Monday, December 31, 2012

A New Year's Prayer

 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should. Ephesians 6:18-19

As we anticipate stepping into the new year, many of us are busy at self examinations and making New Year's resolution, here's a prayer for you and me, to help guide us on our journey into the new year. 

I pray for boldness, though fear tries to take the best out of us; I pray that everyday of this new year, you may hold your head up high and take a step towards your destiny. 

I pray for joy; do not let situations get in the way of you experiencing great joy!

I pray for a willing heart, willing to let God take control, willing to let others in, willing to love and willing to forgive

I pray that you will let go; let the past remain the past, do not let the mistakes of the past dictate your today and rob you of your tomorrow 

I pray for confidence, the confidence to take a step even when your cheerleaders are few 

I pray for great vision; trust in God your visions will come to pass

I pray that you are surrounded by love, people who believe in you and truly want the best for you

I pray for courage, be strong and courageous to walk through the doors God has opened for you

I pray for resources; that God will provide for everything you need to succeed

I pray for financial blessings and as God blesses you financially, I pray you will exercise great discipline and bless others in return

I pray for great success to accomplish all of your goals in 2013 and beyond.

I pray that you will create the time to spend with God daily; there's no success without God! 

I pray that if and when you have failed, you will not take failure as defeat. I pray you will have enough strength and courage for just one more step. 

Let us step in 2013 with great expectation that God will see us through this next season of our lives. Let us take a bold step into the new year! 

Happy new year 2013!  Bonne Anne!!!

Provided by ElevateHer international Ministries  Stay tuned...

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Life Lessons of 2012

My brothers and sisters, consider it nothing but joy when you fall into all sorts of trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect effect, so that you will be perfect and complete, not deficient in anything. James 1:2-4

Every situation in life is an opportunity to learn a valuable lesson.  Failure to learn these lessons will result in being presented with newer situations as an attempt to learn these lessons.  These lessons aren’t designed to hurt us but to grow, mature and develop us.  I have found with God, we can survive the unthinkable, thrive and live to tell others.  So when trials occur in our lives, maybe the question should not be “why me?” Perhaps it is more appropriate to ask God: “What do you want me to see?” 

Below is my year in review of lessons learned and in the process of learning. 

1. Sometimes it is necessary to take steps of faith with no idea of future outcomes.
2. Stopping and resting are necessary parts of refueling and growth.
3. Being fully present allows you to be a participant of the events taking place in your life; good and bad, don't miss a thing.
4. Though fear is a necessary force that often works as necessary opposition to build your confidence muscle, there is no greater feeling than facing your fears and slaying them.
5. Sometimes those closest to you may not be the ones to help bring comfort in times of need.
6. Do not hold on too tightly to any temporal things, there's no telling how God will bless you when you let go of them.
7. Pain is a necessary part of growth, no way around it!
8. Healing is hard work but there's no moving forward without it.
9. Every life challenge is an opportunity to grow in an area you have been neglecting
10. Some struggles will hurt like hell but when you look back, you will realize those situations developed you more than any other.
11. Make time to experience joy, all of life does not have to be lived as a tragedy.
12. Laugh as often as you can.
13. Whenever possible, Eat a good meal slowly, alone!
14. Doing good, never gets old.
15. It is not how much you give but how you give that is most important
16. When you feel like you have nothing else to give, it is very important that you do not give up!
17. We all have a unique purpose to fulfill, it is very important you find out what it is and live it out
18. God has given us the permission to purposely and intentionally live life; it is very important for us to live it boldly, holding nothing back.
19. What you do is almost as important as the environment in which you do it. 
20. Though relationships scare many of us, healing cannot take place outside of engaging in relationships.
21. Though God frustrates us at times, healing cannot take place outside of a relationship and connection with Him; God's dynamic position in our lives is undeniable!

What lessons have you learned this year?

Provided by ElevateHer International Ministries.  Stay Tuned...

Monday, December 24, 2012

My Grown-up Christmas List

One of my all-time favorite Christmas songs is "My grown up Christmas List" especially sung by Amy Grant; Kelly Clarkson also does a great rendition.

While many of us are wishing for that special gift, the singer's Christmas List is for:

No more lives torn apart
That wars would never start
And time would heal all hearts
And everyone would have a friend
And right would always win
And love would never end
This is my grown up Christmas list

To which I say: Yes!!! That's the message of Christmas! That's why Christ came! That's the hope of Christmas! This should be our daily hope and prayer.

Right now as I write this blog there's an ongoing war in the DR Congo where women are used as weapons of war and are being brutally abused.

Right now there are women in prison who have suffered years of abuse by someone close and they have now resulted into their selling bodies because they find no dignity in who they are as children of God.

Right now there's a woman looking the other way as her husband violates their wedding bed over and over again and as she looks the other way, he brings a viral disease that will eventually take both of their lives.

Right now there's a woman in deep emotional pain, unable to move on, unable to let go, unable to forgive and live a productive life.

Won't you join me in singing my Christmas wish list:

No more lives torn apart
That wars would never start
And time would heal all hearts
And everyone would have a friend
And right would always win
And love would never end
This is my grown up Christmas list

This is why Christ came! This is what Christ came to do during his first appearance on earth and until his second return we have work to do. 

Please join me as I aim to empower women to heal from wounds of trauma and advocate for more training and education for women through ElevateHer International Ministries.

