those that hunger

Recent News (Meet Our Baby!)


Nervously, I made my way through the dark alleyway between two bustling streets in Cape Town. I passed a booth advertising “Pasport Piktures” on a crooked cardboard sign. Numerous beggars milled around, holding out their hands as I passed.


I found the line I wanted, clutching my diaper bag and the heavy carseat, where my tiny baby was sleeping.

The line for the government’s Home Affairs office wound out the door, down the dirty staircase, and into the alleyway. All I wanted was a birth certificate for my baby. I had not expected this - coming face to face with poverty. As I waited, I noticed a woman and her children huddled in a corner. Her toddler slept fitfully on the thin cotton blanket she had spread under him. She fed her small baby cereal with a cracked wooden spoon. I peeked at my own sleeping baby, her full tummy gently rising and falling, the cotton bow I had so carefully placed on her forehead slipping down over her eyes. As I turned away from the woman, tears filled my eyes and slipped down my cheeks. I couldn’t help but think of the agony she must face, trying to care for her children in this place. I felt the pain of it all in a way I wouldn’t have just weeks earlier, before I had my baby.

They say that becoming a parent changes everything - and truer words were never spoken.


As I waited, I grappled with the same questions that plague me daily here — How can we, living in South Africa, best care for others? How do we help without continuing a cycle of dependency?

How do we provide hope in dark alleys like this one?

The only answer that satisfies is this:  the gospel. “…say to them, “The Kingdom of God has come near to you.” (Luke 10:9) If I’m honest, sometimes it doesn’t seem like enough. Sometimes I want the gospel, the kingdom, to be more than it is.

I think it’s only because I don’t understand the fullness of it. We toss around these phrases - “the gospel,” “the kingdom” - as if is such a light thing. As if it isn’t for the hopeless … and hope for those of us who face despair only on Mondays. As if it isn’t light coming into dark alleys, and warmth, and a full belly for all. Strength for today, hope for tomorrow.

What plagues me is that to bring the good news, to advance the Kingdom of God, requires courage.

Done correctly, and fully, it turns lives and hierarchies upside-down. Hope for life eternal AND food to fill bellies today.

And yet, I often forfeit opportunities in front of me - because proclaiming the gospel is scary. Bringing the Kingdom of God is scary - it requires doing uncomfortable things and it requires sacrifice.

In silent agony, I debated if I should give the woman the small bills tucked inside my jeans pocket. I debated it so intensely, before I knew it, it was my turn to go inside. Cheeks burning, I walked past her. As I did, I felt another opportunity slip by and felt deep shame at my indecision, my fear.

Jack and I have been wrestling with what it looks like for us, in this place, to bring live the gospel, to bring the Kingdom. And the Lord has been answering, in his own slow, unexpected way - giving us abundant opportunities to participate in training leaders in local churches. Putting the homeless right in front of us and letting us struggle through how to respond to them. Showing us the multiplying effects of teaching correct theology.

We find ourselves awed and humbled by our opportunities here, and how he has used each of you to make this possible. Thank you for being the hands that sent us.

As the Body of Christ, we are making a difference for the kingdom in South Africa. May we share with you how?

In Our Family

On March 24, our daughter, Micah Mae, was born. We praise God for a healthy, natural delivery here in Stellenbosch. Loren’s labor was intense but taught us to pray and worship in a new way. Thank you for your prayers!


To our surprise, just having Micah here has been a testimony to others. Almost everyone we meet can immediately tell we are Americans by our accents. They are intensely curious why we came here, away from our family and home, at such a crucial time in the life of our growing family. With questions like that, opportunities to share the gospel are plenty.

For ten weeks now, we have been in that alternate reality that inevitably accompanies bringing home a newborn. Micah has colic, which means that she is healthy but cries uncontrollably for hours and does not yet sleep well. Her pediatrician has assured us that with time, she will calm down. In the mean time, we are taking one day at a time and finding many reasons to pray for strength and patience.

In Our Ministry with East Mountain

We continue to become more involved with the ministry and community life of East Mountain. We love being part of their team!

  • Jack is handling technology for EM’s ministry activities. The knowledge he gained during his former jobs in tech support now meets a vital need here. We work with pastors from many different towns throughout the country. After the pastors visit the EM retreat center to participate in training courses, we don’t want to send them back to their communities empty-handed. We are working to provide them with tablets loaded full of Bible study materials so that when they return home, they have what they need to produce quality sermons and continue their study of the Bible.
  • Loren is mentoring a small group of young women (some American, some South African) who are participating in EM’s six week internship program. She is also developing curriculum for the children's ministry here, doing some writing for the website, and building relationships with new friends.
  • Jack is currently writing curriculum for the New & Old Testament pastoral training classes.

