense topic, mostly because I felt like at first there was no reason for me to. I'm a little white girl. I've never in my life been afraid in any circumstance because of the color of my skin. I've never been harassed by the police. I've never been afraid to get pulled over. I've never been afraid to be in contact with law enforcement. The history of my ancestors is very different. I have no parents or grandparents who were beat or brutalized or harassed or were afraid for their lives during the civil rights movement that happened only 60 years ago. When Michael Brown was shot in Ferguson, I didn't care to read or listen or watch or educate myself. I thought I had nothing to do with it and I frankly didn't care. But now, I live around and work with and am friends with people who are directly affected by what is happening in our country now, and they've reminded me that I am involved. Me not caring, is me being involved. Me denying that racism exists is me being involved. Me denying my privilege is me being involved. Me not asking black people or other people of color what they feel and are afraid of is me being involved. And all of that is toxic. It's destructive and toxic and is what is tearing apart the church today that so greatly needs more than ever to be united.
As I said, I've never really ever been afraid because of the color of my skin, so I can't at all understand being on the oppressed side of racism. I don't get that. But God is reminding me over and over that I have experienced being on the other side of privilege because of my gender. I can feel a tip of the iceberg of what it feels to have people claim that the thing you're most afraid of in your life, doesn't exist. My story is a story of sexual abuse and assault. I have heard over and over, not only from Christians, but even other victims, that the issue isn't even real in my life. I've experienced victim shaming and people have explained to me for hours and hours why it's my fault. People deny altogether that rape culture exists. It's not a real issue to them. Some people get uncomfortable about it, and they don't want to talk about it. They don't care at all to educate themselves, and they really don't care about the issue to begin with. Some people do care, but they don't understand it. Some people don't think it affects them at all because they're not a victim. Many, many, many people in my life, and in the lives of other victims of sexual abuse, take the side of the abuser because they're friends. Injustice and crime and a federal offense doesn't matter to them. God has used that deep set pain in my life to help me emphasize with the people who experience racial prejudice. In every situation, you need to listen to both sides. You need to listen to the victims. You need to hear the cries and heart-breaks of the people who are broken and who have been sinned against, and you need to validate them. You need to stand up for what is right. You need to speak the truth to whatever crowd you stand in front of.
The people who I've spoken to that have a hard time with or are strongly against Black Lives Matter, are against it because they don't understand it, they misunderstand it, they've seen racism or hatred come from people that say they are a part of the movement, or they are afraid that it takes away the validation from the Blue Lives Matter movement. This is what I know: Blue lives do matter. There are police officers who fight for our safety every day. They sacrifice their time and they serve the people faithfully. Many law enforcement officers are under the microscope and are criticized heavily for every move they make. Some officers sacrifice their lives. Some police officers are incredible people who have intentions to protect and serve. Some police officers have brutalized people. Most of the people who have been brutalized by those police officers are black or of color. Innocent black people have been shot by police officers. Innocent black people have been harassed by police officers. 60 years ago, black people were being beaten in the streets by police officers. I know black lives do matter. There are activists for Black Lives Matter that stand up for what they believe because they stand up for justice. They are tired of being pushed aside. They are tired of being afraid. They are doing what God has called them to do. They are doing the work of God and His church. There are also Black Lives Matter activists who have physically and verbally abused cops. Some have threatened and said horrible, disgusting things about police. Some have fed fear with racism. What I know is that you can't generalize any group of people. You have to take the time to understand. You have to educate yourselves. And you cannot say to one part of the hurting church that they are on their own. Even if you don't agree, even if politically or personally you feel strongly one way or the other, you are called as a Christian by God Himself to be there, as you responsibility as a member of the body of Christ. You can't say bye, peace out, because you don't like what they feel or have to say. You can't decide which part of justice you would like to stand up for. You are called to stand for it all. I don't know the answers, I don't know how to do this, I know a lot of people disagree, and no one likes these conversations. But I also know that I can't ignore injustice, because I refuse to be the person that people were and continue to be to me. I've heard too many times that it doesn't matter, and I will not be the person that walks away from the people who are hurting because I don't want to hurt in the way I was hurt. You have to say this stops here.
