Below are stories e-mailed from (my sister in Christ) Ami's "motherland" (mom is from the Philippines)-the Philippines, where she is currently (Oct 2004-? 2005) studying at. She went to UMM from 2000-2004 (39th Annual Commencement Speaker), and was a light to UMM and the community..still is today! Please keep her in prayers during this time she is there-thank you or salamat!
Sent : Thursday, June 8, 2006 2:06 PM
Subject : I'd trade it in a second
I lost a lot.
In the past week, I have lost a lot. But what I gained... I'd trade it in a second.
Two days before the day of my elimination, I lost my black adidas bag. Actually Joe (not real name) lost it. He offered to carry it. We were riding different taxis. He left it in the trunk. Taxi drove off. It was never to be seen again.
Joe felt bad. Who wouldn't? Good thing for him, I had just read chapter 4 of the Purpose Driven Life that morning. Eternity is what it's all about. Not fame, not fun, not a gym bag... the two things that really matter are:
1. character - who you are even when nobody is looking 2. relationships - how you treat others
I explained that little life lesson to Joe. He seemed to get it. I told him that if it took me losing my bag to have him realize the importance of eternity, I'd trade it in a second.
Later, Jane (also not her real name) said to me, "I really admire you Amelia, if I was you, I'd be crying. You really needed those things in your bag. But you... you are still smiling!"
I relayed the same thing to Jane. She seemed to get it. "Jane, if it took me losing my bag so that you and Joe would realize the weight of eternity, I'd trade it in a second."
2 days later...
God takes me out of the competition. I'm eliminated.
A sense of urgency hits me knowing that I will not be around the contestants anymore. Joe and Jane need to hear the Gospel!
Jane hugs me, crying after the show... "I'm really going to miss you Amelia, you taught me so much..." Joe is teary-eyed.
In the dressing room, I pull Jane aside. After all this talk about eternity I ask, "Jane, would you know where you would spend eternity?" She vigorously and fearfully shakes her head as if screaming, "No...I'm scared...tell me...tell me!" We cry. We pray. Jane is no longer is fearful of her eternal destination.
At the restaurant afterward, Zion (church friend) and I pull Joe aside. More eternity talk. Joe's grateful...so grateful... but just doesn't know how to respond. He needs more time.
Jane and Joe. If it took my elimination to give me the urgency to share with the two, I'd trade it in a second. I really would.
I slept on my tear-stained pillow that night. Felt like God plucked me out of my mission field while my heart still cried out to love on Jane, on Joe, on the judges, the stylists, the fans...
In the morning, my Bible opened to the book of Mark, the crucifixion story. Since April 24, as instructed by Mama, I had been reading the account from the gospels everyday, crying out to God for a revelation of why Jesus died on the cross.
My eyes fixed on His words in red, while in the garden "My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch."
Waittaminute... this is how I felt!
My phone suddenly beeped with a new text message from Joe. It read, "I know I'm gonna see you still, but I'm really gonna miss you, with my stay in Close up. You really do have that effect on us. Even with the stress of taping, I've always seen a smile on your face. And it's contagious! You really remind me that 'Hey, this is fun!' Thanks for showing and teaching me. I never had anybody have that much faith in me towards learning about the Bible. Thank you so much."
Tears trickled down my face as I realized how much I loved Joe, how much I loved Jane, how much I loved the toothless fans who waved the banners, the writer who smoked every 10 minutes, the stylist who let me borrow his pearl earrings...I loved them so much. And I would trade my title for them. If it took me being eliminated to somehow reach them, I would trade it in a second.
I went on reading the Gospel story:
What happened next was an outpouring, not just of tears but of revelation light from heaven:
*If it took me losing my bag for Jane and Joe to learn a lesson in eternity, I'd trade it in a second.
*If it took me being eliminated to have the urgency to share the Gospel with Jane and Joe, I'd trade it in a second.
In almost uncontrollable sobs it hit me. THIS is the love of Jesus. THIS is how He longs for us, how He yearns for us, how He loves us. He said on that cross -- after the scorners scorned and the mockers mocked...after having the chance to come down from the cross and save himself -- THIS is what He said:
I love them I love them I love them so much. If it takes me to stay on this cross - to thirst, to bleed, to die - all for their redemption...I'd trade it. I'd trade it in a second.
Thanks for listening and praying. It's not over...In about a week there will be a wildcard episode, a chance for me to come back and love on 'em all some more. Keep that in your prayers.
