When you Long to Feel Secure…

I recently felt prompted to share a poem that I recently wrote for a friend. I wrote it to encourage her in the love of our Heavenly Father, and how secure she is in Him.

Those who are trusting in Jesus for salvation and following Him are so very, very loved, and so very, very secure in His love.

Just to clarity, that security never a licence to grow complacent and play with sin- and doing so may even be a warning light that we do not really believe in the way we think we do. Maybe part of the proof that we believe is that we keep believing; keep following Jesus all the way. But, yet, there is deep, sweet security in the Father’s love, and resting in His gracious, tender wisdom and plan for our lives. No matter what life throws at us, believers in Jesus are surrounded, secure and enfolded in the love of a Father, Who loves us so very, very dearly, and holds us so very tenderly in His hands.

After all,

‘The eternal God is your refuge,
And underneath are the everlasting arms;’ Deut 33:27a.

(And, if you don’t know that yet, you can- it’s what Jesus longs to give you!).

I hope the words below bless and encourage you. They are not Scripture, but my attempt to encapsulate comfort and encouragement in following the Lord. I hope they are a blessing to you. 🙂

lake

In My Love

‘The Lord has appeared of old to me, saying:
“Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love;
Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.’ Jer 31:3

In My love you are surrounded.

In My peace, you’re reconciled.

In My plan, you’re safe, enfolded,

Treasured as your Father’s child.

 

Trusting in your Saviour’s promise,

Follow Him along the way.

He will lead you as, surrendered,

You walk, believing in His grace.

 

Treasured in the love that keeps you,

Held fast in the love of God;

Everlasting Arms beneath you;

Cherished, kept, in My strong hold.

 

Trust in Me for each new moment.

Rest in Me. I’ll keep you safe.

I will shield you as you trust Me.

I will carry all the way.

 

For the future, grace is promised.

For the present, I Am here.

For the past, all is forgiven.

In My love, you are secure.

 

Follow Me through every valley.

Every step, look up to Me.

Live surrendered, looking upwards.

I will give you all you need.

 

‘Til forever, safe in Heaven,

You’ll reach your eternal shore.

I will meet you. I will comfort.

You’ll be with Me evermore.

 

Treasured, held, enfolded, promised,

Loved and lifted all the way.

You can rejoice. You can trust Me.

In My love, I’ll keep you safe.

 

(To experience this for yourself, come to Jesus as your Saviour, confessing your sin and receiving His full and free forgiveness for the things you have done against Him, and surrendering your life to Him as your Lord. He is waiting to meet with you, set you free and give you eternal, abundant hope. Don’t wait- seek Him today. He longs to meet with you and wrap you up in the security of His love).

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Advertisements

Final Memories from Manila… and how Manila Changed Me

As my days in the Philippines began to come to an end, there wasn’t much time to write prayer letters. But I still have memories: memories that have impacted me deeply.

There are so many memories; far more than I could write down here. Each of the people I met was so precious. And so much happened in five weeks.

But I will capture just a few:

I remember the day I went to the opening of the new home for street people. As part of the opening ceremony, a group of street people sang a song about the Good News of Jesus, and how He can rescue and redeem forever. I remember the tears standing in my eyes, watching them and knowing that He really can… and He is doing.

I remember the team there giving me a present: a simple little bracelet. They told me to keep it always, to remember. I still have it now… and I still remember.

I remember little Ronalyn (with the red t-shirt below), and how she was learning English at school. I remember the day she came up to me, shyly, and said, “How…. are…. you?” I remember how it melted my heart.

No automatic alt text available.

I remember editing report after report of the children’s stories… so many stories of abuse and neglect and trauma. I am so thankful to think that God can heal broken hearts.

No automatic alt text available.

I remember the Saturday morning we got up so early, climbed into the van and set off for the market: some house mothers, some girls and I. It was crazy and unforgettable: the big shed full of Asian faces and Asian foods and so many things I’d never seen before: men carrying whole pig carcasses on their shoulders; people selling all of the parts on stalls; fish still jumping on the counter; me with one of the only white faces in the market, sticking out like a sore thumb and feeling like I was at the other end of the world… It was another experience I would never forget.

