What compels you to be alive? 

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Does anyone else feel like 2018 is moving really quickly?

This year has movement on it, you can feel God breathing a new wind through it.

There is something new that he is doing. I continue to feel the Lord say it is time to step out and step in. I shared this in a past blog post. This is the year to step out of everything that has held you back for too long. It is time to confidently step into what God is calling you towards.

Compel. This is a word that God has placed on my heart, a word that seems to play on repeat through the most recent days.

What compels you to be alive? 

….

What compels you to get out of bed everyday? What compels you to stand up for, or fight against? What compels you to be alive?

I pray this is a year that we will be so compelled into God’s heart, and his calling upon our lives, as we embark on new assignments  and journeys, ones that we might have NEVER expected. It’s the new thing he is doing within us! But he needs our action and our yes, he needs our trust and obedience, he needs us to step into what he has waiting for us on the other side. Trading it in for something much better.

Would this be a year of new things, surprises, trust, and faith that walks blindly after his heart, trusting him every step into the unknown. I am praying for all of you that 2018 will be one of your best years yet. I feel like this year especially God is looking for the ones who will walk by faith! Who trust EVERYTHING in his the palms of his great and wonderful hands. He is looking for those souls who are compelled to chase after his heart with every fiber of our beings. This would be a year to leave every fear, doubt, and insecurities in the past and JUMP into what he has, no looking back, just walking confidently into the future he has promised us not by sight but through faith.

” I will walk by faith even when I cannot see.” 2 Corinthians 5:7

So, what is God compelling you towards? Take the jump, take the leap of faith!

You are all loved, have a great weekend 🙂

Dev!

here i will be, until he calls me to go

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It has been two months, since I have called this place my new home.

New York City

and until the Lord calls me out, or to go , here I will be, here I will stay.

I trust him, even when I didn’t want to,

getting to this exact point wasn’t easy.

From red dirt roads, to shining lights and busy streets, this is where I will be.

I too had to learn again to let go and trust him, even when it was really hard.

I remember saying “goodbye” to the kids until I returned a few months later, and will always go to and from Africa, but in that moment, on my end it was the closing of my year living in Africa. A significant and sobering moment for me. 

Holding myself together as the kids each wanted to roll my luggage and throw it into the back of the van. Climbing in asking if they could come with me to America. Holding onto my hands, wrapped themselves around me, goodbye. Looking into their little eyes, sparkling with life and joy, radiating light. Hearing their little voices say “Auntie Devon, when do you come back?” 

As hard and devastating moment that was, I saw a glimpse of why God even called me to this nation years ago. The prayers I prayed as a young child, each standing before me, a name, a face, a story, a salvation, a future. A nation changed stood before me in the form of young faces and bright eyes with hopes to become something they once never imagined. 

The faces of tomorrow, the dreamers, silence breakers, world changers. There they stood. God’s children who were once lost, and now found, there they stood. Healed and transformed through his love.

I caught a glimpse of this purposeful life I speak about, seeing a small bit of the fruit of a year loving on children who became my own when there was nothing I could offer but love, and knew that if this is all God had called me here to do, I was amazed, but I know there is more, a lot more! 

Being strong for them, waving to their little faces until the car drove up the hill and turned on the main road, I started sobbing the whole ride to the airport with my face cupped in between my hands. Gazing out the window to see the sun rise and give the orange dirt roads a golden glow, the very dirt roads that felt like home the first time I stepped foot on them 7 years ago. My heart was breaking, it felt like it was being ripped out and torn apart, telling myself this, God I trust you.

God I trust you.

I trust you.

I trust you with my life, even when it doesn’t make sense to me.

Trust you into the unknown.

I’d like to think I had a back and forth with God about this. I wanted to hold onto each and every memory and moment. Wanting them to last forever, which they will, but he needed me elsewhere and I needed to be obedient to what he was calling me, because there is NO place I would rather be than the center of his will for my life. That doesn’t mean easy, or it doesn’t make sense sometimes on paper, but if God calls, he needs our action, he needs our movement. He needs our yes.

So here we go,

Moving, again.

I went to Africa with this mindset. I will be here as long as the Lord needs me. It could be a month, it could be 2 years. Either way I am here until he gives me a clear signal that it is time to go home, until he sends me out again.

That sign, it came in July.

For months I prayed, and waited, waited upon the Lord wondering when he would answer this question. I felt overwhelmed, and didn’t want to figure it out on my own. I didn’t want to make a decision in my own strength. I wanted this to be clearly of the Lord.

I was in Kenya in July, that was a hearing trip for me. I heard clearly from the Lord it was time to now go back to New York City. This was confirmed by many others.