1 Corinthians 12:12-27
12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by[c] one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.
15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body.16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body.17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty,24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it,25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.
" It's more likely for an ultra-liberal atheist to care for a girl wearing a hijab than a Christian"
- Prashan DeVisser
Open up a newspaper and scroll down your Facebook feed and you what are you undoubtedly sure to see? Bernie, Hilary, and Donald. We have all eyes and ears on the election. And we all have an opinion on who should be the leader of our country. Another big one on the news that has been spotlighted due to the election and recent events is Islam. Muslims, hijabs, refugees, and Trump's idea to identify the Muslim people. But it's not just Islam, it's illegal immigrants, asylees, refugees, gay marriage, women's rights, and transgender bathrooms at target. And ohhhhh mamma there are a lot of Christians who are ticked off. We live in the great country of America where we have the privilege of having rights, and that's what our main concern is. Our rights. And we all have a piece in the blame game. There is a big concern that America and Christianity will be destroyed by a transgender guy in the women's bathroom or a Muslim refugee or an illegal immigrant or a gay rights activist or an atheist, liberal, feminist. But Christianity and America's name and integrity won't be destroyed by any of those things, it's going to be destroyed by Christians who are overtaken by fear, ignorance, entitlement, and who are more concerned with rights than the love of Christ. The world doesn't see Christians when they go on a missions trip or when they're at church on Sunday or putting an offering in the box. They see Christians when they make offensive racial jokes. They pay attention when the fear of Islam and Muslim people is replaced by aggression. They see the videos of the people who walk through target screaming with their Bibles and they say those are Christians. And seriously, why would anybody want a God that treats somebody like that. And that's the part that sucks. We should be a group of people and a community that hurting people run to. People of all religions and gender affiliations and political statuses should feel safe with Christians. That seems like a red flag sometimes, because we don't want to compromise, we are called not to compromise. And we have interpreted loving people who aren't Christian as compromise, and that is not the case. Loving and investing in people who have different beliefs that aren't true and different lifestyles that are sinful doesn't mean we accept it or say that it's okay. It's saying, I'm a follower of Christ and I'm going to show you the love that He has for you. Being patriotic and protecting your country and utilizing your gun rights isn't a sin. Having a strong political opinion is not a sin. What is a sin is making those things more important than loving people and taking an attitude of entitlement over an attitude of Christ. This is like seriously one of the hardest things ever for me because I wasn't to just open a door for a Muslim
lady at Wal-Mart and smile at a transgender guy and then pop back in to my safe Christian sub culture where I can check off my good deed for the day, pretend like everything is good with the world, and then like someone's meme about Islam on Facebook. And then, of course, I get upset that atheists and extreme liberals are trash talking Christians. But what are we showing them? I know it's cliche to pull the what would Jesus do card and you haven't seen your WWJD bracelet since 2002, but we seriously need to ask our selves, what would Jesus do? Be honest with yourself. If He was an American citizen today, what would Jesus's attitude be towards illegal immigrants? How would he act towards Muslims? What would he say about refugees? Would Jesus still shop at Target? What would His attitude towards the transgender community be? Who would He vote for?
As many of those thing that we can't say for sure, we can look at Jesus's life to get answers. Jesus was all about those relationships. He loved on the sinners and that's how they came to know who God is. Relationships. Jesus wasn't like, well you're a tax collecter or a prostitute or a murderer and I accept you for that and you just do yo thing, He spoke the truth in love and he spent time loving them.
As the body of Christ, we are called to be the voice of the voiceless and hurting. We are called to stand up for those who are silenced by fear, hurt, shame, and violence. As the hands and feet of Christ, we need to be his loving arms to the hurting. The truth isn't always pretty. It hurts. It's ugly. It's painful. But the truth is what's right. It's what we as believers are called to share and live by. If we want to truly live like Christ, truth is key. 1 Corinthians 13:6 " Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth."
Read and share this presentation to raise awareness on sexual violence as we continue the Real Truth Project to be a voice for those without voices.
