Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Christian Elephants

In the village I stayed in, in the mountains of Orissa, over 200 Christians were killed in 2008. Hundreds of houses were burnt to the ground, five thousand people displaced. The fear has not stopped these Jesus warriors. They have 180 churches with only 30 church buildings.

I'm not really sure how to type out my thoughts from this experience.
  • I was sick the whole time. I have a nasty head cold, and if you know me well, you know how I am when I get colds.
  • I ate with my hands the entire stay. We were not given silverware. Thus I now feel that I am allowed to call myself a real Indian. (We even once ate out of a leaf bowl).
  • I hate Indian food.
  • I taught Sunday school.
  • I met Compassion kids. :)
  • I visited churches that were burnt down and broken.
  • I heard testimonies.
  • I saw hope.
  • I also saw fear [and felt fear].
  • I was given many bouquets of flowers.
  • I encountered Holy Spirit hardcore in an orphanage.
  • I saw monkeys. I was in the real jungle.
  • I made friends.
  • I received a prophetic word.
  • I saw vision.
  • I encountered scripture coming to life to me for the first time.
  • I sang songs with little girls.
  • I drank chai and ate biscuits.
  • I ate food that was prepared with un-purified well water. As in, all the food I ate was prepared with un-purified well water.
  • I was afraid.
  • I have red dots all over my body... I'm pretty sure it's bed bugs. Fun.
  • I learned how to count to five and say dog and rooster in a language called “Que.”
  • I experienced a lot of power outages.
  • I took many photos.

That's a synopsis. So why is this titled “Christian Elephants,” you might ask? Right after all the attacks and persecution, many elephants came out from the jungle and damaged a lot of Hindu's and Animist's houses in the villages. So the Christians call the elephants “Christian Elephants.” Talk about Jesus. :)

Friday, July 15, 2011


I left America 18 days ago. This is the longest I have ever been in a foreign country. Today I am having a very chill day. Tomorrow is my 20th birthday. I have been dying to be 20 for years, since most of my friends are older, but now that I'm actually turning 20, I find it very strange. Like I'm entering new territory or something. And I guess I am; I'll no longer be a teenager. This is my first birthday I've spent overseas. New territory of life in new territory of the world.

For most people, if you're reading this you're interested in my trip, hearing about what I've been doing and how God is moving. However, as I'm sure you've noticed, I blog about life and Christ, not so much day to day ministry. This isn't my “mission trip blog,” this is my life blog. I've had it for 3 years. This is my personal online diary that I allow the world to see. I want to be an open book. If you look through older posts, you will find hardship, tears, anger, pain, love, life, renewal, joy, etc. All that being said, if you're just interested in hearing just about my day in India, stop reading now.

Two weeks ago I got the privilege of meeting a little girl named Shabonna. If I told you anything about the ministry I'm working with before I left the country, I probably told you a story about a pair of siblings who would sleep under their mother's bed while she “worked” at night. How their mother got sick and was kicked out of the brothel. How the mother died of AIDS in the street with the kids sitting with her. How BTC picked them up and took them to the AIDS home. How the little brother had AIDS and the older sister told him she would never let anything happen to him. Well when I walked into the Jubilee 4 (the AIDS home), I was met by a bright little girl who introduced herself to me as Shabonna. Before I could even ask my leader if this was the same Shabonna from the story, I knew in my heart it was her. I watched her the whole evening. I watched her leadership, I watched as all the kids came in from school they ran and jumped into her arms, I watched as she held the small children and gave them kisses, I watched as she humbly received gifts just waiting to share them with the other children.

I've shed many tears thinking about this little girl in her hardships. To now see her as the bright shining star of my King, I was filled with so much joy. I look forward to sit down and talk to her for a bit and explain to her just how much she looks like Jesus.

I struggle a lot with condemnation and self-hatred. Even as I write this, I feel the Lord giving me a grace to overcome this huge part of my life and to give a message to the girls at Ashagram. I'm having a hard time trying to organize my thoughts, so forgive me if this is a bit jumbled.

