on my heart

One life at a time

Have you ever heard the story of the boy and the starfish? As the tale goes, many starfish were washed upon a beach by the tide, and would soon die from the sun and lack of water. A little boy walked down the beach, picking up starfish and tossing them back into the water, saving lives one by one. A man walked by and saw the starfish rescue operation, and told the boy, “You’ll never finish, there are too many to save them all.” In reply, the young boy tossed another starfish back into the life-giving water, and said, “I made a difference for that one.”

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When we hear big numbers like ‘2 out of 5 people have never heard of Jesus’ or that 2.5 billion people are still unreached, it’s easy to think, “How can we ever make a difference?” and I’m right there with you.

I traveled to South Asia last fall, and I was struck by how many unreached people filled every square mile. It was overwhelming. How could we ever reach them? These kind of thoughts filled my mind while I was visiting a Bridge of Hope center in a densely populated city.

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But then, this little boy got up to share his testimony. With a mischievous smile on his face, he told us that he used to be a naughty boy. Going to the Bridge of Hope center totally changed his life, and he’s not naughty anymore.

The Lord gently spoke to my heart through this boy’s testimony, and I learned a lesson similar to the other little boy and the starfish. What He said was this: there are many yet to be reached, but every single life that is touched and changed matters.

In Luke 15, Jesus tells us there is great rejoicing in heaven over every soul who comes into the kingdom! And I think there must also be great rejoicing over every child whose life is changed, every person who decides to live in light of eternity, and every family who finds hope.

 “But take heart; I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33

I wrote down this story of what the Lord has been teaching me originally to send to the bloggers who are part of our Blog for Asia team. However, I wanted to share it here on my blog too. This was one of the lessons the Lord taught me during our trip to South Asia, and it’s a good reminder that what I can do to help reach the lost, even in a small way, really does make a difference.

I hope to share more Faces of South Asia with you in the coming weeks, and show you glimpses of my trip last September.

Announcement: God’s leading for what’s next

Sometimes people ask me what I’m going to do after this year of School of Discipleship. In case you’re wondering that too…. I’m excited to announce that I have been accepted on staff with Gospel for Asia!

God has given me a passion for missions, and especially for India. Before and during our trip to South Asia last fall, the Lord confirmed that He wanted me to continue serving in ministry here at Gospel for Asia. Then, God directed me to be a student for another year, and this year has been an incredible time of equipping and growth. And now, the next step God showed me is staff, keeping on serving Him and helping to reach the lost in Asia!

My first year of SD in Canada pushed me out of the nest. I had to decide whether I wanted to follow Jesus and serve him because that’s what my family does, or because that’s what I was going to choose. And I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back.

It’s a privilege to be part of a family who serves the Lord. Dad and Mom have been so influential in living out what it means to follow Jesus and to serve Him, and I’m so grateful for their example.

So what’s the plan? The big picture plan is to keep running hard after Jesus, with everything I’ve got. :) Also as I finish this SD year (by God’s grace!), I’ll work on raising support for staff.

Read more in my August/September newsletter…

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Find out how you can support me here.

Faithful to say what God called me to say

Words are a gift. We can use them to build up, or to tear down. We have been given our words, our voices, by the Lord. And He’s given our words to us to be good stewards of!
For me this means being speaking words that love and encourage and build up, rather than words that criticize or judge or tear down. And being a steward of my words means using them well. If God has given me a talent in writing or saying things, then I want to be a good steward of that.

I don’t consider myself a “writer”, and I never have. But in the past few years the Lord has given me so many opportunities to write, and to hopefully learn to do it well.
And I confess, I haven’t been a good and faithful steward of my words. I haven’t been faithful to write and to say some of the things God has put on my heart. And I’m sorry.
I know this blog isn’t big, but I want to be faithful to be a good steward of it.

Psalm 40:10 says, “I will proclaim your faithfulness in the great assembly.”

That’s my heart’s desire – to proclaim God’s faithfulness! I want to do this through my life, through my photos, and through my words. And I want this blog, this letter to you, to be something that glorifies God. Something that proclaims His faithfulness.
This past weekend I was at the Declare Conference; an amazing gathering of women who love the Lord and who write blogs. I was on the team that represented Gospel for Asia, the ministry that God has called me to be part of. It was a joy and a privilege to connect with amazing attendees and awesome sponsors (and I want to give a shout-out to CK Design Mission and Mercy House Kenya!)

