missions

“What prostitutes?”


Oh, but that my eyes might see Your face;

to look at You whilst I swim in grace.

Once drowning in waves of sin’s attention,

Yet now held freely by the Man, Redemption.


Redemption: I’ve often said that redemption not only speaks of freedom but offers a Hope only the once enslaved can understand. A Hope that shouts, “You are worth so much more than you can ever imagine. You may not believe Me now, but trust Me. You are set free; really, truly FREE.” But, sometimes, it’s far to0 easy to forget how free we really are.

Forgotten: As brutal words and punches of anger were thrown back and forth across the meeting room, in walked a missionary to Grace Gardens. The missionary separated the women and asked, “Why are you fighting?! What has happened?” The women explained, “We were fighting about our pasts. We are all prostitutes.” The missionary, confused, asked, “What prostitutes?” The ladies replied, “Auntie, it is us. We are the prostitutes.”  The missionary then looked into the faces of five beautiful women and with the truth of Jesus said, “I see no prostitutes here.”

Forgiven. When the ladies of Grace Gardens left their lives of prostitution and accepted Christ as their Savior they were instantly forgiven. Not only forgiven but made a new creation in Christ. They are no longer prostitutesThey are daughters of the Most High King; prized treasures to be LOVED not sold.

Us too. The same goes for every believer! We’re promised in scripture that when we are forgiven, we are separated from our sin. We are “removed from our transgressions.” And because of that we are no longer enslaved to our sin; we are set free. We are redeemed!! We are invited to sing a song the angels themselves cannot sing. A song of redemption.

Defined. Webster says the definition of redemption is this: “the action of saving or being saved from sin, error, or evil” or “the action of regaining or gaining possession of something in exchange for payment, or clearing a debt.” Redemption is an action; just as love is an action. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Christ DID something for US. Redemption is much like that. Once we were a broken down, secondhand, piece of trash, but Jesus bought us “as is” and made us new! He turned our lives of prostitution into a lovely story of redemption.

But not all the same. It is true that none of our stories are the same. One can argue that’s what makes them each so uniquely beautiful. Sometimes our stories of redemption are short and fun to tell. Sometimes they are full of deep wounds, huge regrets, angry grief, and sorrowful remorse. My redemption story, should the Lord ever give me the courage to share it with the world, is full of the latter. But no matter what my story is, and no matter how it differs from yours or the ladies of Grace Gardens, the theme and outline of each story remains the same: once a secondhand ‘prostitute’, bought by loving God and redeemed by the Savior of the world.

Remember. Redemption stories are one of my most favorite things. I believe it is because they often speak of people once enslaved in immeasurable pain who found the freedom of Jesus Christ in His eternal hope. Because of this we cannot forget; We are THE REDEEMED. If the God of all hope, the God of all love, the God of all peace, the God of ALL, can redeem us from our sin, from our pasts, from our old selves, surely we can strive to remember one thing: We are no longer prostitutes.


A Life Well Lived

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A few months ago my pastor preached a sermon about a life well lived. Pastor Scott’s words had such a profound influence on me that day. So, I tucked away his message for safe keeping for the day I could share my thoughts. Well, I can’t imagine a better time than today as I sit in the Frankfurt, Germany Airport awaiting my flight to Abuja, Nigeria.

In 18 words, Pastor Scott summarized the depth of my passion for ministry in Nigeria and how I want to live my life.

“I don’t want to be standing in front of Jesus with my hands full of burnt up life.”

As I sat in service that day and heard those words being lovingly shouted from the pulpit, I pictured myself standing before the Lord with my hands full of useless trash; feeling inadequate before the Lord. NOT because of His opinion of me, that was still and always will be filtered through Jesus, but because of my own lack of trying.

1 Peter 1:17-19 says this:

“Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear. For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.”

I was bought secondhand, in all my sin, and redeemed by the sacrificial death of a perfect and pure Being. So, if Redemption Himself calls me to do something, and I do not even try to live “in reverent fear” of Him, will I not surely find myself standing before the Lord one day with my hands full of ash? Ash that could’ve easily been delicious fruit, promising adventure, redeemed souls and new names?