What would you trade? Would you trade your all for the sake of the call?
Redeemed by trade,
P.S. Learn more about the show by visiting www.closeuptofame2.com Register and log on to the forum for more intimate details and feedback from fans and contestants.
From : Amelia Chouravong
Sent : Thursday, May 11, 2006 10:34 AM
Subject : website and game show
2 pieces of new, exciting news!
1. The website's up and running! www.closeuptofame2.com(Ameilia's Profile)
2. 10 of the finalists, including myself, will be contestants on Game Ka Na Ba (KNB)tomorrow!
For those of you not from the Philippines, Game KNB started off as a spin-off of "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" I'm pumped to be on the show tomorrow because I actually researched the show for my senior honors project in college. (All you Morris folks... you know what I mean!) My research was entitled, "Are You Game? Imperialistic Influences in a Filipino Game Show." Never thought I would actually be a contestant!!!! God is has a sense of humor!!!!! The show will be aired in the Philippines on ABSCBN on Friday, May 12 at noon, so I am not sure when that is on the Filipino Channel in the U.S.
One of my specific prayer requests are
1. For the website - that it will be used as a tool to spread the TRUTH of God's Word and the TRUTH of the contestants. That I will not be caught up in what others think about me or what they say about me online, but I will be firm in my identity in Christ.
2. For the show - that I will not be puffed up with pride about the brains that God has given me, but will humbly rely on His wisdom. That I will represent the Christians with excellence, "No, I do not believe we evolved from apes. Yes, I have a brain."
Thank you for your prayers!!!
Love and prayers,
Subject: Close UP Updates
Date: Fri, 28 Apr 2006 21:09:08 -0700 (PDT)
Pardon me if you got this email before... there are new updates at the end. :-)
Hello Prayer Warriors,
Wow!!! God has been doing amazing things in my life this past week!
It had been a desire of mine to do a toothpaste commercial for a while. Not your average everyday desire, but one nonetheless. The Christian talent agency I work with sent me to audition for "Close Up to Fame Season 2," which is a reality show, a combination of Fear Factor, Survivor, American Idol, etc. The winner gets cash prize (equivalent to US$10,000) and is the next product endorser for "Close Up" toothpaste. Kinda a funny concept in the American mind, but for Filipinos, all past "Close Up" endorsers have become really famous.
On April 1st, I auditioned among about 100 people in our batch. Out of the batch, only 4 girls were chosen for further screenings and I was one of them. From the many batches all over the Philippines, they would choose 12 girls and 12 guys. They said they'd call within the week if we made top 12 nationwide. I felt really good about the audition mainly because I saw God's hand through it all. I was waiting for the call.
Few days passed and I was getting antsy. Then a week passed. Nothing. Another week passed. Nothing. Within that week, I saw Kenny, a friend of mine who also tried out. He said he got the callback already a few days ago. My hopes were dashed.
That night, I dealt with the rejection by writing a short essay about how Jesus was rejected (as it was approaching Good Friday, the topic seemed appropriate). Later, I read it to the missionary couple I lived with. The dad (Kuya Derek) said, "Well, do you still WANT to do it?" Crazily, I said yes, even though I knew that I already had not been chosen. "Let's pray then." So Kuya Derek, Ate Amanda and I bowed our heads before the Lord that night.
The following Tuesday I spent the night at my mentor Hannah's house who had first encouraged me to the industry. I told her that I didn't get a call back and of course she sympathized with me. When I left her house she gave me a hug and said, "In God's time, you'll get that toothpaste commercial."
When I got home, I worked with the Rosses on True Love Waits material. Suddenly, I got a call from ABS broadcasting network if I could come in for a final screening within an hour. I was psyched! I didn't think that I had made it, but got dressed and was off to the studio.
What happened next happened in a flash. I quickly followed a production assistant through a line of dolled up dudes and dudettes as they scrutinized "the new girl." A guy dressed in a tube top then dragged me to the dressing room, rummaged through my wardrobe, plastered makeup on me, and started blow drying my hair. "3 minutes!!!" I heard shouts from outside. They rushed me back with all the other nervous-looking contestants and I got a briefing.
Turns out THIS was the top twelve!
The rest of the contestants arrived Monday, two days prior to my arrival, but there were a few girls who had backed out of the competition and I was able to take their place! I am so amazed at how it all happened and am encouraged by what my mom told me, "You are not there by the choice of man. God placed you there."
