About Bethsaida

Singer/songwriter. World traveler. Human rights advocate. Adventure seeker. Bethsaida never dreamed she would have the life that she has lived so far. Bethsaida was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. As far back as she can remember she was always singing and interviewing people. When asked what she wanted to be when she grew up, she would always say “I want to do music, and help people.” Always an active participant in her church, she was singing since the age of 5. Little did she know that her life would go down a path of music and philanthropic work her whole life.

During her elementary school choir days, she got a taste of broadway by being in a broadway show called “Joseph and the Amazing Techni-Color Dreamcoat”. That experience continued to fuel her love for singing that carried on through being a soloist in junior highschool concerts. However, when she first arrived in high scool, she put singing on the back burner, and decided to work. During senior year in high school, Edward R. Murrow High School, she became an intern at a sublabel for a major record  company. While there, her passion for singing was resparked ,and she auditioned for a singing competition. Coming in second place, she continued to intern at the label, and was even hired as an assistant. She formed a pop group “Aria” with two other friends from her church. They were offered a development deal right before 9/11 happened. The deal got lost in the chaos of the aftermath. She also lost her assistant job when the label folded, She then began her college journey.

She received an A.A.S in Broadcast Technology and Management from Kingsborough Community College. During her time there she hosted a Christian radio show. After graduating, she went on to receive a Bachelor of Music with a concentration in music business,  while at the same time training her voice at Five Towns College. Throughout her college years, Bethsaida was singing solos for the youth choir and worship team at her church. She was also singing in churches and women’s conferences throughout NYC. After graduating college, with no doors being opened to work in the music industry, Bethsaida was led to teaching. Her love for helping people in the inner city drew her to the NYC Teaching Fellows program. She received her Masters of Science in Education from Brooklyn College. She enjoyed teaching at a public in the inner-city school of Brooklyn for 3 years, until one day a documentary screening changed the trajectory of her life.

In 2009 Bethsaida watched a documentary on human trafficking. The heartwrenching evil of this injustice moved Bethsaida to pursue philanthropic work in 11 countries around the world with an organization called The World Race. From her humanitarian work in Asia, she felt called to live in Thailand for another year and work with trafficked women and children at risk of being trafficked. Daily, she reached out to these precious souls in the hopes that they would choose a different path.

Bethsaida came back to America in 2012 and continues to be inspired to serve her city, and the world, through actions and song. Bethsaida is committed to using any platform she has been given to advocate for the unadvocated and bring the hope of a loving Father to a world that seems to be getting darker day by day.

Currently, Bethsaida is back in education as a middle school Reading teacher in a charter school located in Brooklyn. She also leads a monthly anti-human trafficking prayer meeting at her church and is a servant leader and soloist in the young adult ministry. Bethsaida feels honored to have been brought down the path of life that she has been so far, but she knows the best is yet to come.

“You are never too old to live out the passions and dreams God has placed in your heart. Trust His timing… it’s perfect. Keep stepping out in faith and living in obedience in the meantime. The journey is a beautiful process that will bring you closer to God than when you first started.”- Bethsaida

Visit her music page at www.bethsaidamusic.com

What Did I Get Myself Into?

That’s a question that I find myself asking often this past week. I’d lay in bed and my mind would just start racing. Filled with hopeful thoughts and then horrifying thoughts. I’ve never felt so excited and terrified at the same time!

This past March, I heard an ad for Actors, Models and Talent for Christ on Pandora. Something inside of me perked up during the ad. “I should look into this.” I did… and found out that the audition was only a few weeks away. 

At the beginning of 2015, I felt God was encouraging me to start singing more. I’ve been doing a poor job of managing that gift. I don’t always feel adequate with it. I’m not the greatest at it, but nonetheless it’s a gift that he saw fit that I should steward. I don’t want to get to the end of my life, see Him, and tell Him I didn’t steward it the best way I could have.

So, I decided to take a step of faith, though I felt way out of my league, and audition. I auditioned for the director of the organization, and when she sat down to talk with me she said so many things that resonated deep within me. I got the call back and now here I am…3 months later on my way to SHINE.

SHINE is a week long convention where I will be performing in 11 showcases in front of national movie and commercial agents, A&Rs, and scouts. Three of the showcases are for singing, six are for acting (it’s something that’s really fun for me) and two are for commercial modeling. 

