Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Freedom Proclaimed!

Last night during a debrief session a teammate received a text from an NGO worker that they had intercepted 3 girls on their way into the city for prostitution.  However, the pimps had great relationships with the police, so the NGO workers weren't sure they would be able to actually save the girls.

We stopped our meeting and prayed. By the end of our meeting, the girls had been officially rescued. Amen and praise God!!! Just wanted to share! 

Saturday, July 9, 2016

My Role and Affirmation

As you know if you have been following the last 6 weeks, I've been struggling a bit with my role here. I've questioned my necessity and sufficiency as I've had to spend the majority of my time in my bed. 

However, sweet word from the Lord today- (my journal entry)

"I am sending [Tychicus] to you for the express purpose that you may know about our circumstances and that he may encourage your hearts."  Col. 4:8 

Me: questioning all summer, is my role of prayer and encouragement enough? It was for Tychicus. It was in Paul's eyes. It was deemed by God. Yes
Anna, your role is real, necessary, and Biblical. You are essential and approved by God. 

"Tychicus, the dear brother and faithful servant in the Lord, will tell you everything, that you also may know how I am doing and what I am doing. I am sending him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are, and that he may encourage you."  Eph. 6:21-22

He is not that he is a "slacker", "less spiritual" or "less capable" so it's he who gets the 'lower job'. No, he is a dear brother (equal standing with everyone else) and a faithful servant IN the Lord. HE IS FAITHFUL and dwelling in the Lord - approved by God! 

“But I think it is necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brotherco-worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messengerwhom you sent to take care of my needs. For he longs for all of you and is distressed because you heard he was ill. Indeed he was ill, and almost died. But God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, to spare me sorrow upon sorrow. Therefore I am all the more eager to send him, so that when you see him again you may be glad and I may have less anxiety. So then, welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor people like him, because he almost died for the work of ChristHe risked his life to make up for the help you yourselves could not give me.”
‭‭Philippians‬ ‭2:25-30‬ ‭


Italicized: he is a brother and a worker, like we established with Ephesians (though this is a different guy). But he is ALSO seen as a fellow SOLDIER! Though he's not doing the gory, hard work on the front lines of the EV battle, he is still very much a soldier

Bolded: his job is a messenger and takes care of his teammates needs. 

Italicized and bold: look how important he is and how much he means to Paul! 

Underlined: he is to be HONORED. He's seen as a brave, victorious soldier for he became sick and almost died - not from persecution, just an illness - in doing his work of Christ - as a soldier! That's me!! 

Prayers and Praises!

Updates and praises! 


(As in a previous post, you may recall...) One of the first days here I was riding the train with my discipler explaining to her my doubts and concerns about being physically able to do min here. Just then, a girl next to me tapped me on the shoulder, and we entered into this great conversation which ended with swapping contact information and hoping to hang out sometime. 

I took that as a sweet reminder that Dad knows what He's doing and how He wants to use me. 

Thursday, I got to meet up with that girl. It is beautiful that she bookends my trip here. She was my first conversation, and almost my last. It shows me Dad's love and perfect authorship as He intricately and intentionally weaves together every fabric and moment of my life into a beautiful masterpiece, his Masterplan. 

So, Thursday. My roommate and I headed to a cafe to meet up with my train friend! 

I did not want to go. I was tired, in pain, and weak but I knew I could do it.

My roomie and I were a bit nervous, so we prayed to Dad on the way over. We prayed that Dad would give us strength and energy, that He would prepare her heart to hear about Him, that Dad would open SO many doors to share the goods that we couldn't possibly miss it, and we prayed that even beyond our words, she would be able to see and experience Jesus and His truth through us. I also feel pressure, personally, to really connect with people. I was nervous about it, so I additionally prayed that Dad would allow us to connect easily. We saw God answer every single prayer in the most amazing ways. 

1. We IMMEDIATELY connected as friends. We had so much in common! Conversation never hesitated for a second once it began. 

2. She was ready to hear about Jesus. She said in the beginning that she's sick of surface level conversations and desperately wants to go deep with people and talk about real things. We were like, GREAT

3. So we did. We started talking about the brokenness of the world, we questioned what happiness was and its source. We talked about India and America's biggest issues and the hopelessness of humanity. Each, of course, we couldn't talk about without talking about God. :) and we did - for over an hour! She directly asked us, at least four times, questions that demanded things like our testimonies or the goods. 