She continued with words of prophetic inspiration over the phone, "You are not there to desire fame or to win. You are there to win them to the kingdom. You will see a need and you will bring their name to the Lord in your prayer closet. You will say, 'Every person my eyes gaze upon is mine for the kingdom.' Whenever you speak, you breathe the breathe of life to that person and destroy the strongholds that Satan has put on their life. When you touch them, you touch them with the hand of Christ. Nobody can touch them like that except for you. When you remember your purpose, you will never fear man."
And the needs are a plenty! I spotted only one other fairly strong Christian among the 24. Already, I have been able to invite two of them to church, and some of them have opened up to me already regarding their faith. Today, one of them was telling me that he was feeling left out in the group, as he is a tough person to get along with. He told me that he was crying last night, drinking on the hotel's balcony and about to slit himself with a razor. "I just want to hang myself," he said, "Or jump off the balcony." He has not set foot in a church for 6 years, bitter at God since his uncle had died.
Tomorrow we are taping for our first episode. We each get to showcase our talent in what is called, "30 seconds to fame." Like American Idol, there is a Simon Calwell counterpart and they will be fairly tough on us. Eliminations follow. Out of the 12 guys and 12 girls, 8 of us will have to say goodbye. Tomorrow.
I really need your prayers for physical strength. It has been really grueling with guestings on other shows, dance rehearsals, travel, photo shoots and commercial shoots. Tomorrow, I'll be dancing hip hop in a group, playing an intense classical piano piece and solo breakdancing as well. The symptoms of a cold came on me last night and I have gotten nose bleeds 3 times since then. Right now, I'm really tired, but I wanted to get the word out for you to pray before tomorrow.
More specific prayer requests include: -Guidance from the Holy Spirit for what to tell people who come up to me with their problems. -Consolation from Him to those who get eliminated tomorrow. -The fullness of every opportunity with these people. -That I will not fear man or rejection, especially from the harsh judges. -That the stylists will choose appropriate decent attire for the contestants.
Thank you so much for standing with me in prayer. If you want to reply, I will still be checking my email tomorrow morning before I go to the studio.
Indescribable, uncontainable, God placed the stars in the sky and He knows them by name! And He has placed me here for such a time as this. Praise Him!!!!
Love and prayers,
Ami :-) a.k.a. "The Good Girl" (that's my title on the show...imagine that!)
*The show will be airing here in the Philippines Saturdays, 230pm on ABSCBN Ch 2 after Wowowee. The text system is not set up yet so we still cannot send in text votes.
*My health has improved dramatically and backstage I was raising my hands and praising Him for giving me the strength to be able to play piano and breakdance.
*I was able to lead the contestants in a prayer before we went onstage.
*During the taping of our pilot episode, God's favor showed mightily on my life as I was one of the last to be called as "safe" for the next episode...I made it to top 8 girls!
*In a press conference, only about 6 of the 24 contestants were able to speak. I was one of them. I told them I joined the competition so that I would have a platform and influence to be an example to the youth. I talked about how in the future I desire to be a motivational speaker and tell the youth that they can be confident not in their talent, looks or personality, but they can be confident in who GOD created them to be. After my answer, I received a round of a applause from the people there and the press.
*We were told our lives are open books now. We will be stretched, prodded and pushed. Throughout it all, we are supposed to keep our chins high and smiles intact. Thank God for His joy!
*My eyes have been more open to the NEED of people around me. People NEED to be loved. They NEED affirmation and encouragement. I was so so so privileged that God has placed me in a place of NEED so I can give what He has given me to others. Let it rain!!!!
(through text)MAR: This is Mar from ABS Sales... updating ur profile..bla bla AMI: (provided needed info)... Thanks for ur hard work. MAR: Fridays are the pits here...(more business) AMI:You are doing a great job. Enjoy your work because other people enjoy the work you put out. MAR:Thanks. Finally, someone who appreciates the work I do.
Even those little conversations we can see how love and appreciation is deprived in our culture. God needs us to be His hands to reach out to these people. He loves them so much!!!!
Love and prayers,
Amelia :-) The Good Girl
P.S. I do get to read all your emails and appreciate them. Maybe when things slow down a bit here I will be able to respond more personally.
From: Amelia C
Subject: Countdown... 10 days!
Sent: Tuesday, October 4, 2005 12:11 PM
Hello Praying Family,
10 days until I leave the Philippines for Thailand and Myanmar!
