Monthly Archives: September 2012

10 Things You Didn’t Want To Know

“… His banner over me is love” Song of Songs 2:4
One thing that really wrecks me about God’s love is that its truly unconditional and sometimes its totally inappropriate and against the rules. I love that Jesus’ favorite places to hang out are like porn shops, crack houses, and leaper colonies and His favorite thing to do is hang out with rapists, murderers, prostitutes and all the other people that we turn our noses up at. One of our young girls who used to sleep around and be a thief and an alcoholic told me yesterday about how even when she was drunk and had been stealing all day, before she went to sleep Jesus would come to her and sing her beautiful songs and laugh with her as she fell asleep. This is the Jesus I love. This Jesus is extremely compassionate, fiercely accepting, and millions of miles away from being a prude or fitting into any kind of box. He was made perfect for me, not the other way around. He’s not afraid of my mess. He cleans up my messes and makes me clean. I don’t have to clean myself up to come to Him. I come to Him messy and He cleanses me. Any good that people see in me is not my own, its actually all His. Any good that I do is not of myself, all my goodness comes from Him. My point is that without Jesus i’m really not all that special. In fact without Him i’m dead. Its Him that gives me life and makes me beautiful.

I am writing this post because over the past couple days I have been receiving many beautiful emails from very kind people that have made me feel so humbled, grateful, and loved telling me how much they appreciate the work I am doing and admire my love for Jesus etc. Most of these have been from people I don’t know. Its been a hard week so I’ve really needed the encouragement. Thank you everyone, from the bottom of my heart 🙂 At the same time, some of these emails have compelled me to write this post. I want to make sure that i’m always  extremely honest and transparent with you all. Most of the things you read on here are all happy and deep and spiritual because the point of this blog is to keep you updated on the amazing things God is doing through me here in Africa. I also use this blog to share the love of Jesus in hopes that as people read it they will feel His love through the words. But, that being said, I don’t at all mean to give the impression that i’m some perfect cookie-cutter Christian angel girl who
does everything right and spends every waking hour praying and saving the world… i’m really not. I’m very far from that. I’m just a normal crazy 25 year old chick that’s madly in love with Jesus. As I said earlier, apart from Him, i’m nothing special at all. So, just to normalize this blog a bit and make me less amazing and Him more amazing i’ve compiled a list of 10 things about myself that I normally don’t put on this blog. These are the things I normally leave out because they aren’t cool or exciting or amazing or deep. They are just normal things, and imperfect things and potentially offensive things. But that’s me: normal, imperfect, and potentially offensive. Its only fair to you if you not only read the good things about me but also the normal things so you get a more accurate picture.  I wanna share all the amazing things God is doing, but I don’t want to hoax you all into thinking i’m Mother Theresa or something. So, here we go!

1. Right now i’m really in love with the new Taylor Swift song and my friend and I frequently blast it and sing it really loud around our house and pretend like sex slavery and child prostitution doesn’t exist for that 3 and a half minutes

2. Sometimes when i’m sad or feeling lonely I walk right past the crippled beggar on the street asking for money for food and I go into the store and buy myself a chocolate bar instead.

3. I spend too much time on facebook

4. When i’m in America one of my favorite things to do is call my girlfriends and have them meet me at swanky restaurants for cocktails and food with prices so high I could feed a family of 5 for a week here

5. I never exercise and I eat as much bread as I want.

6.When i’m worshiping Jesus alone I often tell Him that He’s “so bad ass”, but in public around other Christians I never say things like that because i’m afraid they will judge me. That’s probably a bit hypocritical.

7. To deal with the trauma of hearing so many rape stories all the time here I watch at least one episode of Friends per day and laugh really hard

8. Sometimes when I think i’m hearing God i’m wrong. I thought I knew who I was going to marry twice and i’m no longer with either of those people. I prayed really hard both times and thought God was saying yes.

9. I hate doing dishes so when I live alone I let dirty dishes sit in the sink for days at a time… not as servant-hearted as you thought

10. Even though I act really brave and confident I actually am really sensitive and easily feel insecure and left out in groups of people

Love,
your normal ordinary 25 year old who just so happens to be chosen by Jesus to do radical things with her life, but without Him she’s nothing special

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Prostitues and Popcorn

A strong cappuccino and a sweet chocolate croissant with my favorite blonde Congolese/Kenyan/Canadian/American girl in a posh cafe with free fast internet and high prices to match. Its so needed. Momentary escape. Momentary release from the real world- from our world where 10 year old little girls sell their bodies for a bag of popcorn.

