Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Divorcing My Dreams?

“How can what is made say about its maker, ‘He didn’t make me’?  How can what is formed say about the one who formed it, ‘He doesn’t understand what he’s doing’”?  ~Isaiah 29: 16

“Therefore, the LORD is waiting to show you mercy, and is rising up to show you compassion, for the LORD is a just God.  All who wait patiently for Him are happy.” ~Isaiah 30:18

Have you ever just stopped, laid down, and looked at the clouds?  I mean actually watch them move, form, even disappear.  It’s something I haven’t done since I was a child.  I guess I’ve just been too busy.  Hmmm…….too busy to notice something so necessary to my survival.

Have you ever thought about the purpose of clouds?  Clouds are amazing and important.  They come in all shapes, sizes, and images.  They serve as barriers for heat moving both in and out of the Earth’s atmosphere.  They have many affects on our climates.   They help shift dust, bacteria, and other particles throughout the Earth.  They cool us down from the sun on a hot day.  They bring rain and snow to keep humans, plants, and animals alive with water and clean the air. 

When I was in Thailand I was by myself, so I had a lot of time to really pay attention to the things happening around me, the different nations of people I observed enjoying vacation, and I got to take in some beautiful nature.  While lying on the beach, I saw clouds completely evaporate in the sky, right before my eyes!  I had no idea they did that!!  It was really cool to see, a first for me. 

You see God, my Creator, took time to entertain me while I was by myself in Thailand.  Then I began to wonder, ‘How many times has He tried to impress me my whole life but I’ve been to distracted to notice?’  God was being artistic in the sky at that moment, seeing if anyone would take notice, and I was fortunate enough to witness it.  Now I’m sure this sort of thing happens all the time but how many times do we witness it because we take it for granted.  How many times do we miss out on the beauty nature has to offer, because our mind is somewhere else?  How many times do we miss out on the blessings He has for us because we think our own work and dreams are better than what our Creator has in store.

I, as well as some of you reading this, are too busy to listen to God, too busy to marvel at His creation, too busy to praise Him for all He has created for us to enjoy, too busy to thank Him for the day He has given us and the blessings we have received.  Work, families, social media, friends, the entertainment industry, and money distract us.  Maybe we are even distracted by chasing our dreams.  Some distractions are good and some are bad.  We miss out on the best God has for us because we are so distracted doing other things. 

Good Distractions that can turn into bad ones:
This is where I’m going to camp out in my blog today.  Most of you reading this know my intense, insane love for Brazil.  I want to go back there.  I want to be with those people again, loving them, educating them, and showing them who God is, helping them uncover the plans He has for them.  Every chance I had to go back to Brazil since I lived there in 2010 I jumped at pursuing, only for it to be shut down.  Finally I gave up all hope and ended up in Korea.  (I guess you could say I gave up fighting my desires against God’s will for my life). 

For years I have had no desire to go to Asia for missions, even though I knew how great the need was.  I just said in my heart, God will raise up other people.  But that was me following my own desires and not allowing God to use me to accomplish His great work!

Wanting to be a missionary in Brazil is not a bad thing.  God calls his people to “go into all the world and share the gospel”.  The problem is when you put your desires and dreams above God’s desires for you (even the good desires).  Paul had a desire to go to Rome and witness to the people there.  He finally got that opportunity at the end of his life but God had other plans for Paul before he ended up in Rome.  Paul had to wait.  Paul was one of the most influential people in getting the gospel out of Israel into other parts of the world.  He also wrote most of the New Testament in the Bible.  I wonder what would have happened if Paul would have just decided to go to Rome and forgot about all the other places he went to before.  Who knows?  Maybe the New Testament would look different.  Maybe God would have used someone else and we wouldn’t know who Paul is.  I wonder……..

You see, for years I have been telling my Creator “He doesn’t understand what he’s doing”.  “If only He would just let me get married I could adopt all these kids and help save orphans and bring awareness to adoption”. But I can save kids in Thailand before they even enter the sex industry if I allow God to use me and go where the need is greater. 

