Life As An American In Europe

Taylor has been a friend of mine for over eight years. He is such a sweet person and I am so excited to have him on Go Giver! He is currently going to school overseas reversing his role from a welcomer of international students to becoming one himself.

Introducing our first  of “Perspectives Men”,  Taylor Anderson! 


Screen Shot 2016-01-07 at 1.55.38 PM

Living in Germany has definitely been a huge change in my life. I had to learn the national language when I came here and there are some things that classes can’t teach me. I have to venture out of the classroom to experience the culture first-hand and how to use the language in everyday life. By learning the language, I have grown to love the people here. I find them to be wonderful caring people, and I value the friendships I have made here. I love being able to go see my friends close by, being able to go out into town, and meeting up with people to talk.

Screen Shot 2016-02-11 at 9.36.26 AM.png

All this to say… It isn’t an easy life.

I have had days when it is frustrating that I can’t talk with another person and they can’t understand me.

I have had days when I wish I had enough money to run home really quickly just to be with my family during a problem.

 I am trying to live a life with no regrets.

I only have one shot to do things and I have a big list of goals that I want to accomplish and I don’t want anything or anybody to get in the way of my goals.

Yes, it may seem a bit strange that I decided to study abroad for a full year of my life. It might be strange that I have decided to do something different than most people in the US would not choose to do. In the end I don’t regret making the decision to go study abroad in Germany.  I have been able to learn so much about myself.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

Getting out of my comfort zone has really brought a new perspective about life and the love I feel towards international relations and the cultures around the world. Studying abroad is not for everybody, but I do value and respect people who take it upon themselves to travel. To see the world and to care for other people who might not be Americans. You never know when someday you might need a person that you can’t understand or is not like you. People need to care for people that are different and or who might think in a different way. 


Screen Shot 2016-01-07 at 9.44.52 AM

Taylor Anderson is third year junior from the University of Southern Indiana. He is studying International Studies, German, and Anthropology currently in Marburg, Germany at Philipps Universität Marburg as an international student. He is a proud United States citizen living in Germany and is truly enjoying learning a new language and culture.  By being an international student he has learned that one country does not have to define a person, but instead people can be defined by multiple cultures.

Advertisements

The Truth About Refugees

Liz a dear friend of mine. I have known her for about 4 years and while she is younger than me, I have always seen her as a mentor and leader. She is full of such compassion for others, especially those in from other cultures who are in need. Her gracefulness is an attribute I strive for everyday. Liz is such a wonderful woman and I hope you enjoy her post as much as I do!

When Chelsea first asked me several weeks ago to write a piece about refugees, I had no idea that by the time this was done, refugees would be a major, controversial news topic.

When I wrote the first draft, almost no American news outlets were talking about refugees. There had been no attack on Paris. There was no nationwide debate over admitting Syrian refugees. No one was breaking down the refugee process, and no governors were sending letters to the White House about refugee policy.

Screen Shot 2015-12-10 at 10.46.23 AM
Photo by: Mitra Dhital

But now that all of that has changed—now that we all know more than we ever knew before about refugees and have arrived at our new opinions of what should be done—what I have to say hasn’t changed a bit.

You see, my husband and I spent the last two years working for a refugee ministry in a major US city, living in an apartment complex that housed several hundred resettled refugees. Our complex held mostly Bhutanese-Nepalis, but we were also blessed to have neighbors from the Congo, Burma, Cambodia, and Iraq. For two years, it was our job to help them with anything they needed, most often dealing with the medical and immigration systems, though we also led citizenship classes, taught Bible stories to the kids, and helped a house church get started.

Screen Shot 2015-12-10 at 10.36.09 AM
Nepal is right between India and China. Bhutan is North of Bangladesh and Southwest of China.

