My team is returning to Rwanda again this April with Come & See Africa. I will be helping with the East Africa Apologetics Conference for university students, the conference for pastor’s wives, and working with the Compassion Ministry.
Last year, we used the funds I raised to support the local community in Butare, Rwanda. After consulting with Pastor Franc, one of the local pastors on our team, the funds were used to purchase a cow (about $100) for one of the widows in the widow’s co-op. She took in the abandon daughter of a prostitute and is raising her as her own, using the income generated form the cow to provide for the family. Remaining funds were used to purchase health insurance for over a dozen families for a year. Annual health insurance for a family in Rwanda is approximately $25 US dollars per year.
Now, I am raising funds for the Compassion Ministry Widow’s Co-op, which includes about 35 women and over 200 of their children. They are “widows”, in a Rwandan context, a single mother; with the father of the children either dead or not present. They support themselves and their children by earning about a dollar a day as “diggers”. They work about 6 hours a day; hoeing, planting, and harvesting small pots on the public lands set apart for them. I will assist them with their crops.
For the last three years, I have been involved with the local YoungLives group in our area, which is a ministry of Young Life, reaching out to teen moms to share the love of Christ with them. I will be connecting with the Young Life leaders of Rwanda praying with them, delivering letters from our moms, and learning how God is working in their ministry.
Fundraising: $2,500 Total -> $1,000 Airfare -> $1,000 Accommodations -> $500 CASR local ministries
Prayer Request: Please keep me in prayer as I follow God’s lead in my life, pray also for His guidance and that He would give me wisdom, and for everyone I will be working with and those we will be serving.
May God Bless You,
& See Africa
is a Christian, American, non-profit ministry aimed at the students at the National University of Rwanda, to raise up a generation committed to following the Lord. They help their sister organization Come and See Rwanda (CASR), in facilitating international Christians and their churches to carry out meaningful ministry throughout South Rwanda. It also sponsors an annual three-day East Africa Christian Apologetics Conference centered at the University of Rwanda and supports campus ministry. They are also working on bringing Christ to the entire region of south Rwanda through conferences, evangelism, and compassion ministry to the poor. Their main mission is to support Come and See Rwanda (CASR). CASR works year-round ministering to the students at the National University of Rwanda by providing an intensive discipleship program and by supporting the many Christian student groups with their Compassion Ministry.
Rwanda the beautiful land and people of a thousand hills.
In October 2017, I went on my first mission trip overseas, I went to Rwanda. When I was twelve I felt God calling me to go out into the world to share His Gospel. I had been praying for years to go on a mission trip overseas and He finally sent me. The main focus of the trip was a series of conferences. We also spent time with widows and children, hearing their stories and sharing God’s love with them.
Come and See Africa (CASA) hosted a conference for pastor’s and one for their wives at the same time. I helped a woman pastor from London with the conference for the pastor’s wives. We looked at influential women from the Bible and history who are not well known. We also read scripture, discussed what we read and prayed for them. We shared some Sunday School ideas. A parachute was donated to CASA for churches to borrow for Sunday Schools and events. We demonstrated for them how to use it and taught them some games they could play and songs to sing. They sang their own songs and built their own games off of what we shared. We also painting with watercolors, which we also did with the female University students.
Our team gave both groups Salvation bracelets and demonstrated how to use them as conversation starters or reminders for ourselves while we shared the Gospel. The bracelets have different bands of colors on them: yellow, black, red, blue and then green. The yellow represented light and good-what God intended. The black represents sin and our separation from God. The red represents the death and sacrifice of Christ to restore our relationship with the Father, which leads us to the white meaning we are cleansed of all our sins. The green is our hope in Christ and the blue is our future of Eternity with Him.
The pastor from London and I did a skit together (with a translator). In the skit we recognized each other from a mutual friend but didn’t really know each other. I played a nominal Muslim and she was a Christian. She sees me at a coffee shop and asks if she can join me. We chat about our families and then I admire her colorful bracelet. She tells me that there is a meaning and story behind it and asks if she can share it with me. She goes over each of the colors and asks me questions. During our discussion, I ask her questions about each one from a Muslim’s point of view. After the skit, we passed out bracelets and the women practiced with a partner.
The Apologetics Conference was for university students from the five East African countries of Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Uganda, and the Congo. The conference was focused on the seven “I Am” statements of Christ, what they mean, the historical content, and how different worldviews approach them. A man, from the African Center for Apologetic Research, came from Uganda for a few days to share about cults in Africa. He gave resources to aid in understanding them more and how they aren’t in alignment with Scripture. I talked with him a lot about some cults in groups in America, near where I live, that are working in Africa too. I sat in on the conference with the students and learned much from the lectures.
