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Praying with Rahab

Today’s post is a continuation of the Being Rahab series. If you aren’t familiar with these posts, I encourage you to read parts 1, 2, and 3 by following the links.

I began the first post on this topic by discussing a woman who was forced into prostitution at a young age by her own family. At the time, it was my prayer that she would be like Rahab; a person with a questionable past, but an honorable future. I requested that our readers pray for her that she would have the faith of Rahab to believe God and allow Him to transform her life.

God has answered these prayers in an amazing way. She now regularly attends church, has thrown out all her former idols, has stopped worshipping at Buddhist temples, has committed her life to Christ and been baptized in His name. Truthfully, she is so far removed from her degrading past that I don’t really even like using the word Rahab in the title of these posts anymore. It was difficult for me to include it on the last update, and even more difficult on this one. Even though this is an anonymous blog that she knows nothing about, I feel she deserves better than to be identified by her past rather than by the incredible future that God is building in her. Yet, for the sake of continuity so that our readers are able to recognize and follow her story, I will continue to use it for now.

Recently, I have had the opportunity to pray with this woman a few times. She lives on the other side of the globe from me, but with modern technology she is only a click away and we’ve been able to video chat and pray together that way. Think about that for a minute, we are literally a few clicks away from evangelizing the world! Satan uses technology to put all kinds filth on the airways, violence in the media, and pornography at our fingertips, but we have the power to take technology and use it for good. Use it to witness to someone, use it to reach out and evangelize places you can’t physically get to. Use it for creating worship songs and Bible Studies. Use it for God! But I digress.

This woman has poured her heart out to me in video chat. I’ve been able to tell her what God has done in my own life and then to pray with her about her hopes, her fears, her past traumas, and I’ve been able to feel the burden lifting off of her as we pray. If you had told me a year ago that I would be having these conversations with her, I would have thought you were crazy. Even just a few months ago I would have thought it was impossible. Nothing is impossible to God! Nothing!

If I had stayed angry with her, if I had allowed my own hurt and bitterness to get in the way, I would have missed out on the incredible blessing that she is now bringing to my life. She is a remarkable woman who is learning to pray to the One True God. She is learning to trust in the Almighty. She is giving her life to the Savior. And I am being allowed to witness it. Truly truly humbling.

If you are having trouble forgiving someone I encourage you to ask your heavenly Father to give you a genuine love of God for that person. Ask Him to help you allow a love of God to grow in your heart. He may answer that prayer in the most unexpected and beautiful of ways.

If you pray for that person, you may find one day you are praying with them!

In His Love,
Rebekah L.

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The Faith of Rahab

“…choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” -Joshua 24:15

For those of you who have been following my Rahab posts I have more exciting news to share. I continue to be awed and amazed at the wonderful work the Lord is doing in this young woman’s life. If you have not been following along I highly encourage you to read Being Rahab and Revisiting Rahab to get the back story on today’s post.

I mentioned in Revisiting Rahab that the young woman the posts were written about had just attended her first Christian church service. I’m so happy to be able to let all of our readers know that she has faithfully been attending church since that first visit a couple of months ago. Last Sunday her journey to God took a giant leap forward; she was baptized! She lives in a crowded East Asian city where there aren’t any large bodies of water or baptismal tanks nearby so her pastor arranged for her to be baptized in the pool at a nearby hotel. God will always find a way when a soul is hungry!

Her pastor talked with her to make sure she really understood what it meant to be baptized and to be certain that she truly wanted to be a Christian. He told her that when she repents and gets baptized all of her sins would be washed away. When he told her that, tears began streaming down her face. Her pastor’s wife told her that there was no need to cry; she should be happy. This young woman’s pastor and his wife do not yet know about her past. If they knew, they would understand why the thought of all her sins washing away would cause her to cry. I can only imagine the weight that was being lifted off of her in that moment.

This woman’s pastor asked her, “Do you believe God forgives?” I am amazed and humbled by the response she gave. She said, “Yes. Because [Rebekah L] forgave me. When [Rebekah L] told me she forgave me, I knew that forgiveness is real. No one would blame her if she hated me, but she forgave me and prayed for me. She also explained to me how she was forgiven by God and how God helped her to forgive others. She explained that it was all possible because of Jesus. I want what [Rebekah L] has.”

