Taking a Risk: Leaving the US to Serve in Brazil

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And also planted some flowers for our Easter service in good company! Photo Credit to @NyackChurch!

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Nyack College’s PSF class 2014 !

So much has happened since I last blogged; Lots of tears popped out of my eyes, anger was explored and roots of deception and bitterness in my life were finally uprooted. I Am now free from years of brokenness, internal struggles and dark secrets. I joined the healing prayer team for my church, Living Christ Church, and learned how to walk in my authority as a daughter of God. I witnessed a class of Nyack college students experience the freeing and the healing love of the Father. Then I began training the new admissions associate for the Alliance Theological Seminary as I prepared to transition. I accepted the position as Area Coordinator for Simpson Hall at Nyack College this Fall and said “See ya later” to my amazing roommate over a turkey bacon & egg breakfast (as we are both moving out of our shared space). I finally ended my 2nd year at seminary with a 4.0 GPA- this woman got Straight A’s.

These last few months have been incredibly difficult, transformational, and emotionally unnerving. But somehow I got through them all and I am now preparing for my next adventure; Spending 10 weeks this summer in Recife, Brazil working with Shores of Grace in their efforts to rescue women and children from sex slavery. I leave May 28th! woooohooo

off of the streets“In 2010 it is estimated that 40,000 sex workers were active during the World Cup in South Africa. Now four years later, the World Cup is on its way to Brazil, a country already known for its exploitation of sex workers…hundreds of thousands of women & children will be at risk for trafficking, violent sex crimes, disease, drug abuse and death. In the summer of 2013 I had the opportunity to see 4 children pulled off of the streets of Brazil and placed in a home where they were given a safe environment to live in for the very first time. God broke my heart over the injustice and exploitation of Brazil’s women and children. So in the summer of 2014, just as the World Cup begins, I will head back to Brazil to be a part of God’s rescue mission for the vulnerable.”

 (An excerpt from my support letter that perfectly articulates the need, & my heart to serve this summer.)

I am taking a huge risk; I resigned from my job, I am moving out of my apartment anbrokem by God's loved I bought an airline ticket believing that on the streets of Brazil loving those women and children is EXACTLY where I am meant to be. The center of God’s will for me this summer will be in a place of vulnerability to the unknown, of risk and of deep trust, as I count on Him to be everything I need to survive.

To say that I am excited is an understatement. This is a thrilling adventure into the unknown, may it be the first of many!!  In the moments of fear and discouragement (because they have come) I am holding on to those memories of last summer in Brazil, when God broke my heart and put his love in me for that beautiful nation and its people.

As a graduate student in Intercultural Studies, I have the opportunity to use this trip to fulfill degree requirements (2nd continent experience — required of ATS’ MA IC students), and put all I am learning in the classroom into practice, gain experience and hands on training in missions work to the poor, hurting, and marginalized. At the end of my trip I will put together a thesis that I will present to my Intercultural Studies professors.  How awesome it is to be a part of a seminary that sends its students out to do the work of the gospel!!!!!

 I cordially invite YOU into my adventure into the unknown. Please partner with me in this mission! I want to share my experiences, heart breaks, victories and day-to-day moments with you.

Throughout my time in Brazil I will blog weekly, so check-in to get the scoop of all that’s going down on the streets of Recife during the 2014 World Cup.

Also please, PRAY, PRAY, PRAY! I need prayers for courage, wisdom, and strength as I face these transitions.

 www.gofundme.com/MaddyBack2Brazil – If you have a heart for women & children in sex trafficking, but cannot physically go, you can still join in this mission by partnering with me. Your support will make a lasting impact in the life of someone who needs YOU.

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Thank you for partnering with me, believing in this mission and praying as I go into an “adventure into the unknown”.

 

 

 

The Struggle

Learning how to walk in freedomI have learned throughout my years here at Nyack and ATS, that we all struggle. We all have issues with sin, at some point or another. We all have fears, insecurities, doubts, anxieties, wounds and the list goes on. Whether we admit them or not we are all familiar with “The Struggle”; those things that seemingly kick our behinds at times. And if you say that you don’t have any areas of weakness, if you dare say you don’t struggle, I’d dare say you are not being honest with yourself and those around you.

