There Is Victory

“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:18)

After spending a tumultuous year abroad on the mission field, I clung to this promise from Paul’s letter to the church in Rome. “Our present sufferings” for me was the feeling of being misunderstood, feeling purposeless, and ultimately spiraling down into hopelessness. Sound familiar? It seems to be a fairly widespread condition among humans this side of heaven. Whether we are in a valley or a mountaintop season of life, there will always be a sense that we’re not quite home.

As I served alongside the beautiful people of Nairobi, Kenya, with the nonprofit Chosen Children of Promise, I battled a depression that was no fault of my situation, but rather an attack from the enemy who comes only to steal, kill, and destroy anything or anyone that desires to build the Kingdom of God.

Only by calling on the name of Jesus to be my peace, my hope, my joy was I able to get out of bed most mornings. If you travel overseas to a developing country, you will be firsthand witness to something incredible. There is a rich dependence on God to be their everything. He is the provider; they may not have food for the day, yet He brings them their daily bread. He is the healer; they live and eat and drink in less humane conditions than you would think possible to survive; yet when they pray to Jehovah Rapha for healing, they praise Him and thank Him first when He heals them! He is the Best Friend; community and relationships are everything to Kenyans; and when you meet a Christ follower, you’ll know it because they’ll proclaim His presence in their heart loud and proud.

Witnessing this bold faith challenged my nominal walk. Go back a verse in Romans 8 to verse 17: “Now if we are children, then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” Would I be willing to share the sufferings of Christ (for surely He suffered in His time on earth), of betrayal, loneliness, rejection, being misunderstood, feeling homesick? Was it worth the dark night of my soul if He promised the glory revealed in me would be so much better it couldn’t even come close to comparing?

Near the end of my yearlong internship, I stumbled upon Hebrews 12:10-11, “Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”

My fellow warriors, we’re not home yet. We still suffer death, sickness, strained relationships, depression, anxiety, joblessness, fear. Take heart, for Christ has overcome the world, and there’s no situation He can’t redeem. The dark night breaks with the dawn of the Son! He is producing a harvest of righteousness and peace as we are trained by His sovereign discipline. Cling to Him. Walk with Him. Take hold of your name: Co-heir with Christ, God’s very Beloved Own!

stay lovely,
the tall girl

(Find this article also on the CCV SoCal blog.)

Reflections of Christ

I am on the receiving end of short-term mission trips. Now, I am the host for these energetic teenagers seeing the other side of the world for the first time in a 2-week intensive experience. And wow, what a joy they are!!

I’ve heard all the arguments about the danger of short-term mission trips and I’ve even felt the guilt about going on them myself. I wondered if I was just taking work away from the locals or imposing on their system that works quicker without my interruption. I wondered if the money I was raising to go would be better used if I just wrote them a check. But now that I am on the side of the host country with mission teams visiting “my people” and these kiddo’s, I can honestly say they are so needed for our health and vitality as individuals and as an organization. It’s not always about the money or “getting the job done”; we live for relationship, and the ones we make with our visiting friends breathe new life into our spirits.

For me, the first week and a half of life in Nairobi were full of change, questions responded to with ambiguous answers leading to even more doubt, and numbness. I hoped it would improve with time since I am committed to a year, but God wanted to show up quickly so He could show off!

Cue the arrival of 10 hyper high schoolers and their 3 amazing chaperones, as well as the sweet Simply2Love team of 4 ladies! Over 11 days, we all became close friends, and I’m so happy to have 17 new friends praying and supporting CCP from California. It makes a HUGE difference to see the faces in our context who have said they support us. Their actions speak loud; they stepped out in faith to raise support and leave their families and friends for 2 weeks to do life with us in Nairobi! We laughed and cried and sang and danced together! We kissed giraffes, bounced along a 6-hour bus detour (a trip that should have been just 2 hours) through the African bush, were cornered by stampedes of orphan elephants, prayed over the sweet kiddo’s of CCP and their families, and ate A LOT of chapati!

Christ heard me in my loneliness, and He sent 17 reflections of Himself to refresh my heart and soul! I have no doubt in my mind now for the need of short-term mission teams. As long as the visitors are seeking God’s will and supporting the host organization with excited and humbled spirits, they are absolutely a help to us. Let this be encouragement to you as you consider going on a mission trip yourself or supporting someone else who is going!

living loved,
kelli klaus

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In Freedom & Confidence

It has been a whirlwind of a week, settling in to life in Nairobi!

To be honest, I’m not sure how my mind hasn’t imploded from stimulus overload, cultural confusion, and emotional ups and downs.

Christ has been my consistent rock, and the fantastic community who have graciously welcomed me “home” keep pointing me back to Him. That is really the only way this has been possible. His peace transcends understanding, truly. I get this Truth at a new and deeper level being here and being so far from “comfort zone”.