As most of you already know God totally rerouted me after Mozambique. I thought I was going to Cameroon, but I sit here in Mombasa, Kenya as I write this post. Kenya couldn’t have been more of  a surprise to me. I’ve never thought about living in Kenya. I’ve never even really had any desire to visit Kenya. It simply wasn’t on my radar for deep dark nations I wanted to adventure to. But, then Jesus happened. Once again He came in, ruined my life, and wrecked all my plans the way He always does. I love when He does that! And He offered me better plans than I could have imagined for myself. So here I am, in Kenya 🙂

Before going to the school in Mozambique I had expectations of what it would be like and what me and Jesus would talk about. Well, I was wrong about that too. In fact I had no idea what I was in for. The main topic Papa God and I discussed while I was in Mozambique was quite unexpected: sex. God talked to me about sex for 3 months straight. We talked about good sex and we talked about bad sex… then we talked about really really bad sex. The kind where one person wants it and the other does not. And the kind where one person is the slave and the other is the owner. And the kind where one person is a grown man with lots and lots of money, and the other is a tiny little girl with lots and lots of innocence. We talked about little girls living in cages and working as sex slaves. We talked about brothels. We talked about rape. We talked about prostitutes. And we cried together. We cried for both the prostitute and the pimp. We cried for the rape victim and the rapist. We cried for the sex slave and the owner. We cried for the innocent little girl and the rich man. Then came the best part. We talked about hope.

You see, the truth is that God is crazy madly in love with every single one of these people and He so wants to show them the fullness of His love, and He wants to use people like you and me to do it. He showed me the part of His heart where the little girl lives, the one who had all the innocence before the rich man raped it away. He keeps her there, deep inside of His love along with all the other ones just like her. He told me that He has a plan to rescue all these little girls out of their cages (physically and spiritually) and bring them into their true identity as daughters of Papa God and brides of the Lover himself, King Jesus. But the plan includes people like me and people like you. He’s just waiting for us to say yes. So He asked me if I was willing to play my part in His plan. And I looked deep into His heart and saw His daughters and His brides- the ones who used to be slaves and rape victims and prostitutes- jumping rope and laughing til their bellies hurt… and without even thinking twice, I smiled and said yes!

Now I must admit, at the time I didn’t realize the magnitude of that “yes”. I thought maybe one day far far from now I would be working with child sex slaves or child prostitutes or some group of children who have been sexually violated in some way in some country somewhere doing something. When? I didn’t know. Just really far from now. Where? No clue. Just definitely not Kenya. How? No freakin’ idea.

But much to my surprise the timing was now. I now live in Kenya in a village called Mtwapa and I am working with a friend of mine named Cassandra whom I met when she came to speak at my school in Mozambique (www.pursuingnormal.com). God broke her heart for this place years ago when she heard about the outrageous statistics regarding child prostitution, child sex slavery, and sexual exploitation here in Mtwapa and along the coast of Kenya. Since then she has been working here part time (she works mostly in Congo starting schools in rebel territory and rescuing child soldiers) in an effort to rescue child prostitutes and sex slaves as well as stop child prostitution and sexual exploitation as a whole… I know, she’s amazing! Praise God! Recently she began renting a house here in Mtwapa which brings me to the reason I am here. We call the house “Bella House” and we are working to make the house a rescue and rehabilitation home for child prostitutes under the age of 13. Our criteria for which girls we take into the home is very specific. There are many child prostitutes under 13 here in Mtwapa, but we want to take in girls who are either orphaned and therefore resort to selling their bodies in order to survive or girls who are forced into prostitution by their parents. We are starting with 6 girls and as Holy Spirit leads we will take in more. But we want to start small so we can give each girl the attention she needs.

We are still in the beginnings stages. We literally just put up our curtains last night and at this very moment there is a welder putting a lock on our door, 2 carpenters outside building us a dining room table and school desks for our girls, the bedspreads for the girls beds are at the tailor and will be ready tomorrow, and we pick up our couch on Thursday. Our house mom moved in a few days ago. She is amazing. She is a professional counselor and works with girls with cases like ours all the time. We still have lots to do, but things are moving forward praise God! We have been working really hard to get the home all ready for our beautiful daughters and we hope and pray to have everything all ready for them to move in by this weekend. So this week (along with picking up furniture and bedspreads of course) we plan to really focus on rescuing girls to bring home. We are asking God to highlight the specific 6 He wants us to choose. We went out to the streets last night because yesterday we were informed about a nearby club where young girls are forced to perform in live sex shows and live in a nearby brothel. We are hoping to get some of those girls because that is absolutely not okay with us. But as I said, we are praying for God to send us the specific 6 He wants us to start with so we don’t know what that’s going to look like exactly yet. So please, join us in praying for our new home, Bella House.