One evening, one of the girls who worked at the hotel took me on a walk to town and we got some ice cream. We asked each other many questions about our countries and cultures and each others lives. She didn’t speak much English, but I think she understood more than she could say. She asked me questions about English and I helped her a bit and she helped me with my French, which is very little. I asked her if she could teach me some of their language, Kinyarwanda. She was so shocked and told me that no other foreigner had ever asked her to teach them her native language, it’s always them wanting to teach her English. I love learning new cultures and languages and love to learn what I can.
She told me she was very impressed with how I pronounced the words and that I could remember them. I was a little shocked too. She taught me how to say, “Hello, how are you?” and “I’m fine.” I didn’t learn that much, but it was enough to make people smile. Later, I used what I learned to try to talk with one of the housekeepers at the hotel. She was very surprised and happy. She helped me practice and tried to teach me more.
There were so many monkeys around. I had never seen a monkey in my life before outside of movies and on television. The few times I have visited a zoo they were always hiding. I was told to not feed them or get too close because they were aggressive and could attack me. I was very cautious of them, but they continually fascinated me. Sometimes, when I had time I would sit outside just to watch them. One night at dinner a few got inside the hotel and we had to chase them out, it was very exciting.
I loved Rwanda and all the wonderful people I met there from different cultures and backgrounds and I was honored to heard their stories. I tried new foods that I found I really enjoy, like goat and mushrooms. Even though mushrooms are common in the USA, my mom dislikes mushrooms, so she doesn’t cook with them. One evening we had mushroom soup for dinner. The mushrooms were from the mushroom plantation down the road, that we were going to visit the next day. Before I left home, I had made a deal with myself that I would try every food that was offered to me and be open to new experiences. I love trying new things and adventures, so I tried the soup and purposely went out of my way to eat the mushrooms, instead of avoiding them My friends at home tease me now and say it took me traveling across the world to try a mushroom. The goat was also very good and not at all what I expected. I loved the coffee and tea! The coffee in Rwanda was amazing, the best in the world I was told by many people, who informed me that Starbucks sources their coffee from Rwanda. I was surprised though, to find myself drinking more African tea than coffee. I had not really had any tea that has tasted like that before, it had a bit of a spice but was not spicy.
I joined a group from my Uncle’s church to see their work with the local children. We visited a little school where the kids sang for us a song in their language. The kids then learned to sing the song “Jesus Loves Me” and then they did it in sign language. The group had purchased a cow for a woman and her children a few days before, so they went to visit her again and see where she was going to keep it. I went with them and she showed us around the outside of her house and the pen that was built for the cow. There were a bunch of children that kept coming out of her house and from all around it to see us. They all had the brightest smiles on their faces and were full of excitement and joy. We went out front of her house and passed out toys and candy and spent a little time with the kids.
A few days later, I went with the group to see a house they were helping a widow build, because her house was falling apart. We were told that she walks fives miles to church and that her one room house gets so full it becomes a church. The woman seemed to be very gentle and kind, a mother like figure to those around her. We were swarmed by children a few of them spoke a little English, but it was only a few English catch phrases like, “what’s up” or they asked us for money.
I was able to see how they were building the house and observe the process. They were making the bricks onsite. They kept her old house and built the new one in front it.
I raised money from my community in the USA to support the Rwandan community. In Rwanda, I was able to see all the different areas of ministry and decided where to put the money. I talked with one of the local pastors there who has worked with my Uncles for a long time and asked him what he thought I should put the money towards. He suggested buying a cow for a one of the widows, she took in the abandoned daughter of a prostitute and is raising her as her own. I really responded to the idea of supporting someone who is showing Christ’s love to an neglected child. He also said that there would be enough left over, after buying the cow, to purchase health insurance for over a dozen families for a year.
Later, I was discussing his suggestions for the funds with my uncles in the “Missionary Room”. That was a cozy, light filled area where we had our morning devotions and prayed, ate some of our meals and put together a few packets for the kids. All of a sudden, the pastor came in and declared, “I bought a cow and it’s name is Shae!” We all just stared at him. He explained that after we talked about what to do with the donations, he went and got a cow. It was right outside the door-making noise! We were all smiling and laughing.
During one of our last days there, CASA’s Bible Institute held a graduation and the local news paper was there, along with the Assistant Mayor of the district and the Police Commissioner. They came to to see all ways that CASA is helping the local community. We began a tour with the graduation and then we visited the group of women gathered from the widow’s co-op. Before the graduation started, I went with a pastor from London to go spend some time with the widows. That was a highlight of the trip. Even though we had a translator, we communicated mainly through singing songs and praying for each other in our own languages. I could feel God’s presence, love and joy fill the room. We didn’t have much in common on the surface, but we all shared our love for Jesus. I loved the time I had with these women. They were so warm and welcoming, kind and joyful. God showed me His global church, my brothers and sisters in Africa and gave me a glimpse of the bigger picture, the body of Christ all together singing songs and praises to our God and Savior.
