Saturday, December 15, 2007

Women of Hope

Today has been a welcome breather from the busyness of our ministry's preparations for Christmas. In the midst of all the hustle and bustle, we've had a new resident come to stay with us. She's just been released from the provincial prison on a conditional sentence, and although the transition from jail has been quite overwhelming for her - especially because of the controlled chaos around the house these days - she's been doing very well.

Please pray for her, she is a sweet girl but is very much in need of healing. And please pray for me as I learn to set boundaries and be firm but loving as the leader here at the house. There are issues and outside relationships this woman brings with her that could affect all of us and cause us some anxiety.

In January we will welcome another woman into the house and then all of our rooms will be filled for the first time in months. I anticipate many challenges as she adjusts to having structure and accountability in place.

Thanks so much for praying for us and may your hearts be filled with the wonder and joy that the Christmas season inspires.


Monday, December 10, 2007

Christmas Cheer

Tonight was our W2 Christmas party at the provincial women's institution and a great time was had by all! We made up 150 plates of food and set up the prison gymnasium with 150 chairs. Elsie led us in singing Christmas songs and carols, and told a few jokes, and the women recited some beautiful poems of thanks and sang some songs for us.

They loved their Christmas bags so much that many of them opened all the gifts inside before they even left the gym to go back to their units. Elsie told them about all the many folks who are involved in making up these bags - from a group of women in Ontario (Elsie's mom's friends) who shop throughout the year for gift items and then ship them out to us, to Elsie's mother who buys the material and sews up every one of the 700 bags, to the many folks who come to the house to help us wrap up all of the items that go into the bags. She reminded the women that they are not forgotten about at Christmas time, that there are people who care about them, even though they will never meet most of them face to face.

I had a chance to visit with all four of the women I've been seeing; they'll all be gone before my next visit as they are all being released at the end of the month or early in January. Please pray that Letticia, Denise, Lindsay and Kim will all remain clean and sober and be able to get on with their lives and resume their relationships with their children and families, and that they will never again see the inside of a jail. Every one of them knows the Lord, but my prayer is that they will give their lives into His hands.

Also, please pray for Lisa and her baby girl Jordan. Lisa is fighting to keep her baby with her when she is moved to the federal institution next month and there's a good chance she'll be able to do it, but there's just as good a chance that she won't. Both mom and baby are looking radiant and healthy. I pray that the prison staff will recognize the importance of keeping the baby with her mom.


Jesus' Little Elves

A week ago Vancouver looked like a winter wonderland. We had a huge dump of snow. But it's all gone now and today we have sunshine! That's rare in these parts this time of year.

The Women of Hope house is a beehive of activity these days as we are busy preparing for Christmas. For the past couple of weeks we have had crews of helpers coming in on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings - and whenever we can get them working - to help us wrap the thousands of items that will be going into the 700 Christmas gift bags we will be giving out in the next couple of weeks. Tonight the first bunch will be going out to the women at Alouette Correctional Centre. Elsie and I are members of M2W2 which is a Christian organization that matches prisoners with a visitor and also promotes and facilitates restorative justice in order to bring healing and reconciliation to prisoners and their victims. The women love our parties, and they also love receiving the Christmas gift bags which are loaded! For many of them it's the only Christmas present they will receive. Tomorrow night we will be doing the same again at Homestead, a women's treatment centre run by Salvation Army.

Other folks that will receive a gift bag are those that attend our Christian Twelve Step meetings, many of them men who are in treatment for addictions at the Union Gospel Mission, and folks who join us for our Sunday dinners at the house, Immanuel Church (our church plant), and drop-in times at the Salvation Army Community Services building nearby. But, I am most excited about going carolling on Christmas Eve in the downtown east side area of Vancouver; that's the area known as skid row. We will be sharing the love of Jesus and giving out Christmas gift bags to the people who live on the streets down there, most of whom are addicted to drugs and/or alcohol. Our hearts' desire and our prayer is that receiving these gift bags will remind folks who need to know, that there is a God who loves them and cares about their lives. He cared enough to send His Only Son to become one of us, so that He could save us from the darkness.

Please pray, especially for the folks on the streets, that they will see the Light shining out of the darkness, and that, if nothing else, a seed of hope will be planted in their hearts.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Sweet little Jesus boy..we didn't know who you were

I'm already excited about Christmas this year, and have been for weeks! I've been listening to Christmas music since the end of October, and have felt the anticipation and wonder of the birth of our Lord so deeply that I'm daily crying tears of joy. What's happened to me? I used to hate Christmas! I used to hate hearing Christmas music in November and seeing premature tv commercials and store displays that bombarded us with the message that Christmas is coming. Now, although I still don't like commercials designed to push us into a shopping frenzy, I love Christmas!

I'm so grateful that I know the true meaning of Christmas now. My heart is filled with love, joy and gratitude because of what our Saviour has done for us. To think that He would come into this world as a helpless baby born to poor parents who didn't even have a bed to lay Him in, and that He would subject Himself - as a man - to the anger and hatred and evil that is in men's hearts. This anger, hatred and evil was what killed Him, and it was trying to take Him out from the very day of His birth. We witness it in the motive and actions of King Herod who had his soldiers kill every boy child under two years old in order to try to kill Jesus.

My prayer this Christmas is that the light of the truth of God's mercy and love would shine through the story of His Son's birth into the hearts of hurting and lost people. May more and more people hear the story of Jesus' birth this Christmas and come to know the freedom and the joy of knowing Him as their Saviour. Oh God, let Your glory shine! Let your faithful love be known. Let the heavenly hosts declare the Saviour's birth for all to hear and see this Christmas season.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

The Wonder-ful Story of Christmas

This Christmas we will all read or hear once again, the old familiar stories of Jesus’ conception and birth. Some of us have read the nativity story every Christmas throughout our lives; for others it may still be a fairly new experience. But the wonderful thing about scripture is that no matter how many times we may have read or heard a passage, God, through His Holy Spirit, always wants to speak to us in a fresh way and to reveal to us something new that we didn’t see or hear before.

This will be my seventh Advent and Christmas season in the Lord, and as advent approaches, I am reading and rereading the birth narratives of Matthew and Luke with an open and expectant heart. Advent is a wonderful time of anticipation as we celebrate the coming of Christ into the world as a baby. It’s also a time of looking forward to His coming again. But what I love most about advent is that each year we have the opportunity to invite Christ to come into our hearts and our lives in a new and deeper way. That is my prayer as I read the nativity stories. I feel a sense of excitement and wonder and my heart swells with love for the Baby Jesus, our Lord, and with joy at His coming into the world. I also feel a sense of admiration for the woman who bore Him and raised Him, and for the man who was used by God to protect her and the newborn Christ child.

Why did God choose Mary and Joseph above all other people to be the earthly parents of His One and Only Son? From a human perspective there was nothing special or extraordinary about either of them; they were poor and simple people. It’s obvious that God looked on the hearts (1Samuel 16:7) of both Mary and Joseph and favored them greatly (Luke 1:28). From the text we can assume that some of the character qualities He saw in them were faith, righteousness, obedience, vision, and most of all humility.

