I was so fed up with using my Ipad to type my blogs that I got a laptop just before I left Vancouver but my photos are too large to put on my post.. Sorry for those who need more visual stimulation than just words.. I’ll try to get it fixed as soon as I can.
I have gone back to Canada realizing that I have left behind a part of old myself that needed to replaced by what I now know as my identity in Christ. On my first 2 month visit to Vancouver I was so focused on fundraising that I didn’t have time to deal with my past demons, but this time I had 3 months of a tug of war going on.. I found the Spirit of Truth raging against Satan’s attempt to persuade me with a Spirit of deception. I was tempted many times to forfeit my time in the Philippines because of the spiritual warfare and burnout I faced or at least spend half my time in Canada to feel a bit of control over my life. I knew that if I did come home and went back to having a normal life.. I would have given up the call on my life and gone back to living a dissatisfying lifestyle. Nothing in this world is more satisfying as living a life doing the will of God and saving souls. Satan knows that so he wants me out of his plan through justification of what I want/am entitled to verses what God wants. My flesh in war with what the Holy Spirit wants of me. Nothing in this world lasts forever but looking forward to the reward in Heaven is worth fighting for. He wants total surrender in obedience.. our reward is in Him.
He said to me, “You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will display my splendor.” But I said, “I have labored in vain; I have spent my strength for nothing at all. Yet what is due me is in the Lord’s hand, and my reward is with my God.”
“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them.For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.”
1 John 2: 15-16
“Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.”
It was like God was starting to sift through all the junk that had been sitting at the bottom and now it was time to let it rise again so that it may be removed. I needed to be ministered to and receive healing.
“In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him, and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”
1 Peter 1:6-9
As you are reentering into a country, as a missionary you have to deal with laying down expectations of others as well as yourself while adjusting to different dynamics of groups and cultures.. which meant learning to have unconditional grace for myself and others.
All seriousness aside.. All in all, I had an amazing time reuniting with friends whom I have yet needed to catch up with and ones I have had on my heart for sometime. During my life in Canada I never had a group of Christian friends I felt that I could truly lean on and it took me being vulnerable to people whom I didn’t normally hang with in my old life and this is where it got confusing.. I needed an accountability group.
I took a course called, ‘Freedom Session’. It’s a 9 month, once a week gathering that talks about redefining your views and cutting out old habits that interfere with your relationships with others and with God. Examples are Performance, Co-dependency, Isolation, Passivity, Rage, Pornography.. More info here – http://www.coastalchurch.org/ministries/abundant-life/
Basically, we listen to the Pastor share as we follow along on our booklets and write down what past and present experiences hinders us from being completely living free from bondage and the steps to do so. Afterwards we break off by gender groups, go through our booklets and share according to the questions related to the topic. The purpose of the course is to have an accountability session to share what we all struggle with and not try to use unreliable coping mechanisms in place of the healing power of God’s word. It can be as simple as watching TV, going on trips, or drugs and drinking to escape pain. The first step is overcoming denial with confession and letting the Word of God take root in our daily lives.
I was experiencing fear of rejection and misunderstanding with truth of who I am in God and to not try to cope through escape by isolation or keeping busy. During the group discussion, the facilitator asked, “If you could be a character from a movie or a book who would you be and what made you identify with this character?”
My answer was, Pocahontas, the Disney Cartoon Version. She desired to follow what Mother Willow (Symbolic of God) encouraged her to do without listening to what her friends, family, and society expects of her (In her culture, it was to marry that highly regarded handsome Indian guy.) instead of believing for herself of what is right. Not knowing ‘what’s around the river bend’ and not going the smoothest course but choosing the harder path to take..but if she does not stray from the calling, she would be the one to deliver her own people and promote peace.
“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.
I found out that I have been so into ministry that I tend to minister to others when I myself need ministering. I was exhausted because of my lack of being poured in that I struggle to pour out. So my mask was that I felt the need to be needed through reaching out to people, but having the fear of rejection when I am not “performing” or “ministering”. It’s easy to be judgmental about other Christiansbut we all have different convictions and need to encourage and build each other up instead of having expectations of others. It can easily be misinterpreted as a “religious” spirit if not careful. Learning to not letting the work of ministry become your life and neglecting your personal intimacy with Christ.. The Giver of life. The inner work Christ did in you will reveal itself through His love that you share to others. Being with God and not being like God.