In Jack’s Studies

Jack’s postgraduate studies are going well, though he is finding time to study harder to come by with a baby in the house! He is finishing up his current courses in Hebrew Narrative Translation and General Linguistics. Soon he will be moving on to study Hebrew poetry and Textual Criticism (the scholarly practice of comparing ancient manuscripts). He has recently selected his topic for extended research is very excited about it! He will be investigating Hebrew words often translated “Now” and “Therefore” - words important for  understanding the logic of a passage.

The Theology Library on campus, one of Jack’s favorite study spots.

The Theology Library on campus, one of Jack’s favorite study spots.

Funding News

  • We are still in need of $500 of monthly support, and we are trusting God to provide for the remainder of our needs. To support our work, click here.
  • It has become clear that in order to continue our work with East Mountain, we will need a car. Many of our ministry responsibilities take place outside Stellenbosch, in the local townships or at the team retreat center. Would you consider giving to help us continue our ministry by purchasing a car? Our budget for this is $12,000.

Prayer Requests

  • Please pray with us that the Lord gives us energy as we continue to serve and study despite getting little no sleep.
  • Please pray that the Lord provides for the remainder of our financial needs.
  • Please pray that God gives us wisdom in how to soothe our fussy baby and best care for her. Pray that we are given patience & perspective, and that she soon is able to calm down.
  • Please pray that Jack is able to find the time and energy to devote to his studies, and that we both learn to balance our many opportunities here.

We thank God for each of you! Your support & encouragement means so much to us.

These days we are hard-pressed to find the time (or both hands free) to compose blog posts. If you are on Facebook or Instagram, please look us up so we can stay in touch more frequently!

The Journey to Stellenbosch


Goeie dag (literally “good day,”/“hello” in Africaans) from Stellenbosch, South Africa!

Life has been moving at lightning speed for us the couple of weeks! The Lord has been faithful to us in ways both large and small, and we are excited some of that with you. Thank you to all of you that have prayed for us, supported us financially, encouraged us, and followed our journey - you will be amazed to hear how God is already at work here in beautiful South Africa.

Transitioning to missionary life overseas is not unlike the experience of a roller coaster: there is a lot anticipation and dramatic build-up, but even hearing the “clack-clack” of the wheels as the car moves higher, you’re never quite sure what it will be like when you finally tip over the crest and go careening down.

Much like a roller coaster, we have found most of the ride so far to be exhilarating, amazing, and yes, a bit overwhelming.


Our journey began with a layover in Dubai. It was full of exciting sights … and a sobering discovery. In the midst of incredible infrastructure and brazen opulence, it became clear to us that the empire of Dubai has been built on the backs of migrant workers who are essentially slave labor. We had heard of this in the news, and while we had hoped to see the Burj Khalifa or the Palm Islands, it did not occur to us that we might run into this ugly reality first-hand.

Our waiter from Nepal, followed by our Pakistani cab driver, had been well-trained to answer questions about Dubai and show off the country to its best advantage. They were not, however, prepared for our gentle questions about their homeland, their families, and what brought them to Dubai. Sadness and anger tumbled out of their mouths as we listened and mourned with them. It grieved us to hear of families left behind, deplorable working conditions for unfair pay, and little hope of change.

I was reminded of the great pyramids: they testify to the vision and leadership of great pharaohs … but if those stones could speak, they would also tell of other lives, less lauded - the lives of the slaves who built those towering structures, brick by brick. Most of the second flight, I restlessly turned and thought of our friends in Dubai. While their chances of justice in this life are slim, I pray that they would find hope everlasting in Jesus.

I am thankful that we serve a God who sees all, who promises release for the captives, and who invites us, wealthy and poor, free and oppressed alike:

“Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost … come to me … listen, that you may live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, according my faithful love promised to David.” (Isaiah 55)

After relatively smooth flights, the miracles continued when we landed in Capetown and were astonished to find that all of our bags made it! Our East Mountain team was incredibly kind to pick us up from the airport, and in short order we were set up in East Mountain’s large and comfortable guest house and retreat center. We have enjoyed getting to know our team - they have been so supportive and helpful to us.

In another answer to prayer, we have found a place to live long-term! While we had settled in for a long wait, the Lord has swiftly provided a place to live and the basic items we will need to move in. We are in a little two-bedroom apartment in a quiet neighborhood, within walking distance of the Stellenbosch University campus. As a mama entering the “nesting” phase, it has been an unexpected blessing to know that we will be settled plenty of time before the baby arrives. Stay tuned for pictures of our new place!

While there is more to tell, we want to extend a huge thank you to each of you that has supported us - we felt such an outpouring of love, especially in the days shortly before leaving and since we’ve arrived. Many of you have given us going away gifts, supported us financially, sent us encouraging words, and prayed for us. In the whirlwind of moving, we haven’t been able to reach out individually to each one of you, but please receive our deep gratitude. We would not be on this incredible journey without you, our faithful community.