This doesn’t mean that being obedient to the Lord or trying to live your life with a sacrificial heart isn’t downright terrifying.  Like moving to Africa as a single 28 year woman who has never been away from her family longer than a few weeks. But when I think about my other option; turning around, going home with my folks and trying my best to live life in the states, I have to ask myself the question:

“If I give up, if I choose to go against God’s plan and even my own dream, what will I hold when I stand before Jesus? What will I have to give to Him?”

*Before I go on, let me clarify something: God does not ask, expect, or demand ANYTHING when we come to Him. That’s the beauty of being a child of the One true King. Because of Jesus, our debt is paid, our mistakes are forgiven, and our lives are no longer made up of works. God has no more wrath to pour out. We can come to Him empty handed and still be welcomed in with joyous shouts of celebration. So my point is not to say that I must work and create good things before I stand before my God. That is not what I believe nor what God represents. But as His daughter, His mouthpiece, His hands, His feet, His heart, I want to love Him and serve Him as much as I possibly can while I am here on this earth.*

I believe my life was given to me to be of use. It took me a long time to figure out what that use was but now that I have, I do not want to waste one minute of it; even knowing God will accept me empty handed.

I want to move to Nigeria. I want to have adventures every day. I want to love the leper and kiss the blind man. I want to hug the orphan and pray with the prostitute. I want to hear the stories, live the memories, tell Truth, spread Hope and be remembered as a daughter of THE King. Not so that I will gain glory or be patted on the back by God. My goal is not to work and work and work so that I can present my Lord with accomplishments or completed goals, but rather to serve His world in a way that allows me to slide into Home plate knowing my hands are not full of ash. I want to finish the game with my hands overflowing with life! A life well lived.

May I not burn up this life.

 

Into the Dungeon

A woman I love very much once told me my greatest strength and greatest weakness were one in the same: righteous anger towards injustice. Those words have stuck with me for many years now. I had mixed feelings when I first heard this. I had always been told righteous anger was a great sin. In fact, I had even been told anger itself was a sin. So I couldn’t understand how this weakness could also be a strength. But my self-proclaimed godmother then explained that my inability to keep quiet when justice goes unserved will be used for God’s glory one day. Little did either of us know I would be called into missions; into a ministry that refuses to shut up when women are trampled on and served cold plates of rotting injustice day after day. 

Earlier today I sat at my kitchen table and wept as I listened to a woman talk about the massive failings of christian culture. I felt her righteous anger as she said, “Following Jesus Christ does not look like silence or complicity to a system who butters our breads and fills our coffers while we stand on the necks of those created in the image of God. It does not look like praying and singing and giving money on top of screams and suffering and filth.” She had just told the story of her visit to Cape Coast Castle in Ghana. She spoke of how she stood in the deep, dark, low dungeon of the castle, surrounded by the ghosts of slaves who had been beaten, abused, sold, and killed. What stuck with her most was not the proverbial haunting of these souls but what sat just one floor above them: the chapel. Directly above the tortured souls of African men crying out for help and mercy were “christians” worshipping in the name of god. As the speaker stood there in utter shock and disbelief, the tour guide said, “Heaven above, Hell below.” But the speaker disagreed. She said, “Heaven was not above. Because staying above is not what Heaven does.” Heaven plunges into the dungeon.

Often times I struggle to find the appropriate amount of anger I’m “allowed” to feel towards injustice. And I believe the portion of righteousness she saw in me, is where I must be careful. Later on in the tour of Cape Coast Castle, the speaker comes face to face with the tour guide. The guide tells her, “Diane. Do not just blame yourself or your people alone. Because we sold our own.”

So many times we categorize people into an ‘us’ and a ‘them’. But there is no ‘us’ and there is no ‘them’. We were and are all created in the image of God. Therefore every time we bury our heads in the sand and pretend to believe the horrors of this world do not exist we sell our own. And, We are selling our souls as well. We sell our own when we protect our christian system and deny or ignore sexual abuse or rape or domestic violence because exposure would threaten the work of God. We use the name of God to justify the dungeon of our decision…..Many have thought that if you avoid the dungeon you can keep yourself clean. But to do so is to fail to follow our Savior out on to the dungheaps of this world.”

