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Monday, November 12, 2018

hope sat the table

In one of my favorite towns in the world, in southern India, we took nine kids who live in the garbage dump out to eat. They wore their nicest clothes and hugged me so tight I thought my heart might explode all over them. 

I have no idea what it’s like to have a mom who makes me dig through the new garbage every morning and beats me if I don’t find enough sellable items. 

The kids had never been in a restaurant. Their eyes were wide and filled with wonder and it was one of the prettiest scenes I’ve ever lived in. They sat at the table as royalty, with their bare feet, and they ate chicken and fish and drank soda and Heaven’s symphony played a pretty melody that filled all of our hearts. The Great King smiled and nodded. 

What I do know is that we all need the same thing: love. And lots of it. And I know where it comes from. 

The smallest boy sat on Kelley’s lap. He’d never used a spoon before, but as he watched her eat, he wanted to try. He clutched it in his fist and, three grains of rice scooped at a time, committed to using that spoon for the rest of the meal. I think he could tell Kelley was proud of him. 

As they were loading into the vehicle to go back to the trash, the smallest boy, who doesn’t know how old he is (none of them do), kept clinging to me. I held him and kissed him and kept telling him, in my poor Telegu, “Jesus. Jesus is good. Jesus is happy. Jesus.”

Being in God’s presence-just being with Him, talking and listening-we experience love there. Friendship with Jesus fills us with more-than-enough-and-we-can-do-anything-because-of-Him love. I needed the little boy to know that. 

There was desperation in his hug. His arms were begging us to take him with us. To keep up this holding and tickling and loving. He didn’t want it to stop. We couldn’t take him with us, but the source of love, King Jesus, was going back to the dump with him. I wanted him to know this, and that he could talk to Him and trust Him and cry to Him. As I mumbled out my broken Telegu words, he looked up at me and shook his head in agreement. 

The little boy and his eight friends who are sleeping in the city dump tonight- would you ask God to protect them and to lead them and their families out of that place? 

If you want to give to the ministry that’s feeding and loving them, you can do so through this website, and write “hope” in the note. We will send it to them. 

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! 
‭‭1 John‬ ‭3:1‬ ‭

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Monkeys, Camels, Goats, and a Holy Moment

The Indian dress I pulled on this morning had B.O. soaked into the armpits so I sprayed perfume on top of the odor.

We drove to an unreached people group, the Koya, and after five and a half hours, we reached the jungle to begin the two-mile hike to find the one Koya man left in the village. 

The perfume was a gift from my girls in Hong Kong. The scent is called “family.” It covered the odor nicely. 

Today is the biggest Hindu holiday, Diwali. So Jesus escorted us on a lovesick adventure to find some people who need Him. 

Family is the story. 

My hands keep smelling like oranges. We’ve been living on a steady diet of white rice, oranges, and chai. 

When we got to the edge of the jungle, to where the big temple is, we asked a couple for directions. They told us that only one man lives in that jungle village now, everyone else moved. 

The monkeys came out of the trees and came close, wanting the bread in our hands. 

The direction-giving couple were Hindu, kind, and Jesus was wanting them. So we told the best Story ever told. We told them the Creator is a really good Father who wants us to know Him. They listened to the love-filled words that keep living through centuries and bringing sinners into Heaven. And right there, in front of the Hindu temple and the jungle, on Diwali, by the monkeys, they said they wanted to enter into conversation with the Hero of the Story. So they did! We prayed and they told Him He was welcome into their lives. The Hero smiled and touched their hearts with His gentle Hand and into His family they came. 

The hike ended at the one man’s house. From inside, he yelled that he had a knife and would come out and kill us if we didn’t leave. So we sat our bread outside his house and we left. We prayed and sang the whole back through the jungle. 

When we first started sharing those love Words with the listening—intently couple, they took their sandals off. I think they knew a holy moment was happening. After their first ever prayer to King Jesus, we asked them to listen for His voice for a few moments. They did. “I feel like I’m coming closer to God” the man said.

