Not 4 Sale


Yesterday was Freedom Sunday, and in honor of this protest against human trafficking, I proudly wore the words “NOT 4 SALE” on my arm. I’ve always been passionate about this issue, and after my trip to India with Bombay Teen Challenge, both the horrors and hope have become even more real to me. So here I am, championing this cause until I wake up this morning and stumble across a passage of scripture that makes me feel like a hypocrite.

“But you have lived as a prostitute with many lovers –
would you now return to me?” -Jeremiah 3:1

The words stung my heart this morning because they reminded me of an important truth I had allowed myself to forget. There I was with the words “NOT 4 SALE” tattooed across my arm while I was selling myself short of God’s best for me. Somewhere along the way, I had allowed myself to get caught up in the little things – the petty distractions of life – when all the while God has been standing by the wayside saying, “Hey Rebekah, I have something so much better waiting for you if you’d only take the time to notice.”

It’s amazing how easy it is to stray from God’s perfect will. Even more amazing how difficult it is to see that you’re slowly slipping away from Him. Like I said, it’s the little things that make the biggest difference. Once you allow your life to get so filled up with little things, there’s no room for the truly important things.

Yet all along, God stands by the wayside with open arms, begging us to return to Him. Loving us when we are undeserving. He opens Himself up and gives us the opportunity to bring Him joy… or to break His heart once again by turning our backs on His desperate plea.

Let me make this clear: You are not for sale, so stop selling yourself short. God has something amazing in store for you, so stop chasing fantasies and let Him restore you to His wonderful reality. He doesn’t care what you’ve done or where you’ve been; He misses His little girl. He is begging you to return to Him, but ultimately, the choice is yours. Will you retreat into the shadows or run into His open arms?

As for me, I choose life.

#6 – Life Like a River

I waded down the river of an Indian jungle. Took another unsure step. The rock beneath my foot shifted, causing me to stumble. A hand reached out to steady me. I smiled at Sunil – my friend and my guide. We walked hand-in-hand down the river. Occasionally, he would guide me to the other side, telling me it was safer to walk there. I trusted him. After all, he knew this river better than I did. All the way down and all the way back up, I didn’t fall once. Yes, there were a few times that I stumbled – even a time that I lost my shoe – but Sunil’s firm grip on my hand kept me upright.

When Sunil asked me to think about why God brought me to India and what purpose it would play in my life now, my mind drifted back to the river. That river, much like my life, is unpredictable. I never know if my next step is going to be steady, or if the rocks of life are going to slip out from underneath my feet. But life, much like that river, is so much easier to manage when you don’t have to walk it alone.

I think we lose so much of life’s adventure in the planning. I’m one of those people who loves to know what’s going to happen ahead of time. Taking a step into the unknown can be unnerving. When the water is deeper than we anticipated, it can be downright scary. But sort of like my Indian guide was there for me, God is there to hold our hand, to keep us from falling, and to guide us to safety.

I used to think I had my life all figured out, but I’ve come to a place where I have no idea what God is doing with my life right now. I can barely see the next step, let alone what’s going to happen a few weeks into the future. But for the first time in my life, I feel like it’s okay to not know. For now, I’ll just keep holding onto Jesus as I take an unsteady step into the river that is my life.

The Miracle Business

I met Mahek on her 17th birthday, but I never would have guessed she was that old; she was so thin and frail. Mahek was an AIDS victim, wasting away in an Indian children’s home. The doctors had given up hope. There was nothing that could be done for her. My eyes stung with tears as I joined the other children in a chorus “Happy Birthday,” for I knew this birthday would probably be her last.

But God… 

Today I received a Christmas letter from the ministry I visited in July. The first thing I saw was a picture of Mahek, face fuller and healthier than it was this summer. And there I read in her own words that God healed her of the disease I was certain would take her life within a year’s time.

Working at a mission’s organization, I hear miracle stories often. But this one was different. This one was personal. Because Mahek is more than a story; she’s I person I physically connected with. I saw her, I spoke to her, I touched her. I met this miracle.

Today Mahek is a reminder that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Today her life bears witness that Jesus is still in the miracle business. Today Mahek serves as an encouragement to those of you who are waiting for your own miracle.

I’ve been in that place of discouragement before. I’ve waited so long for an answer that I’ve forgotten what it is to hope. If you’re in that place today, I pray that Mahek will serve as an inspiration to you. May her story breathe hope into your heart, and may you believe in miracles once more.

Let the Redeemed of the Lord Say So

“Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, Whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy,”  –Psalm 107:2

I’ve been saying that I didn’t know the meaning of the word “redemption” until I went to India. When I told this to a certain friend, he asked me what the difference was between redemption here and there. After all, isn’t that what God does for all of us?

I saw his point. And yes, I agree that God’s redemption is the same all around the world, but it’s what we do with that redemption that matters.

I saw redemption in India. The stories of how God had saved them from darkness were something that was talked about all the time. It’s something they lived in constant awareness of. In India, I saw people who lived the command given in Psalm 107:2. The redeemed of the Lord talked of being redeemed. And that made all the difference.

I think most of us (myself included) tend to take that redemption for granted. We don’t talk about it. We don’t live every moment of our lives as if we are a changed people. We have so many distractions that keep us from focusing on the one thing that truly matters.

