Saturday, July 6, 2013



Wrecked is the only word that comes to mind in this moment.  As I sit here wrestling, STILL, with everything I saw and experienced last weekend, wrecked is the only explanation that I can come up with as I try to process it all.

We spend our lives working toward putting ourselves in the "best" situation possible when it comes to our well-being.  We seek out the safest towns, the best schools, the most reputable childcare, the friendliest church, the highest paying job, the best neighborhood, and on and on.  We work hard providing for our families and play even harder on the weekend.  We save our money for the next biggest toy, trip, house, whatever.  And we're pleased with ourselves when we vote for the right candidate, pay our taxes, go to church every week, and tithe our 10 percent.  But at the end of the day, how can we answer this question...

What kind of legacy am I leaving?

Or for those of us who claim to be Christians...

What kind of legacy am I leaving in the name of Jesus and for the cause of Christ?

I can't quit thinking about the faces I saw last weekend.  Those looks of complete hopelessness, total despair, and pain and anger and frustration.  Those looks of brokenness that scream, "I have been forgotten."  I can't get them out of my head.

As we sit behind our computer screens and make our political statements via Facebook on gun control, illegal immigration, and current politicians, it doesn't even occur to us that there is a real war happening on the streets of our very own neighborhoods.  Women, girls for crying out loud, are being sold into a modern-day slave trade.  And we do nothing but look down our noses at them assuming they are where they are because of their own personal decisions.  And this is just what we do with the faces we see and the information we've been given.  But what about the stories we haven't even heard?  Is it even ok to use the excuse that we just didn't know?

I've been doing my own investigation and here's what I'm coming up with...

All around the world, girls are being falsely filled with hope as men promise them a bright future with money and jobs.  These impoverished families sell all of their belongings just to scrape up enough money to support their daughters as they, too, believe these men who promise them a new land with new opportunities.  These girls who have dreamed their whole lives to become nurses and teachers board ships with bags in hand and head to a far away land believing that their dreams have finally come true.

As they enter their new land with hope and eagerness, their dreams become quickly shattered.  Most of them, within the first few hours of entering a new city, are kidnapped by a mob of men who take them into a dark room in a far away place and beat and rape each of them one by one.  These women, whose eyes once contained light and life, are forced to escape to a dark place deep inside themselves as they merely survive day to day in conditions that are not suitable for animals.  These girls, who once played with baby dolls and danced safely within the arms of their own daddies, are forced to service up to 40 men a day meeting requests that are too atrocious for me to even write about.  Their families have no idea of their captivity, and they become lost and forgotten in a world of evil and darkness.


It's all I know to say as these thoughts consume my mind and my heart.  If it were me, if it were my daughter or my sister or my mother, I would want someone to fight for me.  I want to fight.  Please pray for me, friends.  Pray the Lord will speak and make His will known.  Until then, I know I can help fight this hellish war on my knees.  And you can too!  Please join me...

Father God,
Your Word is perfect and needs no extra commentary.  Straight from the mouth of God, I echo the same..."The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.  He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion-to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.  They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor."  (Isaiah 61:1-3)  MAY IT BE SO, FATHER GOD!  Use me, Lord.  Here am I - send me!
In the mighty name of the One who saved me from death, my Savior Jesus Christ - Amen!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

New Orleans Part 2

You can read the first installment of our story here...

New Orleans Part 1

We 12 women entered the club.  And no, we didn't see anything that scarred us for life.  In fact, we didn't see anything at all.  We had a precious man who led us to the party room where we'd be serving breakfast.  He stood outside the door to our room the entire night and checked on us every 10 minutes.  I must add...he wore a bullet-proof vest the entire time. 

Our 7 men stood outside the entrance to the club and were adamant about not coming inside.  This is a strict policy of One Ministry and one I most admire.  It is imperative to take drastic measures at protecting the hearts of the men who work within this ministry, as they are no fools at what the devil would like to do to them as a result of working within this industry.  It would have been a whole lot safer for them to be inside with us, but they trusted the Lord with their lives and chose to stand outside and pray for us while we served inside the club.

While inside, our group prepared to give those ladies an experience they would remember.  We put up decorations, set out delicious breakfast food, displayed Bibles we so hoped to be able to give away, and hung canvas art on the walls with messages of Jesus and hope.  And then we waited.  While we waited, we prayed and became aware of a very dangerous situation outside.  While we were counting on the prayers of our 7 men outside, we found ourselves lifting them up, instead, as they witnessed one horrific act after another.  It is so interesting to me...but once we made it inside the club, I felt very safe.  Oh, the irony!  There is no other explanation than...God.  He was there.  He was waiting for us before we even came.  And He had permeated that room with his sweet, sweet presence.  There was nothing like it. 

Oh sure!  The enemy taunted us all night.  Every boom and bang we heard within the walls of that party room, I attribute to him.  But he pulled out his big bag of tricks outside where our 7 men were left to survive and to trust the One who had brought us there.  While outside, our male group witnessed fights and taunting, curse words and name calling, EVIL in its meanest form.  But here's the kicker...NOT one time did our group get touched or messed with.  No one spoke to them or even asked them why they were there.  Even though they stood was obvious that they were one even made a remark or gesture.  We believe, without a doubt, that was because our Lord God had His mighty hand of protection on them the entire time.  It was almost as if they were invisible or untouchable...and just maybe they were.  They were able to visit some with the club owner and the bouncers outside.  Those conversations went well, and we are ALL still in awe of how the Lord fulfilled His promise in Joshua 1:9 as mentioned in my first installment of our story.  Our men were in full-on survival mode.  My words in trying to describe their feelings just don't do it justice.  It was a nightmare.  But one thing is they were in the middle of what I feel like is hell on earth...God was with them and they were not touched. 