I struggled at first because I wanted to hold onto my time in Ghana, but I felt the grace that he had given me for this part of my life was lifting, it wasn’t as “easy” as it once was. I felt myself getting annoying sitting in hours of traffic just to get a simple task done, I found myself not being able to deal with the lack of power and constant humidity, when there were months I didn’t even think about it or seem to mind it. I started to get frustrated that I couldn’t just pick up the phone and hear my parents voices when I felt I needed to. These things that God had given me grace to was starting to lift. What that means is he is starting to shake you out of where you have been because he is bringing you somewhere brand new.

Somewhere different. I look back on those days, the most joyful and challenging days of my life. I know that was not something I did in my own strength, that was all his grace that was made perfect in all my weaknesses.

Grace is simply this, a simple person doing what they could never do through God’s strength. This is what it all comes down too. Grace.

So then what?

I bought my plane ticket and started to prepare for my last few weeks living there. This isn’t something I have closed the door on, in my eyes this is a season, a chapter that the most perfect author has written, God needed me there in that exact time frame for a reason, he was preparing me for where he has placed me now, and until he calls me to go or move, here I will be, waiting and trusting his ways are higher than mine.

I had different things presented to me but I felt strongly that New York City was where God was calling me. That is all I knew and I trusted him.

There was a time where I really reconsidered not coming back, and staying there. My love for the nation and children hasn’t left, the calling is still there, but I want to share with you a little secret, you can be called to Africa, and that calling doesn’t mean you have to drop everything and move there forever and ever and ever( and if you do that is wonderful too)  you can be called to Africa and never even step foot there, but God has placed a burden so strongly on your heart where even your prayers are changing nations and people’s lives.

Callings look so different. Don’t think you can’t be called somewhere if you don’t permanently move there. I think of people like Katie Davis, who is called to Africa, I think of my dad who has never lived there but has a strong calling placed upon on his life with a heart and burden for orphans in Africa. I’ve learned that those burdens and hearts are the fathers, he gives us his heart for what breaks his, and he will give you a heart and burden for what he needs you to do, because if you weren’t moved, you probably wouldn’t care, and not caring is not doing or taking action! So God calls to different nations and cities and places, because his light needs to shine in the darkness! He needs to reach everyone, so we all have a heart for what he has given us! It is a blessing 🙂

So, I really had to trust him with what he was calling me back to. I needed a heart for this new place, this new city, I needed a heart because I know He is always going to use you wherever he sends you.

Last year, I was in the city, and said to the Lord, “God if I never get to live here, its okay, I surrender even this dream to you.”

Here I am, a year later, and NYC is my new home, I love following his steps, he never gives us the full picture, but he calls us, and he wants us to step out, again and again and again.

I think about all that God has done in my first 2 months in the city, and I think about how I would have missed out if I choose in my own strength to stay. I know God is growing and expanding this to change even more lives both in America and Africa and beyond for his glory.

So right now, on this day, he needs me here in NYC for such a time as this. There is a lot that I will be praying about to share with you!

If God is calling you and he only gives you a little bit, take it and trust him for the rest. I love how grand things can only start with small steps of trust and obedience. Big things never start with big things, they start with small steps and complete trust in who is directing their steps!

Obeying his will and knowing our father has the best for us in mind, better than we can imagine, even when we aren’t sure. It is easy for us to doubt but when God says go, we go in his name! Because when we know who our father is, we trust him with our lives.

“See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.”

Isaiah 43:19

 

Have a wonderful weekend

you are all loved,

Dev

 

 

will you join me?

A new year, another year of surprises of all that it’ll bring.

It’s a humbling and sobering moment to think and reflect on how far the Lord has brought us this far.

I’m deciding to be intentional about this one thing for this year, and I challenge and encourage you to join me.

Will you join me in completely surrendering everything that you planned or expected this year to be and all that it will bring at the feet of Jesus.

Will you lay every hope, dream, worry, concern to him. Giving it over to the author of creation , the lover of our souls, the king of all kings. The one whom our souls yearn for. Lay each desire unto him, and say have your way in me. Have your way in my life. Have your way in my job, my finances, my dreams, expectations have your way in my family, have your way in my life!

I’m deciding to trade it all in for what HE has in store for me! I’m trading in dreams that are limited to a limitless God. I’m trading it in to a God who cannot be outdone. I’m trading it in believing that he will expand, multiple, increase and breath life into every aspect.

I’m giving him everything. I have counted the cost, this isn’t something I do lightly. But the more in love I fall with Jesus the easier it gets to surrender it all to the one who gave me it all.

It’s gets easier to give and lay my life down at the feet of my savior who gave me this very life that I have.

He gave me what I didn’t deserve. I deserve to pay for the sins, my wrongdoings, the consequences of my action is death. The wages of sin is death, rather we have life that is offered to us, by the one who died just to know us, to set us free, to break chains and set captives free. And heaven isn’t just opened but now heaven come come to earth through us. Let heaven come down through us and how we will be used.