My time with the widows reminded me that church is more than once a week on Sunday morning. Church is so much more than that, it is more than a building. It is every believer in Jesus Christ all around the world. We are all brothers and sisters in Christ, there are no church walls separating us. We are all one together in Christ Jesus. God opened my eyes to that a few years ago, in Rwanda I was able to see it so clearly.
My trip to Rwanda pushed me beyond my areas of comfort and encouraged me to grow stronger in my weaknesses, like public speaking and being outgoing. I learned so much about myself and and what church and life is like in Rwanda. Since I’ve been home I have pushed myself to speak in public and to connect more deeply with people in my local mission field. I am so excited to see where God leads me! I want to go back to Africa and stay longer, see more places, and meet more people! I loved it! I am invited to go back in January. I am praying about the opportunity to go back. Please pray with me for God’s guidance.
“It is easier to cool down a fanatic than it is to warm up a corpse.”
Persecution may seem like a thing of the past or something that happens across the world to people and in places far away. The physical difference between us, is not that far. We are one body in Christ, one church. When one part of the body suffers we all suffer. Persecution is very real, dangerous, and growing. It’s happening to our brothers and sister in Christ.
I’ve had conversations with people, many of them were from my Christian community, about the persecution Christians are facing around the world, they would rather not think about it or pay to much attention. They were very indifferent.
Some of them said that only certain people are called to help the persecuted. I don’t think it’s like that. I think that we are not all called to the same thing, but I don’t think we are supposed to act indifferent to the people, “we don’t feel called to”. God called us to love all people, from the outcasts, widows and orphans, tax collectors, to even our enemies. We are not called to love only one group, but to love everyone.
Jesus said, “Love each other as I have loved you.” – John 15:12
I think that comes from fear and not wanting to get to close because somehow it could affect your life in a negative way, that it opens the door for you to be persecuted or that it’s too heartbreaking to hear about. Some of the accounts of persecution are heart wrenching and really painful to read and to be honest it’s hard for me to read sometimes and to just not think about it. It’s too hard to comprehend the evil in this world, but I just cling to the hope and promise Jesus us gives us of eternal life with our Heavenly Father.
When I first became aware of the persecution of other Christians it shook me. It made me ask myself some hard questions: Would I be willing to lose everything, my family, friends, job, house, my freedom, or even my life for my faith? Would I risk being beaten and tortured, threatened or pressured to denounce my faith in Jesus? What would living in fear of persecution due to my faith? Would I follow God’s will no matter where it could lead me? Would persecution strengthen my faith or would it break it? What does the Bible says about persecution?
When I began praying for Christians in other countries and, people groups, ministries and organizations, and specific people, working to help the persecuted and unreached people groups, the churches and Christians in other parts of the world didn’t feel like far away strangers in far away places. They felt real and close.
Through all my research on religious freedoms in other countries and praying for those who are persecuted, I started to see the world differently. God used what I was reading and learning to open my eyes to the global church. He showed me the church was bigger than a Sunday morning. It is His body of believers.
We are all part of the same body under Christ.
Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. – 1 Corinthians 12:12-17
But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. who is the head.
– 1 Corinthians 24-27
If one member of the body suffers we all suffer.
Remember those in prison, as if you were there yourself. Remember also those being mistreated, as if you felt their pain in your own bodies. – Hebrews 13:3
I was amazed to find that despite persecution the church is growing. No matter how much Satan attempts through persecution to stop the Gospel from spreading, it’s spreading like wildfire. “For the light shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it.” – John 1:5
In some of the most darkest places of the world the Gospels is shining hope.
At the beginning of this year, Open Door’s World Watch List released the top 50 countries where it is the most difficult to be a Christian in 2018.
Here are the top 10:
Here is where you can learn more about the World Watch List:
Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.
– Hebrews 13:3
Take a Stand!
Be their voice! Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, defend and judge fairly. as Proverbs 31:7-8 says. – “Speak for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are in destitute. Speak and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”
Pray for them! The number one thing persecuted Christians ask for is prayer. Pray for them, pray they would remain faithful to Christ through all their sufferings and trials. Pray their faith would be strengthen and that they would be bold witnesses to those around them and that they would forgive their persecutors. Pray for their persecutors as well, and their country’s leaders.
Be informed and Get Involved! Know what is happening around the world and ways you can get involved. Here are some resources:
“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belong to the world, it would love you as it’s own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of this world. That is why the world hates you.”
