I had a chance to meet with an incredible group of women this summer, true dragon slayers in the trenches fighting on behalf of the most vulnerable and exploited in the world. We had inspiring times of prayer and were able to encourage one another as we went back to our respective underworlds.
As I ran to get one last hug from a new dear sister, she left me with a word…
“The battle you are waging is for joy. The enemy seeks to rob your joy. Don’t let that happen.”
I reflected on the previous few weeks and realized how true that was. We had seen some of the most profound breakthroughs but had allowed conflict to rob our joy. We were blessed beyond measure but allowing ourselves to be consumed by every threat of attack as if we had forgotten who we were and who lives in us.
The joy of the Lord is my strength…
“Remember who you are.” I cannot tell you how often I say those words. Encouraging my children, girls, staff and myself to never forget who we are or the authority and power given to us through the holy spirit who lives in us and works through us. Knowing that and rejoicing in that is our strength, a great source of power—but also a choice.
I choose Joy…
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I say, rejoice! 5 Let everyone see your gentleness. The Lord is near! 6 Do not be anxious about anything. Instead, in every situation, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, tell your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
8-9 Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse… Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.
–Phil. 4- (NET and the message)
“Life is a battle — and Joy is a kind of courage and a smile slays all kind of dragons. There are brave, defiant smiles. Grace holds and there ain’t a dragon that can fire-breath out this kind of Light.”
The day we prayed with Moi to receive Jesus as her Lord and savior, I was sitting at my table for lunch with a dear friend and I noticed on the patio an orchid that had sat dormant for more than a year, now with big buds on it. I was so excited I ran to take a look and show my guest as well.
“Can you believe it, in all my days I have never had the joy of seeing an orchid bloom for a second time—not under my care.”
These were big buds full of life and I couldn’t wait to see them open. Each time someone came to the house over the next few days I would make sure they saw the budding orchid. I was so excited!
When the buds finally opened I was beside myself, certain they were much more beautiful than ever before. As I sat in awe of this precious gift I felt God say to my spirit, “I did that for Moi. This is not for you, but for her.”
Oh, man really? You want me to take this piece of art to Moi’s shack? I wasn’t convinced it wouldn’t last or be appreciated. It would be like setting a Ruby ring on her finger to wear as she dug through the trash to rummage for food—so out of place. Beauty for ashes, I felt my spirit whisper.
To be honest it took me a few days to hike the plant up the hill to Moi, but I did finally make the trek. When I arrived it was as though she was waiting for me with a curious look on her face, but she continued to rant about this and that until I finally walked into her house, set the orchid on her rickety table and motioned for her to come in because I wanted to talk to her and give her something.
She ran in and looked at the flower and then ran back out shouting….”this is proof, this is proof that God speaks to me.” She went and grabbed a humble little houseplant she had planted into a disposable green planter she had found in the dump and now had hidden to keep it safe. She was so proud of it!
She told us the story of finding the pot and planting the plant but while caring for it, God told her to give it to her neighbor because He had something better for her. She doubted, wondered and waited. And then I came up the hill with this amazing flower…”God speaks to me, that’s the proof.”
I told her my story about the flower budding for the first time in years and how God had done that for her and then asked me to bring it to her as a symbol of the new life in her—a true beauty for all to behold. God does want us to give our treasures away so he can fill us with something better. Beauty for ashes. And like that orchid perched as a trophy on the rickety table, we too are to show beauty and light in the darkest and ugliest of places.
We prayed for Moi believing that God will use her to show His beauty to her neighbors and family. Yes we believe that when God said salvation would fall on Moi’s house it was for many more than her alone. We prayed for the God of peace to set her ranting heart at rest so that she could continue to hear His voice and follow it. She hugged herself as tears rolled down her cheeks and whispered, “I just can’t stop thinking about that flower and what it means.” May we never forget…
“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me,
Because the Lord has anointed Me
To preach good tidings to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,….
To give them beauty for ashes,….
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.” –Is. 61
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new –II Cor. 5:17
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also –Matt. 6:19-21
I was on my way to bed finishing up the book by H.A. Baker—Visions behind the Veil, when I began to pray for peace to rest without fear, having just read stories of hell and the lake of fire. As I prayed, I felt God show me the face of one of our moms and speak to me clearly, “Tomorrow is the day of salvation in Moi’s house.” I got up and wrote it in my agenda and prayed for Moi and her family.
The following day I got busy with my to-do list and as I stared at the memo on my list –“pray with Moi,” I began to reason. I was planning on working from Santiago and not heading into La Vega this day. I will be going tomorrow, perhaps I could pray with her then– gas is over $6 a gallon. As I reasoned away God’s word to me I felt him press me, “TODAY is the day of salvation in Moi’s house.”