When God called to them through His angel, both Joseph and Mary believed Him and obeyed. Although the text doesn’t tell us much about their thought processes, they must have considered the cost. Mary’s untimely pregnancy would have raised an outcry among their family members. They would certainly have been the subject of gossip, scorn, and perhaps even ridicule among their neighbors. Yet, for both Mary and Joseph, their reputation and what others thought of them was not the main concern. Although they were unable to understand what God was going to do through this strange and seemingly scandalous plan, they chose to obey God and to trust Him. Their hearts were completely surrendered to God and to His will for their lives. Mary’s response to the message the angel brought was, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.” Luke 1:38 (KJV)

We would do well to imitate the character qualities of Mary and Joseph, for we too have been given the life of Jesus Christ, the One and Only Son of God, to carry within us, to nurture and to raise up to maturity. And, like Mary and Joseph, God has a plan to use each one of us. But if, as the world teaches us, we are always looking out for our own interests, we render ourselves unusable and ineffective for God’s Kingdom purposes. I love the way Rick Warren starts his book “The Purpose Driven Life”. The first line is short and shocking - “It’s not about you.” It shocks us because we are so used to thinking of ourselves first, and our motive for reading the book may be self-centered. The question that’s uppermost in our minds is often, “What’s in it for me?” or perhaps it is, “What can I do for God?” Neither Mary nor Joseph asked these questions. Their first thought was not for themselves.

Philippians 2:4-11 tells us what our heart attitude should be: that of Christ’s. If we were to live our lives with this heart attitude; if we were to imitate Mary and Joseph, being filled with faith and humbled by the majesty of God; if we were to wait and watch for the Lord to direct us and respond to His guidance with obedience instead of taking the initiative ourselves, He would be able to use us in amazing ways to reach those who are still lost. This is His plan and His purpose for every one of us: to be used by Him to reach out to the lost. It was His plan and His purpose for Mary and for Joseph. Although they could never have imagined the impact their obedience would have on the rest of the world throughout history, they did understand that it wasn’t about them. They were in the habit of praising and glorifying the Living God, and The Magnificat, or Mary’s Song, gives witness to this (Luke 1:46-55). As we behold God in all His glory and majesty, we are humbled. The more we time we spend beholding the glory and majesty of God, the more we want to worship and to praise Him and the more we want to serve Him and obey Him; our lives are transformed into Christlikeness (Philippians 2:4-11), and people will be drawn to us because we reflect His glory in an ever increasing degree (2 Corinthians 3:18).

As we journey through this advent season, we can make a commitment to behold and experience the majesty and glory of God anew; and as we do, the life of Christ with which we have been impregnated will grow within us. When we humble ourselves before God and allow His Spirit to work in our lives; when we obey Him and trust Him even when we don’t understand what He is doing, God will use us to advance His Kingdom here on earth. He will send people to us, just as He sent the shepherds to Mary, Joseph and the Christ child, and like the shepherds, they too will be encouraged and transformed by the life of Christ in us.

The story of Jesus’ birth fills us with wonder each year because it is so astonishing. To think that God would send His One and Only Son into the world to be born to poor and lowly parents and then laid in a manger for His bed! To think that the people God sent His angelic host to proclaim the news of Christ’s birth to were poor shepherds – the lowest of the low - watching over their flocks on the hills around Bethlehem! Because of His action through these events, it’s obvious that God sent His Son into the world for the sake of those who are poor and despised by the rest of the world; that He loves and blesses and even uses those who are humble and lowly. In His Sermon on the Mount, the first thing Jesus teaches is that the poor in spirit are blessed of God because the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to them. This is the story of the first Christmas. It was for people who know their “humble estate”, as Mary’s Song calls it, that God sent His Son into the world, and it was people of humble estate that God chose to birth Him and raise Him to manhood.

What an awesome God we have! May we remember daily to surrender our wills and our lives to Him and to give Him all of our worship; may we always remember that it’s not about us; and may we all be filled with wonder at the glory, the majesty, and the goodness of our Father in Heaven and His perfect plan to save that which was lost (Luke 19:10).

"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!" Luke 2:14 ESV

(This is an article I wrote for our church Christmas newsletter.)

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Praise report

Last night was my biweekly visit to Alouette Correctional Centre for Women. The women I have been visiting in the past few months have all been released and so I began new friendships with a couple of women who have requested a visitor through W2 (Woman to Woman, see link for M2W2). As always it was truly a blessing to get to know them better. They are both women I have spoken to in the past when I've been visiting other women, and one of them I have prayed with before.

It's so amazing how God works. With every relationship I have formed through my prison visits I sense that it is God's plan to bring us together. I am able to see where God is working in their hearts and lives and, by His grace, to speak words of encouragement. Of course, the reason I am there is to point the way to the One and Only who can heal them and comfort them, and transform and redeem their lives. What a privilege to represent Him there in that place! Although many of the women feel undeserving because of the crimes and the behaviour that put eventually landed them in prison, I know that God passionately loves every single one of them! He sent His only Son to die on the cross in order that they could be forgiven and set free.

And thankfully some do get set free and manage to stay free. As I was talking to one of my new friends last night, she gave me some news about Denise, a woman I was visiting over the spring and summer months who was released a couple of months ago. As I wrote in an earlier blog post, I gave her my contact information and encouraged her to stay in touch but she hasn't done that yet. However, according to the news I heard last night, Denise has managed to stay free! She's still clean and sober! Praise God! I know that she has Christian friends and relatives and that she was planning to go back to a spiritually alive church family when she returned to her home town. Thank God she hasn't been sidetracked by the lures of the enemy or the unhealthy relationships of the past. God has a wonderful plan for her life and I'm so happy that she is continuing to walk in it.

Thanks to all those who lifted Denise up in prayer. I know that it is only by the power of God that Denise has been able to stay on the paths of righteousness and all of your prayers have helped to give her strength.

He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand
Psalm 40:2

Hallelujah!!! Our God is great!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Peace like a river

I'm so thankful that although Elsie, the director of Partners in Hope, is away on holiday this week, all's quiet on the western front. It's been a busy time as I've had to lead a couple of meetings in her place, but it's not more than I can handle. The last time she went away one of the girls relapsed and another went awol. As Elsie said it was a "trial by fire" for my first time being in charge of it all.

It's so exciting to see what God is doing in the heart and life of Kelly, our new resident. She really "gets it" and is filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. It's a beautiful thing to see. Her heart's desire is to follow Jesus, and I can see that He has big plans for her. Andrea is doing well. Still somewhat resistant to the "Christian thing" but I see changes in her too. She has such a good heart, and she loves people fiercely. Mabel has been working several jobs, and although that's a good thing, she is not getting much rest as one of them is a night shift. Mun Hee is a blessing as always, and God is doing a wonderful work in her heart - and in mine too.

God is so good, and I am so grateful for His love, His protection, and most of all, His peace.

Thanks to all those who are praying for us. I would be especially grateful for your prayers for my sister Heather tonight.


Thursday, August 9, 2007

God's grace

It's always amazing to me to see just how very much God loves us. Even when we stray from Him - even in the midst of our worst sin - He is always there, waiting with open arms to embrace us the moment we turn back to Him.

In my work at the Women of Hope recovery house I am privileged to witness the grace and the love of God every day in the lives of the women who come here to live and to heal and to grow. My prayer for them - and for all of us here - is that God would open our eyes to see the grace He is pouring out on us today, His caring and His provision in our lives. When I turned away from self-pity and became able to have an "attitude of gratitude" for the things that I had instead of focussing on all of the things I didn't have, my life was changed and my recovery from sexual addiction became established on solid ground.

Grace is not earned, it can only be received. It is God's love and blessings poured out freely on us every day, even though we have done nothing to earn it. There is nothing we can ever do to earn it; but in order to experience it we must open ourselves to receive it. When we choose to see God as a punishing, condemning God, we close ourselves off from His grace.