I heard the voice of the LORD saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here I am. Send Me!”
– Isaiah 6:8
“Rwanda 2017, I’m offering you a trip to Africa.” I knew this was an answer to my heart cry of “Jesus send me!” Let me share with you how God has prepared my heart for sharing Jesus with others and an opportunity He has given me.
I’m Shae. I gave my heart to Jesus and asked Him to use me however He wants to show His love to the world. When I was about twelve I began to really listen to stories of missionaries telling people about Jesus all around the world, and I was inspired by all the ways God was using them to speak His truth.
Last year, while in a waiting room at a doctor’s office, I noticed a woman sitting near me. She had a recently amputated leg and seemed very sad and heavy hearted. I felt like God wanted me to tell her He loved her, but I wasn’t sure what to say or how to say it. I am very quiet, I struggle with shyness and overthinking. I am working on being more outgoing and confident talking to people, but it’s hard.
I wrestled with so many thoughts. Was God speaking to me or was it just me? Do I say something or just pray quietly? Was that enough? I began to pray for her and for clarity on what God wanted me to do. As I was praying, she turned to me and started making small talk. We chatted a bit and then sat in silence for a few minutes. I knew God wanted me to speak to her, but I couldn’t find the words. I felt so nervous. What if I said something wrong or made a mistake?
Words from Scripture began pouring through my mind, cutting through all of my thoughts.
1 Peter 3:15 – Always be ready to give an answer for you faith, but do so with gentleness and respect. (My paraphrasing).
Followed by words Matthew 19:10 – Don’t worry about what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but your Father speaking through you. (paraphrasing)
I felt peace. I asked God to not let it be my word she would hear but His. That it wouldn’t be she would see but His love reaching out to her.
More thoughts came to mind. I remember a missions conference I attended and on of the key points stressed. If you can’t walk across a coffee shop and tell someone about Jesus, how can you go across the world and do it? You need to be a missionary wherever you are.
“It is useless to think we can make a difference for Christ in some remote corner of the world if we can’t do it in our own neighborhoods, schools, and workplaces.”
– Brother Andrew, founder of Open Doors.
Then I remembered a quote I had read that said, “What would happen if we saw everyone around us as facing an eternity in hell? Would we be less afraid to tell them about Jesus?”
I knew then I couldn’t be silent, so I turned to her and said something like, “I feel like God wants me to tell you that he loves you and can give you rest and healing, he can bring you more than physical healing.” Tears welled in her eyes and she told me that she was a Christian, but that she doesn’t go to church most of the time, but she does sometimes. She likes to sing in choir but her church won’t let her if she’s not sober.
Just then my grandma and mom came out from the back and my sisters and I started to gathered our things. The woman started to say goodbye and kept thanking me. I grabbed her hand and told her again that God loved her and that I would be praying for her. She thanked me and said she would pray for me too.
I felt as though God was stretching, pushing me out of my comfort and showing me what happens when I step out in faith and seek his voice and instruction and trust him. I felt so joyful and happy after that, refreshed and so confident in my faith.
The very next day, while I was at a family gathering, my Great-Great Uncle Chris came up to me, my sisters, and mom, and asked my mom which one of her girls wanted to be a missionary. After she told him it was me, he turned to me and said, “Rwanda 2017, I’m offering you a trip to Africa.” I was shocked. I replayed his words in my mind a few times before it clicked in my brain what he was saying. I thanked God for answering my prayers. I was reminded how God hears all of our prayers.
He had no idea how much I have prayed asking God to send me anywhere in the world to share his Gospel.
God answered my prayers!
Come and See Africa (CASA):
My Great-Great Uncle and Aunt started a ministry in Rwanda called Come and See Africa (CASA) in 2005, a few years after the genocide.
The name comes from the story of the Woman at the Well. After her encounter with Jesus, she runs back to her village and says,
“Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could He be the Messiah?”
– John 4:29
Come and See Africa International is a Christian, American, non-profit ministry focused on the students at the National University of Rwanda, to raise up a generation committed to following the Lord. Their main focus is helping their sister organization Come and See Rwanda (CASR), in facilitating international Christian and their churches to carry out meaningful ministry throughout South Rwanda. It also sponsors an annual three-day East Africa Christian Apologetics Conference centered at the University of Rwanda and supports the ongoing campus ministry. They are also working on bringing Christ to the entire region of south Rwanda through conferences, evangelism, and compassion ministry to the poor. Their main mission is to support their sister organization Come and See Rwanda (CASR). CASR works year-round ministering to the students at the National University of Rwanda by providing an intensive discipleship program and by supporting the many Christian student groups with their Compassion Ministry.