I remember being so humbled by the gifts I was given by the dear sisters I had found in the Lord.

I remember the gift Ate Reah gave me: a gift I still treasure. It is a simple bracelet, made of simple plastic threads. It’s bracelet she wore to remind her to pray for Edward, one of the street people, who had tuberculosis. I remember feeling so humbled that she would give it to me. It reminds me of all I learned while I was with her.

I remember my last evening in the Philippines; when something happened that impacted me very deeply.

That was a sad last day: a day of goodbyes and gifts that humbled me and precious people I did not want to leave. During the day, I went to the office. Usually, when it was time to go home, I would be with one of the CCM team, who would go with me on a Jeepney. That night, there was no one available, so they left me with Emy, a dear girl of around 16. What none of us had bargained for, though, was rush hour.
Emy and I waited on the street, confidently expecting a Jeepney to approach. One did. We waved, asking the driver to stop. He did not. Too full. We waited. Another Jeepney came along. We waved. No answer. Too full. One by one, the Jeepneys went past. It was rush hour, and no-one had any room. So we began to look for taxis or FX’s, too. Again, we waved. None stopped. No-one had any room. I was beginning to get a bit anxious. ‘Lord,’ I was praying, ‘I’m on my own in Manila with a sixteen year old girl and my flight goes tomorrow! Please help me get back!’
‘Let’s walk,’ Emy said. Figuring that she knew the city better than I did, I agreed. We began to walk along the street, waving at the Jeepneys, and taxis. None stopped. We kept walking. I kept praying. No success.
Time passed. We were walking on and on through the streets of Manila, Emy and I, I getting more and more anxious, and Emy probably a bit like that, too!
Suddenly, I recognised where we were. We had reached the street where the church was… Where the street people lived, whom I had got to know. ‘Ate Caroline! Ate Caroline!’ They were calling. They were street people and I was a white girl with so much more than they would ever have, but we were friends. 
Animatedly, Emy explained our problem. We stood talking to our friends. It gave me a few more precious minutes with them, including some of the street children. I wrote in my journal of  “The little clutch of Princess and her sister as their dear, dirty little hands encircled mine, and they watched me with childlike love and trust. My heart ached over them. I was wearing Ate Reah’s bracelet- may it always, always remind me.”
But my friends were now planning a solution to my problem. In shock, I realised what was happening: they were going to help! Springing into action, my new friends from the streets began to gather their other friends. Running down the street, dodging the traffic, they hurried, in and out of the cars, trying to track down a Jeepney or a taxi: anything that would stop. Still amazed, and terrified that they would get hurt on my behalf, I followed helplessly with Emy.
It was surreal. It was crazy. It was so humbling. Street people risking their lives through traffic to get a lift for me? I was too shocked to say how grateful I was.
Before long, they had succeeded in getting me a lift, and were beckoning me to hurry and get into it. I wanted to tell them… To thank them… But there was no time. We had to hustle on board… And get back… To the home and my aeroplane and the rich life I had back in England.
As I sat there in the FX, I processed what had happened. God had answered in a crazy, out-of-the-box way… and with a lesson I would never forget. They were so poor. They had so little. I had so much. Why would they go out of their way to help me? They probably couldn’t afford a taxi or a Jeepney for themselves! But I knew something as I sat there. I would never forget what they had done.
I remember the last moments at the Girls’ Home: the realisation that I had to go to catch my aeroplane, and some of the children were still asleep, and I would have to leave without hugging them goodbye. I went into the rooms and looked at their sleeping faces, wondering if I should wake them up. I still wish I had; that I had woken them and hugged them and told them how much they mean to me. Maybe they don’t remember now, but I do. They’ll be young women now, going out into the world. I received a photo of some of them recently: lovely young women in beautiful dresses. And I thought of the little girls I had grown to love.

If any of them ever read this, I would want them to know how precious they are; how special they are to God. How much He longs to work in and through their lives in stunningly beautiful ways. How much He longs to forgive their sins, heal up their hearts and set them free to know Him and His incredible, healing, freeing, restoring love. And I would want them to know that I have not forgotten them… that they will always be very precious to me.