The Bible says "God is love". That is truly the essence of His character and His relationship to His creation. 1 Corinthians 13 says that love does not keep a record of wrongs, and John 3:17 says that God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Jesus came to rescue us - not to punish or condemn us - and He willingly died a torturous death on a cross in order to demonstrate God's love to us. Even those who tortured and crucified Jesus are not outside of God's love; even as Jesus was dying on the cross He forgave them so that they too could receive God's grace.

There is no one and never will be anyone who could love us more than God loves us. If you are believing the lie that God is just waiting to pounce on you and punish you for the wrong things you've done, I pray that you will open your heart to the truth and receive God's free gift of grace today.

At the end of the Bible, Jesus extends an invitation to us; it is open to every person, but this invitation was extended to the Church - to those who think they know Jesus and believe they already possess all that they need. I pray that whether we feel "poor in spirit" or not, all of us, with humble hearts, will respond to His invitation and invite Him to come into our hearts and our lives today. Only by opening our hearts to receive Him and His grace, will we inherit the Kingdom of God.

“Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends." Revelation 3:20

PS: Please pray for Connie. She is not able to receive God's grace at the present time. Through a prophetic word in church on Sunday God set before her life and death. He said that He is calling her to "choose life" (see Deuteronomy 30), but she is so lost in self-pity, and so focussed on self-will that she is unable even to realize the significance of the decision that God has set before her. Her situation is very serious and I believe that her life hangs in the balance. Page 62 in the AA Big Book, the chapter called How It Works, speaks so accurately about the spiritual state that Connie is in at the moment. If she refuses to let go of her self-will and thereby refuses to "choose life" as God would have her do, I despair that she will be by default literally be choosing death (Romans 6:16). For now, thank God, she is safe from harm and back in the hospital again.

Update: Connie has been released from the hospital and is on her way to a shelter where she will have help available to her through social workers and psychiatrists - if she wants to receive it. We plan to stay in touch and invite her to join in our social and spiritual gatherings as often as possible, but at the moment she is very angry with us.

Blessings and thanks so much for your prayers!

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Ayden and Jeremy at Playland

Okay, so this is a shameless Grandma move and I make no apologies. Since I can't show you the pictures in my wallet I'm posting this picture of my son Jeremy and my grandson Ayden who is six years old. Incredible resemblance huh?

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

I was in prison and you came to visit me

Visited Alouette Correctional Centre for Women last night with about ten other women from W2 (Woman to Woman, a restorative justice ministry). What a blessing it is to represent the Son of God in that place!

Denise, one of the women I have been visiting for a few months, is being released next week and I'm happy to report that she's ready! I've watched her grow in Jesus by leaps and bounds, and have witnessed the renewing of her mind as well. She reads her Bible, does a devotional study, and prays to God every day. She will be living in a Christian house for women for the first few months.

Last night she was peaceful and full of hope for the future. I know that God's hand is on her and that if she stays close to Him He will lead her along the path that He has chosen for her - and I believe her calling is to minister to other women. It was amazing to witness how the other women are drawn to her, and how loving and compassionate she is towards even the rudest and most hardened of them. Even those who violate her space and bully her, she is able to view with compassion and she has learned to deal with each violation with wisdom and mercy.

Recently several women from her home town joined her at the institution and they are amazed at how much she's changed. One of them told me what she used to be like and about the differences she sees in her now. They are drawn to her now because of the life, beauty and peace of Jesus living in her. When I prayed for her at the end of our visit, several women who know Denise came and kneeled down or sat beside her and put their hands on both of us. It was an amazing moment, and God touched each one of them. They brushed away tears afterward because they felt the love and the presence of God as we prayed.

Each time I visit Denise, she relates to me stories of how God has answered the prayers we pray when we are together. This week the most amazing answer to prayer was that one of the worst bullies at ACCW, who was continually persecuting Denise, has begun attending chapel services with her on Sundays and her heart is being softened! Our prayer for this woman two weeks ago was that God would turn her heart to Him so that she could receive the healing she needs, and come to know His love. Thank You Lord that You answered our prayer with a miracle!

Would you please pray for Denise as she leaves the prison and returns to her old stomping grounds. There will be many temptations and the devil will try to convince her that she hasn't changed - he's already been trying that through her dreams. My prayer is that she will remain in Jesus' love as He tells us to do in John 15. If she can just hold on to Him and His love, I know that she'll be allright. Also, if you would pray for Devon, the young mom, and her son. Devon is becoming discouraged and for the first time I see the beginnings of hardening happening in her heart, probably because of her father's recent rejection of her. Also, her baby has an ear infection and he's been very cranky lately.

Father please heal Devon's baby's ear infection and help her to trust that You love her and will never leave her. And please shelter Denise under Your wing as she goes out into the world again. Thank You for the miracles You've done in her and for the miracles You've shown her while she was in prison. Strengthen her heart and build up her faith, surround her with godly people who can encourage her and support her, and lead her in Your paths of righteousness. I pray in Jesus' Name.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Our daily bread

It's been amazing to watch how God provides for the day to day and ministry expenses of the Partners in Hope Recovery Society. Last week Elsie, our director, was wondering how "on earth" we were going to make the mortgage payment this month. I offered to give her the $250 I got from St. John's Duncan to go towards my own financial support, but she wouldn't take it. She told me to give it to Church Army for my support, that she trusted God to bring in the money we needed for the mortgage. Then last week as the payment came due, some money came in through donations which covered the mortgage payment for another month. Elsie was amazed, but she told me that this scenario has been played out on a monthly basis since she started this ministry twelve years ago.

Then, last Friday afternoon, she discovered that the neck of her guitar was irreparably broken. She was a little ticked off and discouraged, but decided to go ahead and put out $150 to buy a used one from a downtown eastside pawn shop that is closing out. She needed a guitar that evening to practice music for Sunday's services at St. Simon's and Immanuel. When she arrived at music practice Friday evening, the woman who was playing keyboards told her that she had just received a small unexpected windfall and that the Lord had impressed on her heart to donate $150 of it to Elsie and her ministry! God is so cool!

Jesus teaches in Matthew 6:25-34 that we should focus on God and the things of His Kingdom, and not become distracted by the needs we have from day to day, even the basic needs such as food and clothing. He exhorts us to trust God to provide what we need each day.

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink...Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? ...So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' ...But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."

The famous "one day at a time" principle taught by Alcoholics Anonymous comes from this same passage: "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."

It's a beautiful thing to be able to live each day without worry, resting in the knowledge that what Jesus said in Matthew 6 is true, and that the promises of God are unfailing. Of course, we have to do our part - letting go of our worries and focussing on Him instead of what we need - in order to see His promises come true. That's the hard part, until you begin to witness His hand as He blesses and provides. The good news is that we can trust Him; He is worthy of our trust.

Oh, and if you're looking for the pot at the end of the rainbow, I think you might be disappointed...

Jesus in jail

Thankfully, and in answer to our prayers, there's been a change in the number of women attending Sunday chapel at the Fraser Valley Institution; six last week and four this week. It's wonderful to see the chapel at least partly filled with women, and to be able to worship together with them; they love to sing. Today the power and the knowledge of the Lord's presence softened hard hearts - even to the point of tears and sniffles - as Wendy, the chaplain, led us in worship and preached the Word and I led us in a time of prayer.

One of the women I was with one-on-one a couple of months ago when I led chapel in Wendy's absense has moved from the maximum security unit to the general population. It's amazing to see how radiant she is as she grows in the knowledge of God's love for her - thanks to the chaplain's patient and anointed ministry. She has softened incredibly and her smile stretches from one ear to the other. It's such a blessing to be greeted each week by a huge bear hug as she tells me how happy she is to see me. What a change from a couple of months ago when she sat in chapel, sullen and non-responsive except to express sarcasm or anger. I'm thankful that through the ministry of the Holy Spirit God allowed me to see past her self-protective defences to her heart. It's so amazing to see the transformation that occurs when people who are lost and hurting give their lives into God's hands.

