April 24, 2009

I'm Done!

After 13 years of public school, 4 years of college, and 2 years of graduate school, I AM OFFICIALLY DONE WITH SCHOOl! Praise God! Let it be forever! After 7 years in Athens, I am ready for a change.

Disclaimer: This graduation regalia is not actually mine. I refused to give in and purchase them. My fellow friend Anissa insisted I take a picture in hers (by force :) One UGA graduation ceremony was enough for me...

2009 School Counseling cohort with our major professor. Woo-hoo!

April 18, 2009

Answered Prayers

Some cool answers to prayer we have seen lately:

I wasn't sure what I should do about my Compassion sponsored child while we are in India. The day after I asked God to show me, I was at a district counselor meeting. A counselor I never knew until that point turned to me and asked if I knew anything about Compassion because she heard them doing a campaign on The Fish radio and was thinking about sponsoring a child! I told her about my child, how I like Compassion, and within a few minutes the answer to my prayer had come. She is taking over my sponsored child for me and her own children can write to her! And a friend is taking over Ben's sponsored child.

What do we do with all of our stuff- furniture, kitchen stuff, everything, when we go to India? Should we store it (but where?), give it away? (to whom?). We were praying a lot about this and then after a few weeks we learn of a missionary family from Scotland who are taking a year long furlough of rest in the US beginning in August. They will need everything- furniture, dishes, all living items. What an incredibly perfect answer to both of our needs! Now our stuff will be a blessing to another family of believers who have been serving God for 7 years.

What to do with my car? Hesitant to sell it and not have a vehicle when I return, plus it's not worth much. Where to store a car and who will take care of it? Should we get rid of it? Were praying about this and our friends who live out in the country offered to keep our car. Their daughter will be home for the summer so they could use an extra vehicle for that time and would be willing to keep our car maintained. Thank you Chris and Janett!

God is good and really showing his faithfulness in helping us get to India. We are still praying about a lot more things but are confident in God's response!!

April 17, 2009

Pray for North Korea

I'm not sure if you guys know much about the situation in North Korea, but God has really burdened my heart with this country and the people and Christians there.

North Korea is currently the most isolated country in the world, with restricted entry in and out by the most heavily patroled border of over 3 miles. The country has been labeled more 'purely genocidal' and oppressive than any other country in the world right now. In the past little information has been known about what goes on except when people escape to countries like China and are safe to be witnesses.

The country is strictly ruled by "Dear Leader" Kim Jong il, son of the "Great Leader" Kim Sung. Without enough food supply within the country, the people regularly starve and live in barenness. Stories of parents allowing their children to starve to save themselves is common. The people live under the strictest of laws, with army guards to enforce them on every street. Anyone who is a threat to the regime, especially Christians, are sent to labor camps where they are tortured and executed. The Word of God is not allowed into this country in any form, neither is any communication with the outside world through any form of media, which results in a people who are made to believe that the rest of the world is poorer and more opporessed than they are. Those that manage to escape the 3 mile border into South Korea or China are often hunted down and returned for punishment. If anyone is found to be a Christian, his family and three generations of his family is sent to camps to eliminate the 'seed of dissent'. There they are tortured, executed, and used for experimentations in developing nuclear chemical weapons.

I'm following this post with some information because I think it's much easier to pray when you know what is going on. I copied exercepts from a few articles from BBC and other European papers.

The first article I read was on Camp 22, one of the horrific concentration 'labor' camps in N Korea where Christians and other enemies of the regime are sent. A former prison guard escaped the country and lived to tell about what he participated in and what he saw while working there. It's a pretty disturbing article because the things going on are like those at the Holocaust. Revealed: the gas chamber horror of North Korea's gulag

Here are the excerpts from the Human Rights Watch Report and the South China Morning Post.:

Hundreds of thousands of people, often Christians, are in concentration camps, enduring regular torture. Executions are common. Prisoners unable to contain their horror at executions are deemed disloyal to the party and are punished with electrical shock, often to death. Others are sent into solitary confinement in containers so cramped that their legs become permanently paralysed. Eight Christians working in a prison smelting factory died instantly when molten iron was poured onto them, one by one, for refusing to deny their faith.

Yet something remarkable is happening. A growing number of North Koreans are escaping, to China or South Korea, and many of them are turning to Christianity. There at last they find hope.

