Love Links….What happens when you dare to live #undaunted

lovelinkslogoSo this past Thursday, we finally had the divine opportunity to go to Northern Jersey and meet with the Love Links Outreach team and the ministry’s beautiful team leader for our joint outreach.  Excitedly, the car was filled with the love bags for the ladies and my niece Danielle and I were on our way!

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We drove the hour long ride into Jersey not really knowing what to expect. All I knew fwflovelinksbags03was that there were a group of women at “LoveLinks” whose hearts were touched and moved with compassion for the hurting and the broken women just like ours at Fierce Woman Found and we both knew that it pleased the King for us to come together in unity to bring Love and Light to the forgotten and lost.
fwflovelinksoutreachteam002(Pictured: LoveLinks Ministry Team)

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Why a ministry to women in strip clubs you ask?
70% of females who are trafficked are trafficked into the commercial sex industry (this industry includes Porn, Strip Clubs, and massage parlors in the US). 89% of women in the sex industry said they wanted to escape, but had no other means for survival.

As a woman, you may even be asking yourself: “But, why would you do that to yourself anyway?”  Well, there’s a scripture in the bible that I believe may say it best:

“… to the hungry, even what is bitter tastes sweet.” – Proverbs 27:7

When brokenness is all you know, brokenness is all you believe you can have.
That is…until someone shows you otherwise.

As LoveLinks Director Marisol MacCheyne so aptly put it:
“We are ‘daughters of the King’ seeking out ‘ other daughters of the King’.

And so, with “Purpose” before us, we sat at the table sharing a meal together and listened as Marisol shared her heart and how the vision of the ministry came about. She too had been ‘ruined’ when she heard Christine Caine preach about the modern day slavery of sex trafficking in the world today.  I listened as she shared with me the ‘heart’ of LoveLinks to pour out the love of Christ to the women in the strip clubs who were so vulnerable and at-risk, not just for being trafficked but for being abused and addicted and completely broken and lost.

Research related to women working in various aspects of the sex industry indicates that women working in the sex industry are faced with higher rates: drug addictions[ix], sexually transmitted diseases[x], violent assaults[xi], and mental health problems[xii] such as Depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder than the general population.

“Women in the sex industry experience Post Traumatic Stress Disorder at rates equivalent to veterans of combat war.”[xv]

According to a study by Silbert and Pines, 70% of interviewees noted that childhood sexual abuse had an influence on their entry into prostitution[xiv].

Moreover, between 66% to 90% of women in the sex industry were sexually abused as children[xiii].

*For the source of all these statistics and much more, visit the “Treasures” website.

…66 to 90% were sexually abused as a child.
Working with victims and survivors of domestic violence and abuse since 2008, I knew full well the truth behind that statistic. After all, 80% of the women who came to me about their abusive relationships and/or traumas had been molested/abused as a child and years later, they were still trying to work through the damage.

Women in the sex industry face a myriad of issues that impact their physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being. Many feel desperately isolated and alone. In this instance, there is not much difference between those in the sex industry and those who have been abused or violated…the healing that is needed is deep. It is multi-layered, spirit, mind and body. And because their hurts and needs are multi-faceted, the approach to assisting them in the recovery process needs to be holistic as well.

So…after a delicious homemade meal made by the blessed hands of Mr. MacCheyne, we got to work preparing the final additions to the LoveBags for the evening…the homemade deliciousness of Lanie’s baked goods!

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When it comes to ministering to broken and hurting women, most especially those who have been victimized and abused, one thing is crystal clear….it is GOD who is in the details.

fwflovelinksteam012And just as in our own Fierce Woman Found Ministry, I found that Marisol and her team shared the same heart of excellence in everything that was prepared for the women.

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…Every single tray was put together with loving care and excellence.

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Every tray, every bag, every gift is made with tender loving care and made beautiful because its of utmost importance that the ladies know:
They ARE worth it. They ARE precious. They ARE valued. They ARE loved.

“For too long the church has ‘passed by’ the broken women sitting at the well dying for a drink of living water because of their sordid past/lifestyle…
It’s time for a change. It’s time to go to Samaria and bring the LIVING WATER of Life — that is Christ.”