Then on November 2, I'll be back in Texas! That's less than one month!
Just wanted to send a few pictures along with their corresponding updates...
A little update from yesterday: For my internship, we went off-site to Rizal to shoot a drama segment for the 700 club. Our location was the governor's home. The story was about a Muslim homosexual who became a Christian. The lead actor was Fanny Serano, one of the most famous hair stylists/make-up artists in the Philippines. I played the part of his partner's wife. I'll try to let you know when it airs on the Filipino Channel.
Pinoy Big Brother:
The most popular show in the Philippines right now is Pinoy Big Brother, a reality show. One of my pre-Christian friends, Sam (Filipino-American), was chosen to be one of the housemates. It is really exciting because he wanted to go into showbiz and this is a huge stepping stone for him. He is getting more and more popular each day and he doesn't even realize it!
My friend Lana (singer) is a regular guest on the show Eat Bulaga. The picture below is when we visited one of her shows. Lana is from church and is ministering to many other famous actors and actresses in the Philippines. Two of her mentees (a famous actress and a singer) went to a weekend church retreat (similar to the Encounter in San Antonio) this weekend. Yay!
Thanks for all your prayers!
A few pictures...
1. Dressed up as the Moroccan wife
2. My friend Pedro and I in front of the Pinoy Big Brother house the night Sam entered.
3. On the set of Eat Bulaga, popular noontime show.
From : Amelia C.
Sent : Tuesday, August 30, 2005 3:44 AM
To : Salvador Cruz
Subject : Hey Sal! Assignment for you...
How's it going? I know u are really good at making connections, getting resources... so I have an assignment for you. :-)
Back in April, a professor of mine asked me to find a soundtrack for him in the States. I couldn't find it and thought that maybe it didn't even exist. However, he insists that it does exist and he really really wants me to find it. He knows it exists because he waited until the movie was over and at the end of the movie the credits rolled and said, "Soundtrack available on cd or cassette." (see music)
Do you think you could use your powers to help me locate it? I know you're in Morris so that doesn't help that much, but please just keep an eye open for me. Thanks!
It's the original motion picture soundtrack to "Everytime We Say Goodbye" starring Tom Hanks.
I'd really appreciate it if someone could find it. I don't want to disappoint this professor. I'm on his good side right now and many of his students are praying for his salvation because he is very very influential in the college.
From : Amelia Chouravong
Subject : Past Due Updates
Hello Prayer Warriors!
Thank you so so so much for your prayers about peace of mind and protection of my belongings! I do feel a lot better about the whole thing. When I talked to my mom she simply said, "Ami, do not eben worry about eet." And, actually, I didn't after that. Yay!
This will be a long email because I'm catching up on a few months. I'll just give highlights.
--- VISIT FROM MISSIONS TEAM. Back in March, I was visited by my old friend Steve Danan and his missions group from Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. They came to our dorm’s weekly Bible study twice. It was encouraging to hear the praises of God's people echo through the International Center in songs of worship. My Korean friend and I also went with them in a street outreach in Tondo. We sang praise songs with children, told testimonies, and prayed/played with them. It reminded me of the good ol' days when I took group missions trips... except this one was free for me. Praise God!
-- FILM. Our final project for TV Broadcasting (CBN Asia) was truly a hit! Entitled Tatlo, we had a cast/crew of about 20 people, an ambulance, stretcher, police sirens... the works! Upon evaluation, my professor really enjoyed it, and we were told we had the best concept among the groups. As my most memorable assignment, I couldn't stop thanking God for His goodness and faithfulness during the whole process.
-- FREEDOM FOR ONE PRECIOUS LIFE. I was meeting one-to-one with my close Korean friend (Let's call her Sue), who had recently dedicated her life to the Lord. During our meetings, I found out that Sue had relations with a man who already had a girlfriend. Even though it was difficult, I had to speak the truth in love to her. After a particular one-to-one meeting, she was acting very strangely and was MIA for a while. All our friends were worried. I feared the worst, and thought that I had ruined our friendship, possibly by being too direct, or by offending her. However, later I found out that she had ended the relationship with her boyfriend and she just needed time alone with God to sort things out. She was crying during our next one-to-one meeting when she said this, "I thank God that He brought me here to the Philippines. Maybe I would have never met you. Maybe I would have stayed in this bad relationship. I really wanna thank you."