German doctor Norbert Vollertsen was stationed in North Korea in 1999-2000 for the relief agency German Emergency Doctors. Later he interviewed hundreds of North Korean refugees in China and South Korea. His message: what has been going on in North Korea for more than half a century bears a strong resemblance to the World War II Nazi genocide against Jews.

“Like the Jews then, Christians in North Korea face their executioners praying and singing hymns," he related. But as the church father Tertullian…said at the dawn of Christianity: "The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church." Vollertsen, whose reports have made him a legendary figure in Japan and South Korea, found out that as a result of this Communist campaign of persecution an underground church was growing rapidly. "I am sure that once North Korea is free, Christianity will boom there in a way that will even dwarf its growth in the South."

YANJI, CHINA- Mayhem suddenly erupted at the Sunday service last month in the capital of the Yanbian Korean Autonomous Region of Jilin province.

Plain-clothes North Korean agents raided the church and seized the stunted children, shouting and struggling. Witnesses said they were led away and almost certainly taken across the border back to North Korea to face indoctrination in labour camps.

The children are a handful of those caught up in a secret war being waged on both sides of the Tumen River between Christian missionaries and North Korea's security service.

As a starving and despairing population loses faith in the cult of former leader Kim Il-sung, many North Koreans are joining underground churches, suspected by the regime of being at the heart of a growing resistance movement.

This year there have been reports of a large-scale manhunt in North Korea and the execution and imprisonment of North Korean Christians and their families, many of whom are fresh converts. "

Kim Jong-il is now using the army to operate house-to-house searches for Christians. They look for any pieces of paper, " said one source.

"Whoever has a Bible in their hands is accused of being a spy - anything connected with the outside world can mean arrest and death," said another.

The North Korean security apparatus has now taken the counter-attack into China. This year the number of refugees crossing the border has fallen sharply.

"Some think they are fewer coming over because they are toughening controls - it is certainly not because their lives are any better," said Erica Kang of the Good Friends, a Seoul-based Buddhist charity group that has carried out surveys among refugees.

Fear may be one reason that North Koreans stay at home. Another is that China is said to be hunting down the refugees and returning them in larger numbers. It is also believed that Beijing is tolerating the activities of perhaps more than 100,000 North Korean agents who are allegedly kidnapping refugees and murdering missionaries on the mainland.

For North Koreans caught in underground churches, punishment is swift and brutal. In December, a small group of Christians in Chongjin, in the country's northeast, were discovered at a meeting and arrested. The 11 men were beheaded at a public execution as a lesson to others and the women and children were sent to labour camps.

Yet letters smuggled out of the country are dangerously frank. "We almost starved to death but you sent food unexpectedly. We have unspeakable joy," reads one letter.

"We don't know how long this suffering will go on. We have joy in our hearts. Almighty God prepared paradise in heaven for us and this mortal life is short. We are diligently preaching the Gospel. We tell people the food comes from Christians around the world. Our members are increasing day by day."


Please pray for the people of North Korea! Our prayers are effective!

April 12, 2009

Happy Easter!

Christ is Risen!

"And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless..."
1 Corinthians 15:14

April 9, 2009


I really liked this post from my friend's blog Kristin McClendon, so I copied it here:

A Moment With Ashley

When you first meet someone one of the first question they'll ask is, "What do you do?" If you're in college they'll ask, "What college do you go to?" If you're in high school or middle school they'll ask, "Who do you hang out with?" These questions are all asking the same thing. They're trying to figure out who you are, and without saying another word, after you've answered the question, they immediately have an idea of who you are. Rich, poor, smart, dumb, popular, not popular...the list goes on. While assumptions may be true the problem arises when we center our lives around what other people see. Lets look at the life of David.

David was a shepherd, we often read this and think WOW a shepherd that's so great he got to sit and talk to God all day in a beautiful pasture. Let me put this in perspective, a modern day equivalent would be mowing the lawn. Imagine Jesse coming up to David and saying, "Son I want you to mow our 800 acres of land." You can picture David looking out at the land and then saying, "Ok dad." So the next day David gets up and starts mowing, he doesn't even get one strip of land done and has barely anything to show for the work he did. Everyday he goes out in the hot sun, no one see him, no one knows him, no one cares. David was the youngest in his family, and the only son of his mother. When Samuel came to meet Jesse's sons they didn't even bother to go and get David. In man's eyes David looked like nothing, but in God's eyes He saw a king. "For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart" (1 Samuel 16:7). Want to know why God chose David to be king? Because David didn't look at himself as a shepherd, he saw himself as a worshipper above all else.