4. One of my favorite moments: we were talking about the suffering in the world. She said she didn't want to take anything for granted. I affirmed. But she said she didn't know how, then she looked at me intently and asked, "if you know how, please, tell me. If there's anything you would like to say, I want to know." OKAY DAD. So I told her straight up about Jesus and the gospel and how they related. Boom. 

5. My other favorite moment: I got to share part of my testimony with her. I talked about death, and life, and Jesus, and my interwoven walk with each. In one moment I was trying to express my experience with Jesus and how His love has changed my entire life and I said, "I have no idea how to express this to you -" to which she interjected, "no, you are doing it perfectly." She looked to my roommate and said, "When Anna talks, you just want to listen. I like the way she talks. It's so genuine and real. I heard her on the train I was like, this is a girl I need to talk to."  What??  I can ONLY attribute that (whatever it is) to Dad's response to my prayer that she would see Christ clearly in us! She saw His honesty, intentionality, genuineness, and truth. 

6. My top favorite moment: the music in the cafe was very loud and we had trouble hearing each other. My friend asked the waiter if they could turn it down a bit, to which he said no. Then, out of nowhere (I have no idea why I did this, though I don't regret it by any means), I said out loud, "Dear God, PLEASE turn the music down!!" And after one moment the music went down!! I said, "YES, thank you Jesus!!" I beamed knowing that He answered that, and did so right in front of my friend. Boo. Yah. 

All in all, I saw God's hand throughout that entire night. Our conversation was filled with truth and love and Dad, and I can't wait to see all He does through it in the years to come. Amen! 

Thursday, July 7, 2016

A Recovering Perfectionist

This trip has been huge for me in working towards conquering my paralyzing fears of making mistakes. Since being here, I've never been so okay with my brokenness. I feel like I finally stopped striving so much to prove my worth, my faith, my godliness. Because of that, I'm not that worried when I mess up. (THAT'S HUGE FOR ME.)

The first week we were here I got impatient with a girl on our team and snapped at her during lunch. After, I admitted that to another teammate and she immediately exclaimed, "oh yeah I saw that!" To which I felt so embarrassed! But she didn't "stop and stare" so to say. She instead understood, and even laughed, and went on to talk about how she's seen her own brokenness here in how she's treated people and then confessed and moved on to love and adore me. There was no second thought. She loved me in "keeping no record of wrongs." (1 Cor. 13) After, I felt so affirmed. Not only in my "good behavior" but affirmed even in my mistakes!  What is that?  I began to understand more fully - let me see if I can accurately express - that as I become more sanctified, it's not that I become less broken. It's not a trade off. But I am whole broken and wholly righteous at the same time. 

My ultimate goal in this life is not perfection - that's impossible. Instead, my ultimate goal is knowing and delighting in Jesus. For the gift of eternal life is not "you will be perfect." Though we will, that's not the point. The gift of eternal life is this: that we may know God. THAT is the gift, THAT'S eternal life! It's never about me. 

Yes, I should make an effort to become more like Jesus, and that means more often resisting the temptation to sin. I'm no longer a slave to sin. Hallelujah! But me messing up less is not the greatest part of this. This sanctification, as I said, does not make me less of a sinner. I'm still wholly broken. That won't change this side of heaven. But now, in and through Christ Jesus, I am also wholly perfect and righteous. 

Like I aforementioned, it's not a sin/sanctification trade off. There's no graph where you can measure how less sinful and more holy I am becoming. Yes, I am being further sanctified, but in the meantime, I'm still fully in both the brokenness camp and the righteousness camp. 

I used to measure how good or bad I was doing by how much I was sinning (by what I could tell). When I messed up, I would feel so condemned and would punish myself because I felt I was disappointing Dad by not being what I was supposed to be - which is perfect (it was that to me). 