As you celebrate Christmas, say a prayer for the healing and peace of women all over the world.

Provided by: ElevateHer International Ministries

Stay Tuned…

Saturday, December 22, 2012

When Tragedy Strikes

Isaiah 55:8-9“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts”.

As a follower of Christ, I constantly wrestle with God; trying to understand his hands at work. I especially struggle when tragedy strikes. I often ask: "God where are you?" "why?" And the most daunting: "what have we done to be punished in such a way?"

Sorry this blog is not to answer any of the above questions; for my debate with God usually leads me back to his words; Isaiah 55:7-8...Your ways are not my ways…But you are our refuge and strength; so I will not fear…(Psalm 46).

However, this blog is to help in responding with grace while allowing God to be God in the midst of tragedy.

During my last semester in college, I became pregnant by my love but this pregnancy was by far planned. And of course having a child out of wedlock is frowned upon by Christians and non-Christians; deep down inside, every parent wants their children to have children after marriage.  That wasn't my story. I was pregnant, living in a dormitory, last semester in college and sick to death. This pregnancy had its way with me. It felt like I was poisoned. I lost 25lbs during the first trimester. And one visit to the emergency room. I was doubtful I would ever finish the semester to graduate. Many people called to check in on me but there was one of phone call, I will never forget.  The call started as all the others.  “I heard what happened, how are you?” And I went through the list of my symptoms and without missing a beat this woman said "you know when we sin, God punishes. This is God's punishment for your sin".


I was not ready for that.

When we got off the phone, I wept bitterly.  A part of me accepted my “punishment”. 

But over the years, I’ve questioned God about many other situations.

How do we explain women who miscarry? What sins have they committed? The death of the innocent children in CT. What sins had they committed? And I'm sure you have your own list of unexplained tragedies.

I was beyond hurt by her words. I have forgiven her for her hurtful words but God has used her painful words to teach me how to not approach tragedy when it strikes.

The truth is we cannot always equate sin and tragedy to God's punishment. Does God punish for disobedience? Yes he does. Does he show mercy when his people cry out to Him? Yes he does! Can we always call one situation as punishment over another? That's up to God to decide. Our job is to pray, teach others about God and weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice!  And whatever you do, when someone’s in the midst of pain, refrain from giving theological answers because no explanation can pacify the pain of the tragic death of a six year old. Instead, sit with them, pray for them, make them a meal, clean their house, do their laundry or take their children out for ice cream.

One friend did exactly just that during that last semester in college.  She came over, rubbed my back, greased and massaged my scalp (black hair regiment) and sat with me.  I have always been grateful to her for showing me how to love in the midst of difficult times. 

For this Christmas season, live out your faith in action!  Find someone who seems to “deserve” God’s wrath and punishment and love them deeply with your actions.  After all, isn't that the message of Christmas?  Christ descending from heaven and loving sinners who deserved punishment.

Brought to you by: ElevateHer International Ministries…Stay tuned!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Haiti: No Mask, No Pretense!

  This was one of the hardest blogs to write, unfortunately doing mission’s work and pastoring around the world doesn’t necessarily make you a Saint.  We struggle like everyone else; the beautiful pictures and great stories are often covered with great challenges, spiritual assault and our own hardened heart.  Well this blog only scratches the surface on how human we all really are.

On July 27th I embarked yet another challenge in my spiritual journey; I Co-lead a team to Haiti, my beloved country, to teach a group of some 200 students on what it means to live for Jesus! I have often been a part of many teams going to Haiti with the goal of introducing Jesus to the people, not realizing that Haiti is like, "the bible belt of the Caribbean". They've heard of Jesus and many would call themselves Christians but  that doesn’t necessary mean they know and understand what it means to actually LIVE for Jesus. It's kind of funny that our team made up of all Americans would attempt to teach on such a subject since we, too, struggle terribly with that concept; though they struggle with voodoo, we struggle with our own idols.  

 Nonetheless our plans were set to teach on love, forgiveness, and working together. To our surprise and God's perfect planning; we ended up working in a community where signs of poverty and lack of development were quite apparent on the faces of the children. The church where we worked was surrounded by corn fields. Space was limited and we thank the Lord we traveled light; this year we decided we were not going to put the “Dollar Tree” out of business or attempt to design paper crosses where all would end up on top of the rest of the other trash that's pilling up in that community.

 We began teaching on Monday and instantly the smell of material poverty hit me hard, I took a whiff of those children and my sense of smell was immediately challenged. Many of their clothes were torn, dirty and their hands were pretty grimy. Did I tell you I was a borderline germaphobe? And every last one of these children wanted to hold my hands and get physically close to me. Ugh...And yes my mind started going there, you know that place (I'm so clean and you're so unclean) and I fought hard to dispel those thoughts, I was so disappointed in me. After all, I am Haitian and I've traveled enough to know better but each day became increasingly harder.

On top of the challenging smells, these children struggled with the concepts of love; forgiveness and what it means to live for Jesus! I could not understand it because they've heard of Jesus; they new the songs, they have memorized key bible passages and even knew to "look" their best for church! I was  so disappointed when they answered "hurt them back" when asked what should be done if someone hurts them.  One teenager was adamant about her convictions, she even sucked her teeth and rolled her eyes at me for challenging them to forgive.

