Sunday, October 29, 2006

Relentless Love

Our team of 5 travellers are back from Thailand, safely, tired, and processing all they saw and holding in the Light those they walked beside. There will be much to tell and share but for now they need time to rest.

A friend of Linwood House, Adele, works in Kenya and pours her heart into her calling in that country. In her recent update she wrote her version of 1 Corinthians 13, Relentless Love:

If I speak English, Afrikaans, Chinese or even some Swahili, but I don't love relentlessly, I'm nothing but a dog barking at the moon.

If I share God's Word with children and adults alike and have enough faith to move to Kenya, but I don't have relentless love, I am nothing.

If I give up luxuries, opportunities, and resources to reach the people of East Africa, if I live alone surrounded by Kenyan corn fields, but I don't love relentlessly, it's as if I've journeyed nowhere.

It matters not whether I can speak with a funny accent, pray with passion, believe without limits. Without love, my life is worthless.

Relentless love never, ever gives up, even when life is tough.

Relentless love cares more whether the kids are warm than whether I'm comfortable.

Relentless love doesn't want what God hasn't given.

Relentless love doesn't do things to be seen or heard.

Relentless love doesn't care about my opinion and my needs, but listens to the opinions of others, and takes it to heart.

Relentless love puts others first.

Relentless love doesn't get annoyed when yet another person asks for money, or drives poorly...

Relentless love forgives, again and again.

Relentless love doesn't rejoice when others fail.

It finds joy in truth and in seeing others discover these truths.

Relentless love doesn't give up, but puts up with all things knowing that it is part of God's greater plan, and trusts that God has the best at heart. Always.

Relentless love seeks to see the best in others. It doesn't look back and wish for better days past. It pushes onward, knowing that beyond this mountain, far greater things await.

Relentless love doesn't wilt, nor dies. It's not "on" one day and "off" another. You can depend on it, even though you cannot depend on things and systems, even though you cannot always even depend on other believers.

Though I don't know or understand all at this stage, the day will come that I will understand fully. I will no longer be craving insignificant pleasures. Instead, I will grow in understanding and maturity. Right now, I don't see things clearly. It's like a window splattered with mud. But the day will come that all impurities will be removed. I'll see clearly, just as God sees me clearly. I'll know Him as He knows me.

But for now, while we are not yet there, there are three things I can hold onto:

Trust in God, always. Believe that He is who He says He is, that He can do what He says He can do.

Let hope be the fuel that compels me to move forward: Hope in God.

And the best yet: Love relentlessly, without ever giving up.

If we could put the words "Vancouver Downtown Eastside" into this, it goes to the heart of our work in that place, and to what the team of 5 have been living out in their time in Bangkok.



Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Report from Bangkok - Tuesday Oct 23

Hi All:

It's 9pm and Maureen, Sue, Jenn and I have just returned from Patpong with Tui, a staff member from the Home of New Beginnings. I am sad, very sad.
We have seen more than anyone needs to see of the sex industry. Tui faithfully goes twice a week to the bars to love and provide opportunities for women to leave and live at the Home. I don't know how she does it. We went into one bar and at least 10 girls crowded in and made themselves available to us. UG!
We do have good news though....

And lots of reasons for you to pray...

Today we finished decorating the sacred space and it looks beautiful.
Bonita is back at the center and feeling better. We spent some time with her encouraging and loving her. She is very tired and discouraged but thrilled with the feedback she has been receiving from the girls and the staff and of course, loves the splashes of colours that are everywhere around the center.

One of the girls, Plao, who is attending the English class and who also came to our Bracelet afternoon has made a decision to move into the Center. That is thrilling for everyone. She still has to fulfill an obligation where she works so please continue to pray for her. There are also two other women considering this possibility.

Tomorrow is the Big Party and there seems to be lots of enthusiasm in the neighbourhood. Tonight we paid bar fees for a girl to come. We hope to have at least 25 attending. We are calling it a Friendship Party. Maureen and Krista went shopping today for favours, decorations, etc. Everyone is making food and we are going to try and use the pancake mix from Capilano Suspension Bridge and make pancakes on a wok with of course, Canadian maple syrup. The girls are preparing songs and dances and they expect us to do the same. ..we have asked everyone what a party looks like other than a party in the bar and no one seems to know. Hopefully we will be inspired before tomorrow. We are going to teach them the hokey pokey except change the words hokey pokey to "do the Jahweh Sister Dance"...oh well anything goes! We have flags from Canada and Thailand.