Or I would say, “if only He would just let me go to Brazil and work with those street kids I fell madly in love with. Then I can help them make a real life for themselves and uncover the potential that is within them.”  But I can uncover the potential of women in Thailand who are already in prostitution by teaching them things they weren’t taught growing up and teaching them

about their Creator who has better things in store for them.  These are things they don’t know because people like me have been waiting to obey.  Or maybe people are too busy enjoying their comforts choosing to allow others to go in their place, but others aren’t going and the issue is getting bigger, escalating at a tremendous rate.

Brazil is fine.  Brazil has churches everywhere and organizations that are making tremendous strides in helping the people.  Brazil is over 25% evangelized.  Parts of SE Asia are less than 1% evangelized.  The need is greater there.  People are dying without knowing their creator while I ignore it to fulfill my own dreams.  No more!  It’s time to surrender!

God has been so patient with me.  A friend once told me that he loved my passion for missions and was inspired by it.  He said one day I would realize the need in Asia and join it.  I rolled my eyes as if he were joking with me but it turns out he was right. Maybe one day, like Paul, I will be able to return to Brazil.  Who knows?  All I know is that I want what my Creator wants for me because He knows me better than I know myself.  I want His best for my life and I’m tired of settling for second best. 

Please pray for me this year as I finish my contract in Korea, prepare for becoming a missionary, and pray about my role in Southeast Asia.      

What’s keeping you from obeying?

The sky in Thailand is beautiful.
The snorkling tour I went on to Similan Island.

Phuket Sunset

This was the highlight of my trip and definitely one of the top 10 highlights of my life.  I adore tigers and think they are amazing creatures!  
Obviously an Elephant Trek.  

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Supply and Demand Go Hand in Hand

“In a poor mountain village in Thailand, a little girl named Senra, not yet eight, is sold into prostitution by her parents, as was her older sister Yailun. The itinerant broker who pays 360,000 yen (roughly $3,600) and a bottle of whiskey for Senra was once one of Bangkok's street children and was sexually abused by a white man. Yailun, who was shut up in a brothel and forced to service wealthy international patrons with a taste for small girls, develops AIDS and is abandoned in a garbage dump. She manages to crawl back to her home in the mountains, barely alive, but her sickness worsens and her parents burn her to death. A whistleblower brings the case to the attention of Keiko Otowa, who is in Bangkok as a member of a social welfare NGO, and she starts an investigation. Eventually Otowa uncovers an international network of illegal organ sales involving not only the drug mafia but politicians, the army, and the police as well. The parents who paid forty million yen for Senra's heart in order to save their own son's life are Japanese.” (Yami No Kodomotachi (Children of the Dark) by Seok-il Yang, 2002, 401 pages,

This was a story shared with me tonight, Sunday, February 9, 2014.  Tonight’s Hope Be Restored meeting was difficult.  For those that don’t know, Hope Be Restored is my church’s Justice group.  It stands for Helping the Oppressed and Prisoners of injustice Escape and BE RESTORED.  A link for this website is at the bottom of this blog.  We meet monthly and brainstorm ways to bring freedom and justice to the oppressed.  Sometimes we have guest speakers that will come and share information.  Sometimes they are people who manage NGOs that help these victims.  They can also be people with a voice who do research and share their research with government officials hoping that they will be persuaded to change laws or they share their information with people like us to bring awareness to these issues.   

Our guest speaker tonight was Dr. Sunyoung Park, a criminologist who has been studying Child Sex Tourism by Korean men in Southeast Asia and its relations with Human Trafficking.  The information she presented to us tonight was the same information she presents to political leaders in Korea.  It was powerful and she didn’t sugar coat anything.  It was simple, straight, cold hard facts.  Even though it brought tears to my eyes, it unfortunately does not faze the political leaders who can enforce stricter laws, helping these victims of trafficking. 

