Test

Have you ever been tested to really believe in the things you say you believe in?

I am a Christian and believe whole heartedly in the gospel of Jesus Christ.  I believe in it so much that I want to tell people everywhere I go!  Last summer I had a wonderful opportunity to do just that by being a lead teacher for the children at the MineField Village.  The MineField Village is a village of about 500 families along the Thailand/Cambodia border and after the Cambodian war, these families were so poor that they had no choice but to squat on the only land that was affordable to them, land filled with explosive mines.  The poverty that these villagers live in is extreme and almost incomprehendible to people like me, someone with more than even basic resources.

This village doesn’t have clean water.  Their basic nutrition and protein come from eating rats and many many people are sick.  God allowed us to build a school so the children could begin getting educated and there are many other projects in the making to assist these villagers in their daily lives.

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Last summer I got an opportunity to teach at a Bible school we put on for them throughout the week.  It was amazing!  The kids were incredible.  Each day we shared a lesson from the Bible and acted it out in a drama so that the children would understand it and be introduced to the God I believe loves them and saved them.  I was so excited to be there not only helping the children with physical needs but also encouraging their souls and hearts by telling them about what gives me hope each day.

As we prepared various stories in the Bible to teach the children, the story of Jesus multiplying food and feeding thousands of hungry people came up.  We began preparing this drama and I was stopped in my tracks.  All of a sudden I realized we were about to share this story with children who don’t have food.  They eat probably one time a day and when they do eat it’s rice cooked in dirty water and on a good day, a rat.  Now I’m going to tell them about a God, who if they pray to and believe in faith, could give them food??!

I imagined myself looking into their eyes and hungry bodies telling them this.  Was actually seeing hungry people desperate for food going to deter my faith in what I read in the scriptures?  Did I really believe this could happen?  Did I believe it enough to tell the children about it and encourage them to believe in it too?  What if they do as I teach them and food doesn’t come to them?  Have I created false hope in them?  And what if they don’t believe in the loving God I taught them about because of it?

Oh me of little faith.  This is when my faith in the miracles of Jesus Christ counted more than ever.  Now was not the time to doubt it could happen.  Not at the MineField Village.  Not for these children.  I realized that my mind is very small but God’s care for the villagers is much bigger than what I understand.  I had to trust God to be God.  I don’t need to know how God is going to do it.  I just have to believe that He will.  He loves these kids more than I do.  He’s here with them more than I am.  He is able.  He is able even when one of his daughters (me) questioned in a moment if he would answer their prayers for a miracle.

We began acting out our drama, showing the kids that when Jesus multiplied the food  it was an act of love and passionate pursuit  of his people and he loves each of them that much too.  I remembered that the same God who lived back then lives today….in a dirty MineField, among the poor and among those children who are so excited to know Him.

By faith, I believe in the gospel of Jesus Christ, and by faith I believe that when these children pray to the God of love that I taught them about……..He will come through for them.

