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Village Outreach

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Last week I shared Leah’s blog about the changes that are taking place here in Cagayan. This morning I wanted to sit down and tell you all about how it applies to me and what life will now begin to look like as I minister to Filipinos in a different way than I have been for the past three years.

When I moved to the Philippines back in 2013 I felt young and inexperienced, but I knew God had stirred within my heart a desire to bring hope and healing to street kids. By faith alone, I moved here with dreams of pouring my heart into these kids. Over the past three years, with the grace and love of Christ flowing through me, I believe that is exactly what I have done. But I also knew the time would come when the ministry I helped start would be turned over to Filipinos. Leah’s post explains those details, so if you have not read it yet, go check it out here and then come back to this letter.

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The end of last year I felt drained and exhausted and just began praying and asking God what purpose and plan does he want me to fulfill here in Cagayan with his people. One day while walking through Divisoria (the town center) God opened my eyes and showed me he wanted me to continue pursuing his children, but this time in a way more intimate, relational and evangelical way.

After a few months of sitting and listening to God for specific plans, he laid on my heart to transfer my sphere of ministry from the city into the mountain villages. Starting next month, we will be going with a team of Filipinos into three villages each week. We will create a program that meets both their physical and spiritual needs, including feedings, bible studies, praise and worship, medical clinics, games, supplemental education, etc. My passion is really with children, so while I am grieving not being at the drop-in center with the street kids, I am thankful God has opened this door to minister to kids in similar ways, this time its just a little farther away! These villages are full of extreme poverty, but even greater than that is the need they have for the hope of Christ. That is what I am most excited about sharing with them.

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As hard as it is for me to walk away from Streetlight, the kids there will always have a special place in my heart and I will always cling to the fact that God in His sovereignty had a purpose for me to impact each and every kid I was able to spend time with. Moving forward I will still see the kids often and look forward to seeing how God will continue to work in their lives.

I hope you are as excited as me about the ways God is shaping Cagayan de Oro to be a place full of his presence and his people. The impact that has been made the past three years in Cagayan is as much because of you as it is me. I know God is going to continue working in this city and in these mountain villages and again, that is possible because of you- your prayers and your support. You are a blessing in my life and I look forward to your questions and suggestions and emails as together we move into the mountain areas to make Christ known!

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Celebrating Christmas

I love celebrating things-big things, small things, birthdays, anniversaries for random occasions, special days, holidays- so of course I want to celebrate everything Christmas represents.

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I love Christmas just as much any Christmas lover! I mean when December rolled around I made out my own advent calendar complete with a daily Christmas activity and Christmas song with a devotional and scripture on the birth of Jesus.

Along with celebrating all of those things, comes spending time with family and celebrating with them by your side. This year, as much as I would have loved to have been, I was not with my family to celebrate. That did not stop them from trying to involve me as much as possible though. Because of the time difference between the Philippines and America, all throughout the night I kept receiving hilarious texts and pictures of the craziness taking place an ocean away as my family celebrated Christmas with a floating-head, paper Meagan.

I slept off and on a few hours until I finally decided to wake up despite how early it was to intentionally communicate with people back home because it was still the middle of Christmas for them. After sending a few Merry Christmas texts I began scrolling through facebook while waiting on responses. I expected my newsfeed to be filled with Christmas posts-pictures of people with their families, pictures of young girls with a ring on their finger as their Christmas gift from their boyfriend/now fiancé, and of course lots of Merry Christmas posts. But I really didn’t see very much of those things.

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Instead, the reoccurring thing I kept seeing were pictures of couches full of toys or someone holding a present all with captions that read something like, “he got me the perfect gift this year!” or “my child being spoiled this Christmas!”

As I saw all of these things I couldn’t help but think we’ve all missed it. We’ve all celebrated the wrong things this Christmas season. As much fun as it is to have a couch full of presents, that’s not what it’s all about. That’s not what we are celebrating.