So as I said, Jesus always surprises me and gives me His plans which are so much better and greater than my own. I knew that this time I was coming back to Africa to take in orphaned children.  I also knew that eventually i’d be working to stop the sexual violation of children. But He outdid me once again. Not only are we taking in orphaned children, but we’re stopping prostitution at the same time, and we’re doing it NOW! I’m so excited to continue to see His kingdom invade this place. I’m so excited to bring His little girls into freedom and watch them bloom inside of His love. I’m so excited to see this whole village, this whole nation changed by the power of Love. There is hope! He is our Hope and He is pouring Himself all over this place in all of His glory!

Learning What Love Looks Like in Pemba, Mozambique

Its impossible for me to put my full experience in Pemba here on this blog because its simply unexplainable, but im going to attempt to give you at least a peak into what happened to me while I was there. Before I begin I must say that the tone of my blog has to change because I have changed so much. I need to write from a more genuine and raw place without fear of judgment or having to wonder what is “appropriate” or not. This blog is my way of documenting my journey into His heart and as you read it and when I read it I want it to be the real story, not a censored one. So here we go!”

Hmmm… what do I even say? Ok, so I spent 3 months in the rurals. I lived a very basic simple life. I lived on a missions base and attended a missions school with 299 other fiery lovers of Jesus. From all outside appearances life was very basic. I lived in a tiny room with 7 other girls. If we all were standing in our room at the same time we were very crowded. There was barely enough room for all of our beds to fit. We had to walk out side to get to our bathroom and kitchen. Our bathroom had 4 toilets and 3 working showers. We shared these between 32 girls. However, there was almost never an issue with the showers or toilets being full when someone wanted to use them because we barely ever had running water so showers were a rare luxury and many times it was better to just go poop in a latrine (hole in the ground) than in the toilets because the toilets were full of numerous peoples poop piled on top of each other. The only way to flush when there was no running water was to go haul water from the well which was hard and no one ever wanted to do that so they just left their poop sitting in the toilet waiting for someone else to do the dirty work. Since we barely ever had running water for showers when I got really dirty and just had to clean myself I took bucket showers. However, we were even careful about how many bucket showers we took because if we ran out of showering water (we filled empty water bottles when the running water was on to save for showering when the water was off) again we had to go all the way to the well to haul it. So, I know you all are expecting me to say that the most spiritually enlightening part of my experience was seeing the deaf hear or food multiply or hundreds of people coming to Jesus, but it wasn’t. All of those things were wonderful. But the most spiritual things I did in Pemba was be dirty and smelly and sweaty for days at a time and then haul water from the well to take a “shower” in a bucket with one and a half bottles of cold water. That came second only to the even more spiritual experience of flushing others peoples poop with buckets of water that splashed everywhere as I tried to pour it down with enough force to push all the poop down so that I can use the toilet, or pooping in a whole in a smelly latrine as cockroaches crawled passed my toes and I tried to hold my breath because the stench was almost unbearable.

Why were these seemingly horrendous experiences the so called “most spiritual ones”? Well, because I hated them. I absolutely hated them. And because I hated them so much they made me cling on to Jesus for dear life. I know this sounds dramatic, but im being serious. Being dirty is not something that im accustomed to growing up in the States. In America, where I am from, we cover up dirtiness. We cover up anything unpleasant or messy or smelly. This applies to the inside and the outside of ourselves. We take showers daily and use nice smelly lotions and perfumes. Our bathrooms, yes BATHROOMS are spotless and smell like flowers, literally. We chew nice smelling chewing gum. We have vacuum cleaners to clean our floors, dishwashers to wash our dishes, even car washes to wash our cars. Where I grew up it was totally possible to just avoid or cover up anything that is messy or smelly or dirty. Because of this external behavior I had adapted the same principle to the inside of me, and I think most (not all) people that grew up in similar ways have done the same thing. We learn to be “polite” and “pleasant” and present ourselves well. We dare not let others see how much of a mess we really are inside. That would just be awkward and inappropriate. So we cover it up and spray on some perfume and continue trying to be perfect. Well at least that’s what I always did.