She told us “most Koreans believe that human trafficking is not their business.”  But in 2007, U.S. Trafficking in Persons (TIP) reported that “Korean men are one of the major customers of CST in SE Asia and the Pacific Islands, 7 straight times.”  In 2010 another report done by UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNOCD) reported the same things.  The trend is continuing to rise every year.  Koreans don’t believe they are pedophiles and here is their explanation as why, “they only prefer sexual relations with minors if such options and conditions are allowed, rather than pursuing minors exclusively’” as some American and European Tourist do. 

After sitting through her presentation, do I fully blame the Korean men?  Yes and No.  Let’s start with “No”.  Reason 1: Prostitution is illegal in S. Korea yet I have been to many well-known RLDs and seen police cars driving through to keep the peace in those areas.  If this law was truly being enforced then I’m pretty sure I would not be able to find these places, much less see police driving around in them.  

Reason 2: In 2012 a survey of 500 Korean men was done.  They were asked if they knew that engaging in overseas prostitution was illegal as domestic prostitution, “74% of them said they were not aware that overseas prostitution is subject to punishment under anti-prostitution law.” 

Reason 3: Also, in a 2013 TIP report, The S. Korean government was “denounced for not having prosecuted a single Korean man for engaging in overseas child prostitution in the past 6 years. Even though 119 men were arrested as sex buyers between 2011-2013, 3 paid a fine, 6 cases were dismissed, and 100 received suspension of indictment on the condition of attending a 2-day John school program. “   

What can cause a wealthy, highly educated, seemingly normal person, to seek out sex in another country, especially with minors.  Well, I would have to agree with my pastor on this when I say, pornography.  I spent a semester of college studying sexual addictions, complications, crimes, and therapy.  One thing I found was that pornography seemed to be a common theme for how most people got started.  Porn changes the brain.  It stimulates the same parts of the brain as any drug does.  It may start out as a mild, soft, “innocent” indulgence but as with any drug, there is the potential for it to grow.  You want more and more because the mild stuff just doesn’t stimulate you anymore.  S. Korea is the number one consumer of porn in the world.  I have had students tell me their moms won’t let them hang out with a certain 5th grade student at my school because he looks at porn.  This is a serious issue that people are not taking seriously.  The facts are there yet so many people, all around the world, have no problem with porn!!!

But wait, I never got to my “yes.”  Now some of you may be thinking, well these are all excuses you are giving to these men.  Maybe they are but lets compare this situation to that of a young child and a hot stovetop.  If a young child doesn’t know the burner of a stovetop is hot and they touch it, is it their fault they burned themselves?  No, because they were not aware that a hot object such as that, would cause so much pain.  Now, if mom or dad makes this young child aware by telling them “Hey, if you touch that you are going to burn yourself” but the child decides to touch it anyway, then of course it is the child’s fault, because they knew there would be a consequence. 

I feel the same can apply for Korean men.  This is a matter of awareness (or lack there of).  If these men are made aware of how their decisions are affecting the world, how they are stealing the lives of children, such as in the story above, yet continue to do these things, they are definitely to blame. 

It’s also a matter of consequence.  As you can see from what I wrote in the “No” section, unlike the stovetop situation, even though there are laws in place, there are no consequences for these men who commit these crimes.  They aren’t learning a lesson because there is no consequence to follow. 

Korea needs to do many things.  I’m not a politician but I am a person with a brain and here is what I think.  Government should follow up with the laws that are already in place.  They need to stop averting their eyes from this situation in order to “save face.”  Government is being made aware but the information is not fazing them.  Their hearts are hardened to this issue and they don’t see a problem with it.  They need to be broken down.  Since victims are not Korean citizens, they are not making this issue a priority. 

They also need prayer and church involvement.  This is a nation with churches everywhere.  There are even churches inside the RLDs, but they aren’t doing anything.  This is also an issue of social justice, which is close to the heart of God.  Being people of God it should matter to us.  I’m so grateful to be a part of Onnuri because, after years of prayer by the English Ministry at our church, the Korean side started their own Justice team this year.  A spokesperson of the team said that in the first meeting, people were only there because the pastor called them and asked them to attend.  They said they had no idea what this was about.  (Once again, lack of awareness). 