And so I am about to be very real with all of you about “The Struggle”. That one thing in my life, that kicked my butt for years. This isn’t easy by any means. It’s not easy to share ones struggles with friends, nevertheless sharing it with the world-wide web, where millions of people will have access to it, forever. But with this being a growing, prevalent, and perhaps the most unspoken of issues within the Body of Christ, I will share with you all, my journey with “The Struggle”.

I became a Christian in 2008, and within the first month, of making my decision to follow Jesus Christ; I stopped smoking weed and cigarettes. I left a very bad relationship, and I abandoned mostly everything that connected me, with my previous lifestyle. Except for this one thing, an addiction to sexual sin. Now before you find yourself outraged with my confession; remember you, and if not you, someone you know, also has and/or does struggle with the very same thing.

I learned from a very young age, that if I wanted to be loved and accepted, than sex was the way to go. Sexual abuse taught me where and how to find comfort, approval, acceptance, love. And so I found myself as a Christian, dealing with my issues of loneliness, rejection, pain, etc. in the way I knew how;  by giving myself the self-gratification that I thought would ease my pain.

But I quickly discovered how different it is to engage in such things as a Christian. I would turn to this sin and immediately after feel ashamed, disgusted at myself and my behavior and completely disconnected from God. I would spend days depressed and angry at myself for committing such a horrible act. It took me years to understand that truly NOTHING could separate me from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus ( Romans 8).  That even though, I messed up yet again, there is NO condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. That God still sees me as His beloved daughter and that His grace was TRULY sufficient for me (2 Corinthians 12:9).  I learned this through my amazing leaders, friends and mentors while in Nyack College.

I learned to run to God the Father when I fellwomen who've helped keep me accountable, rather than run away from Him. But this wasn’t enough. Eventually I became SICK and TIRED of falling and running and I just longed for REAL freedom. I recognized I needed accountability in order for that to happen. And so I began to confess my sins. I started to open up to my close friends and mentors about my struggle. I gave them permission to ask me the tough questions and be in my face about it. But that still wasn’t enough. Because no matter how many times I confessed and how many times they prayed for me, I still fell. And even though it was something that happened maybe once or twice a month, it happened enough for me to recognize something was seriously wrong in my heart. 

And so through a class at Nyack, I learned how to begin to deal with the junk in my heart that was leading me to turn to that sort of comfort. I dealt with mommy issues, daddy issues, abandonment issues, rejection issues, abuse issues, fears, insecurities. I was as messed up as they come. I discovered that the more I dealt with my stuff, the less I struggled. But the struggle was still there.

So I went for a deliverance session, and dealt with some spiritual (demonic) influences that fueled the addiction, and that was amazing. I found myself walking in levels of freedom I’ve never known. Until I felt alone again, and fell again. And I realized then, that the only thing that would ever satisfy this longing heart was love, God’s love. So now I am learning how to spend time, daily, with the God who loves me. Allowing His love to wash over me, and fill every fracture in my soul. The more time I spend with Him, the less I crave  a false sense of satisfaction and the more freedom I know.

We all have “The Struggle”.  And after much trial and error, here are a few tips that have helped me walk in freedom:

  1.  Be real, admit there is an issue. Walk in the light. As long as you keep things hidden or pretend you’re not struggling, you will never find freedom. (1 John 1)

  2. Run to God, not from Him. He loves you. He longs to pour out his love and grace over you and over those areas that you struggle with. He is not angry with you or shocked by your sin. He understands, He gets it and He longs to walk through this WITH YOU.  (Hebrews 4:14-16)CTA button for Blog ATS

  3. Confess, share your struggle with a leader, friend, minister, a person you could trust, who will give you sound counsel, love on you and help pray you through; no matter how long it takes. (James 5:16)

  4. Deal with the underlying issues. Allow God to expose the holes in your soul and walk you through healing. It sucks, it hurts, but it is WORTH it. (Luke 6:46)

  5. Set up different levels of accountabilityScreenshotblocks on your internet, friends who will ask you the tough questions and keep you accountable for your decisions and actions.

  6. Seek deliverance, often times addictions are influenced by critters. This doesn’t mean you’re not a child of God, it just means that we live in a world where there are spirit beings who seek to influence and rule our lives. And none of us want that.

  7. Soak in God’s presence and love every day. Ultimately we turn to other things to satisfy a need that only God could satisfy. So let Him quench your thirst, and ease your hunger, with the richness of His love.

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