Each night I would ponder these issues, not able to make sense of their complexities. It wasn't until the last day of camp that Jesus cracked heaven open for me to see deeper, through one of my children.  I took notice of him in the back of the church playing joyfully with one of the toddlers. The child had "booger goo" all over his face (as my son calls it), his clothes were dirty and I'm pretty sure he did not take a bath prior to coming to camp that day. But my son was caught in a joyful exchange with this kid that I would not dare touch. He went down on his knees, to the kid's height and they both exchanged great sounds of laughter through their game. My son accepted him "goo" faced and all, when I could not.

And the Lord spoke to me; Dieula,  if you lived here would you not smell the same? If you found yourself living in this community would you not believe the same? If everyone in this community was only looking out for their own interest, would you be so inclined to forgive those who were trying to walk over you to get ahead? See dieula where you live in America, you are able to cover the stench of your heart with fancy homes, fancy clothes and education. Material wealth can cover many smells, so much so that you can fool one another but you cannot cover the stench of the heart. Dieula, What you see and smell in these children is what you fear about your own being!

  I'm still pondering and processing these nuggets from God...but I walked away realizing that these children were living more authentically than any of us in the US; their outside actually reflect their insides.  I can't remember the last time my outside reflected my inside.  God is present to do amazing work with those who  come to him authentically; no mask, no pretense.  

Friday, August 10, 2012

Your Homophobia is Killing My Sons!!!!!

I’m the proud mom of three young men; 13, 11, and 11.  These boys have the ability to make me laugh till I cry and so angry that I may spew out words that will not found in the Bible.  Nonetheless, they’re my babies and we understand each other very well.  A couple years ago, when my precious little babies started leaving the child category into the young men category, I started noticing the “mandate” society had for my boys.  It was no longer acceptable to play with the little girls on the playground; they had to do boy things like push girls around and act mischievously; society started “teaching” my boys what it means to be men. Rule number 1; you must never show any signs of having female characteristics.  I find this rule to be quite puzzling since most of our children’s elementary school years are spent with “females”. From time spent with mom at home to years in the classroom and even the shows they watch, they are inundated by females and I believe many of the parts that determine who we are is partly due to socialization.  The twins are entering six grade and they’ve never had a male teacher.   I would often hear in my house: “stop acting like girls”, my usual response is always: “what’s wrong with little girls?” I want them to know that being a man is not about putting girls/women down and I believe the categories for being boys and girls are not as rigid as we want to think, of course some stand out more.  Not only do I respond with the above question but in my heart I say a little prayer that says: “Jesus come quickly”. 

You see, only a society who has lost its way to God can pray “God let my boy be anything in the world but please don’t let him be gay”.  Only a society who has fallen far from God would rather have their sons be murders, liars and all sorts of other sinners but never gay because that is an abominable sin.  Only a society who has fallen far from God, would take their sons to strip clubs on their 16th birthdays to ensure they are not Gay.  Only a society who has fallen far from God, would allow their young men to disrespect women to prove how tough and masculine they are. Only a society who has fallen from God would abdicate their role as parent into the hands of a coach to help their sons “man up” but in return this manly coach repeatedly abuse these precious boys taking away their very being and dignity.  Society, your homophobia is killing our boys!!!!!

Instead of focusing on our sons not being gay, why not focus on developing strong men who will bend the knee to Jesus.  Why not focus on developing men who are great husbands who love their wives as Christ loves the church. Why not focus on developing resilient men who will not give up on life and their responsibilities.  Why not focus on developing men who stand up for justice and fight for the rights of the poor and the defenseless.  Why not focus on developing men who stand up for women.

This past week my oldest son said: "mom for my next birthday, I want three pairs of sneakers, one for me and the other two for my brothers in Haiti." You see we sponsor 2 third graders in Haiti and my sons have seen how they live, although they can't fully articulate what they’ve seen; I believe they’re on a journey to seeing Jesus through the eyes of some of the poorest children in Haiti. Yes!!! Our boys have the potential to do great things, let your homophobia not extinguish their potential. 

Society, get your act together and Stop!!! Stop trying to make my boys so homophobic that they are reluctant to showing compassion, cry or be kind. Your homophobia is killing our boys’ spirits and they can’t fully live for Christ in fear of being called gay!

So my prayer for our sons is: “God order the steps of my sons, let them follow you all of the days of their lives, let them love you with all of their hearts, mind and soul, let them know you intimately and follow the only one true God of love and grace; let them stand up for justice and defend the defenseless ”.  Let this be our prayer for our boys.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

I had "THE TALK" with my son today...

John 14: 1 "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me”.

No not the sex talk, that's an on-going conversation in our family.  But the talk I had with my son today was one that ached my heart to the core.  I hated doing it but I realized some time ago as a mom raising black boys in America, there are some things I must do to prepare them for the harsh realities of this world and to help them not be embittered by those realities. 

I started playing the conversation in my head about 2 weeks ago since he started spending more time with a buddy of his from football.  He would ask to walk to the Rec-center, to the friend’s house to play with his game system and yesterday he called saying they’re walking to 7-11 for a free Slurpee.  The average mom would probably say yes as long they know the friend.  I, on the other hand, started pursuing ways to make sure he understands how to handle himself when he’s out an about with his friends. 