I titled this blog Supply and Demand Go Hand in Hand because the supply of this is what ultimately needs to stop.  Yes, corrupt government should change and fight against this but even if and when they do, if the supply doesn’t stop, neither will the demand.  If you are reading this right now and are participating in watching porn, prostitution, or any sort of trafficking, I pray you are convicted and I beg you to stop, especially if you are a Christian. 

This is why I do what I do here in Korea.  This is why I spend my Saturdays, going to RLD and Restoration houses.  You see, like most of you reading this, I was born in a land of privilege, a land where I have freedom, a land that is also becoming more and more aware and upset of this issue.  I was given a family that loves me.  A family that would never even dream of celebrating I was a girl so they could sell me into prostitution.  With this blessing I can’t just sit and watch. 

I beg those of you reading this, who have the same blessings as me, to get involved with these issues of injustice.  It doesn’t have to be trafficking.  It can be abortion, orphans, homeless, single parents, world hunger, whatever God lays on your heart.  I beg you to get out of the comfortable lives you are in and get uncomfortable for the cause of justice.  Whatever God has blessed you with, whether it be financially, orally, physically, your position of authority where you work, whatever it is, use it to fight for those with no voice.  Who cares if it seems un-kosher, what people are doing to these innocent children is definitely not kosher and deserves what’s coming to it.  These people need a voice.  These people need to know someone loves them.  These people need to know the healing, restoration, power of Jesus Christ.  God is calling you to something bigger than your tiny little comfort zone that won’t matter when you die.  You want your life to have meaning then do something that will give it meaning!  This world is dark and evil.  It needs more light.  I’m going to let my light shine as bright as possible.  Will you join me?  Someone is waiting on the other side of your obedience. 

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Daegu Journal Entry: Volume 1, Edition 3, Part A

Daegu Journal Entry: Volume 1, Edition 3, Part A

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Tonight was really difficult for me.  This edition will be in 2 parts because I have so much on my heart to share.  The first part will be about my recent visit to the RLD.  The second part will be what has been on my heart since returning.  This is the third time I have had the blessing to witness in Daegu.  The team consisted of 4 members two of whom were going for the first time from my church.  One of these members is a male, which is a huge blessing.  These women need to see that there are men out in the world with respect, dignity, and integrity, fighting to save them from this injustice.  His presence will speak volumes beyond what any female can and we are so thankful to have him on our team.  Starting the month of February, Vanesa and I will switch and only go once a month to Daegu, taking teams with us.

We arrived early so we could do a prayer walk over the area and so Pastor Choi could explain some things to the 2 new members, since we cannot talk amongst ourselves while doing the distributing.  The weather was so nice today around 60F/15C.  It was so warm and it didn’t rain on us like it was suppose to!

Tonight we handed out hand cream with Numbers 6:24-26 written on the outside of the package.  “The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.”  We were reminded before we left that we are doing the task that God has called us to do.  We should not be going out expecting to receive the blessings God has for us, but to be a blessing to the ladies as we share God’s love with them. 

When we arrived at 8 pm to begin the distribution, there was nowhere for us to park.  It was very busy tonight, many customers.  A madam recognized it was us and that we could not find a spot so she provided one for us!  This is so uncommon.  What a blessing.  She removed one of the barricades so we could have a place to park.

We began with prayer just like always, inside of the car.  Then we set out.  The madams were very friendly with smiles again tonight.  Some of them shared about serious illnesses they had with us.  Illness seemed to be a common theme tonight.  A new lady asked us to pray for her!!  She has diabetes.  She really opened up to receive prayer.  Past Choi prayed that she would confess her healing to other madams once it happens and that she would no longer desire to be in that place.  This now makes two people who are open to receive prayer in this RLD!

