AUTHOR: Heather Velvet Johnson
When I first started working at my current job, I would frequently get asked where I am from or the occasional bold statement saying, “You’re not from here.”
I would tell them that I was from Illinois or near Chicago, and they would respond with,
“No, where are you from?”
They didn’t believe that I was a born and raised American.
Even now, though I know almost everyone I serve, I’ll get an occasional visitor who asks me the same question.
They are somewhat satisfied after I tell them that one side of my family is of Scandinavian descent. However, I’m still left puzzled as to why they don’t think I’m American. My best guess was that it had to do with the hat I wear at work (a food service requirement), which gives off a European flare. I’m also in uniform, so I’m not able to show any distinctive style of dress.
I thought this was limited to my work setting until several weeks ago when I was driving to Chattanooga for a weekend class.
I stopped at a gas station and was in the aisle looking for something. It wasn’t yet 7AM, and a man came around the corner, spotted me, and said, “Don’t say anything, but I gotta know. Are you from America?” (He told me afterward that he didn’t want me to say anything because when I talked, he would know whether I had an accent or not.)
I smiled, amused, and told him that I was entirely American. He was slightly disappointed because, apparently, this man took pride in the fact that he could often recognize foreigners from afar. I reassured him that he shouldn’t feel too bad because apparently everyone else also thinks I’m foreign.
I drove away baffled.
Before Mongolia, I never had anyone question whether I was American.
As much as I have felt like I’ve adjusted and transitioned in the past year, apparently, I haven’t on the outside looking in and give off some “I’m new here” signal.
I was used to being a foreigner in a foreign country where I clearly looked different and clearly was different. So it’s bizarre to be seen as a foreigner in my own country.
I’ve been in Atlanta now a year and a few months. I feel settled, but it doesn’t feel like home yet. Truthfully I don’t think there is any place that feels like home anymore.
I don’t feel too sad about it, it just is what it is. I was traveling a lot over the summer, and whenever someone would ask me where I was from, I always hesitated. Yes, I was living in Georgia, but I’m not from Georgia. I’m from Illinois, but that’s not home anymore either. If I threw Mongolia into the mix, it would open up a whole series of questions and confusion.
Not only do I sometimes feel like I’m the new kid on the block, but sometimes it feels like God is the confusing foreigner with strange cultural norms.
I don’t understand Him, and why He does the things He does.
More and more, I realize I’m baffled by how He works. When things are going well or seemingly stable, it’s easy to rest in the mystery. It’s not so easy when things are falling apart in your life. It’s not easy to be baffled then.
Today I went on a drive through north Georgia to meet a friend for a hike, and I decided to listen to one of my favorite artist’s Christmas album. It's mid November, and usually, I wait until after Thanksgiving, and I’m very strict about this self-imposed rule.
But it’s been a week of feeling God’s foreignness, and I needed something with real hope that I could hold onto. I needed the reminder that God, too, was a foreigner when He came down as Emmanuel.
So when I feel like a foreigner, when everything in life seems like a mystery or an unwelcome plot twist, I have Him to cling to. And I have Him, who knows what it feels like to experience life in all its pain, mystery, and foreignness, even when it is bewildering.
AUTHOR: Shari Tvrdik
Eight thousand miles distance between us turns out to be no obstacle to getting together every Wednesday night.
We make it on time each week.
8pm central time....for me.
9am the next day for a couple of them.
Yes, welcome to my world. It's small.
Not because I'm small minded but because on most days I am able to communicate with people living on different parts of our globe as part of my job with Cup of Cold Water Ministries.
Because of this, the world feels very accessible and all of us strangely near one another.
We are essentially one plane ride away from any single event or tragedy witnessed on our screens.
But back to Wednesdays.
Of course, it takes a bit of technology to connect us to one another and we can't pour each other coffee, but it's enough and I'm thankful for it.
The idea came to me a few months back, to utilize the brilliant inventions of smarter people and draw a few of our missionaries together each week, even when oceans separate us.
There were a lot of reasons to get our CCWM missionaries talking, but simply one that stands out to me as the main purpose for our twenty minute gathering.
They are THE less than one percent.
People do research on this kind of thing, and we get to benefit from their findings.
I love that.