What happened to prophesies that came true, the birth of our Savior, God giving the best gift possible in the form of his son, shepherds-people who go unnoticed because of their low position-having a conversation with angels and going to seek out Jesus, Mary-also just a common woman-being chosen by God to carry the world’s Savior in her womb, Joseph choosing to stick by his fiancé’s side because the Lord told him to, despite what the world would say? Just read that list again, there’s so much to celebrate!

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The Christmas season is over this year. The trees and decorations have been put away. Families have returned back to their homes. Parents have gone back to work. But honestly if you missed it all this Christmas season, it’s not too late to celebrate, truly celebrate, Jesus and all that Christmas stands for. The hope and life and love that began one night in Bethlehem is such an incredible story from beginning to end that it’s worth celebrating every day!

 

 

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Banana Trees

Banana trees are persistent. You chop them down only for them to grow back again.

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For the last two weeks we have been trying to clear the banana trees out back at the center. I dig them up until all I see is mud and dirt, assuming the tree no longer remains. Then the next day when I walk out back they are there again growing up through rocks, weeds, trash, tree stumps. These trees are relentless!

A few days ago I realized I was digging up the tree but I was not uprooting it completely. The roots were still there, deeply rooted in the ground. Because the roots were still there, every day the tree was continuing to reproduce and grow back.

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As I realized this and saw the need to dig deeper and completely rid the ground of the tree and roots I couldn’t help but relate it to our lives.

We have a lot of junk in our lives. Past hurt. Failure. Lies we keep telling ourselves. Shame. Murder. Idolatry. Guilt. Sin.

Junk we need to be redeemed and freed from. Things that are blocking us from fully experiencing God and all he has for us.

We recognize this sin because it is big, tall, and obviously in the way. So we let God do his thing and start chopping it down. It hurts to let go of but we walk in obedience and let God bring the healing we long for.

The weight has been lifted. Through God’s grace we can experience peace. The tree is no longer in the way.

Time passes and the sin begins growing back. Breaking through the surface and trying to destroy you again.

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You think God has already cut this out of your life and you don’t understand why it’s back.

But you know you don’t want it. So you let God chop away again. You just don’t let him chop too close. You don’t let him dig too deep. You let him cleanse you to an extent but you don’t let him dig where it hurts too much.

You don’t let him take the roots out, the roots that are tangled around your heart.

The tree begins growing back again. It’s life source-the roots-still there.

Until one day you decide you have let the enemy win for far too long. It’s time to claim the victory God has been trying to give you all along.

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So you let God chop and dig away one last time. This time giving him the space to work. Letting him dig as deep as he wants, no matter the pain. Because you know when the roots are gone, there will be nothing left. It will be completely uprooted. There is no longer anything choking your heart.

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It was a long, messy process. It was painful. At times you didn’t want the hurt caused by the uprooting, you just wanted to walk in the sin because it was easier. But eventually you realized there is more. More of God that you can not see until you let God conquer, from the roots.

Freedom, true freedom, has come!

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Leadership

A few months ago the Lord walked me through the book of Nehemiah. If you don’t know a whole lot about this book in the bible, so much of it is focused on Nehemiah and the qualities he has to lead the people and bring them through trials and opposing people.

Since then I’ve thought a lot about leaders and the leadership I’ve been placed under. As I think about these things it blows my mind that in many jobs and leadership roles there are people who do not seek the Lord for answers and direction. I cannot imagine a leader who does not listen to the Lord and follow after his desires and heart. I truly have no idea how earthly leaders try to lead in their own power. I do not know how they survive the day. Where do they get their strength and encouragement from? How do they fight and overcome the battles by themselves?

Lately I have been so incredibly thankful that God has placed me under direct leadership from someone who seeks the Lord in all circumstances. Someone who lets the Lord lead. Someone who follows the Spirit’s guidance. Someone who listens to the voice of the Lord and obeys, despite the difficulties that it might bring. Someone who treats everyone with equality and fairness. Someone who listens to both sides of the story. Someone who is not prideful or determined for their voice to be heard. Someone who does not live by their own power but through the power and strength of the Lord. Someone who knows God is the true leader and seeks his wisdom and guidance in decisions.

