Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Hope for India

It's hard to believe I have been here almost 2 weeks! There have been so many new experiences, challenges and joy-filled moments. I have seen the beauty of Mumbai as well as its depravity. I have met so many people filled with passion for being the hands and feet of Jesus to this city. I have been among the hopeless and been among the hope-filled. Yet, this journey is just beginning. I love this city and these people.

It was recently tweeted ''INDIA'S TIME!'' by Ps Brian Houston during his visit here (more about that in a minute!). I couldn't agree more. Before long, the population of India will surpass the population of China! There truly is a God-given purpose for this nation! The need runs deep here-- not just physically but spiritually. There is a mindset among the impoverished, which I believe stems from its previously implemented caste system that permeates not only the minds but the hearts of so many in this city. From the heart flow the issues of life (Pr 4:23). No wonder this mindset has caused so many to not look beyond or hope in life other than what is current & familiar. Because of this so many remain uneducated, addicted, and poor. In spite of that, I am confident that God is lining up and orchestrating His people strategically in this land. God is here! And with time, I believe India will see a move of God's spirit unlike anything our finite minds can comprehend.

It truly is India's time and being here has been such an honor! Last week Pastor Brian Houston, lead pastor of Hillsong Churches world-wide made a visit to Mumbai unannounced to check out the work of Vision Rescue and keep it fresh on his heart. Nick Caine, husband of the lovely Christine Caine, accompanied him. Together, Nick & Chris pioneer an amazing ministry called The A21 Campaign, which fights the injustice of human trafficking across Europe. To find myself here at the same time as Ps Brian and Nicks visit was only something God could orchestrate. It was a complete honor meet them & to be present as they met with all of the Vision Rescue team-- from the cooks who wake up faithfully to begin their day at 3a.m. to the excellent administrative staff who handles the details of this ministry. I stood there with tears in my eyes as Ps Biju explained how it was a dream come true for Ps Brian to be there encouraging his team. I love how God knows the longings of each our hearts and isn’t afraid to blow us away by granting us those desires! A dream fulfilled is truly a tree of life (Pr 13:12)!

Ps Brian lifted up and poured out encouragement on the team in such a heart-felt manner. It was incredible! I was in a room full of champions whose lives are making an eternal impact on this city- whose role in life is more important than the richest man in the world because what they are doing is going to last into eternity! May we all live with our eternal imprint at the forefront of our minds!

That amazing experience was one of many. Life in the city of dreams has been filled with adventure. I have experienced so many firsts. Just for the fun of it, here is a non-exhaustive listing of My Mumbai Firsts:

  • Walked, crossed & survived the chaotic streets (yikes!)

  • Rode a motorcycle (& survived)

  • Ate Indian-style with my right hand

  • Got beautiful henna on my hands

  • Purchased & wore authentic Indian clothing (kurta & patiala)

  • Saw the worlds largest slum

  • Rode in a rickshaw

  • Saw the city dump featured in Slumdog Millionaire

There are so many more experiences but I will have to save them for story telling when I'm home! :) I love it here and I'm convinced God has something very special for this city and nation. I believe He is transforming this city one person at a time. With individual change comes collective change. With personal hope being renewed comes a renewal of hope for an entire nation and I, for one thing, have hope for India!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Mumbai's Red Light

As I sit in my room on the peaceful grounds of St.Pius College just tucked away from the hustle and bustle of Mumbai streets, I am filled with amazement at our awesome God who has brought me here. I look at the remnants from home on my humble desk and I am nostalgic of all I have left behind to step into this God-dream and simultaneously thankful for all Home has done to make it possible for me to be here. God’s faithfulness and love have been shown to me through you and I cannot adequately express my gratitude.

My first weekend here was filled with wonder as my uncle and I experienced the vastness of the City of Dreams. We were kindly shown the city by a Vision Rescue staff member, Manoj. We saw the stunning Taj Mahal Hotel as well as the Gateway of Mumbai. Afterward we drove through the Red Light District. What a stark difference. It was as if we turned a corner and entered into a different world.