At times I feel like I’ve bitten off more than I can chew, and I wonder if I’ll even get any callbacks, but I’m trusting God 100% in this. I’ve never done anything like this before. I want to learn, have fun, represent Christ, and meet other liked-minded Believers. I know that I’m trying my best, and I’m gonna leave the rest in God’s hands. 

If I ever have the responsibility of having a public platform, I want to continue doing what I’ve been doing so far…being a voice for the voiceless and bringing the hope of a loving Father to a world that is getting darker and darker. 

I’m 31 and this dream of singing seems to have been a juvenile thing…but I think of the great heroes of faith and how old so many of them were and how they’ve impacted the world for God. This brings me hope. 

Would you consider checking out my website http://www.bethsaidamusic.com? I’ll also be vlogging the SHINE experience at http://www.facebook.com/bethsaida music. More than anything, I covet your prayers. Thanks for following along!

    
What talent or dream do you have? Don’t let any feelings of inadequacy stop you! Take those steps of faith that you need to take. We only live once. Let’s take ahold of everything that God has taken ahold of us for.

Agenda: Love,

Bethsaida

P.S. I want to shout out some people who have been such a blessing and truly instrumental in helping with this SHINE event. 

  • Aaron Taylor- even though it was going to thunderstorm, he still came out and took some amazing photos with a smile on his face and determination in his heart. Even though he has a newborn at home, still stayed up at crazy hours of the night to edit the photos to meet the deadline. Thank you 
  • Damon Plant- was so gracious in working with my budget to film, edit and create videos for the first time I’ve sung in two years. Being such a great sport and using his creative shots to make me look good. Thank you
  • Wildy Martinez & Kathleen Ellie –  who were so kind in responding to my random outfit selfies for the showcases, and giving such great fashion advice. Thank you
  • Sam Ortiz- who shot some beautiful headshots for the SHINE program book so that I’m not the only one with a cheesy profile pic. Thank you
  • Raquel Rodriguez- for making my makeup for the headshots look so beautifully natural. Thank you
  • Eva – for making crop marks on my resume and giving me tips on how it can fit perfectly into my headshots. Thank you
  • My parents- for all their help and encouragement throughout the years. For always being my biggest fans. Thank you
  • Melisa and Sam – for giving me a car to get everywhere I need to get to in Florida, and always being there to pick me up at the airport with a smile and their crew in tow. Mel, for the staying up till midnight picking out clothes. Thank you
  • To everyone who has given me a word of encouragement or prayed for me. It means so much to me. You have no idea. Thank you
  • Victor- for being my support throughout this entire process. For believing in me and encouraging me when I feel like I can’t do it. For being there for me in Florida to wait on lines, wait for showcases, keep me rooted in truth, and root me on. I love you. Thank you.

Natural Born Flat Leavers

I recently learned to use soap. Yes, I know you’re thinking “Really, you’re 31, and NOW you use it?” I don’t know where I’ve been my whole life that I haven’t been using it, but…it’s been life changing.

Let me clarify:

Scripture. Observation. Application. Prayer

What did you think I meant? 😃

I’ve been applying it to my daily verses, and applied it to a passage of scripture this morning. I just want to share, real quick, something that jumped out at me.

The passage I read this morning was John 6:16-21. It’s right after Jesus feeds the 5,000 in the town of Bethsaida (whoop whoop) and the crowd thinks “Oh my goodness this is the Person we’ve been waiting for! The One that will save us from this Roman enslavement! Let’s grab him and force him to be king”. Jesus was like “Ummm… no thanks” and he goes up in the hills to get away from the horde of aggresors.

The Bible says that the disciples went down to the shore to wait for Him, but evening came and they decided to get on the boat and cross over the sea to Capernaum.

Observation-Wait… What? Did the disciples just flat leave Jesus? Did they just put their dueces up to the hills and were like “We out”. How did they think He would get across? What was their rush?

A great storm suddenly comes and the disciples are thinking ” We’re gonna die! We’re not gonna make it! ” We can’t get past this!”. They were in a frenzy.

They see this figure slowly waking towards them on the water, so terror piled on top of their panic. But they hear a familiar voice say ” I am here! Don’t be afraid!” And they recognize it’s their Teacher.

The Bible says they “eagerly” let Him in and “immediately” the boat arrived at their destination.