Two of the women on the first India team adopted me as their spiritual daughter, so I now have two spiritual moms; Andrea and Alis. They are amazing women. The night we left Jubilee 4 I was telling Alis that I was so amazed by Shabonna and that I want to be like that. I want to have so much love welling up from inside of me that people are drawn to me. Typing that out makes it sound very arrogant, but I didn't mean it like that at all. I only love because God first loved me and love is not self-seeking. I am not seeking adoration from people, I was seeking the ability to give love better. Alis looked at me and was like, “Casey you already do that. When I looked at Shabonna I thought of you and how much you love people and how they love you. Whenever you step foot at Jubilee 1 and 2 you are surrounded by a group of girls who are latched onto you. You shine bright.” I completely denied it and shoved her statement under the rug of my heart, hidden away, ashamed.

Why would I be ashamed of a compliment? Because of the condemnation I have allowed to choke my life. Jesus planted me in fertile soil, but I let the enemy plant a thorn bush next to me, because I felt I didn't deserve to experience joy.

So here is my stand to freedom. I have lived in a place of self-hatred for too long. I love people and that is a beautiful gift from my Papa. This is not over, but here's to a new start, a new beginning, a new freedom, a new decade of life. (:

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

In Christ Alone

I'm sitting on the ledge of a building on a huge teen challenge compound in India. It's extremely hot and humid. I'm literally dripping sweat and I'm just sitting here. But just to tell you how faithful my Papa is, I just said to Him, man I wish there was more of a breeze and immediately the wind starting blowing. My Father is good.  Here is a picture of where I am sitting as I write this (I don't have internet, so I probably wrote it several days before you are actually reading it).

Today has been a good day.  This morning I lead a devotional to former prostitutes who are either young Christians or unsaved.  I shared with them a little of my testimony and told them how they see me as pure, when they are in Christ, He sees them as pure.  It was really early in the morning and sort of hard to give the message with the translator.  I'm not sure if any of them really got what I was trying to say, but I know Holy Spirit will lead them into the truth they needed to receive from my words.

After that, I went to breakfast, ate a roll and chai, then dashed back to the girls dorms to teach a class. I've taught people stuff before, particularly in my HLTH and COMS classes back at Liberty, but this was the first time I've ever been the real teacher, teaching a real class, with a really important message. Class was one hour long. This time my translator was the sweetest girl that I sat with at dinner last night. She is seriously precious. She's 21 and has been with BTC for 12 or 13 years, since she was very young. It makes me so sad to know that if she's at Ashagram that means she has worked on “the strip” selling her body...  Which would make her 7 years old when she was “working.”  Heartbreaking. Her name is Anu. I'm really excited to get close to her. 

Anyways, Anu was my amazing translator. I made her laugh a lot. I'm not used to teaching, let alone teaching through a translator. I know I told all of you that I would be teaching health classes, and I will, but this class is actually a teen challenge class that everyone at Ashagram is required to go through. They have to go through this class and get a certificate before they can even get baptized. Baptism is a big deal here. But that is besides the point.  The book I am teaching is called Successful Christian Living. Chapter One is called “Who Am I?” All the sweet girls and ladies in my class were new believers. I think the youngest in my class was 13 years old. There were a couple older ladies, but most of them were in their teens. Teens rescued out of prostitution. Teens choosing to live for Jesus. They were all so beautiful. Since Anu was my translator, I got to get really interactive with them.  I had them tell me what people call them or what they call themselves.  I got answers like “fat,” “gorilla,” one girl was called “platform” because she has a big, flat nose. It was great to get them thinking and talking.  I wrote these words down on a dry erase board.  Then I would mark one out and say, “You are not _____, you are ______.”  Telling them who they are in Christ: God's child, Christ's friend, loved, purchased, free, growing, etc.  I had them read the scripture that went with each promise of God in Hindi. It was seriously so cool.  Almost makes me want to be a women's ministry major... well not really, but I am loving teaching this class.  I'm so excited to keep teaching it over the next few weeks and really get to know these girls. 

