Divine Detours

I was running late for church one Sunday afternoon so I decided to take a cab. In my very broken Korean I asked the driver to take me to Onnuri Gyohway (church), hoping he understood and that I wouldn’t end up in another city. After about 10 minutes, to my relief, I saw my church in the distance. Only… the driver wasn’t stopping, he was driving right past it! I started panicking inside; with each passing second, he was driving farther and farther away from my destination! I wanted to yell out, ‘Stop! My church is right there! Turn around! Where are you going?’ But I had no idea how to say any of that in Korean, so I was forced to remain silent and hope that he knew what he was doing.

Thankfully, he did. It turns out, the driver (who knew the city much better than I did), understood that in order to get to my church, he had to drive past it by several blocks and then backtrack as there were a number of one way streets he needed to maneuver through to reach my church. It all made sense now.

Have you ever felt this way with God? I know I sure have. I’ve seen a dream, a goal, a destination right in front of me, but God seems to be taking me in the exact opposite direction. Perhaps you too, have cried out in exasperation, ‘No, God, this isn’t right! What I want is back there, you’re taking me the wrong way!’

The truth is, God will never lead us in the wrong direction. God knows the exact course of our lives for He is the one who has carefully planned out our days. “Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed” Psalm 139:16. God often uses what we perceive to be detours to teach us valuable lessons that we would not have learned otherwise. Lessons about patience, trust, obedience, dependence and faith.

It has been said that God’s answer to our prayers is always one of three things: Yes, Not yet, or I have something much better for you. When we are being led in a direction that we didn’t expect, we must remember that God sees the beginning and the end. He has promised to always walk beside us and lead us along the right path for His Name’s sake (Psalm 23:3). One day, we will be able to look back on the most confusing and challenging experiences and realize, ‘It all makes sense now’. God is Good. He is worthy of our Trust. He is Sovereign, even in the detours.

“Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you to profit, who leads you in the way you should go” – Isaiah 48:17

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27 Things I’m Thankful For

In celebrating my 27th birthday in Korea this week, I was encouraged to reflect on the countless blessings the Lord has poured over my life in the past 27 years. Here are but a few of them; may they inspire you to gratitude.

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever.” – Psalm 136:1

1. God’s Unconditional Love that surrounds me, restores me and completes me.

2. God’s Unlimited Grace that receives my ashes in exchange for a crown (Isaiah 61:3).

3. God’s Word that is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path (Psalm 119:105).

4. The hard times which test my faith because I know they are creating perseverance within me and strengthening my character (James 1:2-3).

5. My family that will stick by my side no matter what happens.

6. My big sister whose life has taught me about grace, humility and compassion.

7. My little brother whose life has taught me about discipline, determination and strength.

8. Pastor Eddie, Daniel, Mike, Joel and Isaac – five honourable men of God who lead by example and practice what they preach.

9. Onnuri English Ministry for being God’s hands and feet – my home away from home.

10. The friends that cry with me when I cry and laugh with me when I laugh.

11. Those who reject me for they teach me powerful lessons of humility and forgiveness.

12. This blog and the opportunity to bring God Glory and encourage others.

13. Colourful flowers because they remind me of God’s Provision (Matthew 6:28-29).

14. My students who somehow always end up teaching me more than I teach them.

15. Seasons of abundance; not always tangible but always more than I deserve.

16. Seasons of drought, because they deepen my dependence on God.

17. The Victory that I have in Christ; the battle has already been won.

18. My weaknesses, because in them, God’s Strength can be made known so powerfully.

19. Sight – the ability to see and appreciate the beauty of God’s creation.

20. Vision – the ability to dream of something bigger than my own abilities.

21. The rain that washes away my tears.

22. The rainbow that follows – God’s Promise of His Faithfulness.

23. The warmth of the sun beating down on my face – like a warm embrace from my Father.

24. A heart that beats, even when it hurts, for it hurts because it has first loved.

25. Living in Canada, a country with such freedom and opportunity.

26. Teaching in Korea, where I can use my freedom to fight for those who are oppressed.

27. Jesus. My Saviour, my Lord, my Friend, my Rock, my Redeemer, my Light, my Everything.

Another Friday Night in Seoul’s Red Light District

Sometimes, just knowing there is somebody out there who cares, is enough to inspire the will to live another day.

This past Friday, I was blessed to be part of another outreach with my church to Seoul’s Red Light District. This time, we delivered roses to over 400 girls trapped in sexual enslavement. Our goal was to show these girls that even though society has discarded them, God still pursues them with a Relentless Love.

It was absolutely heartbreaking to see these young (12-22 year old), beautiful, innocent girls in these elaborate “show rooms”, dressed up in sparkly princess gowns, sitting there waiting… to be sold, bought, used, and discarded, over and over and over again. Make no mistake, these girls have not CHOSEN this lifestyle, they were forced into it; they are slaves, raped repeatedly each day for profit. These girls have absolutely NO worth to those who enslave them, other than the income they generate through the forced sale of their bodies.

You may be wondering: What will a rose do for these girls? Don’t they need more than flowers? The answer is yes. They need much more than flowers. What they NEED is the knowledge of God’s Unfailing Love for them. What they NEED is people who won’t give up fighting for their freedom and their honour.

The flowers that we gave out were meant to be a representation of God’s Love for them. And of the fact that somebody out there cares. We prayed over each flower… that just by looking at them, holding them and smelling them, the girls would have a Divine revelation of Jesus’ Relentless Love.

The Bible records miracles of people being healed just by stepping into the shadows of the apostles and by touching the handkerchiefs of God’s servants. We believe in faith that we have access to the same Power of God today. For it is written, “Anyone who has faith in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works than these will he do…” (John 14:12).

Many of the young girls who are enslaved have no family whatsoever; nobody who cares about their well being. They are continually abused and mistreated. These girls never receive presents. For some of them, the flower we gave them may have been the first they have ever received. The simple rose was so much more than fragrant pink petals on a green stem. It represented HOPE. It represented the fact that there is SOMEBODY out there who knows they’re alive. There is somebody out there who knows where they are being held captive. There is somebody out there who actually CARES about them.

It doesn’t end with the flower. There is MUCH to be done for these victims of sexual enslavement. God is clear in the Bible about our mandate, “Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow” – Isaiah 1:17

How can YOU help?

1. You can pray for these red light districts and the ones in YOUR home town to be shut down permanently.

2. You can pray for the full physical, spiritual and psychological restoration of these young girls who have been enslaved for so many years.

3. You can pray that the pimps and madams repent and turn from oppressors into abolitionists.

4. You can volunteer your time, energy, finances and resources in some capacity to help girls who are enslaved as well as those who have been rescued from sexual enslavement.

We must use our freedom to fight for the freedom of those who are enslaved and oppressed. We must be a Light in the darkness. We must be the hands and feet of Jesus. We must never give up.

Because, sometimes, just knowing there is somebody out there who cares, is enough to inspire the will to live another day.