Well this morning I felt compelled to make sure he knew exactly how to make choices that would result in his survival if a situation was to arise.

“Sweetie, you know if the police is ever to approach you, you need to respond respectfully without resisting?” 

“Mom, why would I ever be approached by the police?”

“Sweetie, listen to me just make sure your hands are always in plain sight, do not carry anything in your hands that might be confused for a weapon, do you hear me?”

“Yes mom!”

 “You see, I know you’re a sweet and loving son but they don’t know that and sometimes black boys are feared before they are given the benefit of a doubt, do you understand?”

“yes Mom”

“I love you”

 “I love you too!”



I’m still a little sad that I had to have this conversation with my son this morning.  But I’m even more heart broken that we live in a world where children are feared rather than loved and embraced.  I’m especially heartbroken for little black boys growing up without advocates and champions.  But my heart will not be troubled or embittered; I will trust in Jesus for the protection over my black and precious babies.   

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Abortion, Society and the Church

The closer we get to election, the more we will hear the A-word mentioned in both the media and churches across America.  No not alcohol; although in the US alone it is estimated that we spend 57 billion dollars on alcohol each year, we are definitely stimulating the economy by our alcohol consumption.  However, the A-word I’m referring to is Abortion.  As a Christian and a woman, I take great interest in this issue.  So this is my attempt to publically process my take on abortion, society and the church.

·         Let’s be straight about one thing: life begins at the point of conception; when the egg meets the sperm, life begins.  No ifs, ands or buts.  I have three children and the minute I was pregnant with each of them, my body started going through a metamorphosis; nausea, loss of appetite etc.  Yup, I was one of those pregnant women.  My point: the new life within was causing changes to my body.  It’s quite remarkable if you ask me.  The creation of Life in a woman’s body is simply AMAZING! 

·         It seems as if Democrats are saying: it’s your body, it’s your choice, do whatever you want with it.  Though we are free to make our own choices but all choices come with ramifications.  As a Christian woman, if I give myself fully to God, then my body and everything in me belong to my God, my creator. Do you really care for me, if you know I’m desperate for answers and you give me a loaded gun without any warning?

·         And Republicans, on the other hand, seem to want to abolish abortions so much so that they’ll force women to compliance hoping they make better moral decisions.  Oftentimes the messages come across as shaming, condemning and judgmental; I’ve even heard the words evil and anti-Christian used to describe women who abort their un-born.  The problem is much bigger than the behavior. 

·         Let’s say all abortion clinics were forced to close down, all abortion doctors no longer extended those services to women, would that put an end to abortions?  My answer is an emphatic NO!  We would probably end up with another set of problems.  Not only would they continue aborting their un-borns but women’s lives would also be in jeopardy. Like the preceding generation, we would go back to “back alley abortions”, self-induced abortions and countless horror stories of women desperately attempting to rid the life inside for whatever reason.  Ask the former generation, they’ll tell you stories of those in their communities who either received or performed back alley abortions.  Oops I’m sorry, I’m airing their dirty little secrets publically; I forgot they don’t talk about these things.  They’ll just let this generation deal with these issues on its own. 

·         We need to stand up for the life of the mother as well as the child.

So what do we do with these tough issues on Life and abortion???  Where is the Church???

Here’s my dream…

·         We all need to once and for all agree that life begins at conception.  Let not politics or scientific pundits decide what is life and what isn’t.

·         I would not force women into making better moral decisions in terms of abortion.  Change and transformation cannot be forced; it always backfires.  And I cannot say: a woman’s body is her own therefore do what you like and send her off irresponsibly.

·         I would allow abortion to be legal with a few provisions

o   Doctors would have to do a full education for each woman needing an abortion; heartbeat checks, education on different stages of pregnancy and partner them with a church representative who can help them through different options i.e. adoption, better resources or a place to stay for the months of pregnancy.

o   Churches would have a great working relationship with abortion clinics and abortion doctors.  Nope not the picket signs in front of their clinics type of relationship.

o   Churches would have a loving relationship with potential abortion client; they would non-judgmentally meet potential clients, give them food to eat, hear their stories, pray for them and with them and if they choose to have an abortion, that relationship should continue even after the abortion.  Yes church, loving can be hard.  But if a woman already has one abortion, chances are she might have another one if her life situation has not changed.  Which means your continued love might save future lives.  That is the Gospel preached in deed.

o   Where are the men in these situations? Most abortions occur not because of rape or incest but due to fear and lack of support from the fathers. The men in these situations need to be given a bigger responsibility.  If a woman identifies her “baby daddy”, if she in fact knows him (sorry having flashbacks of Maury), this father needs to share the burden and the pressure.  After all, a woman cannot get herself pregnant.  The fathers need to be a part of all of the above.  Men we need you!!

God we pray for your hands of Mercy to be upon us in this generation, for the preservation of life of our children and future generations to come. In Jesus Name, Amen!

Monday, July 9, 2012

25 Lessons Learned in Prison

25 Lessons Learned in Prison

Of course doing ministry in prison has life changing impact.  The I who started teaching the women in Dallas Prison, 6 months ago, is forever changed and is daily changing.  I pray the women received as much from the experience as I did.