Free in Christ. I’m declaring that this is a year of freedom, freedom that we know we will be cataylysts to be used to unlock freedom in others lives in the mighty name of Jesus.

Who is bold enough to give up everything and lay it down at the feet of Jesus and say have your way! I’m trading it all in for something even greater than I can even imagine.

I’m trading it all in just to know you even deeper because Jesus you are that beautiful. And even if my life is just is to know you that is worth giving up everything.

I have lived with access to a lot, and I have lived with the bare minimum and I can tell you none of that matters as long as I have my Jesus.

Will you dare to surrender everything to the one who gave you everything. Watch what the Lord will do when you submit yourself unto him and say Lord here I am! Use me, take this little life of me and do the extraordinary with someone as ordinary as me! You alone are worth all my praise and adoration.

Who but God can change a nation in a day? Who but God can spilt the sea?

Who but God can melt a mountain like wax before him?

Who but God can save this world?

Who but God sits on the throne of heaven and earth and sees each one of us, and has the numbers of hairs on our heads numbered?

Who breathed this world into existence but God?

When we have this full revelation and we decide to be radical about our salvation and faith, we grow to be bolder and trust the life we have into the one who gave us life. When we trust our father we trust our lives in his hands because he is worthy!

I attended a conference in DC this weekend and I am leaving now on a train back to New York. Taking each moment in, soaking in each word that was spoken and pray it continues to echo inside my soul.

This morning as the sessions were wrapping up I sat next to a young man who didn’t have arms. I watched him praise God, there I stood near him with two arms lifted high praising my God. And it hit me, we have been GIVEN life, to praise Jesus! And this isn’t new, but it hit home, on a deep and real way. It is so real to me, and I pray it deepens all the days of my life.

With all that we are, and some times we take it for granted, we become complacent or ungrateful. Here is a young man praising God in a way that was so beautiful and touched me. It hit me that I never want take for granted everything the Lord has given me, even as something we don’t think about, like our arms. To praise him with all that we are, for all of our days. To him the glory. I think about the people being persecuted for their faith. They are giving up everything just to know him. That is how real and beautiful Jesus is. That these people lay down their lives just to know him. I think about them meeting in secret, hiding their faith, just to know him. And we have the chance to worship and praise Jesus in freedom, this is a privilege and honor that I never want to take for granted.

I encourage you to spend time in his word, in prayer, invite the Holy Spirit to do life with you, to help guide you and give you wisdom in all areas of life. Seek Jesus in all that you do and you’ll find him. Everything will start to pale in comparison to how beautiful he is. This world and what is offers and throws your way will fade away. Once you look into his eyes, know your worth, know your savior everything changes. You’ll never want to do life apart from abiding in him. Your desires and dreams will change and you will be used to glorify the Lord Almighty, so when people see you they see Jesus, they are drawn to his love inside of you and we get to be his hands and feet in this life. To praise him with all that we are and lead others by love we know through Christ to set captives free.

We are each flaming arrows in the hands of the Lord and we shouldn’t be concerned about where we will end up because we can’t imagine! We are just along this journey with God saying take me father, take me deeper, I’m available and I want to be used for your glory. We can’t even compare our small dreams or hopes to what we will do with our lives when we say yes! All we know is what we will do when we land and that is to light fires for Jesus wherever he sends us. To carry the gospel and share the love with people around us, whether it’s India or Washington DC in the capital building. We are carriers of the gospel and we desire to spend our lives for the one who gave it all for us!!!

I am so excited to continue to surrender it all and watch and see what God does best with our lives! Even more so than we could ask, seek or imagine! To him be the glory both now and forever more.

So will you join me in the greatest adventure of life…knowing Jesus!

You are all loved!!

Devon

a burden for the nations

I have felt a burden placed on my heart and in my spirit over the past few months for the nations. For the forgotten people groups around the world. The people groups that are being sold into slavery today in our modern word, the groups that are being innocently massacred by evil and unjust people. I feel the desire to just go. I know this might not be the right time, I trust my God. I will stand in the gap and pray for them. I might not see them with my physical eyes, but my God does. He sees his children, in every nation, in every tribe, who speak every tongue. He is close to the broken-hearted. I don’t know what the Lord is calling you to. I don’t know what God is stirring up within your heart. Maybe it is the modern-day slave trade in Libya, maybe it is the refugees in Syria, or South Sudan. Maybe it is the millions of people who go hungry everyday. Maybe it is the Rohingya people group that are getting innocently massacred in Myanmar that have to flee as unwanted refugees to other nations. I don’t know if this something you even care about. I believe that many people do, because God is calling them to.

” Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God.” Psalm 62:6-7

Today was one of those days where you just want to go. You know you can’t so you pray. You pray without even having words to phrase what the spirit is moving you too. I prayed with such a burden for these forgotten people groups. We might not see them, but God does, we might not hear their cries, but he hears them, he sees them and one day he will bring justice to them. I believe that we are moving into a new year where God is pouring out a desire and heart for the nations for his people. Whether he calls us to go or stand in the gaps praying for the rights and salvation, and freedoms. I believe that people are having “new things” placed within their hearts. These desires, and dreams are being unleashed from heaven. We are being called to the nations, to pray for the nations. To be aware of what is happening to our brothers and sisters around the world. You might not think your prayers matter, you may not think praying for people you haven’t seen or met will make a difference, but it does. Your prayers have power and your prayers can change nations! So pray if you feel this burden, don’t underestimate the power of prayer that God has given us. If God has laid a nation in particular or almost highlighted it to you, pray for that nation. If God has done that with a certain people group, pray for that very people group. We have the honor to come before the throne of Heaven and lay down what  the Lord has placed on our hearts, even if it is nations, that are oceans away. There is no distance in the spirit, we can pray and stand besides these people and say no more. We can pray that the enemy be removed from these places because Jesus has died for the nations. He has already won for the nations, it is already done, so can we pray with this in mind. That is already done and we have the victory.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

As I prayed with this burden for the suffering and forgotten in the nations not knowing if God is calling me to go, or just to stand in the gap and say I see them too. I feel the father’s heart for his children even though if I am not physically with them. As I prayed I was led to read Psalm 10. This Psalm almost explains how I was feeling and what is happening to these innocent people around the world.

Psalm 10 17-18

“You, Lord, hear the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry, defending the fatherless and the oppressed, so that merely earthly mortals will never strike terror.”

If you feel this way, or just want to say I may not see, but I am committing to pray alongside my brothers and sisters around the world because I believe God’s love is the same for all. I believe this breaks our fathers heart and this is not what he wants. I am committing to set aside time to remember and pray these forgotten people groups. Thank you for allowing me to be open with you, I really appreciate it and am praying this post inspires just one heart to have a desire to pray for the nations, to stand in the gaps and to speak justice, light and freedom into the darkest, most dangerous places in the world, knowing that our prayers are heard and will be answered even if we do not know in this lifetime. One day we will, and we will have the honor of knowing that God called us to be apart of that. If you liked this blog post and want to read a similar one click here.

“The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Those who know your name trust in you; for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.” Psalm 9:9

purpose, identity and new realizations

“The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me.” Psalms 138:8

 

It has been a crazy, beautiful, exciting past 6 months to say the least. ( Can anyone else relate!? ) Side note: how are we so close to 2018! Has this year not flown by way too fast! I’m hoping to write another blog about what I learned in 2017, like I did with 2016.

I have flown on more flights than I would like to count (or hours slept/not slept on those flights 😉 drove more hours than I can remember, but met countless individuals from around the world whose stories I will never forget. Stories that I will treasure forever. 

Somewhere in these past 6 months God has done a new work inside me, showing himself in ways more profound than I have ever seen before. Seeing his hand move across the world to reach all of his creation, all of his precious children. There is no-one too far or low in the eyes of God that he will not reach.

There are many things that He has brought to my attention and almost highlighted to me, laying new burdens upon my heart. He never ceases to stop expanding it as I continue this journey with Him. Even when it doesn’t seem humanly possible that He could expand it, He does, and it humbles me each time. Through it all I came to this, and I know I already “knew” this but this never will get old, you never stop understanding this, it actually becomes more beautiful as we mature in our journeys with God, loving and emulating Christ and pursuing His will even when it looks crazy, or uncertain.

The same Jesus that we worship and love, the same blood that was shed for each of us, was shed for all of humanity. Think about that. One blood covers all of humanity. It does not pick and choose, it does not leave out, or forget. It covers each one of us. One blood for one people, that’s us, all of us.

This is so simple yet profound to not just hear or read it, but to have the chance to travel places you’d never imagine, seeing people groups you’d never heard about. And seeing these people for who God created them to be. To experience a small part of their reality, as some are “forgotten” people groups, outcasts, mistreated or left to fend for themselves. To see these people with a new heart that God has, and how our hearts starts to break for what breaks His. It’s not His will for his children to live like this, and it grieves him, the same way it grieved and broke my heart in ways I cannot even explain. And to know that Christ died for each one of them, that he covered them with his blood to have eternal life is a humbling, simple and a profound realization coming face to face with this reality.

We are all one, we all struggle and love, we all struggle to love. We make mistakes, we get impatient or jealous. We get insecure, we want what we don’t have, we are too harsh on ourselves, we choose to base worth on things that don’t matter, we all have the potential to hope and dream, we all can become something great. We all have the ability to fear, and overcome that fear. We all fail. We are all created with purpose.