This has touched me in a very deep place. That day in her apartment when I extended forgiveness to her was one of the most difficult days I have been through. It was not easy and it was only through the power of God that I was able to get to a place where I could utter those words. It is truly humbling to see the effect they had on her.

This woman lives in a predominantly Buddhist area of the world and she has grown up in that tradition. Additionally, she was raised in a culture that values familial piety over almost anything else. For her to be willing to walk away from the tradition of her ancestors is huge. After getting baptized she told her daughter’s father to throw away all of the idols in her home. She said, “Take them all away, don’t leave any here, there is only one God that is going to live in this house from now on”.

I am blessed to have met you, Rahab. I am so excited about what God is doing in your life. We serve a wonderful God.

In His Love,
Rebekah L

The Filthy Mattress

mattress

Every day on my lunch break I take a walk. I find it’s good to interrupt my otherwise sedentary desk job with a little blood circulation and fresh air. There is a strip mall just down the road from my company so I usually walk to it and go around the back of the plaza before looping around front and back up the street to resume work.

A couple of weeks ago as I was walking around the back of these buildings I saw that someone had thrown a mattress out behind one of the stores. It appeared to be clean and fresh – it looked brand new!  On that particular day, it was warm and sunny with an ever so slight breeze. As I walked by the mattress, it looked so enticing. I thought, wouldn’t it be nice to just lie on a comfy mattress and watch the clouds drift by as the sun warmed my face in the cool breeze? It seemed like the perfect way to enjoy the beautiful weather and rest and relax. Of course not knowing where the mattress came from, I didn’t entertain the thought for long.

Day by day, as my walk took me by this mattress, I began to notice changes. After just a day it started collecting stray dirt kicked up by the wind, and falling leaves from a nearby maple tree. Within a few days, the corners started darkening slightly. After a day of rain, I noticed it had lingering water stains after everything around it had dried. It wasn’t long before the wet, dirty mattress became a breeding ground for all kinds of critters. The edges of the once bright mattress became black with mold and fungus. At some point, an animal evidently ripped a hole in the center and made off with some of the stuffing, the remainders of which lay strewn about the ground beside it. The once enticing mattress quickly fell into a state of filth and decay.

As I walked by this mattress for perhaps the dozenth time, the Lord spoke to my heart and said, “This is what neglect will do”.  You see, the mattress hadn’t done anything “wrong”; it simply sat there as mattresses have a tendency to do. In terms of time, it was still new; only a couple of weeks had passed. But in terms of quality, it was far from what we would describe as “new”. Indeed it now presents itself as used and worn out. Worse than that, it is soiled and repulsive. The problem is that it was neglected and left unprotected in the elements. On that first day, the elements had been friendly and inviting and did not seem to pose a threat to its integrity, but in short-order they destroyed the defenseless mattress. Had the mattress remained inside where it would have been shielded from the wind, dirt, rain, and critters, it likely would have lasted for years. Without protection, it lasted only days.

In that moment the Lord reminded me that it is imperative that I remain under the umbrella of His protection. It might be tempting to go out into the world to find some kind of relaxation, but it is an illusion. What looks inviting at first glance can quickly destroy us if we don’t have the proper guards in place. We must guard our hearts and minds. We must take heed where we go and what we leave exposed to the elements. The Bible asks, “How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation” (Hebrews 2:3)? So let us strive not to neglect the things of the Lord. Let us hold them precious and protect them. As we embrace the teachings and safeguards that the Lord has put in place to protect us, He is providing us with shelter and demonstrating His unfailing love.

In His Love,

Rebekah L.

A Vision and a Prayer

So, as I have walked through New York City, following a fairly steady route throughout the winter, spring, and summer (between February and August, and less frequently starting in September), there have a few people who have become staple parts to my daily commute. One in particular is a homeless man named Bradley. Sometimes he’s more awake than others, and sometimes his words are more slurred than others, but no matter what kind of day he’s having he is easily one of the most personable people in New York. He might be filthy, but he is always smiling and always cheerful. He talks about his past with fond remembrance rather than bitterness, though he is from another part of the country and it’s been a long time since he’s had contact with any loved ones.