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Madeline’s Story

I love hearing people’s stories!  I recently met a bouncy energy filled girl with THEE biggest smile ever!  Her name is Madeline and her story is amazing!
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I was raised going to catholic church every sunday, going to religious ed classes weekly, praying before dinner, and thanking god at the end of every day. I was baptized, made my first communion and my confirmation, but if somebody would have asked me who Jesus Christ was my answer would have been something along the lines of “A guy who died on a cross” I would not have known who this man was on a personal level.
I was taught by my parents that i was supposed to be kind to others and be a good person, and if i did that i was on my way to heaven. I grew up with the mentality that going to church was enough to get there, even though I didn’t get anything out of it and even though i dreaded stepping foot in the doors, it was just something I was “supposed to do.”
When I was 14 years old my mom was diagnosed with brain cancer. This violently shook my families lives, as my mom had surgery, started chemo and radiation treatments I started to actually try and listen to the messages at church, I would pray and plead with God to cure my mom, But nothing worked. As my mom’s health decreased, my faith in god went with it, I remember sitting in my moms hospital room, watching her die before my very eyes and saying “If I feel God here that will make this okay.” And as she took her last breath i waited, I waited to feel this amazing peace over me, I waited for a sign from the lord telling me she was okay and I got nothing.
God took my mom and my very best friend, how could i believe in a man who was supposed to be so great, but did such terrible things… that was it, it was all over for me… Or so I thought. I went through my sophomore year of high school still going to the church my family attended, only when my dad forced  me to go. And when he made me I would sit there holding whatever book I was reading at the time up behind the hymn book. Needless to say I was still getting nothing out of the messages.
As high school progressed I was finding myself further and further away from anything that had to do with God. I blatantly would tell my friends I didn’t believe in a god who would take my mom away. I bashed and made fun of people who lived for god, because i didn’t know what that even meant. I remember getting in so many arguments with Christian people because I was just to ignorant. I was blind to something so great in front of me.
When I was a junior my brother Matthew started attending church with one of my best guy friends, and soon enough Matthew would come home talking about all his friends from church, reading his bible and posting “Jesus stuff” all over his facebook. I remember looking at him and telling him how much he had changed and how weird it was, I was mean to him, because I didn’t understand. I didn’t even stick up for Him when my friends would say things about his changing behavior.
During this same year one of my really good friends Kendal died of leukemia. Again I was so mad at the lord and even though i hadn’t been faithful to him i was questioning his decisions to take away all the people i loved. As high school progressed the emptier i felt, I had been dealing with anxiety and mild depression since my moms death and none of the medicine really worked. I didn’t know where to turn. I started going out to parties with my friends, and trying to fill myself with materialistic things that left me even more empty in the end.
Now don’t get me wrong i was still a “really good girl”, and I thought i was living for the right things… but i was always searching for more.
Around august I was up north when i received a text from a friend who I hadn’t talked to in a really long time. She told me she had a feeling she needed to hang out with me and it had been on her mind for the past 2 weeks. When I got home from vacation we planned a night and she came over to the house where I was house sitting at. We sat on the couch for hours and just talked, Out of no where I told her how empty i was inside, i told her how i had been trying to fill it up with so many different things and nothing worked. Then I said I thought i needed to find a relationship with god. I professed how broken i was and how much i needed something to come into my life and completely change it around. Jill told me she would help me, she would teach me things and that god wanted to have a relationship with me! Falling asleep that night i remember thinking that she might be saying that now, but will it actually happen?
The next day jill told me to pray. I was driving home from my friends, watching the sunset and i started talking to God. In the midst of my words i found tears uncontrollably falling down my face. But I wasn’t sad, i was filled with happiness and I knew that this was the beginning of something.
The next night i went home and asked my dad where i could get a good bible like he bought my brother, he told me what store to buy one from and then walked away. 5 minutes later he walked downstairs carrying a box with a brand new bible in it. He told me he knew i would need it and he was just waiting until i was ready to learn more about God and my faith.
For the next two weeks jill would sit with me and we would dive into scripture, something I had never been taught to do. I learned that God had so many things he wanted to tell me, but most importantly was God wanted me! He wanted a relationship with me so badly that he sent his son, Jesus,  to die for ME, just so all of my horrible sins would be taken away. I was completely mind blown. I could feel god working in me, things were changing inside. I started looking at the big picture of life, and tried to see god in everything i did.
I remember the first time I attended Ore Creek church, i was again blown away by how much i was enjoying it, it wasn’t boring and i was completely focused throughout the whole service.  Through a series of events I came to the conclusion that my mom had to of had something to do with this too, and that her and God were orchestrating this beautiful thing together so it worked so perfectly into my life.