The super researchers from the Pew Research Center have told the world that there are a little more than two billion Christians globally (all Catholic, Protestant, etc.,).
Of these two billion believers in Jesus there are four hundred thousand missionaries.
I did the math on this one myself (ok with the help of our intelligent communications assistant Katie) and the result was this: Less than one percent of Believers become missionaries.
Their faces, all three pop up right there before me on my computer screen.
Siew Ling, serving to better the story of orphans in various parts of Asia.
Lily, called to the street boys in Bolivia.
Tuvsho, reaching out to the emerging adults living without parents or family in Mongolia
One by one they connect to the call.
The sight of them brings so much hope my heart can feel it.
You know that song, "What makes you beautiful?" by One Direction? They sing about a girl who has no idea how beautiful she, and that is what makes her beautiful.
That's pretty much how I feel about our missionaries.
*you totally have my permission to pause here and sing your heart out.
They have no idea how rare and amazing they really are, and it's probably a good thing.
But I tell them anyway.
They need to know that if they are feeling a little lonely or a bit un-relatable....it's because they are.
There are not a whole lot of other Believers like them.
Well, there are 399,000 other Believers like them, but spread around the big spinning globe, that can make you feel a bit like an almost extinct buffalo, (sorry ladies...gazelle) .
The statistics tell us what we already feel, it's not that common to be called to full time missions.
When my husband and I were on the mission field we were introduced by a Western Pastor as, "Radicals." I remember on our walk home we sort of mulled over the idea that we were radicals. At first we denied it, concluding that the Pastor had it wrong, but by the time we opened our front door we had accepted the idea that yep, even in church, even in the peer group of full time ministry workers we missionaries were...odd balls.
So each Wednesday I gather these three of our CCWM missionaries together because they need one another. All three women have been called into full time "radical" living specifically to bring the Gospel to the orphan and abandoned children. It would be a crying shame to not have them collaborate, discuss and debrief their week with one another. The less than one-percent-ers should discover they are not alone in their Great Commission endeavor.
Usually they laugh.
Often they cry.
Sometimes they yawn.
But...always, it's good to be together.
If you're reading this as a less than one-percent-er, may I be the one to tell you today...you're amazing.
Find another less than one-percent-er and invest in one another. A wise guy once said:
A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken. Ecclesiastes 4:12
If you're a pastor reading this and you have a LESS THAN one-percent-er in your congregation....get excited. It's a rare thing. Get behind them, support them, SEND THEM. If you have more than one, then may I ask what on earth are you preaching?? It's working!
If you're a supporter of a LESS THAN one-percent-er, DO NOT STOP. Missionaries won't tell you this but they are lonely, they are tired, they are easily discouraged at times, they need you to hold up your end of the mission. YOU ARE HIGHLY VALUED.
And if you are none of the above....
AUTHOR: Shari Tvrdik
The need was made obvious on social media, no hidden agenda, no hinting at what she "would like you to pray about." Instead, a flat out ask. "Winter is coming soon," the missionary wrote. "Mongolian's are preparing. Unfortunately, my church heating system was damaged and we will need to purchase a new one for the harsh winter in order to continue our ministry all year around. Most of our church members are not from well off families. We need to look for help from the outside."
"Our church needs to raise $1'500 in total. $500 has already been raised by the church. Please contact me personally if it's possible for you to give."
I sat reading her post from the outside, of where I once was very much inside.
I had spent eight winters in Ulaan Baatar, the coldest capital of the world.
My memories of the deep freeze will never be forgotten.
The Facebook post took me back in time to a woman carrying a bucket of wood on the coldest January day. She came into her home where I waited for her to return. The cold wind entered before she did. She stood there with wind burned cheeks and what I can only describe as cold bones. "I had two dollars," she said. "My family hasn't eaten in a couple of days and I was going to buy rice but then I chose wood instead." Setting the wood down next to her cold wood stove she spoke words that still wreck me to this day.
"Freezing to death is more painful than starving."
I set my phone down and laid my head on my pillow.
I wondered if anyone from the outside would give to the furnace fund.
We're all busy. The spinning globe is full of spinning needs...everywhere... and the other side of the world is so far away.
Six hours later I awoke to find messages from some of our CCWM missionaries.