I have not written a blog in a long time because God has not laid any words on my heart. But as I sit here this morning he has filled me with words of thankfulness for the leadership I get to follow under.

If you follow under a leader who knows God is actually their leader and humbly leads you, thank them today, their job is not easy. If you follow under a leader who is trying to lead in their own power, pray for them today.

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Moms

I believe God gives everyone different gifts and talents. If everyone was good at teaching there would be no one to serve others or encourage or lead others. God has equipped some with the ability to teach while he has given others the ability to serve well or lead well or freely give. It’s why the body of Christ works-everyone using their personal talents together to become one.

When I moved to the Philippines I knew my passion was children, specifically street children. I knew I would be able to work with the kids- brothers and sisters and friends. But their moms and dads- definitely not something I knew how to handle or what direction to go.

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This is exactly what I’m talking about. God has given me the gift to work with children. God has not given me the gift to know how to work with moms. But he has given that gift to other people. He has laid that passion on their heart and in their lives.

Last year our ministry began to realize the importance of doing more to empower the parents of street kids, not just the children. Every parent plays a vital role in the lives of their children, so in order to make a lasting impact in the lives of these kids we chose to do something to help the people who should be raising them. To start breaking the cycle. To show mothers and fathers how to be men and women of God and raise their kids in that environment.

At the beginning of the year Streetlight gained a new staff member to work directly with the parents of street kids to empower them.  Since this program launched SO much has happened! A group of moms have been coming to the center and our family coordinator has been teaching them a livelihood trade.

They come to the center every morning to cut, roll, and gloss recycled magazine paper into handmade beads. These beads are then turned into beautiful earrings.

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Through learning this trade these moms are able to rely on a steady, safe income every week instead of digging through trash or putting themselves in harmful situations. We are trying to show these moms their value and worth to all of us at Streetlight and most importantly to God.

Along with creating these beautiful beads the moms have bible study every week where they are growing in their knowledge of God and understanding his love for them.

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As a ministry, Streetlight wants to see these moms grow into women of God who are able to both support their families and raise them in a Godly home.

Because these moms have been working so hard the past few months they have mastered the art of paper rolling and bead making!

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And here is where YOU get to be a part of impacting the lives of these moms and their families. By purchasing just one pair of earrings for $10 you are helping to support a mom and her family!

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Email me at melafoy@gmail.com to order earrings and support these moms. They can be shipped anywhere in the States for $10/pair plus $3 for shipping cost.

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Works of God Displayed

There are stories in the Bible you read over and over again. You think you have them memorized. You think you know all the details. You may even think there is nothing new you can learn from the story because you have heard it so many times.

One day last week as I was sitting outside the center I was asked what I had read earlier that morning. After talking for a little while I then returned the question and said, “So then what did you read this morning?” The summary of the response was a little something like this, “I read about the blind man being healed at the pool of Siloam. I know God had a reason for me to read this passage he just hasn’t revealed it to me yet. I have read it before but I know there is something new for me to learn. I’m waiting on him to show me what he wants to teach me through this story today.”

The next morning I sat down at my desk to read the book I have been studying when it said to open my Bible to John 9. As soon as I began reading I laughed because it was the story I had just had a conversation about the day before.

Later that afternoon I was sitting at the center when someone mentioned how as a child their life was so hard but now they had been given so much and they didn’t know what they did to earn it. They didn’t know what they did to deserve the bad things that happened to them as a child and they didn’t know why now they were blessed with good things. My mind immediately went back to my reading from earlier in the morning.

“As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’ ‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned,’ said Jesus, ‘but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.’”- John 9:1-3

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The conversation that ensued was so uplifting to be able to explain God doesn’t bring about trials in our life as punishment but all because he wants his power to be displayed in our lives.

Fast forward a few days later and I’m reading a new book before bed when, you guessed it, the author begins telling a story about John 9:3. She goes on to talk about how disease and sickness and poverty are not sins. Instead they are circumstances that allow for God’s work to be displayed in our lives.