But now, with this new perspective, and through seeing my friend's acceptance, I realize that God knows I'm in both camps. He doesn't condemn me for supposedly sliding back down the graph into all I'm not "supposed" to be. That idea/worldview was the one I had as I saw myself still under the law. But Lo! Behold! I am not under the law anymore! (Rom. 7) I am married to a NEW hubby, he is Jesus, the New Covenant, that is love! Love, now, is the fulfillment of the law. (Rom. 13) Jesus paid the price the law demanded. Now he just sees me in love. He loves. NO condemnation. He doesn't measure me by the graph or the law. Nope. :) He's with me in my brokenness camp and righteousness camp. And in between both camps, amidst the two polar extremes, He's working out my faith and sanctification. 

This has helped combat pride in me, as I see how I am always just as broken as the next person. 

Also, what God desires isn't my own perfection. He's given me his. What he cares about is me having a broken and contrite spirit. I got that, man! 

This helps me see and experience God's love and joy for me and in my life. I'm slowly surrendering my strong desire for  control over every millisecond if my life and trusting that if I give it all to God, run to him, and continue to fall more in love with him, he has set the boundary lines for me in pleasant places (ps. 16). The more I surrender my sinful desire for control (to avoid every mistake possible, motivated by deep fear), the more I will live by the Spirit and by the fruit of the Spirit, one of those being self-control! But this is a self-control powered by God, not me (so it actually works), and motivated not by fear, but by love. So, coincidentally, the more I let go and surrender, the more powerful and sweet self-control I can grow in. 

I've had the wrong focus (my own performance and perfection), the wrong motivations to become like Jesus (fear of messing up), and the wrong actions/steps to do so (my own selfish, desperate control. Which doesn't work). But now Jesus is moving so much in my heart, and showing me what his love and his freedom really look like. :) 

Sunday, July 3, 2016

EV Finally!

An update for the last few days: 

            Was the hardest day I’ve had yet. I was alone for 7 or 8 hours in my room. I prayed, read some Text, but it was looong and I became extremely restless and bored. I’ve spent my days alone before (for the past 3 weeks), but this day, for the first time, was really hard. I wondered if God was telling me, “time to go out now, Anna”. For the past two weeks I’ve had complete peace and joy staying in to pray, but now it was no longer the desire or joy of my heart. So that led into à

            I woke up and grabbed breakfast with a sweet friend. I came back to my room, not sure what I was going to do with the rest of my day… When I got to my door, it was locked with the keys inside! I didn’t lock it, and it didn’t seem like something my roommate would do... So now, really not knowing what to do, I walked back out to the hallway and ran into two teammates on their way to an appointment with a friend. They told me to come along! Having absolutely nothing else to do, and remembering how painful the day before was, I said okay!
            In that appointment I got to share the entire goods with a girl and she almost cried. I read some Bible passages on Jesus and love, after explaining who he was and his story. She noticed I was reading from an app and immediately told us she wanted that app and to read the Text for herself!! She’s a devout Muslim, but was captivated by what we shared with her.
            I came home super happy that afternoon. It’s amazing how refreshed and alive your spirit feels when you share the One whom you were called to! When my roommate came back later, I asked if she had locked the door, she said she hadn’t. I definitely believe Dad locked that door, maybe through our cleaning man, and He didn’t allow me to go back to my room that day! He has finally called me out.


Saturday I woke up not feeling very good, and started my quiet time. I started praying to God something like, “Dad please walk me in the works you have for me today” or “please have me do something today”, etc. As soon as I prayed that, two teammates knocked on my door to invite me to go on an appointment with them. I was like, Okay Lord! That was fast. Can’t say no now!
We met up with a group of 4 or 5 kids. In the conversation, I got to share the goods with another girl! She heard the story, and was decently listening, but she is very set in her ways. I didn’t feel as though it moved her very much. After, we got off topic for awhile, but in the end it was just her, my teammates, and I. I was at a complete loss of how to direct the conversation into the goods, what to ask her, or how to share the goods in a way that reached her. Like I said, she was really set in her ways. So, I prayed and was like “Dad, this is up to you.”
[- NOTE: I don’t do EV because I’m good at it, let that be known. I do not always know the answers and rarely do I have a good idea of what to do at all. But I know in whom I have believed, and I know this is what He calls me to do. In one part of our conversation, the girl asked a question I knew I didn’t have an answer to had someone else asked me before this. But I fully believe God’s promise that He’ll give you the words you need to say when you are speaking to people. He truly did! I gave her a great answer that I had never, ever thought of before. Thank you Holy Spirit! -]

