The sunrise speaks of the promise.
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” – Lamentations 3:22-23
From December 2014 until now, I’ve been in an “in-between” place while I am raising support to join staff with Gospel for Asia. The new pace of volunteering in the office, being at home, and spending time building relationships with my support team is very different from the student lifestyle, but the Lord has been teaching me so much during this time. He is growing me in surrender, patience, trust, walking by faith, and more that I am still figuring out. :)
This chapter is now coming to a close… GFA leadership gave the OK for me to start serving full-time in the office! I am very excited for this next step to serve as a home-team missionary and help reach the unreached in Asia. My first day as staff in the Web Department was April 20!
Thank you so much for your prayers and support for me, from when I was just starting out as a student and now as I follow the Lord’s leading to come on staff with GFA.
You can read my April newsletter update to find out more about me serving as a home-office missionary and what’s been going on in my family and at GFA.
Praise God for His faithfulness to provide!
My current support level is 50% of my monthly goal ($1450). The remaining amount of $725 can be broken down like this… seven people giving $100/month, or 14 people partnering with $50/month, or 28 people donating $25/month (which is less than $1 a day!) … or of course, any other combination. Find out more.
I am continuing to build partnerships and grow my support team to help reach the lost in Asia. Please pray for the rest of my support to be fully raised soon!
“We give thanks to God always for all of you, making mention of you in our prayers; constantly bearing in mind your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of our God and Father…” – 1 Thessalonians 1:2-3
Thank you for standing with me for the sake of the Gospel! It is a privilege to partner together to share the hope of our risen Savior with those who are still in darkness.
I’d like to introduce you to a woman named Ruth. She is one of four daughters, just like me, but she lives on the other side of the world. Life is difficult for women in South Asia. The oppression starts before birth, when mothers are often pressured into abortions if they are expecting a baby girl. Among young women in India, the suicide rate is many times the world average. When a South Asian woman becomes a widow, she can be blamed for her husband’s death.
Ruth is not a boy, and her parents hated her for it.
After the family had three daughters, Ruth’s parents paid a local priest to pray that their next child would be a boy. Then Ruth was born. Rather than the carefree play and learning that I experienced growing up, Ruth’s childhood was filled with hard work. She described herself as a “beggar for love.” When Ruth finally worked up the courage to ask her father the reason for his hatred, he shouted, “You should have been a boy!”
This story brings me to tears every time. I ask again, “Why was I born in this country? Why has God allowed me to be so privileged?”
I am one of four daughters, like Ruth, and my parents love every one of their girls. They don’t feel cultural pressure to have a son, or that having daughters is an extra burden on the family. My parents love me, just like Jesus does. Because Jesus treasures women with the same equality and love that He has for every person on earth.
I know He has a purpose in placing me right here, right now. Because of that, I believe I have the responsibility to share His love with people like Ruth who desperately long for hope.
By the way, Ruth’s story doesn’t end in pain and heartache – God brought restoration in her relationship with her father! Ruth now shares the hope she found in Jesus with other women, reaching out just like a Gospel for Asia women missionary team first reached out to her.
Learn more of Ruth’s Story at www.gfa.org/women/ruth.
#WaterIs life. Today is World Water Day, and we can turn our attention to the thing that most of us take for granted every single day… Water.
Around the world, 750 million people have zero access to safe drinking water, let alone clean water to bathe in or wash their clothing. Women around the world spend a collective 200 million hours gathering water. Every minute, a child dies because of a water-related disease like diarrhea because they lack safe sanitation. About 65% of the people who live in rural India do not have access to a toilet.
Especially on my heart are the needs in South Asia, where millions are dying because they do not have clean water. What does “not having clean water” look like in their lives? From some of the stories I have heard while working at Gospel for Asia… not having running water in their houses. Walking to collect heavy gallons of water, several times a day. Waiting in line at a village well; sometimes being banned from using that well because of their caste or religion. Depending on water from a tanker truck that comes through the village, which may not have enough for everyone. Because of the scarcity of clean water, drinking whatever water is available, however dirty it may be.
And one of the worst situations: Bathing yourself, taking the cows for a drink, washing clothes, and getting drinking water from the same stagnant pond.
Each statistic and each horrible story resounds like a hammer nailing the coffin of this water crisis.
I believe the Lord allowed me to be born in this place, in this time, for a reason. He purposed for me to grow up as one of four daughters, enjoy the privileges of literacy, education and equal rights that so many women around the world do not have. He even sovereignly planned that I would have such free access to clean water. My life, here and now, has a purpose. I believe that because God has given me these privileges. It’s my responsibility –and my privilege– to give back to others. Not only giving back to make a social difference, but to meet the needs of people on a deeper level. Yes, people are dying because of a lack of clean water… but people are dying and going to hell, every time my heart beats. Sharing the eternal hope that Jesus Christ freely offers is my privilege.
