Friday, 10 April 2015

Names to faces

So after my last post about outreaches in Vegas I was going to make one last post just about things leading up to my outreach in Thailand and Cambodia. Yesterday I felt like I needed to make a post about the people here in Las Vegas. I'm not talking about people that I'm friends with, or serve with here on base, I'm talking about the people on the streets of Las Vegas who would never ever be talked about because they live on the streets. The area that I live in is a probably one of the highest concentrated areas in Las Vegas for homelessness, and poverty. It's honestly just so sad walking around seeing people on the streets, and know that although they are everywhere no one sees them, and no one stops to notice them. One guy (who I will chat more about later) said that out of all the people that walk past him less than 5% acknowledge him, and less than 1% actually stop for him. I can't imagine living a life where circumstances led me to the streets and then just have everyone pass you by. One major thing I have learned about people living on the streets, is that you don't know their story unless you stop and ask them. As soon as you start hearing about how they used all their money to help their dying mother, or they had cancer and their insurance wouldn't cover all the treatment so they lost everything they had, that's when you start thinking twice before placing judgement and not stopping. So basically my goal for this post is introduce you to some otherwise forgotten people that I have met over the course of my time in Vegas. 
   So the first person I want to talk about is named Russel. This experience and interaction with him has stuck with me ever since I met him about a month ago. So a few weeks back I was on Fremont Steet (in downtown Vegas) doing a general outreach like we do every week, just out loving people, blessing them, and praying for them. Then as I was walking I saw this man desperately trying to get someone to notice him. It wasn't like he was harassing them or anything in a negative way, he was one of the kindest beggars I had seen on Fremont. He kept saying "excuse me sir", "God bless you", "have a great day." I went up to him, asked his name, how he was doing, and then I just felt like I needed to buy him lunch. So I asked him what he wanted, and he said a filet-o-fish from mcdonalds. I told him he could get whatever he wanted, and then asked him what size fries he wanted, and drink, and let me tell you this entire time I could see how great duo this guy was. So I went over and got him his food, and came back. Before I left I asked if I could pray, and he was just as blessed by the prayer as he was the food. Anyways, a few weeks later I was out on Fremont again, and this homeless man stopped me, and said "you were the one who bought me lunch, thank you so much, that blesses me so much." I honestly was in complete shock that even like a month later this guy remembered me, and was hugely blessed by something as simple as a McDonald's meal. I also learned not to judge homeless people as they are just begging so they can get drugs, or alcohol, most of them have literally just been dealt a really awful hand at life and they are just trying to rebuild their lives with the little they have. Even though they are down, and things have taken a hard turn they still have so much faith that they will get out of this, they just need people to stop and care. 
    So another guy I met out on Fremont was named Emmanuel, and this guy I basically see every time I am out, whether it's during ministry time, or when I am just out with my friends. Prior to me speaking with him, I knew that other members of my team had also talk to him, bought him lunch, and really tried to show him love. So I did the same, we chatted, I just kind of gave him an outlet to say whatever he wanted to say land I would just listen. Then he started talking about how many people pass him on a daily basis, and how very few people even acknowledge he exists never mind give him food or money. This conversation went on for a bit and then naturally I asked him if I could pray for him and he didn't really respond, so we just kept talking. All of the sudden he said something that has stuck with me ever since, it was literally so simple but so crazy. He was talking again about how when people find out he is homeless they immediately pass him by, and can't even look at him, then he said "you need to pray for them not me." Like oh my goodness how true is that!! The problem isn't him, and the fact that he is doing something wrong and is an inadequate beggar, the problem is us not showing love to him, not stopping and saying hello, or buying him lunch, or giving him change. Like how true is that, the problem isn't so much that there is homelessness the problem is we aren't doing anything about it. 
   Last but certainly not least I have one more story for you, and this is a story of healing and faith that is literally inexplainable thing that happened, that can't be justified by logic so like I said you just have to disregard all logic and human understanding and just believe that this is true. So I was out with a partner in my group and our base director, praying for people, really with no plan just going wherever we were led. Eventually we were just walking and decided to stop and talk to this guy. He was homeless and in a wheelchair, and he went on to tell us he had a lot of lower body pain, so we asked if we could pray for healing and he said it was okay. Martin decided to see if his legs were the same length because sometimes that is the cause of lower body pain. It turned out that one leg was visibly like two inches shorter than the other. So martin held his legs and just prayed, "in Jesus name, let this leg grow up." And I kid you not he did not once touch his foot to pull it out, or reposition the leg to seem longer than another, then after he said that his heels were perfectly lined up. We were all seriously in shock so we checked in like three different ways and it happened. I think instead of believing in faith we are skeptic of what we can't explain, but when it happens right in front of your face you can't really deny it. 
   So there we have it, another blog post, and another post closer to my departure to Thailand and Cambodia! So I will make  one last prethailand post, and then it's all outreach. Thanks again for reading! 