That has been today so far.  Yesterday was not so lovely.  I'm not going to go into great detail, but I was under a major attack from the enemy.  Lately when I can't sleep, the Lord has really been speaking loudly to me in the middle of the night.  So at like 1AM I typed on my ipod, “I think this may be the first time that I have ever understood myself to be actively falling in love with Love. I've said that I love Love many times, but I think that I am truly experiencing real joy for the first time in my life, because I am loving so much and really living love, in tern, experiencing real love. I have realized that you can't fall in love with Love without loving. Haha, I loveee joy.”  Maybe that doesn't make since to you, maybe that spoke volumes to you, but for me, it's these late night revelations that are keeping me faithful when the spiritual warfare is strong. 

Please keep praying for me. Pray for my girls. A big prayer request is that on Sunday I think I'm going to be playing Revelation Song on guitar in front of the church while my group sings it...  And well I'm just trusting God to get me better at guitar before then.  I borrowed a guitar to try to learn the song.

Shoutout to my guitar playing friends... Check out my attempt at a makeshift capo.

I have found ...

"For the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say." -Luke 12:12

I didn't have many expectations for this trip would be like.  I would rather be surprised than disappointed.  That isn't the greatest attitude to have, but mine was that.  I did however have expectations of what this trip would not be.  Again, probably a pretty bad idea. 

I did not expect for my spiritual vision to change.  It did.
I did not expect for Holy Spirit to completely guide my tongue.  He has.
I did not expect to have such peace about everything.  I have.
I did not expect to finally start believing that I'm beautiful. I am.
I did not expect to be brave and bold. Jesus is.
I did not expect to want to spend all my time with the teenagers. I do.
I did not expect for my thoughts to be taken captive. They are.
I did not expect for so much joy. It's here.

There are much more things than that.  Things that I was not expecting but are happening. 

Holy Spirit is moving so beautifully and changing me so peacefully. 

Before I left the country I told my friends that God had to be planning something great for India because the spiritual warfare prior to leaving was so intense and horrible.  I said that over and over again to friends, but I didn't believe it for myself.  I figured I would get to India and hate it after all these years of dreaming about the calling I felt God placed in my heart about this country.  I figured I would loathe it and be miserable.  I figured I would not be able to breathe and have lots of asthma attacks.  I figured I wouldn't be able to connect with anyone.  I figured the worst.

God is doing great things in me.  I love India.  As in, I have fallen completely head over heels in love with this nation.  I feel confirmation that I am supposed to move here after graduating.  I have had a hard time breathing and had to use my inhaler several times more than I would like to admit, but Jesus is hardcore healing my inside, so I trust that healing to my body will come shortly. I have connected with so many people. 

I walked through the red-light district with about 12 girls from the children's shelter.  I got ahead of the rest of my team because a sweet 15 year old named Esther had my hand. Esther told me about her family and begged me to pray over her. I got to write her a letter and pray over her.  I know the Lord touched her and will continue too.  She has great thirst for the Lord.

I got to be a part of a church service infilling new believers with Holy Spirit.  I got to lay hands on these newly baptize believers and pray that Jesus would fill them.  It was incredible.

I got to pray over 5 vibrant, teenage, lovers of Jesus at Jubilee 1 today.  Jubilee 1 is for 13-20 year olds who are the daughters of prostitutes.  The girls I prayed over (Prity, Sumi, Haseena, Sonu, & Jaya) are shining brighter than any other 15-17 year olds that I have ever seen.  These girls love Jesus and their actions scream it from the rooftops.  I got to pray for them and their families.  They prayed for me.  Sonu let me play her guitar and I taught them Set a Fire by United Pursuit Band.  It was so encouraging and just amazing.

One of the Ashagram boys, Roy, shared his testimony of being healed of tuberculosis and having a relationship with Jesus because of what BTC did for him.

Jesus is doing huge things in my life.  Let me leave you with these Kim Walker lyrics that just sum up the reality of what I have found. 