Through many recent details, the Lord has made it clear that we are where he wants us to be - we already see so many opportunities to grow the Body of Christ in South Africa. Together, I know we are going to see God work powerfully in his church. Thank you for your generous hearts and for joining us. You are dear to us!

May you find time this week to dwell on the promises of Isaiah 55; whatever challenges you face today, his peace and abundance are yours in Christ!

Why South Africa?

Living in America, it often feels like Christianity is in its decline. In 1910, 93% of all Christians in the world lived in Europe or the Americas. Today, that number is 63%.For our society, the significance and beauty of the gospel has faded in an age of material wealth and busy schedules.

In reality, the gospel is not dying out or fading - it’s just that its center has shifted dramatically.


Today, 1 in 4 Christians live in sub-Saharan Africa. In the last century, Christianity has spread more rapidly there than any other region of the world - it has seen a 60-fold increase in the number of believers! Many people ask us: Why South Africa?

Our answer: the gospel is spreading like wildfire in South Africa. That creates a huge need for Biblical education, pastoral training, and church support.


Today, you and I have more than 516 million brothers and sisters in sub-Saharan Africa, hungry to know God, eager to understand His word.

Our brothers and sisters need us. As people come to faith by the thousands, theological education and Bible study opportunities remain scarce.

In Tanzania, we met pastors who came to Christ, and less than a year later, had dozens gathering in their home, looking to them for spiritual leadership and teaching. Untrained, unsure of themselves, they pray God will help them; they shared of nights lying awake, wishing God would send someone to support and teach them.


In Rwanda, we saw the shadows left by the light of this revival. We met a “pastor” who had an obsession with building his personal wealth - the gospel he preached was not the truth, and he preyed on his congregation’s generosity. The people in his church didn’t know better -- no one ever gave them a theological foundation or taught them to read the Bible. Desperate physical needs abounded in his congregation, unmet, while the pastor’s house grew larger, his clothes ever more extravagant.

In Uganda, we asked our host pastor: “What is your church’s biggest need?” His answer: “Bible teaching! A class so that anyone could learn to read the Bible for themselves. We need more leaders; my congregation is hungry to learn! You have theological degrees from an American university ... could you teach them?”

You can imagine our delighted response. Jack had more fun that month than perhaps any other on our year-long journey.


I loved teaching community health classes, weaving together Scripture and topics in family wellness, working to empower African women. The month passed too quickly, and we still find that our hearts yearn for those days.


Why South Africa? Where there is a need, God provides. The faithful in Africa have been praying that God would send them teachers. And to our surprise, sometimes the Spirit whispers that WE are how God will answer their prayers.

We have heard the call of the Lord yet again: “Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?”

We know our answer - but we can’t do it alone.

Would you consider answering the call with us? We are 30% funded, and praying that God would provide more partners to join us in this exciting ministry.

We are passionate about equipping our brothers and sisters for the work of ministry. We know God has wonderful things planned for His church in South Africa. Would you join us?

Burdens and Band-Aids

When we lived overseas, I had lots of time to pray.


Riding in the back of a tuk-tuk, my legs dangling and collecting the dust of India.


Rocking a Kenyan baby to sleep, her breathing grow deeper and slower.


Sitting through yet another church service in a language I couldn’t understand.

Then I came back to America .... and at first, praying was easy. It was a habit, a muscle that had grown strong. When you’re not sure where your next meal is coming from (or you’re still sick from the last meal) ... when you’re given 5 minutes’ notice that it’s you preaching the Sunday Sermon ... ... when a bunch of angry African men are about to beat up your husband ... .... your praying muscles grow strong, and hearing the voice of God becomes startlingly clear.

These days, the voice of the Lord seems faint. It’s crowded out by my to do list, our schedule (that mysteriously fills up by itself), and the burdens of others.

I love that my days are filled with intense ministry, building relationships with the poor and those trying to rebuild their lives. I am thankful ... and yet, driving home through the ghettos of Houston, what I’m left with are their burdens; the complex burdens of economic struggle and no education; the struggle when there’s never enough food to go around. They search for relief, and I’m hard-pressed to help them find it.

Then there are my co-workers: independent, intelligent friends who don’t know Jesus. They are beautiful, fascinating people - and most of them, desperately lost. I hear it echoing in their fears, and I hear their searching, too ...

her father is dying slowly

his wife was just diagnosed with a mental illness

she wonders if her long-term boyfriend will ever marry her

he can’t take another day in this dead-end job

In all the hurt and struggle - when I don’t know what to say - these burdens stack up.

When I finally came before the Lord, I felt the burdens scatter before him like so many marbles.