So, at the end of this conversation, after 2 or 3 hours, I was praying. And that is when God completely opened this new door of her heart. She is a very independent, confident, tough girl. She shared about how you have to be, being a woman here. She shared with us about how many times she’s been sexually harassed by men in the city, and how she can’t do anything to resist because often times the men will harm you even more, like throwing acid on you. You have to submit to the abuse and remain silent. She remarked on how she doubts there is any girl here who has not been abused in this way by men. My heart broke, and being one studying to be a counselor, I asked how she dealt with this emotionally. In response, she just said that you have no choice in these things. This is just how the world is. So you suck it up and move forward. How desperately I want Jesus to break down her walls and heal all these wounds! Furthermore, she expressed how she feels she does not have any worth. She talked about how women have to prove that they are worthy of anything, and that is really hard to do.
In response to this, my teammate and I immediately started talking to her about worth. We spoke again of God and His love. I shared some passages with her (John 8, 1 Cor. 13, Ps. 139) (I always try to incorporate the Word of God because I know it is power!). As I finished reading, I looked at her and in the most intense, loving, and sincere way I could, I told her THIS is how God sees her – no matter what she could ever, ever do. THIS is the worth she ALREADY has – nothing more is to be earned! She is DEARLY LOVED, passionately loved, and she is fought for!
As soon as we did this, everything in her demeanor changed. She could not even look at me. She was fidgeting, which was a great sign, for she was now vulnerable in her deepest desires and heartbreak. It looked as though she was fighting back tears. I told her directly that there was no way I could leave this conversation without earnestly telling her these truths that have changed my life. She was quiet for the first time. It was so beautiful! She has not accepted that God really is real, but I think He had a break through in that moment.

I’m so incredibly grateful that God called me out these last two days, that I may share with those here what I love the most in the entire world. I praise God that He’s chosen to use me to share Him both days, and that He is working tirelessly for the lost. This is our last week of ministry here in the city, and I’m beyond excited to see how else He moves.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

A Passion Misplaced?

A passion misplaced? 

"Is our passion to be used misplaced? Skewed a bit? Do we long to be used more than we long for God to move or for people to be saved? It's hard and complicated because these things are intimately woven together. But I can see how we would twist the passion for the advancement of the gospel into something self-focused. 
We focus a lot on how I am doing, how I am reaching the nations, what great things God is doing through me. All good questions to ask, but at the same time I'm beginning to question the motives for that focus. How are we making the fulfillment of the great commission about us? 
Well, the answer is probably: in a lot of ways. I think, though, that focusing on how God is or isn't using me in all my potential, as I see it, may be a degree off course. Yes, God PROMISES that He has prepared good works for us. He says it is His delight to use us. He even asks us how people will come to know Him if we do not step out and speak? All true things, and a message still deeply needed for believers today (me included). But the rest of the Bible seems to focus a lot on what God is doing, what He is saying, His will, His decisions, and HIS salvation. It is not our right that we would be given this ministry of reconciliation. It is a gift. It is not our right that God would use us to change lives or alter history. This is first and foremost, always has been and always will be, God's war. We are unfathomable blessed to 1. Be on this side, and 2. Be able to join the army. 
So before you complain that God isn't using you enough or doing enough in your ministry - ask yourself, who's ministry is this? Who is power? Who is God? And who are you?  We desperately need wisdom and patience and humility along with our gift of passion." 
- An entry from my journal last week 

My team and I have been discouraged at different points during this trip about what God seems to not be doing. It's caused us to ask a lot of good questions, and in asking those, the above thoughts were something I came to understand in my own heart. 

Additionally, I read John 3:22-36 yesterday and was touched by the message of that story. In it, John the baptist's disciples come to him complaining and worrying about how this rando Jew (Jesus) was stealing all John's ministry. They said to him, "Rabbi, tht me who was with you on the other side of the Jordan - the one you testified about - well, he is baptizing, and everyone is going to him." [Can't you just hear the the deep concern, worry and misunderstood passion?] 

