“Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him. This is my rule in all the churches. Was anyone at the time of his call already circumcised? Let him not seek to remove the marks of circumcision. Was anyone at the time of his call uncircumcised? Let him not seek circumcision. For neither circumcision counts for anything nor uncircumcision, but keeping the commandments of God. Each one should remain in the condition in which he was called. Were you a slave when called? Do not be concerned about it. (But if you can gain your freedom, avail yourself of the opportunity.) For he who was called in the Lord as a slave is a freedman of the Lord. Likewise he who was free when called is a slave of Christ. You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men. So, brothers, in whatever condition each was called, there let him remain with God.”
-1 Corinthians 7:17-24
I’ve had a growing desire to work with women in prostitution and victims of human trafficking for a long time now, and being at the hub of the issue, Amsterdam has also always been a place I have wanted to visit. In addition, commitment and staying true to my word are things I’ve held at high importance for just as long. Having said that, you can imagine the struggle I had when the opportunity to go to Amsterdam arose at the exact same time as a commitment I had already made. Before I even returned to Berlin, it was planned that there would be a mandatory Finance and Fundraising Seminar for all staff at our base. Because this is an area for us to grow in as a base, and we had many new staff that hadn’t yet had training like this before, it was something our leadership saw as important and wanted to invest in. So of course, I had planned to be there.
“The heart of man plans his way but the Lord establishes his steps.”
Although the passion to work with woman in this area was stirred even more in my DTS, I felt that the Lord has asked me to surrender this desire as I committed to return to Berlin. If it had been up to me, I would have done everything in my power to pursue this but, regardless of my every attempt to avoid the reality, I knew God was calling me back to Berlin for more than just that. God gave me a real heart for the base in Berlin and I knew He was asking me to staff the next DTS. I also knew this meant I would have to trust Him with the rest.
To my amazement, God had been preparing a way for me much sooner than I expected when I surrendered this desire. Since being back in Berlin I have been working with a ministry called Alabaster Jar in the Red Light District of Berlin. I have been enjoying this time so much and have seen God do many great things in such a short time.
Coincidentally enough, at the same time I committed to officially join the team, AJ was planning there first retreat… in Amsterdam! Shortly before Patricia Green (founder of Alabaster Jar) passed away, she had asked Lauran Bethell (long-time friend and colleague) to make sure the AJ team was taken care of and had help. Patricia had asked Lauran, to do everything in her power to make sure the ministry kept going. So, Lauran, offered for us to come to The Netherlands and stay at her “penthouse” apartment just outside of Amsterdam. Here we would spend time with Lauran, a woman working in the area of human trafficking and prostitution for over 30 years and visit local ministries such as “Not for Sale” and “Scarlet Cord”. During our stay, Lauran would also host a “Dinner for Practitioners” where we would be able to connect with many others with years of experience and currently working in the area.
New as I was, I was invited to join the team on this trip… all major costs covered! It was a chance of a lifetime and something I had dreamed of for so long! But all my excitement aside, I still had to ask myself if this was indeed the right time. I mean sure, on one side it was perfect! I would be getting incredible training and experience right before walking into this ministry head on. Yet on the other side, I just got back to Berlin, having fully committed to the base and would have to ask to be released from the first official training time there. I am not one to go against the flow of things, so asking to be released to go to Amsterdam instead of taking part of the already planned Finance Seminar was no walk in the park. I like to follow the rules and do what I’m told. I like for step B to follow A, but going to Amsterdam meant that wouldn’t happen. At first I was pretty positive this was one opportunity I would have to wave goodbye but as I began to pray I just didn’t have peace about doing that. The more I prayed the more I felt it was time to go where God was leading. There is a time where we have to lay down our own desires and trust that God will provide in the future, but I’ve learned there are also times where God is opening a door that looks different than we may be use to. There are times and seasons we no longer have to wait for Him to give us the desires of our heart, but He is!
In this time of praying and seeking God for an answer, I recognized that I had let my once good intentions become a habit and excuse. Commitment (overall a good thing) became something I was enslaved to because I was forgetting to let God lead me. Note: I still don’t think that commitments are made to be broken, and I will never be your extreme go-with-the-flow girl, but I recognized the importance of seeking God’s will first in all I do; because God will make a way where we see no way. Our view is so limited and He is capable of so much more we can ask or imagine. Who am I to assume and limit Him? When I limit Him, I am the one missing out, and I don’t want to miss out anymore. I want to experience all that He has for me and sometimes that means things look different than I expect. It means I need to surrender completely and trust Him to work things out. It means things won’t always go as I plan, and step B won’t always follow A from my perspective.
So, after all this, I realized I needed to talk to my leaders, explain my heart, what I felt God was telling me, and (surprise) they blessed my decision to go. Thankfully, we can rest assured that when God speaks to us, He will speak consistently to everyone involved. It wasn’t my job to convince anyone of what I believed God was saying to me. It was just by job to be obedient and God would take care of the rest.
And He did.