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

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The Dawn

I knew it was coming.

I knew the feelings of being numb would be overridden by God’s loving kindness and Truth.

How?

Hugs from friends, prayers from friends, prayers to God…

But wanna know the key secret ingredient?

Praise.

Honoring God, thanking Him, praising Him even when you don’t feel it.

Because just because a circumstance changes, or a person hurts you, or you feel overwhelmed, it doesn’t change WHO GOD IS.

He never changes.

He’s always worthy of all the credit.

He’s always the Creator, and if we just pause and take a look around, we see his handiwork displayed from the tiniest flower and squirrel to the majestic clouds, and mountains.

It’s about looking up.. not looking in or down.

Not in at myself, self-pity, and self-centeredness

Not down in a defeated, and depressed position.

Up.

Even if it’s in a “God, I feel nothing, but I will bless your name regardless!” kind of up.

My how that brings the dawn.

Job knew the secret in the midst of his family, fortune, and health being taken away. When his world around him was crumbling, and nothing was steady, or certain he said

“I came naked from my mother’s womb,
and I will be naked when I leave.
The Lord gave me what I had,
and the Lord has taken it away.
Praise the name of the Lord!” Job 1:21

Praise brings the dawn.

Agenda: Love,

Bethsaida

Quest To Find the City of Angels: The Call

If you didn’t get a chance to hear about how the night out in the Angeles City red-light district went, you can watch the video HERE. I share about how that evening unfolded, and the need there. It was definitely one of the most intense evenings of my life.

This last video is for those whose hearts were moved by the need in Angeles City. I share some facts about Angeles City, that the Renew Foundation has discovered. I also share about the AMAZING work that they are doing there. They have another video on their website for you to watch.

If you are looking for a place to serve, regarding the issue of human trafficking and sexual exploitation, you are welcome to come here and work alongside me, BUT I ask that you would consider serving alongside what Renew is doing for the Kingdom, in the Philippines.

Facts not shown in the video:

– My trike driver got super lost on our way to Renew, but we eventually made it.

– Korean men are the number one (Asian) tourists, for sex tourism, to the Philippines.

– Renew has been working in Angeles City for 7 years.

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/46366660″>Quest to Find the City of Angels- The Call</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/user3629705″>Bethsaida Portalatin</a> on <a href=”http://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Thank you all for journeying along with me on this 5 part Vlog adventure on the Quest to Find the City of Angels. It’s so humbling to think that you would take time out of your day to be a part of this. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. ❤

May we continue to let our hearts break for what God’s heart breaks for, and be His hands and feet on Earth, while we still have breath to be.

Agenda: Love,

Bethsaida

Quest to Find the City of Angels: Day 1 (video)

Here’s the first video from my Quest to Find the City of Angels.

I really didn’t know what to expect, but that’s the amazing thing about following God…He does some pretty cool stuff if you let Him.

He speaks.

Some fun facts not in the video:

-Lovely, who you’ll meet in the video, called me Dora the Explorer because she was always scared to do something, and I told her that if it scares me, I do it. =)

– The guys in the video didn’t speak one word to me on the plane or after…but they were loud and obnoxious in their seats the whole time… I wish I would have watched the video clip on the plane and caught them red-handed.

– I was REALLY tired on the plane, and almost didn’t want to bother speaking to her, but I kept on hearing God say to “talk to her”. Goes to show how many divine appointments we can miss if we’re not obedient to Him.

– I LOVE lighting… but that’s pretty obvious in the video.

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/45913141″>Quest To Find The City of Angels- Day 1 – Medium</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/user3629705″>Bethsaida Portalatin</a> on <a href=”http://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a>.</p>

Thanks for taking the time to watch, and journeying along with me. It means a lot. Thank you.

I pray this journey can be a blessing to you as well.

Today keep your ears open for your divine appointments. =)

Agenda: Love,

Bethsaida

Massage Parlors + Bars = Modern Day Miracles

First there was one massage parlor= 2 girls

Then there was one massage parlor + one bar = 7 girls

Then there was one massage parlor + two bars =14 girls

Then there was no massage parlor + scattered girls = 4 girls

Today (2 weeks later) there are 2 massage parlors + 2 bars = 20 girls

More and more girls, from the red-light district, are wanting to learn English. I pray that they keep on coming.

This is opening up amazing doors to build relationships, hear their stories, share our stories, and love them with God’s supernatural love.

I’m praying that lives will be transformed, and become modern day miracles!

Oh, and did I mention that a past bar girl is now working with us, through our sponsorship program (that you can be a part of!), and helping us translate as we teach English….

She has quite a long road ahead of her, but she is in a Life-giving environment for 30 hours a week now!  The Light is greater than the darkness. So we’re going to pour into her the light, and truth of Jesus Christ, through living our lives with her.

Yea.. pretty sweet what God is doing here.

Keep praying! (and btw we need more volunteers too =) )

Agenda: Love,

Bethsaida

My First Time Buying A Girl

I often see myself doing things, these days, that I would have NEVER seen myself doing. Some examples:

pulling a bug out of my food, and continuing to enjoy the deliciousness

squeezing my bike inbetween cars at the red light

meeting my Christian friends at the bars at night to go work

teaching English next to dog poop

having conversations with ladyboys

buying a prostitute for the night

yup.. that’s right…buying a prostitute.