However, being in such exposed and raw situations such as the ones I explained above with the shower and toilets opened my eyes to see that without Jesus im actually just a stinky smelly mess. I have no patience without Him. I have no love without Him. I have no grace without Him. Actually, without Him I would probably find the girls who left their poop in the toilets and say some really horrible things to them that would make them feel like maggots. Honestly, without Him that’s what im like. I had to face that. I had to face the fact that without Him I think im too good to have to fetch my own water for a shower. Cant I just pay someone to do that?

There were many times where I would look down at myself and see how brown and white my feet were (brown from all the dirt and white from being so dry), how tattered and ugly my clothes were… I’d look at all the sweat spots in my shirt and the stains from dirt and food spills and kids urine and other things that just wouldn’t come out from my hand washing and I would just want to cry… ok sometimes I did I cry. Because I realized that I looked just like the people around me. The poor people. I never realized this, but all my life I thought I was better than them. I thought I was too good to wear a shirt with stains and holes in it. I liked to wear outfits that matched and looked cute to me. I thought I was too good to be one of those people who you walk by and think “eeeeewwwww”. Somewhere along the way I learned that I am better than others and I have the perfume, body lotion, and outfit that matches to prove it! How wrong I was. Not being able to shower properly or use a clean bathroom taught me what love looks like. Im not saying that love looks like being poor and dirty (although sometimes for a season it does). Im saying that loves look like seeing and feeling. I learned to see the poor and to feel compassion for them in Mozambique. I know many of you are probably thinking “Brittanie, you already did that!” But no. I didn’t. I didn’t see them. I saw their situations and threw some dollars or a hot meal at it. I never really put aside my position to get low and see each one. Before I always felt sympathy for the situation of the poor, but at Iris I learned to feel love for the individual person.

As am writing about the poor id like to point out that im not just talking about the physically poor. Even though we were living surrounded by the poorest of the poor and doing everyday life with them there were also 299 other students that I lived on the same compound with that obviously weren’t too “poor” because they made it from their nation to Mozambique and was able to pay tuition etc. In fact, by my standard some of these people were physically rich. But living among the poor and getting low and becoming like little children and seeing them and feeling genuine love and compassion actually revealed the spiritual poverty in each of us. It revealed how lacking we really are without Jesus. It revealed that we only can love because of Him. We can only hold a baby sick with scabies and not catch it because of Him. We can only visit an old lonely granny in her mud hut because of Him. We can only forgive a child who stole our camera or purse or flip flops and then turned around and asked for money for food because of Him. Without Him we have no love or compassion or patience or desire for good. All good comes from Jesus. This is what I understand spiritual poverty to be, total dependence on Jesus. Because our poverty and the poverty of our classmates and the poverty of the local people were revealed to us and we finally saw, excepted and embraced it we saw the kingdom of heaven break out just like Math 5:3 promises. (Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven). Again I want to reiterate that when I use the word poverty I am speaking of a spiritual poverty which recognizes that without Jesus you can do nothing. I’m not saying that we all need to be poor. Physical poverty is not our inheritance.

What did the kingdom of heaven breaking out look like? RICHES! Our true inheritance! It looked liked supernatural grace for all of us to get along and love each other even when it was hard. It looked like victory over anger and offense. It looked like amazing miracles such as the deaf people receiving their hearing, blind people receiving their sight, food multiplication, money falling from heaven, people sick and stuck in bed suddenly getting up and walking, crossed eyes becoming straight, a swollen lip shrinking, witchdoctors being set free, thousand coming to the love of Jesus, and many many more. The most obvious thing it looked like was JOY. I mean, we were so insanely happy haha. I laughed more in those 3 months than I have laughed in my entire life. We were full of joy when we were full and when we were hungry, when we were sick and when we were well. The physically rich were full of joy. The physically poor were full of joy. The adults were full of joy. The kids were full of joy. People with parents were full of joy. Children who were orphaned were full of joy. I cant even explain it. We would spend hours per day LAUGHING! The kingdom looked like fullness of joy, and that is true riches! We were so satisfied in His presence. We lived a very simple life so all the things that I usually do when im bored or want a thrill I couldn’t do. God is what we did all the time lol. It was so fun. When were bored we worshiped God. When we wanted a thrill or to throw a wild party, we did! In God! We didn’t have all the other stuff. Like, at any time of the day I would just stop what I was doing and sit and take a drink of the Holy Spirit and get totally wasted and that was totally okay. In fact it was normal. We had a 3 month long joy filled, crazy, drunken, Holy Spirit love party! It was like heaven.