Clean Feet

Every couple of months we host a Women’s Day at our church in Mae Toh, Thailand. It’s a time of fellowship and learning and our March event had the theme of Servanthood. After days of praying about what to teach, I felt led to John 13:1-17, the story of Jesus washing his disciples feet during their last supper together. Immediately upon reading the story, I tried to think of something different to teach on. The problem I was having is that I knew that if I taught this story, I would want to end it with our own foot washing ceremony.

Why is that a problem?

In Thai culture, feet are considered the dirtiest and lowliest part of the body. Sure, we all think feet are dirty, but it’s taken to a different level here. In the Buddhist culture, the whole lower part of the body is considered dirty, with feet being the dirtiest. So much so that pants, underwear and socks cannot be washed in the same tub/machine as shirts, jackets, bras, etc. After taking a shower, separate towels are used to dry the upper and lower body. In public, feet cannot be pointed at anyone and you would never ever touch someone’s feet.

As an American, this is a much bigger culture adjustment than I thought it would be. I never realized until I came to Thailand that I moved stuff and pointed with my feet. Even just crossing my legs became a problem because when doing so, my feet were often pointing at someone. Needless to say, it was a huge adjustment and still comes into play at times!

For me to ask a bunch of women to not only wash someone else’s feet, but to allow someone to wash theirs, was a big deal.

So I went to Aon and Ya and asked them what they thought. Their initial reactions were not very encouraging and I decided that if they thought it was a bad idea, I wasn’t going to do it. I spent the next three days trying to come up with something else to teach on and came up with zero ideas. God just kept leading me back to the passage in John 13.

I sat down with Aon and Ya again and after talking a bit, found out that they didn’t really understand what the foot washing was all about. So we had a bible lesson and I taught them.

We talked about how people in Jesus’ time walked all day in sandals in the dirt and their feet would be very dirty and smelly by the end of the day. They pointed out how that was the same in Thailand and they understood why the feet needed to be washed upon entering a house.

So I moved on to the symbolism in the foot washing, how it is a picture of what Jesus did for us on the cross. In the same way that Jesus took off his outer clothing and washed the disciples feet, he laid aside his God nature to serve us, all the way to dying on the cross for us.

Verse 8 says “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” Literally, unless we allow God to come in and clean all of our sin out of our lives, we cannot be with Jesus. This is done when we accept Jesus into our hearts and become Christians.

Verse 10 says “A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean.” This is telling that we only need to accept Jesus one time. That’s it. He will come into our hearts and live with us forever!

However, we still live in a sinful world and we are still affected by sin every single day. The foot washing is a symbol of Jesus cleaning the dirt from the world off of our hearts on a daily basis. We must allow Jesus to wash us daily!

Then I talked about how this story is not only a picture of what Jesus did for us on the cross, it is also a picture of a lifestyle that Jesus wants us to have, a lifestyle of serving each other in love.

In verse 14 Jesus doesn’t say “Now that I’ve washed your feet, you should wash my feet.” He says “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.”

The world’s definition of love is that we give in order to get. Now that I’ve given you something, you have to give me something in return. God teaches us that love should be given freely and sacrificially!. We must give of ourselves without expecting anything in return.

In verse 16 Jesus is telling the disciples that if even he, God, can live a lifestyle of serving in love, than they should also. And in turn, we need to.

Verse 17 tells us that if we do these things, we will be blessed. This literally means that if we follow the example of Jesus in this story, our futures will be happy and fulfilled. Who wouldn’t want that?!

If you seek happiness as your goal, it will always elude you. But if you turn away from this and instead depend personally on Christ and serve others, happiness will always find you!

By the time I got to the end of the lesson, I was on fire and astonished to find that Aon and Ya were really excited too! The both told me that I HAD to teach this lesson to the women and then we HAD to wash each other’s feet.

At this point, I just sat back and laughed. Why did I ever doubt God’s leading? He obviously knows much better than me what the women need to hear. And yet I felt the need to step in and think I knew better. Lord, when will I ever learn?!

So I took this lesson to Mae Toh and taught it to the women there. They were engaged and interested, and I was excited to teach it. When I got to the end, I told them that I wanted them to wash each other’s feet. Instead of complaining and looking like they’d rather be anywhere else, like I’d expected, they were excited. They grabbed the soap, towels and tubs I brought and jumped right into it.

There was laughter and a few tears and a time of serving that ended up being more special than I could have imagined. And of course their focus was not on the feet, but on serving each other in love.