Young girls, some who appeared to be around the age of 14, lined the streets leaning against walls, cars and open doorways. Here it was, in bright daylight, the reality of human trafficking—a global epidemic. There were dark narrow alleyways which led to the rest of this world. I can’t imagine the darkness which dwelt between those concrete buildings and walls. What was foreign to me was familiar to them. It was their life. As we passed through I wondered the stories of these girls. They were so young. So beautiful. So full of potential.

As thoughts and emotions filled my heart I saw one particular girl standing in a doorway with dark stained lips and heavy eyeliner. I looked at her and couldn’t seem to look away- she immediately looked back at me. We locked eyes and as we slowly passed by one thing pounded in my heart… does she know how loved she is?

Oh, that I could tell her how loved she is! If she understood & intimately knew the love of God she would be forever changed, completely whole, and deeply new! We looked at one another until it was impossible to do so any longer. I will never see her again… but the God of the universe keeps His eye on her constantly. It is comforting to pray to Him and know He hears. It is comforting to know He is mobilizing warriors who go into the darkness to find that which is lost. Oh, that salvation would be hers!

Vision Rescue is being a light in the darkness of Mumbai’s Red Light District. They run a daycare center for children of these prostitutes who otherwise would be neglected. They share the love of Jesus with these precious lives and instill in them a hope for their future. I am so blessed to be here among such champions. They are individuals who spend their lives for others. We all have a part to play and the Vision Rescue team is playing theirs well!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Its Time For Neckwear

Fall- the season for scarves, Starbucks and thankfulness. Scarves are a staple in my wardrobe and I practically wear them year-round but when the appropriate season comes around I am stoked! I have scarves in all sorts of colors, lengths and styles: pashminas, silk, crocheted, cashmere and cotton. As autumncommenced, I excitedly purchased a new scarf adorned with bird silhouettes and as I tied it around my neck I was reminded of a favorite proverb of mine. “Never let loyalty and kindness leave you! Tie them around your neck as a reminder. Write them deep within your heart” Proverbs 3:3

Scarves are fun and serve a cozy fashionable purpose yet I wondered what my life would look like if loyalty & kindness adorned my neck more so? What if the most obvious statement about me wasn’t fashion but was character? Our character does clothe us in essence and makes a statement about who we are and who we serve. Are we clothed in loyalty & kindness year round, regardless of season? If so, Proverbs promises us that we will have favor with both God and man (Prov 3:4).

These verses have been a favorite of mine for years and first spoke to my heart when I was reaching out to students within a particular neighborhood. We had a great team that would go every week to host a student bible study and give free pizza. Sometimes the soil was rocky and tough to sow into however I held onto this promise. I believed that if our team was marked with loyalty (faithfulness & truth) and kindness (mercy & love) that our impact on the students would be lasting and far-reaching to the point of touching the lives of their families.

Sometimes I would share with the students and be faced with nothing but hard, cold faces. When questions were asked and discussion was encouraged, there would be short answers and sometimes snickering. Insecurity would have liked to immobilize me. Religion would have liked me to preach with a harder edge (oftentimes excused as “righteous anger”). Weariness would have liked me to withhold my encouragement and love.

But the Spirit of God would have me to remain faithful and tender. Loyal and kind. It wasn’t always easy. Loving others with no excuses, no limits and no conditions is never easy. In fact, I believe it takes a supernatural work in our hearts to live that way in every relationship (regardless of its depth). But God is so faithful to do the work in us, even so far as giving us heart surgery when we need it most- when it’s the very thing our lives depend upon! “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” (Ez36:26)

A tender heart is vital to live as God desires. From the heart flows life… so often in the form of words. Therefore, our words are usually a great way to determine how healthy our heart is. Words and actions clothed with loyalty and kindness have the potential to move mountains, heal the deepest of wounds and propel you to your future. Loyalty and kindness can open doors and give you influence. Its time we, God’s church, rise and determine to live loyal and kind lives; to stop the backbiting, bickering and resentment. Its time to lighten one another’s load and lift each other’s hands in time of weakness. To honor one another instead of striving and competing against each other. Its time we put an end to our self-absorption and get outside the four walls of our Sunday gatherings. Its time we seek out opportunities to show mercy and kindness to the “least of these”. To love with no strings attached.

