Monday, April 26, 2010

"Hit, Run, Score!"

When you play ball as a kid the world seems so dramatic. Years later you remember the surge of power you felt connect bat to ball, hearing the CLINK or CRACK as rubber and leather begin their journey into what's hopefully grass in the otter left field. You remember unwisely closing your eyes but still hearing the thud of the would-be game winning drive caught in your glove. There's great drama in these moments. Every strike out, every failed catch or throw in the wrong direction is life-altering. There's something almost spiritual about visiting a little league field some 15 or 20 years after you were playing there yourself. A bit of pride flows into your soul watching the game as just "a game" but knowing the little minds running around in matching knees socks think it as so much more. Maybe it is. There's comfort in the smells of little league. Baseball just doesn't smell like baseball no matter what level. Professional games smell very differently. Professionally there is a commonality of grass, sun, popcorn, beer, crowds and that sort of stadium/commercial aroma of plastic and aluminum. Little league though, is a distnctly different ascetic. Little boy sweat, outdoor grilled burgers and dogs, bubble gum, cheap grass, dust and the hope of childhood dreams. Yes, you can smell dreams... when they're strong enough anyway.

I sat and watched the smiles of kids glancing over at Mom and Dad for approval. The developing Babe Ruth would flash back a toothy grin and approach the mound, ready to take on the world. At the field-- the wins and loses are genuine. Encouragement is pivotal among teasing and rejection. Sitting quietly on a cold bleacher one can look around and see a parallel to the entire ecosphere of life. Helmets are too big for some, bats too short for others, but they're all playing on the same field. To say that they're playing under the same rules would be naive though because inevitably someone's the son or daughter of the umpire. There's injustice with bad calls and advocates as parents and coaches argue. It's the spirit that breaks me from my day dream and chronic attempts to complicate life. From the team huddle in from of the dugout to my right they're yelling, "Hit, Run, Score." Simple enough strategy. Clear, concise, realistic, measurable.

Maybe the reason professional fields lack the scent of dreams to me is because they're approach over complicated the world. Maybe the simple "Hit, Run, Score" approach to life is the onlythat allows room for the reality of dreams.

Monday, April 19, 2010

New Entry Coming Soon: "Hit! Run! Score!"

New blog entry coming soon... "Hit! Run! Score!" Distinct smells, sounds, old memories, new memories, realizations...

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Two Hugs

Yesterday I got a real hug. Not one out of sexual desire, not one out of pity, not an obligatory hug, just a love hug. It was tight and innocent and followed by a sigh and a "I love you soooo much." I thought my heart was going to burst right there. As I reflected on this I thought back to my new friend Twee I wrote about earlier. I thought back to the hug I received from her after our dinner in Pattaya. There are differences, there are similarities-- both speak of childhood and both spoke to me. Both hugs were essentially from children, both hugs were pure and real. Both sought to be received honestly by me and were embraced with the faith that I could be trusted in an intimate moment. The differences were profound though.

You could feel Twee's story of heartbreak in that slight moment. Her one embrace reveled scars from each man who ever took advantage of her or let her down. It revealed every woman who scowled at her or cut her with words of hate. It revealed the want for hope and the need for simple love. Her ache was contagious, like a fire any sane person would want to smother out with more hugs and kind words.

The hug yesterday was much different in this sense. The little girl's arms shot out joy and excitement for life. It was almost as if she knew squeezing me so tight would indeed transfer the light from her body to mine. There was not just hope in that moment but contentment, knowledge of safety, dreams for future, and freedom. This girl is free to cry when she's sick and free to love who she wants to love. She's free to and encouraged to say no to evil.

I was struck with how easily these girls could have been in each other's place. I was struck with how I could have easily been in those places too. There are four hearts I feel through this. I feel the hearts in the two hugs, I feel my own, and I feel God's. God wants so much more for His daughters than what this world often provides. I'm convicted also to say that He wants more for my life than I allow.

I reclaim and receive my own childhood through these girls-- what could have been and what was. Still more, I live to reclaim the life God originally intended for me.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Reclaiming HER

Here it is, a little past 1:00 AM. I was exhausted hours ago but I'm wide awake again now... ahhh the joys of jet-lag. It feels silly though to complain about such a small thing. I'm sure most small things will to seem silly as I continue to reflect on the few days I just spent in Thailand. Thanks for allowing me to stray from my normal "Reclaiming Childhood" theme for this blog. Thanks for reading my scattered and un-proofread thoughts. What I realized though is that the fight for a childhood is exactly one of the aspects you fight for when you fight against sex trafficking.

