Saturday, June 27, 2015

Southern Lights Update

All the days seem to run together and the time just seems to be flying by. We have had a lot of fun times since the last time and so I will do my best to try to cover them all.

The main thing we did since our last update was an English workshop. Six days of getting to know about 70 kids. A team from Texas came and led the workshop while we helped. It was a good time and made for a very tiring week. But we now have about 15 guys that we know fairly well and have been able to contact and follow up with. Everyone here enjoys getting coffee and smoothies so that is a natural time to talk about anything and everything.

On Tuesday, the team from Texas returned to the city in preparation for their return to the US. We went with them and stopped along the way to visit a tourist area. We got to see rice paper being made, eat fish eggs (really embryos), and ride in little boats that are very much the Asian stereotype. It was a fun day learning more about the local culture.

On Wednesday, we were hanging out with a friend, V, and were able to share the story with him. We got dinner and then had smoothies. He is interested but still has some things he is not sure of. Please remember V.

On Friday, we met with a friend, E, and talked to him for about 3 hours sharing the story and answering lots of questions. We gave him a copy of the Book and met with him this morning to  study together. He asked many questions and we were able to answer them. I don't think he is interested in accepting right now but he just wants to learn more. Please remember E.

Those are some of the highlights of the last few days. It has been a lot of fun and very tiring. It can get frustrating and lonely but the work must go on. They must hear or they will never know him. Please continue to remember us and what we are doing. Thank you for all you are doing to lift us up.

 -Southern Lights team

Waray Update: Team Ulot

Emmy has baptized 4 women. One of those women was Lilybeth, the mother from the story “TheLittle Family of Great Faith! Praise God!

The team has encountered some hardened hearts in C & will be changing tactics on Monday by leading a worship crusade. Pastor Dong and his worship band have volunteered to go with the team and help.

Please pray for the people’s hearts in C to be open
and receptive to the gospel.

A Little Piece of Home

Back home, I teach dance at a christian studio and at the local children's home. Work is probably the highlight of day. This morning I taught dance at a girls' juvenile prison in Thailand and I was reminded of how universal dance & the love of God really is. Although I barely speak any Thai, I'm in a different cultural setting, and I have known these girls for less than two weeks, I was so in my element!! I also got the opportunity to share my testimony with them at the end. I came to Thailand with no intentions of teaching dance, or even dancing at all this summer. But using dance as a ministry here this morning just made Thailand feel a little more like home. My home is not South Carolina, it is anywhere I am with God. So blessed to have had the opportunity to show them one of the ways I praise God. 

"So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love"
Ephesians 3:17


N Thai: Nan Team

Our host mom has shown us around the city the last few weeks and introduced us to many of her friends. One of our new friends is beginning to accept the gospel and understand why there is only one true God for everyone! It is super encouraging for us and our host mom!!! We will just keep riding our bikes around everyday and meeting new people at the coffee shops and giving them spoonfuls of Jesus!!!

Please pray that God will reveal Himself to the people of Nan.
Pray that He will reveal the people of peace to us as we make friends in the city!!

Love in Christ,
Jenna and Krissy

Friday, June 26, 2015

He Used to Confess Allah

“What do you believe?” Bamba asked the third woman. She said she was a Muslim.

Since it was the second day of Ramadan, he began to tell her that he used to confess Allah, that he would pray five times a day, and that he would make sacrifices to atone for his sins.

But he always felt empty, never being sure that Allah heard his prayers or accepted his sacrifices.

One day, someone shared the gospel with him, and God saved him.

He came to see that his righteous deeds were like a polluted garment, and that “none is righteous; no, not one.”

Yet he also came to see that “a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ," and he now lives in peace because of the freedom he has in Jesus.

I am thankful to have had Bamba as a translator. He loves the Lord and is a faithful evangelist. I am thankful that he was able to share his testimony with this Muslim woman after I shared the overarching narrative of Scripture—creation to Christ—with her and several others.

Pray that God would continue to draw Muslims to himself here in Abidjan, all for the praise of his glorious grace.

Adapted from a story by Carley

Jesus, the cross-cultural worker

I’ve been serving in Southeast Asia more than three weeks, and I’ve learned a lot of things. But one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is that being a cross-cultural worker is hard. You arrive in a new culture where everything is different, and those differences can be overwhelming. 

