Wednesday, September 24, 2008

He Fills our Hearts to Overflowing

Check out this email correspondence that was passed among us Scarlet Cord leaders today…

Two of our Scarlet Cord volunteers (newfound friends) were at my house this evening for the Naked Lady Party. I almost cried when someone asked them to describe Scarlet Cord. They were eloquent and described it exactly how I would have. Amazing. I loved being able to keep my mouth shut and hear two of our volunteers/friends get all excited and encourage others to volunteer. Make my heart just melt.

That is just beautiful Jen! It makes me think of how the Bible describes Jesus' life here on Earth. He disciples, then asks us to disciple. He penetrates our lives and fills our hearts to overflowing. Those we pour into are then filled with his undying love, and they are in turn able to pour into others. God has created a waterfall in Scarlet Cord, first into us as leaders, then into our volunteers, and even further into our friends, families, communities, and the world. Just watch that waterfall flow, pour over and create new waterfalls...until the whole earth is filled with his love!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Monday, September 15, 2008

A place of my own

I spent the weekend at L'Abri, a Christian study center/ communal living home out in the countryside of central Holland. I was there (mostly) to visit my dear friend Kara (from Portland) before she returns to the U.S. We hadn't seen each other in months, and it was so nourishing to my soul to spend a few days with her. Not to mention the tranquil, encouraging environment that is Dutch L'Abri.

The other morning just after breakfast, Kara told me she'd had a dream about me the night before.

She dreamt we were in New York City with some friends. I had been away from the group for a bit, exploring the city on my own. When we reconnected, I excitedly told them about how I had met a very nice woman on the street. The women and I got along quite well, and she wanted to give me very own place in New York City. It was a special location, a place just for me.

At that point, Kara had me very curious about this special place. Kara went on to tell me that my special place, given to me by the woman on the street, was none other than the Statue of Liberty! Wow, how poignant to where I’m at in my life, wanting to help women and girls find freedom from captivity in the sex slavery.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Thursday, September 4, 2008

I've been in Holland for 2 weeks now, and am having a wonderful journey so far. Most of my time has been spent reconnecting with friends and making new ones in the crazy, yet enchanting city of Amsterdam. I’m staying right in the Red Light District at the Shelter City, a Christian hostel.

This place is like a refuge amidst chaos. We are surrounded by sexual perversion, where girls and women loose their dignity hour-by-hour, day-by-day, week-by-week, client-by-client. Sex pervades everything, the smell of marijuana smoke wafts and looms around every corner, theft is rampant, and women are sold like meat at the slaughterhouse. Thousands of tourists roam the streets in a drunken stuper, eyes glazed over, high on any number of soft or hard drugs. I walk these beautiful streets, with the canals, bridges, and classic old architecture, and I watch people. So many lost souls, looking for something, anything to make them feel good, feel a sense of belonging. It’s a sad, sad world we live in, yet so much hope awaits those who lift their eyes unto the maker of it all. He is there, just waiting for anyone who will ask him. He is waiting, watching, weeping for those lost souls.

Look up, dear ones, to the one who created you. He is love. He loves you with more love than you can ever understand or fathom. He sees you as beautiful. Actually, he is enthralled by your beauty.

The King is enthralled by your beauty. Honor him, for he is your Lord.
~Psalm 45:11

I found a place and time to be alone the other day, and asked God what he wanted me to do with my evening. It was the first time I’d been alone since I arrived 2 weeks ago(besides a few lovely walks I’ve taken on my own). I asked God for divine appointments. Yes, appointmentS. And yes, God came through that very night!

The first was with my friend Paul. He used to work here at Shelter City (the hostel) and now lives in Portland. He has a heart for people on the streets, is a visionary, and a huge encouragement to talk big dreams with. We went on a bike ride to N. Amsterdam last night. He took me to a lovely spot on a bay filled with docked sailboats, and lined with gabled houses and cobblestone streets. We sat there under the stars in the cool of the evening, eating Dutch cheese, drinking red wine from the Basque country, and talking big dreams. He knows this city well, and was such an encouragement to me.

Upon our return, which almost didn’t happen because we missed the last ferry, then found another that runs all night, I was blessed to find the one person I’ve so desperately wanted to see here, but I had no idea how to get a hold of her. Elise (the ex-prostitute, on fire for the Lord, recovering addict, beloved sister) was sitting in the café of the hostel as the nightly prayer meeting was just ending. We remembered each other right away, from our walk and talk in March. We hugged and laughed and commented on how good each other look. We had great conversation, exchanged phone numbers, and agreed to meet again the next night. She’s got some ideas for how I can get involved on the street. She invited me to attend church with her. Her church is especially focused on womens’ ministries, particularly those recovering from abuse or addiction. Yeah!

Scharlaken Koord
Yesterday I was able to meet with the two main prostitution outreach organizations in the RLD. I stopped by the Scharlaken Koord, the Dutch Scarlet Cord, which has been in existence since 1989. Although I didn’t have an appointment, I was able to speak with the secretary for 30 minutes or so. They are a well-established social resource for women who desire to get out of prostitution. I will set an interview in a few weeks with the director of the street ministry, to see if I might fit in with their organization in some way.

The Cleft
I also met with the director of the women’s prostitution ministry at a place called The Cleft, connected with YWAM and the Salvation Army. We had an actual appointment, which she was not ready for when I arrived 10 minutes late. The streets and canals all look the same to me, and it was difficult to find the location, but nonetheless I found it, and was so very pleased when arrived.

Edna, who I was to speak with, welcomed me to sit with her and five other women, one with a baby, who were seated around a large table, learning how to make necklaces with beads and thin leather. When I realized they were all speaking Spanish, I spoke up, “¿Todas hablan español?” They all looked at me in surprise, especially Edna, who responded “You speak Spanish?!” We sat around the table and gabbed away about beading, babies, shopping, family…you name it. About a half hour later the ladies were on their way out the door and Edna and I were able to have our meeting. She informed me that three of the women were friends of hers visiting from her native Venezuela, and two are prostitutes. What a blessing! I felt right at home with those ladies, speaking Spanish and talking about life. The rest of our meeting, some of which was spoken in Spanish, went very well. (I've been hoping to find someone to keep up my Spanish with!) Edna was very receptive to hear my story, my hopes and ideas for involvement in Amsterdam. She was very encouraging and excited about the potential to work together, and seems like she is open to working with my schedule and interests. I find into coincidence that she is presently in need of a Spanish-speaking assistant for her Monday night Bible studies with prostitutes.

The Lord is so present here, and I am so very thankful. I am not alone in this place. He is with me, and has provided me with almost constant companionship and fellowship with friends old and new.

Please pray for guidance for me.

Thank you.