To this John replied, "A man can receive only what is given him from heaven." 

The note in my Text says, "The words are true of both Jesus and John (and of everyone). Both had what God had given them [no more, no less], so there was no room for envy." 

John goes on to say, "You yourselves can testify that I said, 'I am not the Christ but am sent ahead of him.' The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens or him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom's voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. He must become greater; I must become less." 

This encouraged and convicted me to really think on where I have been placing my greatest joy. Is it in my own ministry? My own success? My own perceivable usefulness? It should be - needs to be - in something much more constant than that. My joy, and complete joy, needs to be in the simple, yet profound fact that I know Jesus, and that He knows me. That is where it was created to be, and the only place it can truly be filled. 

I have realized that we have been placing our joy and hopes in the wrong places. We, unconsciously, have been placing our own agenda on God, and waiting to see Him fulfill our expectations. Teammates have been discouraged as we hear news from neighboring summer m-work trips where 20 or 30 people have found Dad. This focus is the wrong one. We both have what God has given us. There is no room for boasting not envy, for all is a gift from Dad, and all is for Dad. As John said, we need to wait and listen for God. 

In coming to these realizations and this confession, we have already seen God heal our spirits, empower our ministry, and answer our calls. Yesterday we saw our very first person PRC! (Pray to receive Christ.) AMEN!

In our morning prayer meeting today we took time to dream big and pray with boldness. Our unanimous prayer requests and dreams for our final week of min. were these: 

- For each team member to see someone PRC 
- to have 15 south Asian students join the movement here and plug in to Text studies
- that 5 people from our summer trip commit to one or more years continuing to labor in this city after graduation 

I'm excited for God to show up and continue to challenge us in this last week! 

Jesus Will Play Just Dance with You

I finally cracked. I finally cried last night.

Cry is a light word, I definitely more like wept. For a long time.

The past few months I’ve been praying and praying that God would reveal to me His love, for I knew that somehow, in some way, I was missing it.

Being here, I haven’t felt very loved by God. And it took my friend asking me the same question I’d been asking myself for weeks for me to put it all together.

She asked me if I felt loved by God, to which I responded not really. I told her I had realized that I believed how much I was loved was dictated by how well I was fulfilling my function(s). (I knew this to be a lie.) She asked if I knew where I got that idea. That’s when it all flooded in.

I started piecing together memories built up over the years, some very distant, some only a few weeks in the past.

I remembered multiple times where I asked people very close to me to do something with me, and they responded no. They had more important things to do. I remember once specific incident in asking someone and when they responded no, I pleaded with them that it was my birthday. They just looked at me and walked away. From this my internal message was: people don’t genuinely, intrinsically want to spend time with you. You’re not worth that much. People need a good reason to spend time with you.

I remember people in my past gossiping once I had become sick and asking how anyone could ever want to marry me, because they would be paying off medical bills for the rest of their lives. From that, I learned that I am a burden. And that the burdens I carry far outweigh any pleasure I could ever bring, or any worth I could ever hold. 

I also learned growing up that performance is most important. And I learned through the perfectionists around me that even though I tried hard, I could never do a good enough job. I always came up short.

Some reactions to my health situation told me that I need to push harder. That I can’t slack off. That being sick or not feeling well is never a good enough excuse to “be lazy”. Rest is for the weak. Those who don’t strive till their last breath are unworthy of the Kingdom. Because of that, after I slept in the other day due to feeling sick, I found myself repenting for my irresponsibility. It was physically possible for me to walk and to talk. Therefore, there was not one good reason why I should have allowed myself to be so incredibly irresponsible and lazy. My performance wasn’t enough. I was being disobedient to the purpose of my trip. I was making mistakes and wasting time.

Because my worth is relatively average/low, and the burdens I carry are high, I had a sad reaction to watching the movie Finding Dory. In the film, Dory, who struggles with short-term memory loss (a big burden to others), is looking for her long lost family. In one scene, she questions whether her parents would really want to see her. My reaction was: No. How could they? I saw myself in her. I saw how I was a huge burden on those around me and how I could not fulfill my function, as a good human being should. I have low productivity. Therefore, there is no sufficient reason for someone to spend much energy caring for me. My greatest (honest) guess was that they would be mildly pleased.