I remember the gruff, urgent way Monica clung to me and looked up at me as we said goodbye, and said, ‘Don’t ever forget’. Dear Monica who was rescued as a baby from the Mumbai streets. And I wanted to convince her; to make her believe I never could… but I was too overcome with emotion. I still want to tell her it now. I never have forgotten, and I never could. I could never forget what I saw; what I experienced. God has used it to change me forever.

No automatic alt text available.

I remember sitting in the aeroplane, looking out of the window; thinking of the precious people I was leaving behind. I knew that I would probably never see them again this earth, and my heart was bursting.

But my heart was bursting with more than that. My heart was bursting with a call; with a decision.I would never forget. I was going back for people like them. I was going back because God was calling me to serve Him; to live my life so that others like them could know His love; could live forever. I looked out of the window as the plane lifted; as I began the long trip back to England. And I knew that my life had been marked.

I remember that it was strange to be back. I remember walking around a shopping centre, feeling so angry with the lavish expense and waste. I remember thinking of Manila, and how much we could help if we would only share.

I remember looking at statistics: about over 2 billion people who have still never heard the Name of Jesus even once. About 80,000 people dying every single day without a chance even to experience His love. And I remember thinking that they could no longer be statistics any more; not after Manila. Each statistic is a precious person with an eternal soul.

In time, things became clear. God was calling me; not to the Philippines (though I will always love my dear friends there) but to people who have even less access to what I have than they do: to help the billions in the 10/40 Window with no chance whatsoever to experience the love of Christ. Now I work for Gospel for Asia (www.gfauk.org ). But I will never, ever forget what happened to me in Manila.

What I found out afterwards… 

Years afterwards, I saw a Facebook post: a page about Noelyn. I remember Noelyn: how could I ever forget her? The sweet, affectionate girl of 14 who had lived as a scavenger on the streets, trying desperately to survive; the dear, warm Noelyn who had clung to my hand and chatted to me, and won a place in my heart as each of the children did.

Image may contain: one or more people, eyeglasses and closeup

I had written in my journal about  “Dear little Noelyn’s sad, sad eyes as she hugged me so tightly and said, ‘I miss you’ as I said goodbye to her. I think she had been waiting for me. Oh, Lord, would You  go to her?”

What I came to realise through that Facebook post is Jesus did go to Noelyn… and He took her to Himself, too. I found out that dear, sweet Noelyn has gone ahead of me: she is with Jesus now. Health problems took her away suddenly, at only 20 years old.

This is from the report about her death:

“Noelyn left behind a diary and a half finished testimony. She had been hoping to apply for church membership. The last diary entry spoke of her health: “I know God is testing my trust in Him. But I will not give up, I will prove to Him that He is my only Saviour and Keeper and that I want to be His servant and child until the last breath of my life”. Staff had spoken with her during recent months about salvation and believe that she is one of God’s children. 

Written on a piece of paper taped to her mirror the morning she died was the reference John 3:16. Her room mates said she must have written it the night before as it wasn’t there before that.”

You can find the whole story here:

http://www.ccmmanila.org/news/noelynstatement

That brought me to tears. Little Noelyn, who held my hand. Little Noelyn, who had lived as a scavenger on the streets until CCM took her in. Little Noelyn, who is now at peace, with Jesus.

It touches me so deeply to think of that: to think of how much it means that Noelyn is with Jesus now. And it makes it all so real; so important. What matters is sharing Christ’s love with those who so badly need it.

May it wake us up. May it help us realise that, if Jesus Christ really is the only way to Heaven (and He is), then this is worth giving our lives for, no matter what the cost. It is worth doing whatever it takes to share His love.

’18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore[c] and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.[d]’ Matt 28:18-20

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

(To receive free encouragement emails from this blog, click ‘Follow’ and enter your email address. I would love to keep encouraging you!)