For the past two Sundays I've been able to witness Wendy's ministry to the women in the the maximum security unit, and even the segregation unit. The issues she deals with are often difficult to resolve, except through prayer, as they can result from the obsessive needs of women whose psyches have been twisted by abuse, violence and addiction. The good news is that God is there and He's working, patiently drawing these women into relationship to Himself through Jesus. Today I had a conversation with one of the guards who is kind and merciful, while still remaining firmly in control. She sees the hearts of the women and has compassion for them. I'd like to be more like her, actually. Unmistakably in control, yet maintaining a gentle, kind, open heart, and a sense of humour the same time.

I am thankful to those of you who've been praying for me, and I'm happy to report that both here at the house, as well as in the prisons, I am finally beginning to feel more confident and able to assume the authority that comes with my role and position. Of course I'm a work in progress, and there is still much that the Lord wants to do in me. But, it's truly a testament to God's transforming power that I have remained willing to persevere through the difficult times. In the past (BC: before Christ) I would have quit when things got hard, believing that it wasn't meant to be. Now I know that all I need to do is surrender my life and my circumstances to God, and to trust and obey Him. Like the song says, there's no other way - and the beauty is, it's just that simple.

Oswald Chambers speaks eloquently to this subject in the November 14 devotional reading from My Utmost For His Highest: When once God's Redemption comes to the point of obedience in a human soul, it always creates. If I obey Jesus Christ, the Redemption of God will rush through me to other lives, because behind the deed of obedience is the Reality of Almighty God.

May we walk in faith always, trusting that our Heavenly Father, Almighty God, is in control, and obeying His guidance so that His redemption can rush through us to bear much fruit by redeeming the lives of those around us.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


Song of Songs 1:3 Pleasing is the fragrance of your perfumes; your name is like perfume poured out.

I went out for a walk around the neighbourhood this evening. It's a beautiful, warm, peaceful summer evening. We had some rain earlier today and so the air smells fresh and clean, but there was also the heavy, beautiful scent of roses in the air. It was captivating, and I couldn't help but thank God and give Him praise for creating such a beautiful and fragrant plant as the rose.

I spoke to Connie on the phone today. She's still in the hospital, and today she seems to be doing better. I believe that this is the next step in the healing process for her, not only psychologically, but physically as well. While she is there, the doctors are addressing physical problems and damage to her body that she's been living with for some time now, and wasn't able to address while she was living on the streets and active in her addiction. Please continue to pray for her as she is no longer willing to work her recovery. She believes that she's already learned everything to learn and it didn't help her. But, obviously, if she knew it all already, she would be able to keep from relapsing after three months.

Andrea is doing well. Although she's a reluctant disciple, there is a willingness to learn and to ask questions, and today I was able to see progress and growth in her interactions with me during our study session.

We will be welcoming another woman into the house at the beginning of next month. There's always a little (or a lot) of tension when this happens as we get to know the new person and get used to having another person occupying space here.

I'm still thankful to be here. Elsie, Mun Hee and I had a prayer meeting this morning. We want to make time to pray more so that we are bathed in the glory of God's presence, and able to minister in the power of the Holy Spirit. Please pray for us, that we would be able to find and make the time to do this; the busy-ness of everything there is to do at the house, as well as the meetings and outreach that we do, often robs us of being able to spend time in God's presence.

Thank you for reading this, and for praying. May the Lord bless you in all goodness and fill you with His peace that passes all understanding.


Saturday, July 7, 2007

Power in the rest

God is so good, and He knows what's best for us. And when we give Him permission to be in control of our lives, He works all things for good. That's what He's done in the situation with Connie. She didn't go to Belkin House. The hospital had her assessed by a psychiatrist before they released her, and as a result, she is spending a few weeks in hospital so that her mental health issues can be addressed and she can be stabilized on medication. I believe that this is the next step in her recovery - and God knew this is what she needed now in order to be able to go forward in her healing and recovery from addiction.

Andrea is doing well. She's discovering her gifts and, in spite of the resistance of her "flesh", drawing closer to Jesus, as He continues to draw her closer to Himself. She is a sweet girl.

I am feeling exhausted today. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday are always very busy here because of all of the different things that we do - outreach, food co-op, meetings, etc. - and I guess that, added to the stress of last weekend, it's all caught up with me. I hope to be able to rest today and remain quiet, hopefully to have some solitude. I know that all I need is some time to rest in the arms of my Father; and to drink deeply of the Living Waters.

I'm grateful that I can trust God in all circumstances, to bring about the best result for everyone involved, and also to bring healing and comfort and strength to those in need. My God is a good God, and my Daddy is a loving Daddy.

Monday, July 2, 2007

All's quiet on the western front

Thank you all for your prayers for those of us at the Women of Hope house. Things have settled down. Andrea is safe and doing fine; she will be returning to us very early tomorrow morning. I'm actually thankful to God that she wasn't here last night to witness Connie's erratic behaviour because it was a very difficult and stressful few hours.

Earlier today I learned that Connie was going to be going to Belkin House, a wonderful Salvation Army shelter and a place of refuge and healing for those who are seeking recovery from drug addiction. We love Connie and want to stay involved in her life and recovery, and we want her to come back to us too, but she'll have to have 30 days of continuous sobriety before she can do that. I pray that she will avail herself of the counselling and discipleship opportunities that are available at Belkin House.

Mabel's fine, and Mun Hee and I are tired but grateful. I feel blessed and am thanking God for giving us His peace. I'm also thankful that He gives courage, wisdom and strength in times of trouble. Praise You, Father!

In Christ,


Please keep us all at the Women of Hope house in your prayers. It has been a very difficult and stressful weekend, and Connie is in a full blown relapse. She was awol all weekend, but tonight after she returned I had to call 911 because of her behaviour which was threatening the safety of the rest of the women here at the house. I'm so sad that she's returned to her old ways and I pray that she will return to the bosom of the Lord quickly. Andrea, who is fairly new, is also struggling right now and has broken the rules. I don't know what is going to happen with her. She's gone too and I have a feeling that she may not come back. Elsie's away and so Mun Hee and I are dealing with all of the chaos and crises the best we can. I feel ill equipped, but God is giving strength and guidance, and, thankfully, even peace. Thank You, Father.

And as for good news, I had the privilege of seeing a gospel performance by Jim Byrnes, and also the Blind Boys of Alabama, last night. The Blind Boys were one of the featured acts at the Vancouver Jazz Festival and the coolest thing about the concert was that every song carried the message of the good news about Jesus Christ! Thousands of people heard it! The Blind Boys aren't shy about talking about their faith either.

God is on His throne. Hallelujah!

Monday, June 11, 2007

The invisibles

We have another new face around the Women of Hope house. Andrea has come to live with us. Your prayers for Andrea, and for me as I minister to her, would be gratefully appreciated. She has a different background, and therefore also has different needs than many of the women we have discipled in the past.

My role within the house is changing as I take on more of the responsibility of managing it and discipling the women. I am grateful to have Elsie's guidance and mentoring in the process. She is supporting and encouraging me every step of the way, and also giving valuable feedback. Even when she points out my shortcomings, she does it in such a way that it doesn't feel like criticism, in fact, I feel blessed. I guess that's what it means to speak the truth in love.