--VICTORY CONVERGENCE. A fun highlight. My church had a convergence/concert with all the branches in the Metro Manila area. There were celebrities there and I "accidentally" bumped into them, and got to take a picture (attached). They are: Dennis Padilla - famous comedian, Christian Bautista - famous singer, winner of the Philippine version of American Idol and Piolo Pascual - famous model and actor. Nice guys who love the Lord!
--BACK IN TEXAS. Definitely a refreshing time! We had moved to a beautiful, God-given house and that was my first time to see it. Special visits included: My Grandpa from the Dominican Republic, Criz Penalosa from Dubai/Philippines, Matt McCullough and Joey Keopraseuth (friends from high school and college respectively). Back at Lord of the Harvest church in San Antonio, I was surrounded once again by the most-loving, on-fire, purpose-driven people and loved every moment. Attached is a pic of when we went on a tour of San Antonio with Matt, Joey, Dennis and Remely. For those of you who haven’t seen our new house, it’s in the back.
-- LOS ANGELES FUNDRAISER. Again I was blessed to see old friends. Of course, I was able to see about 15 people from my Tagalog On-Site (TOS) trip to the Philippines Summer 2003. Moreover, Leo Soberano from Minnesota and his friend Raymond drove from Las Vegas to visit. We visited Rick Warren's (author of Purpose-Driven Life) church - powerful message! Also, the fundraiser was a success!! We raised about $2,000 to build a center where cerebral palsy children (victims of toxic waste) can get physical therapy in the Philippines. Lastly, my old friend from college, Brendan Brandt, was also able to stop by the event. He moved from Minnesota to Hollywood, inspiring to be an actor. Here are my pictures of the event from my friend Darryl online. http://www.imagestation.com/album/pictures.html?id=2126302839&code=16241577&mode=invite&DCMP=isc-email-AlbumInvite
--PHILIPPINE DANCE IDOL. During the LA visit, I was able to watch the finales for Star Dance, the Philippines Dance version of American Idol. That night, they narrowed the contestants down from four to one… and my friend Ryan won first place! He came from a fairly poor family and joined the contest to help them out. He won 1 million pesos... an equivalent to about $20,000, which is a fortune in the Philippines. Now check out the best part of the story - back in December 2003, Aaron and I prayed the prayer of salvation with him and his friends. I still remember holding hands in a circle with them in the University of Batangas parking lot. He was a "regular Joe" back then and now, he's the Dance Idol of the Philippines! Continue to pray for his spiritual growth - I already invited him to church, now that he lives in the city. In a way, it reminded me of when people say, "You never know who you pray with, they could be the next Billy Graham." Hopefully, this story encourages you that every person you share Christ with is significant, and God has an amazing plan for their lives.
Well, that's it for now! Thank you so much again for your prayers and support! Registration for classes begins June 1st, so please pray that everything lines up and that I'm Spirit-led throughout the whole process.
Love and prayers,
From : Amelia C
Sent : Saturday, March 5, 2005 8:15 AM
Subject : The End of the Semester
Hello Prayer Warriors!
The end of the semester is nearing! Our last day is March 22 and finals are until April 4. I'm going back to San Antonio April 8!!!
For all those who prayed for International Night... thank you!!! It went really well and everybody had a lot of fun. My mom prayed that God would use me as host to make people happy (isn't it cool how we can ask God simple requests like that?), and people definitely enjoyed that night! I realized that I really do like hosting events. I think it comes down to years and years of practice when Mama would have me host mini-talent shows in our house or at nursing homes, or with the Filipino community. What you sow is what you reap.
Like I mentioned in my last email.. I'm really getting into the swing of things here. I find myself smiling often at the little joys of life in the Philippines that I don't necessarily get to experience in the U.S. Joys like pulling the string on the jeepney to stop it, joys like watching the guard at the IC throw a makeshift ball into the "plastic cup" hoop, joys like observing people in malls sing along to the song they hear in the department store (which I see much more often than in the U.S.). I've found a good balance too spiritually, academically, physically, and socially. I think I am beginning to eat more healthy foods, get good exercise, and make new friends, etc. Last week, we had a soccer tournament with the IC. Our team lost most of the games, but I had fun and I don't know when the next time will be that I'll have my team consist of people from Germany, Vietnam, China, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Philippines and America! I think my last days here consist of moments when I say, "When will I ever be able to do this again?" and then I just savour the moment.
More good news - Saori is coming back!!! Well, not for good, but just for a visit. She'll be here Monday until March 25, so that's a big chunk of time. God’s perfect timing.