I don’t know exactly what happened in his life and what issues he’s faced that caused his decline from then, when he had a wife and a stepdaughter he still refers to as his princess, until now. We have a game we play, where he gives me a name, I look up its meaning on my phone, and he relates the meaning of the name back to the person they were. I don’t know most of the names he gives me or who these people were in his life, just a few snippets he’s given me.

I do know that the first day I met him I was hoping to pray for him, but before I could even ask he was expounding on how the government was a big conspiracy and how Jesus wasn’t real, His miracles were impossible and the whole Christianity thing was just a made-up story that people get fed today because the governmental powers that be think we’re dumb enough to follow it.

That was the one and only time I’ve seen him agitated. Suffice to say he was not receptive to the idea of prayer. But, That said, he has been heavy on my heart lately. I have been vaguely praying for him as God has led me, and praying into God’s plan for him, but the past few days God has gotten much more specific in how I’m to minister to him. Basically, He told me He wants me to do a bible study with Bradley, and gave me a specific place in the city where he wants this to happen. It’s near where I always see him, and it happens to be on some ground that I claimed for Jesus a few months back (possibly a story for another day, but long story short: God is pretty cool). He also told me in no uncertain terms that Bradley won’t willingly go there with me, and certainly won’t willingly read the bible with me (had God consulted me first, I easily could have told Him this part and spared Him the trouble of sending me the vision, but I digress). That being the case, my next direction was simple: if he won’t come with me, I am to go to him. Sit on the subway floor, by his side. If he won’t do a Bible study with me, I am to read my bible by myself, as I sit next to him. I am to simply talk to him. To seek God for wisdom and discernment on every word that comes out of his mouth. To seek wisdom and discernment over his heart. To let God fill my mouth with the words to minister to those places, and to supply the bible verses as needed. Eventually, there will be more direct bible interaction. God promised this, if I follow His guidance. In short, I am to go low and slow here.

I have never done anything quite like this before. But I’m game if Jesus is. Interestingly, I haven’t actually seen Bradley since this has been revealed to me. Either way, I thank Him for what He’s shown me, and I stand expectant and believing for Him to do a work here. And so today I just ask that you pray into God’s will over this man and my role in his life. That I would hear God clearly throughout and fully lean on Him to guide my steps. That most of all, He would move in this man’s life and do a work in him until he is walking in the fullness of the identity God has for him. Umm…..and also that if I am meant to move on this, I would cross paths with the guy. Or at least be told where he is so I can go find him. The city is huge, and there are lots of places where a homeless man might go when the weather cools – sometimes it would be so nice if directives from on high came with a GPS. Or a major clearing of the NYC smog so I could use the north star like the wise men, but honestly at this point I think dropping a supernatural Bradley-tracking device in my lap is the easier option.  Umm…..and since wherever Bradley is, it’s probably somewhere like the subway floor (where I normally see him – he even makes himself comfy and goes shirtless and shoeless down there) or an alley, prayers for my protection would also be appreciated. Though I have to say, there’s nowhere safer than in God’s arms!

I will keep you posted if, after all this subway-sitting and alley searching, I also need prayers to supernaturally boost the strength of my washing machine.

Meanwhile, thank you all very much, and God bless!

~Rebekah A

The Eraser

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.  -John 15:13

As some of you know, I am in my last semester of Bible College. I still have a couple of months left, but I’ve been thinking about the journey God has taken me on during this time.

What an incredible privilege it is to serve God. As I look back over my last four years in Bible College I am awed at how God has moved. When I began I wasn’t even sure I could afford one semester, but He has provided for me to go through the entire program.

Much more importantly than that, He has grown me in ways that I could never have predicted when I enrolled four short years ago.  He has truly taught me that He is the God of LOVE. Four years ago I knew intellectually (through the Word of God) that He is love, but now I know through experience. It isn’t that He hadn’t shown it before; He has showered me with love all my life, but I couldn’t see it before because I hadn’t learned to trust Him. He is teaching me day by day that I can depend on Him. He will never leave me or forsake me.