I started going to a young adults bible study, where we would laugh and talk and have so much fun, and then we would go into the bible and tear each verse apart so we could see what god was trying to tell us. I had never seen anything like it, i was surrounded by such wonderful, intelligent, godly people, I only hoped that someday i could get to their level.
One tuesday I went to a young adults group called momentum at cornerstone church. My whole body was filled with goose bumps, from the very first worship song, to the end when all of our heads were bowed and we were praying, and the pastor asked if there was anyone in the room who wanted to put all their trust in Jesus and what he did for us on the cross, and start living for god. and immediately my arm shot up. Jill was on one side of me and another friend on the other, they grabbed me and started sobbing. I didn’t understand why they were crying… this is a good thing not a bad thing, right? I was so happy i couldn’t control it. My smile was as big as it ever had been and there was not a worry or bad thought in my whole body. After the service i went into the office with the pastor, we held hands and prayed and i officially welcomed jesus into my heart, and i started living for god.
That peace i had been wanting to feel in my body when my mom died was now ever present. I had never been as happy as i was now. It was like i was high on my love for jesus, i couldn’t get enough. All I would want to do was read my bible and find out more about this amazing god, listen to christian music and hang out with other God loving people. My family noticed the change in my behavior and attitude and they were so happy for me, most of my friends felt the same way.
I never thought that anything could effect the joy i was feeling, but then i learned that the disapproval from people who mean so much to you, can really tear you down and test your faith. Some of my friends told me I was being a hypocrite, that i wasn’t the same person anymore, and that it was hard to be my friend. this confused me because i saw my change as the best thing that had ever happened to me, how did they not see that? i knew why they called me a hypocrite, because i had always shunned religion… No one could see that you can change from the person you were, and become new through jesus. These things people told me really tore me down, I cried and cried, but the sadder i became, the closer God was to me. Through it, God and my relationship had become stronger. I learned that in reality i don’t need anything or anyone because i will always have him. To be my friend, to love me, and to support me, he taught me i don’t have to feel sad that people don’t accept the way I Live. God taught me to stop being mad at these people, but to pray for them and love them even more, because they are blind to the way I am now, just like i once was.
After I was saved I learned that for years people had been praying for me to find my faith and the lord, I was awestruck that it actually happened. Then I realized that many of my Christian friends had tried over the years to help me, and that god had always been trying to reel me in. I started getting into really deep discussions with so many different christians talking about god, it was so cool. There were people out there who didn’t have to party or swear or hook up with guys to be happy, they were happy and full enough because of god. I could now say that I was on my way to becoming one of them.
This fall I started attending western michigan university… as you can imagine It’s hard to stay on the right track here. But I got involved with a student ministry on campus called Cru formally known as campus crusade. I’ve met some amazing people and formed friendships that are souley based on god. I also attended a retreat at a bible camp where I was again overwhelmed by the love God has for us. Since going to college my relationship with god has become so much more intense and stronger, He’s teaching me so much each day and I believe he is working through me to give me the ability to go out and change peoples hearts. I have even had the privilege to witness to students on campus, which was a crazy and nerve racking experience, but i remembered that Jesus died on the cross for me, is spreading his word really that scary? He’s helping me teach some of my friends about Jesus, and i’ve even had the privlelege to watch two of my new friends place their faith in christ. I am surrounded by strong christian people when i’m at school and at home, I know god put them in my life to help me become closer to him.
The sadness and confusion i had about my moms death have gone away. I still miss her everyday but i know that God allowed her to die so that he can work in and through me to help other people. My anxieties and depression disappeared because with god there is not sadness and there is nothing to be anxious about, he has it all under control.
I am not here to tell you my life story, because it’s not my life, it gods. I’m standing here today as living proof of how jesus’s love and grace can change a person completely around. My life went from being empty to full, I was broken but I am now put back together, I went from not having any sort of purpose, to knowing exactly what i’m supposed to do, and that is to spread jesus word and love to people who don’t know it. To share with my friends and the world, that Jesus died to take away every terrible thing you have ever done just because he loves you so!! God wants to tell everyone that you can change, even if you think you’re to far gone, god wants you, he wants to have a personal relationship with you,all you have to do is put  your trust in Christ and what he did for you on the cross, and in that alone. I started living for the things god intended us to all live for. I’m not perfect, I struggle and I sin. But I am a child of god and I can’t wait to spend eternity worshiping him.
Thanks,
Madeline