Observation- I’m sure they were “eager” to let Him in… They knew He was a safe place for them. Did they transport?! Jesus transported all of them right to their end destination! Wild!

Now how does this apply to our lives? I started to think.

“How many storms can be avoided if we just wait on Jesus and don’t flat leave Him?”

Really, think about it. It was getting dark, the disciples were getting impatient and chose not to wait on Jesus, but to move forward without Him.

This is a tendency we have as humans. To do what we think is best when we think it’s best. To have control. Waiting can’t be right. We need to make it work someway…somehow.

What circumstance seems to be getting darker in your life that you’re getting impatient for Jesus to answer? Maybe waiting to get married? Starting a career? Having a baby? A loved one getting saved? (Insert your situation here)?

This is just my speculation, but if the disciples waited for Jesus, no matter how “dark” it got, they would have had a much more enjoyable ride across that sea. Maybe they could have been  conversing with Jesus about the Kingdom. Or maybe they could have been thanking Jesus and sharing the  awe they felt when they saw Him multiply 5 loaves and 2 fish to feed thousands… and then have leftovers.

But their choice, and some of our choices, leave us reeling instead of deepening our relationship with the Savior.

We move forward with our own plans and what we think is best. Then we’re left bewildered and disoriented because of the storms that we get ourselves into by not waiting for Him

But another amazing observation that I noticed was that when Jesus met them on the water, in the middle of that gale, He didn’t yell out ” How you guys just gonna leave me like that! That’s messed up! Now I’m gonna leave you out here in the storm. You deserve it!” and walk by the boat giving His dueces.

No, this reveals so much of God’s character. His love towards the people he created. That even in our poor choices, Jesus still calls out ” I am here! Don’t be afraid!”

We then have a choice to “eagerly” invite him onto the boat and get to the destination His way or ignore his call of mercy and grace.

Prayer:

Lord help me to trust your timing, even when it seems that the clock is ticking and the situation seems to be getting darker. Let me not go on ahead and try to make something happen and leave you behind. Help me to wait for You so that we can travel together and grow deeper in relationship. Lord, if I do get weak and tired of waiting and find myself in a storm, help me to always hear your words of grace and mercy calling out to me. Help me choose to let you into the situation and take the lead. Thank you for your kindness towards me, and that you only do and give what is best for me when it’s the best time. I love you. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen”

Have you used S.O.A.P lately? Let God speak to you through His word, and share what He shows you.

Agenda:Love,

Bethsaida

Some Book Bags Carry Books, Others Carry Prisons

“I don’t want to love my enemies. I want 5 minutes in a boxing ring with them!”

That’s the initial thought that comes to my mind every time I read Luke 6:

“But if you are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you. Pray for the happiness of those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you.”- Jesus

Umm.. Excuse me? What Jesus is saying goes against every fiber of my being, and it only gets…worse

“If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also. Give what you have to anyone who asks you for it; and when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get them back. Do for others as you would like them to do for you… Love your enemies! Do good to them! Lend to them! And don’t be concerned that they might not repay”- Jesus

What?! The Golden Rule is associated with loving my enemies!? Why? Why should I be kind to my enemy? Why should I pray for the person who has hurt me? Who is rude to me. Who I. Just.Don’t.Like.

More than not, I find myself more gracious to people who don’t know Jesus. I can have more compassion for them, but I’m not talking about enemies who don’t know Jesus. I’m talking about my brothers and sisters who have offended me, who have hurt me, who have wronged me. My enemies that know Jesus. The ones who have a personal relationship with Him, too.

I’ve been pondering and reflecting on these verses for the past couple weeks. I have so many “whys”. It’s been challenging. I’ve been asking God to help me follow what He says about loving my enemies. Recently, I feel like there’s been a revelation.

There’s a prison that we keep ourselves in when we have enemies. It’s not one that locks us in one place, it’s like a book bag prison. We carry it around with us wherever we go. We’re all good… till we see the person…till we hear their name…especially when we hear that they are doing well. At those very moments the gates of bitterness, anger, frustration, comparison, selfishness, anxiety, immaturity, and attitude start to plummet around us and we become confined. We’re no longer free. This prison prohibits us from doing certain things we want to do, and being who we really are, right in the middle of the present situation.

To be honest, though it’s a prison, it feels safe. I can control the situation. I can ignore the person. I can choose to erase their name out of my head. I can choose not to follow them on social media. It seems much scarier to trust God and pray for them. What if they prosper more? What if they take something even more precious from me? What if they continue to treat me unfairly?