We are continuing to go out in teams as we deliver the food to the food co-op members on Friday afternoons. I drove and blessed last Friday, and my first team were husband and wife missionaries-in-training who have come all the way from Korea to be eqipped for cross cultural service at Gateway in Langley( Our delivery route was the skid row and China Town areas of downtown Vancouver. This couple from Korea were amazed and appalled at the poverty and depravity on Vancouver's streets as we drove through the old downtown core. There is nothing in Korea that prepared them for what they saw: dirty, aging, homeless men pushing shopping carts full of their meagre belongings along the sidewalks; women whose bodies are nothing but skin and bone because they are too caught up in drug addiction to care about food; drug addicte3d prostitutes in outlandish get-ups and garish make-up trying to look alluring to passersby; and young men and women sleeping on the streets covered up with blankets and sleeping bags. This couple was so outraged at what they saw that it caused me to realize just how hardened and desensitized our North American hearts have become towards the marginalized and "throw-away" citizens of our culture. Although they are there on the streets every single day for all to see, somehow they've become invisible to most of us. We don't want to see them; their problems seem too overwhelming for us and so we choose not to care. The Korean couple told me that in their country anyone who is caught with an elicit drug, even a marijuana joint, will serve a long jail sentence. They cannot understand how our government can let people drink and do drugs and sell them openly on the streets.

My second delivery run was a long one, and our "swamper" was Stanley, a mentally handicapped man who is one of our food co-op members. Elsie told him that his job was to carry the boxes, and so he valiantly carried every single box, even though some of them caused him to huff and puff - especially since we sometimes had to park a fair distance from some of the buildings we delivered to. Stanley opted out on the last delivery; he was too tired to carry one more box. It was a real blessing to have him along, and as we went into the buildings and greeted the various food co-op members, they were generally very happy to see Stanley and the rest of us. We didn't do any praying on this run, but we blessed a lot of people and got a praise report from one lady that I had prayed with on a previous run. God had come in and healed some of the grief she was experiencing after her sister's untimely death.

Connie is doing very well. Although going to school on a full-time basis is exhausting for her as she adjusts to her new schedule, she his hanging in there. She's learning to deal with disappointments and with the normal ups and downs of life without wanting to resort to addictive behaviour to comfort herself and zone out. I give praise and glory to God for all that He is doing in her life; a few short months ago she was among the ranks of those who are homeless and drug addicted in Abbotsford. Your continuing prayers for her are coveted. Please pray for Mun Hee, as well. She's our resident Korean missionary, and she is having a tough time lately.

Thanks for reading this and for praying for us may the Lord bless you abundantly!

Elsie and Jana, Connie and Mun Hee

Monday, June 4, 2007

Answers to prayer

It's been a busy week, and tomorrow another one begins. There are lots of changes happening around the house. There are women moving out and others moving in.

Thank you to those who have been praying for us. Connie, who has 80 days clean now, begins the New Start program tomorrow. It's a program for upgrading education and skills and for helping women to become more employable. She's excited but nervous. It's been a long time since she went to school, and it's a huge step up from being on the streets just 2 and a half months ago. It's a wonder to see all that God is doing in her in such a short time. She's truly being transformed.

Elsie and I interviewed a couple of women who were interested in coming to live at the house. Neither of them are Christians yet, but the evidence of God's hand on their lives was so obvious. They felt drawn to our program because it is Christ-centered - although neither of them realized that's what the draw was. One woman was very fragile emotionally, having just left a very violent and abusive partner. Her life story was filled with trauma and abuse. She realized, as Elsie and I did, that our house is not the right place for her. She needs a place that is quieter and more secure. But we had a powerful prayer time with her and she told us she wanted to come to church with us, and today she did just that! I pray that she will continue to draw close to God. The other woman had an entirely different story to tell; she comes from a life of privilege and wealth. She has recently been released from prison, and will be coming to join us at the house some time this week. She'll fit in well, I think. I look forward to getting to know her better.

I had the privilege of praying for a few of our food co-op patrons on Friday as we delivered orders. One was a man with arthritis, another a lady who has recently lost several friends and family members, and another was a native lady whose son is serving a sentence in a federal institution for a crime he didn't commit. I love being able to bless people and to lift their needs up to God in this way, and I trust that He will respond by answering. He loves to reveal His care to people who are lost and hurting.

And speaking of answers to prayer, Connie and Mun Hee and I went to visit Connie's brother in hospital last week. He was very ill. He is a homeless drug addict who lives in the skid row area of Vancouver. He has AIDS and was sick with a severe bacterial pneumonia. He was eager to have us pray for him, and as we did, even he could feel the power of God move in response to our prayers. Today we had news that he is better and has been moved out of the ICU. Thank You Lord that You hear and answer prayer.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Alberta bound

Well, I was (Alberta bound) on Friday. I spent the weekend in Calgary with some colleagues from Church Army, some of whom I hadn't met before. We attended a wonderful retreat put on by Equipping Evangelists ( Our National Director Bruce Smith (standing in front of the tree) is on the leadership team for E2. It was a time of coming together to support and encourage one another and to affirm our calling to lead others into an intimate relationship with our loving Father in heaven through Jesus Christ, and to exhort and equip the Church to reach the lost. I came home feeling strengthened, encouraged and affirmed.

The best part about the weekend was the fellowship. There was lots of laughter, especially during the times when the Church Army folks met for meals and fellowship. I count myself very blessed to be part of this wonderful group of people called Church Army and I'm so thankful that God has called me to be one of them.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Well isn't that special!

Thanks so much to those of you who've been praying for me. I am blessed! God has provided in a huge way, and has answered prayer.

The financial deficit I mentioned in an earlier post has been met by a gracious and wonderful child of God. I am not in the red to Church Army any more! Thank You, Lord! And thank you - and you know who you are - from the bottom of my heart!

God has also been at work changing and equipping me. He's making me able to do the work that I've been called to do, and He's also filling me with the strength and the confidence that I need to assume the role I've been assigned. Thank You, Lord!

Anybody remember this precious face? I preached a sermon on pride, one of the seven deadly sins, last Sunday at Immanuel, our street church. I used Church Lady to illustrate and characterize spiritual pride. If you're as old as I am you'll remember Church Lady, Dana Carvey's caricature from Saturday Night Live. Of course, God used my sermon preparation to teach me through His Word and through my circumstances and experiences of the past couple of weeks. He made me aware of the prideful thoughts, feelings and ways that still exist in me. They were hard to spot because they were disguised as humility: feelings of inadequacy. Not so pretty. But, I know from working the Twelve Steps of A. A. that when God shows me a character defect (Step 6), it means that He wants to remove it from me (Step 7). But the key is to humble myself before Him, and ask Him to do it for me. I can't change my ways on my own. That's why Jesus had to die on the Cross, so I would have the resurrection power of the Holy Spirit to help me.

Step 6: Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
Step 7: Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

Lord, I humbly ask you to remove these shortcomings that have to do with pride, in Jesus' Name.

Oh, and I pray that the Lord will keep the people of His Church from becoming proud and haughty and hypocritical like Church Lady! The reason some of us found her so funny in the 80's is because, sadly, there is some truth to Dana Carvey's portrayal.

Blessings, and thank you for your prayers!

Friday, May 11, 2007

Yet another new face

We've been joined by another woman who has come to live a the Women of Hope house. Since the rooms are already full, she has to sleep on the pull-out bed in the downstairs gathering room and that doesn't give her a lot of privacy. Please pray for Laura, and for the rest of us as we adjust to having a new member of the family and also to many more changes. One or more of us is leaving at the end of the month.

Blessings and thanks!