Sometimes we get so wrapped up in what we're doing on this earth that we forget what our primary purpose is, and that is being loved and a lover of God. What we do on this earth is important, but it's not the main reason why we're here. We are here to cultivate a relationship with God, by realizing that we are loved by Him and then loving Him back wholeheartedly in return. The problem comes when we try to put what men see ahead of what God sees. David didn't see himself as a shepherd or a king before he saw himself as a worshipper. When we put our earthly identity ahead of our heavenly identity is when we find ourselves in trouble. David didn't go out trying to find a way to be king, instead he postured his heart rightly before God and said, "If you want me to be a shepherd for the rest of my life that's what I'll do." I'm sure some days he didn't want to be out herding the sheep, but then he remembered..."All I have to do is be confident that God loves me, and love Him back. Ok I can do this....I can do this." God found David "I have found My servant David...with My holy oil I anointed him" (Ps. 89:20). "He also chose David His servant and took him from the sheepfolds; from following the ewes that had young He brought him, to shepherd Jacob His people" (Ps. 78:70-71). David didn't try to exalt himself, but God saw what He was doing and it moved His heart, and He went out and found David in the pastures so that He could be king.

Today I encourage you to check your hearts. What have you made your primary identity? Are you defining your life by the One who loves you? Are you being faithful in the pasture, or are you trying to make yourself king?

God Bless

April 8, 2009

New Orleans

Ben and I took a weekend trip to visit my sister Jenny in New Orleans. This is the last time I will see her for over a year! (wow didn't think of it that way before). Here are a few pics.

April 7, 2009

How Rich Are You?

Ever looked with envy upon the richest people in the world? How rich are you?
Check out this site for a reality check- and insight into just how far your money can go! Click HERE

April 2, 2009

The Persecuted Church

Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering. Hebrews 13:3

As we are getting ready to go to Asia, I have become more aware of what is going on in the church outside the world. I thought I was pretty aware before, but would shamelessly try to shield myself from too much detail because it was painful to think about (you would be shocked about some of the horrors that are now taking place). Lately I have been spending more time reading about the persecution Christians are currently experiencing around the world, and it is having an impact on me, as it should. It's something we wish we could ignore... but we do at the cost of our brothers and sisteres who are suffering. How much do you value your freedom to worship here in America? :

Did you know that over 7 countries impose death as a penalty for converting to Christianity? That it is illegal to own a bible in 52 countries? That owning a bible alone qualifies you for death in Iran? That over 70,000 Christians are currently in refugee camps in north India after being persecuted out of their homes? That Chinese believers are regularly tortured and imprisoned for years for worshipping in their own homes? That China alone is seeing 30,000-40,000 new believers each day and without access to bibles even pastors don't have the Word of God?

Do you know the number of countries where Christians are being persecuting for their faith?

Red = Restricted Nations Purple = Hostile Nations

Reflecting and praying about all of this has changed my attitude toward my freedom to worship Christ in America, where the worst that could happen to someone is rejection and ridicule or loss of respect from others. We have access to more bibles than we could ever want, churches on every corner, and the right to worship publicly on the street or plaza.

As the body of Christ, let's actively pray for the persecuted church. I copied the following list of countries from a website. They broke the regions into 7 days of prayer. This is a little more organized than I am used to but it helps you see all the countries. They reccomend Matthew 5:10-12, 44, John 16:2, Romans 8:35-39, Hebrews 13:3 as a few verses to help cultivate a humble attitude toward prayer for these places.

Monday: Africa: Mauritania, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan, Eritrea, Comoros Islands, Egypt

Tuesday: Israel & Neighbors: Israel, Gaza Strip, Lebanon, West Bank, Jordan, Syria

Wednesday: Middle East: Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Oman

Thursday: Central Asia: Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan

Friday: South Asia: India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Burma, Sri Lanka, Maldives Islands

Saturday: East & Southeast Asia: China, North Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia, Mindanao (Philippines)

Sunday: Caribbean and Eastern Europe: Cuba, Colombia, Chiapas State (Mexico), Belarus

Pray with us, in whatever way! Voice of the Martyrs keeps a website with new information as it comes in about cases around the world. You can stay updated about the persecution that is happening right now and help in pressuring foreign governments to release prisoners. Visit their website at http://www.persecution.com/ (another way to help is to give to Voice of the Martyrs. They advocate for persecuted Christians around the world and help meet their needs and the needs of their families).