"We'd like to give to the Mongolian church. Is it possible for you to take some of our funds and move them to help purchase the furnace."
These missionaries don't have a whole lot more than "some" funds.
They are just starting their own ministry out in a brand new community in another country.
They should be consumed with their work.
I recognized how counter intuitive this sort of gift was.
If anyone had a good excuse to "sit this one out" it was these guys.
And this isn't the first time a request like this has been made by one of our CCWM missionaries.
Working for a mission sending organization I'm privy to these kind of emails. I'm blown away each time it happens, "Please transfer my funds to ________ we want to help."
I stared at the email and let it sink in.
I knew they were giving from what little they barely had, in order to cheer the Mongolia missionary forward....for HIS kingdom to come.
Churches, missionaries, pastors, we can sometimes lean toward competitive can't we? We get protective, focused, a little self centered.
Our work is important. It's valuable and we are pushing so hard to get where we believe the Father wants us to go.
With sheer grit we overcome all the obstacles and build what we think is for His kingdom.
Hammer, nails, focus,
just... keep... building....
Without even realizing it we become a builder of our own kingdom.
Our organization. Our mission. Our project. Our church. Our kingdom.
Its a temptation worth fighting, because the other side of that, the opposite is quite a remarkable defeat of the enemy.
These missionaries had a bigger call on their life than their own ministry.
It was not boxed into a location, or a people group or even a specific affiliation.
The call was to build HIS kingdom and to submit to HIS will.
"Money is raised!" the missionary reported just a week after her candid ask.
The church will be warm this winter, despite the negative forty degree average temps.
The missionaries in another nation will soon be telling us about God's favor and blessing in their new ministry. I'm sure of it because this is how our Great God works when we line ourselves up with HIS plan, HIS kingdom, His purposes.
And me, am I lined up?
What am I building today?
AUTHOR: Shari Tvrdik
Hurried by life's pressures I tipped the review mirror to check my makeup before I went in. I saw the weight of last night's late school board meeting disguised as bags under my eyes. I looked what I felt, tired, brokenhearted, disappointed.
But Sue was waiting for me inside her house. I took a deep breath and set aside Shari the woman, replacing her with Shari the Missionary.
Shari the missionary is positive, chipper, hopeful. She’s a problem solver not a problem dweller. I like her, so do a lot of other people.
The trouble is, she’s not really, fully Shari.
As I walked to Sue’s front door I took note of the home she was living in.
Sue Paxton is a missionary from England to the United States.
Turns out, we need missionaries here in America too, pretty badly.
Sue and her husband Ian served in Romania for twenty-six years. They learned to speak Romanian and invested fully into the lives of the Romanian people. Sue told me they had planned to live there forever.
God changes things up a lot. He can never be accused of being a bore.
God clearly led the couple out of Romania in 2017 and just when they thought it was retirement time in the mother land, He called them to the United States, specifically Ottawa IL.
And this is how Sue entered my life.
My boss suggested I meet this woman that goes to his church, and happens to be a missionary. Missions is what we do full time at Cup of Cold Water Ministries so naturally I wanted to reach out to her.
I jumped into a relationship with Sue that was peer to peer, missionary to missionary.
Sue and I have worked together over the year on various projects and I like her.
But this day, I was about to see Sue in an entirely new way.
Sue and Ian's white house felt strangely comforting as I walked up to the front door. They had moved in a few weeks prior. I had missed their open house and regretted it as I approached Sue who was waiting to greet me.
“Welcome,” she said in her cheerful English accent.
Indeed I felt welcomed.
The inside of their home was charming to the eye but more than that, it was full of peace.
Sue pointed me to her couch and invited me to have a seat.
Something about her warmth and the way she looked at me when she asked, “How are you?” caused me to uncharacteristically step away from “Shari the missionary.” and back into me. Just me.
Me, Shari, the woman who was this day full of sorrow and heavy with concern.
It’s a total just me that I don’t get to be very often.
Sue passed me a box of tissues when the tears came.
She listened, leaned into my heart and took the time to fully embrace my current state of chaos.
When she got up to get me a drink I suddenly realized the uncanny similarities between Sue and myself on the mission field. I had been in her shoes countless times with Mongolian Christians, sitting near them in my home, listening, praying, offering words of hope and courage.