The beginning of the week, during our nightly outreaches, one of the team members and I met an extraordinary girl who works in the bars. She is from Issan (a region in north eastern Thailand that is basically grooming girls to become prostitutes, and where many of the current bar girls are from)

Her name is *Soy. She told us she is 25. Though, in a separate conversation, her best friend at the bar, said they were the same age, and she said she was 23. C looks more like 19 or 20 to us.

Soy and I had an instant connection.

She found it very easy to open up to us, and shared some very deep and personal hurts that have happened in her life. I knew that she was special.

The next time we went out to do night outreach, I went to Soy’s bar, and we talked more. I asked her if she wanted to have dinner the next night, so that we can just have fun. She was looking forward to it.

Friday came, and we met up early to have dinner, we stuffed our faces at a delicious cafe. It was so great to just laugh with her, and show her how I genuinely love and care for her. During our dinner, I remembered that we were having an open mic at WonGen Kafe.

I mentioned it to her, and she seemed really interested. I asked her if I could pay her bar fee, and take her to the cafe for the night. She felt bad because she said that I was already doing so much, but I told her...”I’m a Christian, giving is a joy to me, because God gives to me, so I want to give to others.

We scooted over to her bar, I walked in, she told the bar owner I wanted to buy her for the night, I paid the fee…and Soy was FREE for the night.

Free to have fun without having to give anything or herself.

Free to be in a safe and loving environment, and not be drunk.

Free to have a night off and be herself.

She LOVED the open mic. We have a very talented team with us right now. I also sang a song for her… “How He Loves”. I told her, next week, I would have a song on the guitar ready. Yup.. next week…

Looks like I’ll be buying her time next Friday evening again.

I’m excited to keep on getting to know Soy. We’ll do whatever it takes to reach her, and show her that there is another option for her life. She’s so full of spunk, and wants to be a programmer some day.

There is Hope for her. The Hope.

Keep Soy in your prayers.

Agenda: Love,

Bethsaida

Last Time I Checked…Children Were Human.

There are protests and riots springing up all over the world today. Some are for just and noble causes, others have no specific focus, though they claim to. Regardless of the issue, culture, or country, these groups of individuals are emerging to voice the rights that they are entitled to, or feel entitled to.

A group of individuals who will never be able to congregate and voice their rights to the government are the impoverished and exploited children around the world. Did you know that children have rights too?

Right to Life

Right to Education

Right to Food

Right to Health

Right to Water

Right to Identity

Right to Freedom

Right to Protection

I won’t go into the details of these rights, many of them are self-explanatory, but you can find the definitions, and more resources on children’s rights, at Children’s Rights Portal.

The children that I see at night working in the red-light, selling roses and flower necklaces, are being robbed of these rights… but you won’t see them pitching tents at the gates of the King’s Palace, and demanding their natural born rights. They are an overlooked group of children here, because these children are not orphaned (either they are working for their parents or someone who owns them), and so don’t qualify to get into a preventative orphanage. They are also already exposed to the dark world of sexual exploitation, and so some people feel it is too “late” for them, in regards to mindset.

But SOMEONE needs to fight for them…Someone needs to advocate for them… Someone needs to bring Hope to them… Someone needs to give them, even just 20 minutes, of the innocence and protection that rightfully comes with being a child.

Because God adores these children, He has put this desperation on Love Acts’ heart and on the hearts of some of the Thai people who attend the church we partner with.

Thursday we all went out to the red-light with a very specific goal of rounding up the children and playing with them for 20 minutes, as a break in their evening of “work”.

The Thai volunteers prepared games for the children. One of the Thai volunteers brought over a mother who has three children selling.. the youngest is about 4. 

It was watching heaven unfold on earth as the children played, and laughed, and felt the love of God being poured out on them. Images that will never leave my mind. I didn’t want to take pictures the first night, because..well because I just didn’t feel it was right. But here is one of a boy, 13, who I have become close with. Teenagers…

The mother was watching along, smiling, as her children laughed. Before the children had to go back to work, the mother asked one of the volunteers if they could teach her children English. So we will start to do that in the bar area as well!

We will be doing this consistently, every time we go into the red-light. For our first hour there, we will focus on the children, teaching English and games/songs/stories. Then we hit the bars for the next two hours.

Where did we meet with the children? Right in the heart of the red-light district, outside a closed building…which happens to be FOR SALE.

If there are two things that I know for sure, it is that God does miracles, and God is LOVE. I know He wants us in the center of the red-light.. so please pray that He would do a miracle and give us that building. At the moment, it is out of our price range.

It would be  perfect for teaching the bar girls, and the children. It would be a peaceful, and loving, drop in center for the bar girls during the day, and a safe haven for the children at night. It would also be a place to educate the parents about what their children are really being exposed to.

It will be a place where God’s LIGHT would shine like a diamond “against the jet black sheet of night” of the red-light district there.

And so I’ll leave you with this song that’s been playing in my heart over and over:

“The devil’s dealing dirty
In broken hearts and counterfeit currency 
The living isn’t easy 
When a heart’s regret can tax the air you breathe 

But like diamonds we shine
Up against the sheet of night
The jet-black sheet of night
We overtake the cityscapes
We scale the heights
We break but we don’t die

Whoa we’ve got a blood
We’ve got a love that’ll brave the flood
Whoa we’ve got a blood
We’ve got a love that’ll brave…

The cold will leave you guilty
And the wind will shake you like a tambourine
The dogs will leave you hungry
And your superiors will tax the blood you bleed

But like diamonds we shine
Up against the sheet of night
The jet-black sheet of night
We overtake the cityscapes
We scale the heights
We break but we don’t die”

Agenda: Love,

Bethsaida