I called Greici and told her of the call for the day…She knows me by now, doesn’t think I’m crazy anymore. I asked her to pray in preparation and be ready because I only had 1 hours and 20 minutes. I flew to La Vega and knocked on the door to the school calling for Greici. I dared not even enter the school, knowing I would be sucked in and never get to Moi’s house.
As Greici came out I noticed Moi sitting in the pathway, she made eye contact and motioned to us to come. “Hey, she called—I need to talk to you.” “Oh, good—I need to talk to you too”, I called back. When we arrived she began to tell about her need for water and wire to fix the power she had been three weeks without. I prayed a silent prayer, “Lord, give me an opening to share with her”. Before my prayer was even finished, Moi lifted her hands to the sky, closed her eyes and began to pray out loud. “Thank you God, Thank you God, Thank you God.” Tears were now streaming down her face and she continued in an intimate prayer sitting in the middle of the path. She concluded by saying, “OK, now I see, you sent them here to pray with me.” Greici and I just looked at each other in awe.
Moi, began to tell us a story of being stabbed when she was pregnant and while laying in bed in the hospital she saw death and it was near to her. Then some ladies came and sang over her and she felt death, in that moment, lost its grip on her and she was healed. As she finished her story she looked at me in the eye and asked, “He saved me that day, right?”
I looked her straight in the eye and replied, “On that day he saved your body, but today he wants to save your soul.” I told her how I couldn’t sleep the night before and how God had told me that today was the day of salvation in her house. She looked at me curiously and then Greici took off in a gospel presentation finally asking Moi if she wanted to pray to give her life to God asking Jesus to save her soul. “Oh, yes!” She cried “Oh, Yes—Yo quierro recibir el senor.” We entered into her house and prayed with her as she wept, we blessed her house, children and then stood in sweet silence until Moi opened her eyes and quietly proclaimed. “He Loves me, Oh how He loves Me. He really loves me!”
“Yes, He loves you! I love you too”, I said with a full kiss on her cheek. She grabbed her cheek in awe.
“You kissed me? I’m filthy and sweaty!” I know Moi, and that’s just me—imagine how much more your father in heaven loves you!
Remember in the bible when Jesus healed the sick and lame and they leaped with joy telling everyone they crossed paths with what Jesus had done for them?
“Jumping up, he stood and began to walk, and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God.”-Acts 3:8
In November that happened with one of our staff members, she prayed with a woman for two hours and came out leaping for joy and telling everyone she knew how she was free and healed. Those of us who spent our days with her knew it was true. She entered into that prayer room with a dark cloud of depression over her and came out beaming.
In January I had a chance to get to know the woman who prayed with her. She captivated me with her stories of God’s power and restoring grace. I was filled with a hunger for more so I begged her to mentor me and train my leadership team. In July we received a visa for Greici and the three of us (Delia, Greici and myself) flew to Florida to receive an intense private training in prayer counseling.
We worked 8-10 hour days to learn how to provide prayer counseling and internal healing for our girls and community. We received healing ourselves and are forever changed!
I promised that her time would not be spent in vain and that we would use EVERY minute she and her team invested in us, and would continue to study in order to grow stronger. We have kept our word and each and every day have had the honor of bearing witness to the healing power of the holy spirit in our girls, staff and community.
We were able to travel from our special time in Florida to a conference in Costa Rica where we learned from hundreds of other women working in the trenches. They represented 14 countries. Each and every one had Dominicans in their care and many spoke specifically of La Vega. Our eyes were opened even more to the great need to fight, pray and network on behalf of these victims. In our time with these fellow warriors we also learned that most were using prayer counseling as part of their aftercare and we were able to continue to go even deeper with our training that had begun in Florida.
We were overwhelmed with God’s care, provision and love. We were treated like princesses and showered with blessings. To those of you who shared in prayer preparations, meals, transportation, hosting and housing, shopping, loving us hands on or from the background—
Those of you who only know me as a presenter in the states might think I cry through my days…but I don’t. God has carried me through many very difficult things, sad and heavy circumstances, horrific cases of abuse and despair I never imagined I would encounter without so much as sheading a tear. That’s why when the lady fixing my hair yesterday asked what was wrong and I had to close my eyes to hold the tears back, I knew I was stressed.
She didn’t ask me again what was troubling me after she saw the tears, instead she took off into a speech of encouragement…
“Worry, (pre-occupation literally translated from Spanish) is just that. Worrying before the problem. Occupying yourself with something that might happen but hasn’t yet. You, my friend are a child of God. You don’t have the right to worry. You don’t get to carry your burden. That’s pride and ego.
You Must trust, rest, obey, abide…that’s what you are called to do.
Worry is not part of your job description and you don’t have time for it. It’s sin so repent and step back into the arms of your God. Rest Mija (daughter), God’s got this!”