Memories from the Philippines, Part 4

August 2007, Manila, Philippines

On Thursday evening, CRBC hosted their Drop-In again. It wasn’t as packed as last week (they had a lot of people last week, praise the Lord), but still busy. I went with Ate Virgie to help with the kids’ club. She was teaching the kids about Abraham, and how God can do the impossible. It was so, so good to see those precious, neglected children being fed the most precious thing: the Word of life. It is far better to be a street child who hears the truth than a rich one who never does. I wasn’t there for the main talk to the adults, but apparently the adults listened very attentively. Please pray for their salvation. Two have made a profession of faith, praise God!! He WILL build His church!! The Word is powerful, and, blessed by the Spirit, it does its own work!! 🙂

Friday morning was a good reminder of the urgency and the need to share the Good News of Jesus. We went to the hospital to visit a dear CCM client who has just ben re-diagnosed with cancer. This hospital was very, very different to the hospital I visited before. It is one of the best hospitals in the world. It was set up by a church, and provides some free care for poor people. It’s a pretty impressive place- marble floors and lovely lifts and clean, pleasantly curtained cubicles, even for the poorest people. Praise the Lord for it. Seeing this dear lady, though, was a good (and needed) reminder of the uncertainty of life. As we sat talking to her, she said that the lady in the next-door bed had just been told that her cancer was terminal. She only had days left. I closed my eyes as the realisation hit me. Every day, thousands more fall into the abyss, starving for the Gospel of life. I left the lady with a tract- please pray that she would not die without His forgiveness. So, so many people think that they are Christians when Jesus makes no difference to their lives and they do not really have a living relationship with Him at all. The visit was a good reminder- oh, that God would impress these things onto our hearts, so that we see how urgent this message is and how much people need to hear it before it is too late!

1923547_515804533644_7000_n

Friday afternoon was touching, and inspiring. We went to visit Danika, a girl who is being sponsored by Becky’s church. She is fifteen, and in High School. Through the Educational Assistance Program, CCM helps to pay for her education, which, if she completes her studies, will provide her with a chance to get a good job. The whole visit was so lovely. Danika and her mother were so, so welcoming. They showed us to their tiny shack and Danika’s mother had even invested in some cake and lemonade for us. Money must be so tight for them. It so humbling, and precious, to eat cake and drink lemonade they had provided when they must have so little. For a start, Danika was very shy, and embarrassed about the size of their miniscule shack. Gradually, though, she opened up, and both she and her mother were so obviously grateful to Becky and the church. They had kept the photos and letters that the church had sent them, and clearly treasured them. Danika kept saying how happy she was to see Becky. They both escorted us out, and were reluctant to say goodbye. The Lord was so, so right when He said, ‘”It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” (Acts 20:35c). To see Danika so happy, in her school uniform, is priceless. Most of all, I long for her to know Him.

1923547_515804538634_7279_n

On Friday evening, I attended the GMA (Grace Ministerial Academy- training men from all over the Philippines to be pastors) Bible class- the Friday evening class is open to everyone. It was so, so good to be at Bible School for an evening! We went through the doctrine of justification by faith, which was very helpful. It is just incredible that this is reality: that our God cared so much that He gave His Son so that wicked sinners like me could be forgiven. To think of where we would be without justification is unthinkable. If this message is true (and it is), then it puts everything else in perspective.

On Saturday, a group of us went on a trip to Tagaytay, which is just outside of Manila, to see the Taal volcano. We took two of the girls (little Jena, who is nine, and Maricar, who is in her late teens) with us. The day was a blessing from Him. To get to the volcano, we went on a boat to a little island very near the mainland. I was sitting on the boat looking around and it was just so exciting to think that this is Asia- on the other side of the world! I found a blow-up globe in the CCM library the other day. Home looked very, very far away! I can’t believe I’m actually here, in the Philippines!! The boat ride was lots of fun- we got very wet because the ride was bumpy! We climbed up to the crater, which is full of water- a mini-lake. Apparently, it smokes sometimes, although the volcano is now inactive. After the volcano, we went up to a viewing point and looked over Tagaytay- blue mountains etched in the distance; rolling green fields; the curving twist of a road… His creation is stunning. The water, the trees, the fields, the mountains… it was breathtaking. And every atom was fashioned by the One Who now lives inside of every true believer, closer than our skin and more intimate than breathing… all because Jesus went through separation from the Father so that wicked rebels could live! What a message! If that isn’t worth shouting from the rooftops, I don’t know what is! It was also good to spend some time with Jena, although she speaks very little English. She climbed up to the top with me, with both of us talking to each other in our own language, bemused that we didn’t understand each other, and yet content. The best way of communicating with the little ones is to point at things and get them to teach me the names, which works both ways because they’re also trying to learn English. It’s a challenge, but a lot of fun, and the little ones make me laugh- they’re all so individual; so perfectly made by a God of variety and creativity and beauty… He is truly amazing. 🙂

