Tag Archives: missionary

She’s Somebody’s Baby

4 Sep

There are many injustices happening around us in this world today, but the injustices against women really grab my attention. Each woman in this video has a story, she has hopes and dreams and loves. She has pain and sadness. She has potential. And though the world may tell her otherwise, she also has worth. Please pray for the love of God to rain down on these women, His precious daughters.

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Highlights From India

2 Sep

Please take a moment to watch this video I made with some of the highlights from my time here in India. As my journey in India comes to a close, I will be sad to say goodbye to the friends I have made here and to this place I have come to love, but I can’t wait to again reunite with my friends and family back home. I will return to Kona, Hawaii after our debrief in Singapore in mid-September, and then visit my family and friends in Southern California for a few weeks before returning back to the missions base in Kona to work with the Sex + Money Project. Sex + Money is an upcoming documentary exposing the horrors of sexual slavery in the United States. It is my greatest honor to be a part of such an important project. I have decided to follow Jesus. No turning back, no turning back.

All my love,

Erika

Meet Sudipriya

14 Jul

One of my favorite things that we have had the opportunity to do since being here in India is to visit the girls’ orphanage run by our amazing ministry contact, Pastor Daniel, and his wife, Joyce. The orphanage is two stories above the church, just around the corner from our home. Our team of twelve showed up around 5:30 PM on Friday night, very excited to meet these wonderful girls. They were shy at first, so we performed our recently-learned Hawaiian dance, the pate pate. Ripples of laughter cursed through the crowd of girls as we publicly humiliated ourselves. Anything to make the kids laugh, right? We played a few rounds of “Red Light, Green Light” and “Simon Says” before busting out our trusty cameras. Photos are quite the hit in India. The kids love posing and looking at the LCD screen to see their picture. I hit it off instantly with 13-year-old Sudipriya. I could tell by the way she walked across the room that she was a dancer. She just had an extra swing in her step. So I asked her to dance for me. Embarrassed, she covered her face, giggled, and said, “No, no. Not a dancer.” I could tell she was just being modest, so I smiled and begged her to dance for me. Eventually she relented.

As she danced, the atmosphere changed. The drab orphanage was transformed into a royal ballroom and the air was full of life. As she breathed it in, the most beautiful smile spread across her face, dimpling her young, round cheeks. Her orange skirt ballooned as I twirled her around and around. With each twirl more and more cares were cast off her young shoulders, leaving her free to embrace her youth. She showed me several different traditional Indian dances, performed with the ease of an expert. She’s definitely a natural. My body awkwardly tried to copy hers, bobbing my head and moving my hands in tiny circles. She laughed as I tripped over my feet. I was so entranced with her smile that I barely noticed my own.

Though I’m sure I brought immeasurable joy to her young heart, my youth was being restored as well. I laughed, not a care in the world hindering me. I danced, unashamed and unafraid. Eventually our time there came to a close. I was dripping with sweat from all my dancing and the clock showed half past eleven. I hugged my new friend goodbye and she clung to my body. I promised her I would come back soon. I honestly couldn’t wait to see her again.

As I walked home I reflected on the father heart of God. What a generous Daddy to give both of His daughters such an incredible night. Whoever said being a Christian is boring needs to get out and serve more. I’ve never had so much fun in my life!

You said…

30 Jun

You said, Ask and you will receive

Whatever you need

You said, Pray and I’ll hear from heaven

And I’ll heal your land

You said Your glory will fill the earth

Like water the sea

You said, Lift up your eyes

The harvest is here, the kingdom is near

You said, Ask and I’ll give the nations to you

O Lord, that’s the cry of my heart

Distant shores and the islands will see

Your light, as it rises on us

You said Your glory will fill the earth

Like water the sea

You said, Lift up your eyes

The harvest is here, the kingdom is near

You said, Ask and I’ll give the nations to you

O Lord, that’s the cry of my heart

Distant shores and the islands will see

Your light, as it rises on us

O Lord, I ask for the nations

-Hillsong United

This incredible song has been running through my head since we sang it at our Monday morning community worship service here at YWAM Kona. These words truly are the cry of my heart as I leave for India. I am all packed and ready to go. I leave tomorrow at 4:30 AM, and I have never felt so sure of anything in my life. This is what I was created for. Stay tuned, it’s going to be quite the adventure as I ride the waves of His wild, unbridled love all the way to Dharmapuri.

All my love,
Erika

Well… Hello There World

27 Jun

It was my heart’s desire to be able to take the time to respond to each and every person who commented on my blog individually, and in time I still plan to do so. For now, however, since I am leaving for Dharmapuri, India this Thursday and still have many preparations to make, I am praying that this post will some how communicate what is in my heart to you, my wonderful readers.

