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.