My Great-Grandma Jeanne has also traveled to Rwanda with her brothers and taught Bible studies there. I feel honored to travel down the path my family
and many others have gone. A few months ago, Franc, the executive director and secretary of CASR visited from Rwanda. I was invited to shadow Franc and my Great-Great Uncle Frank, who I will be traveling to Africa with, as they shared with many different people and churches about pastor trainings and ministry opportunities in Rwanda. I sat in on the board meeting too. It was so fascinating.
I am going to primarily help with the annual East Africa Christian Apologetics Conference centered at the University of Rwanda and supports the ongoing campus ministry. The idea is to raise up strong Christian leaders among the university students
My Great – Great Uncle Frank and Aunt Lelia, with Franc
from the National Universities of Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi, Congo, and Tanzania. The goal of the conference is to better equip the students to stand firm in their faith as they lead ministries in their home countries. They are the future church, business, and political leaders.
I will work with children’s ministry, practicing English with Pastors, compassion ministry in rural villages, also helping with administrative, computer and technological tasks.
THE LIGHTHOUSE MINISTRY CENTER
My Uncle and I are collecting new twin and queen bedding sets – fitted sheets and pillow cases, towel sets – bath, hand, wash cloths, and shower curtains. We are hand carrying them to Rwanda with us. These items will go to The Lighthouse Ministry Center, it houses the Joy of God Bible Institute and a conference center where the Apologetics conference will be held.
The Lighthouse Ministry Center also runs as a business with a 20 room hotel, a top floor restaurant, conference centers, and five street front shops. The goal is to become self – supporting and need no additional international donations to fund it’s ministries.
All of the donations will go to support local needs and ministry opportunities. My travel arrangements and accommodations have already been provided.You can make a tax-deductible donation to CASA online with Paypal at Come and See Africa websitewww.comeandseeafrica.org
My Mission Trip is October 3 – 16, 2017.
When I return I will share pictures and reflections.
Please pray for me as I follow God’s lead. Pray that I would have guidance, discernment, and that my eyes would be open to those around me and my heart to what God is teaching me. Pray also for those I will be working with and those I will be serving while I’m there that they would see God moving and respond.
Thank you for you prayers and support!
“Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations baptizing in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I will be with you always, to the very end of the age.”
A year ago, when I first started writing this blog, there was not much conversation about persecution. After I started this blog the world began to talk about ISIS in a new way. Much of the conversation is about fear and anger, not much about loving your enemies and forgiving them as Jesus has done for us. It’s easy to forget, in our fear, that Muslims are lost souls in need of saving.
Matthew 5:43-48 New Living Translation (NLT)
Teaching about Love for Enemies
43 “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’[a] and hate your enemy.44 But I say, love your enemies![b] Pray for those who persecute you!45 In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike.46 If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much.47 If you are kind only to your friends,[c] how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that.48 But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.
Now, there is much debate over whether refugees should come into America. Many are afraid all the young men are ISIS members coming to kill us. As Christians we are not called to live our lives in fear. God tells us in his word, “Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” – Matthew 10:28
After my first post “Where His Path Led Me,” I went to Mission ConneXion. I learned about many different ministries and organizations, met inspiring people, and gathered great resources. A few months later, people that I met at Mission ConneXion became keynote speakers at the Worldview Symposium I helped organize for youth and their families. I wrote about that in my post “Wakeful and Uprooted”.
I wanted to connect with others around my age so I put together a class for the weekly homeschool co-op I’m in. The lessons were mostly pulled for my blog and books I’ve read. Some of the kids came because they went to the Worldview Symposium. I added a page to this blog called “Persecution Class” and I posted the lessons there. We are continuing the class next semester and adding a book club/prayer group. It will be a place for us to get to know each other better as we read books like Tortured for Christ by Richard Wurmbrand and God’s Smuggler by Brother Andrew.
God is using this blog to teach me. I’m learning to trust Him more, to give my concerns about whatever I’m planning or holding onto to Him because he already has it planned and knows how it will turn out. I am learning to push myself and the value of being uncomfortable. I realize the stress I feel to write a new post is usually because I am looking to myself for something to say. When I turn to God and I am being led by Him, it feels completely different. A year ago, after reading people’s stories about persecution in several books and watching their testimonies on YouTube, my heart was broken. I could not stop thinking about them. I prayed to God and asked Him to use me and to let me help somehow. God brought to me the idea of a blog. He made it clear to me that’s what he wanted me to do. I was terrified when I wrote my first post, I thought no one would like it and I would be trolled. But, I didn’t want to say no to God so I sat down and struggled through my first post. It has been amazing to feel His hand on me through this journey. I can see Him so clearly through all of the brokenness that surrounds us.