I am not too naive to think that I am above those who have created dungeons. I am, however, redeemed from the dungeons I was thrust into and the dungeons I created by way of silence and complicity. And I believe that’s what my godmother meant when she warned me of my strength and my weakness. I have vowed to no longer stay silent. I have sworn to plunge into the dungeons with the anger and love of my God steadily by my side. I have promised to help rescue those who cannot rescue themselves from the depths of hell by introducing them to the Savior. But I must not be blinded by the truth:

The despicable dungeons I want to tear down are the very dungeons I helped create. And so did you. 

 

 

To hear the entire speech by Diane Langberg titled, “As He Is, So Are We In This World”, please click here. I strongly encourage you to take 19 minutes out of your day and walk into the dungeon.

 

Get To Know Your Local Missionary!

Ever since I announced I was going to Nigeria I’ve experienced two things. One, lots of questions!! Two, kind-hearted misunderstandings of who I am and what I’m really about. So, I wanted to take advantage of the Midwest Winter Death Storm of 2014 to answer those Frequently Asked Questions and to try to explain myself and my story as best I can. I’m all about good communication so my hope for the post is to answer your questions as best I can and let you see a little bit more of me in a true and honest light! Here goes!

When did you realize you were being called into missions?

As most of you know I am the child of a super weird, oddly funny, very kind, incredibly loving, a little eccentric and tremendously hard-working Pastor. (No one try to debate these facts because they are, in fact, facts!) Growing up in a minister’s home I saw the pros and cons of being in full-time ministry. So, for many, MANY years I literally rebuked the idea of missions, in Jesus name! (I still think God laughed every time I said it!) But almost 2 years ago, while living with and caring for a precious family member, the Lord really started working on my heart and molding for a passion in missions. It all started when a kind, compassionate, loving, intelligent, hard-working, old farmer named Paul, whom I called Grandpa, asked me what I planned to do when he went to be with Jesus. At the time, I had no answer for him. Sure I had ideas about what I COULD do with my life but I didn’t know what I SHOULD do. So I began a time of intentional prayer- asking the Lord what HE wanted me to do next. My grandfather’s push for answers forced me to pursue God’s calling on my life. One day I stumbled upon a YouTube video of a young, single, female missionary living in Uganda, raising 14 children, saying, “Yes!” to Jesus everyday. Immediately I felt the Lord say to me, “That’ll be you one day.”  I wish I could say I jumped from my chair with a smile on my face and determination in my heart. But that is not what happened. Instead, I said, “Oh heck, no!” (I can be a major brat sometimes, y’all). But because of the Lord’s great love for His children, for me, and His unending patience, grace and kindness, He continued to pursue me and melt my heart for missions. One night I had reached the end of my rope and found myself on my knees praying to God in desperation for an answer. I was Samuel saying, “What, Lord?! Your servant is listening!” (Am I the only one who thinks Samuel had to have been frustrated that night?! I mean, come on, wouldn’t you be frustrated if you were woken multiples times in the middle of the night to a voice you couldn’t find? I’ll admit I would! And I was.) But, again, God found mercy on this sinner’s heart. That night, as I prayed in desperation for direction, for purpose, for meaning, God slowed everything to a halt. He calmed my heartbeat. He quieted my mind. And He spoke a solid truth in my soul as He told me, “Megan, the desires you have in your heart to see the world, to make a difference and to be remembered as Mine are not your desires, but the seeds of My plan for you I planted long ago.” While that should’ve freaked me the heck out, it didn’t. Somehow His words gave me the courage to ask the question I had been hiding for weeks. “Lord, am I to go to Africa?” And the answer I’ve been putting faith in for the past two years was, “Yes.”

Why did you say yes?

That’s easy. “Jesus doesn’t ask us to love the least of these. He demands it.” -Katie Davis

While I technically have a choice to say no, when I signed on to follow Christ, I signed away my “rights”. I signed on for a full and intimate relationship with Him, eternal life with Him and forgiveness only He can offer. But in return I willingly gave Him my life. So I don’t see it as saying “yes” to missions but instead, saying, “Yes, Lord. Anywhere. Anytime. Anything.” This time, “yes” has led me to Nigeria.