When they left I’d make a note of our conversation. These were the people I was here to serve. I wanted people back home to pray for them, I wanted to share with our mission board that I had made progress, connected well, gained friendships.
And Sue, she was here to serve not only my "people" but ME.
It dawned on me that Sue was my missionary.
God had sent her to walk with this American woman who desperately needed exactly what Sue had to give.
How odd to have the tables turned in such a way, for the missionary to become the mission.
I laughed out loud at the irony and then I whispered a thank you to God.
When Sue returned to the room, I was lost for words.
I looked at her so differently than I had just moments before.
I remembered what it was like to leave my country, my culture, my life behind me to go into all the world and to make disciples.
“Sue I’m so proud of what God is doing with you.” I told her. “But more than that, I’m thankful that you are here, that God sent me a missionary.”
Of course that wasn’t odd for Sue to hear. What took me a year to realize, Sue knew all along.
God had called her to Americans. He had disrupted her plans for a people she didn’t know, and a small town in Illinois that He would ask her to call home.
And Sue obeyed.
I was one of the people He had brought her to.
I left her house to catch my next meeting but I felt stronger than I did when I had arrived.
I was humbled, grateful and ready to face what came next.
It was a true joy to be a missionary, but it's a humbling blessing to have a missionary.
Sue doesn't know I'm doing this, but of all people I know what a missionary needs most! If you have a heart to support Sue and Ian in their work or want to hear more about what they are doing in Ottawa, IL , click the link below and ask them to put you on their mailing list! OR just send a word of encouragement to her!
AUTHOR: Shari Tvrdik
Jesus had been shot.
For obvious reasons the scene was supposed to cause the viewer great turmoil as the camera man panned over the bullet holes.
But, I felt no turmoil.
Instead, I laughed.
I second guessed my response which at first seemed appalling, and then ...I cried.
Thank you for joining me on this emotional roller coaster.
Hang on, it's gonna be a good ride.
The news story was broadcasting an update on a little girl from Iraq named Myriam. Myriam's town, Qaraqosh, had been invaded in 2014 and she had lost everything.
She had left the reporter speechless when nine year old Myriam giving her first hand account from a refugee camp of how ISIS had destroyed everything dear to her, was asked how she felt about ISIS. Myriam had replied, "I will pray for them and forgive them." * READ FULL STORY BELOW
And this is why I had laughed and cried.
The town's Christian's had been driven out. The churches had been demolished. Jesus was shot in some kind of display of extreme hate and it meant nothing.
Jesus keeps going.
I scrolled to read the Instagram post of Joshua Harris, author of I Kissed Dating Goodbye who without asking for it had received super-Christian status from his fans, now stating he was "no longer a Christian. "
The real, unchanging Jesus, it seems, was just too hard core. Joshua informed his fans that he was opting to keep his heart open in the future to a "different way to practice faith." I wondered about his followers, those who kissed dating goodbye for Jesus, (even though Jesus never asked them to). I imagined some tears, a lot of anger, an avalanche of media flurry....and then in the end...
Jesus keeps going.
I took all these feelings to the office with me the next day and sometime during the afternoon they boiled over into inspiring conversation with the staff.
Sitting around the table with me was our Intern Katie Schupp, ready to begin her journey to help and heal the wounded hearts and bodies of sexually exploited women. Her first day of university was a few weeks away, her hope, contagious.
Joey Kittelson, founder of MEDFUND, a ministry in Boliva that among other things takes the hospital to the jungle. Joey was in the final stages of prepping for the next trip, organizing doctors, volunteers, all the logistics.
Dan Hennenfent, our Cup of Cold Water Ministries Executive Director, focusing on his team of thirty-two missionaries spread around the globe all while zipping up the details of a two month trip to Mongolia where he would work to unify a destabilized team so they could continue to change the world....together.
It was a day and conversation sealed forever in my mind because we said things that day that would matter deeply to us in ways not imagined just one week later.
Jesus keeps going.
"Shari. It’s worse than I could have imagined. Total 15 fatalities. Twelve of them are Bolivian MedFund volunteers. "
I had awoken in the middle of the night to my phone lighting up with messages. Instantly I wanted to be sick. It was Joey's team. The same team I had fallen asleep praying for. I read on to discover that Joey was alive and on the scene, pulling his own mission team from the mangled bus, his best of friends....gone.