At first the newness is exciting. Trying new food, meeting new people, seeing new sights is fun. This is the “honeymoon” stage of culture shock. I served in England last summer and stayed in this stage the whole time. But this summer, the newness and excitement already started to rub off after a couple of weeks. I got tired of trying new food, sitting in traffic for a long time, and not speaking the same language as the majority of the population.

Energy drain
I get tired easily and run out of energy before noon. Because of that, four-hour shifts teaching English seem to drag on. When I try to turn the conversation to the topic of Jesus, the students at the center get distracted or are totally not interested. Some people call this the “flight” stage of culture shock because this is the time you want to get on a flight back home. Jesus has been teaching me a lot in this stage. 

As I was walking to my house today, I had some time by myself to think about Jesus. While I’ve never really thought about it before, Jesus was kind of a cross-cultural worker. He left Heaven, a perfect sinless place, to come to Earth, an extremely broken and sinful place—two totally different cultures. 

I know there must have been times when Jesus got frustrated when people did not understand what he was trying to teach them. I bet there were times when he thought it would be easier to just go home. Living on the Earth wasn’t easy. He was mocked, hated and spit on. It was hard, but he still walked in obedience to the Father’s will. The Bible even says “for the joy that was set before him endured the cross” (Heb 12:2). That is such a profound concept, and when I was a new follower of Christ, it was a confusing verse. 

It was hard for me to see how there could be joy involved in the crucifixion. But now I can see the joy that was in the crucifixion was that Jesus was providing a way for anyone who believes in him to spend eternity with him, and there is unending joy in that.  

One of my all-time favorite verses says, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15). I love having a Savior who knows how I feel. And now that I’ve realized Jesus knows what it’s like to be in a new place and understands my culture shock, it makes it easier to run to him when I’m having a hard day. 

Ministry in prisons and to prostitutes
Jesus has been doing great things in Southeast Asia. My team has been able to share the Good News with quite a few people through teaching English. We have helped with a prison ministry and a ministry to prostitutes. 

So, why take the time to share about culture shock?  One day when I was having a rough time, I found a letter in my suitcase my sister placed in without my knowledge. She is a long-term cross-cultural worker in Africa and was on furlough in Texas before I left for Southeast Asia. In the letter she wrote: “Here’s a sad truth about cross-cultural work; cross-cultural workers often do a disservice to other people by not mentioning the hard stuff.” There’s so much truth in that.

Sometime as cross-cultural workers, we only want to talk about the good thing and all the cool things Jesus is doing. We don’t want to open up about our struggles or doubts. I’m learning if I pretend everything is perfect, I’m not doing anyone any good. It’s OK to have a hard day and need to cry. In those moments, we are meant to run to Jesus with our brokenness and doubts. He will be there with open arms to sympathize with our weakness, just like his word says.


The Walls of Jericho Redux

There were five kids and no adults. We called Mama Kassou. She told us to wait until 10am. So we waited. More children began to arrive, and, after an hour, there were thirty-two of them and twelve adults.

We started off in prayer and song. Hannah led them in “Hallelujah, Praise Ye the Lord.” The middle group of kids stood up and sang, “Hallelujah,” and the outer rows sang, “Praise ye the Lord!”

Then I told the story of Jericho and explained the importance of obeying God’s commands. When I finished, they wanted to act out the story—even the adults.

We ended our time by singing a song about the walls of Jericho, which Mama Kassou led. Everyone sang loudly, pretending to walk around the walls and shouting for the walls to come down.

Pray that the youth of Belleville would come to delight in the Lord more and in his perfect, pleasing commands!

By Kaylee

Life in Long

Why do tigers make good Christians?

Because they prey without ceasing...

It's not every day that you get to snuggle with a tiger....
But there is nothing cooler than showing off our muscles with a tiger!!!
Except for our supervisors... We are so happy to be a part of the family now!!!