He has manifested His love a thousand different ways throughout these last few years. He has revealed it to me through His faithfulness, His encouragement, and especially through His chastisement. He cares about where we are as individuals. We are never beyond His reach.

Where I used to doubt love, His love erased doubt. Thank You, Jesus!

In His Love,

Rebekah L.

Two Sisters

In Ezekiel 23 (read it here for NIV or here for KJV), the chapter talks about 2 sisters – Oholah and Oholibah. Oholah is, metaphorically, Samaria, while Oholibah is Jerusalem. Getting deep already, aren’t we?

To summarize the chapter: They weren’t the most well-behaved ladies, and this chapter refers to them repeatedly as harlots. They ‘played the harlot’ in Egypt, getting fondled and caressed even as young girls. They became children of God eventually, but didn’t stay faithful to Him. Instead, they lusted after and gave themselves to all kinds of other men from all different lands. The younger sister is worse than the older, not only lusting after the men who crossed her path but also the ones she saw drawn on the wall. In fact she went out of her way to send for them, based on these pictures, so she could give herself to them too. Naughty, naughty. Eventually, the things and people they lust after turn against them, expose them for the bad girls that they are, and destroy them. Painfully, I might add.

Admittedly, this isn’t the most uplifting chapter, but God spoke out to me about a couple of things. First, these girls started doing sexual things at a young age. The bible mentions them being young girls, and the men of Egypt ‘fondling’ ‘their virginal breasts’. On the one hand, this certainly isn’t demure behavior. On the other, how much control over their environment do young girls have? They may well have been forced to do this. Or perhaps, if they did indeed enjoy it, they enjoyed it only because it was all they knew. But then things changed. They went from living in the darkness to being children of God. Daughters of God. Knowing God, they now knew better. Yet, they didn’t change. They had a chance at redemption and forgiveness, and had they taken that chance this might be a very different chapter. The Bible, after all, is full of redemption stories. But they didn’t. The older sister, Oholah, upon becoming God’s, lusted after new men. The other, Oholibah, lusted after both new men and her past in Egypt.

The message is clear: once you know God, you know better. Yesterday’s events, however traumatic or beyond your control, do not justify today’s sin. Your environment is not and will never be an excuse – not once your environment also includes God (which it already does, thanks to a little something inside of us called the Holy Spirit). Have you made any excuses lately? Justified something to yourself? Said ‘that’s just how I am’ or “that’s how I was raised”?

Then there is all the men they lusted after: idols. False idols. You know the list – money, attention, notoriety, material things. Maybe you lust after them too. And Oholibah lusting after her past life – the life before God entered it. With God is great freedom, but also great responsibility to uphold His standards and righteousness. There is joy in Him, greater than any joy that this earth can provide, but to the casual observer it looks like a lot of rules. To someone who hasn’t experienced Him for themselves, the list of standards is long and the payoff is short. To someone who doesn’t know God, Oholibah’s life before Him probably looks a lot more fun. And that was her line of thinking too. The things of her past that were sinful, were fun for her. And she missed them.

This is why Christianity goes so far beyond saying the words. We can’t just pay lip service to the idea of belonging to God. We need to actually abide with Him – to desire His heart as our own. When a person lives completely led by the Holy Spirit, they can do anything they want. Why? Because their genuine and deep desires line up with the pure and righteous desires God has for us. If you desire things outside of Him, you need to seek Him out a bit more and let Him draw you closer. Oholah and Oholibah clearly failed to do this, ,and so their lusting continued. They remained spiritually immature. They never grew. Growing in God means realizing this: there is a cost to walking with Him and belonging to Him. The cost is great – but so worth paying. And as soon as you pay it, you realize just how “worth it” it is. That IS partly why we call it faith, no?