Thomas, Sara, Natalya, Clara and I got to share about what God is doing in Asia through GFA, and share the plight of women. And we hosted a Veil of Tears movie night! If you didn’t get to be there, you can watch the trailer for Veil of Tears here or order a free movie kit like we had at the Gospel for Asia table here. (**update – these are real links now – sorry for not linking this up before!)

Not only did we go as sponsors, but we heard from 5 awesome ladies who were keynote speakers, and sat in on a few sessions. I loved hearing from Crystal Stine about building authentic community through social media, and was challenged to be authentic and real even in my personal Facebook posts, tweets, and Instagram photos. So you’ll probably be seeing less “cup of coffee, perfectly styled” Instagrams. Which will be a good thing.

A few of my biggest take-aways from the Declare keynotes and sponsors:
• Let’s follow God in wild obedience even when it doesn’t all make sense, and we don’t see the whole picture yet (from Kristen Welch).
• Saying yes and faithfully obeying what God asks us to do IS success (from Lisa-Jo Baker).
• When taking photos, ask the questions “Am I telling the whole story? Does this give dignity to them? Am I giving or taking by taking this photo?” especially in relation to photojournalism (from Esther Havens, humanitarian photographer).

The theme at Declare this weekend was Wild Obedience. And another theme was being brave with your words. I got this awesomely applicable temporary tattoo from Armed with Truth! And also designed this image, inspired by what I learned from Jess Connolly and my sister Clara.

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This is like the ultimate link-up, mention-all-the-names post! I only go to a few blogging conferences though, so…

Here’s a few photos from the weekend:

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Gospel for Asia’s 35th Anniversary

35 years ago today, Gospel for Asia was founded by Uncle K.P. Yohannan. My family and I have been part of this ministry (this family!) for 12 1/2 years. It’s such a privilege to be in a community of people who love the Lord, who build up one another, and who are passionate about telling people in Asia about the salvation found only in Jesus. I have personally grown so much by growing up here, and by spending these years in the School of Discipleship. I am so thankful for my classmates, co-workers, teachers, and leaders who invest in my life. And God is continuing to work in our lives, and in the lives of thousands on the other side of the world. The best is yet to come!

1 Thessalonians 5:24 (one of my favorite verses) says, “He who calls you is faithful; He will surely do it.”

Praise the Lord for His faithfulness!

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Gospel for Asia’s website is www.gfa.org.

Grateful for my Mom

coffee with mommy jan 2014Mother’s Day is coming up on Sunday, and it’s awesome to have a day set aside just for Mom. I need to tell my Mom how much I love her every day though, not just on Mother’s Day! Moms love and serve so much – they raise the kids, change the diapers, make meals, and take care of us, and often my Mom ends up serving people behind the scenes. It’s wonderful to have Mother’s Day and say, “Okay Mom, this day is for you. You can’t do the dishes; you can’t make the food; we’ll clean the kitchen. We just want you to know you’re loved today.”

My Mom has taught me so many things: how to sew, how to cook food, how to drive, how to treat other people, and how to love the Lord. She has been so influential in teaching me to follow Jesus, and I’m so grateful for her Godly example. And another big part of my upbringing was being a staff kid at Gospel for Asia, which I’m also so grateful for.

This year, Gospel for Asia has the goal to see 2,000 Bridge of Hope children sponsored before Mother’s Day. So, why child sponsorship for Mother’s Day?

Parents in Asia want to love and provide for their kids, just like parents here do, just like my Mom and Dad do. But so many families are trapped in poverty, and the fact that they’re not able to provide for their kids is heartbreaking. They can’t afford to feed them and to send them to school. They struggle just to put one meal on the table each day. My heart hurts to see this reality faced by impoverished families and moms.

That’s why Gospel for Asia wants to see children rescued through Bridge of Hope. Because when a child is enrolled in Bridge of Hope, it doesn’t just impact that little boy or girl – it touches the whole family.