In Christ,
Northern Thai Team

Thursday, June 25, 2015

English Camp

Pictures from the daily activities of Lost of Laos team

Team in front of their school

Please pray:
For opportunities to share with those they come in contact with
For positive attitudes & unity among the team
For good relationships being built with teachers

A City Shadowed by Darkness

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." -Philippians 4:6-7

A big part of our ministry consists of going down to the red light area of the city and building relationships. Our goal is to start English and Bible classes. Crowds of young girls stand along the streets and lure people in to have a drink with them or get a massage. There are about 75 massage parlors and bars in less than a two kilometer range. The area we minister in is mainly targeted toward older white foreign men. We will often be sitting in a bar or a massage parlor and see a young girl slip out with an older man. Most of the "extra stuff" happens off of the property of the shop, but the relationships (or interests) start within the place of business. The sex trafficking is not something that is talked about or advertised; it is just an understood industry.
One of the bars during the day
Spirit house at the local grocery store
But, since this city is predominantly Buddhist, there are temples everywhere. The city is overshadowed by a huge temple that is on top of a mountain. You can see the tops of the temple from pretty much anywhere in the city. Most people just accept that they are Buddhist and we are Christians and they don't see anything wrong with it either way. It is their culture, not just their religion. How do you tell somebody that their culture is wrong? 

Buddhist statues in a temple
We have struggled getting classes and relationships started. But, we have been in constant prayer. We have to remind ourselves of Philippians 4:6 daily, staying in prayer and not becoming anxious. We tried to start one class with a group of ladies at a massage parlor and when we showed up on the day of the class, they told us that they did not have time and that nobody wanted to learn English. Then we successfully started another class and 10 people showed up! But, the next day it rained and their roof fell in, so we had to postpone class. Then we started one more at a bar, only to get a text the day before cancelling. It has been a bumpy road getting in to the ministry down there but things are starting to look very promising! The devil is working hard, but we are working harder! Our army of angels is too strong to be defeated that easily.

Please pray...
  • That the Lord will open the hearts of the girls in the red light area.
  • That we will have the endurance to keep going, no matter how many times are attempts are rejected.
-B and Kat

Turning Twenty in Thailand

It was sweet... Literally.

In the past 36 hours I have eaten 3 different cakes, 3 brownies, and one big ice cream sundae. It is rude to deny when someone offers you food here in least that's how I've been justifying my sugar overdose.

Some of the teachers
The teachers at my school surprised me with a cake during lunch and then another at the end of the day. Then our dorm mom took Alyssa and me for ice cream sundaes and more cake after school. Today, lots of brownies. 

The people here are especially generous and love to make people feel special. So lucky me to spend my 20th birthday in this sweet land. 

Birthday Selfie!

A New Sister

As we continue to meet more families, it has been refreshing to see some familiar faces each week.  My first night in Nashville I stayed with a family from Myanmar. They were extremely welcoming and are also Christians. We continued to follow up with them and quickly built a relationship. One of the daughters posed to be the easiest to relate to and spoke very clear English. We continued to talk to her and invite her to our apartment. Our second week here she invited us to attend church with her. It was not what I was expecting and was different from what I am used to, but I realized that different does not mean that I should give up on it. She invited us to go back with her the following week, but only Hannah and I were able to go with one of our other roommates. It was a little easier for me to feel comfortable the second time. It was still different, but I felt that I was being called to continue to invest in the lives of this small group of people.

The third week (this past Saturday) came around and I was the only one that was able to go. I was a bit hesitant, but they have been the only believers that we have met that have been open to reaching out to the refugees, and I felt that I should continue to invest in them. Little did I know that I was in for a joyous surprise during this third meeting. One of the members of the church is a middle-aged man from China. I had not met him before.  He brought his niece that had just arrived in Nashville earlier that week. She will be moving to Michigan at the end of the summer to begin classes towards earning her master’s degree in engineering.  

The night progressed and we began our time of worship. We came to a song about “abiding in the vine”. We stopped and the sweet lady whose house this week’s meeting was held in asked the guest if she understood what it means to abide in the vine. She said she was not sure. After speaking with her further, we learned that she did not believe in Jesus. She informed us that she had “heard stories of Jesus but does not know Jesus”. The sweet hostess and I began to talk to her and explain who Jesus is and what He has done for us. I could see her face light up just bit. She said she understood and right there she decided to follow Jesus. My heart filled with joy as we prayed. I could just see the light shining through her. We read through some scripture about accepting Christ and she read it in Chinese.
It amazes me how God uses our smallest steps of obedience to show us just how powerful He is and how His grace is truly sufficient. God is still in the business of saving lives and working miracles. I just ask that you pray for our new sister in Christ and that we may have more encounters with people that are open to hearing about and accepting Jesus.