Recently, the Holy Spirit helped me pray this prayer for my enemies “Bless them, Lord. Thank you that they are doing great work for your Kingdom. I pray for their best. Thank you for my brother and sister”. Naturally ,it felt extremely weird, but spiritually I started to feel lighter. As I prayed each sentence, the prison gates started to lift, one by one. It felt…liberating.

“Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to the unthankful and to those who are wicked, You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate.”- Jesus

When we choose to love our enemies, to pray for them, we are taking the right to receive justice for the wrong done to us out of our own hands. We are exchanging a false sense of control for God’s peace. Exchanging anger and bitterness for thankfulness and forgiveness. Exchanging anxiety about the future for faith in God’s sovereignty. When we pray for someone it sets us free from hate. I don’t fully understand the “whys”…but it just does. I encourage you to try it, and feel for yourself the release that comes.

We are created to be most free when we are aligned with God’s Word. There is freedom in obedience, because deep inside our spirit’s are craving Truth. When we choose actions contrary to Truth, prison gates start to descend around us. When we love our enemies then we are acting most like our true selves… children of a compassionate, forgiving, and loving Father.

Do for others as you would like them to do for you”

The golden rule has gotten a lot more real since reading Luke 6. I still don’t have this whole “love our enemies” thing down pact. I don’t think I ever will, but I am more conscious of asking the Holy Spirit to teach me and help me. Without Him, there’s no way that we can do this, but with Him…all things are possible.

Here’s to 31 being the first year of having a back pack that carries books.

Agenda: Love,

Bethsaida

Abandon Ship

Though one can’t argue with my mean backfloat, I do admit that I am not the most swim savvy person on earth. I mean just because you try out to be a lifeguard, and end up getting rescued by the lifeguards administering the test, doesn’t necessarily mean you’re the worst… just means you need some improvement on your swim skills. (true story)

Even still… My lack of skill for all things swim oriented won’t stop me this time… I’m abandoning ship.

We’re all traveling on a boat in this great ocean of life. The sun shines some days and it’s easy sailing, storms rage other days, and the journey seems like it will consume us, but how many of us are not moving at all? Just stuck in the same spot in the ocean…day after day…year after year… as we watch other boats sail by.

Our boat has stopped sailing because of FEAR.

Maybe it was a devastating failed relationship, or complacency with the comfortable, or another tragic event that took place in your life that has stopped you from moving ahead.

If we want to move forward we need to ABANDON SHIP.

Sure, there are risks in that. What if we drown? What if something else comes and devours us in the ocean?

But what if we stay in that boat of fear? Will your life, will my life, forever be defined as a life of blessings and growth missed out on?

It may be scary for a while, but we’ll eventually make it to another boat, one that is moving ahead, and may even have some other people to enjoy the journey with. The boat we once called “safe” will be a distant memory, while we enjoy the life of freedom and joy that comes with trusting God and living by faith.

The reward is greater than the risk.

The reward is GREATER than the risk.

The REWARD is GREATER than the risk.

It has taken me quite some time to come to terms with that, but I’m trusting God to help me every single day that I feel I want to doggy paddle my way back into that idle boat. I want to keep swimming, and climb onto a boat that is moving in only one direction (“cuz you’re beautiful, just the way you are”…sorry cheesy tangent)…. ahead. I refuse to let the enemy win and miss out because of fear.

Faith is telling us to “Abandon Ship”. Will we obey?

Agenda: Love,

Bethsaida

In the Land of the Unknown

It’s been a while… It’s been, and still is, an action packed, busy, amazing, painful, confusing, and joyful past two months.

I’m in a season of my life with so many unknowns blustering about. So many things I have to have faith for.

My “whodunnit” mind doesn’t gravitate towards faith. It gravitates towards “let me figure out the answer right now so that I can make the decision safely”, or “let me figure out the answer right now, so that I can say I knew all along”

But the older I get, the more I walk with God, the more I realize how little I really know. What seemed to be up is down, what seemed to be right is left. 

I don’t deserve anything. Not a thing…I’m learning so much more about His grace, and how to show that same grace to others.

For a while, after Thailand, I needed time to recoup, and refresh… to be separated from intense person to person interaction…but I feel that urge coming back. I’m not sure what that looks like, I know it’ll be in my city somewhere, but I have no clue how.