But Oholah and Oholibah missed the boat entirely when it came to actually growing in God, and so they floundered. Without seeing the Glory and Majesty that were right in front of them, they chased after other things. And random calamity doesn’t befall them. Lightning doesn’t strike them down. What happens is that the things they were chasing turned against them. The men weren’t who they seemed to be at first. They looked better from a distance. Up close they didn’t make the girls any happier or more satisfied than they were before. In fact, they caused a lot of pain and torment for these ladies. Again, the message is clear: these other things just aren’t worth the chase. Where God is eternal, these things don’t stand the test of time. Where God is more beautiful and more miraculous and more faithful and just better the more you get to know Him, these other things don’t even stand up to close scrutiny. Where God is constant and dependable, these other things are fickle and untrustworthy. They just aren’t worth much in comparison to God.

Our walk with God is not meant to ever be stagnant, and so today I ask you to take a deep look at your journey with Him. Where do you stand today? Have you made any spiritual excuses lately? Justified something to yourself? Said ‘that’s just how I am’ or “that’s how I was raised”? Desire anything lately that went beyond God? More money, a better job, a big promotion? A bigger house? Missed your ‘old life’ when you were ‘allowed’ to do other things? Once we’re His we’re always His; sinning and desiring these other things is essentially cheating on Him. So ask Him today – are there areas where you’re cheating? Areas you hold back from Him?

Maybe you do have some of these issues and maybe you don’t. Either way, Ezekiel 23 clearly shows us it’s not worth it. So let Him in today, to examine your heart and show you all the little ways you can deepen your relationship with Him even more. It’s worth any price, and God is just – He’ll never ask more of you than you can pay. So take the plunge!

God bless!

~Rebekah A

If Ye Be Christ’s

I am currently in Taiwan, but I’m going to share my exciting story of what God did the other day when I was still in China! God is so amazing!! It was so hard to restrain myself from writing about it, but because of the way woman reacted, I felt it best to be a little cautious and not share what happened until I left. I was probably just being paranoid, but you hear all these stories of the Communist Party reading outgoing emails and blog posts so I decided not to take any chances.

Anyway, from the moment I stepped off the plane in the Philippines I had not had a minute to myself. Literally every moment has been spent with my co-workers or my host family, or my students, or the villagers. For an introvert who lives by themselves and is used to a lot of alone time, it’s a little difficult to always be “on”. I needed a few minutes to clear my head and unwind so when we finally got some downtime, I decided to take a walk. On my way out the door, something told me to grab my bag. I realize now that it was the prompting of the Holy Spirit.

I had intended on pretty much just walking a straight line so that I wouldn’t get lost, but when I got to a fork  in the road I heard a voice tell me to go left. It was not a literal voice that I heard with my ear. I just heard it like a thought in my head, but it was the voice of my Chinese teacher (from my dreams)! Immediately, I remembered the lessons where he coached me to move left, or move right, or step back etc. without hesitation. Obedience. So I went left. I walked a ways further, and again I felt a prompting to take another left. So I did. Then I felt to just walk straight for awhile.

After a bit, I walked by a woman sitting on a bench. She called out to me, “Mei guo ren, mei guo ren” (American, American). I just ignored her because this has happened several times simply because people are surprised to see Westerners. But then she called out in English saying, “Miss?” I stopped. She spoke in a very thick accent so I had to strain to understand, but she said, “Miss, you are missionary or you are here for company?” I was surprised by the question, but just said, “I’m here with my company.” She looked really disappointed and just said, “oh, okay.” I started to walk away, but something about the disappointment in her voice stopped me. I turned  back and asked why she wanted to know. She said, “Your God told me to come to wait on the bench until the missionary come.” At this I was taken aback. The Spirit had also prompted me to go there by taking those left turns. I sat next to her on the bench. I figured she must have some Christian understanding because she used the word missionary. She also seemed to associate this word with Americans since she called out to me. And she said “Your God”. This woman didn’t know anything about me so to say “Your God” was interesting to me. It’s exactly the way that my ex-boyfriend used to refer to God before he came to know Him for himself. I asked her if there was something she wanted to know. She said, “Yes, did American take their God from Jewish God? There was a man Abraham. And Jewish God promise him a lot of children and promise him he inherit what God have, right? Why Americans think they can have this God when they not from Abraham. Doesn’t the Jewish God make this promise to Abraham’s family?” I realized this was a very important question because she wasn’t really asking me about Americans. She wanted to understand how the rights and privileges of a child of God got extended to gentiles. Somehow, somewhere she had some teaching, but it was incomplete. She was longing to be part of God’s family, but if Americans didn’t really have a right to this God, then logically she wouldn’t either.