Let's choose love

Well as you may have noticed my blog updates have been a little bit limited, and I apologize for that. At the same time it's hard to try to take indescribable experiences and place them into words. When you are constantly living a life full of amazing experiences you forget to take those and share them with others. So again all I am going to do is pick some stories I've had the opportunity to live out and share them with you. All I have to share with you is what I've experienced and lived first hand, and all you can do is decide what you would like to do with that information.
    One experience that we got to do was hold up signs on Fremont street (old Las Vegas) with stats about human trafficking. Honestly it's crazy to see how people who are out in vegas to party and have a good time respond to a bunch of young people holding up signs with alarming statistics. It just blows my mind to see how many people with read these signs and just walk by like there is nothing different. When you see how desensitized we are as humans, it's hard to believe that anything will change in these large issues like human trafficking. We let ourselves believe that it's okay to be apathetic and self focused but in the end we long for change and we talk about all the things wrong with this world but we aren't willing to step out in simple ways and say "no that's not okay." That's one thing I learned from this outreach, that in the end numbers to matter, and people binding together can and will change the world we just need to get there. This applies even more so to us as the body of Christ. We are called to love people, and go to the end of the earths to fulfill this. It's time that we step up and actually do that, instead of just talking about it. 
   Another cool outreach we got to do was serve with Hookers for Jesus. The outreach itself wasn't what was inspirational it was what all that simple work was going for, and the inspiration that Annie Lobert (the founder of Hookers for Jesus) gave to myself and our group. While we were serving we just did some basic yard work, pulling weeds and raking leaves. Although I would not say yard work is my calling, that entire time I just felt like everything we were doing was such a blessing to someone else. The entire time we were there we weren't really expecting to meet Annie (even though it would be so cool) then as we were about to leave she came outside and we got to meet her. Annie's story is truly inspiring and has really changed my views on women involved in human trafficking and what I need to do to make a lasting impact. Long story short, Annie is a survivor of human trafficking. She was able to make it out of the oppression of her pimp, and begin recovering. Annie started Hookers for Jesus to help other women like her off the streets, out of prostitution, into recovery, and back into being able to live a normal life. The ability to be able to pray for Annie, and bring blessings to her ministry was truly humbling. Statistics are changing, lives are being renewed and people are making a difference. It's so encouraging to see changes being made, because it is possible. Change is a happening and I want to be apart of it, no matter where I am in the world whether that's back in Canada or overseas in Thailand I will stop at nothing to make a difference, spread God's love, and bring the Kingdom of the Lord to this earth. 
   The lecture phase of my DTS has really blown my expectations, and I am literally waiting on edge to be able to take everything I have learned and seen here in Las Vegas and be able to change lives overseas in Thailand and Cambodia. 