Purpose in identity that Christ gives us when he died on the cross for all of humanity. I think one of the biggest things that people today struggle with is identity. They don’t know who they are, but they want to. So they try things, they spend their lives trying to figure out. When they never had to “try” in the first place.

“Who am I”, “What is my worth” “Why am I here.” 

I am excited to write another post and share how I struggled with these same questions. I wouldn’t want anyone reading this to think that I never thought this either.

The root of this issue is identity. Once we know who we are IN CHRIST, everything changes. Everything changes!

Each one of us is created with divine purpose. We aren’t just on earth right now, for such a time as this, on this very day to try to find in our own strength what the purpose is. We have it because HE gave it to us. Christ died for us out of selfless love, and because he knows we each have value. There was a price and he paid it, ask yourself, if there was no value or purpose on my life then why did God send his only son to pay such a large price? Why? Because we HAVE value and purpose, and because he loves us so much, he gives us identity in him.

Sometimes it takes jumping out of your comfort zone, loving others, using the gifts God gave you for His good to figure it out. It takes spending time in his word and reading His will for our lives. It is about spending time with the creator and lover of our soul.

I am looking forward to really sharing personal stories from my past trips to Zambia, Ukraine and Kenya and even trips I have taken here in the US. I have so much to share so you think it would be easy, but sometimes the things we feel the most are the hardest to put into words. Because even the words we try to use don’t seem adequate. There are so many things I look forward to writing about and sharing!

Is there any suggestions you have, anything you want me to focus on in particular? Any trip or experience you would like to hear about! Please comment or email me, I really would appreciate it.

You are ALL Loved,

you all have purpose, value and identity in Christ,

Dev

 

 

Desiree’s experience in Kyrgyzstan

Earlier this summer I shared this post and spoke about one of my best friends returning to her first home, many years later. Kyrgyzstan. I felt it was really important to have an open conversation with Desiree and post it on my blog so others, where ever you are reading from can learn about her experience in a part of the world that I personally feel we don’t hear or see much about. I also feel this is such an important example to our generation that we can make a difference, and our voice matters wherever we go and speak life into others. I hope you enjoy as Desiree shares her heart with us…

Can you explain what brought you to Kyrgyzstan and why this was such a meaningful trip for you?

This summer I was given the opportunity to intern with a non-profit called Search For Common Ground in Kyrgyzstan. I was assigned to work on a Youth Leadership program funded by the UN for the youth in Kyrgyzstan.

However, this trip was much more than an internship opportunity. I grew up in Kyrgyzstan as a missionary kid for seven years; my entire childhood was rooted in this beautiful country. I went to Russian school and for a long time would tell people I was from Kyrgyzstan. I was heartbroken when my family left the country to move back to the US. For many years I prayed to God that I would be able to return and visit my old friends. This summer God made this dream a reality and opened the doors for me to go back.

This trip was so meaningful to me because it reminded me how God listens to our prayers and everything works out in His timing. I think if I had gone back to visit when I was younger I wouldn’t have appreciated it as much and I wouldn’t be able to understand the issues in the country as much as I do now. It was also amazing to see the families that my parents shared the gospel to and how drastic their lives have been transformed by God’s love in Jesus Christ. I got to see the fruits of many missionaries’ labor. Sometimes when we pour love into communities we don’t always see the results right away, but 12 years later I got to see the impact of the Gospel in Kyrgyzstan.

 

Can you describe some of the current events going on and how it has changed since you have been there?

I lived in Kyrgyzstan 7 years after the Soviet Union Collapsed in 1991. Kyrgyzstan was in a huge economic crisis and many people were depressed because there was so much instability and lack of jobs. Every person you met In Kyrgyzstan had a very hard life with almost everyone with broken families and living in poverty. When I lived in the capital, Bishkek, there were no malls, grocery stores or many restaurants. My mom had to cook everything from scratch and even pasteurize our milk because nothing was premade. Kyrgyzstan was also very spiritually dry. The Soviet Union had taken away religion and so many Russians were atheist. The Kyrgyz would say they were Muslim out of tradition but were mostly nominal Muslims.

 Going back 12 years later, Kyrgyzstan has changed drastically. Bishkek has 5 huge malls, restaurants all over the city, fast food chains and almost anything you would want from the US. Turkey has invested a lot of money in Kyrgyzstan to make it a stronger Muslim country. When I lived in Kyrgyzstan there only a few Mosques, now there are over 2,000 mosques in the country. Kyrgyzstan is still a secular state so religion, law and state are separate but strong religious influence is coming from other countries and local Muslim groups. When I walked around the city I saw so many women covering their heads with the hijab, I rarely saw this as a child.

How was your expectation vs the reality once you got there?

