Blog, God + Spirituality, Guest Posts, Ministry + Missions

A Life of Worth: Man’s Plans, God’s Steps [Guest Post]

I’m so excited to introduce all of you to my good friend, Kristen, or as I affectionately call her, “Krispy,” back from our YWAM Oxford days together! I met Kristen 6 years ago in New Zealand, and I have been blessed to follow her life adventures which have taken her on many global missions, unexpected seasons of illness at home and now into new cross-cultural missions in Asia! Enjoy my friend as she shatters some missionary stereotypes and shares about the things she’s learning as she follows her Lord into new cultural realities.


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A Life of Worth: Man’s Plans, God’s Steps

By Kristen Wilkes

When the word ‘missionary’ comes to mind what do you think?

Is it grass huts?
No electricity?
Eating bugs?
People who have never heard of Jesus?
Preaching on a street corner?

Is it living perfectly?
Always smiling?
Being perpetually happy?
Never being angry?
Spending every moment of every day praying and worshipping?

I am originally from Michigan in the United States, and I am currently a full time missionary in Northern Thailand, but my life does not look like either of those scenarios. I live in a two story, three bedroom house with electricity, running water, and wifi. I am still a human who tries to live everyday in the joy of the Lord, but some days I get angry when I see the kids I work with, with no shoes again or black eyes. I wish I was happy all the time – but when you work in the darkness of the red-light district every night, you have to battle against being sad for these people stuck in bondage, and praise even when your flesh doesn’t feel like it.

What I can tell you is this, being a full time missionary overseas is probably a lot different than you have pictured in your head.

For two and a half years I lived and worked out of the Youth With A Mission base in New Zealand. I was very far from home, but still in a culture similar to my own in a country whose native language was English. I didn’t know anyone there when I moved, but I found myself living with many people from North America, so there were not many cultural differences to deal with. I was an overseas missionary who felt like I was living in the same world I had come from.

temple thailandNow I live in South East Asia. After three months of living here I can go to the market and ask for fruit, or dinner and pay without being confused – but if I get lost there is a 50/50 chance that I am either not going to be understood when I ask for directions, or I won’t understand the directions that are given to me. Culturally the differences are in abundance. The food is different, the weather is different, the language is very different.

I’m living in a completely different world these days.

But what I have learned is that when God calls you into something, there is always a purpose. My purpose is an 8 year old little boy who has been stuck in forced labor trafficking in Northern Thailand. He was forced to work until 1 or 2 in the morning every night selling flowers. He often shows up with no shoes, or a black eye and often has not eaten dinner.

My purpose is not to preach on street corners and see hundreds come to Jesus. My purpose is to show this little kid the love of Jesus. To buy dinner for him, provide shoes for him and figure out a way to get him out of the hell that he’s living in. He doesn’t care that I don’t speak the language. He doesn’t care that I sometimes mess up and don’t understand the culture. He doesn’t care that I might not know what food he’s asking for, for dinner. He cares if I follow through, if I show up when I say I’m going to.

And he’s worth it. Even when it sometimes takes me days to find him – he’s always worth it. To be able to buy him dinner, or give him shoes. It’s worth it. The day I’m able to get him out of there will make every day of frustration and feeling out of place in a new world worth it.

This past week I was able to work with some people in Social Services, and Child Protective services and have two of the boys that I have connected with taken out of the red light district. These are little kids who have been forced to sell flowers to the foreigners in bars every night of the week until 1 am. Kids who have lost their childhood, and have been growing up seeing things and hearing things that they shouldn’t have to be around.

red light thailandUnfortunately the kids were taken into custody, and almost immediately allowed to go back home. But the bright side – they are no longer working in the red light district. Charges were pressed against their parents for allowing them to work, so the kids aren’t selling flowers anymore! Tonight I walked through the red light and saw one of my boys. He was just walking down the street, not working. I was able to tell him that I would bring games tomorrow and food. He smiled with excitement.

Four months ago I was serving people coffee – and now I get to hang out with these awesome kids and show them the love of Jesus. And as God leads, I’m able to see them one by one come out of the bondage they’ve been held in.

Sometimes what God asks us to do looks a lot different from what we have in our minds – but if it’s within His plan, and His purpose – it’s worth it. When God asked me to come to Thailand He clearly spoke Proverbs 16:9 “In His heart a man plans his course, but The Lord determines his steps.” My plan looked different in my mind than the steps God asked me to take – but He knew my heart and His way is better than mine.


