Three years ago today, we opened the girls home.  Five girls entered the moment it opened.  And over the next few years, the house
reached capacity.  But we weren’t without
loss.  Some girls came and went, taking
my heart forever with them.  But as I
look back, I’m awestruck with the goodness and richness of God that has filled
that house.  I’ve witnessed the miracles
of seeing the brokenhearted healed, the demon-possessed freed, the lowly raised
up, those in mourning be restored to joy, and the undeserved be transformed by
grace.  We still have a long way to go,
especially with the ones who remain in ashes, and that’s why God continues to
grow this ministry and stretch this dream. 
As we grow and stretch, God constantly surprises me with
more and more support, and sometimes in the least likely of places or
people.  A recent example is about a
couple old students of mine.  When I
return to the States for a business trip in June/July, I need to also raise my
support money so that I can keep doing what I’m doing.  But I really, really don’t want to spend all
that time raising support for myself, I’d rather be raising it for the ministry
and spending quality time with people. 
So I’m beginning to contact people now to get monthly donor commitments
for me for the next year.  Well, just the
other day, two of my old students posted phenomenal announcements to their
friends and family on Facebook, asking them to help support me.  I was struck by their words in the post and
moved at their compassion.  Though they
may not be in a place to financially support me, what they did was just as – if
not, more – important than someone giving money.  It’s in these moments that God reminds me, “Kate,
I got this, remember?  I’m in
control.  I sent you to Swazi, I will
sustain you.”  And then I’m not so
worried anymore.
I’m also struck by the amount of support God has grown
for me in Swaziland.  My basketball team
is a major source of stability and joy for me. 
They make me feel like a million bucks and are constantly complimenting
me.  Recently, I’ve gained another
support group with other local female missionaries.  We are going through a 7-week bible study
together called “Wonderstruck” (now you know where I got the theme for this
blog) and, yes, the content is great, but it’s actually the people that I love
the most.  Our group is hosted and led by
Julie Anderson, who works for Adventures in Missions.  (Cool story: I met Julie my first trip to
Swaziland in 2008 when one night she had our entire team over for dinner.  We were so refreshed by her and her food!  One act of generosity and hospitality goes a
LONG way to weary, hungry, ministry-filled college students.  Julie is also a single mother who adopted a
beautiful baby girl, who is now 10 or 11.)  This is the second year she has hosted a bible
study for us female missionaries and it is the second year I’ve been completely
empowered by it.  It’s SO nice to talk to
somebody who understands, yet is not involved in my ministry.  So it’s a fresh, yet similar
perspective.  The devotion has also
forced me to find awe in God in the small things and to also see God in the
hard moments.
I’ve been filling my journal with small, daily
wonderstruck moments of things like seeing the Milkyway light up the night,
hearing Benji and Lucia pray for my family by name, getting snapchats pictures,
or especially hilarious videos from my friend Lauren, daily conversations with
my awesome roommate Morgan, finally getting wifi, getting gummy bears and
chocolate from Austria, and so much more. 
But the best Wonderstruck moment so far was seeing the biggest 24-hour
transformation of heart I’ve ever witnessed.
Yes, I’ve seen amazing moments of growth and
transformation in these girls over the past two years, but never have I seen
anything as remarkable as a 24-hour life change.  And the best part?  It was after I posted something on Facebook
about having a hard time (I couldn’t explain it in the moment) and I was bombarded
with comments, private messages, commitments to prayer, etc.  In those moments where an incredible rush of
support waterfalled around me, this girl that I love dearly—a girl who took to
the streets— turned back to the Lord.  
Her prior demise was a slow fade.  Some personal experiences left her
heartbroken and the hopes that she had built up in the previous two months came
crashing down.  She had built a castle
made of sand.  She even admitted to me
that she trusted and loved me more than she did God, that she wasn’t sure if
what she said she believed was to please me or if it was really for
herself.  That forced me to take a step
back and surrender her to Christ, saying, “Jesus, I am not you.  Please let her see that my love for her is
not of me; it’s only of You.  And she can
have so much more of it, if she fully comes to you.” 
This girl who took to the streets had been set free of a
recently dark past—she had been raped, attempted suicide, resorted to drugs and
alcohol, sold herself into prostitution, possessed by demons, and more—and had
undergone incredible transformations and healing thanks to her Christian
counselor.  But after her castle made of
sand collapsed, she succumbed to defeat and resorted back to her behaviors from
which she had been delivered.  She
refused help and set herself on spinning a messy web of manipulation.  Through the counsel of a pastor and
counselor, I was advised to give her options and let her go.  “You are not here to save her, Mary-Kate,”
the counselor told me.  “You are here to
show her opportunity.”  She didn’t want
my alternatives, she didn’t want change. 
So, she set her heart on leaving and when I hugged her goodbye I
sobbed.  She didn’t even shed a
tear.  I cried and cried because I was
losing another daughter, another girl I had poured myself into laboriously, all
because she gave up on hope.  When I
couldn’t stop crying, she said, “I don’t know why I’m leaving, Mama.  But I am. 
Pray for me.”  There it was, her
desire to be saved.  But I knew it couldn’t
be me this time.  She couldn’t see me as
the one saving her.  She had to see the
Lord.  She had to see the strength in
herself.  I watched her go and I cried
out to God, asking him to keep her from evil, to keep her from her old- now
current – behaviors, to keep her from her determination to rejoin
prostitution.  “I’m going to South Africa
to sell my body, because I’ll get a lot more money there,” she had told a
volunteer.  When she asked me for her
passport, I didn’t hesitate.  I gave it
to her, begging God to change her heart and change her path. 
That night, I went to bed after I wrote a Facebook post,
a discreet cry for prayers and help that I didn’t even know I needed.  That morning I woke up to messages and prayers
and love.  Even as simple as: “Mary-Kate,
I love you.”    One message. 
But I knew it wasn’t just from the lovely young lady who sent it to me,
it was God waking me up with a morning mercy. 
And then within two hours of the morning sunrise, God
brought the girl back from the streets. “I don’t know what I was doing.  I don’t want to lose God’s love.  I don’t want to lose the only mother I’ve
ever had.  I know what I want now.  I want that program.  I want to know God.  I want to get healed of my emotions and
past.  I want Teen Challenge.  Please give me another chance.”  When I asked her what changed her mind, she
said a friend had told her to stop listening to the voices that tear her down
and make her feel like nothing.  He told
her to choose Christ.  To choose the hard
things.  To persevere.  To cling to hope. 
Johannes.  Johannes
told her these things.  The boy who
nearly saved my life six years ago from a man who tried to assault me, the boy
who stood side by side with me in the pursuit of Tenele-Belle for years and
years, the boy who has encouraged me with wisdom that is not his own…the boy
who is my continued guardian angel.  This
boy.  Well, he’s not a boy anymore.  This man. 
How fitting that God answered your prayers and mine through
Johannes.  To speak truth to her that
night and to be her place of refuge and keep her safe from the streets. 