I kind of expected my experience to be a lot harder and difficult then it was. I was so worried to be traveling alone, that my Russian wouldn’t be good enough to interview participants and that Kyrgyz wouldn’t like me because of the tension between Russia and the US. However, God took care of everything! I had such a smooth transition back into the culture and my Russian came back right away after not speaking it fluently in 6 years! Everyone was so hospitable and loving to me; I never once felt in danger or unsafe. I reconnected with my old friends after not hearing from them in 12 years since we didn’t have each other’s email or numbers.

 I also expected to be in the background during my internship and to just be interviewing participants but instead my boss threw me into the project right away and allowed me to visit communities and select participants for the program! I was so shocked that they would trust me and give me so much responsibility. It was very humbling and I really connected well with the local team despite being the only foreigner. 

God also opened up the door many times for me to share my faith to others and it was usually Muslims that would start asking me questions on what I believed. I did not expect this! But the world is hungry for truth and we should never be ashamed of telling others about Jesus 🙂

What were some experiences throughout the month that really stuck out to you?

A very interesting experience was for the first 3 weeks in Kyrgyzstan I lived with a very devout Muslim family during the Muslim holiday Ramadan. It was cool because I got to learn how they live and what they believe. I got to share the gospel with my family and we had very good discussions. They were never once were hostile towards me, although one girl did ask me to convert to Islam but she did it in a very respectful way.

 Something that really stuck out to me was the way women are treated. Out in the country, women have no rights; they are property of their husbands. In Kyrgyz tradition they have something called “bride-napping” this is when a Kyrgyz man can literally just grab any girl off the streets and make her his wife without her consent. She is forced to live with him and ultimately be a servant to him and his family. In the family I lived with, the daughter-in-law had to do everything for the family. She would cook and clean and couldn’t eat in the same room as us; she was to only serve us. It made me so sad to see her treated like that. When girls are only 6 years old they are already told that they must prepare to be wives. Recently, the country has made a law that a girl must be 18 to get married, but before this law girls were getting married at around 13 (this still happens illegally). When I would meet with young girls, many said they couldn’t go to college because their parents wouldn’t let them because they were already arranged to be married.

My whole internship experience was very meaningful. I got to meet with youth (ages 14-28) all over the country. We traveled for hours on dirt roads, traveling through herds of sheep and cows to get to small villages to speak to young people and invite them to our leadership program. When I met these young adults in these rural communities they didn’t know how to even dream or express the things they longed for because it seemed so far from reality to them. We spread hope to young people who thought that they had no opportunities and showed them that they can go after their dreams and they can do more with their life. We invited over 100 young adults to the capital where they got to represent their communities and work together on solving problems. Many that I spoke to began to cry as they shared about how they have found purpose and reason for their life. They are seeing that just because they are young doesn’t mean their voice doesn’t matter or that they can’t do something meaningful with their lives now. Seeing their faces light up with excitement and enthusiasm is something I will never forget. It was beautiful to experience this and hear the voices of the youth.

How did God use this trip for you personally?

The organization that I worked with was not a Christian organization so at times I felt very alone without fellowship or Christian community. But on this trip I really had to rely on God and really be in constant communication with Him. My prayer life definitely strengthened on this trip and God really put burdens on my heart for Muslim women. God has given me an overwhelming sense of love for this part of the world and the people here.

There were many times that I felt so inadequate for the job and didn’t feel I knew enough. I was reminded of these verses from Jeremiah 1:4-10:

v.4 : Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying:

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you;
I ordained you a prophet to the nations.”

Then I said:
“Ah, Lord God!
Behold, I cannot speak, for I am a youth.”

But the Lord said to me:
“Do not say ‘I am a youth,’
For you shall go to all to whom I send you,
And whatever I command you, you shall speak.
Do not be afraid of their faces, for I am with you to deliver you,” says the Lord. 

Then the Lord put forth His hand and touched my mouth, and the Lord said to me:

“Behold, I have put My words in your mouth.” 

God gives us His words and equips us! When God calls us to something or opens the doors, He will always enable us and give us the right words. God knew that I would return this Summer to Kyrgyzstan, just like He knows where all of you are. God gave me words to share to my host family about Jesus, only by His Power was I able to share it in Russian. I have never shared the gospel in Russian before, I didn’t even know I knew how to say words like “sin”, “grace” and “forgiveness” but God gave me the words as I spoke to them. He gave me words of encouragement to young men and women who felt so hopeless. They were surprised to even have people listen to them because they are so often looked down on. To even have someone sit by their side and listen meant the world to them. Even if we don’t know the language, just our actions can show so much love.

What is one thing you wish to share with other young people seeking purpose or direction for their lives?