"It's a disaster!" I cried out, waking my husband up who could only sit and pray over me as I wept. Eventually I went out under the stars to sit with God and pray.
I am a missions mobilizer. In other words, my work each day involves reminding the Church that we need to GO, our job is not finished yet. For me, missions is my life. So under the stars, imagining What Joey was facing at that moment on a Bolivian hillside, I talked to God about it all. I remember saying, "We're not on the same page." and "Do you know how irreplaceable those precious people are?"
I had spent the last two years going church to church and experiencing pastors give me a kind and polite smile when I asked them, "Is there anyone in your church interested in global missions?" Most replied, "We are focusing here on the local community."
I reminded God, "It's not like people are lining up in droves to GO INTO ALL THE WORLD!" and I questioned why He would allow some of His best players to leave the game way before their replacements were even warmed up.
I threw my heart at God, "It feels like I'm recruiting missionaries and then you kill them. "
Then I made some threats. " Maybe I just need to be done...maybe I'm missing something. "
God did not answer, and I'm okay with that.
I know He heard.
I know He was there.
When the sun came up nothing felt the same.
I relied on reports through our director about what was happening in Bolivia, and eventually the shaking began to subside and the dust began to settle on our broken hearts.
When we looked around, we found it true.
The worst thing we could have imagined as a mission board, had indeed taken place. One of our missionaries had lost his team to an accident.
It wasn't a dream.
"It's worse than I could have imagined..."
and Jesus keeps going.
As Heaven would arrange it, our annual GOD'S KIDS GO event happened to be that Tuesday, just forty eight hours away from the tragedy. This was Cup of Cold Water Ministries Day to get the next generation excited about the Great Commission.
None of us felt like telling a room full of children that they were needed for missions. We prepped the day before, printing name tags while we wept and questioned.
And then the kids showed up.
Those bright faces came through the front door and listened as we described the life of a missionary. "SEND ME!" they shouted at the end and our team felt the cost of those little voices as we thought of Joey and the MEDFUND ACCIDENT.
The truth is, nothing can stop JESUS.
not the loss of an entire missions team.
Jesus keeps going.
He continues through hate.
He moves past our opinions of Him.
He HOLDS THE KEYS TO DEATH and HELL.
He is everlasting to everlasting.
JESUS KEEPS GOING.
Even if you shoot Him...
AUTHOR Katie Schupp
"I thought a mission board was simply a place to handle donations for missionaries on US soil, as well as being the “boss”.
I began my internship with Cup of Cold Water Ministries at the beginning of June.
Prior to my first day of work, my perspective and knowledge on mission boards was shallow. I thought a mission board was simply a place to handle donations for missionaries on US soil, as well as being the “boss”.
My perspective was totally shattered and started to be rebuilt on the very first day.
I was made aware of the depth and importance of having a strong, upright, Godly mission board behind global missionaries.
There are 3 things that I have learned about missions from interning at a mission board:
1. THE IMPORTANCE OF AN AT HOME SUPPORT SYSTEM FOR THE MISSIONARY.
Missionaries have some of the most emotionally and physically taxing life callings. Because they are serving outside of the comfort of their home, they need an at-home support system. A group of devoted men and women to keep them inspired, encouraged, accountable, and lifted in prayer. Many of my work days at Cup of Cold Water Ministries are started by praying for the missionaries and individuals impacted through them. We pray for their personal requests, their struggles, and the struggles of those they minister to. We celebrate their victories and the wins for the kingdom of God and praise the Lord on their behalf.
2. GOD IS GOD REGARDLESS OF THE CONTEXT
This may seem simple and obvious, however when I took a step back and looked at God in the context of my life, God in the context of the life of a Bolivian street child, in the life of an incarcerated man, in the life of an orphan, God reminded me of an important truth.
God is good, God is sovereign, He is faithful and gracious and he is crazy love. He sees each person in light of their context and struggles. He does not consider our social status, country, culture, gender, age or occupation when showering us with his mercies. God is a god of culture and versatility and He is alive and moving in a world that may not see that.