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Hola Mexico

Well hello everyone! First off I would like to apologize from the bottom of my heart for my seamingly slow updates lately... Let's just say there is never a dull moment here in Las Vegas, which it makes it very hard for me to find time to sit down and blog. So, here I am trying to think of what I want to say and really I have I much I could say but really what it all waters down to is God is good. So I think what I will do is publish a few post right after each other outlining what I have been up to these last few weeks. So a couple of weeks ago I was in Ensenada and Tijuana, Mexico doing a mid DTS outreach. Instead of making a grocery list of all the things we did there, I thought I would share a few amazing stories. So one major thing that is a theme so every follower of Christ is miracles and spiritual gifts. For those of you who maybe aren't Christians what I mean by that is people who can heal others supernaturally, or people who know things about other people who hey have never met before, or the ability to predict the future and those predictions come through. Although those ideas are biblical, it's really easy to become skeptical when you don't see those things happen on a day to day basis. Let me just tell you, miracle ARE real. There was this one lady who had a hurt hand, and she was holding it in a fist because she couldn't open it, and had not been able to open it for a few weeks. A few people from my group went over to her and asked if they could pray. They prayed for her hand and right after she was able to open her hand completely. There is power in the name of Jesus. In the society we live in now a days it's so easy to question and justify everything and anything, but I'm telling you I saw a woman with a hurt hand, who's hand wasn't hurt simply due to prayer. I know for a fact this wasn't a just a coincident because I have seen things like this happen over and over again since I've been here. What I am not saying is that God is some genie that will heal anyone and everyone when we demand it. No, what I am saying is there is power in prayer, and there is power in the name of Jesus so much so that things that seem impossible can happen and you can witness it with your own two eyes. One other cool thing we did in Mexico was go to two different womens safe houses and rehabilitation centers (a picture with the girls is above). This was such a great experience because it adds such a real aspect to a problem that you hear about over and over and over again. It's so easy to get caught up in numbers and statistics and forget about the fact that there are real people, with names, and stories attached to those stats. We went into these centers and talked to the girls, and just knowing their name, even though most of them didn't speak English just made something that seemed so distant so close. At one point we were praying for the girls, and this one teenaged aged girl started sobbing in my arms, and the best part was she had no idea what I was saying, but just the fact that I took the time to care about her in that moment was enough. One last story was from the red light district in Tijuana. So before we went to the red light district one of my leaders was saying that this would be way beyond what we could imagine a red light district to be. For those of you who don't know a red light district is a place within a city where prositution is legal, and highly concentrated so men go there to get women, and women go there to get men. Let me just say that the realness and the depth of human trafficking just hit me hard in that moment. I literally saw dozens of women lined up against the wall of clubs waiting for a customer to pick them up. In that moment it's hard to know what to say or do seeing young girls probably younger than me waiting to be picked up. Although it was sad, and enraging at the same time it just lit this fire in me to keep pressing on. Even though this problem is huge I think people give up as soon as they realize how huge it really is. It's so easy to get caught up in the sadness and anger towards human trafficking and so many people allow themselves to dwell in that. If more people kept pressing on and fighting instead of just being sad then lives would change, and statistics would be reversed. So that's where I am at, pressing on because things will change when people step up. Overall my time in Mexico was a great experience in which I got to love others, and experience the world through God's eyes. 

Saturday, 4 April 2015

The great unknown

So today is Saturday. It's that one day between the day that Christ died, and the day He conquered all human understanding and resurrected from the grave. I never used to think much of this Saturday but a few years ago I heard a sermon on the significance of this Saturday not only in this season of Easter but the timeline of our lives from start to finish. So to explain what I mean I'm going to take this all back to New Testament right after Jesus was killed on the cross. So we know that Jesus had 12 disciples during His ministry on earth, and we know that they gave up everything to follow Him and His message. These 12 left their family, friends, jobs, homes, and lifestyle to follow Jesus simply because they believed He was the messiah that was promised, and that He was the Son of God. So think about it, Jesus, who the 12 disciples gave everything for was just nailed to a cross and killed. Think about how they may have felt; angry, broken, disoriented, lost, confused. Although they knew He was the Son of God and that He said He would leave them, they didn't know what was next. The disciples were in a season of waiting. All they had was what they knew to be true about Jesus, and the promises He made to them. This was Saturday. This was people who have everything for Jesus waiting for what would come next in God's plan. At some point in your life I'm sure you've been in a season of "Saturday", a time where your next step isn't clear, where you don't know what tomorrow will bring, and all you have to do is wait. Trust me, I know; waiting sucks. We all want answers of, and we all want to be in control of every single detail of our lives. Realistically this is impossible. We can't know what comes next, but what we can know is the promises God, our loving father has made to us as His children. Instead of living in a dark and hopeless "Saturday" season, always longing to know what comes next, we can live a life in full confidence that we serve a mighty and powerful God that holds you in your hand and knows everything about you, inside and out. We serve a God that is love and is faithful, and because of what Christ did we don't need to worry about tomorrow because God has an amazing plan for our lives. So when a season of "Saturday" comes remember that God knows you, and loves you and that He knows what's ahead of you all we need to do is lay down our desires and longings to know and just do in God's will. One last note on this topic, is that I got a lot of inspiration for this post from the song "Buried in the Grave" by All Sons & Daughters. I highly recommend you check it out and listen to the words and just reflect on where you are at, and what you need to do next to just bask in the amazing plan God has for you. Anyways thanks for reading, and I hope this Easter weekend has been a. Time to reflect and grow in all God has for you. 