Why Nigeria?

I have always had a love for Africa. Even though I wanted nothing to do with missions or ministry as I teenager, I loved to read about Africa and learn about the atrocities that people were encountering all over the continent. I think I felt that if I at least knew about the horrors that war and HIV had done over there, change could start to happen. So when God called me into missions, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that Africa was where He wanted me. At the beginning, I thought He wanted me involved in direct HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment ministry, and while that’s still near and dear to my heart, I now see how God used that passion to lead me further into His Will of women’s ministry. While I am BEYOND excited to be serving in Nigeria, it is not the country itself that brings me there, but the ministry I have been invited to work with. Grace Gardens is a place of love. A safe haven for ladies who have never heard how precious they are to our Father. It’s a ministry I’m all about. I’m about the Gospel. I’m about the heart of a woman. I’m about emotional healing in Jesus Christ. I’m about friendship and discipleship. I’m about building up women’s ministry. I’m about speaking truth into the Western and Eastern Church. I’m about showing the world who women are, why they were created and why they are vital to the Kingdom. I’m about the work of my Father and I believe Grace Gardens is, too.

 What about your health? Your diet?

Almost every one I have spoken with has asked me this question. First let me thank you for your concern. I know this question comes from a place of love. Second, let me apologize for my possible frankness in the past. This is a hard question for me to answer sometimes since it has the potential to damper my zeal. The good news is I am as healthy as I have ever been! The past three years I have taken major steps in my life to accomplish healing in many areas and because of God’s grace and purpose, I have been granted that. My diet is very strict but from what I can gather, there will be plenty of food in Nigeria that I will be able to eat! And who knows, maybe I’ll be able to eat even more over there since there is zero genetically modified ingredients in Africa! I might do a fancy-dancy dance if I can eat real bread again! I am being as smart as I can about my health, here and over there, and I trust that the Lord will take care of me no matter the circumstances. He is good whether I feel good or not.

 What does your family think about this?

I have a pretty cool family, y’all. Even though my parents, brother and future sister-in-law are admittedly terrified, they are incredibly supportive. I’ve seen them live out a piece of the gospel by balancing joy and sorrow at the same time. (Hebrews 12:2)

 Who pays for your trip(s)?

As a missionary with SIM I plan to be fully supported by people and churches who have committed to joining my team as either financial partners or prayer warriors. Going to Grace Gardens is a team effort. It is something I cannot do alone. That’s why I am currently seeking people, churches, organizations, and the like to partner with me to help proclaim the gospel in Jos, Nigeria!

 Don’t you feel guilty living off of other people’s income?

Honest answer: No. Because I don’t see it that way. Just as I don’t think Paul the Apostle saw it that way when he was living off of support and the kindness of strangers. I do not feel as though I am taking friends’ and loved ones’ hard earned incomes to send me on a vacation to a warmer climate and I hope to express myself in a way where my supporters do not see it that way either. When someone makes a pledge to support me and the ministry I am called into, it is more than just providing for me financially. When you give to a missionary you are telling a child about Jesus. You are hugging a mother who just lost her only son to war. You are bandaging a man’s burns in an understaffed hospital.  You are handing out Bibles in a closed, nearly forgotten country. You are praying healing over a a baby girl who has less than a day to live before AIDS wins. You are playing soccer with the kids in a nearby african village just to show the kids someone cares. You are teaching English to a old man who never had the time or money to go to school before. You are standing in a brothel in the heart of Jos, Nigeria telling a woman she is worth more than what her body can do. When you give to a missionary you are investing in hundreds of lives. Not because of the work that one missionary will do, but because of the work that God will do through the ripple of that one missionary, the ripple of your gift. But the truth is this: nothing can be done by that one missionary without the work of the Holy Spirit and the support of a solid backing team. So no, I do not feel bad being financially supported by other people. Those other people are the reason I, and other missionaries, can do the things we’ve been called to do. Supporting a missionary means joining a team of believers passionate about proclaiming the gospel to the nations. Does that sound like something I should feel bad about to you?