God’s affections, they’re pouring out of Him. “I want you to come into My family!” He’s singing loudly and beautifully to the angry man in the jungle village, to the couple by the temple who said “yes” to Him, to my fellow-hiking friends, to all the Diwali celebrators, and to me.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

How Love Grows

It’s the story with the tall tree. I’ve read it about 3 million times. 

This morning I sat on a patio behind our hotel and read it again. The tall tree, a sycamore, helped bring a mean man into the company of Love Himself (Jesus). And love grew. This tale continues to impress me. 

He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way. When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.” But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
Luke 19:3-10 

Intimacy with Jesus-living aware of Him, in conversation with Him, in love with Him- is the purpose of life. Jesus wasn’t interested in glancing up at Zacchaeus from several yards away, He wanted to get close, touch him, and hangout in his house. As the sycamore held that little sinful man up in the air, he was able to see Jesus’ eyes, hear Jesus’ voice, and feel Jesus’ invitation into close companionship. So he climbed down and they went home together. 

He’s the God who calls us out of trees and walks with us into our houses and there He makes love grow. He wanted to be with Zacchaeus in the place where he lived. The space where he did his eating, his relaxing, his day-preparing, his world that was private and unseen by the outside. This is the space Jesus still wants to come into- inside of me, inside of you, inside of mankind.
Our hearts are His interest, and He wants to stay with us there. And where He is, love is growing.

We’ve been on The Lovesick Evangelism Tour for 23 days. 

We’ve been driving through mountain roads in God’s Heart lined with pine trees and longing, finding the villages He’s been wanting to flood with love. We’ve been feeling His desire for all these people who don’t know Him, and His desire for us. 

I’m living with Him inside of my heart and He’s touching places deep in there, and love is growing. I’ve still got immaturity, doubts, unfruitful spots in my life, but He’s drenching me with love and all those places are being amazed by His mercy. As I pray for people of other faiths in villages, my own heart gets changed, too. When we let Him touch us, love happens. Zacchaeus went from being a mean selfish man to a kind generous man, because Jesus’ company always makes love. There’s no one like Him. 

I still want to be a sycamore tree. Helping people see His eyes, hear His voice, feel His invitation, and launching them into intimacy with this Man- more of Him is what we all need. He is the lovesick God. 

“So he scurried down the tree and came face-to-face with Jesus.”

Luke 19:6 TPT

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Lovesick in India

I’m not sure how old she was, but old. Her cheek wrinkles were piled on top of each other and as she told us about the diarrhea she’s had for a year, her two adult children, both unable to hear or speak, smiled and held our hands. They were happy to have company.

Seeing God’s Heart - what it feels, what it’s passions are, the desires inside, the love it’s made of - has become my main interest in life. 

So I’m in northern India. He keeps trying to fill my life with His love, so I keep letting Him. 

His Heart has looked like a missionary hero holding balloons and pampering us as we stepped off the plane in Thailand. We rested, ate our favorite food, and listened to Him. This space in His heart was glistening gold and full of “You mean so much to Me” whispers. 

Now in India, He’s invited us into small tin huts where families sleep under piles of dirty blankets to stay warm. They smile at the unusual-looking visitors as they allow us to see a part of God’s Heart scripted “TREASURE” largely across their tired faces. 

Today, He brought us into a church on top of a hill, full of wooden pews. The Indian women, dressed in color, listened as we shared the song we’ve been hearing His heart sing: “I’m in love with you.” Together, the Indian women and our team from Singapore, Hong Kong, South Africa, and the U.S., with our different colors and different faces and different histories, we all leaned and listened to His Heart’s song, in awe of the lyrics He’s writing.  We were glad for the kindness we found in there, and as we looked, love grew inside of us. 

If we’ll look, we can see new depths in His heart. And if we’ll listen, we can hear Him singing: “I’m in love with you. I’m in love with them. I’m in love with everyone.”  
(Zephaniah 3:17
Song of Solomon 1:15)

We left the church and went to a park to share Jesus. Two young men heard and believed the Gospel, then gave their lives to Jesus. His Heart in that park looked like a garden and sun rays and His desire for company. It was beautiful. 

Everything God does is motivated by love. He sent us on a 2-month journey, called it “The Lovesick Evangelism Tour,” keeps encouraging people to join us with prayers and money and faith, and is filling every day with love. He loves loving. 