Friday, 3 April 2015

Because of Him

Well today is Good Friday. Some of you may view it as an extra day off school, or a day you don't have to go into the office, whatever you may think, I hope you take the time to read this blog post and just for a second think about what Good Friday is about. Before I get into what I wanted to talk about I want you to know, this is not about religion. This is not about me trying to convert you, or pull you into some religious institute. This is simply about me sharing about the greatest event in human history, with no strings attached. Good Friday is the day that Jesus Christ the Saviour of the world willingly submitted himself to a death so horrendous, that only the worst criminals were sentenced to it. Jesus had done no wrong, in fact He lived a life that was perfect, and blameless, but instead of fighting it, He took the penalty. Jesus was taken, beat, whipped, and mocked. The whip they used had pieces of bone in it so that every time it hit him it would rip his skin, they did that to him 39 times, because 40 is considered to be deadly. Finally they took a wooden cross, and laid Him down on it and nailed His hands and feet to the cross. Then they proceeded to lift him up for everyone to see, and that was when the Saviour of the world hung by nails in His hands and feet on the cross. Now just think about how painful that would be. All of your body weight is held on these nails, it is also impossible to breathe so in order for you to breathe you have to lift yourself up on these nails. Then if the Romans got bored of watching you hang there they would break your legs and you would suffocate. At this point also Jesus (being fully God on earth) who was in perfect unity with God the father in heaven was separated from Him as he hung on the cross as a sacrifice for all the sins of the world from start to finish with no strings attached. When I think about that all I can think about is "what the heck?" So you're telling me that someone who was perfect, and who was God, would just take the penalty for everything horrible I have ever done. Yes. Why you may ask would Jesus do this? Love. God loves you so incredibly much that He would even sacrifice His only Son, who was in complete likeness of Himself to live on earth and die a death only the worst of the worst die, because He loves you. Now I know this is usually the part where a million questions come up... But this is no strings attached, there is no catch. Jesus died so we have the opportunity to have a relationship with God, and have ever lasting life in unity with Him in heaven. So to kind of out this all in perspective, we are all sinner, we have all messed up. God being the perfect one that He is can't be surrounded by sin and imperfection. In spite of that God loved and longed for us so much that He sent Jesus as a perfect sacrifice to walk to earth and live a life with no flaw. When the time came Jesus was sentenced to death, not because he had to or wanted to but because God longed so much to be in unity with us. So Jesus was crucified and at that time all the debts for a wrongs of the world were paid in full and forever. Jesus paid for our messy lives, for our mistakes, for our guilt, shame, and catastrophic fails. Not only did Jesus die, he paid a price for you. He paid a price that was infinite and limitless, because that's how much you are worth to Him. Jesus's death was irreplaceable and nothing else could fill the gap and void that was placed between us and God. His sacrifice was priceless, and perfect, which makes you priceless and perfect in Him. You were worth it. You were worth Jesus dying on a cross. Just think about that. So that's really all I have to say, at first I was just going to make one long post for the entire weekend, but Easter and this time of year where we get to reflect on the love that God has for us is so humbling and beautiful that I am going to write a post for every day this weekend. So I hope all of you got something out of what I had to say, and again for any further questions I would be happy to email you or talk to you on Facebook.