1)      God is indeed with, fully present and near the broken hearted

2)      God is on a constant pursuit for all of his children, even when we make horrible choices

3)      There are no easy answers when it comes to broken people in a broken world

4)      I’m learning to look deeper rather than just focusing on the sin at the surface; still very hard to do…

5)      I’m learning to be present when talking to others

6)      Healing or lack thereof is a bigger piece of the puzzle than I thought

7)      I have never met as many prostitutes who know of Jesus as I did in prison

8)      Abuse affects a person long after it took place; sometimes a new person emerges because of it

9)      The whys and hows of homosexuality are very complicated

10)   It is not enough to tell someone that God loves them; it’s even more impactful to show them God’s love through your love for them.

11)   Going into the prison wasn’t as scary as I thought

12)   Society has very distorted views on sex and the church does not know how to help us reclaim its goodness

13)   God loves prostitutes

14)   People will do anything to fit in, belong and find community even if it means imprisonment.

15)   Many have never heard the phrase “I love you” from one who truly loved them

16)   Forced change and healing will never result into true transformation.

17)   Jesus waits for us to point the broken, the hurt and the defenseless to Him

18)   The world is in desperate need of learning to live life in the midst of chaos

19)   Sometimes denial is God’s gift for us to cope with hard things until we’re ready.

20)   There’s something good about allowing yourself to come to its end because that’s where you see your true self and that’s also where you see the living God.

21)   The Good News of Jesus Christ sounds even “gooder” to those who are tired of defeat, ready for change and looking for answers.

22)   We are not as good at hiding our pain as we think; it gets in the way of everything; it dictates where we go, what we eat, what relationships to begin; it’s in everything.

23)   Pain transcends race, gender, class and social status; everybody hurts. 

24)   We are in the midst of war; it’s a spiritual warzone.  And we are poorly equipped to fighting back.

25)   I’ve learned to pray more!!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Poetry from Prison

For the past few months, I've been posting about my journey in prison working with a group of beautiful women, challenging them to choose life and to accept God's purpose for their lives.  Well today's post is from one of them; I think she wants you to know the raging war that goes on inside.  Can any of you relate?

I feel like a caged bird
without a key
I'm caught between
Pain and suffering
Numerous of unanswered questions
have caused so much grief
Dear God what will
ever become of me
I shut my eyes hopefully
to receive some peace
7 hours have passed
And still no sleep
Even though my eyes are shut
I'm very much awake
Thinking about all the trouble I've caused
with all my mistakes
Never meant to hurt your or
cause you any tears
Am I afraid to let go of
all the years of fear
I need your support and guidance
So I may stay strong
Everyday is a struggle
Please help me to move on
Someone tell me
How long this feeling will last
I'm letting go of this pen
Like I'm letting go of my past

This song is dedicated to all my sisters in prison!
Take Me to the King!

Friday, June 8, 2012

God Hear our Prayers in Prison!

Yesterday was not a very good day for prison ministry at all.  I was anxious, ticked off by a number of things and all of my insecurities seemed to surface all at once.  I pretty much asked God for a pass to get out of doing ministry; it never came.  I struggled with the lesson I was supposed to teach; and of all topics: prayer. 

I grew up on prayer. One of my very first Christian memories is on prayer.  My mother prayed incessantly; to the point where it was annoying (I've grown to depend on her prayers).  But like everyone else, I've struggled with prayer.  I believe part of my tension with prayer is due to a lack of understanding as to what prayer is and its power. 

My sisters in prison have been challenging me on the tension I've had with prayer.  For one thing, working with them has shown me my powerlessness to change their realities (past, present and future) and the need and dependency for God who is all powerful and works in supernatural ways to step in, otherwise they have no hope. He is their last chance at life.  And the other challenge they've posed is on my traditional views on prayer. For some reason I've always thought only the righteous prays, and "blatant" sinners must not have anything to do with prayer.  I can't tell you how surprised I was when one of the ladies said: "while I was on the streets (prostituting); I asked God to protect me and I knew He was the one that kept me from this one client who was wanted by the police".  On and On the stories went.  I would drive back from the prison in total disbelief trying desperately to make sense of what these women shared of their relationship with Jesus.

So as I process on the mysteries of prayer, here are some of my observations:

  • Prayer is the act of skooching closer to God.  In prayer we are saying we long to be close to God. I believe some of my sisters in prison understand this concept better than many of us.  They are desperate for the nearness of God.
  • Anyone can pray at any time they choose, with whatever posture they desire, out loud or in silence, and with no specific length of time or amount of words. 
  • In prayer God reveals Himself.  This is my favorite part of prayer.  God wants to show off to us.  He wants us to know that He is a mighty God.  And by answering specific prayers; those spoken out lout and in silence, those you did not think he cared about and those you did not even know to ask, we get to know him better.  And our confidence on who He is, develops.  I love seeing God answer prayers!
  • Persistence in prayer fosters our relationship with God.  Keep praying.  Keep calling out to Him.  Ask for all wants, needs and desires.  Ask for little things and for big things.  Shucks I've been praying for $50,000 (long story) but I've also been praying for God to heal me of my toxic anger that lives deep in my heart and my high blood pressure (yup both related). 
  • Develop a habit for praying. To get better at praying you must develop a habit for it.  Get in a routine, not legalistically but to encourage growth.
  • Pray without Ceasing, 1Thess 5:17: In the shower, as you walk, as you eat, as you play, as you study, in your home, at your job, before a big meeting, after a big meeting, over your children, over a family member living a destructive life, against the enemy, for victory, for protection...wherever you are, whatever you do pray without ceasing, it is our mightiest weapon in fighting the enemy. 
  • In prayer God receives glory.  In other words we make him look great by bending the knee (literally and figuratively) and surrendering our whole being to Him.
So last night, we skooched closer to God in prayer.  The presence of God was undoubtedly amongst us. These women literally cried out to God for healing, deliverance and transformation. And I believe He heard the prayers of His daughters. Let us continue to fight one prayer at a time.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Worship In Prison