Today, March 22, is World Water Day. People need water, and people also need the love of Jesus. Enter Jesus Wells, part of Gospel for Asia’s clean water ministry in South Asia, that provide fresh, pure drinking water to entire communities, regardless of caste or religion ($1400). Or the small but mighty BioSand Water Filter that uses sand, gravel, and concrete to provide water that’s 98% pure for a family ($30). We can’t forget about sanitation… That’s why GFA provides Outdoor Toilets to families and communities, preventing disease and providing a safe place to use the bathroom ($160). I read on water.org that for every $1 that’s invested in water and sanitation projects there is a $4 economic return. That’s pretty cool. But even better, clean water ministry can have an eternal impact. Through the provision of clean water, many communities are becoming more open to hearing about the God who loves them and provides for their needs!
I encourage you to take action this World Water Day. Pray about these things. Jesus has the victory already, and He wants to use us to touch the lives of others.
You can find out more about Gospel for Asia’s clean water ministry here.
Working with Gospel for Asia bloggers in our Blog for Asia program has been such a privilege! I’m inspired by what several of them have also shared about World Water Day:
“How vital is water? Without water I’d die in three days.” – Justin
“We can help though. I never want my personal comfort to add toward indifference in a world where I can make a difference.” – Chelsea
“Let us also make this a day of action, a day we can show water is love.” – Nicole
“Investing in human beings for the sake of Jesus is something that will last into eternity.” – Amanda
Learn more and take action to make a difference! Visit www.gfa.org/water.
When I was on a Gospel for Asia vision tour in South Asia a year and a half ago, I met a woman named Mina, who was affected by leprosy. Mina told me her story.
She had suffered from the disease for 40 years, and lived for most of that time in colonies with other people suffering from leprosy. Her husband had died, and her son lived outside the colony, only visiting occasionally. To earn some money to pay for her medication, Mina had to beg. Every day from 5 a.m. to 11 a.m., she would beg outside a local religious site.
This visit to the leprosy colony was one of the hardest parts of the trip. Most of society has shunned these people, and there was so much suffering, so much despair. But we met a group of missionaries who loved and cared for the leprosy patients. They ministered to their needs in both practical and spiritual ways, like cleaning their wounds and praying for them. We saw a glimpse of hope being poured out.
Hope in this place of suffering is almost a paradox. Mina, the woman I met, smiling with genuine joy? The men and women who said they were encouraged by our team’s visit? A man who prayed to the same God I worship? But it’s true. And it’s only because of the love of Christ working through the missionaries serving there; His love touching the lives of the suffering; His love displayed through my team members.
I’d like to leave you with this quote from Pastor Jiva, a missionary who started leprosy ministry in another region of South Asia.
“’It is because of God’s grace that we have the strength, courage and motivation to work among these people, to share with them, to hug them, to love them and to care for them,’” – Pastor Jiva
(Quote from http://www.gfa.org/news/articles/compelled-by-love/)
World Leprosy Day was observed on January 25, 2015. Although leprosy is foreign to daily life for many of us, thousands still suffer from the disfigurement and devastating social stigma caused by this disease. In 2013, 215,557 new cases of leprosy were diagnosed globally. More than half of these were in India. (source: World Health Organization)
Dedicated missionaries like Pastor Jiva are reaching out to people afflicted by leprosy in South Asia, touching their lives with the love and care of Christ. This ministry takes place not only on World Leprosy Day, but also on every other day of the year. We can be part of impacting their lives with hope, too! Visit Gospel for Asia’s Leprosy Ministry page here.
I call it a”Big City Adventure” in jest, because it wasn’t that long ago that I lived in the suburbs of the city of Dallas. However, now that I live in the country (thinking of country mouse, city mouse, anyone?), driving into town has definitely become an event.
My sisters, some friends and I drove into Dallas for some good coffee and adventure a week ago, in honor of Clara who was about to start School of Discipleship. Here are some photos of our time at Houndstooth Coffee and Lakeside Park. Dinner at Chipotle was not captured in photos, but nonetheless delicious!
*all photos by Elicia Christofferson unless stated otherwise. all rights reserved.
Cheers to the next adventure!
Yesterday morning my sister Clara and I were eating breakfast and talking about asking hard questions. Sometimes we joke around, and say “Okay, deep question time” or “Whoa, that’s oceanic” (meaning really deep.) But asking a friend questions that are beyond the surface, or questions that show we care, helps knit our friendship that much deeper, or helps create a friendship where there was not one before.
Clara has a penchant for asking deep questions. Basically, she has a thing for it. A common occurrence when we’re washing dishes*, or making tea, or going on a drive (now that we live in the country) is for Clara to ask, “So, what has God been teaching you recently?”
Sometimes I don’t know how to answer that question right away.
But I’m so grateful for Clara pressing on to take relationships a step deeper. I have been challenged to do this too, and see how it becomes a blessing to both me and others.