Through months and years spent eating together, living together, and worshiping together, we became friends and more than friends with these precious people. We walked together through sicknesses, births, holidays, and everyday life. We learned that they and their children have experienced more trauma than most of us can imagine. Every refugee story is unique, yet each has a tragic common thread—violent displacement from homes and land, coupled with fear for their safety if they try to return. Most of our friends had spent upwards of twenty years stuck in UN-controlled camps, not allowed to work or relocate, waiting and praying for something to change.

Unfortunately, the trauma doesn’t necessarily end for most refugees when they arrive on US soil. After years of waiting, they are suddenly thrust from shacks or tents into a modern apartment in a large American city. Many don’t know what a refrigerator or oven does, and they often use these appliances as storage space. We even heard of a family in another city drinking toilet water because they didn’t know how to use the sink! Most families feel overwhelmed, isolated, and helpless after arrival, unable to speak English, drowning in culture shock, and with little or no natural support network. The volunteer agencies that are legally responsible for refugees after arrival do all that they can, but usually the agencies’ resources are stretched impossibly thin. Often, all they do is rent an apartment, drop the refugees off at it, and give them a bus pass to get to English classes.

What refugee families need most as they walk through the long transition period is a friend who can help them gain confidence and competence in their new host culture. This can be through something as small as taking them to the supermarket or having a meal together—things that anyone with a little time can do! These sweet people have come to our nation from war-torn lands, often with no access to the Gospel and little hope for their earthly lives, and they are here in our cities, waiting for someone to notice them, care for them, love them. You don’t need any special qualifications to help them—just find out if there are refugees in your city and who is helping them already, and existing ministries would be happy to have you volunteer!

Screen Shot 2015-12-10 at 10.42.40 AM
Photo credit: CNN.com

It is my prayer that this short piece helps you see refugees a little less as a political discussion and a little more as people. Rather than arguing over whether or not to accept more, why don’t we spend a few hours of our time showing the love of Christ to those who are already here? Why don’t we welcome the stranger with love? Why don’t we walk through life with other people just as broken as we are, other mothers and fathers and brothers and sisters, and see what we can learn from each other? I don’t know whether or not Christ would approve of the politics on either side, but I know He is honored when His people choose to show love. May we reflect Him in our lives as we serve the orphan, the widow, and the stranger.

Grace and peace.

Liz

Liz is a proud graduate of Louisiana Tech University, though she currently does absolutely nothing related to her degree. She and her husband have spent the past two years working with a refugee ministry on the West Coast and are briefly back in Louisiana before moving overseas to work with Muslims. She enjoys reading, hunting, fishing, learning about other cultures, and thinking about exercise but not actually doing it.

A New Perspective : Kathy

Kathy is a friend and mentor of mine, and has been for years. She always has just the right words to say and encouragement just when I, or others, need it most. She did Mr. Yell’s and my premarital counseling this past year and was our college minister for several years. I am so excited to have her on the blog this week!

 wpid-null-1.jpg

Worship- verb, proskuneo – pros=”towards” and kuneo=”to kiss”.

I will never forget learning this meaning years ago.  A room full of college students were at my house for discipleship and we began talking about what “worship” actually means and what God desires of us in our worship of Him.  We looked it up in our Vines Expository Dictionary and found this definition.  “To lean towards, as if to kiss”.   I was overtaken with the visual of that intimate act and could hardly speak for a moment.  Worship in my personal, private time was not a new concept, but that intimate act used to define it made it become a sharp and clear picture.  It made me understand why personal, private worship of the Lord Jesus Christ was crucial in feeling the power of the Holy Spirit when the whole church worships together.

Scripture teaches us the power of God’s people gathering in authentic worship together in 1st Corinthians 14:24-25.  The word of God was being taught and they were praising God together in such a way that listeners who did not know God came to understand how much they needed him and fell down on their knees and worshipped God, declaring that God really was there among them!