In the other movie we saw here, three men were forced to undergo a lot of difficulties for the woman they each loved. To me, it was incredulous. I could not understand why they would have gone through so much. To me, I could not fathom a man going through that much just to be with me. I’m not worth it! Please - don’t!

Because of all these lies, I always catch myself before dreaming too great about God’s love for me. Sometimes I imagine Him being with me while I do some activity or another, but I have to immediately stop dreaming. Unless I’m sharing the goods or doing something I deem as spiritually productive, like reading the Text or praying, there’s no reason for Him to ‘waste’ His time with me. He is GOD for crying out loud, He definitely has way more important things to do.

So, my top love language being quality time, I did not ever dream I could experience God’s love that much. Furthermore, I’ve never been able to comprehend why God would ever love me to begin with. There’s NO REASON FOR HIM TO LOVE ME. Because of the lies I believe about love, my view of God concludes like this: Yes, He loves me. But He doesn’t like me very much, or want to spend time with me, or want me anymore than that foundational, generic love.

So, in my own conclusion, I am unworthy of much love. Because I don’t have a lot of worth, there’s no reason to love me or want me around much extra. I don’t fulfill my function. I am disobedient and a disappointment.

Because of these lies, I desperately desire control over my desires and emotions, esp. in love. I cannot hope too much, I cannot expect much. I need to be independent and strong. Weakness and vulnerability emotionally or in my desires means heartbreaking disappointment.

This all has made being in South Asia on my m-work trip difficult. I cannot do what I was supposedly sent here to do. Dad’s deep and true delight in me amidst my inability is a concept unknown to me. I simply cannot comprehend it.

However, through those in my life here, I have been encouraged to bring my heartbreak and skewed view of God’s love, as well as my true, deepest desires to the throne of God. I beg my Father in Heaven to show me what His love is truly like. I plead with Him to reveal to me how “long and wide and high and deep is His love” (Eph. 3). I know it exists. People experience it. The Text talks about it. The cross proves it. But is a veil in place that keeps me from uninhibitedly seeing it.

Today in my discipleship meeting, I was explaining to my discipler how much I lovee playing the game Just Dance (after confessing all this about love). She looks at me and goes, “I bet Jesus would love to play Just Dance with you.”

That concept has run through my mind the rest of the day. God would want to spend that crazy, silly, “unproductive” time – with me? That’s what His delight is like in me? That’s what it means when He says He wants me, and loves me, and wants a relationship with me??

I have realized that I fall in love with people and I feel love in being fun, in laughing a lot, in being goofy, in addition to meditating on deep things and seeing people’s passion in life.
This is no different with God. If I am going to fall deeper in love with Jesus (which I so much want to!), I need to let Him pursue me in the ways He created me to enjoy the greatest! I need to trust Him when He says He DOES love me that much!

So tonight is Date Night with Dad. Instead of doing my usual of spending time in the Word and praying and thinking hard about Him, I decided to listen to the best dance songs I know and imagine dancing with Dad to these songs! It was SO great!!! We enjoyed the music and dancing like crazies together. He’s not afraid to be silly with/for me. That made me feel so pursued, so delighted in, and so worth loved.

Then I knew I needed to laugh with God. So I googled Who’s Line is it Anyway clips and watched them with Dad. We laughed so hard together. J
Yes, this is the stuff that I enjoy soo much. But this is also stuff He enjoys, things He created! He delights in me and spending this time with me more than I could ever hope or dream.
This is what I needed to see tonight in my date with Him.

I know continuing to grow in the knowledge and experience of God’s love will drastically change my life.

“What a man desires is unfailing love.” (Prov.).
This is what I was created for. Yes I am worth it, He tells me. Yes I am delightful in all that I am and all I am not. NO I am not a burden. I am not a mistake. I am not worth only what I can contribute. For God loved me way before I could “contribute” anything to Him.

Jesus, please continue to lavish your love over me; overwhelm me with how much You delight in me. I am desperate for it, after years of shutting You out.

"The Lord your God is with you,
    the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
    in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
    but will rejoice over you with singing.” Zeph. 3:17