My mind raced, and I implored him -- how do I help them, and what answer should I give? After a time, peace finally came.

I remembered a recent conversation with a Bhutanese refugee family. Their home has been ravaged by ethnic conflict since 1948. They have never been to school. They’ve fled two countries, been chased with fiery sticks for their faith in Jesus, and now that they are finally safe in America, most of their extensive farming skills are irrelevant. They consistently remind me that they have no education, no skills.

I ask them worriedly what they propose to do -- in their fifties, they are trying to learn a new language and culture and work their assembly-line jobs, all with the goal of being able to pay rent.


When they speak, I’m struck by their wisdom: “We will work hard. And we will trust the Lord, who is good. Has he not already solved our biggest problem?”

My “uneducated” refugee friends know the truth --

Without Jesus, the best we can do is apply band-aids. And band-aids don't help the hemorrhaging pain from our own sin, from the fallenness we live in.

How do I forget this so easily? How is it possible that in between Easters, I become dull to the miracle of resurrection - that in his love, Jesus solved the biggest problem. With love and a lot of blood, he gave us a very powerful solution to our human struggle.

When my refugee friends are mired in fear and confusion, when my co-workers share those burdens that keep them up at night ... I have a choice in my response. Because I know the real answer they seek. But too often, I settle for the band-aids of sympathy and logical solutions. I keep silent about my faith, the axis on which my life turns.

And so I pray for more courage.

Courage, to gently and boldly tell my co-workers that those band-aids won’t heal the wound - it’s only Christ that will.

I pray for courage to not try so hard. In the midst of ministry, I pray for courage to not consider myself important than I am. Many refugees I serve have figured it out anyway - “The Lord will care for us,” they say.


Worlds Collide at Christmastide


Yesterday I watched as worlds collided.

A wealthy group of Americans delivered Christmas gifts to an African family who just arrived to our land of plenty.

Adopt-a-Family is a program facilitated through my refugee resettlement workplace. Refugee families who are experiencing their first Christmas in the U.S. are “adopted” by sponsors, who purchase items from a wish list assembled with the help of their case manager. Typical refugee wish lists include everything from microwaves and socks to bicycles and barbie dolls.

One of the most exclusive schools in Houston adopted many families this year; each classroom purchased an impressive collection  and it lifted my heart to see their hallway filled with gifts for needy families.


I accompanied a few fifth grade students and their parents as we excitedly loaded two SUVs full of packages and drove to one of the poorest neighborhoods in Houston to deliver our bounty.

I tried to explain what a refugee is while a very stressed-out mom threatened to pull over the Mercedes if the children didn’t stop fighting over who was eating more European chocolate in the back seat. Just as I felt how keenly their childhood was from my own, we began to compare knee scars and discuss Katy Perry (we agreed her older songs are way better).

When we arrived, we were greeted in true African fashion: with hugs all around, mango juice thrust into our hands, and lots of “God Bless You!”s and “Karibu Sana!” (you are very welcome here). This American girl felt very confused as a pang of homesickness for East Africa washed over me.

I was so proud of my Congolese friends, who have been through so much. They’ve endured threats on their lives because they were born into the wrong tribe. They’ve fled from machetes under the cover of night. And here they were, spreading joy to the privileged and proclaiming the kingdom of God. “By the hand of the God who is good, we escaped!” they exclaimed joyfully to the agnostic anesthesiologist and the stressed-out, stay-at-home mom.

Wide-eyed, the children listened as the proud African mother listed her eight living children, and two dead long ago. “God has surely blessed you,” I replied.


We sat in her bare living room and Zaheri's* face lit up as she told her fellow mamas how thankful she is to be here in America, “where no one will stop you from working to feed your children.” Her four-year-old son bounced excitedly as he tore open brightly-colored gift after gift, his brown eyes growing larger by the minute.


We spoke of our families, and we realized that while our stories may be different, we have common threads among us all: love for our children, hope for the future, the joy of family gathered at Christmas.

And as I sat, facilitating the conversation with my very poor KiSwahili, my heart filled and the Holy Spirit whispered: “I am Lord of them All.”

And I was thankful. Thankful as I remembered that God is even now at work, drawing each of us to himself.

None of us are left alone - not those frightened in the dark forests of the Congo. Not those in the wealthy desert of upscale American neighborhoods. Not even me, when my to do list buries my intentions to celebrate each day of Advent thoughtfully.

The Lord of them All send his Son .... his perfect, fully human son, born of the most humble circumstances.

When he drew his first cry somewhere in Bethlehem, it all changed for us. And when he drew his last breath on a humble cross, he saved us all.

He changed it for us all, and he made our particular darkness light -- For the African mother. For the stay-at-home mom. For the fifth grader with the skinned knee. For me. For you. And for all you love.