These are some questions I am asking people in my life:
How beautiful is it that having these conversations not only grows us closer as friends, but brings joy to Jesus too?
Crystal Stine’s blog post The Questions We Need to Ask got me thinking about reaching out as a friend and asking questions, and was part of the inspiration for this post. I encourage you to take a few minutes to read it.
I’ll close with a quote from Crystal:
“The questions we need to ask don’t need to be long or deep or fancy. They just need to be honest and from a heart that is willing to truly listen to the answer. It’s about knowing your friend, what her passions are, and asking God to show you the best way to pour love and encouragement into her life.” (source)
*When Clara and I wash dishes together, it’s actually more common for us to sing than to talk.
** This question recently led to a beautiful conversation with my hair stylist!
“’I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.’ I have told the glad news of deliverance in the great congregation; behold, I have not restrained my lips, as you know, O Lord. I have not hidden your deliverance within my heart; I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation; I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness from the great congregation.”
– Psalm 40:8-10
At the end of 2013, I was praying and seeking what direction God wanted me to go after the intense year of growth and discipleship at SD Canada. God spoke His call to me through this passage, Psalm 40:8-10.
Above all, followers of Jesus Christ are called to know Him more fully and intimately. He calls us to surrender our lives to Him, holding nothing back (Luke 14:33), and to love Him above all (Matthew 22:37-39). And through Psalm 40:8-10, God showed me my call to proclaim His faithfulness.
My life isn’t about what I can accomplish for the Lord, because it’s really about what He has already done: His finished work on the cross of paying for the sins of the world and offering us the gift of salvation.
I desire for my life to be about Jesus: 100% surrendered to Him, no turning back.
“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” –Philippians 1:21
There is no way I can ever repay Jesus for what He has done – saving me, adopting me, giving me eternal life – so all I can do is thank Him. And out of my love, I want to live for Him with everything I am.
This works alongside His call on my life to missions – and that’s a whole story in itself too. :)
I look forward to posting more on this blog, and hopefully starting conversations with you about the faithfulness of the Lord! So tell me, what has the Lord been doing in your life this season?
Meet the January 2014 School of Discipleship Second Year Graduating Class! That’s quite the mouthful to say. :)
I had the privilege to walk through 2014 with these 13 men and women, with all the challenges and joys of being the very first SD2 class. We were affectionately known as the “guinea lambs”!
First row: Joshua, Nathanael, Josiah, Christian, David, Jarius, Daniel | Second row: Natalya, Taylor, Lanae, Trula, me, Amanda, Sharlena
The Lord has taught me so much through this year and through my classmates. The various health struggles through the year, moving from my hometown, adjusting back to being in the USA, new roommates, and an almost-overwhelming amount of homework… those things were all hard. But it seems like God works through hard things to teach me the most. He taught me trust, dependence, and faithfulness in the little things (a few of the many lessons).
Whether they realize it or not, my classmates taught me many things too. :) Perseverance. Passion for the lost and boldness to share the Gospel. Trust. Unity. Loving the differences in the Body of Christ. Patience. Commitment. Knowing God as our Father. Using our talents and creativity to glorify God. Joy. Putting others first.
We graduated from School of Discipleship on December 9th, and since we completed the second year of the program, we’ve really finished. Each of us are pressing on to what the Lord has called us to next; some to Bible college, some to overseas missions, some back home, and some coming back on staff at GFA. I’m one of those coming back on staff. I’m still here at Gospel for Asia since my family serves here, but it’s pretty different not being a student and not being around my classmates anymore.
My classmates and I are now entering a new season, and it most likely will hold more change, more transition, times of uncertainty, and struggles. But I know that we can walk with confidence in Christ, pressing on to know Him more and make Him known.
Read over this passage from Philippians and let it sink into your heart. And instead of just closing this window and clicking over to the next tab in your Internet browser, maybe open up God’s Word and spend some time with Him thinking about what He’s called YOU to do.
“Yet every advantage that I had gained I considered lost for Christ’s sake. Yes, and I look upon everything as loss compared with the overwhelming gain of knowing Jesus Christ my Lord. For his sake I did in actual fact suffer the loss of everything, but I considered it useless rubbish compared with being able to win Christ. For now my place is in him, and I am not dependent upon any of the self-achieved righteousness of the Law. God has given me that genuine righteousness which comes from faith in Christ. How changed are my ambitions! Now I long to know Christ and the power shown by his resurrection: now I long to share his sufferings, even to die as he died, so that I may perhaps attain as he did, the resurrection from the dead. Yet, my brothers, I do not consider myself to have “arrived”, spiritually, nor do I consider myself already perfect. But I keep going on, grasping ever more firmly that purpose for which Christ grasped me. My brothers, I do not consider myself to have fully grasped it even now. But I do concentrate on this: I leave the past behind and with hands outstretched to whatever lies ahead I go straight for the goal—my reward the honour of being called by God in Christ.” – Philippians 3:7-14 (Phillips Translation)