Thanks again for your prayers. We are missing everyone but can't believe our time here is almost over. We will never forget our friends here and will forever have in our minds and prayers the women who are trapped in this horrible sex business. It is such a perversion of what God intends for men and women. We are desperate for God to intervene and set the captives free, both men and women.

That's all. (It's been one of our sayings, thanks to The Devil Wears

Gwen and Gang


Team in Bangkok

For almost 2 weeks we have a team of 5 women in Bangkok who are creating sacred space there with Bonita who has a home in the middle of the sex-trade district. Bonita connected with Sue and Jen this summer at a conference on this issue. Our team has been excited to encourage and help Bonita with her dream and to share what we have learned in our work. So Jen, Sue, Krista, Maureen and Gwen ventured off. Their time is almost at an end but here is a report from this week.

Maureen and I have stumbled on an internet cafe so thought I would drop a line. I think it is my turn. I know it should be informative but really I have a head full of thoughts and my mind is whirling.

I had an interesting experience last night after going to the Christian School with the women from the center where the youth from the Doulos ship gave a presentation of the gospel. I think the women enjoyed the experience. It's hard to tell with the language barrier. My personal experience was coming eye to eye with a man heading for the bars; primped and looking for all appearances like a peacock. He wreaked of cologne, with flood pants and sparkling belt and loafers and a red face. I could not get this man out of my mind all night and I mean all night. Would the evening satisfy his need...I wondered...purchasing a woman or maybe two, numbers 34 or 63 bought from the bar. The beautiful women smiling at him, flattering him and whatever and underneath hating every moment with him. How could that be satisfying? He interrupted my sleep! Ug! But then God began to break my heart for him. I thought of the woman caught in adultery and the men asking Jesus if they should stone her. You know the story. Jesus asked the men who would throw the first stone? Jesus remained with the woman and all of the men disappeared, beginning with the oldest. Who would go with the men? I am sure that they left with guilt and shame thinking of their own shame and guilt. I asked our host, Dr. Roy if there was any ministry to the men who come to Thailand in flocks dressed like peacocks to enjoy the women. He said he did not know of any such ministry.

Anyway that is where my mind is right now and I appreciate you listening to me. It is interesting that we are gearing up for the Olympics as a Christian community in Vancouver because there will be people from all over the world who need to meet Jesus coming to our city. Here in Bangkok there are desparate men coming from all over the world searching for something and think that sex will satisfy their need. I sincerely believe that an encounter with Jesus would change their life, and give them meaning and purpose and satisfy the longing of their heart. Please pray for the peacocks we are seeing everywhere. By the way, would you believe I met that same peacock from last night on the streets this morning..

Sue and Jenn are doing an amazing job of leading our team. It is wonderful for me to "just show up". I realize how easy it is for me to follow competent leadership. Sue dreams and plans. Jenn looks after all of the details. Maureen is absolutely amazing, loving everyone everywhere. Krista is growing and learning new things all the time. She has settled into life in Bangkok. We had a most amazing experience together with Krista. It was like a full circle thing where God was carving out a new picture for Krista. We went to the bars to encourage women to come to the center for English classes. I have never seen anyone so desparately try to give a girl in the bar an opportunity to get out than Krista. She promised to give them everything except a husband and a car. Of course, they couldn't understand her but it was a wonderful experience for us to see through Krista how God desparately wants to rescue women from prostitution.

Bonita continues to rest and we haven't seen her since the first day. Please pray for her healing. Roy is taking good care of us. Yesterday we went shopping and today we will go and see if we can do a little decorating in the Home for New Beginnings. We think it is beautiful the way it is so we don't want to mess too much with the sacred space.

Thank you for travelling with us in prayer.


Friday, October 13, 2006

Update from Linwood

Rarely is there a day when someone does not drop by to visit us here at Linwood.

The new kitchen is a wonderful asset and although there are a few finishing details left, we continue to create, sit down together, and find it the hub of conversations. Warm lighting and the deep gold of the new granite countertops are hues with tones of calm and gentleness.

Yesterday was one of those rare days where no guests stopped in to chat. It was a day of preparing the chicken broth and beef broth for the freezer, roasted cauliflower soup for a group coming in soon, and Grandma making her wonderful old fashioned coffee cake.

Our team of 5 women head off to Bangkok to help encourage Benita who has a vision for sacred space for women in the sex trade on the streets of that city. Pray for them as they work together to bless and be blessed.

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