How can it be possible to sit down to write something with such mixed emotion? I am both deeply grieving and bursting with anticipation and excitement for the doors God is opening for me.
I have prayed and prayed and prayed for direction in this- how to share this in a way that honors everyone involved and also in a way that you all, my people who have partnered with me throughout the past 3 years, will understand. It also includes a bit of missionary lingo that I have no way around, so stay patient with me through that!
Years ago in 2012, when I returned home from a year of missions exposure around the world, the Lord placed in my heart a dream. A dream for kids living on the streets in the Philippines to have a chance to know Jesus and see their futures changed forever. I witnessed firsthand the hopelessness they were living in and the hardships they faced on the street everyday, and I was burdened to do something about it.
A few months later, I joined hands with two other missionaries from Kids International Ministries who were just as passionate about helping street children, and together we started Streetlight Ministry.
SO much happened in the past few years. God has been faithful beyond words. When we opened the doors to the center the very first time, I felt so unprepared. But His promise is true, that if you can muster up faith even as tiny as a mustard seed, God will use it to move mountains. By His grace, the drop in center has been a safe place of refuge for street kids to come shower, eat, go to school, and learn about Jesus. The rehabilitation homes that many of you supported financially to help us build are pretty much complete. The plan is to open them up sometime within this year.
As with any ministry, there have been countless mountaintops and valleys. I’ve shared with many of you some of the hardships that were so overwhelming to me at times last year. Your prayers and encouragements and faith helped carry me through that difficult season.
I have always believed that one day God would make a way for me to step down and let Filipinos take over this ministry and lead their own people. They know and understand this culture better than I ever will, no matter how long I live here. It has been my prayer that God would simply use me to build a strong foundation for the ministry and then to support and empower Filipino Christians to love and care for the kids living and sleeping on their own streets.
So in part, I am beyond thrilled to share with you that this transition is finally happening. Last month, we promoted and transitioned new leadership in the ministry. KT, one of the kids’ former teachers is now the director of Streetlight Ministry. This is a huge step up for her and most of the weight and responsibility lays on her shoulders now. But she is ready, and I believe God has been preparing her for this all along. Jeni, the family coordinator, is now the head of the drop-in center. And Ate Stella, our oldest staff member, is now the head in Balubal where the rehabilitation homes will open this year. It makes my heart happy to see Filipinos step up and take over this ministry.
At the same time, my ways are not His ways and His thoughts are higher than mine. It’s an easy verse to quote, but a hard verse to accept and live out. When I envisioned Filipinos taking over the ministry, I never once imagined that I wouldn’t be around to support them.
But God, in His higher ways and thoughts, knew all along that He would pull me away and send me in a different direction…
Over the past 6 months, there has been much talk here about a split. One of the two women I partnered with to start Streetlight and her husband have decided they want to go a different direction and they desire the freedom to grow and expand their influence in ways that they aren’t able to do under the headship of Kids International Ministries. In doing so, they have chosen to break away from K.I.M. and create their own nonprofit organization which they are calling Ellipsis. Once it is established, they will be taking Streetlight ministry with them.
This split left Meagan and I with a heartbreaking choice at the beginning of this year, which really ended up being not much of a choice at all. From the first mention of a split, we knew we would not be following Natalie and Daniel into Ellipsis. We appreciate them and wish them well in their new path, but I knew from the beginning it’s not the direction that God is leading me, even if that means I have to let go of Streetlight more than I planned.
Immediately, I knew what God was asking me to do even though it felt impossible at the time- He was asking me to let go, to move forward, and to trust Him. The timing of this new Filipino leadership creates the perfect space for me to pursue aspects of ministry that I didn’t have time for when I was leading the drop-in center every day.
I live in fairly decent sized city here in the Philippines. We chose to live here originally because it is where the street kids migrate to from surrounding areas. But if you drive in any direction for an hour or more, you will be in remote mountain villages. Places where you mention the name of Jesus and they respond by asking, who is that? They’ve never heard of him. It’s hard to believe, I know. But its real. They live in poverty like you cannot begin to imagine and they have very little access to things outside of the land they live on. It’s a different world.
And it’s this little world that I believe God is calling me into next-to introduce the Gospel, to help feed and clothe and educate and disciple these beautiful children and families living up in the mountain.
These shoes feel way too big for me to step in and fill. The calling on my life to start a ministry for street kids was a big enough step for me. The weight of responsibility and heaviness I feel when I consider this next season of ministry is beyond words. But at the same time, I am so confident that this is where God is leading. After three years of studying the language and using it every day, I can finally say that I am fluent enough to communicate well. Praise God! With a solid grasp on the language and a better understanding of the culture, I will be able to connect with these people on a deeper, spiritual level, like I’ve never been able to do before.
Stepping away and letting go of Streetlight is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. But I know God has been working behind the scenes all along and everything happens in His perfect timing. He used these first 3 years of my life here in ministry, to prepare me for a greater task. He has been preparing the Filipinos around me to step up and take over the leadership of the drop-in center. And He gently reminds me every day, that no labor done for Him is ever in vain. My time with these kids is not over. The seed has been sown, and their stories, their futures are only just beginning. I look forward to being a part of their lives for years to come. They taught me so much about grace and what it means to truly love. I am forever connected with them and I still see them often! …it’s not goodbye.
Thank you, each of you, for supporting me, praying for me, and encouraging me as I navigate through this journey God has called me on. I know you probably have lots of questions- please ask! I hope and pray that you will join me as I stay with Kids International Ministries and head into the mountain villages. There are so many people up there, waiting and ready for the Good News of Jesus and I’m excited to expand our ministry, turn the page and climb this mountain together. I am truly humbled that God would choose to use me for such an important task in His kingdom.
All the details to come next time! This post has gotten long enough 🙂
“However, I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish the course and ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.”