3. MISSIONS IS TEAM WORK
In the world of missions, there are goers and senders. Believers who have been called to leave their homes and GO, and the believers who do not have the call to go, but rather be the sender. Both are equally important and rely on one another for this mission to be successful. That connect is crucial to making this team function and most effectively impact the kingdom of God.
As I wrap up my internship with CCWM, and prepare to pursue a career of missions, I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity. The information and knowledge I have learned throughout the summer, I will carry with me throughout my life.
Go, send or disobey. ~ John Piper
Meet our Cup of Cold Water Ministries Next Generation Scholarship Recipient ~ Zola
Sad, depressed, hurt, alone and hopeless.
Those are the main words describing the childhood life that I survived.
In Mongolia, the sun came up and a new day began.
But I didn’t want to get up because the night before was all too short.
During the night my parents argued the fighting was so intense. My father was violent and mom was hurt badly.
We left in the darkness of night.
But we had no where to go.
It was dark and dangerous in the ger district area where the roads are simply dirt and the homes are stacked thoughtlessly throughout a maze of slum district.
We wandered in the cold. Mom was completely overwhelmed as she tried to find a place to shelter her three little girls.
Hopeless, mom walked us back home.
We quietly entered thankful that my father was asleep.
No more violence tonight.
But still my tears were easily flowing and I needed to hide and cry in my bed.
And this story repeated itself throughout my childhood.
Sadly, my father's alcohol addiction created a tired abusive string of memories.
Yet I do not judge him. My father was one of fourteen siblings and they were all leading difficult lives in the poverty of Mongolia. He too had lost his childhood.
Seven of his siblings passed away suddenly at a young age due to suicide, alcoholism and drug addiction Most who survived, are still struggling with excessive alcohol consumption.
Therefore, my mother had to work hard to take care of us. My siblings and I used to sell things in an open market to make a living. Due to my financial struggle at home and family situation, I was often challenged at my school by classmates who mocked and teased me.
It was hurtful.
Sometimes I wanted to take my life during my teenage years.
But there is a hope…
You see, because of all those hardships, I sought God.
Without them, maybe I never would have.
In 1998, a local church was planted by Korean missionaries right in my neighborhood.
The missionaries invited me to Sunday school. I was only seven years old.
I couldn't resist this new church and found my way into my first Christian experience.
From that day forward I’ve attended the church every Sunday even though my entire family was Buddhist. I found peace there.
I would pray for my family, especially my father.
One day, after attending church for quite some time, my pastor’s wife invited me to her home and gave me a chance to talk about my life.
She listened carefully and shared God’s word with me and led me in prayers.
I cried a lot and felt the touch of the Holy Spirit deeply in my heart. It was a turning point for me and I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior.
I made a decision to get baptized when I was fourteen years old.
It was difficult since my family disagreed with my faith and saw it as a Western religion, but I knew what I had found and I could not turn back.
My life, my future, my entire path was changed because of Jesus.
Through the word of God and love of Christian brothers and sisters, I’ve overcome all the depression, I've survived the life long crisis.
I'm living the abundant life promised those who follow Jesus.
Now I want to help others who are living in the pain I was in as a little girl.
Two years ago I came to the United States with hope to learn, to grow, and to go back to Mongolia stronger. At that time, without much of a plan, I prayed for God to lead me, provide for me, take care of me as I tried to make my way.
And He did.
He provided work.
He provided energy to do that work.
He provided friends.
I became a volunteer with Cup of Cold Water Ministries, serving in the workshops and teaching people about missions. After all, I am a living testimony of why missionaries must be sent.
I am ready for my new journey to study at Moody Bible Institute. I have paid more than half my semester and pray for the funding to complete my payments.
I'm going to get my masters in counseling and take it back to my hurting people.
and hope. These are the words that can describe me now.
Thank you Jesus.
He heals the brokenhearted and binds their wounds.
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As college students, we get asked “What is your major?”, as frequently as we get asked “How are you?”. I have learned that people love to hear dreams and future plans; they like to be able to visualize with you where you will be in the next 5-10 years.
When I explain that the program I am entering Moody Bible Institute to study is called Ministry to Victims of Sexual Exploitation, I am often met with the response of, “Wow that’s awesome, but I could never do that.” I am always tempted to respond with “Me neither”. Because looking at this mountain of a multi-billion dollar industry, feeling my heart shatter in light of the 21 million lives stolen, then taking a look at myself in the mirror, I can say with complete confidence, “I can’t.”