Africa is so stunningly different from America. Everyone speaks English, and they seem to speak it more often than Swahili naturally, which is a blessing. Sometimes they intermix the two in the same conversation, using Shang (Swahili-English slang), and you just have to nod along like you’re tracking. 😉

A couple sweet memories and takeaways from the past few days:

On Saturday I went to a “baby blessing/shower” with my host mama, Anne. You know what’s super cool about how they do it here? You have the shower after the baby is born…so then everyone gets to meet the baby at once, hold them, pray over and bless them! It’s definitely a concept I may adopt one day, Lord-willing. 😉

Sunday was church with my host family. It’s a full morning affair because they’re all so involved with the church. After Sunday school with the youth praise team, Sally (host sis) and I went to the youth service. After praise and some announcements, they had intercessory prayer. It simply means in groups of 2, 3 or 4 with those around you, you tell one another a prayer request and pray for it right then. It may be hard to incorporate in a larger church, but how awesome would this be if “smaller” churches or youth groups did this on a regular basis?? It doesn’t have to take long at all, a few minutes for seat neighbors to get to know each other on a deeper level.

I have felt so encouraged to continue hearing from friends and loved ones in the US and elsewhere who are praying for and thinking of me. Your love and concern is my fuel when it seems I’m not cut out for this work…when the enemy or my own self-doubt would distract me from God’s purpose. Thank you for being Jesus to me in this way!

There is great need, but we serve a GREAT God! I have met some phenomenal people already, and made potential connections to link the work I’m doing with CCP and FTB to willing and able Kenyans. I’d love to tell you more if you’re interested…it’s pretty cool. 🙂

I have been focused on Ephesians 3:12 this week: “In Him and through faith in Christ, we may approach God with freedom and confidence.” Be bold in your prayers and PRAY continuously!!

stay lovely,
kelli

 

26 Reflections on Silence

I “checked myself in” for a 3-day private Silent Retreat at a Benedictine Monastery this week. Nestled into the San Bernardino mountains in Southern California, St. Andrew’s Abbey is not necessarily a beautiful location. But the prayers and reverence for God that cover the small acreage bring a tangible peace for retreatants.

As I clipped that badge to my shirt “Shhh, I am on a Silent Retreat”, I focused my heart, mind, and soul on stillness. I wanted to experience Jesus in a new way.

Here are the reflections my time of silence brought:

  1. Your other senses are enhanced. I smell my surroundings more potently; I taste and enjoy my food more wholly; I hear others’ words but even more seem to tap into what their hearts mean behind the words (probably because I’m not worried about what I have to say in response!); I see because I intentionally open my eyes to be more observant; and I feel deeper emotions as I tune in to what the Spirit is revealing to me.
  2. It’s extremely challenging at first, but then you begin to enjoy and even revel in it!
  3. It allows you time and energy to not only ask yourself the big life questions, but to also hash them out. (What is my purpose, what am I here for?)
  4. Because doing this one thing is out of your comfort zone, it pushes you to do more things out of your comfort zone (like lay prostrate on the floor for an hour in prayer like King David modeled).
  5. It opens your mind to realize how much you complain and gossip.
  6. It makes you want to ask people a million questions and just stop talking and listen, despite what “good advice” or knowledge you think you can impart.
  7. It stirs up old bitterness and resentment you thought you were healed of.
  8. It causes you to pray. Nonstop.
  9. You become fully aware of the percentage of your thoughts in any given category. (I.e. Here was 8 minutes wasted in jealousy or given to lust. Half my day was spent in planning (quite in vain) for the future and the other half day-dreaming or contemplating my past, etc.)
  10. When you adore Jesus, you are humbled to feel HOW MUCH HE ADORES YOU!
  11. Everyone should try silence for a specific, extended period of time.
  12. It unsettles others and can make you uneasy to not respond – but in the end it’s a good challenge for both you and them to accept the difference in people.
  13. It takes a while to still the heart and totally check in to the silence…of the tongue and the soul.
  14. Perspective becomes clearer.
  15. Your heart changes. Rather than praying for my way and specific requests, I was asking God to move in hearts, lives, and give His guidance; I was fully surrendering to His will be done and being okay with that.
  16. You come to a sense of peace in who you are – who He designed and destined you to be. Because suddenly the things of this world grow strangely dim.
  17. You feel the sense of time more presently. It doesn’t speed by as in a busy day with many appointments, nor does it crawl on endlessly as an unintentionally unfilled day can seem ‘boring’. Every minute is pregnant with purpose, and you feel it as it is.
  18. People come to mind to pray for you would not have thought of otherwise.
  19. Jesus breaks chains.
  20. As the rhythm of life slows, you sleep better.
  21. You don’t want it to end, but you’re also anxious to bring the insights you’ve discovered back to the real world. (I won’t deny I was chomping at the bit to be home a little 😉 ).
  22. You drink more water…maybe I just remembered to more often? It happened though!
  23. It’s a catalyst for change! I want to talk rather than text, I want to live life with people rather than Snapchat my life to them, I want to ask questions rather than gossip or complain.
  24. It causes reflection on the past – and to ask hard questions.
  25. It makes you miss mom and dad.
  26. Once you introduce talking again, your pace immediately increases.