But things got worse as the day progressed and by nighttime I could barely hang on. This was more than emotion, I was in terrible pain. I took some meds and tried to sleep but I got no relief from the intense neck pain. I cried as pain gripped me with the intensity of childbirth. When I got into a position I could finally lay still, I was determined to trust, rest, obey, abide. In an act of worship I played over and over the song Oceans (Where feet may fail) by Hillsong United and quoted the Psalms.
The hardest battles are fought here, in the night. In the deep quiet places when our souls cry for attention.
“When you speak to the soul, it naturally turns to prayer
because in the soul God is always present.”
I know in my soul this is war and I cry for “The spirit to lead me where my trust is without borders… to let me walk upon the waters wherever he may call me. To take me deeper than my feet could ever wander and my faith will made stronger in the presence of my savior”
For those of you who enter into intercession on behalf of New Hope Girls and it’s staff
THANK YOU for struggling with us.
Paul pleaded for “prayer helpers” everywhere. He begged the Romans, “I urge you, brothers and sisters, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me; that I may be delivered” (Romans 15:30-31). And he asked the Thessalonians, “Brothers and sisters, pray for us” (1 Thessalonians 5:25).
–“struggle with me as a partner in prayer; wrestle for me in prayer.” Paul was not asking for a quick mention to the throne. He was pleading, “Fight for me in prayer. Do spiritual battle, both for my sake and the sake of the gospel.”
THANK YOU FOR STRUGGLING WITH US!
Feeling emotional today. Super tired, sure that has something to do with it. Feeling so grateful. So in awe of my God. I was with Eneroliza all night helping her give birth. What an honor to be part of a miracle in the rawest moments of a woman’s life…
There were moments when she would cry out and think she was going to die…they all do that. That’s when I know they are close. When they are sure they cannot go on, they can face no more. When their body begins to shake without control…that’s a sign that we are in transition and the baby will be here soon.
I whisper to her—“Every pain brings your baby. Stay centered. Trust that you will not die. But instead you will bring forth a new life. You are strong enough. Your strength comes from the Lord. Don’t focus on the pain…focus on your breath. Breath. Breath in and out.”
When you’re at the end of yourself…and breathing takes all that is within you. That is the darkest moment before the birth–just breath.
She finds rest and closes her eyes and breaths. We rock and hummm and breath in and out, the waves of fear roll out to sea and the her strength comes in the moment she needs it most as her entire being focuses on only one thing…pushing that baby out.
There is deep mystery in childbirth. No amount of study or science can take away from the awe of a new life entering in—breaking through. First breath. Full of hope.
What an analogy for our faith walk….
We have experienced transitions like this
Anxiety, Panic, Despair
We have felt labor pains like this…
Pain that takes you to the end of yourself
Leaving you shaking like a limb in a hurricane
unable to breath
WE ALSO KNOW
Rest and strength in the middle of a bloody mess
New life entering in
Full of Hope
The tough things in life teach us, train us and tenderize us. They make us wiser and more equipped to love others like they really need to be loved—with empathy and honesty.
When we’re most acquainted with our needs, we are most drawn to God’s provision. When we feel our tears, we can better feel the pain of others.
–excerpts from A Holy Experience
When you are in the darkest of valleys the smallest flickers of light refresh the soul!
Most days we walk into the girl’s house faced with a wall of drama. Some days we can hardly bear it and dread opening the door. We spend hours counseling girls about behavior and heart and much of that time is often spent trying to discern the truth.
It seems for many of our girls a lie seems safer than the truth. They are afraid of telling their truth and therefore often the consequence I use is requiring them to say out loud the truth and confess it to another as they “practice telling the truth.” I have a couple girls who have lived with us since the beginning and we are STILL working on telling the truth.
Well, Monday we had a breakthrough. We sat with the girls to speak with them about their mischievous behavior over the weekend in the house and Lupe told the truth….all the things she had done and participated in. All of them. Out loud. While I was sorry she had done all those things I was so proud of her for telling the truth.
Light broke through. A victory!
The following day, met with new drama, we were talking with a different group of girls and all clues pointed to Lupe as the offender. She denied, but I didn’t believe her. Then Marie saved Lupe but telling the truth. She confessed. Out loud. To another. While we were sorry for what she had done, we cheered “you told the truth!” “For the first time,” she said.
Light broke through. A victory!
Lord we trust your word that the truth will set us free. We KNOW this is an important victory toward the freedom of these girls. Give us the strength to pray, love and support them on their journey.
Yea, though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death…I will fear no evil for thou art with us.
Thank you for bringing us out of darkness and into your marvelous light!
“And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:32
It was that kind of day, when you wake up on the wrong side of the bed for no good reason in a wicked mood. Walking up the hill toward the school–the sound of the girls squeals irritated me instead of making me feel loved and appreciated. I walked in, sat down in the rocking chair and picked up the daily devotional book to begin our normal morning routine when I heard a little voice call out, “I want to pray.”