It is, indeed, a Merry Christmas.

*Zaheri was excited to have her photograph taken, but her name has been changed, and some faces have been blurred to protect these women and children.

Sanga's Story


Every day, I have the privilege of working with refugees. After years of applying; waiting; hoping; they arrive to the U.S., full of hope and yet hiding a history of heartbreak behind their wide smiles. Often, I can only guess at the traumas they've endured and the things they've escaped. One thing I do know: the word refugee is synonymous with survivor. All of them have left behind loved ones, the ones that weren't so lucky or weren't so strong.

Sometimes, I get the honor of actually hearing a refugee's story from start to finish; it never fails to leave me in awe. I got such an opportunity recently. The U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, an organization that helps refugees resettle, had their annual conference recently. One of the refugees I work with was honored to be selected to share his life story in front of hundreds of people.

Sanga* and I had already become friends after he attended my Cultural Orientation classes, where I taught him and other Congolese refugees practical lessons such as how to get a driver's license and how to apply for a job. These days, Sanga has a full schedule working full-time in manufacturing and taking steps toward applying for college. While I helped Sanga edit his story for grammar, all of these words are his own.

As he shared his story with me, I often had to blink back tears or hide my shock as he spoke about his life journey, from deep in the forests of the Congo to the heart of Houston...

I am 36 years old and I was born in a small city in the North Eastern part of the Congo.


I ran away from my country in 2005 after the death of my father, who was a district commissioner. My father was working to unite warring tribes; he wanted peace in our district. Because of this, some of the men from his own tribe killed him with a machete.

They were afraid of his betrayal, and so they killed their own brother. Then, they tried to kill my family, and so we had to flee. My family was separated; I fled alone to Kenya. On the way, I had to stay in hiding, because the rebel groups were everywhere - I hid on a train for four days. I was 30 years old, and I had never felt so sad  because I wasn’t sure what I would do.


When I arrived in Kenya, I slept on the streets for 2 days because I didn’t know what to do. After that, I went to a church. They helped me apply to be a refugee. During this time, a pastor took care of me and gave me a place to live. But, I was always afraid in Kenya because I didn’t have any legal rights and I was always afraid that the same people who killed my father would come to kill me. Once in Kenya I was attacked; I thank God I am still alive. After some time in Kenya, I began to teach French at a language school. I first applied for refugee status in 2005.

After waiting 7 years, in 2012, I finally received a letter that the United States had accepted me as a refugee to live in their country. I felt great when I got this letter. I knew there were so many people applying to live in the United States, so I was not sure if it would ever happen. I had been hoping for this for so long that I could not believe it.

When I first arrived in the United States, some things surprised me. For example, I was surprised by how people take care of other people here. I find the American people very caring.

I want to contribute to the American community. I want to help people, especially new refugees. In the Congo and Kenya, I was a medical first aid worker because I like helping people. I would like to do something similar in the United States one day to help the community. I know the feeling of what it is like to flee, the feeling of going through a war, and I feel that experience will help me support new refugees.

In Africa, there was no peace, so I could not learn or finish my studies. I feel like America is my land now. I am happy because I have found peace where I am. The people I have found here represent my family. If I have a problem, I can go to my new friends and talk to them and find a solution.

In my opinion, one of the greatest struggles for the African people is a lack of peace. This will be the most important thing for them – to learn to have peace. Peace allows refugees to work, study, and dream for their future. Without peace in Africa, there can be no hope and no progress. That is why I left. In my case, a lack of peace means I do not even know which of my brothers are still alive.

Even though I have had many difficult times, I am proud to be a called a refugee -- even Jesus Christ was a refugee. When he was born, some people wanted to kill him. His family had to flee, so even Jesus was a refugee like me. He had to leave his land because he was in danger of something happening to him. He was living in a state of fear, like me. I know what it is like to live in this state of fear. Now that I am living in the US, I am comfortable and I do not have fear.

I will always be proud to be called a refugee."

Sanga got to fly to Washington, D.C., to share his story. When I asked if he was nervous, he told me, "Of course I am nervous. But I must do this, because not everyone can speak the stories we know as refugees. Someone must tell the stories for those that did not survive."


His favorite part of the trip was getting to see the White House in person after his speech.

May you be encouraged by Sanga's story, ever more aware of the blessings you have, and be reminded that within all of us, God has given us the spirit of a survivor.

*Sanga's name has been changed to protect his identity.

Girls for Sale: Reflections from the Red-Light District


On a muggy night in Chiang Mai, I walked "home" to the YWAM base. My backpack was heavy and I could have caught a ride, but I felt the need to just wander. So I meandered through the Thai streets, enjoying my worship playlist and how the city comes alive at night. To get home, I had to pass through the heart of the bar district. I slowed, walking up and down the strip. I tried to pray for those I passed - I really wanted to - but the words wouldn't come.