From that very first conversation about how we can always learn something new from the Bible to the moment I was laying in bed reading a book when the same verse showed up I am confident God was there in every moment. When he wants to teach me something he shows it to me over and over again until I stop being stubborn and finally listen.

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This morning I can’t help but wonder if you need to hear these same things. If you need to know the trials and struggles you are facing this morning are not because God wants you to suffer and be punished. You are facing these struggles for quite the opposite reason.

If you are walking through cancer with a beloved family member…. so that the works of God may be displayed in your life

If your kid got in a fight at school yesterday….so that the works of God may be displayed in your life

If you had a wreck this morning and your car is now in the shop… so that the works of God may be displayed in your life

If your boss is demanding more than you have time to handle…. so that the works of God may be displayed in your life

If you received a notice your bill is overdue again this month…. so that the works of God may be displayed in your life

God wants you to choose him through your trials so that he might be glorified. So that his power might be seen in your life. So that his works can be displayed in you.

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All the Thanks to You

Leaving America a couple of days ago wasn’t the easiest thing I’ve ever done in my life and traveling half-way around the world again wasn’t the easiest travel day I’ve ever had either. But since stepping through the security gates in Birmingham to start the long trek back to the Philippines the thing that has continually filled my heart has been thankfulness.

I am so thankful for the past several weeks and all of the moments that have come along with it. Every one of those moments could not have happened without you. I don’t want to rush back to life in the Philippines without first pausing to tell you thank you. Thank you for taking time out of your life to spend with me these past few weeks.

Thank you for the nights full of dinner and laughter.

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Thank you for the invitations to Sunday afternoon lunches full of good food and great company.
Thank you for the breakfasts before the workday began.
Thank you for letting me invade your time at work to just sit and talk.
Thank you for playing along and eating my Filipino food.

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Thank you for opening up your church for me to come and share about what God has been doing in so many lives.
Thank you for the days filled with wedding events that I am so honored to have been a part of.

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Thank you for letting me be loud, overwhelming and simply myself.
Thank you for being interested and asking question after question after question and truly listening.
Thank you for including me in Christmas activities.

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Thank you for moments in the kitchen baking and cooking and talking.
Thank you for understanding my fan-hood and cheering with me through the football games.

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Thank you for knowing my love of taking pictures and wanting to document moments so you just smile and go along with the picture taking.
Thank you for a week full of playing catch up and laughing and having such honest, heartfelt conversations.

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Thank you for treating me to day after day of memories I will cherish forever.

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A Praying Rockstar

I’ve been back in the States for two weeks now and during that time I’ve been a praying rockstar.

I wake up asking God to provide someone throughout the day that wants to financially support me
I’ve spent my time in the shower asking God to provide monthly supporters for myself
As I have been driving down the road I ask God for people to want to give financially to me
Before I go into any meeting, dinner or speaking engagement I pray out of that time will come a monthly supporter

Yesterday I was driving down the road and had one huge gut-check. I began thinking about how much time I had been spending praying and asking God for financial provision and in that moment he stopped me in my thoughts and called me out for only praying about that one thing.

I had not been thanking him for the ways he had already provided.
I had not been praising him for how sovereign and in control of things he is.
I had not been praising him for anything.
I had not been interceding for others.
I had not been thanking him for the little daily blessings in life.

My eyes and prayers were fixed solely on myself and how I could achieve my own personal goals. And in that moment he told me just how off track I was.

This morning I’m wondering if anyone else is there with me. In the busyness of the holiday season are we so focused on buying presents and hosting the best party that we forget about what we are truly celebrating. If we’ve forgotten to just stop and thank him for those people we love so much we invited them to the party. If we haven’t taken the time to say thanks for the food to serve at the party. If we have overlooked the reason we have a Christmas holiday to celebrate at all.

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Faithfulness in Waiting

I like planning things. I like knowing when things are going to happen. And then I like making sure they happen when they are planned for. In my mind it makes things scheduled and organized and I know what to expect.