It can put my friendships on co-dependency instead of letting God be their 1st priority to seek Him. I needed to stop trying to “rescue people” out of my own effort which creates expectation and births disappointment instead of being prompted by the Holy Spirit. Ultimately it is God that does the hard work of softening the heart and its our job to plant the seed. I believe that more men in the church need to start having a heart to evangelize or willing to come alongside other men so that the boundaries of relationships between men and women aren’t compromised. We are to look at each other as brothers and sisters and to protect one another. There would be no flirt to convert cause lets face it.. it don’t work. Luckily I have learned the hard way and will be more careful with my personal boundaries and learning to surround myself with others that have their best interest at heart along with their faith. Its funny cause near the end of my time in Canada, I start giving people advice about the same things I’ve experienced. It seems much harder to break off bad habits in your hometown and much easier to escape by traveling to another country before you can face your fears and overcome vulnerability.
The amazing thing is I started seeing a change in the way people acted around me by standing up for myself in a way that did not bring divisionbut gained respect for what I believed in.
This time coming back home my focus was to build relationships and accountability. Praise God that He divinely connected me with a girl that I could relate to and would lend an ear to listen when I needed to just voice my thoughts out. It takes God given special individuals to be able to open up to without judgement. I think it was a perfect balance of similarity and differences that we mutually benefit from that made it work so well. It also helped that she was going to Romania to become a missionary for a children’s ministry. In a matter of weeks we were always hanging out and best of pals!
I shared at this organization called Aglow International that meets at the Canadian Bible Society every so often. Before they started prayer and worship, a lady who has never heard of what I do gave me a bouquet of beautiful white flowers. She told me that the Lord put it on her heart that morning to buy them for me. And she got the words: Purity, Marriage, and His Bride. I was so touched.. it felt like Jesus as right there rooting for me, my prince charming haha.. I openly shared my testimony of my convictions of not living a life geared towards the Lord and how He used my past to glorify Him in the present of being in the Philippines. The audience were all women since it was once called “Women Aglow International” and it spoke to the mothers present. One mother was having issues with her daughter and said that my story was affirming the situations her daughter has struggled in.
I also freely shared for 2 hours my many trials, triumphs and miracles including showing the documentary at a small group with about 15 people in it. They were from the Evangelical Chinese Bible Church and it was encouraging to hear of all the prophetic miracles I experienced while living by faith. The group prayed for me and blessed my journey ahead.
I have shared with many individuals I haven’t seen for many months and even years during my stay in Canada and brought people to church to understand what being truly Christian is all about. I wish I could be at both countries at once cause the Lord gave me a heart to be there for my friends, but one needs to learn to rest in Him and trust others will be sharing the burden for the lost. I am encouraged by the testimonies and stories of others God has brought into my life. It’s my desire to continue the race the Lord has set before me and finish it.. to be used to inspire people making it all the worthwhile to serve Him.
“In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.”
2 Timothy 4:1-8
I have been back in the Philippines for 26 days now and have been fighting fever and cold symptoms including needing to fix my TMJ, which stands for Temporomandibular joint disorder. It’s in the chronic stages.. my jaw would lock in place at times perhaps its due to stress but it has been reoccurring since. The jaw nerves are connected to the rest of the body so I have been feeling migraines, dizziness and event joint pain. I had to get an Xray done and it turns out I need to undergo some therapy to align my jaw back with strategic ways of manipulating the jaw muscles and putting on stilts to keep it in place. EventuallyI may need to wear a retainer or braces so that it wont go back to that position. Thankfully I have a Christian dentist, who goes to my church and giving me a bit of a discount.
I have gone bar evangelizing once cause of my condition and was so blessed to hear that 2 bar girls have decided to come to be part of YWAM and the livelihood is expanding its business. The ministry has also bought a van to help with the paper delivery and for other uses including evangelism. Logos Hope Ship has stayed due to issues with the ship and in total they have been in the Philippines for 9 months. They were so blessed to be able to see the fruit from being part of the seed planting. Their final departure will be in December. We are promoting an event for 100 bar girls to come on board to hear testimonies of one of our staff who was a bar girl and a disciple who has just graduated and become a midwife. Please pray that many girls would show up..
I will be traveling to Manila to attend an anti human trafficking seminar so pray for my health. I seem to pick up sinus symptoms whenever I am there. May God’s work continue to increase as I completely surrender my plans into His hands.. He knows what’s best for us and those who we impact around us.