For the girls that can't be older than 16, their faces a mask of heavy makeup, always tugging on miniskirts hugging their straight bodies ...

For the women that used to be little boys ... before the lies whispered "You should have been a girl. Take these hormones and you can look like one. Show off your body and see your true value. Make a little bit of money."

For the mothers, with crying babies and sullen teenagers at home, far too old and too long in this business, but in desperate need of money ... just some money to put food in their childrens' mouths ...

And for the men that come to buy them, eyes glazed, searching for respect or manhood, "a good time" ... or maybe just someone to listen to their stories.

For these I tried to pray, but words wouldn't come.

The pack on my shoulders weighed me down. Pulsing lights barely lit the dark, uneven street beneath me. The hypnotic beat of dirty rap invaded my headphones, polluting my music, driving my despair for these children of God - these Jesus died for. They don't even know his name.

And it all became too heavy - my backpack, the hopelessness, the heavy sin that drenches Loi Kroh road. The deception that clouds everything.

And so I returned to what I knew - I worshipped. I worshipped the God of us, the God who came down to dwell in our darkest places, among twisted & starving humanity. I turned up the volume until all I heard ...

Wonderful savior How may I bless your heart? Knees to the earth I bow down, to everything you are Be blessed, be loved, be lifted high Be treasured here  Be glorified

And I walked. And my heart praised my king, lover of their souls.

I found myself in the parking lot of the strip club, and partway through Phil Wickham's Beautiful --

I see Your power in the moonlit night Where planets are in motion and galaxies are bright We are amazed in the light of the stars It’s all proclaiming who You are You’re beautiful

I looked up ... no stars were visible beyond the neon lights - but I knew they were there, even though I couldn't see past the distractions. Just as I know Jesus cares for these women, even when they can't see him.


The Lord reminded me what a beautiful savior we have - a lover like no other.

I see you there hanging on a tree You bled and then you died and then you rose again for me

He died for all the sin, all the heavy. He took our dirty and made it pure. He took our load and made it light.

And there, in the parking lot of the strip club - in Thailand, "land of smiles" - tears flowed in a stream down my face. Becuase this sin-soaked soil, he called it Good - tov - when he breathed his God-breath on it.

And his precious blood, it washes everything clean; our old sin, new sin, even the ugly sin we don't know we'll find on ourselves tomorrow.

When we arrive at eternity’s shore Where death is just a memory and tears are no more We’ll enter in as the wedding bells ring Your bride will come together and we’ll sing You’re beautiful

I desperately, desperately want these women standing next to me on eternity's shore. And you know what?

I think Jesus wants these women at the wedding feast also. He's coming to tell them: "Your tears are no more." Becuase as I write this, there are over 100 World Racers all over Thailand, carrying the Holy Spirit into dark places. YWAM Thialand has hundreds of missionaries, both Thai and foreign, spreading the news of a wonderful savior.

The truth of his word illuminated my mind, and I was finally able to pray...

"They don't know how beautiful you are yet .. but Lord, show them your face. Soon."

A Woman's Worth

Lately, life has shifted gears and moved into fast-forward. We arrived in Thailand about a week ago, and I've already started bar-hopping ... my ministry this month.

I'm serving on a fantastic team of all women this month, while Jack gets some bonding time with the men on our squad - he's doing manual labor and mentoring kids at an orphanage that rescues vulnerable children from the cycle of human trafficking.

We are about an hour away from each other, will only see each other a few days this month, and expect our time apart to challenge and stretch us as we focus on separate ministries and allow our lives to look different for the month.

My ministry this month is very unique, and very new to me. It's also something I'd like to invite you to join in a special way. My passion for this ministry is best expressed by Carly Crookston; an amazing woman, a gifted writer, and one of my new team members. She wrote the peice below that describes what we're doing this month. I'm thrilled to serve alongside her as we reach out to broken women this month ...

broken women in the red-light district...

How much?

How much is she worth?

How much money would you be willing to pay to hang out with your waitress for the night?  Five dollars?  Ten dollars?  More?  Less?

What if she was your best friend?  What if she was your little sister?  What if she was your daughter?  What if she was your wife?

How much then?

Take a walk with me.  We're in Chiang Mai, Thailand.  It's nearly midnight, but you wouldn't know it by the looks of it -- the lights flicker and glow enticingly, the music blares, the streets pulse with all of the people on them.  We walk into a bar, slide into a booth and a young woman comes to take our order.  To call her a young woman might be a little bit generous -- she can't be much older than eighteen.  She's pretty, the way that all of the women here are pretty with their fine bone structure and round cheeks and sweet smiles.  Can you see her?  Who does she look like?