I have found a peace that plows on through the storm
I have found a joy that jumps over sadness.
I have found a love that lights up every room.
I have found; I've found You.
You are all I want, You are all I need; everything my heart could hope for.
We are longing for the glory of the Lord because we know there's so much more.
I have found a trust that teaches how to rest.
I have found a grace that guides me back again.
I have found a strength that stands like a mountain.
I have found; I've found you.
You are all I want, You are all I need; everything my heart could hope for.
We are longing for the glory of the Lord because we know there's so much more.

Friday, July 1, 2011

India; when darkness meets light

Disclaimer: I tried to start writing a blog last night, but I fell asleep.  I'm going to go ahead and post what I started writing then, but know that the time frame mentioned in the post is as if I was posting last night (on a side note I'm 9.5 hours ahead of home).

India; I have only been here 24 hours and I already have countless stories that I could tell you. India is dirty, beautiful, smelly, colorful, chaotic, etc. More than any of those things though, India is dark. The darkness is apparent anywhere you are, whether the hotel breakfast lounge or the red-light district. That being said, Bombay Teen Challenge gives off light like I have never seen any other ministry radiate love. These people have given everything in their lives to loving God and loving their neighbors, and let me tell you, they LOVE in action.  

There are over 100,000 prostitutes in Mumbai. Falkland Road is the largest red-light district in Mumbai. BTC has planted 8 or 9 house churches on Falkland Road. Kamathipura is the second largest red-light district in Mumbai.  BTC has planted 6 or 7 house churches in Kamathipura.

BTC has a free dental clinic and a free medical clinic in Kamithipura.  They have free meal feeding program on a big bus that they can drive around.  Every day they go feed hungry people in a different part of Mumbai.

In Kamathipura they also have a children's shelter. All the kids in the shelter are the children of sex workers; one child actually was working "the line" before she was taken by BTC. This shelter is a place the kids can live while BTC tries to convince the mother that the child would be safer if they moved to Ashagram (where I'm going on Sunday) or at a Jubilee home. These places are out of the city, far from the districts, taking the risk of them becoming sex workers away. 

I got to visit all of these areas today. The light that BTC radiates in unbelievable. I'm going to take a quick moment to expound upon the darkness in the red-light districts, just so you can understand what I'm experiencing, but then we'll focus back in on the Light.  

I walked through Kamathipura after dark … after the prostitutes were out. I think I now know what hell looks, smells, feels, and sounds like. We weren't supposed to be there after dark, but we got carried away loving on and playing with the kids at the children's home. The street was too narrow for the car to come all the way to where we were, so we had to walk some. There are 7 other ladies on my team.  We all had someone's hand and stuck close together. There were BTC people with us, so we were safe, but it was still scary. The darkness is thick. Once we got in the cars, we drove through Kamathipura and then to Falkland Rd. We passed one part of the district that was rows of cage brothels. Sex slaves never let out of their cages. Like hamsters, except they are human beings that my Papa created in His image. We drove past another part that was all boy sex workers. As we drove through the districts, I gazed into the eyes of these women. Several made eye contact with me. I saw the same thing in each of their eyes; hopelessness. Their eyes were empty, painful, hopeless. The Spirit groaned within me. I felt Proverbs 31:8-9 and Isaiah 58 rise up within me. Open your mouth…for the rights of all who are destitute. Defend the rights of the poor and the needy. Let the oppressed go free. Pour yourself out for the hungry. I prayed and prayed and couldn't stop praying. The Spirit prayed and groaned and cried out within me.

So far in India, I have seen dark and light. The darkness made me realize how bright the light really is. A few months ago the Lord showed me that you don't really notice an individual light in a room that is already completely lit. For example if there were 100 lightbulbs lit in a room, and turned one of them off, the room would not become dark. I am generally surrounded by thousands of other Christians at Liberty University. The Lord was like, "Casey, you need to light the darkness, not be light in a room that is already shining bright." Here I am; thousands of miles from home, shining bright in extreme darkness.  

Philippians 2:14-18 says, "Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain. But even if I am being poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with you all. You too, I urge you, rejoice in the same way and share your joy with me."

Oh and here is a video I took of the kids at the shelter singing and dancing to a Hindi worship song.  :)