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Another blessed day

It was another blessed day, and during the chapel service I led at the Fraser Valley Institution, God gave me the privilege of sharing one on one with a woman who's currently serving time in the segregation unit. The songs we sang and the message I had written were all just for her today, and only God could have engineered that. Instead of standing and preaching to her, I sat down across from her and shared some of the highlights of my message. It was based on Daniel 3, the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and applied pretty nicely to her circumstances. I asked her to share a time when she had experienced a miraculous rescue that she knew could only have been God, and she told me about a terrifying hostage taking where she was the hostage and was sure that she would be killed because based on the past actions of her captors. She was released, but not unharmed. She showed me the knife scars on her neck, which she will carry for the rest of her life, and told me that she knew even then that it had to have been God who preserved her life.

She's serving a life sentence at FVI, and she cried when she told me that it's a miracle she's even alive - not just because of the hostage incident, but many other things she's experienced in her life as well. She said she doesn't understand why God would preserve her life, and I told her that, even though she may not be able to see it now, God has a plan for her life; and also, that with God all things are possible and if it's God's will, she may one day receive a pardon and be given her freedom.

One of the songs she requested during the service today is "Freedom", a song written by Mike Larson from Abbotsford. She loves to sing that song, and at the end of our time together I reminded her of the lyrics and said her that even if she never does walk free from the penitentiary, she can still find freedom even inside its walls. It's a kind of freedom that she can't even imagine right now, but it's far better than the freedom of being on the outside. I pray that she will come to know that freedom. I ended our time together by praying Paul's prayer for the fullness of the knowledge of God in Ephesians 3 over her.

Since she's in a federal prison I don't feel that I can share her real name, but would you join me in praying for this young woman? I'll call her Stacy. God will know who you mean, I'm sure.

Thanks to those of you who prayed prayer for me. I was able to play guitar without too many nerves and fumbled fewer chords today. But most of all I was able to feel a confidence and strength I haven't felt before in there. God was with me.

Blessings and love from your sister in Christ...

If you're tired and thirsty, there is freedom...

Saturday, May 5, 2007

A party in heaven

Well, Kerry's courage and determination brought him here to us on Friday afternoon, even if he was six hours late.

After spending the morning helping to put together the orders, I went out on the food co-op deliveries as the "blesser" (there was also a driver and a "swamper" to carry the boxes on each run). I got to bless people by greeting them and introducing our team and by offering prayer to those who shared a health problem or a need with us. It blessed me to be able to share God with folks in this way. I laid hands one fellow who has terrible burns all over his body as a result of a house fire that nearly killed him. He was very open to prayer and I continue to pray for his healing, and for the others we met, too.

When we got back from our second delivery run after 4 p.m., Kerry was sitting on the back deck smoking a cigarette. He looked exhausted and said he'd gone to 557 W. 21st Ave instead of E. 21st Ave and so his walk was made even longer than it had to be. But he was happy to be here, even though the place looked only a little familiar and he didn't remember most of the people - even Elsie.

He told me about some things that were happening to him that he's been wondering about, and some were good and some not so good. From what he was saying I knew that he has been hearing his Heavenly Father's voice again, especially since the voice had blessed him and encouraged him by telling him that he is a man of courage. But he wasn't able to trust that it was really God because he has also been experiencing a serious spiritual attack that has filled him with a great deal of fear. I reminded him again of what he'd shared with me - about God being his Father and how He'd been guiding him and protecting him - and explained that God speaks words of encouragement and love. That, although He may correct us (and He's done so with Kerry), He never belittles or condemns us. I told Kerry that in order for him to have the full assurance that he was under God's protection, he needed to invite Jesus to come into his life.

I briefly shared the gospel of Jesus Christ and explained that because of His death and resurrection, Jesus now reigns over everything - even the spiritual realms - and when we invite Him in we come under God's protection. Then I asked if he wanted to invite Jesus to come into his life and be his personal Saviour. He said yes! So we prayed the prayer together and then I prayed over him asking the Lord to protect Kerry and give him the assurance that he is a beloved child of the Almighty and Living God. When we were finished praying, Kerry's eyes looked much clearer and he smiled brightly. The fear was gone. Hallelujah!!! Praise the Lord!!! I pray that Kerry will be able to realize the Truth, that there is a God who loves him and watches over him, and that he can call on the Name of Jesus whenever he is in trouble.

Lord, thank You that You love Kerry, and that his well-being matters to You. Thank You that You sent Your only beloved Son to die for him. I pray that Kerry will come into the fullness of the knowledge of Your love through the work of the Holy Spirit. Please continue to watch over him, and protect him from the evil one. May he feel the safety of your wings as You hover over him, shielding him from harm. I ask this in Jesus' Name.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Ephesians 6:12

For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.

God demonstrated His faithfulness again today. I had a very tough time this morning during a teaching and discipleship session. Because I'm new, my authority is being challenged by the women at every turn. It was heavy going because of the spiritual warfare. It's interesting that that was our topic today, the battle between the sinful nature and the Life of the Spirit within us. The key is choice, and God has given us the Holy Spirit so that we have the power to choose wisely and what is right. I chose not to fight and argue, but to remain peaceable, although to some people, and one of the women present, that makes me appear weak.

Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. (Eph.6:10)
I felt rattled and shell-shocked after the session, but as soon as I came into my room and sat down and gave it to God, I felt His strength and His peace filling me. I also felt His approval, like He was proud of me, or saying to me, "Well done!". I had to struggle for a while to hang on to the peace and strength and the knowledge that God is for me, because the devil tried to convince me that things are never going to get better and I should quit. "Not gonna go there." That's what I used to say to myself when I struggled with unhealthy thoughts while I was in the early months of my recovery, and before I knew Jesus. Now I can take every thought captive into obedience to Christ.

God's done an amazing work in me. Most of my life, when things got tough I didn't get tougher - I quit; I gave up. If it was hard, then I thought it wasn't meant to be. But now, because I have faith in God, and because I know His love and faithfulness, I am determined to see things through no matter how hard they get - unless He releases me to move on. I know that I'm learning and growing through these experiences. He's building my character and teaching me to rely on Him alone. He's making me stronger too. I'm grateful that I have Elsie's support as well. She's a blessing, and an incredible role model for me too.

We had a wonderful Christian Twelve Step meeting tonight at Mission Possible in the skid row area of Vancouver. The worship was powerful and the people really get into it. God was present was in our midst. He's such a great God. I can truly say that I am blessed to be here, in spite of the difficulties.

Please pray for us, especially for Lisa who is having a difficult time adjusting to being with us here. Thanks so much for reading this and for praying. God bless you.

PS: Please pray for Kerry too, as we contacted the place where he is living, and his condition is more serioius than I thought. But I know that God is with him; I pray that he remembers to pray and lift his cares and his condition up to God.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Miracles, signs and wonders

Well, maybe you had to be there...but God showed up in a couple of really cool ways today. First of all, I was out running errands with Mun Hee in another part of town when we happened to come upon Kerry (not his real name), a young man who recently joined our food co-op. He was sitting at a table outside a coffee shop. This guy is amazing. Two and a half years ago he had an accident that killed him instantly and if it weren't for God's intervention, he'd have stayed that way - dead, I mean. I believe it's a miracle that an ambulance crew just happened to be driving along that highway. They witnessed the accident and immediately came to his rescue and saved his life. His body and his brain were very badly damaged, but Kerry has such a strong will to live and such fierce determination - and of course God's power was at work too - that he has regained his ability to talk and to walk (with the help of a cane) - and walk he does! He walks all over Vancouver. When he found out about our food co-op he walked all the way from where he is living to the Women of Hope house to pick up his food order, and then he carried it all the way home with him, about 25 city blocks or more! (We've since given him a little cart with wheels that he can use to transport the food.) The next week he showed up early to help us package up the food and he continued to come for a few weeks, but he didn't show up last week. We wondered where he was.