How am I going to make a living? What is in store for the future? 

So many unknowns. 

I thought I learned my lesson on faith…but God is taking me to a WHOLE new level. I’m learning that I can’t look to people, to FB, or to myself for the answers. I thought I learned that lesson too!

But, really, what is life except a journey of lessons to become more like Jesus?

I need to look to God…no matter what I think, how I feel, what I see….I need to look to God. He’s the only one who knows past my unknowns. He promised to show me, and to guide me. 

I’m holding Him to His promise.

Maybe you’re in the land of the unknown too. Ask God for a promise…and hold on…no matter what.

Agenda: Love,

Bethsaida

Thailand+Anti-trafficking+Fashion + NYC= God

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I would have never thought that a divine connection I made in Thailand, two years ago, would have such an impact on my life in NYC today.

When I came back to NYC, I wasn’t quite sure what I’d be doing here. I just knew I wanted to continue to do work in the field of anti-trafficking, and I most definitely did not want to do it alone.

I was introduced to Elegantees, in February of this year, by a friend that I went to church with years ago. His wife, Katie, was putting together a fashion show on the upper west side, and he was wondering if I could help out, but I was in Florida at the time. So I told him I couldn’t.

But after I said “no” I felt it was the wrong decision, and so I contacted him a couple days later and asked him if they still needed help. He said they did, so I booked my ticket and flew back to NYC to help out.

I instantly fell in love with everything Elegantees stands for. Promoting modesty in a world where fashion screams that nudity and sexy clothes equate to beauty, and not only that, but providing sewing jobs for survivors of sex trafficking.

When I was in Thailand, I saw first hand how difficult it was to find jobs for the women who left prostitution. It was so discouraging to have companies, even Christian companies, unfortunately, tell us “No” over and over. I love that Elegantees’ desire is to meet that financial need, of the restoration process, for as many survivors as possible.

I knew I wanted to be on Katie’s team, and I told her to pray about me joining in any way that I could. So I joined end of February as Promotions and PR Manager.

So how did the person I met in Thailand come into play in NYC?

Well he happened to be David Batstone, the founder of Not For Sale, which just happens to be one of the largest NGO’s in the fight against human trafficking. We met at an Asian Pacific Forum on Human Trafficking, there. I contacted him when I came back to the states, and asked him if I could talk to someone from NFS when I went to visit the west coast in March.

He ended up giving me the Director of Merchandising’s email address… and one email led to another..and now Elegantees is partnering with Not for Sale to donate profits of certain tops to them, and support them in the amazing work they’re doing!!  At the same time, we’re being introduced to thousands of new people through social media.

I’m now focusing more on Events Coordination with Elegantees, and, thank God, we are growing. We are still a small team of volunteers, but we desperately want to provide more employment for NGO’s helping to restore survivors. Right now we’re working with Restore NYC, in our own backyard, and Nepali Rescue Project.

I feel so blessed that I get to spread the word about a company that is looking to bring justice, enhance true beauty, and help restore precious women. I look forward to seeing Elegantees grow, we even have a men’s line that we’re debuting this fall!

Of course, it would be nice to be able to live off of this blessing (and not have to substitute teach), but more importantly I want Elegantees to grow so that we can see more women employed, and provide a new sense of dignity, and worth to the women who have come from a life of being used, abused, and feeling worthless.

I’ve sometimes battled with guilt of not being overseas, not living in a small bedroom that has a bathroom in it, and not eating pb & j every day, but I’m also learning that guilt doesn’t come from God. Also, I want to always be wherever God wants me to be, whether it means overseas or back home. It’s not so much about WHAT you do and WHERE you do it.. but whether or not you’re IN the Father’s will.. because THAT’S what He will bless…wherever you are. Oh I pray I will always be where and do what He’s asking of me.

I don’t really know what the my future holds, and how all this will span out… but I know this is just a part of all that God is going to do, in NYC, regarding this evil of human trafficking, and I am so humbled, and privileged to be a part of it.

Below is the Elegantees video promotion for the Not for Sale top, and this is the link you can go to to purchase the Britni top. Your donation will go to Not For Sale. So go ahead and shop for a cause. Fashion with a purpose..and what a beautiful purpose it is.

Agenda: Love,

Bethsaida