2016 End of Year Update
Saturday Night Cleanup Crew at Il Soggiorno (Photo courtesy of Val Edens)
I would like to share some of my story with you in this update.
Myth: When a person gives their life over to God and becomes involved in full time ministry, they somehow become a gifted writer and orator.
When I began full time ministry in 2013 I had plans to go to Rome, learn the language and culture and to spread the gospel through street discipleship. My mission agency at the time, wanted me to concentrate on language and culture until I was proficient in both. Reality proven to be much different. Some of you know and some of you my not know, I am dyslexic. I have struggled with my native language, English, all of my life and learning Italian proved to be a slow and difficult task. My inability to quickly learn Italian became a stumbling block in my relationship with my mission agency and their plans for me in Rome.
During this difficult time I sought direction and guidance from my Lord and Savior and through the Holy Spirit I was guided in directions where my gifts of faithfulness, perseverance, love, and compassion for human suffering could be used in service to the Father.
I learned the most important lesson of life. Trust and follow Jesus.
By the end of 2013 I had transitioned to International Teams and I was fully involved in ministry services to refugees and victims of human trafficking. I have evolved to where I am today by remaining faithful to God’s plan.
Where am I at today and where am I going tomorrow.
Since January of 2014 I have been serving with International Teams. ITeams worldwide commitment and the declaration…”Therefore, we choose to stand against the status quo. We choose to see the invisible, give a voice to the voiceless, create beauty from ashes, rediscover dignity, restore hope…” has opened up opportunities for me to serve both in Europe and in the US.
In Rome I serve at the Joel Nafuma Refugee Center and at Il Soggiorno. Both offer food, clothing, personal hygiene, rest, and daytime shelter to refugees. Opportunities to pray and study the Bible are also provided. Classes are offered to learn both Italian and English. And yes I have taken the Italian classes. I have formed many lasting and meaningful relationships at both of these centers.
I have also served with Schiavitù Mai Piu (Slavery No More) a cooperative group of missional organizations in Rome involved in street level outreach to those sexually exploited through human trafficking.
In the US I am primarily involved in anti human trafficking ministry. I have been actively serving through ITeams with two Atlanta based organizations Out of Darkness and The City of Refuge. Both organizations are dedicated to serving sexually exploited and trafficked women, children and men. Since June of 2014 I have been involved in street outreach, prayer teams, clothing drives, serving meals and rescues. The street outreach and rescues have been my primary focus.
It is difficult to relate to you impact this ministry has had on the lives of those I have encountered. The range of emotions is as broad as I have ever experienced. I am constantly reminding myself and those I serve with, that God does not measure our success, He measures our faithfulness. Sometimes everything goes smooth and you know what you’re doing is having an effect on those you are reaching out to. Other times nothing goes right and you are left to wonder why. The only constant is trusting that God is in control and praying that His will prevails.
The sensitivity to privacy of this ministry precludes providing details of any actual activities. There is one case in which I have been involved that has made the news in Atlanta, so I can share a link to the story without violating any privacy protocol. I rescued this young woman twice, on the first occasion she fled after we made a requested restroom stopped at a QT. On the second she was safely transported to a safe house. She was rescued a third time by Out of Darkness, before her final demise. You can read about her at http://www.wsbtv.com/news/2-investigates/from-cheerleader-to-addict-the-heroin-lifestyle-that-killed-a-mother-of-four/450662210
I don’t want to beat my own drum with statistics and numbers, but I will say this, I say yes whenever asked to go on a rescue. I have done rescues all over Georgia, and in Tennessee and Alabama. I have been on rush hour recuses, all night rescues and days with multiple rescues. Whenever asked I remember Matthew 25:40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.
Going forward I am scheduled to return to Europe for another three month term on January 17, 2017. When not in Europe I will continue my Atlanta and Middle Georgia ministry.
As I have said in the past, I am not in this alone, nor could I continue to do this alone. All of you that have supported me with prayers, love, and financial support are deeply embedded in the DNA of this ministry. I humbly request your continued partnership. If you are currently providing financial support please continue to allow me to serve on your behalf. If you have given in the past please consider giving again. If you have never given, please consider this ministry as part of your Christian giving.
I am not a gifted wordsmith, but I do hope that on some level I have related to you my passion for the oppressed and exploited.
With love and a grateful heart I wish all of you a Merry Christmas and best wishes in the New Year.