Sunday was spent back at CRBC, which was so good. Church families are precious beyond measure. It’s so good to go to CRBC now and begin to feel like I belong. More and more faces are familiar, and I’m learning more and more names. The girls are also becoming more and more comfortable with me. One of them, little Noelyn, is so keen to make friends. Her story is heartbreaking. After her mother had died of tuberculosis, Noelyn lived as a scavenger for two years, desperately trying to find food for herself and her brothers. She is now fourteen, but she looks like a small child because she was so malnourished. Yet she is one of the most sweet, affectionate children I have ever met. She holds my hand and walks round with me, and my heart just melts! Oh, that she would come to know Him Who can heal our wounds as no-one else can! In the evening, we had After-Church Fellowship and some of the church members shared their testimonies. As we were sitting there, God really reminded me of the need for action. So many of the people gathered round were CCM teenagers- young, beautiful Filipino girls, with the rest of their lives ahead of them, hearing the precious Word of Life. Please do pray that He will work in their hearts and save them to lives of devotion and usefulness to Him, and also that my time with them would not be wasted, despite the English/Tagalog barrier.

Image may contain: 2 people

Today (Monday), I went with Ate Nida to lead a Bible Study for three local women, all mothers of young children. They live in very basic little shacks, and it was such a privilege to be welcomed to spend time with them. How I long for them to know His love!

Ok, I think that’s enough for now!!!!!!! I think I’ve written a mini book!!! Sending greetings across the ocean. 

Hopefully more to come another time…

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Memories from the Philippines, Part 3

Emmaus Home, Masinag, Quezon City, Philippines                                                                                                         

13th August ‘07

Kumusta? (How are you?)

Mabuti! (I am fine!)

I think it’s helpful having coming here for a while. I feel more and more settled every day, which directly affects the ministry- once situations start to make sense, it’s a lot easier to use them for the Lord, because you know how they work, what to do and how. Pieces are gradually fitting into place and I’m beginning to see how the world works out here. God has also been providing much more alone time with Him, which is everything. Praise the Lord, I’m even beginning to get a grasp of some very, very basic Tagalog, which is very gradually opening up a whole new world of understanding! Once you realise that the incomprehensible communication is actually the same as what it would be in English, the world suddenly feels a whole lot more familiar! Praise the Lord for all that He is teaching me. 🙂

No automatic alt text available.

On Sunday, Ate Nida took Becky and I to visit her family, who live in Velenzuela, which is on the other side of Manila. We went to the Velenzuela Reformed Baptist Church, which is where Aries and Jodith Libero (GBM missionaries) are working. I hadn’t expected to have a chance to meet them, and it was so good to see the work that they are doing. Their church has around 20-something members. They meet in a building right in the middle of the squatter areas, which is a problem because the building often floods during the rainy season (which we are right in the middle of at the moment). The service was encouraging, though. Matt Gamston preached in Tagalog. The service was followed by Adult Sunday School- a seriously good idea! It’s basically an adult Bible class, tackling things like doctrinal teachings or Bible history or Bible-handling or topics… I seriously recommend it! After the service, we had lunch with Aries and Jodith, as well as their little son. It was lovely to spend a little time with them.