Another lady was expressing how she doesn’t have hope to continue living.  She has been having thoughts of suicide because she has an incurable disease.  We asked her to share what it was but she didn’t feel comfortable.  He wanted to pray for her but she didn’t want to receive prayer yet.  This ladies story really touched me.  I will share more about it in part B blog because I personally have shared her pain.

Tonight was extremely difficult for me.  There were so many customers out, most likely because of the Lunar New Year holiday.  As we waited a few minutes for Pastor at one spot on the main road, I saw 3 taxis stop and let out a car full of men.  I could hardly focus on the girls because I was so overwhelmed by the amount of customers.  The looks on some of the girls faces seemed like that of desperation, like they wanted to be freed from that place.  Normally I see emptiness in their eyes but today they had looks of panic.  Every time I turned to look another direction I saw madams pulling guys into their doors.  I saw men sitting on chairs inside, watching the girls prepare for the night. 

I saw many men going inside and I know they saw us.  They didn’t even care.  A madam coaxed one guy inside and when he turned to look out the door I was able to make eye contact with him.  I prayed in my heart he would flee.  He looked extremely guilty, anxious to bolt out that door, but he didn’t.  It seemed like he was battling conviction.  Another guy was sitting outside and as we approached he tried to cover his face from us.  We still gave him a hand cream and pastor Choi spoke kindly to him.  One of our team members saw someone they knew walking around the RLD.

Tonight was a night of prayer for healing.  It was also, obviously, a night of prayer for the Johns, customers that visit RLDs.  It was hard to get quality time speaking with most of the madams tonight because they were so busy.  If they did make time for us they wanted us to make it quick or speak quietly about what we were doing so customers inside couldn’t hear.  There were 2 madams however, that took hand cream and QTs to give to the girls locked inside.  One of those places is a place where we have already been able to distribute to the sisters.  Also, there was a new madam there tonight we were able to reach out to for the first time. 


Pastor Choi is trying to make connections with churches in Daegu.  He wants to partner with them and enable them to continue this ministry in Daegu so he can have more flexibility to go out to other RLDs in Korea and start something similar.  The churches however ignore the problem that is right under the shadow of their steeples. 

Pray for the Korean Church.  Girls at other RLDs have expressed a desire to go to church but don’t go because of the judgment that is passed on them when they enter the doors.  They also know about what is going on but don’t do anything to fight against it.  This is not how the Bride of Christ should be acting.  The Bride of Christ should welcome the sick and needy, not close their doors on them.  They should fight for justice and work to rescue those in bondage.  Thankfully, Onnuri, the Korean church that supports the English church I attend, has decided to partner with us in the fight for Justice this year.  Pray that goes well and grows stronger, influencing other churches in Korea to do the same.

Pray for the Johns around the world.  Their demand is what drives this industry to be the most profitable and growing industry during a struggling and weakening world economy.  Pray for God to change their hearts, and convict them of their sin. Pray that they would become fighters against injustice instead of supporters of it.  For those that are married, pray that they may turn away from this and become the Fathers and Husbands they were created to be.  TEN MILLION CUSTOMERS VISIT RLDS ANNUALLY IN KOREA, 80% MARRIED MEN!!!!!

Pray for the trafficked victim.  The stress of the trafficked victim is higher than those who were in the Vietnam war.  Also, their life expectance after being trafficked is 6-7 years, and some of these girls start at very young ages. 

Pray for our team, that we will continue to fight the battle of injustice with eager, passionate spirits.  That we won’t become apathetic or burned out by this issue but remain on fire, desiring to serve in the place God has called us too.  That our hearts and minds will remain on guard from enemy attacks and that we will remain faithful. 

Pray for miracles of healing to happen here in the Daegu RLD as they have in other RLDs Pastor Choi has ministered in.  Not just physical healing but spiritual as well.  Pray that when these ladies are healed, they will accept that gift of grace and run to God, away from this life they were not created for.  Once they are healed, that they would confess their healing to other madams as a testimony of God’s grace. 

Our gift we handed out.

Our Team at the Entrance of the RLD
P.Choi, Jaime, Me, Tae