My friends and followers read this next line very carefully.  You will never be paid for some of your best work and I have a theory on that: we were created for more than money! Shocking!!! Yes!!!!!
 Every week I get in my car put $20 of gas, drive 25 miles and pay $4 for parking to work with a group of women whom for whatever reason have found themselves in jail, mostly because of sins that have been done to them. And every week I pray for God's presence to be with them and transform them. I have never prayed this hard in my entire life! I don't know if my time with the women will be marked as my best work but last night I definitely felt the presence of God leading the group.

Last night I believe I touched a nerve in the group. I was teaching on the subject of finding purpose and the need for healing using the story of Joseph. I asked a very simple question based on my own journey of healing: "do you sometimes feel like a little girl inside who just can’t grow up?" Almost every head in the entire room was nodding yes and every face was running with tears. I could not believe it, these women were stuck at an adolescent age; they look like adults but are just fragile little girls inside. Abuse victims are usually stuck at the age of their abuse or the age they started using and cannot move on because healing never took place!

Well last night, the child inside one of these ladies spoke up and asked a very honest question: do you ever forget what's been done to you?  This was her way of saying “I want to heal and live a productive life but these memories, these things that have been done to me are holding me hostage and emotionally imprisoned, how do I break free?”

I wanted to say yes but that would be a lie and they would know it because they have tried everything to numb themselves in order to forget and nothing's worked. A part of me wished I had a magic wand to wipe away the memories of their past but that would be robbing them of their journey.  Instead I said NO with a promise attached. The promise was Jesus; If they gave Jesus permission to enter in those deep areas of pain, they can start living again.  If they would allow Jesus to step into these places where no one is allowed, the past would no longer dictate their every move, they would have a new master.  The little girl inside sat at the edge of her seat fully attentive to hear how Jesus was going to enter in and heal her soul. I told her to take Jesus by the hand and start taking steps toward healing.

I wish I could fully give you a picture of the dynamic of that room but I believe we had a beautiful worship experience where Father, Son, Holy Spirit and angels were all in attendance. We even had a song, one 20 year old started singing as she cried and sobbed and most of the group joined in: I just can't give up now I've come too far from where I started from Nobody told me the road would be easy and I don't believe he brought me this far to leave me. Yup, I was created for more than making money.  Please join me in singing my sisters through their journey of healing.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Deadliest Weapon of War: RAPE

"to loose the chains of set the oppressed free" Isaiah 58:6
In war, we often think the deadliest weapons are those that kill the body. The world will never forget Hiroshima, the first city to be destroyed by a nuclear weapon killing possibly over 100,000.  And we will never forget 911, though we were not under an official war but the nearly 3,000 deaths left the country devastated and under the state of extreme fear. Though the fighting mechanisms of these wars left thousands to hundreds of thousands dead bodies, I propose the deadliest weapon of war is Rape where the target is not the body but the soul.

Rape is an act of extreme violence expressed through sex. It leaves its victims feeling completely helpless and debilitated. When rape is used as a weapon of war it's usage is quite strategic, as an atomic bomb, its intent is to annihilate and destroy any sign of life.  You may be wondering how exactly does rape accomplish its objective in war?

Well walk with me for a minute. Imagine a woman living in a small village in DR Congo, this village has no modern conveniences. This woman has 10 children because there is no such thing as family planning or a woman's rights to use contraceptives or to say no.  Water is retrieved from a well, miles away before the sun even rises. She works the farm and her harvest is sold to send maybe a couple of her children to school and to feed them. She cooks from scratch every single day, a process that takes hours. To sell her produce, she spends hours in the market only to make a dollar or two a day. This woman's contribution to her family is invaluable; you can say she is the backbone holding her family together.

Now imagine in this same village in the DR Congo, war strikes, soldiers come in and take 10 of these women and drag them into the bush raping them countless times and when they have finished "killing" these women, they send them back to their village. Please tell me, is the woman the only one who has "died" in this village? How do you think the husbands feel, not being able to protect their wives?  There is nothing more devastating to a man then not being able to protect his woman. Who else in the community has died? How about the children? What then happens to them? Often times, they’re also victims of sexual violence. How about the other women in the village? Do they feel safe to go to the well? The market? Everyone is living under a constant state of fear, anger and shame. Who do they turn to?  And to escape their pain, they do not accept these women back into their community. That village has died from this deadly weapon of war. This weapon of war has the potential of killing an entire nation, like a nuclear weapon, one village at a time.

The reality is: this is the story of many women living in the DR Congo. I’ve met a few of them; their faces are etched in my brain. It tears me up inside to even think that right now there is a group of women on the other side of the world suffering from this deadly weapon.  It is so easy to walk away feeling helpless and turn our back on these women but while visiting in the DR Congo, I saw signs of hope.