In India, I was void of that distraction. In India, I talked of redemption all the time. In India, I was free to enter into a spontaneous moment of worship with one of the boys and his guitar. Back here, I strive to clear my mind of the chaos. I try to live in that freedom I experienced at Ashagram because I do believe that it’s possible, and I do believe that it’s right.

So today I choose to live the command God has set before me. Today I choose to speak of redemption. Today I pray that my eyes would tell what my heart has experienced.

I know the meaning of the word “redemption”. Do you?

Life Like a River

I waded down the river of an Indian jungle. Took another unsure step. The rock beneath my foot shifted, causing me to stumble. A hand reached out to steady me. I smiled at Sunil – my friend and my guide. We walked hand-in-hand down the river. Occasionally, he would guide me to the other side, telling me it was safer to walk there. I trusted him. After all, he knew this river better than I did. All the way down and all the way back up, I didn’t fall once. Yes, there were a few times that I stumbled – even a time that I lost my shoe – but Sunil’s firm grip on my hand kept me upright.

When Sunil asked me to think about why God brought me to India and what purpose it would play in my life now, my mind drifted back to the river. That river, much like my life, is unpredictable. I never know if my next step is going to be steady, or if the rocks of life are going to slip out from underneath my feet. But life, much like that river, is so much easier to manage when you don’t have to walk it alone.

I think we lose so much of life’s adventure in the planning. I’m one of those people who loves to know what’s going to happen ahead of time. Taking a step into the unknown can be unnerving. When the water is deeper than we anticipated, it can be downright scary. But sort of like my Indian guide was there for me, God is there to hold our hand, to keep us from falling, and to guide us to safety.

I used to think I had my life all figured out, but I’ve come to a place where I have no idea what God is doing with my life right now. I can barely see the next step, let alone what’s going to happen a few weeks into the future. But for the first time in my life, I feel like it’s okay to not know. For now, I’ll just keep holding onto Jesus as I take an unsteady step into the river that is my life.

The Beauty of Redemption

I returned to the United States with India temporarily tattooed on my hand, but permanently ingrained on my heart.

Meeting up with my brothers in Mumbai was definitely a highlight of my trip, but the real miracle happened when our team left the city. After spending a few days amidst the poverty and pain of Mumbai, the lush, green haven called Ashagram washed over me. I sensed immediately what one of the former street boys confirmed only a few hours later: “This is a healing place.”

I know that it’s a healing place for those who were rescued from the darkness of the streets of Mumbai, but I also believe that each one of my team members experienced that healing in one way or another.

The term “beauty from ashes” has never meant so much to me. The hungry street boys I saw in Mumbai… I met them at Ashagram. Their eyes were aglow with the saving power of Jesus’ love. The prostitutes I saw lingering outside the brothels… I met them too. They smiled, they laughed, they praised the God who rescued them from darkness. And as I entered into a beautiful night of worship while a young man named Sunil played his guitar,  I discovered the true meaning of the word redemption. How was it possible that this extravagant worshiper could be the drug addict he claimed he once was?

Just when I was wondering if the hand of God was so clearly seen in my own life, one of the boys slipped me a note that read:

Do you know that you are my very close friend i ever have. Friendship is like love. and love never end. an love not take record of rong. you are love.

Though I wished I could have stayed much longer, I’m content to leave on that note. I figure that if that was the conclusion Santosh came to after my nine-day stay at Ashagram, I did what I went there to do. And I experienced the beauty of redemption in a way I never knew that I could.

Directed Steps

I should have been in India last year, but the trip fell through. Instead of walking the streets of Mumbai’s red light district, I was holding my breath, preparing to meet with a publisher to present my book for the very first time. Instead of sleeping in a home designed for women rescued out of the sex trade, I found myself rooming with a young woman with a calling to minister to women who don’t know that they’re beautiful. I knew that God had directed every step that led me to the She Speaks conference last year. And I knew that my meeting with Meagan was nothing short of divine.

I’m meeting up with her today, and we’re flying to India together. We’ll minister to the women in Mumbai’s red light district side by side. This is why God canceled my India trip last year. This is why He directed my steps to Concord, North Carolina. Meagan needed to go to Mumbai, and how would she get there if I didn’t invite her?

I find that God is constantly changing my plans, shaping my path, and sending me on journeys of which I had never dared to dream. Though going to India has been a longtime dream, God has expanded my vision. I’m not just going because Amy Carmichael’s story beckoned me to the mission field twelve years ago. I’m not just going because I fell in love with a ministry that pulls women and children out of the darkness of sex slavery. I’m not just going because I feel compelled to write a novel about a girl who goes through the red light district. I’m not just going because it’s an amazing ministry opportunity to serve alongside my divinely appointed roommate-for-a-weekend. I’m not just going because my older brothers are going to be able to meet me there. I’m going for all those reasons and more.

I would appreciate your prayers during this adventure. I know that I’m going to be stretched to my limits. I know that I’m going to see things that are hard to bear. I know that my heart is going to break. I need God’s strength. I need your prayers. This blog is going to be quiet for a couple weeks now, but I’ll see you when I get back from India, and boy, will I have a story to tell…