In our last team debrief time I told the story of our group taking six women from the bar out to dinner. The "woman" who struck me the most was actually a girl, maybe 15 years old. Her name was Twee. I'm a horrible judge of age but Twee most certainly was young and most certainly was not 18. She was a girl missing her childhood. This thought struck me when a friend and I were explaining to the rest of the team how it felt to be hugged goodbye by Twee. She had been so quite and shy all throughout dinner and this attitude was reflected in the way she hugged at first. There was much space between our bodies. I can't at all blame her to be on guard. Then something changed, she let down her adult front. She stopped playing the act of "bar girl". She was no longer held a prostitute's title. Twee reverted back to CHILD. She wanted to be held. She wanted to be loved on. She wanted to be comforted. She needed it. Holding her head to my chest, nothing in me could bare to let her go. I swayed a little, ushering a few extra prayers over her, asking for her protection and that God would hold my emotions for just a few more moments. My gut wanted to scream, my eyes were ready to unload, breath had long escaped my lungs, but what was it like for her? What was it going to be like to have this encounter of hope that was so foreign (and not just because of our nationality)? How would she feel when she walked back in to that bar? Would she have to take a customer tonight? Would the next words said to her be out of love. What would HER next words say? What would her heart say?

I can work so hard at reclaiming my own childhood... but who's going to work to reclaim hers?

If you're in the Seattle area and are interested in learning more about the issue of sex trafficking please attend the following this Saturday:


Saturday, March 27
7 - 9 PM in the OCC Small Auditorium

Come hear reports from recently returned teams from Thailand
See the images and lives impacted who have been rescued
Learn about OCC's vision and partnership with others
Discover ways you can be involved locally and/or globally

There will be a time to connect with specific team leaders working towards specific initiatives around human trafficking:
Business Team - Developing and empowering alternative living for rescued victims
Women of Purpose - Join other women raising awareness and investing in key projects
Local Team - Opportunities to respond to needs locally
Potential Housing - A fact finding group exploring the requirements for responding to the dramatic need for victim housing in the greater Seattle area
Fair Trade - Educate and promotion of using our purchasing power to make a difference
Questions? Contact

Friday, March 19, 2010


Tonight I had one of the sweetest dinners of my life. My basic
conclusion: I hate evil and God is love.

We walked up to a bar where two teammates were hoping to find some
girls they spoke to earlier this week. As we walked we wondered if we
would be able to spot the women in such a crowded bar. That was no
problem. As soon as we neared shouts were heard from the new Thai
friends. "Oh sexy ladies, you came back!". Our group was easily
remembered by them. The rest of the evening was followed by bar games
(we rarely won), invitations to dinner, laughter from language and
tears from universal communications of love. Personally I was able to
talk mostly with three girls. One 42 one under 18 and the third
somehwere in the middle. Each woman had their own story, their own
spirit, their own dreams and fears. Even finishing this post the next
morning I can still feel the physical brokeness of my heart.

As I shared a bit of my own life's story with the girls the dynamic of
our chatter changed. We moved from positions of "bar worker" and
"tourist" into a dialogue of women bonded by a desire for freedom and
joy. They began to share real moments of their life with me and I was
so very honored to hold those stories close.

The tight hug and slight tears from the shy, young girl was what
captured my heart the most. Jesus is alive and working in this place.
He just hasn't introduced himself by name too all who live here yet. I
can't wait for the day when He does. To God be all glory!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

No longer deserted

We just came back from an HIV house where we were able to pray over
the sweet souls living there. One lady asked for us to pray for her
specifically because she wanted to become a Christian. (Praise God!)
Evil continues to loom but also loose! The HIV house will be moving
locations within the year and is currently fundraising for their new
building. Desperate needs here...

In just a little bit we will be heading back to a bar where a few of
our teammates started meaning conversations earlier this week. We hope
to reconnect with these women and allow them to share more of their
hearts with us. There are such great possibilities here! Please pray
that we respct their stories; that we will have dicernment as to what
to say and when. Also ask with us that the Lord brings relationships
and meetings together. May we be sensitive to where He's calling us
and how. To God be the glory.

I was again inspired by Isaiah 62. I'm praying these words over the
city if Pattaya... May this place be now called Hephzibah (my delight
is in her) instead of "Deserted"... "they will be called the Holy
People, the Redeemed of the Lord; and you will be called Sought After,
the City No Longer Deserted."

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Not just numbers

Moving throughout this city it is hard not to shut off your emotions and just observe what's happening with solely your mind.  I think I'm doing a disservice if I do this and don't connect with my heart as well. We visited "Walking Street" last night. Under a fake cover of darkness and alcohol this strip exists for the sole purpose of sex.  Hundreds of girls in the bars and on the streets- hundreds of daughters and sisters waiting to be sold.  I saw a girl who appeared to be younger than 16 with a man who must have been 65. There was no smile in her eyes.  There was another girl who held a sign describing the services offered-- there were tears falling with each person who passed by. Another women worker was lying unconscious outside a popular bar...

I find myself asking if this problem is just all too large-- is it all too terrible and vast for a mere me to have an impact on?  But we can't get caught in that lie-- there is great work to be done; it has to be done; it will be done.

Many of us on this trip have said that we've heard the stories before but to actually see it with your own eyes- to smell it, her it, touch it, connect with it makes the statistical data come alive. These are souls, these are not numbers.

These are not numbers-- these are people.  Here's a theme I've noticed from trip prep time until now. It's a theme I can't dare forget.