It's finally here! Some amazingly brave women have stepped up to write and share their stories of survival, pain, healing, and redemption through Christ. The work Christ is doing through each of these women is incredible. Read and share the project to get the word out! God is going to do amazing things with each and every one of these incredible people.
I get eyelash extensions. I know, it makes me sound like a diva pants. But I get them and I am in love with getting them. I love them. More than a person should love eyelashes. I need to find a recovery group for people who are addicted to eyelash extensions. But, my eyelashes are like a really dysfunctional boyfriend. I love them to death, but they gave me an eye infection. It's weeks of an eyelash horror movie over here, not so hot. But I finally woke up with my eyes swollen shut and I decided that is was maybe a good time to see a doctor so I could do things I enjoy doing again like opening my eyes. It was a long day at the doctor's office, let me tell you. I was there for hours. I was really loosing my stuff. I had work I needed to do and prep for some upcoming events and I had just gotten back the day before from a trip, so I was not a happy camper. I was in the doctor's office, doing what any intelligent resourceful human does in the occasion of your eyes swelling closed when you have 3,000 things to do: Pinterest-ing shoes and cupcakes, instead of working, and complaining that I had been there for three hours. The thought occurred to me, maybe I should pray since I'm so stressed... And then I was like whoa, whoa, whoa, I am way too busy. Too much on my brain. Seriously, there is so much going on and I need to pin these vegan cupcakes on my cupcake board, despite the fact I'm not vegan. No thanks Jesus, I don't have time in my stressful rage, thank you very much. The little boy in the next room just dropped his sucker and he sounds pretty upset, so, maybe you shoulf go check up on him.
And then I realized, hmm. Maybe that's. Ummmmm. Wrong. Mind you, two days before this, me in all my wisdom about prayerfulness had been giving one of my friends advice about prayer and I whipped out all the fancy Christian vocabulary on her. Included was how important fellow shipping with God was, how it's impact-ful it is to your Christian walk it is to have real time with Jesus, the whole nine Jesus-loving yards. So after I had a little reality check Carlie time, it made a bit more sense that God who, you know, holds the universe and the perfect will of all humanity in his hands, would probably be able to help me out with some swollen eyes and a big to-do list. Prayer is one of those things needs to be everyone's first resort whenever anything happens, but it's usually the thing that we all save until the end when nothing else works out. And then we go through the, "well, I guess I'll pray then since you didn't give me what I want Jesus. And Pinterest-ing my future wedding didn't solve my problems so. Let's talk I guess." thing. But there never is really a "good" excuse for not praying. It's something you can literally do anytime anywhere at any point. It's talking directly to God. When you think about it, it's a no-brainer why we should do it all the day long, but it's a struggle for everyone. You can't be too busy to pray.
Matthew 26:41, “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
Mark 11:24, "Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours."
Luke 6:12, "One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God."
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. In honor of that, Waking up to Real is going to be starting a project that I am so excited about. It's called The Real Truth Project. Because of my own story, God has realllly been challenging me with finding a way to share it, and also with figuring out a way to better equip the church with a way to help those who have been hurt by sexual abuse. So then came the Real Truth Project. There are so many people who have been hurt by sexual abuse. I want people to hear the real stories of these people, and others, ultimately, to learn how to help other people through hearing. And who better to learn from than the actual people who have experienced this pain. This project will be real stories, written by the real women. At the end of the month, all of the stories will be shared together here on the blog. There will be a separate page and sub-page for everyone's story. I know that God can use anything to glorify Himself, and I pray that this project can be used to comfort those hurting, empower those who don't have a voice, and educate those who don' t know. Even if it is just a little post on a little blog. Keep it in your prayers and keep checking back in to get updates! And, check back on April 30th to see the Real Truth Project Published. ❤
Unfortunately today, women are usually faced with being labeled one extreme or another. It depends on the culture and the specifics, but there is almost always a polarizing judgement made. In the Christian world, I've seen a lot of judgments made from women to other women. If she doesn't wear make-up, that means she doesn't take care of herself, and she needs to put effort in her appearance. If everyday she wears eyeliner and lipstick and the whole deal, she's too obsessed with her appearance, and the girl is vanity obsessed. If she's a small portion girl or a salad lover, she doesn't eat enough, and she probably has an eating disorder. If she eats a lot of junk food and pizza, she doesn't care about her health or figure. If she doesn't drink, then she's too uptight. If she does drink, she's an irresponsible party girl. At the college I attended, a big percentage of girls there were very conservative in the reality of comparison. Very Conservative. Levi skirts and layers on layers, which is great if that's your style, you do you girl. Don't get me wrong, if that's what you like and what you feel is appropriate, more power to you! But, at this school, if that wasn't your thing and you wore skinny jeans or tank tops, you were sketchy and immodest. [It doesn't sound like a big deal, but immodest is a seriously dirty word for conservative Christians in Wyoming. Translated into American English, it means slut.]Even outside of 400 people towns in Wyoming, there is a lot of judgement from Christian women to other Christian women on clothing. If you wear shorter shorts or strapless tops, you're a slut. If you're from Utah or Wyoming or the mid-west, and you believe in megachurches, you're a Pentecostal, liberal, charismatic. There's a million more I'm sure I could say. I'm sure that at some point, on some level, you've experienced this. You've either felt labeled, been labeled, or been the one labeling.