– pastor m, fiercewomanfoundministries

As someone who has lived at broken cisterns, I remember what its like to seek water and come up dry and deserted. I also know what its like to find THE WELL of Living Waters. And my encounter with Him didn’t happen inside the church. Not my initial encounter of salvation anyway. Nope. That happened in Samaria, the most ungodly of places, while I was alone, away from the crowd. The outcast. The unbecoming. The sinful woman.  You see some people are hurting so bad, you have to do more than preach a message to them…you have to BE a message to them.

Due to confidentiality, we cannot share details such as names, places, etc.
But suffice to say, that night we joined this courageous team as they visited the clubs.

Each time we went in, we witnessed the deep joy on the girls faces as we entered with their ‘love bags’. And though they loved the cookies and the treats, it wasn’t hunger for food that caused their spirits to leap. It was hunger and thirst for that which we (the church) take so lightly nowadays. It was hunger for the presence of hope. Hunger for the presence of God. It was the ‘presence’ of the Love Links team and the GOD-Hope and Light within them that brought the smile to their faces and the desperation in their hugs.  As one woman said over and over, “I thought you weren’t coming. I figured we were ‘unsave-able’….that we were too contaminated for you…”

But, what pit is it that our God won’t reach into to save us? What black hole didn’t He deliver YOU from? Is there anywhere that we can go that GOD won’t seek us out and draw us to Him with cords of Love???

And the Word of God says:
“Neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God.” Romans 8:39

Christine Caine shares the story of the time her little girl wanted the flashlight in the supermarket, and when she wasn’t able to see the ‘light’ amidst the brightness of Walmart’s fluorescent lighting, she excitedly tells her, “Come on, Mum! Let’s go find some darkness! (To read more on this story, click here).

Listen to me…if you want to be ruined for church as usual…GO.

Go to the dark and broken places and bring the Light. You will never settle for lukewarm christianity again. As Christians, we MUST stop hiding from the darkness and we MUST Go and FIND some darkness and DISPEL it with the Light of the Gospel!

You see, while others are busy preaching about it, reading about it, writing about it and blogging about it…the LoveLinks team and others like them are just plain DOING IT! While we (the average church) are busy criticizing and arguing about whether we should be going into these kind of ‘establishments’, these women are going in and touching lives for the KINGDOM of Light and defeating the darkness on its own territory.

And I know I speak for all of us at Fierce Woman Found Ministries when I say, we were proud to be a part of her posse that night!

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One final word…work like this simply cannot be done without a group of people who provide the love, prayers and support behind the scene.
And so, to our beautiful team of #FreedomFighters:
Pastor Maria Garcia, Mary DeFina, Gabrielle Oliveira, Bernice (Nicee) Moran, Jennifer Torres and Iryna Makaruk….Thank you for believing, for praying and for supporting the ‘heart work’ of God and the vision to advance HIS Kingdom!

Want to know more about how to support these amazing ministries?
If you’d like more information on “Love Links” Ministry and the Justice Network of Northern Jersey, click here or visit their website at http://justice-network.org/love-links or email Marisol@Justice-Network.org.

For more information on Fierce Woman Found Ministries, visit our facebook page or email pastor Michelle Soto at fwfministries@aol.com.

The “LoveLinks” Challenge…preparing for outreach

Hey all!

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FWF’s “LoveLinks” Outreach – Living Life #Undaunted

If you’ll remember, the last time we spoke, we shared about our upcoming  #Undaunted Challenge where we would be joining “LoveLinks” Outreach Ministry in Northern Jersey as they ministered to women in the strip club/sex trade industry. To read about our #Undaunted challenge, click here.

In preparation for the outreach our very own Fierce Woman Found Outreach team gathered together to prepare and pray for each individual bag.

But, first some shopping and gathering of the “goodies”…

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Then, with love and faith and scripture, each bag was filled…

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Then, we prayed over each “love bag”  to be a mighty blessing to the women who have felt forgotten, abandoned, alone and abused, that they would know that they were beautiful, they were loved and they were purposed!

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11

And finally, with a blessing and a bow, we completed each bag…lovelinksoutreachlovebags01

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From our hearts to yours, we thank you to every single one of you who prayed, gave, supported and joined us for this amazing summer series.

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Stay tuned for our next post as we follow up and share with all of you about our evening with LoveLinks and the ‘treasures in darkness!

