Planting Seeds

My lovely sister-in-law asked me to be a guest writer on her blog, Hope Secure. God has given Joanna a heart for missions and she asked me to share some of my reflections on the summer I spent serving in Greece…

**None of the victims’ real names were used in this blog.

When I interned in Athens, Greece three years ago I was able to see some of the most amazing sights in the world. I followed in Paul’s footsteps from Athens to Corinth. I stood on the Areopagus where Paul gave the sermon of the unknown god. I visited the Acropolis, Hadrian’s Arch, Poseidon’s Temple and countless other sights that I never dreamed I would see in person. I swam in the Aegean and Mediterranean seas. I experienced the rich hospitality that seems to be embedded in Greek culture. I tasted of the food and drank of the wine. It was nothing short of incredible.

However, while in Athens, I also experienced humanity at its worst. Through an organization called Nea Zoi (New Life) my fellow interns and I sought to build relationships and share the light and love of Jesus with women ensnared in prostitution (the vast majority were/are victims of human trafficking).

I walked into dank, dimly lit buildings where women sold their bodies to a seemingly endless flow of men who were just making one more stop while out on their lunch break. I watched practically naked young women twirl and spin around for the men who just wanted to take a gander because, hey, looking is free. I watched as Leah (a 16 year old girl) white knuckled the driver’s side window of a car full of men, men she was begging to use her body so that she wouldn’t go home penniless to her pimp. I listened as Grace confessed that her pimp was forcing her to abort her baby. I embraced Sarah who was depressed because she was having a slow week, little to no customers; her “misfortune” was my relief.

I went into these brothels and out into the dark streets offering tea, cookies, Bibles, a listening ear, and a way out. I spoke to these young women and girls of my Heavenly Father and His faithfulness, of His goodness and grace to those who are His children. Many of them claim to know Jesus, but have no heart knowledge of the saving blood of the risen Lamb. They’re very distrustful of virtually everyone they come into contact with and they have every right to be; many of these women were sold into the sex trade by their own family members. Building relationships with them is hard, I barely scratched the surface over the course of one summer.

At the end of the summer I returned home with no stories of restoration for these women, no harrowing tales of women breaking free from their life in the sex trade. I only  had small glimmers of hope that God may yet work in the lives of these broken souls. So, when I was at dinner with a family friend and they asked me what my “success rate” was with these women, I had no idea how to respond. I was there to plant seeds. I was there to love on them, to share Christ with them; success rates were non-existent and frankly the “success” never has and never will belong to me.

“I Planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants or he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.” –1 Corinthians 3:6&7

God alone is in control of the effects of my obedience to Him, God alone receives the glory for any “successes”.  All my good deeds are filthy rags, God condescends to use them as He wills. I’m simply called to be obedient. I’m to be faithful regardless of whether or not I see any fruit from my labors.

It’s a good reminder for me today and something that my brothers and sisters in Greece taught me over and over again: God simply desires faithful and humble servants. Regardless of where or what God has called us to in this life, we’re not to seek out grandeur, but to take the posture of a servant doing whatever seemingly menial or momentous task is set before us, knowing that we serve almighty God who uses whatever means He wills to accomplish His purposes.

Dear Cece

Dear Cece,

As our time together is approaching it’s end, I’ve been reflecting on all that we’ve experienced together, the joy that you’ve brought to my life, and how I much I’m going to miss spending my days with you…it makes my heart ache. I’m not sure that you’ll ever understand what my two years with you have meant to me. You are a bright light shining in my life. Your smile and your laugh are infectious. Your hugs and kisses are good for my soul. In your world, my hugs and kisses have magic healing powers and chocolate is a cure all. I will miss spending my days with you more than words could ever say. Leaving you is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. I know that we’ll still be able to see each other and spend time together, but it’s the end of a chapter and what an incredibly beautiful chapter it has been.

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I took my first trip to the emergency room with you and you buried your head in my chest as the doctor’s numbed your hand (I also had the privilege of witnessing you hopped up on pain meds, it was kind of awesome). You’ve spit up in my mouth (multiple times). Because of you, five days out of the week I always have a bathroom buddy–I’m not sure why you insist on tagging along, but I think it’s really funny and adorable. We’ve kissed each other’s boo boos, have had ridiculously awesome dance parties,  and have made more trips to Target and Chick-fil-A than is prudent to admit. We’ve memorized the lines to all three Toy Story movies and you fly like Buzz Lightyear every time we swing at the park.

You have taught me patience. You’ve trained me to be more tender. You’ve shown me the importance of a smile. You’ve laughed with me, cried with me, and cuddled with me. You’ve taught me how to embrace the tiny moments in life, to drink them in slowly. You’ve taught me to use more glitter and make more messes.

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In a strange sort of way, you’ve been my best friend. And because of you I will, God willing, be a better mother to my own babies one day.

I love you more than words can say, sweet Cecilia. For the last two years I’ve had the privilege of spending my days with you and I’m so thankful for each and every one of them.

“This much I know, this much is true, I couldn’t love you more than I do. But if I could, I would.”

Love,

Brooke

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