 How long do you want to do this?

Right now I am committed to SIM for two years with the hope of becoming long-term. I plan to use these next two years to pursue what God wants and to listen to where God leads. But I do not enter into this light-heartedly. My prayer is to be obedient to the Lord no matter what His calling for me may be and no matter where.

Don’t you want to get married?

Nope. Never. That’s gross.

Just kidding! 🙂 Of course I do! Many people have seen this decision as a final conclusion for my future love life. I do not see it that way. God knows the desires of my heart and I trust Him with them completely. If it be in His plan for me to get married, then I will. If not, I will be content with a life lived with, and for, only Him. And maybe the five cats I’m destined to own!

Are you scared?

Terrified! Truthfully. But my trust in the Lord far outweighs my fear of this world. He is my Guide, my Protector, my Shield, my Provider and my Rock. He will not lead me where He cannot go Himself. In that and in Him I will place my trust.

 How can I help?

In so many ways! I need people like YOU on my team! As I said before, the only way I can get to Nigeria is by having financial backers and prayer supporters! I need people on my team who believe in the truth of the Gospel and want to see it shared in all corners of the world. I need people who believe in the redeeming power of Christ and believe it can and should be spread like wildfire until every tribe and tongue has heard The Good News. Does this sound like you? Then let’s talk. Because you’re needed and there’s plenty of room for YOU in this adventure!

 You’re giving up so much, don’t you think? What are you gaining?

“I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. Philippians 1:20-21

Simple answer: so much. I am gaining so much! I gain experience. I gain adventure. I gain knowledge. I gain friendships. I gain blessings. I gain hardships. I gain tears. I gain sorrows. I gain laughter. I gain trust. I gain love. I gain triumphs and wounds and scars and stories and victories. I gain, life. And I gain Christ.

My prayer is that by you reading this post I accomplished two things:

1) I was able to give a you a greater depiction of my heart and what I am all about.

2) God was glorified in every word.

Still have questions? Email me, call me, text me, Facebook me, tweet me, Instagram me!

I’m about questions.

Get Out of the Way

I had a terrible day yesterday. It was one of those days where every single thing goes wrong and you find yourself shouting at the sky, “Really?!”. Which only makes you angrier because that doesn’t really help the situation. But after an ice cold shower, car trouble, a ridiculously crazy day at the office, hard client appointments, miscommunications, more car trouble, misplaced paperwork, breakfast, lunch and dinner at my desk, I came to a realization; more like I heard God ask me a question, “Why are you fighting him?”

It was clear to me early on in my morning that the events of my day were merely a reaction from the Enemy. The day before I had been given such encouragement from some special people in my life. My spirit had been renewed and pushed even more towards the charge God has given me to serve in Nigeria. God’s goodness and encouragement came in the form of not only one, but two, shout outs from my pastor in Sunday morning’s service, time with a forever friend who I don’t get to see as much as I’d like and my first committed monthly supporter! I went to bed Monday night with such joy and anticipation for what God was going to do next. And Satan was afraid. Satan was fearful of the work of The One True King. And yet I felt obligated to take place in the fight. I was throwing punches right and left. I was telling the Enemy, “You are not going to win this!”. I was furious. I was participating in a fight I had no business being in.  

So after all of yesterday’s setbacks, when God whispered to me, “Why are you fighting him?” it hit me like a ton of bricks. I said, “Why AM I fighting him?”. The battle has already been won. I serve the God of Heaven and Earth, the God Almighty, Jehovah Nissi, My Deliverer, who wants to and will fight for me. I do not have to fight. I merely have to step out of the way. 

But that’s the hard part, isn’t it? Getting out of the way and allowing God to work. As prideful humans we tend to want to save ourselves. I do, at least. I don’t want to be a “damsel in distress”. I don’t want to need help or be seen as weak. So, I fight back and I fight back hard. But when I do that I’m not allowing the beauty of the gospel to be played out in my life. When I fight back I take away the purpose of Christ’s sacrifice. When I step in between God’s angel army and the Enemy, I am changing the message of John 3:16 to “God sent is one and only Son to die”. That’s not how it reads but it’s the message I send when I fight a battle that belongs to the Lord. 