~pastor m and the fierce woman found ministries outreach team

 

Undaunted…Going where ‘feet may fail’

If you have been doing the Undaunted on-line study each week, you know that we are at the end of our study. Let me suggest to anyone that did not purchase the Undaunted book at the beginning of the study…….purchase it. Purchase it and read it as a follow up to the study (Click HERE to purchase your copy). It would be a great end of summer read at the beach! There is much inspiration and I believe her book will encourage you even more to follow God’s call to love others.

As we come to the close of this study, it’s important to cement our “takeaways.”
These are the important points that made an impact, the lessons learned, the action steps we feel called to take.  If we don’t purposely ponder what they were and write them down, chances are, we won’t remember them.  We may remember that we liked the study or class, but it won’t be specific enough for us to remember the actual inspirational point and challenge.

I came across an acronym  and recreated it for this particular study.
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Christine Caine is amazing, empowering, inspiring and undaunted.
But you know what? She is also just like us.
She is someone with “messy-ness” and challenges at every turn in life.  Yet, along the way she allowed God to piece together the threads of life’s circumstances and followed where He was leading. She didn’t miss God’s work in her life, and she decided to use His leading to live her life undaunted. And because of that she is unstoppable!…fueled by faith and filled with love and courage.

In the last sentence of her book Christine says “He means for us to walk in the gap where He’s thrown down the cross, to walk like Him, to walk with Him.”  I pray that all that Jesus did on the cross will have new meaning and purpose for us. He loves us so much He went to the cross to make us free and whole so we could join Him in reaching a lost world. He rescued us so we can rescue others.

He became our hope so we could share hope with others.

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In a few weeks, a small handful of us will be stepping out and going to reach women who don’t know the love of Jesus. Women who, because of the kind of work they do are in very real danger of being trafficked, if they’re not already. Even more so, they are in danger of never knowing they are perfectly and wonderfully made in the Beloved.
You may not be able to come with us but you can surely partner with us by giving a donation for the love bags we are putting together.
Would you consider partnering with us in this effort?  Click here to give.

1. How about you? What are your takeaways? Please share one or two (or more) with the on-line community in this study as we conclude – it will encourage us all.

2. We would also value any feedback you have on the on-line study format.

…So now, for you and for me – can we also live undaunted and be unstoppable?

I think we have learned that the answer is a loud YES!
It’s having our eyes opened from slumber, unwilling to stay asleep.
It’s deciding enough is enough.
It’s knowing at each new day that we can make a difference.

Not because of us…but because of Jesus in us.

 

 

LoveLinks….Taking the Challenge!

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As part of our Summer 2015 “Undaunted” bible study, Fierce Woman Found Ministries, Inc. will be preparing “Love Bags” and  joining LoveLinks Ministries in Northern Jersey for an evening of intercessory prayer as they share the Light and Love of Christ with the women employees of several strip clubs in the area.

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LoveLinks is a local NJ outreach ministry with The Justice Network in the fight to end violence against women and we are honored for the privilege to partner with them.  Learn more about this wonderful ministry here.

We want to bless the women that LoveLinks touches with ‘love bags’ containing various toiletries as well as inspirational gifts which will share the love of Christ with them while reminding them of their innate beauty as a child of God.

To that end, we are preparing 50 bags and estimate that each bag will cost approximately $10.

  • Toiletries: nail polish, make up, body spray, earrings, etc.
  • Baked goods: These are for Everyone (bouncers, bartenders, managers, dancers) in the clubs.
  • Decorations: mirrors, collages with words of affirmation, flowers, scented candles
  • Resource info packets (HT/DV resource info, hotline numbers, safety tips, shelter locations, ministry connections, local church info)
  • Gift Cards (for the LoveLinks Team): To help cover their outreach costs (gas, groceries and office supplies)

But we can’t do this alone…
We are seeking your help in putting these bags together. I have included the donation link so that each of you can participate in blessing these women. All that you can donate will be of tremendous help. We would love for you to join us as we undergird this amazing team plant immeasurable seeds of the Kingdom in these women’s lives.

Click here to go to our fundraiser donation page and click on the FWF Ministry donation box!

All donations must be in no later than Tuesday, August 18th so that we can have time to put the bags together. Would you consider partnering with us in this outreach so that we can help spread awareness and hope.