We’re preaching sermons of His love, we’re playing musical chairs and feeling His delight with kids who He’s made a safe home for, we’re feeling His heart move in these cold tin huts as we pray, we’re watching Him love through each other, we’re experiencing family, and we’re amazed that we get to be His. 

Let Him kiss me with the kisses of His mouth, for Your love is better than wine.
-Song of Solomon 1:2 

Written in Darjeeling and Kalimpung, India

Sunday, October 7, 2018

coffee and friendship in hong kong (plus a super professional coffee review of the shops in central)

A million conversations and just about as many tears, sitting together in coffee shops in Hong Kong.

Best friend and I have sat in (almost) every coffee shop in Central (that’s a busy and cool party of the city). Other best friends joined us along the way, and holding hot drinks in our hands, we filled coffee shops with stories and laughs and cries and hearts connected. God loves coffee dates. That’s what I think. 

It's easy to think "I've got way too much to do to sit down for an hour with a friend and chat about nothing related to anything I have to do."

If I'm too busy to talk with a friend for an hour, then I'm too busy. 

It's similar to this post I'm currently writing. There are so many things happening in my heart and in my schedule right now that I can't keep up with it all. I just watched four of my family members fly out of my house and back to Africa, then I moved out of the house myself. I’m going on the 2-month Lovesick Evangelism Tour tomorrow. But in the middle of this huge life transition, I’m thankful for the way Jesus is loving me and I’m thankful for all those coffee dates. 

We decided the world needed to hear about what we’ve discovered. We set up a scale and gave every shop a score. 


Points given on a 1-10 scale based on ambiance, coffee taste, staff kindness, and price. If they have a rewards card, we gave them a +1. Or anything else we liked, we gave more bonus points. It's our scale and our game, so we did what we want. 
Uncle Russ 
(at ferry pier 6) 
A-1 C-5 S-5 P-8

(the name is a percent sign)  
A-3 C-7 S-4 P-7 
Some prime real-estate in IFC mall, nice coffee, seating for only about 3 people at a time

Elephant Grounds 
A- 8 C-8.5 S-3 P-3
Being in there makes you feel cool. A little pricey. 

A-6 C-9 S-7.5 P-2 
New Zealand coffee, pricey, good coffee, great carrot cake, top floor of IFC mall, it’s a chain but a cute one 

A-6 C-8 S-3 P-7
New shop with quite a bit of space, lots of plants, giant windows, cool leather chairs, and coffee we like.

A-4 C-7 S-7 P-6
Crowded, but nice location, friendly staff, and rewards card +1

Blend and Grind 
A-8 C-6 S-5 P-5
Small cup of coffee, but nice huge open door. I like open doors. And fans. They take really good care of their plants and they let us eat our own food. Rewards card +1 

13 peel 
A-6 C-8 S-5 P-5
Coffee only, no food, the coolest to go cup (I saved it), oatmilk, garden patio out back, rewards card +1

We went in and but they had rules about how much money to spend so we left.


Hazel and Hershey 
(Been 3 times!) 
A-7 C-7 S-6 P-5
Awesome outdoor sitting area that’s on three levels +1. It’s where our friend Terri gets her beans and Terri is classy.

A-8 C-9 S-6 P-5
Birthday surprise! Some of my favorite people were sitting there so all the bonus points +1
“Their coffee was the best for me.”

Zero one  
A-5 C-8 S-10 P-5
Cool view - tons of huge windows +1. I got a great oat milk cappucino (first one I’d ever tried and I’m a fan). They give 20% off drinks before 11 a.m., have awesome gold spoons, and they’re super nice. It’s owned by person who’s friends with our friend so we feel a heart-connect.

A-8 C-10 S-3 P-7  
It’s a local chain and our all-time favorite coffee shop in Hong Kong (the one in Wan Chai), however, this score is based on their location in Central. We load money onto the app on our phones and get a buy one get one free every visit +2. Great coffee, great food.  We love you, Habitu. 

And the winner is....

