Sunday, January 19, 2014

Christmas Letter

Hello and Merry Christmas from South Korea!  Yes, that’s correct, I said South Korea.  Last year I was unable to make a Christmas letter because I was busy working 2 jobs and preparing for a move to Seoul, S. Korea.  I have been here since mid-February, teaching English at an after school academy.  I just re-signed for another year.  My goal is to pay off my student loans so I can have more freedom to do work as a missionary.  What a mind-blowing experience this has been.  Never in my life did I have any desire to visit, much less live, in Asia (with the exception of the Great Wall of China).  Here is a brief background of how I ended up here and the journey I have been on the past 9 months.  If you would like more details feel free to email me.  I don’ t want this letter to be too long.

            Back-up to Fall 2009, I was reading the book “Redeeming Love” by Francine Rivers.  When I finished that book I was really touched by the story.  I was convicted about sharing the love of Christ with prostitutes but how could I do this?  What way would be effective.  I also, through my studies at Liberty, knew there were a large and growing number of child sex slaves throughout the world.  How could I reach those?  I wasn’t sure what to do with this.  So I prayed. 
            May 2010, I went to Brazil for my internship.  While there I met many street kids.  These are children who live on the street because their parents kick them out or because they are orphans.  I met girls as young as 10 who were already selling their bodies for sex because they were lied to, thinking it was the only way they could survive and earn money.  They didn’t want to do it, but they believed the lie their pimps fed them. 

            I came home from Brazil and began looking for jobs with Trafficking organizations.  I couldn’t get the faces of those girls in Brazil out of my head.  For a year I looked, applied, interviewed…. nothing.  I decided to apply for Seminary but felt none of the programs I looked into would have prepared me for a career in Trafficking.  I found everything equivalent to my undergrad at Liberty so I didn’t go. 

October 2011, I became a substitute teacher.  I loved it!  I subbed in a lot of the poorer schools in TN with many different ethnicities and the thought occurred to me, what if I use teaching as a way to get in and help prevent students from joining gangs or becoming prostitutes?  I decided to go get my Masters in teaching…. too much money.  My undergrad student loans were preventing me from so much.  I applied to begin teaching with Teach For America…. denied (to my surprise and the surprise of many TFA teachers I subbed for).

            Thanksgiving 2012, I received an email from a recruiter looking for people to teach English in Korea.  I was curious as to how they got my information and thought it was a scam.  Turns out TFA had given them my information and they thought I would be a good candidate.  Reluctantly I decided to go through with the process just to see what happens.  I had no desire to go to an Asian country.  I loved to travel and had pretty much given up on my desire to work with Trafficked victims.  Within 1 ½ months I had all my paper work and been hired with a school in Korea!  Everyone I talked to that had been to Korea was surprised at how fast it was happening, including myself.  With everything that happened in that 1 ½ months I began to realize that this was a door that was WIDE open and if I didn’t go through it I would miss out on a HUGE blessing, so I said yes.

I had no idea what to expect because I really didn’t do research on Korea before leaving.  I was scared to death and hid in my hotel the first day.  My first day on the job I had an atheist tell me how stupid and ignorant I was for believing in all that “Jesus Crap” (to put it nicely).  I was horrified.  I knew I needed to find a church and fast.  I was the only Christian at my workplace.  I ended my first week in Korea saying to myself,  “What am I doing here?  51 more weeks to go.”

I asked the lady that hired me if she knew of any English churches I could go to and fortunately she was a Christian.  She invited me to her church.  My second Sunday in Korea I was sitting in church and the pastor began to poor out his heart and reveal his passion for Justice especially in the areas of Trafficking, Orphans, Homeless, and Abortion.   My heart leaped for joy as I realized this could be my opportunity to get involved.  Maybe this is why God brought me to Korea.

Over the past 10 months I have joined Onnuri English Ministry volunteering with their Hope Be Restored Justice Ministry.  Every month we go to a Durabang, a Restoration House outside of Seoul that helps women who have been victims of Sex Trafficking.  We spend several hours visiting with the ladies and have really developed some good relationships with them.  We also do a lot of prayer, research, and awareness on the issues of Trafficking.

Recently I have partnered with Pastor Choi and his Love Neighbors Mission.  He goes out every week to several Red Light Districts in Korea and passes out snacks to the ladies working there and praying for those that request it.  He has been doing this for 5 years.  While in Seminary, he said he wanted to reach the unreached people groups in Korea and asked God to reveal to him who they were.  God revealed to him the people working in the Red Light Districts.  At first he was hesitant and didn’t want to do it but he did.  These woman love him coming to visit and look for him in anticipation on the day he is suppose to come.  Recently, I got my Korean Drivers License so I can help Pastor Choi drive twice a week to a Red Light District that is far from Seoul.  On Christmas Eve I got to go out with him to the Red Light district he visits frequently to hand out Christmas cards and gifts to the ladies.  It was such an awesome experience and I loved seeing their faces light up! 

I’m not really sure what the future holds but I know who is holding my future.  I still desire to go back to Brazil and work with those kids but I feel for now, God wants me to do some more work in Asia and I’m praying about Cambodia and Thailand when I finish my 2nd year contract.  When you think of me will you please pray for these things:

*Student loans will be paid off by February 2015.
*Guidance and direction on the next steps
*More opportunities to continue being trained and educated about Trafficking issues
*****Protection of heart, mind, and spirit for me and the team that is ministering in the Red Light Districts.  (This is the biggest one because it is so dark in those places)
*That I will be a good leader at work as I was recently promoted to Head Teacher!!!  (Many of my co-workers aren’t saved so I am also witnessing to them.)
*Courage and strength to continue witnessing to non-Christian co-workers

            I’d love to hear back from you.  This letter is just the beginning of what is going on so I’d enjoy sharing more with you.  We can email, Facetime, Skype, Facebook, G-Chat, whatever.  I’d love to hear what is going on in your life or answer any questions you may have.

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