Never feel inadequate because of your age. Us young people need to stand up and share our voices! We are the future of this generation. We have the torch to bring our country forward, wherever you are! We all have different backgrounds and different ideas so we can influence different places in this world. And most importantly, we are not alone! God gives us the power and strength and the right words. If you look back in the Bible, every time God has called someone to do His work they have felt so inadequate and said to God, “I can’t do this!” but God said “Yes, you can because you have ME!” The Holy Spirit is our guide and counselor; He will always give us all that we need to accomplish what God has called us to. If you feel in your heart a burden for orphans, people in Africa or the girl in your school that always gets picked on, then trust that this can be from the Holy Spirit and He will give you what you need to help that person and make a difference. Trust in God for your life. He loves you so much and will always be there with you through anything.

I hope you were blessed today by her heart and her passion to follow the Lord wherever he may call her, and also to be a light in the States as she heads into her last year of college! Desiree included some photos from her trip below 🙂

If you want to read Desi’s blog posts during this trip click here.

Desi

Speaking to youth in Southern Kyrgyzstan

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Young Uzbek girl who is 17 and is arranged to be married in the fall. Her parents won’t let her go to college.

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My neighbor friend from childhood.

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Exploring glacier lakes. Many of these turquoise lakes all over the country.

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Slept one night in a yurt!

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Visiting Fairytale Canyon!

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My host brother 🙂

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Wild horses

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5 Story Mall in Capital

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The Downtown square in Bishkek at night.

I hope you were all blessed by this! If you know anyone with a story to share, or experiences from a trip to share, please feel free to email me or comment down below! I would love to share your story as well.

You are all loved,

Dev

One world, one people 

 “Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens your faithfulness, to the skies.” Psalm 36:5

These past 2 weeks in Kenya have been life changing. From working in the slums + hanging with orphans in Nairobi to traveling far to this remote Maasai Village, I discovered something worth sharing. Somewhere between sharing meals and meeting amazing people living their day to day lives while exploring this country I was able to realize this.

Our similarities are much stronger than our differences. When we choose to acknowledge this we become an unstoppable force of community + love and see ourselves as a united world rather than divided people groups. It’s known that when we come together as one, as a untied force we become unstoppable in the pursuit of working together towards a common goal.

Rather than judge or perceive others to be different based upon the clothes they wear, their economic status or level of education it’s more important to see and connect with their hearts + souls and listen to their stories and learn from them, and connect on our similarities. Choosing to respect differences and see them as beautiful.

This photo was taken hours after 2 rhinos walked by this Maasai Village. And while not one of the people from this village seemed to notice, I was so excited experiencing a everyday “norm” that was so different than my day to day life.


This village has no electricity + running water and I felt like I had moved backwards in time I was still able to connect and appreciate the beauty of this simple lifestyle, and bond with new friends over dreams they had for themselves and this village. I got to speak with Maasai around my age that were schooling in Nairobi, one studying engineering and the other agriculture. They spoke about their dreams to return to their village after college and make a difference there by uplifting the community. 

We are citizens of not just our homeland but our world. We are all one, when we start to realize that we can push each other to dream bigger dreams, live with meaning and serve others with purpose and love each other the way we’ve never loved before. When we see ourselves as one world we see ourselves as one people, and someone’s dreams+ hardships become as important as your own. God created each of us unique and special, we are his handiwork which he created for good with works to be done in advance. When we love ourselves, we must love our world because we have a commitment to make to the people around us that we all deserve to be treated, seen and valued as equals.

“Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” Romans 12:10

“So now Faith, Hope and Love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13


“The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.” John 1:16

let’s make our presence present

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I’ve had a lot on my mind lately. What I assumed would be my first post in Greece wasn’t, isn’t that how blogging goes? Expecting to be able to write about something but when you start it takes you in a new direction? Can any other writers/bloggers relate to this?

I’m writing from Limnos, Greece a place where my dad’s side of the family is from, a place where I spent most of my childhood summers and a place where we spent quality time with ou Yia-Yia who is no longer with us. To say we miss her, her warm and welcoming spirit, her laugh and loud voice and smile behind her large eye-glass frame would be an understatement. Limnos isn’t the same without her presence, we will always remember and cherish our times with our Yia-Yia. She was one of the most loving and generous people I knew who would do anything for her family that she cherished most in her life.

For anyone who doesn’t know Limnos is one of the geographically bigger Greek islands found in the North Aegean Sea located 20 miles from Turkey but it’s not a tourist hotspot. That always made me appreciate the simple beauty of this island where I feel so connected too. A place where I came as a child with not a care in the world.

Returning brought back a flood of feelings and emotions that my brother and parents can relate to.

Being back on the island after ten years has stirred up many emotions. Has it really been ten years? This place feels the same and different at the same time. It’s given us a chance to look back on our past ten years and talk about everything that has happened. Deaths in our family, accomplishments, hard times, good times, life. 

I cherish so much about this place, and will always return when I can, feeling a strong connection to the simple and local culture, feeling again far removed and at home all over again.