How wonderstruck I am that in a girls ministry, God
continues to use a man to keep us together. 
Oh the sweet, sweet body of Christ. 

Recent Comments

  • Miss Lauren Erb

    Thursday, 14 Apr, 2016

    Amazing Kate! I am so thankful that God is providing and changing lives right before our eyes! Thanks for sharing!

    -Lauren oooo

  • Peg Martin

    Tuesday, 19 Apr, 2016

    Johannes has always been there for you. I knew it back then and I know it still now that GOD sent then boy/now a man to you. Give him a hug from Dad and I. Tell him how much he is loved. May God continue to bless you with your "guardian angels" , both Human and Divine! Lots of love. I'm still crying!!!

  • Christina Venerick

    Tuesday, 19 Apr, 2016

    MK!! I always love reading your blogs! I haven't read them in a while and this was just the one I needed to read! I really appreciate your vulnerability and trust in what God is doing over there. I still occasionally struggle with being here when half of my heart is with those girls over there. I know that I have definitely been struggling with staying connected because sometimes it’s hard to be here and not in the mess of things. But I know this is where I am supposed to be. I love hearing how God is using you to love those girls and love hearing that Johannes and all his wisdom is touching their lives as well. It is such a blessing to my life. Thank you so much for trusting God and letting him lead you to be there for them but also willing to let them go when God calls you too! They are truly blessed to have you in their life to show them Christ’s love. I can totally see it, even from all the way over here in PA! 😉 I love you and continue to pray for you and Swazi! Lots of love from the states!!


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