First of all, I want the whole world to know that I had no idea I was going to be on Freshly Pressed. “Becoming famous” via WordPress is a laughable thought to me. I am far more interested in cultivating relationships with people and encouraging them in their journey with the Lord. I am interested in answering tough questions from those who seek answers, though I don’t have all the answers myself. Please feel free to ask me questions and offer your own opinions, but please be respectful of this place and of the people here.

That being said I want to offer some context to those of you who are newer followers of my blog. Since no post or opinion or blog was created in a vacuum, it may help you to understand what I mean if you understand a bit more about me. I am a 21-year-old American girl from California. I’m a follower of Jesus and I’m currently following Him on a mission with an amazing interdenominational organization called Youth With A Mission (or YWAM). I have been in a Discipleship Training School in Kona, Hawaii since April of this year and this Thursday, July 1st, 2010 I am heading with a team of 20 young people to India to: serve the people, live among them, learn from them, and share with them the Good News of Jesus Christ. I will be stationed in Dharmapuri (in Southern India) for three months.

I am not at all interested in changing the culture of India. God loves India with her beautiful colors and bustling cities, and I know I will love her too. An organized system of degradation, however, is not culture. Whether it is upheld through religion or social structure is irrelevant. Basic morality, I believe, transcends culture, religion, and society. It is universal. Human beings are created equal. I believe they are created equal because their Creator loved each and every one of them and made them in His image. God loves His children more than we will ever understand, and He has called us to love each other as He has loved us. Wherever there is hate, wherever there is injustice, wherever there are lies that slander the very image of God, I will stand in opposition.

What right do I have to do that? Long before there were wars, long before the idea of conquering land and drawing political lines of power, long before taxation or presidents or kings or queens, this world belonged to its Creator, the one true King. Though pride and greed and hatred have invaded this planet, God never signed over the deed. This world is still His. India is His. America is His. And His culture is one of love. So when God’s children bring His pure, unadultered love, what they are really doing is restoring this planet to its true culture.

Through prayer, married with action and sacrifice, this world will be restored. Lasting restoration, not through human strength, but through the power of God is a reality. I know God longs to heal the hearts of His children, to lift them out of their darkest pit, to give them a new identity. To those that cry, “Where is God in this world of heartbreak and despair?” I cry with you! Jesus told us to weep with those that weep and my heart literally breaks for the heartbroken. This is a fallen world made broken through the free will of man. And though I’m just a broke missionary, I offer you a priceless gem…

Silver and gold have I none, but such as I have give I thee…

All I have is love. I will love you. I will care for you. I will cry with you and work with you. Take heart, love will restore this world.

To those of you that love me, I love you.

To those of you that hate me, I love you.

In Him,

Erika

Understanding World Religion: Hinduism

23 Jun

In an attempt to renounce my inherited ignorance, I have committed myself to the study of world religions and cultures. Since I am leaving for India in only 8 days now I decided to first study Hinduism. Beginning in 5500 B.C., Hinduism is widely accepted as the world’s oldest living religion. It is also the world’s third largest religion, after Christianity and Islam. With 1 billion adherents worldwide, and 828 million in India alone, Hinduism is undoubtedly a powerful driving force in the shaping of Eastern culture.

Hinduism has no single founder and is a self-proclaimed monotheistic religion, though it also recognizes subordinate gods. Though understanding Hinduism in its entirety is a complicated process, mostly because of varying beliefs within the religion itself, some core beliefs remain constant.

Prominent themes in Hindu beliefs include, but are not restricted to:

-Dharma (ethics or duties)

-Samasara (the continuing cycle of birth, life, death, and rebirth, also known as reincarnation)

-Karma (action and subsequent reaction)

-Moksha (liberation from the cycle of reincarnation, the equivalent of Christian salvation)

-Yogas (paths to enlightenment)

Following Dharma (the ethics or duties as described by Hinduism):

-The Hindu Dharma has 10 main rules that lead to righteous living. They are split into things you should not do (Yama) and things you should do (Niyama).

-The Yama states that the righteous Hindu will not:

  • lie
  • steal
  • be envious
  • destroy or injure anything
  • overeat, overdrink, or overindulge in sex

-The Niyama states that the righteous Hindu will:

  • keep themselves clean, both inside and out
  • be content
  • practice self discipline, tolerance, patience, and mental calmness
  • pursue education
  • surrender their mind to the higher power

The Vedas, the sacred texts of Hinduism, are the strongest authority in learning the practice of Dharma and are considered to be among the most ancient religious texts still in existence (written from about 1500 – 300 B.C.). The Vedas are composed of: hymns, chants, verses of praise, proverbs, historical accounts, and explanations of ancient rituals. The word Veda, in Sanskrit, means “knowledge” or “wisdom” and followers of Hinduism pursue the study of these scriptures, along with other sacred texts to achieve Moksha, or salvation.

