Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Let's go back awhile...shall we.

It's just before Halloween; the bars are decorated with webs, spiders, and ghosts. Let's make this dark place feel a little darker!

After some prayer and worship, a few of us felt called to go out and love the women (ok...I really didn't want to go. I was having strange sharp pains in my back, but knew it was an attack and I needed to go). We walked passed one bar to say hello to our friend. We gave her a bible and a few books to read. After leaving her, we were just about to cross the street and go to a familiar bar. However, God had other plans. In that moment, about twenty rugby men came walking towards us and filed into that bar.

I was in shock. What just happened? God was trying to get our attention. If it had been five or six we may have followed them in, but it was an army. Just as we started to ask each other what to do, three of the men stopped, looked at us, and said, "Ladies, come join us." Ew, gross. NO. We turned and headed towards a bar God highlighted the month before.

In this bar, all the women had drawn pictures on their faces for Halloween. After a failed attempt to speak Khmer with one of the young girls, I noticed something...a cross, on one of the girls' faces. I began to speak to her and she understood me; I understood her. We talked in actions, English, Khmer, and with the cross necklace I was wearing. I told her about an organization that could help her if she wanted it, and she said, "YES!" Before we left, I got to pray with her.

What a great night! The next week, she wasn't even working anymore! Later, she told me that morning she had prayed for God to send someone to help her, and we walked in that bar. YAY, God!

As I sit here to write, I have to remind myself God led us to her and I have to trust He will take care of her. She has decided not to live at the organization after three months, but will continue to study with them. However, she looses a lot of the additional help the organization provides. When she told me her decision, I was disappointed, maybe even a little angry. These emotions are not because of her, but because I can see the prison she walks back into by leaving. My heart is a little broken, but I know God is in control.

Today, as I flipped open my bible, I read Galatians 5:1:

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

And later in verse 6b it says:

The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.

God brought me to her to love her regardless of the choices she makes, regardless of her past, and regardless of what I think she should do....but to LOVE her.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

What if you were given two options?

to get married or return to the bars

What if it was your mom asking you to choose?

What would you do?

What if you previously met the guy in the bar you once worked?
What if you don't love him? He's not a Christian.

Is it better than working in the bars? 

I just spoke to a friend who had to make this choice. She chose to marry, because she doesn't want to go back to the bars. She has dreams and desires to own her own salon.

It's heartbreaking. As tears filled her eyes all she asked is that I pray for her. Pray for her husband. Pray for a good job. Please join me in praying for this amazing young woman.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Over the last few months, I have decided that I am awful at writing blogs.

I guess I already knew this from my time on the World Race.

This time, I find it harder to write. One, because sometimes I don't see all that is happening. Two, I know that so much has changed since we arrived and a lot happening as I write. It's still the beginning..

There are many people we meet and many stories we hear. Not all of them are mine to share.

What a great time to be here. The kingdom of Wonder, Cambodia, is becoming home.

photo by Rebecca Strayer

As this new year has begun, there is so much to look forward to. Thank you Jesus!

feed the lambs

We had our first team from Harvest School come to Cambodia. We had thirteen amazing people join us for two weeks and serve along side us. What a wonderful time indeed.

(the team plus Gillian and me)

One of the projects I was in charge of was a mural for an organization called Feed my Lambs, a day-care center. The children cared for there belong to single working moms who bravely decided not to have abortions.

The wall is 4ftx22ft. Many people helped me to finish this along the way. Thank you to everyone of you! Here is the finished piece.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

last night

as we drove to this place, God showed us his promise(not actual pic).

A national Cambodian holiday gave a few of us a week away. We are in a place that draws a lot of tourists. It's supposed to be a retreat of sorts (along the beach), but I feel this place is anything but. We were out for dinner last night when a young Irish man approached us and told us to come to his bar for free drinks. He went on to say they would kick out all the hookers and we wouldn't be bothered. 

WOW! That struck something so deep in me. And tonight, I lay awake hearing music coming from these bars. His words keep running through my head. It's seemed so easy for him to toss them out with his words. We love these women and we would go to these bars because they are there. They are worthy. They have value. They are not hookers or prostitutes. It is what they do but not who they are. 