They ended the foot washing by praying for each other, prayers that they would be better servants and learn to love those around them with a Christ-like love.

What a wonderful, blessed day it was!

Foot Washing@MT

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News from Thailand, September 2011

Thank you to everyone who prayed for me when I was sick a couple of weeks ago, I really appreciate it! I was pretty miserable but after I sent the email out, I could feel all your prayers coming my way and I’m feeling much better now. Thanks for believing in healing for me!

It is never easy to ask for help of any kind, but I believe that God uses meaningful relationships between people like you and me to bless and encourage one another in times of need. My heart smiles when the people I love ask for help because it allows me to bless them in a very specific way.

Even so, I’ve been struggling for a couple weeks with what to write to you and all my other friends too.  A friend encouraged me to just be honest. So, this is me laying my need on the table before you and trusting that God will lead some of my friends to help in my time of need.

I am struggling financially and have been for several months. I don’t need much, but over the past months I’ve barely been able to pay the basics (rent, utilities, etc.) and still have money for groceries afterwards. I serve an amazing God and month after month He provides, sometimes quite miraculously. But, I know that God doesn’t want me to carry the stress that I’ve been burdened with over these financial difficulties so I’m asking for help. I need to raise at least $300 a month. It may not seem like much, but it is enough to lift this monthly burden from me.

My ministry leader, Julie, said to me recently “You have to spend money to make money, even in ministry.” This statement is very true and so I am planning a fund-raising trip back to the states. I’ll be visiting different churches and individuals in the hopes of spreading awareness of the ministry here in Thailand and in turn, raising more financial support so that I can continue to serve here. 

It’s been four years since I’ve been with family over the Christmas holidays and I long to be with them, so my hope is to plan the trip around that time. I will spend a couple months traveling and sharing from my heart, with a break in the middle for the holidays. This trip is going to cost me about $3000, with half of that being my plane ticket. This is a much bigger amount to raise but I have true peace in my heart that this is a trip that God wants me to take.

How can you help? You can pray and ask God if He can use you in my life. If you feel led to give, there are two options. You can give monthly towards the $300 goal or you can give a one time gift towards the $3000 goal for my trip home. Either way, you will be a big blessing to me!

I want to encourage you that a little bit goes a long way here in Thailand. I’ve often heard people say “I don’t have an extra $100 to give a month” but I encourage you to let God show you how much to give. I have a couple supporters that faithfully give $5 or $10 a month and they make a huge difference in my budget each month, I couldn’t do this without them. Please know that any amount, whether it seems big or small to you, will help me greatly!

I thank you from the bottom of my heart!

I was offered an awesome opportunity to teach a session at the annual Chiang Mai Women’s Conference this weekend. I believe that we can worship God in many different ways, including our hobbies and creative outlets. Over the past year I’ve been able to show my photos in a couple different settings and share how I worship God through my photography. I must have reached a couple different people because I was asked to teach on worshipping through photography and I’m very excited about it! I’d appreciate your prayers for me.

My ministry is funded entirely by donations from friends like you. If you are interested in helping me financially, you can do so with one of the following two options:

Send money to:
Empower International
P.O. Box 938
Anaheim, CA 92815
or submit it online at:
Either way, please be sure to include my name!
*You may or may not have noticed that the ministry name has changed from ‘Powers Ministries International’ to ‘Empower International’. Same great ministry, new great name!

Repost: An Adoption Story

I have to repost a story written by a friend. Actually, I’ve only met Ashley a couple of times but I went to San Jose Christian College with her husband Josh. Over the years since college, our friendship has existed solely over email and Facebook but that’s the way of things nowadays, isn’t it? Especially since I live on the opposite side of the world!

This story made me cry. Like sitting at my desk, all choked up with tears streaming down my face, cry. I have a heart for children and I love that God has placed me in a ministry where I get to love on kids on a regular basis. Someday I might have my own but for now, I am completely content with all the orphans that have wiggled their way into my heart over the past couple years. Unfortunately, the majority of them have been rescued from the sex trade or are considered illegal refugees whom nobody seems to want or they have simply been thrown away by the ones who should have loved them the most. My heart is constantly breaking with every story I hear and it just makes me want to love them more and more. And so naturally, I love to hear adoption stories. Families who adopt children into their hearts, who have so much love to give that they want to share it outside of their own DNA, those whom God has specifically called to care for the lost children of the world, I think those people all deserve super-hero status. Whether or not they wear spandex and a cape is up to them, in my mind they have super-powers. Josh and Ashley Christian, you are both super-heroes!