Hindu society has traditionally been categorized into four classes, called Varnas (in Sanskrit meaning “color, form, and appearance”). These classes make up what is called the “caste system.” The four castes are, from most to least “important”:

-the Brahmins (teachers and priests)

-the Kshatriyas (warriors, nobles, and kings)

-the Vaishyas (farmers, merchants, and businessmen)

-the Shudras (servants and labourors)

Sadly, an entire class of people has been so ostracized by Hindu society that they aren’t even defined in the Varnas. These people are referred to as Dalits, also known as “untouchables.” Confined to this class only by their birth and the color of their skin, this class is considered worthless and is hated and abused by all.

While I respect the followers of Hinduism, as they are all also God’s children, I am so deeply saddened by their level of confusion. How devastating that 1 billion people worldwide would believe in a religion that publicly endorses discrimination of any kind, let alone merely because of skin color and birthright! What a tragedy that so many people would strive their whole lives to live up to the standards of the dharma because their crippling fear of failing in this life and suffering in the next. Hinduism inevitably lacks grace, because it also lacks a savior. This study has fueled my love for the Indian people. I am so excited to introduce them to their loving Savior, Jesus Christ! I am so thrilled to offer them grace and eternal peace.

We, as believers, must pray for truth to be revealed. We must intercede against the confusion birthed by the lies of Hinduism. We must, respectfully, reveal these lies and bring God’s lost sheep back to the fold. The Lord wants all of His children to live with Him forever. It breaks His heart to lose even one of His treasured creations. It is His will that the Hindus will come to know Him, and when we act in accordance to His will, miracles happen. There will be miracles in India.

Mother Teresa

6 May

I decided today, in preparation for my trip to India and out of a desire to learn more about the rich heritage of the missionaries that walked the path before me, to do a little research on Mother Teresa. Start with the famous ones, right? I was looking to find something encouraging about how even though we believe we are so insignificant, our impact to those in need can be so profound. And certainly, I found truckloads of inspirational quotes on beautiful ideals like sacrificial love, patience, a humble heart, and a willingness to suffer for the sake of His Kingdom, but God loves to speak to me in the obscure. The things I start off searching for tend to fall by the wayside as God highlights the things only He knows I need to hear. And today was no exception.

What really struck me about Mother Teresa was that she was criticized! How in the world do you work up the nerve to criticize a woman who has sacrificed everything to spend all the days of her life loving “unloveable” people and serving the true and living God? I couldn’t fathom tossing a metaphorical stone at her. Honestly, if I had been lucky enough to meet her while she was still living, I probably would be at a loss for words to say to her. I would most likely sit wide-eyed and open-mouthed in complete awe and silence listening to her stories of love and healing and sacrifice.

We usually imagine criticism being reserved for the common sinner, for the below-average failure, for the corrupt, for the proud at heart, but Mother Teresa, a saint, was slandered throughout her ministry. She was told repeatedly that she was “not a significant part of the history of Calcutta” and that she “was making no difference whatsoever” in the fight to end poverty. She was constantly being questioned about whether or not her free leprosy clinics were meeting high enough medical standards and told that the living conditions in her hospices were sub-standard. She was harshly criticized for her firm stance against abortion and divorce. She was slandered in international publications. Her character came under attack when critics made accusations of financial corruption against her and her organization, Missionaries of Charity. One of her harshest critics, an American journalist named Christopher Hitchens, even commissioned a slanderous documentary about her entitled “Hell’s Angel”. To all this, Mother Teresa responded, “No matter who says what, you should accept it with a smile and do your own work.” She was unshakeable, yet humble. Strong, yet meek.

When many would have lashed out in frustration or shed a tear in self-pity, Mother Teresa smiled, and continued doing the Lord’s work. The temptation to respond to the arrows of our enemies with indignation is often overwhelming, a sin I struggle with regularly, but we are called to be humble, teachable, even childlike.

So what do we do when people throw stones? Rudolph Stier would argue that “This must be your retaliation – love and truth for hatred and lies.” And I would agree, though when I am criticized everything within me screams “You don’t understand me! Can’t you see my heart? My intentions are pure! I am doing my best!” We must, however, bring our critiques before the Lord. Indeed, His opinion is the only one that truly matters, anyway. Ask Him if there is truth, albeit a tiny shred, in the words of your mud-slinger. And take it willingly if there is.

We learn from our friends,
But heaven knows,
The lasting lessons
come from our foes.

– Pat D’Amico