Something inside of me wanted to speak up for these women...and tonight, I regret not saying anything. However, I know if I had said anything it wouldn't have been said with the love of Christ which compels us to do what we do.

We have seen many women with customers. The look on their faces says it all. They put on a front when the man is looking, but as soon as he turns away, their expression falls. We can see their pain and feel helpless. They need to know they are precious, valuable, and worthy of love. They work to support their families not because they enjoy it. Most of these women have families who need money, have children to feed and put through school, and some are trying to go to school themselves. They are not trash. 

My heart is stirred tonight. God loves these women so much! God open our hearts to love them more.

if only they knew
if only they knew they could break free from this prison
see their worth
to not be bound by the chains that keep them there
to be set free to fly
to pursue their dreams, to know no limits
god if only they knew
you love them
you have paid for their freedom
you have made a way for them
if only they could see beyond this life
to have hope for so much more
to believe there is purpose
to want to wake up each day
not have to sell themselves
but to love themselves
and to love you
to know you
for eternity
to be healed of their brokenness
and to stand

four months.

Four months.
It's been four months since I have written an update.

Well, I could give many excuses as to why I haven't written, but I struggle to express what I feel. Sometimes I don't even know. The things we see are not normal or right but that is why we are here. That is what we are fighting for.

What can we share, so much has happened....I don't know where to start. It has been full of emotional ups and downs. Over and over. 
Lots of transition. 
New culture.
New language. 
Amazing people. 
Heartbreaking stories. 
Hong Kong. 
Building relationships with organizations, children, mothers, and women in the bars. 
Being humbled. 
Seeking God in prayer and worship. 
Finding our way in ministry and in the city. 
Bargaining for almost everything. 
Seeing God's promises come to pass. 
Seeing teammates step out into what God has called them to do. 
Seeing God use each of us and seeing what He is redeeming in us. 

It's a new chapter. It's exciting. It's crazy. It's different. It's not easy, but it's the beginning of something BIG!

I just pray that people are drawn to Jesus in us. They will experience the love of Jesus through us. They will come to know and accept him. 

I don't always know what to do. I don't feel strong or capable...but praise God that He IS! I just have to trust and continue to walk.

Monday, May 21, 2012

how it all started.

As I was thinking about writing this blog, the lyrics of the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air theme song came to mind:

Now, this is a story all about how
My life got flipped-turned upside down
And I liked to take a minute just sit right there
And I tell you how I became..........................a "missionary" to Cambodia.

I still find it hard to say I am a "missionary". I haven't really done anything, but I am preparing to go to Cambodia. On June 10th, I fly from Portland, Oregon to my new home in Phnom Penh on June12th. Crazy!

How did I get here?

Well, in October 2011, I went to Harvest School, in Mozambique. I came in exhausted, not really sure if I wanted to be in ministry anymore. I was drained and felt like I had nothing left to give. Heidi and Rolland Baker stood before the school and spoke about so much, but the key was being in the presence of God. They have been in ministry a long time. They have been through so many things that would cause most people to question what they are doing and if it is worth it, but God has been so faithful and they continue.

I found rest in the presence of God. It wasn't always easy, but it was good.

Throughout the school, many speakers came and shared. I learned so much and experienced God in new  and powerful ways. He began to change my heart. I used to dream about African children and thought about living there, but I started to see different people in my dreams.  

Jason and Kellie Holbeche came and spoke about the needs in Cambodia, especially for the boys. I started to become undone, and with a few friends, we tearfully prayed for the people and the country that day. 

This is where it began. 

I started seeing Cambodian children playing in my dreams. Girls that had been sexually abused were being brought to us for prayer and we were encountering the Holy Spirit so intensely. Also, I have heard these words spoken in my dreams, "These children are like DIAMONDS, precious and valuable." and "I have set the captive free by discourse."

God has truly been at work in my heart and mind. I would have never guessed that I would be returning to SE Asia or even moving there. But that is the journey God has me on, and for now, all I can do is go. 

Please keep us in your prayers. Our team is assembling and it is an amazing team! God is faithful and so good! 

Love, Amy