The idea of a class was so scary to me, I went back and forth on whether I should do it or not. Then I thought of my brothers and sisters who are risking everything- their families, homes, security, and even their lives to share the love of God in this broken world. I thought of how scared I was to do the class and have people not like it or not like me, I felt ashamed for not trusting God, so I did the class. I am reminded again that His plans for me are good. I’m glad I trusted God with the class. They are a special group. God brought us together for a purpose and I’m excited to see what He has planned for us. This blog has been viewed in over 70 countries so far. It never even occurred to me that anyone outside of the U.S. or my family and friends would read it much. It continues to amaze me and I am praying for everyone who has read this blog.
The world feels more unstable every day, but remember that God is there, He loves and cares for each and every one of us. That is why He sent His son Jesus to take our sins from us. Jesus experienced complete separation from God, when He died on the cross, so we don’t have to. He died so we could spend eternity with Him in heaven. The Bible tells us, “If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” – Romans 10:9
If you want to know more about Jesus, the book of John or the book of Romans in the Bible are a good place to start. Bible Gateway has many translations and languages available https://www.biblegateway.com/
This is the Scripture that we built the Symposium on.
Jeremiah 1:4-12 New Life Version (NLV)
4 Now the Word of the Lord came to me saying, 5 “Before I started to put you together in your mother, I knew you. Before you were born, I set you apart as holy. I chose you to speak to the nations for Me.” 6 Then I said, “O, Lord God! I do not know how to speak. I am only a boy.” 7 But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a boy.’ You must go everywhere I send you. And you must say whatever I tell you. 8 Do not be afraid of them. For I am with you to take you out of trouble,” says the Lord. 9 Then the Lord put out His hand and touched my mouth, and said to me, “See, I have put My words in your mouth. 10 I have chosen you this day to be over the nations and the kings, to dig up and to pull down, to destroy and to throw down, to build and to plant.”
11 And the Word of the Lord came to me saying, “What do you see, Jeremiah?” I said, “I see a branch of an almond tree.” 12 Then the Lord said to me, “You have seen well, for I am watching to see that My Word is completed.”
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I live in one of the most unchurched areas of the USA. According to a Gallup poll, here in Washington State, we are only 31% religious. I am in a youth group, a Bible study, and a Christian homeschool co-op, but I am still searching for deeper teaching aimed at students. I have gifted teachers and I learn from each of these groups, but the focus is often on outreach. I see events online, but it is really hard to find youth conferences or events in my area I can attend. A few months ago, our house church was looking for new ways we could help our community. We decided to do a symposium for teens and young adults. Symposium is a Greek word that means “a meeting or conference for the discussion of some subject, especially a meeting at which several speakers talk on or discuss a topic before an audience.”
We decided to talk about worldview because how you view the world shapes how you see everything. Everyone has a worldview, even if they don’t think about it much. After working on it for a while we only had one speaker, so we decided we needed to call it a workshop. Our speaker graduated from a Bible College, teaches high school, works in youth ministry, and he also leads the Bible study that meets at my house every week. He worked with our group to practice, get feedback, and make changes to his sessions. One night after we finished our Bible study, he asked if we wanted to bring another speaker in. He wanted to make sure everyone knew he didn’t have to be the only speaker. No one had anyone else in mind, the next day we went to Mission ConneXion.
At Mission ConneXion we met many amazing people. One of the first booths we went to was Global Radio Outreach, they are a ministry reaching Muslims through internet radio stations and networks, in their native languages, all around the world. We told them about this blog and the class I’m putting together, they suggested that we talk with a ministry that had a booth two over from them called Redeeming the Nations.
Redeeming the Nations is a ministry that broadcasts by satellites to Muslim nations in Arabic and many other languages. We talked with the man sitting at the booth and told him about this blog and the class about persecuted Christians and missions I want to put together. We asked him if he would consider speaking at the class, he said one of them would come. We learned much from him quickly and then he introduced us to the founder and president of Redeeming the Nations. They invited us to attend an “Intro to Islam” class he was teaching during the conference. I am glad I was able to go to that workshop, it was very interesting. I learned that the worldwide population of Muslims is about 1.6 billion, between 6-9 million in the USA, and 70-80,000 in the Portland area. He really stressed the need to reach out and love Muslims. We need to love Muslims because they are made in the image of God too and Christ died for all of us. He used an acronym:
I Sincerely Love All Muslims
He also pointed out that there is a mission field here, in our own cities and towns. There is a mission field wherever there are people. Don’t just take people to church, take church to them. I know this is repeated often in church, but be the church.