“Perfect! I replied…because I’m in a terrible mood and I might be forced to eat you for lunch if someone doesn’t pray for me!” She began to pray for me, the other staff and each girl. As she finished another voice called out asking to pray, then another and another…. The atmosphere was transformed. I was transformed. Then they broke out in song. I closed my eyes in worship with them letting the spirit lead me to the next girl that would choose a song. We could have gone on forever, but decided to dedicate some of our day to “school,” –but now I was ready to face the day.
–as told by Greici
Our recent observation has been that our girls don’t need more information about God, but more Experiences with God….
We are thankful that as we are sensitive to the Spirit we are being led into prayer and worship with our girls growing and experiencing God with them…
Friday during class the girls began to get restless and even lay on the floor, so Annie suggested a worship song. They entered with ease into worship and then laid hands on one another in a time of ministry and prayer. God is doing a mighty work in our little school/ house and it is amazing to see the body of Christ grow and mature before our very eyes as we Experience God Together. –Annie
When I taught second and third grade I would often begin the year with an, “all about me” project. Students would reflect on their likes and dislikes and create some type of presentation based on themselves.
I began this year, 2014 ALL about Me. I reflected on all the pressure, exhaustion, stress, and all the races with no finish lines I had signed up to run. I was feeling so sorry for myself, I was even pulling my friends into my All about ME project. What a miserable start to a new year. So I’m taking a re-do and asking those closest to me for forgiveness.
Instead of focusing on me…I choose to focus on thee.
Instead of putting my head down and trudging ahead …I choose to keep my head up allowing You to light the path for my next step.
Instead of reflecting on all that is hard and wrong and messed up…I choose to think on all that is pure and right and praise worthy.
Instead of reflecting me…I choose to reflect Your light from within.
I choose love, I choose Joy, I choose peace, I choose self control, I choose kindness and tenderness….
I CHOOSE YOU LORD!
2014—It’s ALL about YOU
2013 was year of great blessing, hard lessons, intense intercession, relationship building, healing and breakthrough. We are deeply grateful for your loving support of Nueva Esperanza-New Hope Girls,Inc. We cherish your prayers, sponsorships and friendships.
We began the year with a fast inspired by Jen Hatmaker’s book 7. We lived on 40pesos or $1.25 a day for the month. We discovered on many levels how fortunate we are and were inspired to take a step of faith in feeding ALL our girls breakfast and lunch before the finances were raised…God provided for our girls!
In February our staff began a year long commitment to become certified Montessori teachers with full scholarships!
Joy traveled to the states in partnership with Dare for More ministries and Mercy Jewelry as they inspired women to Dare for More in their spiritual walk believing in His Amazing Grace as they answer the call to be His hands and feet. Dare for More has become New Hope’s biggest vendor of bags and we are so grateful for their faithful support of our ladies in the workshop!
After literally years of praying for consistent house help in our safe house…God began to grow our staff and provide us with women who have a heart for prayer and love for our girls.
We studied together Mark Batterson’s book, The circle Maker and then culminated with a 21 day fast drawing some prayer circles of our own. There is no greater uniting force that prayer and we were blessed to see God’s hand at work.
We lost a dear friend Megan Garven in an accident. Inspired by a challenge created by her parents, we took 25 girls to Sweet Frog (her favorite) in honor of her 25th birthday!
This summer our girls were able to attend their first overnight camp provided by Grace Church in Sarasota, FL. What a thrill for us all! They planned, prepared and staffed the entire week and it was dream come true for all involved…And while the girls were at camp some talented guys were building us a new kitchen!
Most of you now know the miracle story of Amanda Metzler, former second grade teacher to my son Isaac, joining our New Hope team. I’m certain it has been perhaps her most challenging assignment yet, but she has brought with her New Hope for our academy and our girls are beginning to truly learn English from a loving life role model in her own little classroom rented next store which we refer to as, “Casa Amanda.”
Hope Aglow made more beds for more girls so we could fill our safe house to full capacity and added beds for visitors in “Casa Amanda”.
God sent us another co-laborer, Gail Leroy. She formerly worked with Compassion Intl. helping with their sponsorships and now she will be managing all of our DR sponsorship correspondence. I can’t think of a better fit to meet this need. She walks alongside, supports and encourages –She is a true blessing to our staff.
The ladies in the workshop received some much needed storage space, introduced a new product line of laptop bags and our prayers for industrial machines were filled bringing us one step closer to our dream of launching a leather line of bags and accessories! We have joined with Opportunities and Hope Aglow who now sell our bags in the states and we look forward to growing opportunities for more women in our community to work with dignity.
We ended our year with a PJ party full of special food, new PJs and backpacks. So much fun!