The outreach is scheduled for Thursday August 27th in the evening.
We’ll be gathering with the LoveLinks team for a time of prayer before heading out to be the Love and Light of the Gospel.

If you or your church/organization would like more information on how to connect/partner with us, please email our Pastor/Director at fwfministries@aol.com

Until then, please join us in lifting up the Lovelinks ministry and their team in prayer.
It is not an easy ministry by any means and prayers for them are invaluable.

Grace & Love to each of you as together, we rise to the challenge to live #Undaunted!

Pastor M. and the Fierce Woman Found Ministries Team ❤

Week 5 Day 1: “Give me my mountain!”

"...As yet I am as strong this day as on the day that Moses sent me; just as my strength was then, so now is my strength for war, both for going out and for coming in. Now therefore, give me this mountain of which the Lord spoke in that day; for you heard in that day how the Anakim were there, and that the cities were great and fortified. It may be that the Lord will be with me, and I shall be able to drive them out as the Lord said.” - Joshua 14:11-12

“…As yet I am as strong this day as on the day that Moses sent me; just as my strength was then, so now is my strength for war, both for going out and for coming in. Now therefore, give me this mountain of which the Lord spoke in that day; for you heard in that day how the Anakim were there, and that the cities were great and fortified. It may be that the Lord will be with me, and I shall be able to drive them out as the Lord said.”      Joshua 14:11-12

We first meet Caleb when he is about 40 years old, and a recognized leader of his tribe, the tribe of Judah. The Lord has given Moses the following instruction: “Send some men to explore the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites.   From each ancestral tribe send one of its leaders” (Numbers 13:2).

And so Caleb and eleven of his peers (one representing each of the tribes of Israel) are sent out to ‘survey the land’….a ‘reconnaissance mission’ if you will, into the land of Canaan.  And along the way, they ‘take in the sights’…the cities and villages, the fortified walls surrounding the cities, the great crop and produce of the land.

But of all the sights they see, it’s the city of Hebron, a walled city in the south, perched high near the top of the mountain that grabs their attention. What the spies see in this strongly fortified city is a race of giant men called the descendents of Anak or the Anakim.

When the spies return, they’re carrying a huge cluster of grapes — the fruit of the land — on a pole between them. They talk about the abundance of the land and how “it does indeed flow with milk and honey.” And that’s where the ‘good report’ ends.

Ten of the spies come back full of fear of the ‘giants in the land’. So much so that they called themselves ‘grasshoppers’.  Cause ‘gripping fear’ will do that to you. When you’re facing ‘giants’, your fear causes you to shrink in your own eyes.

What’s worse though is that the “bad report” of the 10 spies was contagious.
By nightfall their report has spread throughout the camp, and with it the infectious fear of these tribal leaders. “That night all the people of the community raised their voices and wept aloud” (Numbers 14:1). Women were sobbing that their husbands would be killed in battle and their children left fatherless. Across the camp that night you could hear the sound of weeping and anguish. By morning the men were ready to rebel, select another leader, and return to Egypt.

But in the midst of this fear and unbelief two men stood firm in faith and hope — Caleb and Joshua. When the 10 spies were sharing their tale of terror, the scripture says, “Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, ‘We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it” (13:30). The next day, Caleb and Joshua try to sway the gathered Israelite crowds with their faith:

“The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good. If the LORD is pleased with us, He will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us. Only do not rebel against the LORD. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will swallow them up. Their protection is gone, but the LORD is with us. Do not be afraid of them'” (14:7-9).

Notice the mention of the LORD in the words of Joshua and Caleb. Notice also that nowhere in the words of the other 10 spies is there any mention of the Lord. All they spoke and all they ‘saw’ was the opposition, the giants, their fear. Joshua and Caleb saw  the same giants and the same heavily fortified cities, yet they looked through eyes of faith. While the others saw the giants, Joshua and Caleb saw the LORD enabling them to conquer these people and give them the land that HE had promised to them.

Yet that day fear prevailed. The unbelief which had spread throughout the camp resulted in disunity and rebellion — as fear and unbelief always do. And because of the division, the LORD vowed that none of their generation would enter the Promised Land except for Joshua and Caleb.