A few days later my mom had the idea of asking them to come speak at the symposium. She wasn’t sure because it would take the symposium in a new direction. After much prayer and discussion, she contacted them. They said they would, but their schedule was very full and the only time they had open was the morning of the symposium. We hadn’t been sure which date to choose and finally settled on that date, which turned out to be the only spot they had open. God had a plan.
We were having a hard time coming up with a name for the symposium. Actually weren’t sure exactly what any of it looked like: we didn’t know where to hold it, what to call it, how to advertise it or any of the details like music and food. We just knew that God wanted us to do it. The whole process was like peeling an onion with God only revealing one layer at a time to us .
The name we decided on is Truly Rooted Ministries which came from Jeremiah 1:4-12.
4 The Lord gave me this message: 5 “I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.” 6 “O Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I can’t speak for you! I’m too young!” 7 The Lord replied, “Don’t say, ‘I’m too young,’ for you must go wherever I send you and say whatever I tell you. 8 And don’t be afraid of the people, for I will be with you and will protect you. I, the Lord, have spoken!” 9 Then the Lord reached out and touched my mouth and said, “Look, I have put my words in your mouth! 10 Today I appoint you to stand up against nations and kingdoms. Some you must uproot and tear down, destroy and overthrow. Others you must build up and plant.” 11 Then the Lord said to me, “Look, Jeremiah! What do you see?” And I replied, “I see a branch from an almond tree.” 12 And the Lord said, “That’s right, and it means that I am watching,[c] and I will certainly carry out all my plans.”
Before she went to bed one night, my mom had been praying for God to show us the name. She woke up early in the morning with the clear thought to look at an online Christian news app on her phone. She went there and browsed the sections, unsure which to choose. She chose the culture section because that is what we were going to talk about. As she scrolled the articles one stood out, it referenced a scripture that wasn’t familiar to her- Jeremiah 1:4-12.
After she looked it up and read it she was really excited. She got up to see who was awake. I was and so we sat on my bed and my mom read me the passage. We discussed what we thought it meant, then we started brain storming ideas. The two main points that stood out to us were “I can’t speak for you! I’m too young!” because one of the main goals of the symposium was to show teens they are not too young for God to use them. The second was the almond branch, we immediately started thinking about trees and the idea of having deep roots in Christ, along with the idea of uprooting lies.
The names we came up with at first were really bad. We were trying to come up with a name that had to do with trees, roots, rooted, planted, rooted deep, almonds, branches, growth, ect. My mom finally suggested Truly Rooted, being rooted in truth and rooting out untruth. I loved it right away. I love to do Bible studies, my big Christmas present two years ago was a giant Strong’s Concordance. I looked up “almond tree” and read all the passages, then I looked it up in the Bible Dictionary my Grandma gave me and then I reread all the passages again. I found that “almond tree” in Hebrew means: wakeful, wakefulness, God executing His plan/purpose, and the fulfilling of God’s plan. We thought the name fit, so we presented it to our house church and it became our name.
We decided our ministry would be Truly Rooted Ministries so if we do other events we can use that name. We worked through all of the challenges of organizing an event like this and it finally all came together. God directed us each step of the way and many people helped. The symposium was last weekend. It went really well, we weren’t sure how many people would show up, we only had five people that registered who were not part of our house church. We knew people would come who did not register, so we planned seats and food for around sixty, and sixty people came.
The founder of Redeeming the Nations came and spoke about Islam. One thing he said that left an impression on me was that the problem is not with the people, the problem is with the spiritual blinders. There is a difference between culture, religion, and people. God showed us what he could do with a small group of people, He showed us what could happen when we trusted Him. We are talking about taking the symposium to other churches in the area, and maybe rotating between different themes. We are still discussing it. It was amazing to see all the pieces come together, to look back and see how God was preparing each one of us. A year ago, I would’ve never thought I would have a blog, or be in a house church helping plan a symposium for sixty people we weren’t sure were going to come. God has shown me what He can do with a few people who trust Him.
Around the world, people face persecution just for sharing about Jesus. Here, where God put me, I can speak out freely and share the love and hope of JESUS. I don’t ever want to take that freedom for granted.
Habakkuk 3:19 New International Version (NIV)
19 The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights.
3 Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.
There are an estimated 100 hundred million Christians facing persecution in the world. Christians all around the world are imprisoned for their faith in Jesus. According to Open Doors USA each month 332 Christians are killed, 214 Churches and Christian properties are destroyed and 772 acts of violence are committed against Christians. For more information click here.