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Imagine being a Mom unable to provide for your child, just like these Moms in South Asia. And then someone comes and helps your child out of this life of poverty, sends them to school, gives them nutritious meals and medical checkups, and then tells them it’s because of Jesus who loves and values them. Imagine how grateful you would be!

And that’s what this Mother’s Day campaign is about. You can honor your Mom here by sponsoring a Bridge of Hope child for her, and you can give a mother in South Asia the hope of her child being helped. That’s a Mother’s Day gift better than roses and sweeter than chocolate! :)

It’s so exciting to see that over 700 children have already been sponsored. Seven hundred precious, unique individuals who are receiving hope and learning that Jesus loves them!

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Happy Mother’s Day! Tell your Mom how much she means to you this weekend, give her a hug and a kiss, and consider checking out Gospel for Asia’s Mother’s Day campaign at www.gfa.org/mom to see how you can help rescue a child.

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Counting Up the Cost

In the Great Commission, Jesus commanded us to go and make disciples. Before we can do that, we must first be disciples… hence the School of Discipleship! It doesn’t stop with me learning how to be a disciple, though – I must go and make disciples of others. True Discipleship by William MacDonald is a radical challenge for followers of Christ. Will we be more than just fans or followers? Will we be committed, sold-out disciples?

An area the Lord has been growing me in is counting the cost of being a disciple. Being a disciple means not just having a warm emotion of following Jesus, but consistently dying to myself and daily taking up the cross.

One day in the bathroom I have a small revelation – following Jesus won’t ever be easy, but it is so worth it! When Jesus called the twelve disciples to follow Him, He didn’t promise them ease or comfort; He promised pain, persecution, and suffering. Being a disciple will be hard, but it is worth every heartache, every inconvenience. Following Jesus is worth everything. A quote from True Discipleship really fits here: “…the Christian life deserves everything or nothing.”

God gave me Ephesians 4:1 tonight, as I was praying and seeking God’s calling on my life. “…I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.”

Over the past several months, God has asked me, will I follow Him no matter what? As I prayed and searched my heart and sought God’s face, I found that my answer is Yes, absolutely. I want to be wholly committed to Christ, no matter what.

Pastor Danny has encouraged me to count the cost of following Jesus as I think about the different options before me in the future. Following God’s call on my life might mean giving up my home, my family, my dreams for the future, my photography. Will I be willing to give those things up and just have Jesus for my everything?

Being in Canada, doing School of Discipleship, being away from my home and family and what is familiar hasn’t been easy – but it is so worth it. Dying to myself, daily choosing to follow Jesus first, and being a disciple of Jesus Christ are all things that I am learning to do as I follow the Lord.

Counting the cost also means coming to a point of decision. I can’t say I have arrived at the goal or achieved the prize, but I have counted the cost and I say yes, I will follow Jesus no matter what.

In the recent past I had a very hard few weeks, when my grandma was sick and maybe dying, Auntie Jacie was fading from the cancer, and my best friend Emily would be moving to New Zealand for a year. I didn’t want to stay here. I wanted to give up and go home. But God really spoke to me through a song that was just randomly playing while I washed dishes one night – Today by Brian Doerkson. “Today I choose to follow you. Today I choose to give my yes to you.” I was reminded that God had called me to be here in Canada at this time, and I still needed to follow Him, trust Him, and give my yes to Him.

song lyrics by Rend Collective, “The Cost”

“I’m saying yes to You
And no to my desires
I’ll leave myself behind
And follow You

I’ll walk the narrow road
’cause it leads me to You
I’ll fall but grace
Will pick me up again

I’ve counted up the cost
Oh I’ve counted up the cost
Yes I’ve counted up the cost
And You are worth it”

If I choose to follow Jesus, it means He needs to be first in my life in everything. First place in my priorities, how I spend my time. Jesus must be on the throne of my heart, not myself or anything else. And that means that I must forsake all else but Him. I must give up my dreams, wishes, talents, money, family, and time. None of these things can be priority. I need to surrender all those things, and seek Him first. And that’s one area that the Lord is still growing me in – forsaking all but Jesus.

If I say, “Today I choose to follow you” – that means I need to follow Him first and only.