But when I look at this mountain and I tell it about my God, my perspective is forced to shift.
I don’t remember specifically where I learned about human-trafficking, but I do remember the burden I felt. I believe God graciously breaks our hearts for what breaks His, and I think if it happened all at once, I wouldn’t have been able to handle it.
When I was a senior in high school, I began to take on the responsibility of this burden and the Lord gave me a new name for it - “my calling”. I researched, wrote papers, created projects, and finally constructed a four-piece art exhibit for my senior art show based on the issue of human-trafficking. Through that art show and sharing my heart on the issue, my passion grew and I saw God move in my life.
" But when I look at this mountain and I tell it about my God, my perspective is forced to shift."
My freshman year of college I was still wrestling between working towards the American dream, or living the life I felt called to.
That December, I had the opportunity to go on a mission trip to Thailand through Cup of Cold Water Ministries. We spent a week serving in the red-light district of Bangkok. We served at a center that provides safety, skill-training, and healing in every aspect for those working to escape the sex-industry.
During our time of outreach to the women working the bars, I noticed an indescribable emptiness when I locked eyes with the girls.
Many of them were younger than my 19 year-old self. When they realized that my heart was with them and that I had a different kind of love for them that was unlike the attention given by men stopping by, they opened their hearts to me.
They shared about their families and their children and their past. They shared why they were indirectly forced to be there. For most, it was because they had countless people relying on them to provide. They seemed to be trying to convince themselves and me that this was only temporary.
Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute. Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy. ~ Proverbs 31:8-7
As I stared into the eyes of one specific girl, I held her bruised hand and told her that she is precious, beautiful, and Jesus says she is worthy of immeasurably more. I couldn’t help but feel that was my purpose.
I knew that in light of this experience, there was no way I could possibly go back to the States and live my life the same way.
I could not consciously be aware that this girl as well as millions of others, would be treated so poorly night after night, and yet still strive towards the American dream.
God had called and assured me that this is my purpose.
I have been so incredibly blessed to be given the life and the voice I have. I am able to speak up and people will listen to my words. My life and country provides a platform to speak up for what I see and freedom to act on it.
Unfortunately the 21 million people trafficked each years cannot say the same.
God has given me this life and this voice to not build myself up, but to extend my arms and lift up a voice for those who do not have one.
Katie Schupp is interning with Cup of Cold water Ministries and entering Moody Bible Institute in the fall of 2019 to work toward her BA in Ministry to Victims of Sexual Violence.
AUTHOR: ANDREW KITTELSON
1. S A L V A T I O N
If you believe in eternity, life after death, a heaven and a hell, God’s wrath, the great commission, making disciples, you probably will agree that taking the good news of salvation to people across the world is more than simply a noble cause. It’s an urgency. Paying missionaries to do so allows them to give of their time to reach out to the lost and share the good news of salvation.
2. V A L U E S
Missionaries get paid to teach values and to transmit values through their example.
Have you ever heard of moral bankruptcy? Some cultures are more morally bankrupt than others and missionaries get paid to take values from one culture to another. One of the things that the church culture should theoretically be able to give to morally bankrupt cultures is values.
3. T E C H N O L O G Y
My grandfather had the vision to modify Volkswagen bugs into little wooden pick-up truck looking vehicles to help the farmers of Bolivia by relieving the heavy loads usually carried on their backs.
Historically missionaries have had a tremendous contribution to the undeveloped world to bring quality of life through technology.
4. P R O J E C T S
Projects are the 9 to 5 for missionaries. For these projects to be executed successfully, missionaries need to put in the hours.
Missionary projects may be planting new churches, building and maintaining an orphanage, creating a suicide hotline, building a bridge or a well. Professionalism is required from missionaries to do these projects adequately.
5. R I S K
Missionaries get paid to risk.
The roads they may travel, the people groups they reach out to, the governmental laws they may be subject too, the diseases they are exposed too, the water they drink, the distances between them and the nearest hospital. All of these bring missionaries one step closer to the possibility of being, injured, sick, imprisoned, murdered, die. Take that into account when supporting a missionary and keep them in your prayers.