When I first learned about persecution I went to the Voice of the Martyrs website. I was looking for a way to help. I initially thought that would mean going overseas or giving money. I’m not old enough for relief work and I only make a little bit of money babysitting sometimes. Most of the time, I am babysitting my little sister and my mom usually pays me in books and lattes. So, I wasn’t sure how I could do anything to help without going overseas. Right away. I learned there is much I can do. I can write to Christians imprisoned for their faith around the world, to encourage them and let them know they are not forgotten. Often the prisoners don’t receive the letters, but the letters let the prison officials know there is an audience and the world is aware of their political prisoners. You can also write letters and emails to government officials on behalf of the prisoners.
Prisoner Alert is a ministry under Voice of the Martyrs. With Prisoner Alert you can be alerted when Christians are arrested and receive prayer requests and updates. They share information about Christians who are imprisoned so you can pray and write for them. Before Prisoner Alert posts about a prisoner they get permission from their family and church. You can also purchase a Prisoner Letter Writing Kit from Voice of the Martyrs that has eight prisoner profiles and self mailers. In the beginning, you might not be sure what to say, Prisoner Alert has suggested phrases you can use. I’m excited, I got my first kit and I am writing the letters now.
With Open Doors letter writing you send in the letters you write to Open Doors and they will translate and deliver the letters to persecuted Christians. You can write letters of encouragement to children in orphanages and families who have loved ones who are imprisoned or who have been killed. While writing letters to prisoners can offer encouragement to them and communicating with government officials can help, the most important and powerful thing we can do is pray. Starting with Paul the Apostle, through stories of modern persecution we see the same threads of connection. Through the power of prayer people are healed, they are comforted during unimaginable trials, they are continually walking with God and keeping their eyes fixed on Him. There are so many things we can pray for them: hope, strength, comfort, boldness in witnessing to their persecutor and fellow prisoners and to forgive their persecutors. They are never alone, He is always there. You can have prayer alerts and request sent to your email from Open Doors and Voice of the Martyrs.
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Thanks for reading and God bless you!
“Our prayers can go where we cannot…there are no borders, no prison walls, no closed doors that are closed to us when we pray.” -Brother Andrew- Founder of Open Doors
“Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.” Hebrews 13:3 NIV
A New World
This weekend I went to Mission Connexion for my first time. A few days before I was looking for some kind of conference I could attend, but I found nothing. I went to the Voice of the Martyrs website to see if they were doing anything in my area. I had been wanting to go to one of their conferences, but there were none anywhere close to me. I felt frustrated and disappointed. Then I checked under local events and saw they were going to be at Mission Connexion in Portland, Oregon in two days. Only two days away! I couldn’t believe it! I was so excited, I was even more excited when I found out that Don Richardson was going to be there. He is a missionary who went with his wife Carol and their seven month old son and spent 15 years living with a stone age tribe in Papua, the Sawi tribe were cannibals and headhunters. He wrote about their experiences in Peace Child. To learn more about Don Richardson’s life I went on Youtube and found interviews with him, this is my favorite clip.
I went to Mission Connexion not knowing what to expect. Most conferences are geared more toward college students or adults. I’m only fifteen, how can I help? I wasn’t sure if I would just be an observer. I was surprised at how I was welcomed and included. I could feel God’s hand guiding me as I met so many people who shared their time and stories with me. Here are some of the highlights:
My first impression was Book Heaven! All of the books I’m on the hunt for were there, plus so many more. I was able to get a few and took pictures of many I plan to read in the future. Now I know how much is available from YWAM Publishing about my favorite topics.
When I talked with the representative from Open Doors I told him about this blog and how I want to help our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ. He suggested that when I meet new immigrants I talk with them and find out their stories. He also suggested I visit churches with refugees and volunteer to teach Sunday school. He said there is a need and he thought I would be embraced. My sisters and I are all wearing rubber barbed wire bracelets they gave us. They are great conversation starters, whenever someone asks us about them we can share about the persecuted church. I want to plan a secret church youth event and the bracelets would be a great reminder to give to the other teens that go. I’ll post more about that as it develops.
Voice of the Martyrs
At Voice of the Martyrs the representative shared with me many materials I had seen on the website including two DVDs I have been wanting to watch –Underground Reality Vietnam and Underground Reality Columbia. I am going to share them with my friends and family. She also gave us bracelets that say “Pray for China” another great conversation starter. The Special Issue 2015 newsletter she gave us included a great pullout “I Commit to Pray for My Persecuted Family” map. The back suggests 10 Ways to Pray. Follow the link and you can read people’s stories and join with others in prayer there.
Prayer is a powerful way for us to intercede for them.
Colossians 1:9-12 New International Version (NIV)
9 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives,[a]10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God,11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience,12 and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you[b] to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.
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This is a new blog. Sign up with your email at the bottom of the page to automatically receive updates. Leave a comment . I want to hear your thoughts. I’ll share more about the wonderful people I met and what else I learned in my next post.