“But because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it” (14:24, cf. 30).

Caleb followed the LORD “wholeheartedly”. What a testimony!
So often we gladly follow the Lord when all is well, but when things get tough and we must lean on faith rather than sight…we, like the other spies, fall away.  Fear sets in, and we follow our fears instead of our faith.

And this is why I love Caleb. Caleb remembered the words and promises of God and leaned on His strong arm and was ‘undaunted’ in the face of giants. This Bible study is a great reminder that we will need to lean on God and His Word and Promise if we are going to overcome our fears, live life undaunted and follow the challenges God places in front of us.

What is a fear you are facing in this season of your life and how are you dealing with it?
Isn’t it high time we stop ‘trying to move the mountain’ and begin to claim our ‘promised inheritance’ and “TAKE THE MOUNTAIN”.  It wasn’t arrogance that emboldened Caleb to ask Joshua for the mountain. It was Caleb’s knowledge of the God he served. It was the remembrance of the words of Moses and the promise of God to give them the land. Even at the ripe old age of 80, Caleb was still a man of a ‘different spirit’ and he stepped up and boldly staked his claim.

Isn’t it high time, we rise up, declare the ‘report of the Lord’ and claim our inheritance in the land?

Today, confess to God where you have been paralyzed by fear or overwhelmed by personal issues to such an extent that you have not accepted God’s challenges and ask the Holy Spirit to give you power and boldness to follow the challenges God is inviting you to take.

And as we look at the ‘giants’ within our land, let us pray for the courage of Caleb.
Let us be of a different spirit and say to the world, society, and the enemies of God….“Give me my mountain!”

Undaunted – Week 5: “The Challenge”

Undaunted-Week-5finalThis week of our study is entitled “The Challenge.” If you are reading along in Christine’s book Undaunted it will coordinate with chapters 9 (Divine Interruptions) and chapter 10 (Facing Giants).

But first, let’s start this week with a few questions from last week’s session:
1. What are some of the “but God’s….” that you are wrestling with?
2. What are you finding walking WIDE AWAKE looks like in your everyday life?

As I have watched Christine’s video segments and read her book Undaunted, I can’t help but notice the uncanny way the threads of her story have pieced together who she is today and the calling God has given her.

As we look at that timeline, we can recognize that what God has done in her life hasn’t happened overnight and I know the same is true in our lives.  He is such a great weaver and just as He has woven her story, He wants to weave the moments of our lives into the calling He has for us.  As you look back on your timeline, what are the threads in your life?

Two important observations I make as I look at Christine’s example:
1) At every crossroad in her life she has turned to the Word of God for truth and guidance.
2) She didn’t miss the significant moments where He was opening her eyes and speaking to her heart…she could have but she did not and that makes all the difference in the world.

I pray that the journey will continue in each of us as we let God write our stories and weave the experiences He has planned for us together for a purpose. We have allowed our eyes and our hearts to be opened to the undaunted way He wants us to live and we must keep going forward. We now share a new perspective on the call God has for us to love other people.

We have been reminded that life is about so much more than we thought it was 5-6 weeks ago. As Christine mentions the challenges they faced in getting the A21 Campaign off the ground, what is one challenge you are facing right now, big or small (in your life, workplace, relationships, church, community)?  So I ask you to be open this week to the encouragement and inspiration Christine gives us to proceed tenaciously and press on with an undaunted spirit.  Be open to the challenge Christine wants to leave with us.

Lord, I am ever so grateful you did not let me succumb to my fear of (fill in the blank), but rather helped me choose to push through that fear. There were times I never thought I would or could overcome this fear, but I so wanted your will and purpose for my life. How many times have I had to choose to “do it afraid”….and yet every time, You have been with me, comforting me, enabling me, strengthening me.
And because of that I have been able to go and do things I would never have otherwise been able to do. I thought of God’s promise in
2 Timothy 1: 7. Lord, I pray, Your Word in 2 Timothy 1:7.
I choose to remind myself that You have not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

We will be doing one final week of this study and bringing it to a close with a recap next Monday. For those of you in the private small group study, we will discuss final details for the outreach night scheduled for later this month.  I am big on having takeaway points to help me remember significant thoughts or action steps when I am inspired.
So let’s plan to share a few of those next week as we close.