Again, God is SO faithful to do the work in us! His spirit is longing to come to fruition in and through us. It’s so freeing to realize who we are and what we do doesn't have to be done through our own power or might. As we live, move, and have our being in Jesus (Acts 17:28), His loyalty and kindness will certainly fill our hearts and overflow with life-giving beauty! As Pastor Jack Hanes recently said, “We live in an age of positioning but its not beautiful. Loyalty is beautiful!” Complete dependence on God is an attractive way to live. When we live this way we become people marked by loyalty and kindness and it is then that others will see and know He is God!

Dreaming His Dream,


The month of November has been missions month at my local church, New Hope Worship Center. “Be Hope: Imprinting Lives” was kicked off by our ministry friend and partner, Pastor Jack Hanes from ImagineNations Church in Australia. He preached about loyalty to our Dream Team. It was an incredible message, filled with the reminder of this favorite proverb of mine.

Here are a few of my favorite points:

  1. The key to flourishing in friendships, family, jobs and ministry is loyalty!
  2. Loyalty is focused on others. It points to the team rather than self-focus!
  3. Loyalty uses adversity to confirm commitment (you’re not loyal when there’s agreement or unity)
  4. You can never demand it. You can only attract it.

Friday, July 23, 2010


Have you ever come across a recurring theme during a particular season of life? I believe God speaks through many avenues and when there’s a message I feel is reinforced every which way I turn I can’t deny that the Lord is speaking something special and timely.
Amy Carmichael, beloved missionary to India has penned many words of wisdom from her experiences of trial, heartache and infirmity. As I dove into one of her books recently I was captivated by an excerpt she wrote concerning trusting the Lord. Simply put, to trust means to lean- But not just lean on, but to place the weight of my confidence upon (Young’s Analytical Concordance).
Have you ever heard of a trust fall? Oh, the thought of it sends butterflies shooting up the walls of my stomach. I had heard of a trust fall but realized in the Fall of 2006 hearing of it was completely different than experiencing it. While at a boot camp I climbed onto a platform nailed to the trunk of a tree about 4 feet off the ground. Facing the tree trunk I then proceeded to inch my way backward to the very edge of the platform, cross my arms over my chest, breathe deep and close my eyes.
I couldn’t see what was behind me but I knew I had a team of strong young people with locked arms ready to catch me. I saw several people do the trust fall before me and yet I still had this streak of fear inside- “What if they happen to miss me? What if I’m too heavy and I break their arms?!” There was no way to be 100% positive those fears wouldn’t happen. But it was then in the midst of questions, concerns and the quadrupling of my heart rate that I knew I had no other choice but to lean back as far as possible, allow my feet to lift off the platform and fall. A lean of no reserve which would result in a fall, to what seemed my death but turned out to be a firm, secure grasp.
Oh, the sigh of relief that occurred. I wish to never do the trust fall again in a physical sense but how funny that in life we have to brave a trust fall oftentimes more than once! The blessing is that we can place our trust in the One who is strongest! The One who is so big that we actually fit in the palm of His hand- how could He possibly miss us? How could we ever break His arms of strength?
Today I came across a tweet from the lovely @bobbiehouston. She tweeted the very thing that has been dear to my heart recently: “Trust: to lean on, rely on, have confidence in ... & usually discovered in all it's wonder in the tough times! #trust”.
Why is it we learn to trust “in the tough times”? I believe it’s because then we realize there is nothing we can do in and of ourselves- we have no other option but holy surrender and a complete letting-go of our abilities and a fastening to God and His ability. We’re mere humans who wither to dust, whose lives are but vapors- may we never forget that. May we continuously lean into our omniscient, omnipresent God so much that our opinions, agendas and fears must bow.
Proverbs 3:5-6 says “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”
Whether you’re in the thick of uncertainty or in the process of taking another sure-footed step toward your future, know that the Lord can be trusted. He can be leaned upon. Like John rested on Jesus, may we find our rest in the Lord as we lean back and let go. Trust.