Probably my most pressing prayer request right now is my TV Production and Direction final. We are three in our group and are producing a short drama. We were given 15 lines and have to stick to those particular lines, in that order too. From those lines, we came up with a jeepney holdup with flashbacks of three particular people on the jeepney. The name of our fillm is "Tatlo" meaning "Three." I really pray that God will work in this production, even though the script has nothing to do with Christianity. Tomorrow we are shooting... please pray for us! It's "an ambitious script" in the words of my professor in Minnesota. We are renting a jeepney, and we also have an ambulance and police car lined up, just for tomorrow's shoot. We need fake blood and a stretcher and about 25 cast members.
Besides that, I GET to produce a 15 minute Radio Children's Drama, give a speech in Tagalog, record and produce a music album, and complete some more presentations and finals. "When will I ever be able to do this again?" J
As the semester ends, many international students are already leaving. I have said goodbye to four good friends already and I think a couple more are leaving next week. I really want to be able to spend quality time with people before they leave and have doors of opportunity to share the Gospel. Please pray for that.
Thank u so much for "sticking with me" this first semester! I really appreciate you all and can literally feel a difference the few days after I send out emails like this. I really do believe you are praying, and I really do believe prayer moves mountains.
From : Amelia C.
Sent : Wednesday, November 17, 2004 12:56 AM
Subject : riding horseback on volcanos
Hello Prayer Warriors!
(Warning: LONG EMAIL!!! haha)
I just got back from a last-minute excursion to Taal Volcano, the smallest volcano in the world! I went with a group of 6 people from my dorm... the cool thing was that we were from 6 different countries ~ Germany, Poland, Chile, Columbia, Korea and the U.S.!
First, we rode a fishing boat to the island where the volcano was located. We rode horseback up to the volcano to the crater, which is a mini-lake. Each of us had guides. Right then, I realized how blessed I was to be able to travel all over the world, see sights, wear sunglasses, hear about Jesus... the list goes on and on. Then, I thought of my guide (each horse had a guide), and how his days consist of going up and down the volcano, leading tourists who might not take a second glance at their guides. I thought about how my guide (Jason) may live on the island, never totally hearing the message of hope of Jesus Christ. So as I looked onto the serene lake inside the crater of the volcano, I prayed silently for Jason and for the opportunity to simply share about Jesus.
On the way down the volcano, the Holy Spirit worked through my broken Tagalog to share with Jason. Oh yea, one more thing - we were on horseback!
AMI: (translated from my broken Tagalog) Are you scared of the volcano erupting?
JASON: Not really, it's pretty safe.
AMI: I was kinda scared to come up here, but I knew where I was going when I died. Can I ask, do you know where you are going when you die? Heaven or... (I didn't know the word for hell in Tagalog)
JASON: I think heaven.
AMI: Well, I just wanted to share with you that you can know you can go to heaven, not because of what you have done, but because of what Jesus Christ did for you on the cross. He is our hope.
JASON: Our answer.
AMI: Yes, it is by His grace that we know we can go to heaven, not by being good. So when you're sad, you can always call on Him. Even when you're not sad, when you're happy too. It's important to give him thanks all the time.
JASON: What religion are you?
AMI: I just say Christian, it's not really about religion, it's just about JESUS.
JASON: Born again?
AMI: Yes, and born-again is not a religion, Jesus talks about being born again to enter the heaven. Do you have a Bible?
AMI: Read John. Chapter 3 talks about being born again...
So basically I shared God's love through Jesus with Jason a little more in slow phrases of Tagalog. I don't know if I'll ever see Jason again here on earth, but I'm believing that I'll see him in heaven someday... maybe we'll go horseback riding again! (Haha, joke joke, please no emails about doctrine of animals in heaven!)
You know, I've really discovered how "easy" it is to share Christ with people. We're not called to force a religion down people's throats, but just called to simply tell people what Jesus did 2,000 years again and (bonus!) what he is doing in our lives right now. It's up to them to decide what to do with that info. It relieves so much pressure of "winning converts," which is something I've struggled with in the past.
One more story. Sorry if it's too long, you can save it for another sitting! Yesterday, my manna was Proverbs 16:9 - "A man plans in his heart, but the Lord directs his steps." A girl named Rainbow was leaving for Hong Kong last night. I happened to cross paths with her before she left. I had only met her twice before that, and for some reason, our conversation led to God in the past. She talked about how she doesn't have a religion, but that's just the way it is in China. "Just try to do it yourself and if you can't do it, it can't be done." We left the conversation at that.