The one that really, really bothers me, is when meekness is taken for weakness. Meekness means gentle, submissive, the dictionary says "humbly patient". Basically you're fairly docile. I am a very meek person. I don't like fights, I am the people pleaser of all people pleasers, and it takes me a long time to truly get angry. I'm not like a limp, boring, old maid, [ok in my head I'm not, but maybe I am, you never really know with yourself...]. My point is, just because I am little and submissive, doesn't make me personality-less and I don't have anything to say. But people often see meek and think weak. They think that when they see a gentle personality, they're seeing a big pushover who's fragile and can't hold their own. Trust me, I have a lot to say and if you've read anything here, I have way too much to say. I've been to hell and back and I'm still kicking. And,I know a lot women who are on the other side of this. Strong, strong-willed, vocal women. People think that they are loud-mouthed and often too liberal for a Christian woman. But just because they're opinionated or vocal or God just gave them the ability to confidently express who they are, they are labeled for it. Kindness does not equate to fragility. Think about whatever your label is, or whatever you are labeling people. No one is a one word label, especially women. Women are so many things. It takes guys lifetimes to understand the complex spaghetti bowls that women are, so reality checkkkkk! To all of us.
Matthew 5:5 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth."
Remember that? Meekness ain't weakness.
Today has been a spiritually insane day. It's been way full of seeing people who are being filled and moved by the Holy Spirit and seeing and feeling a lot of spiritual warfare. Oh man, settle in folks. I'm pretty fired up here. Okay here we go. If you aren't caught up on news in the Middle East from the last decade, I gotchu. [mostly for my benefit and because a lot of people just aren't 100% sure what the deal is.] If you wan't a good overview, here is a timeline: http://www.historyguy.com/list_of_wars_middle_east.html
Basically, since 2006, there has been a war in the Middle East which had affected a multitude of countries. Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Pakistan, Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, a lot of countries are affected, not just from the war but other issues politically, economically, religiously, and government wise. So for the past ten years and previous to that, refugees are seeking a safe place to move. A large population have traveled, and continues to travel, to/through Europe and to North America.
I had the opportunity today to meet and eat with and hear the stories of refugees from all over the Middle East through an organization called Voices of Refugees. VOR is an organization that provides services to refugees when they arrive in the U.S. They teach ESL, provide transportation, education, job services, and assist in many other helpful and important ways to provide their needs. Their stories are incredible. Everyone we had the opportunity to speak to came to America after the war started. They all came here with no knowledge of English and no international licenses. They all had no idea if the family and friends they were leaving in their home countries would even be alive when they reached America. Two of the four refugees we spoke to now work for VOR. The first man we talked to gave us incredible advice. You could seriously see the Holy Spirit working inside of him. It was like Pentecost up in there. He told us "When you meet these people, offer to help them and be there for them. If you are rude and selfish then they will say 'I don't want the Jesus they have if he is anything like that.'". So good. He also said something super powerful, "You can't teach people to love. There is no class to take to learn how to love people". That's amazing. Seriously. Whip out your notebooks and write that one down. You can't just take a class and learn how to be a model of Jesus's love. It's a lifestyle. It's a choice you make everyday. It's so important for us to learn who Jesus is so we can imitate his love.