Won’t you be my neighbor

Last night Pradeepan and I had dinner with an amazing couple!  I first met Liz Doyle at a women’s conference at my church.  I remember walking away so excited about what she shared with our group and was so pleased to have another chance to talk with her.  She loves God and nothing stops her from doing what she feels is her calling and purpose in life, to preach to the world about Jesus.  She’s been all over the world and been in some very dangerous situations.  Of all of the stories her and her husband shared with my husband and I last night, there was one that really stuck out to me.

Several months ago, Liz was in a restaurant here in Michigan and saw a middle eastern woman.  She felt like God told her to go talk with her and as they began a conversation, Liz asked her how long she had been living away from her home and in the United States.  She said she had been in Michigan for 25 years.  Liz then asked her if she had ever been inside an American home…….and her response  was no.  

Her response was NO??  After 25 years of living in a land that is foreign to her!  25 years and no one had ever thought to invite this woman over to their house for dinner?  Why?  Because she is Arabic, Muslim, different?  Because we assume she wouldn’t want to come?  Because we just don’t think to?  Because we can’t cook?  I was shocked!  I couldn’t believe such a simple invitation had never been extended to this woman and many many more after having been here for so long!

Three years ago, Pradeepan and I lived in South Korea.  A very foreign world to us.  That year we experienced some incredible travel, Korean culture, sites, sounds, smells….so many new and amazing things!  We even went to the border of N and S Korea and stood in N Korea for about 30 seconds at what’s called the Demilitarized Zone!  That was crazy!  But of all the incredible experiences we had, one of our most favorite and one that we still talk about today is the time our friend Joo Park invited us to his families home for a Korean holiday in their home town.  That weekend we hung out with his family, cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents! We cooked with them.  We slept with them.  We ate fish for breakfast in the morning with them!  We spent four days together in their home, all of us….and for four short days we were all family.  Of all of our experiences in South Korea, I never felt as honored as I did those days when we were invited into the home of Korean people.  We got to see their lives, their true color and culture and most of all, they treated us as though we were one of them.  It was amazing and so refreshing because most days, we were considered foreigners in that country even though we had our own homes and jobs.

In America, the melting pot, most of us live close to someone that is not from America.  I know in Michigan in a town called Canton, just 30 minutes away from where we live, there are 12,000 Indians.  I also know in Michigan there is a city called Dearborn, only an hour away from us, where there are over 32,000 Muslims from countries in the Middle East.  Many if not all of us are close to people who are foreigners to our land, immigrants, refugees, people from all over the world who now live and raise their families in America.

I encourage all of us to take a step to simply invite these neighbors to our house for dinner.  What a simple gesture.  We would LOVE that if the roles were reversed!  Liz Doyle didn’t let the books she’s read on terrorism or the Islamic agenda, the stigmas and stereotypes of another culture or even our societal influences keep her from a simple invitation.  Woman to woman, she didn’t hesitate to treat this woman for the first time in 25 years as though this was her home too.

Be a good neighbor!

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Airplane Mode

I often cry on airplanes.  It’s kind of weird.  If you ever sat by me on an airplane, I would most likely be crying or sleeping.  Sleeping with my mouth open and my head bobbing!

It’s like every time I turn my phone to “airplane mode,” the airplane mode inside me kicks in!  I get however many thousands of feet in the air and I automatically go into reflective mode.  About life.  About work.  About God.  About anything.  There’s something about being so high in the air and seeing the world from a different point of view or perspective that gets me every time.

Sure enough this happened again just a few days ago as I flew home to Michigan from Colorado.  Only this time, it happened before we even took off.  My brain just knew…..and emotional, reflective airplane Amreitha took over!

Do you ever have those times when you just wish you were better than you are?  Not in an insecure weird way and not even in a conviction way…but just in a real everyday way?  I began to think about how I wished that I was so much more like the thing in the world that I want to represent the most, God.

My mind started turning and wishing that I was more humble, much more patient, more kind, crazier about seeing others succeed, more diligent in my understanding of the scriptures…and on and on and on.  I wished that I could live without insecurity, thinking on only positive things, believing the best in people and myself.  I don’t always have to be right.  I don’t always need to give my two cents.  I need to be a better listener, a better friend, a better co-worker, a better wife….on and on and on.

I began to think about how these thoughts can be a great challenge in my life or become enabling and demotivating.   I choose for them to be a reminder that I’m human.  That I live with the reality of grace…someone say hallelujah!!  I think those times of wishing you were better than you are, are good, on purpose and reminders to keep at it.  You’re headed in the right direction!  My secret?   Changing my perspective.  Looking at God more than myself.   Remembering that being better is great, but being you, loving you and accepting you is the first step.

Work Trip!

This week I am in Denver working with my incredible team at LightBridge International.  I thought it might be cool to share my schedule for the week and give you a glimpse of the crazy things we do.  Pretty much, this job takes a lot of hard work and even more faith.  What can we do but recognize each day our need for God to do His thing.  Hey, anything is possible, right?  

Tuesday – Flew to Denver – Sarah, great friend/co-worker picks me up and we head to dinner.  Topic of conversation: orphanages, jewelry program, print work, orphan sunday, fundraiser, etc.

Wednesday – The three of us on our team plus another friend head to six different locations in downtown Denver searching for a great place for our organizations’ annual banquet.  The banquet this year will be focused on clean water for the impoverished community we so love and visit several times a year.  The banquet needs to be a HIT, a HOME RUN so that we not only raise funds, but inspire and educate those that love participating in international missions.