6. R A N D O M A C T S O F K I N D N E S S
Once we were driving out to a mountain and we saw a woman lying on the road. It’s a very common thing to see. The missionary driving thought we should stop. Others in the car thought we should keep going, that she was probably just a homeless drunkard.
The missionary stopped and went to check on the woman, we all shrugged and got out of the vehicle and followed. She turned out to be a poor woman breathing her last, dying of tuberculosis. She died surrounded by us, hearing that Jesus loves her.
Missionaries should be the person that stops to help, the person that will take the extra time to check what is up, to sit with the dying, to stay the extra hour, to go the extra mile.
7. T E S T I M O N Y
Timothy Keller in a sermon said that being in the presence of a holy person changes you. Missionaries like all Christians should have a testimony of holy living to take wherever they go. Missionaries don’t get paid to be holy, but people in dark places of society being exposed to examples of holiness, life changing holiness, is a by-product made possible by you when you support a missionary to go.
Reflections for Mother's Day
AUTHOR: Maria Ward
Maria is a mother of 2.5 (one on the way ) and a cross Culture Worker In Thailand. Here she shares about some of the challenges and blessings of raising her children on the mission field.
"All of these factors will help them become global citizens."
As a mom, being on the mission field has a lot of challenges and great moments also. First of all, kids are excellent for ministry and often are the key to help unlock the door to relationships. Children will easily attract other kids, and in turn that helps us build relationships with their families as well.
We strive to bring our kids into our ministry context as much as possible. Years ago, while serving in Mongolia, I saw a need for moms in the Ger district to have a safe place for their kids to play and connect with other moms. We started a playgroup twice a week and it was a great way to get to know other moms and for my kids to meet and play with other kids their age.
In Thailand, we have found that opening up our house for other kids to come over is a huge opportunity. Every day, kids come over to play at our house, either inside with our toys and crafts, or outside playing games or riding scooters. Our kids are able to play with other kids, and we are also able to build relationships with locals.
Since our kids have grown up in other countries, and have met kids of many different backgrounds, they don’t see race or ethnicity. They only see someone to play with that happens to speak a different language. That barrier doesn’t stop them. They have also met other missionary kids from other countries, who quickly become like family to them. They spend time together and are a support to each other. A great thing is that they are growing up accepting people and making friends from other cultures and countries. They are also being exposed to different cuisines. For instance, my youngest son’s favorite snack is spicy seaweed. All of these factors will help them to be better global citizens.
There are also many challenges of being a mother on the mission field.
A big part of my daily life is homeschooling, cleaning, laundry and making meals. Some days it may seem like I am not doing anything of significance. This is one reason why I open our house to local Thai children in the afternoon for outreach. It’s an easy way for our kids and I to be involved in ministry and outreach into the local community.
Another challenge is our children don’t know the local language well, or have an identity within the culture. We need to find ways for them to learn the language, whether that is through going to a local Thai school, practicing speaking with their Thai friends, or having a Thai tutor come to the house. At some point they need to really learn the language or they may never feel a true identity with the culture we are living in.
Being on the mission field can be very transient. Other missionaries, who have become like family, may leave the field or may go to a new place of ministry. Also, when we go on furlough, our kids miss their friends in Thailand. Then when we return to our country of ministry, they miss their grandparents, relatives, and friends. One thing that we have seen is that the transitions are hard for our boys to process and can also affect their behavior. Our children have to say a lot of goodbyes and we always have to be prepared to walk them through that.
Another challenge of being on the mission field with kids, is knowing that your children are missing out on many different things. They are missing out on building relationships with their grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins who live in other places. They miss all of the birthday parties, big celebrations and gatherings at Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter with family, camping trips, and other fun activities.
In Thailand there are a lot of snakes, poisonous insects, and tropical diseases. This is always a worry to add to the other anxieties I may have. One thing I have had to remember while living overseas is that God has called us to our current place of ministry. He ultimately loves our kids more than we ever could, so we need to constantly surrender our children to Him and trust that He will take care of them every step of the way. Whether it’s their health, in transitions, or making new friends, God has our kids in the palm of His hand. I need to rest assured in that.
Stories From The Past
Who Writes The Stories?