"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." -Galatians 2:20

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Leaving the Land of Tulips

I spent my last Saturday hanging out with Hendrieka, one of my friends here, in another city here in Holland called Haarlem, which is only about 15 minutes away by train, visiting the house of Corrie Ten Boom.  If you don’t already know, Corrie and the rest of the Ten Boom family were Dutch Christians who helped many Jews escape the Nazis during WWII, using their house as a hiding place for them as well.  After surviving the holocaust, Corrie became a public speaker and traveled the world telling her story.  She wrote an autobiography that also became a movie called “The Hiding Place.”  Look it up, read it—awesome story.

THE hiding place - entrance through Corrie's linen closet

the family bible

Going to this house was probably one of the coolest things I have done here in Holland.  The story and history of the Ten Boom family is an incredible testimony of God’s faithfulness that is not only neat to learn about, but really inspiring, and a perfect way to spend my last weekend here in Holland.

For my last two weeks at the Lighthouse, 2 volunteers showed up – 2 guys from Florida.  Sam and Jimmy are in college and just decided that they wanted to come and volunteer with the Lighthouse for 2 weeks this summer, so they got a lot of things done in the building such as painting, waxing floors, etc.  They also helped out with the homeless ministry, which was really opportune actually since in the last week we lost one of our men that helps out with the homeless ministry because his wife just had a baby, so he is busy helping her out.  What was kind of funny for me was the fact that hanging out with these 2 guys was almost weird for me at first, because I had gotten so used to being with people who weren’t American and all the sudden this odd phenomenon phased me: these people are just like me. Haha.  It’s really interesting how much you have in common when you come from the same country, and you don’t really think about it until you are in a situation of displacement.

My last week here I think I was in denial that I actually had to leave.  Cramming in last minute time with everybody to have meals, and “goodbye BBQ’s” was crazy but I loved every moment of spending time with all my friends here.  This place definitely felt like another home to me and I was sad to leave it.  God has shown me so many beautiful aspects of Himself through the time spent here in Amsterdam this summer and the people that I have met.  I am so blessed to have been able to do everything that I did here…the only thing I didn’t get was wooden shoes…oh well. haha

Goodbye Amsterdam, maybe I’ll be back soon…

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A Glimpse of Genesis

Going out to the women in the windows for the last time was really great actually.  The last week in particular, the women were just really open and wanted to talk for forever.  Something happened though, that last Wednesday walking around in the Red Light District that I believe was divine intervention on giving me a new perspective of something going on there:  As I was walking with Rebecca, a man started walking beside me and looked me up and down and said “I like this one, how much is this one? Is she for sale?”  Disgusted, I looked at him with distain as my blood temperature went up to boiling in about 2 seconds.  Thank the Lord we go in teams, because at the moment Rebecca stepped in between us and spoke very directly saying “she was already bought at the highest price by the one who paid for our sins by dying on the cross – Jesus Christ.  Repent from your sins and turn away from them, and He is faithful to forgive!”  She went on and tried to talk to the man, but he walked away at that point.
I was so angry. It wasn’t just the fact that he said those things to me personally, but it made me angry to hear that man speaking to any woman in the disgusting, disrespectful way that he did, demeaning the very worth of a woman.  At that moment in time, my first instinct was to not only chew him out verbally, but somehow physically do damage to his face as well…maybe not the best idea.
Coming back after ministry, the team has time in prayer again to close the day.  But as I sat before the Lord in silence, my heart was uneasy.  I couldn’t get past the fact that I knew I could not say in all honesty that I loved those men, in fact, I hated them.  The Lord spoke to me with a verse, saying “They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts.” –Eph 4:18.  At the moment I realized that I was angry and bitter towards them.  How could anyone love or forgive someone who treats another human being that way; stripping them of their very dignity, speaking to them as if they were nothing but a piece of trash to be used and thrown away again?  But God reminded me…”I do,” he said.  “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.  Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” 
Being here in the Red Light District, in some ways, has been a picture of the extreme end of the possible depravity of man and the “twistedness” of our thinking.  In Genesis 3 God says to Eve that “Your desire will be for your husband and he will rule over you.”  The word ‘desire’ here though, means “to dominate”, pointing to a parallelism in this verse that is showing the inherent depravity and drive men and women will have to dominate/rule over each other.  On one side of the red lit window, I see the man strong-arming the door open as he reaches in and grabs the prostitutes arm…but on the other side I see the woman using her body and little flirtatious movements to manipulate the men walking past.  On both sides I see so clearly a picture of the brokenness of our human nature, being once created for union with Christ, but now seeking to find that in the sexual exploitation of others. 
That day, something changed in me, and God showed me with new eyes what it is to not only look at the women, but also the men in the Red Light District with compassion.  I pray for the brokenness caused by sin to be restored in these men and women through union with Christ.