Beauty From Ashes Videos


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Called to be whole and to step outside ourselves

Meet Kelly, she is a 21-year-old senior at University of Florida (UF) majoring in Family, Youth and Community Sciences who we are honored to have as our summer intern. Kelly is involved in Cru (formerly known as Campus Crusade for Christ) at UF and leads the International Justice Mission, UF student chapter.  Her talents and hobbies include playing the drums, creating art, writing, and horseback riding. As a believer for 13 years, her passion is to serve the Lord, and seek justice for the poor and oppressed, through ministry and her future career. 

Part of her required tasks as an intern is blogging and she has a blog called, What is Freedom?. With a passion for freedom, serving the Lord, justice, art, and horseback riding . . . we're certain she's a great fit for Beauty From Ashes Ministries, for such a time as this!  Welcome Kelly! 

  • So, tomorrow I start work with Beauty From Ashes, helping to reach and restore victims of commercialized sexual exploitation, an injustice I can’t imagine having endured myself. And oddly (or not so oddly) enough, the Lord has been showing me a thing or two lately on inner healing and restoration. 
    The book of Leviticus always intimidated me and I almost decided not to start reading it a few weeks ago, but I am unspeakably glad I did. In chapter 13, God laid out the purification process for those stricken with leprosy (before Jesus fulfilled the law). Although the purification process in this chapter doesn’t refer to coming out from under God’s condemnation and repenting from sin, it does entail undergoing a process in order to be able to come back into contact with what is holy. Furthermore, chapter 14 lays out the cleansing process for lepers, and how they can be readmitted into the community of God’s people. In between the steps of the process, the Lord repeats, “and he shall be clean.”  I was reminded of a couple of key promises throughout these two chapters. The Lord never leaves us without an answer on how we can come back into His holy presence and He begins and ends each step we take toward healing - closer and more complete fellowship with Him - with promises of our healing. 
    Throughout Leviticus, the Lord reiterates, “Be holy as I am holy.” It may seem a harsh, impossible command but in actuality, the command to be pure and holy (both of which basically mean being set apart) is a beckoning one; the Lord wants to be near to us and be in fellowship with us, which is only made possible by redemption and purification from sin, and in turn we will become like Him. We oftentimes tend to see God as an angry, commanding God who just wants us to do the right things and when we don’t do the right things, we tell ourselves we’re doomed to continue to repeat our same mistakes. But this is not true of who God is. God wants to be with us because He loves us, and He wants us to be holy, which accompanies this fellowship with Him, so that we will be whole and healed. I heard a Beth More quote based on Revelation 2:26 - “To him who overcomes, he will keep overcoming.” The promises are every where; from “and he shall be clean” repeated 3-4 times in Leviticus 14 all the way through Revelation. There is no way we can remain in empty cycles of sin and slavery when we are growing closer to God, in fellowship with Him.
    It is the Lord’s will that we be whole and restored. Because when we are whole, we are no longer fragmented mirror parts that partially, if not barely, reflect His image; when we are whole, we wholly glorify Him.
    I hope and pray that I will see this process take place in women’s and children’s lives these next 11 weeks; that if I can show them just a little bit of God’s love for them, they will want fellowship with Him.

    • For over two years now, I have been advocating, praying, and fundraising for the freedom of those who have been sexually exploited and trafficked, but it was not until last night that I actually personally encountered some of the faces and stories. 
      I was eating and talking with a woman who was formerly involved in the sex industry, in a restaurant off of what I would deem to be a pretty normal, not-extremely-dangerous road. She shared with me her struggle with the choice to return to stripping to help make her living, and how easy and tempting it is in her mind and spirit to return to that way of life. And as we talked, she would pause sometimes, look out the window of the restaurant we were in, and point out a girl passing by. At three different points in time during our meal, she pointed out three girls who continue to be sexually exploited, and shared a little bit about their situations. She would then go on to explain a little bit about how she knows them and observe how thin and emaciated they look. 
      I think it took this small personal experience to make me realize how often I have seen other women like this, but have not really noticed them; how many times I’ve failed to really look deeper in settings I haven’t expected to see modern-day slavery and sexual exploitation in. If there’s anything I’ve learned thus far in these first two days of interning with Beauty From Ashes, it’s the importance of stepping outside of myself and my own pre-conceived notions to see where mercy and compassion are needed the most. I wasn’t aware of just how rampant the sex industry and sex trafficking are in Fort Myers, until this woman showed me herself, and shared with me how broken and desperate Fort Myers and other places in the state of Florida are, compared with other states she has been exploited in. Awareness and compassion go hand-in-hand; the more we are looking to where God’s love is needed the most, the more we will see. May the Lord give us hearts of compassion to see, hear, and reach out.TE

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