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.  When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.  For I am the LORD your God...  -Isaiah 43:2-3a (NIV)

Inside, we women had a great time serving, visiting and laughing with the ladies of the club.  We never once felt scared or threatened.  I am thrilled to tell you that a couple of meaningful conversations took place, and verbal invitations were given out for those who'd like to come to One Ministry's home church called Freedom Place - don't you just love that name? We gave out 22 Bibles that night!  All in all, 52 women worked the club, and we were able to serve and hang out with about half of them.

When it was time to leave, I had experienced a mixture of emotions.  I felt relieved to get out of there.  I certainly was tired.  But a part of me really wanted and needed to see those girls again.  Our group is still processing everything we experienced.  We believe the Lord wanted us there for many reasons, and we have asked Him to show us how we are to take what we learned and apply it here where we live and work.  We all brought back a personal application, and I can only speak for myself.  But because of what I experienced AND because the Lord used a woman who works within One Ministry to speak to my heart, I realized that fear is a serious stronghold in my life.  It took me traveling to one of the darkest places in our country to realize how enslaved I am to being afraid.  The Lord's message to me was never more clear than what is indicated in Joshua 1:9.  There are many things I will remember and several lessons I have learned.  But one thing stands out...

We serve a LIVING God!

He is with us always.  And sometimes, it's just plain necessary to see what it would look like without Him in our lives.  I am so thankful for Jesus, and I need Him every second of every day.  And I can't wait to have another opportunity to share with someone else just how much they need Him, too.

Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go. -Joshua 1:9 (NIV)

Believe it, friends!  Believe it!!

New Orleans Part 1

Where do I begin?  At which part?  At what twist and turn?  How do I accurately describe the terror, the joy, the fear, the exhilaration, the despair, and the encouragement?  I probably just don't...I probably can't.  But I'll try.

It would be a crime for me not to first express the gratitude and awe I have for those who work at One Ministry.  These folks put themselves in danger as they fight on the front lines of a war that feels, at times, completely hopeless.  And they do this ALL in the name of Jesus.  They, without hesitation, walk right into the middle of total darkness and evil not once doubting that the Lord God is with them at all times.  They are living testimonies of an omnipresent and omniscient God.  They will tell you...they could not and would not do what they do without God's favor and God's protection.  And we received the privilege and blessings that came forth from simply going along with them on the ride of a lifetime.

The facts...

We arrived in New Orleans Friday afternoon around 4.  We all tried our best to rest up for what we knew would be an all-nighter.  Around 6 we met up for dinner and enjoyed a classic New Orleans cuisine meal having NO idea of what the night had in store.  Around 7:30 we made our way into New Orleans East to meet up with the fearless leaders and volunteers of One Ministry.  We spent the first part of our evening listening to story after story of how One works at putting a stop to human trafficking on the streets of New Orleans.  This is just a portion of what they do.  Later, we were told what to expect in the early hours of Saturday morning.  We were told of the positive relationships that had been made at a local Gentlemen's Club.  The owner and employees of this particular club have grown to love our friends at One, and they were really looking forward to the breakfast that was going to be served in their honor.  Some of our One friends went around 10 p.m. Friday night to drop off the table we were going to later need for our food items.  When they got there, the girls who work at the club had put out pink balloons at the front door in honor of our friends at One.  Just that simple act, alone, showed us how cherished our One friends are AND how effective their ministry is becoming to the broken on the streets of New Orleans.

We spent the early hours of Saturday morning preparing goody bags for both the men and women of the club while also spending a great deal of time in prayer.  My dear husband felt drawn to Joshua 1:9 and even prayed it over each member of our group.  Some of us actually had written this verse out on an index card and placed it in our pockets so that the Word of God went with us everywhere we went that night and early morning.  We had no idea how much these words would mean to us later...

Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go. -Joshua 1:9 (NIV)

At 2:30 a.m., we loaded up our vehicles with breakfast food, decorations, goody bags, Bibles, and bottled waters and started making the drive to the mission field God had very specifically called us to, yet none of us could have ever imagined or even dreamed up.  The closer we got to our destination, the more anxious I became.  As I saw club after club with parking lots full of people and cars, I thought to myself...what have we gotten into?  When we stopped at a red-light, I thought...I can jump out now and run.  But the fear of what I might find myself in on the streets of New Orleans kept me paralyzed.  As we turned into the parking lot of the club where we'd be serving, complete and total panic set in.  There were at least a hundred people, mostly men, congregating outside the entrance to the club.  The volume of their conversations was so loud; I couldn't tell if they were screaming, yelling or laughing.  We all stood outside our cars and prayed before we made our way to the front door of the club.  There were 12 of us women who would go inside to serve and hang out with the women of the club.  Our 7 men would stay right outside next to the front door.  All I can say at this point is...I had no idea that our experience inside the club would be totally different from what I ever expected, AND it would also be very different from what our men would have to endure outside on the terrifying streets of New Orleans.

Stay tuned for New Orleans Part 2.