Thursday – Early morning NOIPE!!!  NOIPE is an acronym for Need, Objective, Ideas, Plan and Evaluate.  This is an awesome way for us to take something that we’re doing and discover it’s purpose, goals and next steps so that we can be successful!  This morning we NOIPEd an incredible thing that is coming to LightBridge International and more importantly, the women in Cambodia!  Can 5 women in America sitting in an office dreaming BIG really bring empowering and lasting change to women across the world??!  

Some more of today’s conversations:

Sustainable economic development (the surprise coming soon!), marketing and sales, edgy logo decision made!, roles and responsibilities….and more!

Break for lunch – Q’doba!

Back for a conversation that got me heated.  Here’s the nitty gritty.  One of our orphans in Thailand does not have any identifications papers.  She is 16 years old.  This sweet sweet girls name is TDOY (Duey).  She was rescued when she was 5 years old from the streets.  We don’t know much of her first days of life but she ended up with a gang.  This gang that wanted money and decided to send Tdoy out on the streets to beg.  So that people would feel more compassion for Tdoy and put more coins in her bucket, the gang wounded her.  She still has these scars today on her legs.  A Thai Christian man walked by her one day and felt a nudging in his heart.  He went on about his business and after he was finished walked by Tdoy’s tiny body again sleeping on the street.  He knew God wanted him to do something.  So he scooped her up and rescued her.  In the days and years to come Tdoy grew up at Heun Nam Jai orphanage where she was and is safe, going to school and getting many basic needs met.  But there is still a huge need for Tdoy, she does not have any identification papers.  This means that she does not have a future for higher education or even a good job in Thailand.  She literally has no records of her life.  She has been told that there is no hope of getting these papers and she will have to do manual low income jobs for the rest of her life.  So we talked today about how their must be a away and steps we can take to help her.

Next topic of conversation was the trip we have coming up to Thailand and Cambodia in January.  Who’s going?  What do we need to accomplish?  What’s the best way to use the people that are going?  What are the greatest needs at all of our locations right now?  

Next topic: Orphan Sunday – LBI booth, print material, sign-up sheets, speaking, content written for all pieces, Project Christmas FLIP FLOPS for the Minefield!, sponsorship, etc.

My boss Karla pulled out some old videos today that they took of interviews of our orphans years ago.  We sat and watched a sweet little girl who was trying to answer the questions going back in her mind of the trauma she had faced before arriving at one of our other orphanages, Blossom Home.  See, this little one was taken in by the orphanage and then one weekend went back to her home to visit her family.  While she was their, she was raped.  We don’t know by who, but it happened and when the video of this little girl was captured she had severe PTSD – post traumatic stress disorder.  The three of us, myself, Sarah and my boss were reminded of why we do what we do everyday and thank God for helping little girls like her.  Today, she is a vibrant 12 year old who excels in school and even knows some english!  She is joyful and full of God.  We love seeing her and hugging her each time we go back.

It’s 5:15 and we are now at a coffee shop (needed a change of scenery) working on many things.  Soon we will be done for the evening.

Friday – Back at the Office.  Big night tomorrow as we do a smaller scale fundraiser for LBI at a friends home.  Some of my dear friends invited several of their friends over so that we, LBI could come over and together eat Thai food and share about LBI.  We will show them a video, share some great stories and spend the evening together.  At the end, we will invite them to partner with us.  A lot of prep work, getting our act together!

Saturday – Sarah and I have mutual friends who are having a baby soon!  We are going to celebrate them by having a baby shower!  Saturday evening, I will spend time with my best friend who lives in Colorado Springs. 

Sunday – Orphan Sunday!  We will have a display where we will invite a church of about 1200 members to partner in some capacity with LBI.  In addition to prep materials, we will invite two of the missionaries we took with us last summer to join us in engaging and talking with people about their participation.  At youth group, we will invite high schoolers to come on a missions trip with us to the Minefield Village this summer!

This evening, I will head to Thrive City Church pre-launch service, where some friends of mine are planting a church in Denver from Michigan!   

Monday – Back at the office ready to Skype with an incredible woman who is the founder of a sustainability project in Uganda.  We are learning from her and she is coming with us to Cambodia in January.  Again, this is all about the surprise coming to LBI soon!  

There will be many more things we do this day!

Tuesday – Fly back to Michigan!

Well, there you have it!  In case you wondered.  My schedule, my life for the past week and some inside into what I do.  Thanks for reading!  

 

When we’re not here in Denver, you can find us in Thailand or Cambodia.  This photo was taken last summer in the mountains in Thailand.  

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