To me, she looks like my best friend Andrea. She looks like my sisters-in-law, Kimberly and Abigail. Could this have been one of them?  What if they hadn't been priviledged enough to be born in America, into homes that sheltered them from the harsh reality of forced prostitution?

If you read this blog, chances are that you know me.  You've probably talked with me or spent time with me at some point… After reading these posts for the past seven months, you surely know what I've been experiencing and learning lately.  So what if it was me?  What if I was the girl “waiting tables” at these bars and I was tired?  What if I was tired of my life, but I had no other options?  Would you help me? 

If you read this blog, chances are that I know you.  And after being blessed by your generosity and support thus far, I know that you would help me.  To many of you, I am your friend, your sister, your daughter -- or at least, I could be.  You wouldn't pass by me when I was desperate.  I know that you wouldn't.

So let's not pass by these women when they are desperate.  Let's not pass by the young girls stuck in these bars.  Let's not walk past them, most of whom are not here by their own design.  Close your eyes and see your little girl, your best friend, your only sister, exploited and alone.  What are you going to do about it?

My team and I are partnering with Lighthouse in Action ministries this month.  We're walking those streets, sitting in those bars, talking with those girls and our goal is to be Jesus.  We're not walking in with Bibles, preaching a message of condemnation or anger.  We're walking in to be girlfriends.  We're trying to get to know these girls, to build relationships.  The program director made it very clear: we're not a SWAT team running in to grab the women.  We're farmers -- we're planting seeds, watering them, and maybe even harvesting a couple if the season is right.

How do we do that specifically?  Our ministry this month centers around two of my favorite things -- praying and dating.  Every day and every night, some part of our team will be in the prayer room, interceding for this country and the women that we meet.  Then we spend two days and two nights a week in bars, getting to know the girls and inviting them out on dates.  We want to take them to lunch, to the movies, to get our nails done -- the regular things girlfriends do with one another.  Ministry this month is deeply relational.  Success is not counted in how many women we personally pull out of the bar scene; it's about the depth and quality of friendships made.

But I need your help.  My team needs your help.  We have to pay to buy ourselves [non-alcoholic] drinks in every bar we go -- even the ones we go in just to pray.  We have to pay to buy the women drinks and the price doubles.  I'm hoping to get to the point where I can offer to pay a girl's bar fee, pay to take her out of there for the night.  Then on any of the dates we have, we're paying for the women.  But all of this requires cash, something that runs pretty short after seven months around the world.  My team and I are trying to raise some money so that we can treat these women.  We want to make some real, quality friendships -- friendships where we aren't trying to get anything out of them, but just showing them the love of Jesus through our lives.

If you would be willing to partner with us on this, you can email me for more information on how to give. Any money that we have left over after the end of the month will be given to this ministry; a prominent bar is closing at the end of April and the director has a vision for a rehabilitation program, where the women can come to learn about Jesus, but also to learn practical job skills.  The four-month program costs about $1,000 dollars per woman, so any money that we do not use “dating” the girls will go directly towards that project.

So there we are, sitting in the booth.  The pretty girl's name is Nam and she's ready to take our order.  What will you have?  Coca-cola?  A cocktail?  Maybe the girl herself?

How much?


He has shown you, O man, what is good.  And what does the Lord require of you?  To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.  Micah 6:8

A Day in the Life: Rwanda

8:00 am:            Arise (rather groggy and grumpy - I am not friends with evil Morning.) 8:00 - 9:00:       Snack on some Psalms in my little tent - so tasty!

9:00 - 9:45:       Walk the long, dusty road to pastor’s house for breakfast

9:45 - 10:00:     Eat breakfast (same as every day) … hard-boiled egg, a miniature banana, black ginger tea with goat’s milk, and chapati (like a fluffy tortilla).

We were told that right after breakfast, we would leave for a “short” marriage party. It would be a “slight distance” away, and we were not sure how we would get there.

10:00 - 12:00:    Wait at the pastor’s house in confusion … where we discover it is a graduation party, not a marriage party. And that the pastor had already left. And that he is not sure how we will get there. Make small talk with the pastor’s wife (who speaks limited English) -  try to maintain eye contact as she breastfeeds her toddler, completely topless and very nonchalant about it.

Play “20 questions” with our team to kill time.

Sweat trickles down my back - the heat of the day arrives early here.

12:30 - 1:00:       We walk across town to our translators’ moms’ shop, where we will meet our translator, who will get us bus tickets to the graduation party.

1:00 pm:              Arrive at the shop, where mama wants to know where her daughter (our translator) is. We have no idea. Hands on wide hips, she is not happy.

1:00 - 1:40:          Sit on the steps and watch the cars go by. I daydream about macaroni and cheese. A precious and malnourished child wanders by, so my attention is averted to praying for her.