Fine print 
A-9 C-8 S-6 P-6
Winning coffee, winning food, cool decor, and the staff ran down the hill to give me a scarf I left at the table +1. The best avocado toast with tons of feta cheese +2. Community table, not our favorite, but it’s not terrible. You can sit on the side of the street and they come outside and serve you. And it’s a pretty street (pictured). 


I hope you hangout with a friend this week for no reason other than just being with them. And drink some coffee. 

When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the Twelve.
-Matthew 26:20

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

It's really Good News

It doesn't even weigh that much. 
And they put a couple solar-powered flashlights in the backpack, too. 

I was five when my mom told me the Gospel. I've been friends with Jesus since then. But there are 3.1 billion people in the world who've never heard about the Man my mom introduced me to. 

This season in Hong Kong's red light districts is ending and a new one is coming. I'm moving from a home full of African family in Asia, to a home full of American family in Kentucky. 

But first, beginning October 9, I'm going on a two-month trip through Southeast Asia to tell people about Jesus. My best friend and I thought it was a good idea to fly to some places and let God spread love around, and shrink that 3.1 billion number. So we bought lots of plane tickets, invited loved ones to join us, and dubbed it the "Lovesick Evangelism Tour." Jesus is in love with all of us, and He wants us to love Him back. We're so excited. 

We told friends we needed $2,000 to buy some Gospel-sharing supplies. So our friends gave us $3,000 and we've got our backpack projector to show the Jesus film to people who've never heard about Him, audio Bibles so people can hear what God has to say, and cash to buy medical supplies and food for people along the way. And a guitar for a children's home. 

The Gospel-sharing backpack arrived and it felt like Christmas morning. We unzipped all the compartments and took out all the treasures- projector, batteries, sim cards with the Jesus Story in Nepali, Hindu, and Telegu, flashlights, and bug spray.

We laid in the drop-in center’s floor in the middle of the red light district- the same floor where we've cried and laughed and sang and rested and met with Jesus over and over- and we projected the Jesus film onto the ceiling. We tested out all the languages (they work!) and asked God to use that movie and this backpack to help lots of people get to know Him. 

The projector is solar-powered so it can be used in places without electricity. 

A few hours later, at 1 a.m., we were with our friends on the streets. Ladies from Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda got to hear that He loves them. 

The point of life is to know Him and I keep being amazed that I get to. Red light districts, villages in india, the suburbs of America; He wants our love. 

Thank you to all of you who are giving into the Lovesick Evangelism Tour. The Gospel is getting preached and God is thrilled! I'm still raising support to help fund my trip, and if you'd like to help, you can do so here. Thank you!

*Please pray for us! All our lovesick teammates and every person we will meet along the way! We're believing for signs and wonders and souls and lovesickness! Pray specifically for the Raji people in India- for success getting to them, open hearts, and the love of Jesus to be embraced by everyone. 

Saturday, September 22, 2018

prison, goodbyes, and the best words

It's my last Sunday in Lowu Prison and it’s going to be a sad goodbye. 

I've been having a lot of those lately. My girls from Africa have finished their time in our safe home and we've recently said goodbye to two of them. Two more will be flying home to their families soon.  And, I'm about to move out of Hong Kong. Lots of change, lots of goodbyes. 

I asked God what I should talk about in prison tomorrow, and it seems He wants my friends in prison (and everyone else) to know that He really wants to talk to us. We can hear the Creator talk, inside of us, and I can’t get over it. 

Listening to what God says is the comfort and the hope in goodbyes, the joy and the endurance in processes, the wisdom in decisions, the truth that sustains us in hard times. We've got to hear Him and listen to Him. And He really wants us to. 

God wants to speak to us- that’s something every human has in common. Created in His image, His Spirit-life beating inside of our hearts, we have the ability to listen to His Spirit, to dialogue with Him. Jesus made that possible by taking our sin on the Cross and when we give God our lives, He sends Holy Spirit to live inside of us. If you've never given God your life, He wants you to. You, me, the ladies in Lowu, the ladies flying home to Africa, we need to know what He says and we need to let it be all we listen to. 

Reading the Bible and letting it get inside me like an anchor, it helps me know what He's like and what He wants. Then when I have a specific question for Him, I can identify the Holy Spirit's answer to my heart, based off the kinds of things He says in the Bible. 
 Asking God questions and listening to His answers - I want it to fill my days. 