The rest of the stories we heard were heartbreaking, but at the same time you could see how God was working so visibly in their lives, though the hurts.
The most important thing I pulled out of this experience was the importance of being Jesus to people who don't know Jesus. People get really fired up about immigrants entering our country. Not a lot of people are really happy about it. A lot of people don't like to deal with it as a church. It's hard. And it really is terrifying. Everyday, we are seeing Isis and radical Islamic groups terrorize people in our country and around the globe. We see them violently murder Christians. We see Muslims who have dramatically turned from peaceful Islam rape, kill, and attack. And we're scared. We have let Satan take Islam and turn it into a word that creates fear and chaos around the world. And as hard as it is to differentiate, we have to. We have to be able to say not all refugees are Muslim. Not all Muslims are terrorists. And whichever they are, they need the church, the American church and the global church, to love them with the arms of Christ. God is doing amazing things with Muslims. There are millions of stories right now of Muslims having visions or dreams and coming to know Christ and accepting salvation on their own. Obviously He knows what up and He knows what He is doing. Obviously we need to be alert and, as individuals and as a country, we need to protect ourselves. But as Christians and followers of Christ, we HAVE to be the people who introduce Christ and His love to the refugees we come in contact with. We can't show them a Jesus that is insensitive and cruel. They need the loving arms of Christ and His church.
Friday I had the very interesting experience of visiting a mosque. I didn't know really what to expect when I jumped on the bandwagon. The wheels in my head were turning more in the direction of this will be a cool thing to put on my cultural adventure list, which it totally was, but it was a very eye-opening day.
I went with a group, and we showed up for an afternoon service. The mosque has a dress code, so the women have to cover their arms, legs, and heads, and the men are required to wear pants and sleeves. The women are not allowed to enter through the main doors, so we entered through a door in the side that took us up to a tiny room upstairs. There's a little area to take your shoes off in, and then everyone sits in a little carpeted balcony area. There was a screen so they could watch the Imam preach downstairs and there was a glass on one side that overlooked the men sitting downstairs.The women's area was about an eighth of the main area downstairs for the men. The floor in the service areas is like a normal carpet but it has lines that form a little carpet square for each person to sit and pray at, that all together sort of make a giant grid. Muslims must pray in the direction of Mecca, so the carpet squares were all at an angle. Upstairs where we sat, the women sat in the front, closest to the screen that was streaming the sermon downstairs, in an area that was roped off. Behind the roped area sat young boys from a Muslim school that came for the service. Behind the little boys sat the little girls.
I really thought everyone would be really standoffish to our group. I also thought that the inside of the mosque would be really weird and have like giant statues or something crazy. But everyone was very kind to us and super welcoming. One lady showed us where to sit and explained the prayers that were spoken in Arab to us. Everyone invited us to ask any questions we had. And assumption number two, about the inside being decorated super freakishly, was also wrong. The inside was actually very plain. The walls were a tan color and besides the windows and chandeliers, the only things that was really inside was some bookcases, chairs, and a prayer clock.
The service was actually very similar to a Christian service, but obviously there was a lot missing because the Holy Spirit wasn't working through the sermon. It was about the "attitude of gratitude".
After the service the Imam was very nice and gave us a tour. He answered all of our questions and encouraged us to ask more. It was interesting to hear his story and hear how he got where he is today.
If anything, I think it really opened my eyes and burdened my heart for these people. When you walk in you can feel the heaviness and the spiritual warfare happening. It's hard to see women not being appreciated and valued the way God made them to be, and men who don't understand their immense value. It's hard to see children who will grow up and learn about a god who isn't graceful and merciful and doesn't give them unconditional love. It's hard to see people that have been taught they can work their way to God. But, really, there is no better way to minister to them than to understand what they believe.
Note my amazing blurry phone pictures.