Only God is worthy of being worshipped this way.  In Matthew 4:10 Jesus rebukes Satan and tells him that we should “worship the Lord our God, and him only should we serve.”  The priority of faithfulness in worship is clear.  He wants all of our worship.

wpid-null.jpg

Truly, my sweetest experiences in worship have been when I am alone at home or riding in my car.   Songs with strong biblically sound lyrics have made me want to stand up right there in my car and worship Jesus – which may be tricky since I am the one driving.  Reading God’s word and coming to a new understanding of God’s character or a new principle to apply to my life has often brought me to my knees in worship or caused me to weep at His overwhelming acts of grace and kindness toward me.

My encouragement to you is that you find a place where you can spend time “leaning in to God, as if to kiss Him”.    Even if you are one who doesn’t really know God or much about Him, seek Him – lean into Him and He will show you who He is.

Imagine what our weekly worship gatherings with others would be like if we all came to the room having already spent private time in worship of our Savior.  Let’s pray together that each of us who claim to follow Christ will be faithful to worship Him and only Him.  He is so worthy of our worship and praise.  After all, the bible teaches us that if we don’t, the ROCKS will cry out in worship.  And like the song says – “ain’t no rock gonna cry out in MY place!”

May your worship this week bring you a new understanding of how rich and fulfilling private worship can be.  For me, it changed my day, renewed my spirit and transformed my life.

Kathy

image

Kathy is founder of “Speak It Ministries” and author of “5 Things” – a book about how a man should love a woman by looking at the life of Boaz.  She loves to share God’s word with anyone who will listen.  You can find out more about her ministry, as well as buy her book, at her  website www.speakitministries.com or follow her on Twitter: @cckathy and on Instagram: kathybnelson

image

Working In A Pregnancy Information Center

I was so excited that Jessica agreed to write for “Perspectives” this week! She is a dear friend of mine with a heart full of such compassion for others. We have been close friends for over four years, and she has kept up her love for others the entire time I have known her.  Jessica’s passion for people has taken her down a different road than she ever imagined.

image

As I sit here trying to put words and thoughts onto paper, I am watching the cursor blink repeatedly. I am struggling to find the appropriate, most impactful words to describe what Chelsea has asked me write about: my job. You see, I have a unique job. It is controversial, rewarding, and challenging.

 I am the Executive Director at a pregnancy information center. The Back Porch is a pregnancy information center that is located directly across the street from an abortion clinic. I counsel women every day who are literally minutes away from getting an abortion.

 After my husband and I graduated from Louisiana Tech University, we moved to Edmonton in Alberta, Canada. Canada is a long way from my Louisiana roots, but we know that God has called us here to work in church planting. My husband and I are here to build relationships with people, share the Gospel, and start new churches. When we moved here last summer as missionaries, it was the biggest leap of faith we’ve ever taken.

image

Leaving everything we’ve ever known. Leaving family and friends. Not knowing if I would get a job. Adjusting to a new culture and lifestyle.

But God was faithful. He provided me with a job at The Back Porch within the week we arrived in Edmonton. I have always had a passion to help women and this job fit the bill perfectly.

 In Canada, there are no legal restrictions on abortion which means that it’s an option to the mother for the entire 9-months of the pregnancy. Yes, let that sink in. Also, the Back Porch is one of only two centres in the entire country of its kind. Most abortion clinics have legal injunctions, or bubble zones, that strictly prohibit any pro-life activity inside that zone. If you violate that bubble zone, then you will have to answer to the law. Well, our bubble zone at The Back Porch happens to be very small which allows us to do our unique work in talking to clients in their 11th hour.

image

I’m not going to lie to you. It’s not easy working where I do every day. There are times when I ask myself, “Can I keep doing this?” I watch hundreds of women each month walk across the street to have an abortion. I watch ambulances pick up clients when something has gone wrong. Some clients leave the clinic relieved and other clients leave the clinic doubled over in pain and sickness. There is no stereotype for a woman who seeks an abortion. I have seen and heard stories that make me cry tears of sadness and utter disbelief and tears of joy. It’s easy to get discouraged when there are more women who choose death over life for their unborn child.

But I know that God has placed me here for a season of growth.