I had a bible in my bag. I wanted to take it out and show her some things, but teaching the bible outside the government sanctioned Three Self Church is illegal. Granted, persecution is nothing like it used to be, but an American will be arrested (and likely deported) if they bring their bible out and publicly start sharing it. It is fine to bring your bible into the country for personal reasons, but you can’t share it with others. But then I had an idea! I pulled out my phone. I have an offline version of the Bible in English and Chinese on my phone. If someone were to see her looking at a phone, they wouldn’t think anything of it. I started scrolling through Galatians. I knew what I was looking for was in that book, but I wasn’t sure what the exact verse was. Finally, I found it. Galatians 3:29, “And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” I read it in English and then switched it to the Chinese to let her read it for herself. I apologized that I only had a version with traditional characters. She excitedly told me that she knows how to read traditional Chinese.  I explained, “If you belong to Christ –to Jesus, then God sees you as a descendant of Abraham and you get all the same privileges and blessings. Anyone; American, French, Korean, Chinese, anyone can be a seed of Abraham. They just have to belong to Christ. I told her that belonging to Jesus is where the real blessing lies. “The point is not to belong to Abraham, it’s to belong to Jesus because He is the only who can save us.” I asked her if she belonged to Jesus. She looked around nervously and began almost to whisper. She said she had started going to a church in a friend’s house. She continued looking around nervously. She said the problem is that they only have a small portion of the bible and the part they have talks about Abraham and so she thought maybe we stole the Jewish God. She said, “I know they sell bibles in the city, but they are government bibles and people here can’t afford to go to the city and buy them anyway so we just read about Abraham over and over.”

Suddenly I knew why I was there! When my ex-boyfriend sent me my Chinese/English bible, he actually sent me two bibles. One is the Chinese/English parallel and the second one was a Chinese/Pinyin parallel bible. He thought that would be helpful to me because I could see how the characters were pronounced if I came across one I had never seen. The trouble is that knowing how to pronounce a character does absolutely no good if you don’t know what the character means. Therefore, since that bible didn’t have any English, it wasn’t of much use to me. My Chinese is not nearly good enough to not have an English translation so I never use that bible.  When I was packing for this trip, on a whim I threw that Bible (along with my regular bible) in my bag. I thought I might have an opportunity to witness to someone in Taiwan and then we’d both have a Bible to look at. It didn’t occur to me that this would happen in China because of the Traditional characters. But actually a Chinese/pinyin Bible is perfect for someone in China because in China they learn pinyin in school. If she came across a traditional character that she didn’t know, she could look at the pinyin, and through context would probably be able to figure out what simplified character it represented.

I hesitatingly told the woman I had something for her.  As I was reaching in my bag, she said, “no no, you don’t need to give me anything”, but when I pulled out the Bible and handed it to her, her eyes got wide. She snatched it and hid it under her shirt. Then she looked around to make sure no one was watching and pulled it back out. She held it to her face. She kissed it! Then she clutched it tightly to her chest holding it in her arms. She quickly hid it under her shirt again. With tears in her eyes she said, “oh meiguoren, I knew you’d come.” We talked for just a few more minutes. I briefly told her about the book of Acts and that she should be baptized in Jesus name. She said she’d study the whole bible and share it with the church.

She told me how when she was a kid her grandmother had forced her to learn the traditional version of every simplified character she learned in school. She’d spend hours writing out the simplified characters and then her grandmother would make her spend hours more writing out the same characters in traditional form. She said she had resented it at the time, but now she knew it was all worth it. Then she admonished me not to tell anyone in China that I had given her the Bible. She was quite nervous the whole time which made me pretty nervous too, but I was sure that God was in it!

Now that I’m safely in Taiwan I felt to share this amazing testimony. We seriously have no idea what a privilege it is to have Bibles so readily available to us. Watching the way this woman held the Word of God was a reminder to me of how precious the Word of God truly is! Pray for this woman and her church!