His voice creates life, creates peace, silences lies, carries us.

Reading through the Bible’s book of Mark, I keep noticing how many times people ask Jesus questions. And sweet Jesus answers them. He hasn’t changed. He’s still sweet and He still answers our questions. 

Mark 10:28
When He came into the house, His disciples began questioning Him privately...

The best final words to leave with my friends in Lowu Prison, the best final words to leave with my girls flying to Africa, the best words for me to hold onto- His words. When we read the Bible, when we ask Him questions and listen to His Spirit talk to us, His Words carry us. 

His Words are like rushing water (Revelation 1:15). Other voices are kinda like stagnant disgusting ponds that you wouldn't want to swim in. But God's voice is alive and rushing and pure and good.

My girls flying back to Africa are carried along by His Words. As I sit and sort through a lot of emotions in Hong Kong, I'm carried along by His Words. And my friends in prison, riding down that river, are carried along by His Words. 

try it
+ Read Psalm 138 and take your time
+ Ask God how He feels about you today, sit and listen 

"My sheep hear My voice and I know them and they follow Me.'
John 10:27

Saturday, August 25, 2018

when your future isn't looking bright

When I wrecked that motorbike in Thailand, my dad had never been overseas. Nor did he ever intend to. But he and mom, they booked a flight the same day they received the call. 
Three days later, they were sitting by my hospital bed in Bangkok.

That August 25, 2012 event- wrecking and colliding head-first into a metal pole- it's still teaching me the Gospel. I'm taking today to celebrate the Gospel, and that I'm still alive. 

Luke 15:3-7; Jesus tells us a story to teach us what He's like. It's about a shepherd who loses one of his sheep, so he leaves the rest of the flock to go find it. 

It was the sheep's fault. He got distracted, stopped listening to the only voice that could keep him safe, and got himself lost and alone. I picture him in a woods, the sun is going down, he's cold and lonely and scared. He can't hear any of his sheep friends, see any of their tracks, has no way of getting back to them. And there were probably some big animals- the kind who like to eat sheep at night- not too far away. His future wasn't looking bright. 

But shepherd is determined and after a lot of searching, he finds him. I love that part. God looks for us and finds us. I like this next part, too. 

The shepherd didn't use any harsh words, didn't beat the sheep or tell him he was to blame. There were no speeches. He picked him up. He put him on his shoulders. He carried him the whole way back to the rest of the flock. Then they had a party. 

Because I was unconscious, with a feeding tube down my throat and life support strapped to my face, there was a constant stream of drool coming out of my mouth. So dad stood my by bed with a drool-suction tool and used it to suck up the slobber. No one told him to take that job, he just wanted to. He wanted his unconscious daughter's cut-up face to be drool-free. 

Mom decided to fast. She stopped eating when she first heard about my wreck, and made a commitment to fast and pray until I woke up. 

Today, my remembering is focused on the parents who flew across the world to bring me back home. This is teaching me more about God's big Heart.  

It's not exactly the story Jesus was telling in Luke 15, but has some similarities. The wreck was my fault. The thousands of dollars I cost my parents was my fault. And like the dumb sheep, my future wasn't looking bright. But mom and dad, they were determined to get to me and determined to help me recover. 

There's always room for us on God's shoulders. 
Dim futures get lit up when we let Jesus pick us up.

Mom and dad have never spoken one accusatory word about that wreck. Jesus takes all the "fault," and He gets rid of it. We get to live without blame. The Cross made that possible. When I woke up, mom and dad didn't give me a motorbike safety speech, tell me how worried they'd been, or ensure I knew what I was costing them. They bought me milkshakes. 
And watched movies with me. 

God is like that. 
We sin, we make stupid decisions, we have wrecks, we end up lonely and weak and confused. But He searches for and finds us. Then He erases all the blame and celebrates us.

August 25, the God who became a man to rescue us out of the scary woods, take all our blame, and have a party for us, milkshake-buying parents, dim futures that suddenly get bright, and a scarred face that's smiling; I love the Gospel and I love today.  

Lord, how wonderful You are!
-Psalm 31:19