ALARM-Alarm is a ministry dedicated to seeing these women healed from their physical, emotional and spiritual wounds. Please visit their website to see how you can help:

Panzi Hospital-Since 1999 this hospital has treated more than 25,000 gynecological cases; most are from reproductive trauma or sexual violence trauma. This hospital not only provides physical restoration by surgically repairing fistulas due to sexual violence. They also partner with groups that can help teach the women a craft during their hospital stay in order to start over and to be accepted back into their villages.  They are still in desperate need of organizations to partner with them in the area of socio-economic development of the women.

US Churches-While in the DR Congo, we visited with a group of women who were attenders of a trauma conference a church in the Dallas, TX area presented a year prior.  These women were clearly challenged to accept the healing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ was offering.  One by one, a few of them stood up to testify how the conference had affected them and how they now see themselves as worthy daughters to a mighty King.  Yes!!!!  There is Healing; there is life even after death.

Though this deadly weapon of war against women is heinous, messy and disgusting; please don’t turn away and pretend it is far removed from your reality.  Don’t run from its messiness; embrace the tension! Do something!  Pray!  Give to an organization fighting for justice for these women! Go, if you can afford it and stomach it.  Whatever you do, Please do not say this is not your passion; any crime against another human being is a crime against humanity; it should be all our passion. Let us join hands to fight against this evil in our world. 

Father, let us be bold, courageous and join you in loosening the chains of injustice and setting the oppressed free!  In Jesus Name!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

My Africa!!!

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. Psalm 121:1-2

“How was Africa?” has been the number one question I’ve heard all week long. I tried writing several blogs to give you snippets as an attempt to not bore you with an extremely long blog but none really captured the heart of my trip to the motherland, so “How was Africa??”

First of all, I was extremely disappointed by the anticlimactic welcome to Africa, instead of being greeted by lions, tigers and elephants, with the theme song “Circle of Life” playing in the background, there were drivers with name signs waiting for us to start our adventure on well paved road. And neither were there soldiers shooting everywhere senselessly nor starving children to greet us. What I encountered, instead, brought meaning to my soul and a completeness to my being. For the first time in my life, I stepped on the ground my ancestors once walked, farmed and possibly chased lions and tigers. I took a deep breath and my soul rejoiced and instantly I felt my ancestors said “I told you we would be back!” Oh man it was Black beauty everywhere! Every shade of blackness was well represented. They looked at me and smiled as if they’d known me all their lives. Many of them were disappointed that I did not speak the same language. One older woman said through a translator: “how come you look exactly like us but does not speak our language?” She became indignant as if saying I was African but pretending to be American, she wanted me to be myself and drop the act. And it was my pleasure to give a basic course on world history 101. She seemed to be saddened by the story of slavery as if it was the first time she was hearing the heinous nature of the slave trade. The truth is the people from the villages have never heard the story of slavery and migration and they seldom see other blacks coming to serve them, so I completely understood their lack of awareness.
And for the week, we drove up and down a slippery, muddied road to a mountain called Mt Elgon, an area west of Kenya near the Uganda border, sorry we did not see Kony, but what we did see was a group of women desperate for healing. These women were survivors of many years of war; either war over land or post-election dissatisfaction. Usually when we think of war, we think of two opposing sides shooting dead their enemy. However war on these mountains were beyond a shoot to kill, war on these mountains meant homes being burned, farms destroyed, men being castrated and women and children violently raped; with that kind of brutal fighting I would take a bullet to the head any day. But these women were survivors but you might as well call them “dead women survivors” because something inside of them died during the years of wars.
So for the week we partnered with an organization called ALARM and this organization’s sole purpose is to facilitate peace, reconciliation and healing between opposing groups. And guess what? These people are hungry for such a message because they have seen the other side of peace. We taught on everything dealing with trauma; what it is, how it affects a person, how it affects children and how to heal from its pain. Our prescription: healing from trauma is a journey and without Christ there is no healing. By the end of the week, these women were on fire and energized to take what they had learned to their communities. We believe some strong and powerful community activists were birthed out of that week.

Not only did something great happen to these women on those mountains but it also happened to me. I “found” myself in My Africa!!

Most heartfelt Moment: The most heartfelt moment was watching these women worship. These women have been abused, lost children and husbands and yet their worship needed no instruments; their hands and harmony were enough to lead them to our Father’s throne.

Most Inspiring Moment: The most inspiring moment was seeing these women strategizing of how they were going to use what they have learned in their communities. One by one, they stood up to share how they would respond to child abuse, lack of education, to orphans and widows. These women were ready for action.

Funniest Moment: The funniest moment occurred during a lunch conversation with three of the women wondering why I “only” had 3 children and what kind of family “family planning” I was using. Having 6-10 children is very common amongst these women.

Proudest Moments: My proudest moment was working side by side with the Africa Alarm staff. We blended really well together, as if we’ve known each other for years. Each morning, we would alternate who would lead the devotion for the day. I believe God was smiling on us loving, honoring and building each other.

Enjoy the Worship!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Going to the Motherland-Africa!!!

"For nothing is impossible with God" Luke 1:37

I have this recurring memory of me wearing a checkered red and white underwear bathing and dancing whimsically under the summer's rain in Haiti. I can't recall if this memory is real or not but I always conclude that it's real because it seems to fit my personality. But this memory always surfaces whenever I'm embarking something this little girl bathing in the rain never thought of ever doing. Going to college, becoming a teacher, getting married, having children, preaching and today going to Africa.