The following is an excerpt of their adoption story, a story that is still in process. As Ashley says “I pray this story has given you HOPE, if you’ve had none, that God still answers prayers, but not in the way we expect.  Nope, even better.  I pray also this story has given you FAITH, that if God has called you to something you can confidently follow.”

“This story will contain many references about God, so now you’ve been warned!  This story begins 5 years ago, when there was just Josh, Ashley, toddling Jaden, and baby Trace.  God put adoption on our hearts.  It was not fully the thing to us then that it is today, just so you know, you don’t have to feel over-the-top adoption passion to consider it.  It’s a feeling that grows, and maybe it starts because of infertility, or age, or wanting a certain gender, or something, but given time, it has the power to stand on it’s own.  And it is a thing of intense trial, and stunning beauty.

We spent about a year researching, discussing, pondering, praying, jaw dropping and scheming over the cost.  We changed programs a few times and settled on adopting a little girl from Vietnam, her name was going to be Taliah Riann.  We started our homestudy, met with our social worker, got finger prints, passports, filed our 1-600A, started our dossier, all that fun and expensive international adoption stuff.  Now let me tell you this is a story of chances and odds, and how God totally disregards those.

Chances were 99.9% against a little surprise who was born to us 9 months later and never stopped spitting up and then smiling at us for the first 15 months of life!  I do admit my very first thought was, seriously God?

Proverbs 20:24 “The LORD directs our steps, so why try to understand everything along the way?”

You can find the full story (and I strongly encourage you to go read it) on their blog: Life According to the Christians.

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Questions For a Missionary, Part 1:

Why did you decide to be a missionary?

I always smile to myself when people ask me this because it wasn’t like I woke up bored one day and thought, “Hey, you know what would be fun? Mission work!” It is good that isn’t how this journey started because if it was, I would be sorely disappointed. This life definitely has it’s fun and amazing moments but it also has it’s challenging moments where the easiest thing to do would be to throw in the towel and head back home. Luckily, overall the work is rewarding and fulfilling enough to make all those hard times completely worth it. But I’m getting off subject and I honestly can’t promise it won’t happen again during this post. 🙂

I remember being five years old watching my dad and deciding that I would be just like him  when I grew up because he had the coolest job in the world. Dad was a pastor and even at a young age I was able to grasp the idea that in a single two-hour slot on a Sunday morning, he influenced and helped hundreds of people. I wanted to do that. So I decided I was going to be a pastor when I grew up.

Around the age of ten I started to notice that there were not very many pastors who were women. I remember asking why but never got a very clear answer. I began to realize that this subject was a bit taboo. Not wanting to rock the boat, I decided to pick a different dream. That year in school I had the coolest teacher who taught me to push beyond what I thought I was capable of and discover that I could do anything I put my mind to. I wanted to challenge people the way that teacher challenged me. So I decided that I was going to be a teacher when I grew up.

When I entered I high school it became very clear to me that I hated school. It just wasn’t my cup of tea and the thought of having to go back to school every day after I graduated, made me physically cringe. So being a teacher was out and I spent a couple of years floundering, not knowing what I was going to do with my life. I knew that I still wanted to help people the way dad did but I wasn’t sure how to put that into practice. My junior year in high school several missionaries visited my church for the annual WOW week. I sat and listened to their stories and a little spark came to life in my heart. Throughout the rest of my high school career that spark grew and grew. Even when I was in bible college, that spark, which was a full on flame by then, was growing. But I never wanted to commit because deep down, the thought of being a real missionary terrified me. So I didn’t know what I was going to be when I grew up.

In the spring of 2002 I was feeling very lost. I’d gone through some hard stuff that left me not wanting anything to do with serving God or responding to His call on my life. And yet through a series of events put into motion by a great friend, that summer found me in Mexico, building houses with Amor Ministries as a summer intern. I was surrounded by poverty like I’d never known existed and every day I was helping people in a tangible way. I found God that summer and He confirmed my calling. So I decided that I was going to be a missionary when I grew up.

I worked with Amor Ministries until the end of 2005 and I’ve been in Thailand now since the beginning of 2006. There are times when I hate being called a missionary because it has a reputation that isn’t always good. But there is never a doubt in my mind that I am where I am supposed to be. God called me to love people and I will continue to do that every day of my life, no matter where in the world I end up.

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