So when I bumped into Rainbow before she left, I knew it was God! I couldn't let her go back to Hong Kong without telling her about hope in Jesus. I offered to help her pack and see her off to her ride, the whole time praying for an opportunity to share. We waited for her ride for a long time, and I was still praying for the opportunity to share, but didn't know how. I got a tract and a little "pass it on" encouragement card about God leading travelers that I wanted to give her. While we were waiting, a group of Koreans passed by us, just getting out of a Bible study! They were my friends so we had some small talk. I was talking with one guy in particular (Brian) asking him about the Bible study.
AMI: So how was the Bible study? What was the topic?
Haha, so you can see by then, I just about freaked out thinking how cool God was to direct so many people's steps! I ran into Rainbow, then I ran into Brian... and my manna that day... !!!
Turns out that Rainbow's ride didn't come, so she decided to leave the next day. I went to her room later on and gave her the card and the tract. Even though I didn't know her that well at all, I had a God-given love for her and compassion for her not knowing about Jesus. I basically didn't talk to much, because when she received the card she said, "Yea, it's hard for my culture to become Christian in a short time because we don't know. My family was not raised like this." Then I gave her the tract and said that I merely wanted to give it to her, no pressure. She then said, "Yea, it's good to have something to read."
AMI: I know that we haven't really known each other for a long time, but I'm glad we met. I just wanted to give you these before you left because I don't know when I'll see you again and I just wanted to share this. I know that Chinese don't say I love you, but I wanted to tell you that I love you and that's why I gave this to you.
RAINBOW: Yes. I love you too. Thank you.
Wow! She said "I love you" to me! It was so touching to be able to share with Rainbow! It was so cool how God directed my steps and all I had to do was plant the seed! Praise God! All right, that's the latest for now! Thanks for all the people who write back to me! Thanks for all your prayers!
Once again, I'm praying for the LHC family, haha, these letters seem to be sent on the 17th!
Love souls and prayers,
P.S. I know I usually just share my testimonies, but here is a bonus! A testimony from my friend Leo living in Las Vegas... it really challenged me in my love walk and compassion with unbelievers and gave me insight to see how much people are hurting to be hating Christianity so much.
It was 3 weeks ago, when I was on my way to class and there were two older gentlemen passing out the smaller versions of the New Testaments. They stood in the front of one of the buildings next to boxes of these bibles. I was so blessed to see them serving on our campus. Unlike the college campuses in Minnesota, we dont have any Christian clubs available at our campus. Anyway, after my class, and three hours later I was walking to my car. I passed by a group of about 6 students around a table, and on the table was a stack of about 30 of the bibles that were being passed out earlier. I assumed that they were also passing out the bibles until I discovered otherwise. One of the guys were pouring soda all over the bibles. Another was chewing off pages, while another was looking thru and ripping out pages by hand. The rest sat entertained. I passed by, and immediately the Lord grabbed hold of my heart and told me to approach them. So of course, I obeyed, with the often asked question in mind, "Lord, what do You want me to say?" It happens so fast, and all I know to do is obey. So I approach them with a smile that came from deep within. ( I believe the Lord quickened a smile to my face). I said hello, and asked if they were done. Thats it and I was kinda stuck, but thats all that came out at first. "Are you done?" So they all just kind of looked at me waiting for more. So I said. "Well, I just wanted to know what else you were planning on doing, because I would like to have those bibles if you dont mind." While speaking, I noticed that one of them had a satanic star on his hand. And they sarcastically started making comments about getting it away from them, and were really expressing what they had in mind to do with them. As soon as they agreed to hand them over, I started cleaning them off one by one. The Lord gave me the opportunity right when I heard the question, "Well, what are you gonna do with them?" So I told them I was born-again Christian, and wanted to make sure that the bibles carry out its purpose. I didnt plan on speaking anymore. All I remember was that I had a permanent smile, and that I was expressing an unusual kindness towards them. Then the Lord reminded me that we must walk in love towards those who dont know Him. And just as I was finishing up cleaning the bibles, another guy asked. "What made you become a Christian?" HAHAHAH PRAISE THE LORD!! THE QUESTION THAT GAVE ME THE OPPORTUNITY TO SPEAK. So I started sharing my testimony and as I looked at about 3 of the faces, I could tell a seed was being planted. While I was giving my testimony, I could hear one of the other guys making sarcastic remarks which gave me boldness to raise my voice a couple of notches to speak over him and take control, this also let him know that the enemy know that his attempts to distract the others was not working. So I finish up my testimony and I thank them, and walk away. As I walked away, I felt a release and I walked away with tears falling from my eyes as I remember and picture what Jesus did for us on the cross. What an honor to be persecuted for His names sake.