On Easter Sunday while we were eating supper together after Immanuel, our street church, Kerry told me the story of his accident. He also shared how God has become his Father, and how He speaks to him and corrects him, and protects him and guides him. He doesn't consider himself a Christian and he doesn't go to church, but he told me that, because of all that He has done for him, he surrendered his life to God last fall. His story and his witness were such an inspiration to me that I wept that night while I lay in bed. I thanked God for demonstrating to Kerry - and to me through Kelly's testimony - His faithfulness, His kindness and tender loving care.

So, today, when we saw him outside the coffee shop he didn't remember us. I introduced myself and Mun Hee and asked him if he remembered Partners in Hope and the food co-op. He said he didn't. He explained that he'd had a terrible grand mal seizure recently and it wiped out a lot of his memory. I asked him if he still wanted to be part of the food co-op and he said yes, so I sat down to write out the contact information for him. Then I asked him if he remembered that he had an intimate relationship with God. He said he didn't, and so I reminded him of all that he had told me about God and how He guided him and watched over him. He listened with an expression of wonder on his face and then he thanked me and told me how inspiring it was and how he'd wondered about God and whether he knew Him. I asked him if Mun Hee and I could pray for him and he said, "If that's not too much to ask." Too much to ask?! Wow, it was a privilege!

It's so inspiring to see the way that God works in people's lives and how He cares so deeply for each one of us! I had work to do at the house today; I didn't plan on going out at all, but I'm so glad that when Mun Hee asked me to take her shopping I said yes. It's absolutely amazing how God put us together with Kerry. He knew that Kerry needed to be reminded that he has a Father in Heaven who loves him and is with him.

Will you join me in praying for Kerry? I pray that he will remember to come to the house on Friday to fellowship with us as we package the co-op food and share a meal together. I believe that the Lord brought Kerry to us for a reason. He needs fellowship and discipling. He needs friends who love him. His family live far away and there's estrangement there too. Thank you Father for bringing Kerry to us, and thank You that You are so faithful and so kind and so loving. Please restore Kerry's memories of all that You've done for him in the past. Surround him with a sense of Your presence with him and fill him with the knowledge of Your love. Lord, I plead Your protection over Kerry, over his mind and over his health, and I thank you for his determination and his courage. Please heal all the broken places in his body and his soul and repair the damage that was done to his brain by the accident as well as the seizure. Bless him abundantly - and I know that You do. I ask all this in Jesus' Name.

The other cool thing God did today was respond to my prayers for our laptop computer. I had to do some work to prepare for the two recovery meetings we have coming up this week (we use a digital projector to put up the study and the songs) but I wasn't able to get it done because the monitor on the laptop remained black each time I started it up. I restarted the computer several times and then put it away for a while, but each time I came back and tried again the monitor wouldn't light up. So I closed it again and asked Lorna and Connie to agree with me in prayer that God would fix whatever was wrong with the laptop. Then I laid hands on it and prayed and when I opened up it up again, the monitor lit up! Hallelujah!

Thank You Lord for Your amazing Love and Faithfulness! I love You!

Here's a cool satellite photo. You can find out where it is by opening Google Maps and entering this location: 43°38'43.00"N 115°59'33.50"W. Click on "Hybrid" you'll see the satellite image.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Pomp and circumstance

Vancouver's Trout Lake Park
It's been a wild week here at the Women of Hope house. We've gone from prayer to laughter to tears to anger to peace to fear to joy...and on it goes. Please keep us in your prayers, especially Connie and Lisa who are having some difficulties adjusting to life here and to living life together under the same roof. The enemy would love to convince them to leave or to relapse.

I'm so happy to be here that I thank God every night when I go to bed. Even though there are difficulties and challenges that come with living in community, and even though I am busy from morning through till late at night most days, I am excited. I know that God is going to grow me in ways I probably can't even imagine. The plan is for me to take over more and more of the responsiblity of managing the house and discipling the women. I'd be very grateful for your prayers; I am a person who does not have a strong administrative gift and so there are many challenges as I try to organize my time and to remember the weekly house routines and the duties I am expected to perform.

I am becoming niew aware of just how self-centered I still am and how little time I spend thinking of the needs of others. Lord, help me to learn to put others' needs before my own. Thank God for Elsie, our director, and her patience. She's an incredible woman of God and to be honest I can't even aspire to be like her. She accomplishes so much in one day it seems humanly impossible - and she does it all with an attitude of love and grace. She always has time for those who come needing a hug or a chat, and she deals with every emergency that comes up (and there's one every day here) without getting into a flap about it or feeling frustrated and resentful that her sermon preparation time is being stolen - yet again.

I read somewhere recently about the incredible power of two made one. It was a passage about how when we have Christ with us and in us, we can accomplish things that would normally be impossible. I guess there's a lot more of me that needs to be killed - crucified with Christ. William Booth, the founder of Salvation Army said that a person's usefulness to God was equivalent to the measure of his/her surrender. Lord, I surrender all that I am and ever will be to You. Help me to be more like Jesus in every way. I ask this in Jesus' Name.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

New face

We have a new face around the Women of Hope house. Lisa has come to live with us. So far she is fitting in very nicely, and she is devoted to God. Lisa has some health issues such as asthma and depression. Would you lift her up in prayer, along with the rest of us? (Connie, Mabel, Mun Hee, Lorna, Elsie, Lisa and me!) Thanks!

Here's a photo I took today while walking in our neighbourhood. There's a spring storm in the sky in the background.
And here's a beauty that was taken by my son Jeremy who is a photographer ( You can see some freighters in English Bay and the North Shore Mountains in the background. Oh, the splendour of spring and the extravagance of God's creativity! Once my love affair with the spring flowers and their colours wears off I'll have to try to remember to take some pictures of the house and its occupants.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is Freedom

Not surprisingly, the most popular song of praise among the women who attend chapel services at the federal prison is "Freedom" by Michael Larson (an Abbotsford resident actually). If they had the choice we would sing that song every Sunday - and that's pretty much the case. Today I drove to Abbotsford to lead the chapel service because the chaplain took some time off for a much needed rest. I prepared a message and picked songs and practiced them, among them was "Freedom" (thanks to those who prayed for me). Only one woman, Alice, attended the service today, but it was worth driving out there just for her. She loves to sing praises to the Lord and she wanted to hear my message, so I preached it just for her. Then we spent some time praying together. Alice suffers with terrible lower back pain that causes her to have to walk with two canes. The pain is so bad that it actually wakes her up at night. On top of the back pain and its crippling effects, she recently had a terrible bout of flu as well. She told me about how she is learning to come against the pain and the sickness in her body through prayer and by reading the Word of God. One night she woke up in terrible pain at 3:30 a.m. and decided that instead of giving in to the pain she would read her Bible. She fell asleep after reading a while and slept like a baby until 9 a.m.; her scripture reading took her focus off the pain and filled her with the peace that passes all understanding.

Would you lift Alice and her back problem up to the Lord in prayer with me? I laid hands on her back today and asked Jesus to place His hand of healing on her. I asked Him for a miracle. It would bring Alice joy and hope to know the healing touch of Jesus while she is in prison, and I believe that He will respond because He loves to show His love and care to those who seek Him. Will you agree with me in prayer? This is my prayer for Alice tonight:

I pray that the eyes of (her) heart may be enlightened, so that (she) will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places (Eph. 1:18-20)

Lord, I pray that You would demonstrate the greatness of Your power in Alice's life - the same power that raised Jesus from the dead - as you bring healing to her back and to her emotions. Help her to rest in You, even though her future and her parole date are uncertain at this particular time. I pray that her heart will be enlightened so that she will know the hope of Your calling and the riches of Your glorious inheritance. Please fill her with Your peace and give her favour with the parole board. Thank You that You live in her and that her life is in You. I pray in Jesus' Name.