 About the Author:

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I am an ordinary girl, who serves an extraordinary God.  A former Starbucks barista, I sold everything I owned and moved to Northern Thailand not knowing what was in store, but coming because God asked me to.  I now find myself on a rollercoaster adventure of faith. Website: http://joininkristensjourney.blogspot.com Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kristen.wilkes.581 Twitter: @KristenMarie549 

 

 

Blog, God + Spirituality, Guest Posts, Ministry + Missions

Grace for Returning Home [Guest Post]

I’ve decided it’s time to receive the words and wisdom of guest writers here on my blog from time to time. For those of you who would like to submit an article, check out the details here. Today is my first guest post! Sometimes we just need some fresh insight and inspiration from another’s journey. So, with excitement, I’d like to introduce my new friend, Sam. He and his wife are fellow missionaries with YWAM. We have not met in person, but let’s just say the internet is a global village of diverse people just waiting to become family.

Here’s Sam…


Grace for Returning Home

By: Samuel John

It’s fun meeting people online, especially when you find out you know some of the same people. I came across Alison on Twitter after she mentioned YWAM. I contacted her only to find out we’ve been on the same spiritual journey (as well as know some of the same people). It’s funny how small the world of missions can be.

I’ve been in and out of missions for over 10 years now. If I was not overseas, I was working on trying to get overseas. So when God was speaking to my wife and me about making our homeland (America) the mission field, it was hard to grasp. For us, being a missionary meant being overseas. It’s outside our box of understanding. This is what I want to talk about. Sometimes leaving the mission field takes as much faith as entering the mission field.

When God spoke about moving to America, I struggled. Much of who I am has been wrapped up around being a missionary overseas. If I wasn’t overseas or planning on going overseas, who was I? Anticipating the questions of “So what are you doing now?” played over and over in my head. I have to look to God to define me, not anyone or their questions. This is the journey God has been taking me on.

I am a missionary, husband, son, and a brother. I have many titles. Most of what I am, I didn’t earn or deserve. And most of what I am isn’t actually who I am. Any title or label you could give me doesn’t define me. Above any earthly name you could give me, the one that matters is this: I am loved by God. That is the most important title. It’s all that matters. Whether I am a guilty murderer or an innocent servant, I am loved by God. That will never change. He will never change. I will never earn it because I already have it.

The problem is I want to earn what I get. I want to deserve everything through my efforts. It makes me feel safe, earning my way. But Grace doesn’t work that way. I get what I don’t deserve and I don’t earn anything; all is a gift from God. This takes a lifetime to understand. So when God spoke to my wife and me about leaving overseas missions I had to bury my head deep in the trenches of Grace and realize that I wasn’t earning anything by being a missionary. His love for me wasn’t greater because I was in a foreign country.

Finding myself in my homeland, pursuing dreams that have been growing in my heart over the years, feels wrong. I am not facing language problems, the handicapped beggar on the street, and many of the cultural barriers that used to be part of my daily life overseas. I am facing overeating at dinner time, holiday shopping woes, and long lines at Starbucks. The worlds differ drastically. The guilt riddles my emotions. I feel like I don’t deserve this life. That’s why I need Grace. Grace sets me free and I can’t do anything to get it, I already have it. It’s mine. God loves me whether I’m in the third world or the first. God loves me whether I’m in Christmas season or monsoon season. I need to understand that where I am isn’t who I am. The difficult part is receiving this wonderful gift.

My idea of being something to God or others has to change. How I perceived my identity to be must be realigned. I am loved by God, whether I am feeding the poor or watching football. I am invaluable. My value to Him doesn’t change just as His love for me doesn’t change. He doesn’t love me more for being overseas. He loves me more for being me, wherever I am. I am loved. And this side of paradise, we will only understand a glimpse of this Grace.

  • What are ways you are needing Grace in this season?
  • What boxes have you put yourself in and how can you let God free you by receiving Grace?

 About the Author:

Sam and his wife, Ana, have served in several missions organizations. YWAM, IHOP, Iris Ministries, and Bethel Church in Redding, California are some of the places they’ve learned about missions and ministry. God has used them in children’s ministry, technology, healing prayer, and in everything practical that comes along with ministry. Their heart is to serve and see God move in the nations. Sam shares his experiences on his website: Missions Manual. You can connect with him on Facebook and Twitter.