From : Amelia C.
Sent : Tuesday, November 9, 2004 11:19 AM
Subject: I like Jesus
Hey Prayer Warriors!
Thanks for keeping me in your prayers! Here's a little testimony of the things that are happening in the Philippines. I shared it with a few people and now I'd like to share it with you. All the glory goes to God!
Here's Steven's story...
Steven is Chinese and reminds me a lot like William Hung in looks, the way he acts and talks and tells jokes, even though I don't know if that's "politically correct" to say or not, just trying to paint the picture.
After I got home from a Tommy Walker (Christian praise and worship leader) concert, I went back in the lobby of our dorm. I saw Steven and said "hi" and began small talk. He saw my "I like Jesus" shirt and said, "So you are a Christian?" I asked him if he was too and he said, "I am a church-goer, I don't say I'm a Christian." Of course, that landed us in a LONG conversation about church, God, Jesus, and water baptism!!! At his Chinese church, they insist that he be baptized before or per se in order to become a Christian. So the whole time I was trying to see where exactly he was coming from. He believed in Jesus as the Son of God but he also thought "I am not qualified to be a Christian. I am too dirty." I asked him, then who is qualified? How can anybody be qualified? A liar is a liar whether (s)he tells a little white lie or a big one that ruins the whole state of a nation. (The aforementioned is not in quotes because I kinda paraphrased it to you).
It was really neat because I really felt like God was telling me to not be ashamed and wear that shirt that day. I kinda didn't want to because I didn't want to "offend anyone" my first few days there (or so I thought) but I obeyed anyway. Then it's really awesome that Steven saw it so looking back, I thank God. Yay God! That shirt turned into a longer conversation too about my confirmation of the person and deity of Jesus of Nazareth through the "I Agree with" campaign. That led to my testimony of the campaign and then a lot of other subjects about God which eventually led to me offering him the opportunity to pray the sinner's prayer. He asked how:
AMI: Well, we could do it different ways. I could
pray for you and then I'll say a prayer and you repeat
after me. Or else you can just pray it in your own
words including these things (belief in Jesus,
repentance, desire to change, etc.), or we both can
STEVEN (In broken Chinese accent): I vill pray because I do not know vhat you vill say and I do not vant to repeat if I do not know what you vill say.
AMI (smiling): Ok, did you want me to pray too, or just you pray? It's up to you.
STEVEN (nodding): Yes, ve both can pray.
AMI: All right, did you want to start or did you want me to?
STEVEN: I vill start. Because I do not pray long and I do not know how long you will pray.
:-) So then, in slow broken English, Steven prayed a very heartfelt and touching prayer of belief in and repentance to the Lord . Two specific things I remember from his prayer: 1. The words, "Lord, guide me..." and 2. a blessing over me for sharing with him.
Anyway, longer story semi-short, he prayed the prayer of repentance then and there and I told him that after that he is a Christian. Baptism is a step that follows. He seemed to understand..
...unfortunately on Sunday, when we went to church he seemed to still be confused about the baptism with water. I told my friend Saori about him and asked her if she could help me find a guy mentor for Steven. So we're still looking and praying.
So that's my testimony of what happened on Friday in the lobby of the International Center!
Please pray for a guy mentor for Steven and that he will find a good church to hook up with, one that teaches the truth, especially in the area of salvation.
Thanks for your prayers!
Love souls and prayers,
Please pray for protection for the Philippines as a typhoon Level 3 is predicted to come in today. A typhoon happened last weekend which caused a group of Filipino Americans to be “stranded” in the island of Mindoro for an extra day. God is good because Sarah (from Minnesota) and I were almost going with that group. Sarah would have missed her flight! The typhoon last weekend claimed around 200 lives according to a text from my cousin. The typhoon is predicted to be worse this time. It’s Thursday and our classes are cancelled until Monday! While praying this morning, I felt really really safe and secure and I thank the Lord for giving me the promise of being in His shadow. Thank you for your prayers.
Love and prayers,
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