I spent Tuesday afternoon and evening at the new CCM Boys’ Home, which began only a few months ago. Kuya Scott and Ate Emilyn have just moved over here from America to act as the houseparents, along with Ate Virginia, and they now have about 10 boys in the home. I realised when I visited that the boys are a whole lot crazier than the girls! If you left the girls alone in a room, they would probably do naughty (masama in Filipino) things, but they would be calm naughty things! If you left the boys alone, they’d run around and play-fight and go crazy! They were so funny- using their orange peel to make ears and false teeth, and doing this funny dance they’ve made up to an exercise video! It was lovely to spend time with them, although particularly difficult because most of the boys are very young, which means that they hardly know any English at all. It’s so strange to spend time with kids when you can’t talk to them or give them instructions or even tell them off! I had a go at teaching them to read in English. It was good, but slow progress. Quite a few of the boys are seriously behind in their studies. I think as many as four of them are in Grade 1 (Reception or Year 1 in our system, I think), even though they are as old as nine or ten. The boys have such sad, sad stories. When I was in the office last week, I made profiles for them. Their stories are heartbreaking. Some were abandoned, passed from person to person without a place to call home, some are orphans and all, I think, have seen horrible things that will (apart from the Lord’s healing) leave scars for life. One was sold by his mother. It’s so, so sad, and yet, in a way, they have been given the best thing they could ever have, which is a Christian upbringing. So few kids are brought up on the Word of Life, and the knowledge of the way of salvation is priceless. Yet, still, these kids have huge scars. Please pray that they would be led to the One Who comforts as no-one else can comfort.

No automatic alt text available.

On Thursday morning, I went with Ate Reah to visit some of the street people. It was shocking, and yet also amazing. God has given people an incredible ability to survive in the most challenging conditions. It is normal for these people to live on the streets and they get on with it, day by day. Scaffolding becomes a washing line; carrier bags are stashed in doorways; children take naps on the pavement. The street people always have access to a very basic income because the Jeepney drivers (the Jeepneys are the public transport here- loud, brightly-coloured jeeps with thumping music and rainbow-coloured slogans, many of which are superficially Christian, like “God bless our trip”) pay them to call out for passengers. But life is so tough. Families have lots of children and there are many teenage pregnancies. Life is so hard on the streets, and there are so many challenges. The constant need is very real. And what about their eternal needs? What will all of this be when dawn breaks and eternity comes? It was so good to meet the street people. As ever, I can’t say much to them because of the language barrier, but I had been given a stash of Tagalog tracts, so I could share Christ with them (assuming they can read)- please pray for God’s blessing on the people (including two precious, precious prostitutes- oh, the need of this generation!) who received tracts.

Thursday afternoon was a good reminder about why this is all worth it- why every single sacrifice made for the Gospel is worth everything. We went to visit another couple of “communities” (slum areas). One of them was particularly horrible. It had been raining (there was a typhoon further north, although the rain has gone now). This slum is built right on a river- if you can call it a river. The water is absolutely filthy, and it smells. The shacks are located either side of the water, with some of them hanging precariously over it. Whenever it rains too hard, the lower shacks flood.

No automatic alt text available.

We went inside to visit some of the CCM clients. To get to the shacks, you walk down dark, dank tunnels, some of them wet with filthy water. You have to have directions or a guide, or you’ll get lost in the maze of shacks. The shacks are stacked one on top of the other in a big, corrugated structure. To get to the higher ones, you climb up shaky wooden ladders and negotiate your way from one level to the next. Some families live in than one level, joined by precarious stepladders. Yet these are homes, too. Families have made them livable with their bright pictures and taped flooring and electrical appliances, although you can still see glimpses of corrugated metal and graffiti and dirty wood. I wasn’t too fazed by it all until someone mentioned the rats, which freaked me out a bit- rats scare me!!! I was just beginning to get a bit scared, even starting to grumble mentally, when God reminded me of why this is all worth it. We went into the shack of one lady, and Ate Lorna (the social worker) informed us that this lady had become a Christian directly through the ministry of CCM. She is now a member of CRBC (Cubao Reformed Baptist Church). I felt the tears sting in my eyes. This is why Gospel work is worth it! Yes, this lady lives in a tiny shack, in poverty and hardship. But now she has an eternal hope. I will spend eternity together with her in Heaven. And what are her sufferings in comparison to the Glory that awaits her now, all because someone made a few sacrifices so that she could hear the Word of Life? When the CCM social workers get to Glory, they will see her face there: the face of someone they witnessed to here on earth… along with His, of course, Whom to know is life itself. And that makes everything worth it, no matter what.

No automatic alt text available.
No automatic alt text available.

 

More to come…