My God wants to fight for me. He can fight for me. He WILL fight for me. I just have to get out of the way!

 

“The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I called to the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and I have been saved from my enemies.”

 

I’m going to Nigeria!!

Hey there Family and Friends!

You read that correctly! I am now an official Appointee Missionary with SIM and working my way to Jos, Nigeria!

Update:

What a year and a half it has been! Sixteen months ago I wrote a blog and announced to the world I was being called into a life of cross-cultural, overseas missions. What a road it has been! Difficult would not even begin to describe what’s been thrown at me, but I’m grateful for all the twists and turns nonetheless.

For the past year I have been blessed with time by our most gracious Heavenly Father. Time to really prepare my heart for the hard work He has set before me. Because I believe that I was intricately and intentionally created by God Himself, I also believe He knew how much healing my heart really needed from past wounds and traumas before I would be able to properly set forth on the charge He has given me. After all, I personally believe God knows us best in our suffering because He knows our suffering. I may not have admitted the secret heartache I was feeling at the time I was asked to address it but now that I am on the other side I can honestly say I am free from the slavery of my past and I am grateful for the people who recognized it and helped me walk through it!

So now, as the weather changes back to a brisk cool wind, I am preparing to head out for another two weeks of missions preparations in Charlotte, North Carolina! I am really looking forward to being back with the staff of SIM and to meet friends whom I’ve only seen through Skype!

What or Who is SIM:

SIM is a cross-cultural, interdenominational mission organization with missionaries serving in over 65 countries. SIM operates under the motto, “By Prayer.” This is something about SIM that I personally love! As Christ’s ambassador’s we have our own responsibilities in the Kingdom of God but ultimately nothing can be done without Him! SIM is connecting God’s people to God’s work in the world. Together we want to RESPOND to need, PROCLAIM the Gospel. and EQUIP the church.  We want to reach out and help, share the love of Jesus and later, be able to move on knowing people are ready to do the same!

The Mission:

When I get to Nigeria I will be working with a wonderful ministry called Grace Gardens. Grace Gardens is a rehabilitation/safe house for women who have been enslaved in the sex industry, whether by trafficking or prostitution. Grace Gardens not only offers a place for learning and rehabilitation but healing and restoration. God has really shaped my heart this past year for women’s ministry. Women play a vital role in the Kingdom but many of them are not hearing this truth. Instead, they are being fed the lies our Enemy would have them believe- that they are worthless, unneeded, unloved and unwanted. God has made it very clear to me that I must be one to speak out against those lies. So, I am fully anxious to meet the women called to serve as well as the women who are served at Grace Gardens. My heart is overjoyed that I get to play a small part in this beautiful ministry!!

The Plan:

After my trip mentioned above, I plan to return to Charleston, IL to build up my team of prayer partners and financial supporters and to continue my work with the Crisis Pregnancy Center of Eastern Illinois. I am really looking forward to meeting with many of you in hopes of sharing my heart and the ministry God has called me into!

How you can pray:

*Safe Travels on my trek to North Carolina. I will be doing a lot of driving! Pray for safety and sanity! 🙂

*Pray that God would use the time at SIM USA in whatever way He sees fit. I pray I come back with an even hotter passion for the charge He has put upon my heart and with a basket of knowledge I didn’t even know I needed!

*Pray for the hearts and minds of the other SIM attendees and staff and my fellow missionaries trying their hardest to get to Grace Gardens!

*Pray for the staff of Grace Gardens -that God would supply their needs and renew their bodies and minds. Pray for the women at Grace Gardens- that Jesus would meet them where they are and make Himself known in a big and mighty way.

*Will you please prayerfully consider joining my team either financially or by prayer? After all, nothing can be accomplished without the help of our Mighty God and a strong support team!

You all mean the world to me! So please let me know how I can be personally praying for you. May the Lord bless you and keep you. May He make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you.

Love,

Meg

“His word is in my heart like a fire; a fire caught up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; Indeed, I cannot.”