 

There were many breakthroughs during the 3 days, but I’d say the greatest praise I have was the Spirit’s assurance on my heart to start boldly proclaiming I AM MOVING TO NAIROBI, KENYA IN JUNE! I have been hesitant and timid to tell people for fear that it will fall through if perhaps I was wrong in discerning God’s call for me to go. This week He broke that chain of fear! I am not called to live half-hearted but to walk boldly in the call He’s given me!

I have held back so it wouldn’t hurt as bad if the rug were pulled out underneath me and I ended up not going. It would soften the blow of failure or disappointment. This fear is of the enemy, though, not of God Almighty!! It really did take the silence to name that fear, call it out, and fill the vacancy with the confidence of Christ.

Praise God!!

stay lovely,
the tall girl

 

Where the Lord guides, He will provide

I wonder at our connotation behind ‘calling’. I wonder at the calling on my life and the universal calling on all believers in Christ. To go to all the nations and proclaim the Good News were the parting words of the Son of God (Matt 28:18). When I felt called to be a missionary my junior year of high school, I fought with the still, small voice for over 6 years. I didn’t know how to start and go about it, I was searching for the confidence to attempt such a risk in my own strength, and I surely didn’t want to be endlessly asking family, friends, or strangers for my financial support (all this can be summarized to read “fear”).

So I lived a self-serving Christianity. I wasted precious time spreading my attention thin on other interests or talents in case they could be “the purpose” God had put me on earth. Oh, the ever elusive purpose, “the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans for a hope and a future” (Jer. 29:11). Long conversations, that were more like long-winded monologues demanding that God reveal my life step-by-step so I could prepare, were had in prayer and oftentimes in tears after a frustrating bout of chasing what the world told me would fulfill. Sheepishly I always returned to God, asking for clarity once again since my seeking led to another dead end.

Isaiah 58:11 reads, “The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame.” If we believe God is all-loving and all-knowing, would it not add up that if He leads you to something (a career, a school, a relationship, a new situation), He will also provide what you need in and through the season of it?

I do not feel qualified in the least in my knowledge or experience to spread the Gospel. What a precious responsibility I should not be trusted with in my frail humanity. Paul’s sold out faith convicts me in Acts though that all He needs is a willing heart. “And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there…However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me-the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace” (Acts 20:22-24), “I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 21: 13), “Boldly and without hindrance he preached the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 28:31). Wherever He guides me, I choose to trust and believe He will also provide the strength I need.

with love from my current home in Harare, Zimbabwe,
the tall girl

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African sunset on the Zambezi River…oh, how His works declare His glory!!

Turn Hurt Within To Loving Out

I was raised sheltered. The more I learn about the world and commonalities in other people’s stories that are missing from my own, the more evident that becomes. ‘Porn’ was a whispered hush-hush word growing up. I always was the last to learn about anything in regards to human sexuality.

And here I am, 23 years old, attending the porn convention in Chicago in 2 weeks.

I love the shock and awe that causes people. “Kelli, at a porn convention?!” It’s like sending the runt of baby lambs into a viper pit…a viper pit with stripper poles and sex toys.

Okay, okay, why am I going?? I moved to the greater LA area last June, and since that time I have plugged into an amazing church community that loves Jesus and people in such a beautiful, service-oriented way.

I’ll never forget one of those first nights last summer (June 2016) visiting the college ministry, as a newbie to the church and to town, everything was overwhelming…but exciting in that way when you know you are where you’re supposed to be.

The leader brought to our attention one of the tables set up outside selling t-shirts as a fundraiser for a mission trip coming up. These bold shirts proclaimed in all caps in what I’m guessing was 100-font, “JESUS LOVES PORN STARS”. I was immediately intrigued and captivated by this body of believers not backing away from a taboo church topic. After hearing about the heart and mission behind XXX Church, I knew I wanted to be involved in this ministry in some capacity in the future.

As I have developed deep friendships with guys my age and have grown out of my sheltered naïvety, I have realized how prevalent this addiction is in the lives of so many men and women in our world today. It hurts me to see marriages suffering and ending because of a husbands’ porn addiction, women degrading themselves for a paycheck or to fill a gaping sense of worth. Shame, guilt, and depression riddles people’s lives because we have distorted a beautiful gift from God into a dirty, often violent commodity.

My heart for people who are entangled in this addiction has grown tenfold in the last year. And now, I’m blessed with the opportunity to go to Chicago, June 23-25 for the Exxxotica Expo where we will have a booth to be the love and light of Jesus to the women attending the convention! I’m humbled and shocked in the greatest way that God would call me to this, and I am so excited to pour into these women. We’ll be passing out those bold t-shirts, Bibles, dad hats, stickers, snacks, and loving on the people we meet.

In the next couple weeks, I would love to have your prayers for the team and these beautiful women we will meet who Christ has been pursuing their whole lives. I know He will place many in our path we can show more of His love to.

I have never asked for financial help on my blog, but I want to put it here in case you’ve been moved by what you’ve read…most likely because of hurt you have experienced from it. I know God will work in big ways during this weekend, and I pray that if you feel so led, you will answer the call to “join me” on this trip by donating whatever amount you’re able to.

Again, I am so grateful for you, dear family, friends, readers.

stay lovely and join me in turning hurt within to loving out,
Kelli, the tall girl