I can probably give you a litany of explanations and names of people who made all of this possible but the One person who deserves all credit is God. God is the only one I know that can take a little girl, who thoroughly enjoyed baths under a summer's rain, to accomplishing what seems to be impossible to man and defying odds.

I no longer dance whimsically under the rain but I do enjoy experiencing God performing impossibilities in my life! Apart from heaven, I'm never certain where this road will lead but based on God's track record in my life, I daily remind myself that I have no reasons to fear.

Where: Kenya, Africa!

Mission: A team of five will be working alongside African nationals to teach 120 women leaders on the issues of trauma, Aids and God's definition of healing.

Thank you to all who were faithful givers to our team and to Irving Bible Church. If you would like to contribute to this trip it is not too late, just go onto the church's website and give online.

Please pray for our team.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Gay-dars, Race-dars; Go Deeper!!!

Luke:10: 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii[c] and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’!

One of my favorite activities is people watching! I love watching how people relate to one another, how they make decisions, and my favorite, to predict their next steps and theorize what could have possibly motivated those decisions. My husband hates that about me; he too loves people watching but he normally only has his "gay-dars" on and my followed up questions are usually "what does it mean that this man is gay?" "does it mean to treat him any differently?" He hates those questions!
Like most of us in our society, we normally have our "dars" on; whether it be "gay-dars", "race-dars" "religious group-dars", "weight-dars", "gender-dars" you name it we have it. These "dars" are supposed to help us in making quick decisions without deep thoughts and certainly no heart. But more often than not, I find that these "dars" mostly aid us in making many bad assumptions.

For example, at my previous job at a church, I was on call. I was very tired that day for I received many calls and walk-ins by people needing help. Towards the end of my day a black woman walked in with four children; yup you guessed. I automatically assumed she too needed help, when all she wanted was for me to point her to the children's play area. Would I have made that same assumption if she were a white woman with 4 children? Probably Not! Perhaps all of the "welfare mommas" rhetoric in the media have affected me more than I thought. Yes I repented!

How about when you first meet someone who speaks with an accent. The usual assumption is: he or she is uneducated; unless of course it's a British accent, then it's exotic.

And just recently, my husband and I were at a hotel restaurant eating out in the patio area. A young mother walked in with a baby in a stroller; she scoped out the area and approached the young white couple sitting just a few feet away from us to ask them if she can leave her sleeping baby with them while she went to the buffet line. I instantly thought, how did she "know" that this couple was a "better fit" to watch her baby? If only she knew how much I LOVED children and that I have three on my own. I honestly don't know if I would have made a better decision.

We all use our "dars", our stereotypes to help us in making decisions. However, it is a problem when one group always end up on the negative end of our "dars" and the other always on the positive.

So what do we do with all of this tension? I honestly don't know!!! But we live in a nation where it is estimated that 70% is christian; surely we know a thing or two about what Jesus said of being impartial and loving our neighbor as ourselves. Jesus not only spoke on the subject, he modeled it! In fact he used a compelling story about the good Samaritan to illustrate this point and to challenge us to look deeper and Love well, no matter who the person might be: whether gay, black, white, asian, Indian, Iraqi, fat, skinny or a woman. Read the entire story in Luke: 10: 25-37.

Still confused on how to do this "love" thing, drop the "dars" and go deeper. Here are some suggestions:

1) SLOW down! Quick decisions promote partiality. Take slower steps, relax and approach people as if you know nothing about them. Let them tell you about themselves. I know this fast paced society is not conducive to that kind lifestyle.

2) Retrain your mind! Guess what most of what we're dealing with is learned behavior; in other words a systematic brainwashing. Of course sin is the fuel to the fire but trust me, you're brainwashed. If you have a TV or a computer in your home, you're brainwashed! This is something I try to be conscious of daily. It is so deeply rooted; even when I don't want to have my "dars" on, oops there they are!

3) Practice makes perfect; seriously you will fail at this, a lot! I have, often!!! Ugh; I get so frustrated and disappointed with myself. But I dust myself off, repent and go on doing my best to love well!

4) Get to know people of other races, sizes, gender and sexual orientation. If all you know are people who look like you, think like, behave like, eat at the same restaurants as you, or share the same cultural experiences as you; then you are laying in the most comfortable bed to be a partial thinker. Sorry if this is you but man your "dars" are completely tattooed on your skin. And when I say "know" I'm not just talking about those you serve, I'm talking about those you do life with; you eat with them, disagree with them and show up to their children's school play; that's what I'm talking about! Get out there! Don't be scared! By the way, go ahead and serve but let it be used as a first step.

5) Ask God to help rework your mind and heart! I can't even begin to tell you how deeply rooted these "dars" are; and without God, through Jesus christ by the power of the holy spirit, we ain't got a chance. If you desire to do better in this area, ask God for help; he'll show you!

By the way, I engaged the young mother (from above) in a conversation to tell her how precious her baby was. During our conversation, we realized we had something in common. She's a fraternal twin who looks identical to her sister and I'm the mother of fraternal twins who look very identical to one another. Ha, I couldn't have written a better ending to the story.

Father help us to look deeper than our "dars"!