Being older and have traveled around the world you really appreciate each experience as unique and treasure the present moment, or try your best too. I’ve tried to become more intentional about not getting caught up in the future but trying to be present exactly where I am today. Too make our presence present. A friend of mine shared this quote that truly resonated within my heart. Imagine if we could all appreciate and be grateful for where we are today. Externally and internally and not look around us to compare ourselves to other’s lives, adventures, experiences, but appreciate the beauty in this fleeting and current moment.

“Each moment is a place you’ve never been.” Mark Strand

We are all on our own journeys, and we each have the opportunity to make this moment a place we’ve never been. That’s inspiring. We are not even technically promised a tomorrow, or a next month not knowing what change may come but we can be hopeful in enjoying the beauties, dealing with the pains and appreciating moments of today with a grateful heart. 

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:34

When we landed in Athens I switched my phone on only to be have told of something that broke my heart and left me feeling completely helpless and out of control of the situation. Not really what I was expecting to happen the day my vacation began. Wishing I could turn back the hands of time, but knowing this was not a possibility. But that’s life. Leaving me with no power to do anything. I realized in that moment you can travel the world but you can’t expect to run from your problems. There is nowhere you can go where your troubles will not follow. There is nowhere you can escape where life will not reach you.

In that moment I had a choice. I could have broken down and worried myself and ruined the time with my family with “what if’s” and dwell in the future which I have no control over. Or I could choose to have peace knowing that on this particular day life happened. And it hurt. A lot. 

Naturally I tried to keep my cool, but the emotions of this surprising situation kept surfacing to the top. I knew I had to deal with it somehow, someway, I had to do something when I had absolutely no power to do anything. I had to relinquish control and be intentional about my reaction.

Those two words kept popping into my mind, control and intentionality.

Our layover in Athens had ended and we boarded the flight heading to Limnos. A short enough flight to get through, but it seemed long enough to dwell in the sadness of what had happened.

I rested my head against the window of the small old-fashioned plane flying over the North Aegean Sea with amazing views of the mountains. Hearing the flight attendant tell us we had 10 minutes until the plane would descend, hearing the Greek brought a rush of familiarity and feeling at ease knowing I was heading home after so long. Looking down out my window the beauty overwhelmed me as I gazed over mountain tops peaking through the clear blue Sea, the clouds and the sunset that made the water turn gold and sparkle.

I didn’t want to use my mind as a flush of memories of the situation that had left me feeling devastated, confused, and heart-broken. 

I wanted to be intentional about my reaction. I grabbed my notebook and wrote how I felt I looked back of my favorite bible verses I had jotted down in the first few pages. I ended this particular entry with this…

This is a testimony in the making, and I choose to trust in him, even though it hurts, a lot.

Then I flipped to the beginning pages “DO NOT FEAR” written in all caps were the first words my eyes glanced over and it hit me.

In that moment I realized this, that we ultimately have no control over our lives. Of course we can control our attitudes, and our efforts but the major things in life we are out of control. I didn’t want to get caught up in fear. I wanted to have peace knowing that I have no control. This might sound strange or weird to many people.

Isn’t that what we all want? To be in control of a situation? To be the pilot of our own lives? Isn’t that what society teaches us? To always have it all together, or when we don’t have the power to make it all better? But ask yourself, what do you really have control over? Can you promise yourself a tomorrow? That you’ll be in perfect health in ten years, that your loved ones will live forever? That your job will never fail you? That your home will always be safe?

The truth is we don’t, we can try, but in the end we have no control over what happens or what life may bring. What we do control is our reaction and we control our decision to be intentional about that reaction. 

In that moment I accepted what I didn’t have control over and chose to trust God with this situation. He is the author and he works things our for good. He see’s it from a different perspective than me, and I know I can trust in him what I have no control over. Even when it makes no sense, even when it hurts. I want to choose peace. I want to choose to not loose minutes or hours of my day worrying about tomorrow or what my future may or may not hold.

The things we value most like family, relationships, health, job, our futures, our governments, the state of this world, our security, if you really think about it we don’t have control over it. Anything can fail us at any time, and these things are things we have no control over.

“In You I find my rest
You are in control”

Lyrics from In Control by Hillsong

Today I want to be intentional about choosing peace over fear, and trust over worry. I want to cast my cares on to the Lord. I don’t want to be the author of my life, I trust the one who created it to complete his story in my life. I want to “not get caught up in things I have no control over.” I want to enjoy my time in the island that I’ve dreamt of coming back home to for the past ten years and face tomorrow when it comes. I want to make my prescene in this moment present. I want anyone who is reading this to know it is okay to not be in control, it is okay to trade it in for something much better, peace and cast our fears, hopes or worries on God.  Even if you forget everything you’ve read up to this point I want anyone who is reading this to remember what God tells us

Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.

“Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

You are all loved,

Dev