Life isn’t really like that here. And most days it drives me nuts.

Lately as I have been sitting with God I have just wanted answers. Answers to the plans that are taking so long. Answers to why he wants to be so slow and take so long to make things happen.

I’ve been asking what good is continuing to come from the kids still being on the street. We are all ready to move forward and have these homes built so the kids can be off the street. But he seems to want to go WAY slower than me. He seems to be taking his sweet, precious time in giving our kids these rehabilitation homes.

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But why?

A week ago I sat just wanting to know why. Why did he find it best that things happen this way?

As soon as our ministry began we started looking for land to build rehabilitation homes for our kids. From October to some time in January we had one strike out after another. The piece of land we looked at was an outrageous price. The land was mountainous with no flat spots to build. The location was dangerous. No, no, no!

And then came the middle of January where we found the PERFECT piece of land. Flat. Huge. Clean title. Honorable owner. Great location. Respectable price.

I am thankful. God is glorified in his faithfulness.

In my small, worldly-thinking mind the waiting and looking was over. This was the land, let’s sign the papers.

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But that isn’t at all how it happened. The questions began rolling in. Has so and so looked at the land? Is the price negotiable? Can we get a lower price because of the location? Who will handle processing the papers? Has the surveyor checked the land markings? Is there running water available? Is there electricity? Are the neighbors ok with having street kids close to their homes?

Some of the questions were answered quickly and easily.

Approval from others was given.
I am thankful. God is glorified in his faithfulness.

The owner of the land is not looking to sell the land to anyone else and is willing to wait on us to make an official offer.
I am thankful. God is glorified in his faithfulness.

There is electricity already available at the land.
I am thankful. God is glorified in his faithfulness.

The lawyer looks into the paper work and everything is said to be legit.
I am thankful. God is glorified in his faithfulness.

Other questions took weeks or months to figure out. During those weeks and months it felt like such a waiting game. Some things were in our control but some things we just had to wait on.

The owner of the land checks in to make sure we are still interested in the land and assures us whatever our offer is, it will be ok with him.
I am thankful. God is glorified in his faithfulness.

The water situation is worked out and we are approved to have running water.
I am thankful. God is glorified in his faithfulness.

Then one morning, seven months after finding this wonderful piece of land, a group of us sat around a table with nothing but smiles on our faces. We all knew the magnitude of the moment. There was small talk, there was laughter, there was peace. After seven long months of patiently waiting the time had come for God to give us the go. God had given us permission to celebrate in His timing. The papers were signed. The land was officially purchased.

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I am thankful. God is glorified in his faithfulness.

Over the course of the past week I’ve gotten my questions answered. If we were moving at my speed the little moments would be overlooked and missed. If the timing was up to me the big moments to glorify God would not be there.

I am thankful. God is glorified in his faithfulness.

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Overcoming the Battle

     I sat down to read the other day and came across a passage I have read many times before. And what I loved so much is how God is always ready to teach and show us new things even through passages we already know.

“Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh and blood enemies but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.”- Ephesians 6:11-12

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     To be honest, a lot of days are hard. A lot of days I see or hear things that break my heart. Things that make me want to just shake our kids until they wake up and see the light. Things that make me want to sit down and explain to them that life doesn’t have to be like this, and THIS time they would listen and believe me. A lot of days I feel like I am fighting a battle against the kids. Like it is me versus them.

     As I sat there reading I began to get angry. Not at the kids. Not at the people who continue to sell rugby to the kids. Not at the way the parents deal with situations. My anger had shifted and I was angry at Satan for trying to destroy the lives of our kids.

     I began to let it sink in that I am not fighting a battle against the kids. Or the parents. Or the community. The truth is I am fighting against evil. I am fighting against Satan. The battle is not against the flesh. The battle is not with the kids at all. It is against the darkness that is in this world and in their lives.

     And the best news of all is that the battle will be won. Because Christ is victorious!

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“But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”- 1 Corinthians 15:57

Whatever battles you are fighting today God is victorious in them too! 

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