1:40 pm:               Our translator arrives, and after a short argument with her mom, we head to the bus station.

2:15 pm:               When we arrive at the bus station, we discover that the next bus does not leave until 3 pm. (We were told the party ended around 3). So we walk back to to the shop.

2:30 - 3:30:           Wait for a while longer, while many confusing phone calls fly around. A car arrives to pick us up, then speeds away as our translator explains that “it has two flat tires.”

4:00 pm:                We are picked up by a van. Thrilled and relieved, we stretch out on the seats and head off, bumping along back roads.

4:20 pm:                 In confusion, we are driven back to …. the pastor’s house!

Here, we are greeted by the pastor’s family, dressed to a hilt, AND the entire Voice of Trumpet Victory Choir from the pastor’s church, in their singing attire: shiny brown satin two-tone shirts and crisp pants, and long shoes that turn up at the toes.  All 16 of them pile into our van (how I wish Africans used deodorant!), along with their full arsenal of sound equipment … 2 huge box stereos, a sound board, several cables, etc. Some seats have 3 layers of people stacked high on each others’ laps.

In my little corner of the van, I thank Jesus (literally) that I am by a window, where fresh air can blow through, and that my compact size shows its advantage in this situation. My poor 6 ft+ team leader looks so uncomfortable.

4:25 pm:        After driving exactly 10 meters, the van is stopped. In a flurry of loud voices, the entire choir piles out of the van, shuffles around, and then piles back in. This happens twice more in the next half hour. But … we are finally on our way! Note that we are only 6 hours late.

During the van ride, Voice of Trumpet Victory Choir practices their repertoire, although they don't all sing the same song at the same time. It is loud enough that I hear it all through my headphones.

5:25 pm:       Arrive at the graduation party to many stares.

We visit the “bathroom” - a three-sided shack with a hole dug in the ground. The exciting part is that there is a hornet’s nest … in the hole where you are supposed to do your business.

I’m not sure how you’re supposed to do your business without angering the hornets. This is all made more exciting, since in Romania I discovered a serious allergy to flying, stinging insects. In Africa, even a trip to the bathroom is never routine. Somehow, we miraculously survive unscathed.

At the graduation party, we eat two very large dinners … one complete with animal intestines and soured milk sauce. We choke down what we can and try not to let the constant stares bother us.

We’re given a 2-minute warning that someone from our group will give a graduation speech. This should not be surprising, since at the last graduation we attended (in Tanzania), we were given a 1-minute warning that we would be performing a dance in front of hundreds. Yes, we did it, and no, it was not my proudest moment. At this graduation ceremony, however, my teammate Jake saves the day by giving a speech that is well-received. After that the stares are more kindly.

I am fascinated by a speech given by the family patriarch and his allusions to genocide. Their family was Tutsi, in the targeted group during the Rwandan genocide of 1994. His family fled to Uganda and most of them have known life as refugees. In a quiet, dignified voice, he glorifies God that he has allowed them to return to the homeland of their fathers, that he saved them while many others were slaughtered, and that now as his family - and his country - rebuilds, the graduation of his grandson marks progress for his family and hope for all.

Rwandans are a reserved, proud people that do not quickly open their emotions to outsiders - and they rarely talk of the horror in their recent past. To see a rare glimpse of their true feelings was a gift, and I felt honored to be included in such an intimate family gathering.

Little did I know the day was not even close to over yet …

6:45 pm:        Though the “party” portion of the ceremony is only beginning, we all (Voice of Trumpet Victory Choir included) pile back into the van - we are already late for evening church service. We bounce along the rutted, muddy, rocky, mountainous road to the city.

    Along the way, fields of wheat and corn unfold before me like a patchwork quilt - beautiful.     A storm rolls in, shades of steel in thunderous clouds above, brazen sunlight shining through breaks of gray. Clean, rain-soaked breezes wash through the open window and refresh the sweaty stale air inside the van. A great playlist rings in my ears, and I worship. My heart bobs above me, like a balloon on a string. It doesn’t feel like much holds me to the ground. Just when I think I can’t be more caught up in the rapture of the beauty around me, a lightening storm begins.

“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” Psalm 19:1

Despite Genocide, God has smiled upon this land. The story of Rwanda is still unfolding, and I can’t help but sense that he is not done in East Africa yet - a feeling that was confirmed when …

7:30 pm:        We arrive at church, late for service, where everyone is singing a cappella and caught up in worship- undeterred that we have the choir and the sound system with us.

7:30 - 8:45:    Church and preaching/worship with our team.

8:45 pm:        We choke down our third dinner.

9:15 pm:         In the middle of a torrential downpour, all seven of us pile into a small four-door ancient car that in every moment feels like its last. We somehow make it home.

10:00 pm:       Collapse into bed and think, “Is this real life?