Saturday, April 14, 2007


My heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God. (Ps. 84:2 NASB)

Psalm 84 speaks to my heart today. I feel as though I am rejoicing with all of creation as the city of Vancouver displays the splendour and beauty of spring. I took the photo above during a walk in the neighbourhood today. The sun is shining and the birds are singing and frolicking in the trees that are putting forth blossoms and new leaves. The daffodils and tulips are filling the landscape with a myriad of vivid colours and the grass is growing. It's a great day to be alive and dwelling in the house of the Lord!

How blessed are those who dwell in Your house! They are ever praising You. Selah. (vs.4)

I'm feeling blessed to be a part of this growing ministry called Partners In Hope. We are going to be expanding and opening a second residence for the women who are moving towards independence. I will remain here in the first house which will be the "entry level" house, and the job of managing this house and discipling the women who come to live here is being given to me. We have another "missionary" working here now, Mun Hi, from Korea. She is a sweet natured woman who models servanthood and the second greatest commandment, to "love others as you love yourself", for all of us. There will be a new resident arriving at the house in a few days. Things are always moving and changing here; that's one of the things I like about being here.

For those of you who have been praying for Connie, she is doing amazingly well. She continues to grow in her relationship with the Lord and is becoming more and more sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit as He guides her and teaches her and corrects her. She has finished her personal study of Romans and is planning to study the letter to the Ephesians next. She struggles occasionally with submitting to authority - that's true of every recovering addict, including myself sometimes - but all in all she's making amazing progress and is filled with gratitude that the Lord has rescued her and brought her here to the Women of Hope house. She talks regularly about being surrounded by "godly women" and what a difference it has made in her life and recovery journey.

The food co-op workday and delivery day was yesterday. We have people from all over the city coming to help us, and most of them are people we minister to through the food co-op, Immanuel Church (our street church) or the Christian Twelve Step recovery meetings we hold in the skid row area of Vancouver. It's wonderful to work shoulder to shoulder with them, to eat a meal with them and to share laughter, conversation and prayer.

Thanks for continuing to pray for us. I would be especially grateful if you would lift up my personal finances. I am still responsible for raising my own support. I pay room and board here at the house and do not receive any sort of stipend; I am considered a missionary. My funding has fallen off recently and at the present time I am indebted to Church Army. I trust with all my heart that God will make up the deficit and provide for all of my needs. He's certainly proved His faithfulness to me in the past and I have no worries or doubts He will continue to be faithful in the future.

May you be blessed today!

O LORD of hosts, how blessed is the man who trusts in You! (vs. 12)

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

God's hand

It's so wonderful to see God's hand at work among us! Today I had to go and pick up some personal items from a Vancouver homeless shelter for a woman who has recently been incarcerated at one of the prisons we visit and as I was telling the staff who I was and why I was there I heard a woman shout my name. I turned and there was Rose, a girl from Abbotsford whom I had befriended and ministered to while I was there. She's recently located to Vancouver and is staying at the shelter. This was truly a case of God bringing us together because just five days ago, from the window of one of the Partners in Hope vans, Connie (who is also from Abbotsford and is now staying at the Women of Hope house with us) saw Rose on the street in the skid row area. I wondered how on earth we would ever be able to get in touch with her, but God had a plan! It's pretty amazing that in a city the size of Vancouver I would stumble upon her five days after Connie told me she'd seen her on the streets. Thank You, Lord! I invited Rose to come and visit the house, and I hope that she will make it for our weekly Sunday dinner so that we can get her connected to the help that she needs and bring her into the "family" circle where she can receive the love and support she needs.

Connie is doing so well! Thanks to everyone who's been praying for her. She really "gets it" now, and the Holy Spirit is at work helping her to understand with her heart the Bible passages she reads. Besides all the Step work and Bible study and discipleship we are doing with her at the house, all on her own she has begun a study of the book of Romans! She's a curious and intelligent woman and God's hand is evident in her life and recovery journey. I'm convinced that He's going to raise her up and send her out to help others. That's her heart's desire.

Prayers for Rose and Connie - and me! - would be greatly appreciated.

In Christ,

Monday, April 9, 2007

Easter and new life

Thank God for Easter and for new life and new beginnings. It's been a harsh winter in many ways, most of them not related to the weather. But as always, God is faithful, and although I've had to surrender my need to understand many things lately, I fully trust that He will work all things for the good of those who love Him.

I'm excited and blessed to be a member of the Partners in Hope team. There is so much work to be done and there are so many opportunities to minister to so many people! I'm also grateful for the support and love of the women who have welcomed me into community with them at the Women of Hope house. I felt that God's timing in placing me among them was, as always, perfect. He knew that I would need to be surrounded and supported and lifted up.

The move from Abbotsford to Vancouver is finally complete, although I still travel back and forth at least twice a week, once to minister at the Fraser Valley Institution (the regional federal penitentiary for women), working with the chaplain and assisting with the chapel services. She is trusting me to lead the next service on my own. Prayers would be appreciated, especially in regard to leading worship with my guitar. I'm a little nervous about that.

It would take too much time to go into all the types of ministry I'm involved with through Partners in Hope, but you can read about them by going to And in the upcoming weeks I hope to continue to write updates and praise reports about what God is doing among us. There are already so many stories!

I'll be sending out a snailmail newsletter soon. If you're not already on the mailing list but would like to be, please contact me at and send me your mailing address. Thanks to those who continue to hold me in prayer. I am forever grateful for your ministry to me.

May the joy and the power of Easter bless us all for many weeks to come.


PS: I accidentally deleted my other blog, so this new one is another new beginning. The old has gone the new has come! It will take me some time to get this one set up with links etc., but while it's under construction I will continue to post updates. Thanks so much and may the Lord bless you for taking the time to come here and read what I share.

In loving memory of Carole

L-R: Debbie, Carole, Catherine at Chilliwack River summer 2005

It's difficult to write about this sad news in an email and send it out to all my prayer partners and so I've chosen to share in on my blog instead. I'm so thankful for your prayers for Carole; it saddens me to share that she took her life on March 24th. Carole was suffering from severe depression and she reached a point where she just could not bear the pain any longer. I'm thankful for the assurance that Carole is with the Lord now, and that she finally has the peace that she was seeking.

I'm grateful to God for Carole's friendship and feel privileged to have known her, even if just for a season. Carole was a gifted intercessor and a blessing to everyone who knew her. She was always eager and faithful to lift up to God the worries and concerns of her many friends and family members, and when she gave a word of knowledge you could trust that it was trustworthy and true. Carole loved the women, and the men, on the streets of Abbotsford, and would take them out for a meal or to buy a new pair of shoes whenever they approached her for help. She would often be seen standing praying with one of them on the street, reminding them of God's great love for them and His plan for their lives. Her hearty laughter and her hugs will be sorely missed by many people who knew her.

The saddest thing about Carole's passing is that her children and grandchildren have to go on without her. Would you join me in praying for Carole's children, Jonathan and Andrea and their families. Thank you.

Lord, I lift up Carole's children and grandchildren up to You. I pray that You would enfold them in Your loving embrace, that You would comfort them and give them Your assurance that Carole is safe in Your presence now. Fill them with Your peace, Your courage and Your strength and bless them and protect them always. I ask this in Jesus' Name.

Jesus Comforts His Disciples
"Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also."