Jesus said, “He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for my sake will find it.” He repeated that over and over – in Matthew 10:39, Matthew 16:25, Mark 8:35, Luke 9:24, Luke 17:33, and John 12:25 – because it is so important.

William MacDonald says in True Discipleship “… life hugged for self is life lost, but life poured out for him is found, saved, enjoyed, and kept for eternity…”

Holding on to my dreams, my desires, and my possessions will never result in a fulfilled life. But a life forsaken to Jesus – that is where it’s at!

A true disciple is a bondslave to Jesus. Do you think a bondslave has anything he is holding on to for himself? No – he has forsaken everything. And I, as a bondslave to my master Jesus Christ, must give up everything to be His disciple.

“In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.” When Jesus said that in Luke 14:33, He meant it! Not just that we should give up everything, or that it might be a good idea – we must forsake all or we cannot be His disciples.

When it comes to forsaking all and being a disciple, it means forsaking more than just money. All those things I listed above – dreams, talents, possessions, desires, and family – ALL must be given to Jesus.

I want Jesus to be my strength, my security, and my everything. He redeemed me, and now I’m not my own. It is only right that Jesus be first place in my life!

What the Lord has been teaching me about being a disciple isn’t quite cut and dried where it fits exactly into one category or chapter. But what He has been teaching me is that Jesus must be first place in my life.

Following Jesus won’t be easy, but it is worth it.


This post was a written assignment for the True Discipleship class in School of Discipleship year one, originally written in August 2013. 

Victory Through Surrender

“The self is the one and only thing we own. It is the one thing we brought into the world and it is the one and only thing we will take out of the world, and the one thing we have to live with intimately day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute. So the kind of self you are determines your life happiness or your life hell. Someone has said: ‘The most used word in hell is ‘I.’’ To be centered in your self is to be in hell – now.”
—E. Stanley Jones, Victory Through Surrender

I am super challenged by the Self-Confrontation Bible Study we’re doing right now in School of Discipleship year 2, as well as by Victory Through Surrender by E. Stanley Jones. I know the struggle with myself will always be there – and that’s why I have to keep surrendering myself and my whole life to Jesus.

“Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” —Philippians 1:6

This is one of my favorite verses. I can have confident hope knowing that God will complete the work He started in me!

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Working on a speech/presentation for our discipleship class.

Veil of Tears Movie Release!

Veil of Tears: Hope Is on the Way is coming out in theaters tomorrow – March 28!! This new documentary tells the stories of real women of South Asia. You’ll see the tragedy and oppression they face from birth until death; and in contrast, the hope that is on the horizon.

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Got my tickets!!

Got my tickets!!

Since I’m a School of Discipleship student and part of the ministry of Gospel for Asia, we have been praying for this movie through the entire process. And it’s so exciting to see the movie actually coming out in theaters!

I encourage you to go see Veil of Tears this weekend – select theaters around the country will be showing the film, and churches & families can watch it with a free simulcast until March 30.

What a few people are saying about Veil of Tears:

“When I saw it, I knew I would never – could never – be the same. Veil of Tears has taught me how to pray, to give, and to make a difference for Christ.”

– Joni Eareckson Tada, Joni and Friends

“Veil of Tears was so moving and informative. I want everyone to watch it and join us in making a difference in the lives of these women” – Francis Chan

“A powerful, riveting film . . . that grabs at the heart and won’t let go!” – American Family Association

If you haven’t seen the trailer yet, you can watch it here:

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www.veiloftearsmovie.com

Prevent Disease Before It Bites

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My 20th birthday was coming up, and I thought, why not start a myGFA campaign? So I did!

You can check out my campaign at www.mygfa.org/prevent. I choose to raise money for 100 mosquito nets because they can prevent malaria, a disease that threatens so many lives. Right now I am getting over being sick with strep throat, and I have been blessed with easy access to medical care. Can you imagine being so poor that you can’t afford medical help, let alone ways to prevent sickness? So that’s what I’m doing for my birthday. :)

Find out more information at www.mygfa.org/prevent, and donate 1, 2, 3, or 5 mosquito nets to help someone prevent malaria from attacking their family.