He has taught me that I cannot do this on my own strength. I can only rely on Him to get me through the discouraging times. He has taught me how to be a better leader. He has strengthened abilities that I never knew I had inside me. Sometimes I do need to an occasional escape to the mountains to rejuvenate, but that’s okay because I have learned this past year that God commands us to rest. I can’t do this all on my own.

I could tell you countless stories, but there are those rare times where God gives me a glimpse of exactly why He placed me here. He gives me the pleasure to meet precious babies whose lives have been saved through this ministry! And when I meet them, hold their fragile bodies, smell that baby scent, and look into their beautiful eyes, I say to myself, “It’s worth it. This is what it’s all about.”

image

Jessica Bennett is a wife and friend who is a Southern girl living in Canada. She enjoys spending quality time with family and friends. She and her husband, Justin, share a love for the outdoors, coffee, and their sweet cat, Millie. Her passion in life is to experience travel and adventure and be Christ’s Love to those along the way.

Life As A Videography Student

A few weeks ago I messaged my dear friend Madi and asked if she would be the first post of my new segment called “Perspectives”, and she eagerly aggreed. Madi is the first of a monthly segment of guest bloggers who have stories to share about life, love, and other lessons learned along the way. I hope you enjoy this as much as I have enjoyed creating this! So without further adu: Madi Zoller!

“What would you do with a film degree?”

Four years ago, that was a question I received from my family and friends as I entered my freshman year at Penn State majoring in Film and Video Production.

Half jokingly and partially serious, I would respond, “I want to be the next James Cameron, you know, the director, writer, and editor of Titanic and Avatar. I want to do it all!”

They would usually give me this warm smile with a roll of the eyes that said, “Oh no, not another crazy dreamer. “
image

I would then say, “You know there’s a lot you can do with a film degree. There’s film, television, commercials, media, online content…”

I sounded like Bubba from Forrest Gump, but instead of naming all the ways you can cook shrimp, I would name all of the ways that I could use a film degree, as if trying to justify why I decided to study film. But despite all the doubts from others and within myself, I jumped feet first into the unknown, but little did I know that I was actually walking a path prepared for me.

You see, my main goal in life was to be this award-winning, glory hound of a filmmaker, but that radically changed when Jesus Christ called me to follow Him as a freshman. Following Christ changed my view on life, success, and my future. In short, I no longer wanted to be the next James Cameron.

I get a very different question now: “Why are you going into full time ministry after studying film for four years?”

My response goes back to what I had to learn by earning a degree in filmmaking: being a filmmaker is not my highest calling.

image

I love filmmaking and editing and I love seeing a finished product after many hours of hard work, but I love Jesus more. And while I could work in the film industry as a Christian and a filmmaker, it’s just not what I’m excited about when I wake up in the morning. And that’s okay.

What I’m excited about is the Great Commission given by Jesus as written in Matthew 28: 19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Being a follower of Christ and making followers of Christ. That is my highest calling. And it could lead me to the film industry or it could lead me to sharing the good news of Jesus Christ on the college campus.

I wish I could go back to when my family and friends first asked, “What would you do with a film degree?” And respond confidently with, “What can God do with it?”

Even though God changed my heart and my goals for the future, I don’t regret studying film and I don’t think that it was a waste of time. God used it mightily in my life. I learned how to work collaboratively in groups, express my creative ideas and thoughts to others, persevere through time consuming and hard projects, and so much more. Being a film major tested my faith, but it also helped me grow.  And look what God did with it! He used my bold decision to study filmmaking at Penn State to draw me to Himself, to save me from my sins, and to give me an abundant life in Jesus Christ, filled with dreams beyond what I could have ever imagined at nineteen.

I may have earned a degree in film and video production after four years of college, but I gained so much more!

image


Madi Zoller is the founder and writer of the blog She Laughs Without Fear. She holds a Bachelor’s of Art in Film and Video Production from Pennsylvania State University and has a passion for creating, serving others, and loving people. To view her videos and read her works head over to shelaughswithoutfear.com