There is no such thing as a distraction — it is us who get distracted by giving things our blind attention.
~ Mooji, Vaster Than Sky, Greater Than Space
“Even in holy places, there are people working to make noise and to help you celebrate your own noisiness.”
Mooji, Vaster Than Sky, Greater Than Space
“Religion hates difference, it feels threatened by a questioning heart
and quickly attempts to suffocate freedom to think outside the box!”
Tales from the Couch is Dave Vaughan’s interpretation of his journey with God. Dave is honest. If you are open to questions, exploring life with God and open to the now, then you will love Dave’s stories. If your identity is wrapped up in having everything figured out, the tales may be frustrating. However, you may just get whacked by the Spirit and enjoy it anyway. Give it a read. It is a roller coaster ride that Dave has traveled so far. He shares his earliest memories of encounter, revelry, religious bondage, and the sweet life of encounter the new wine has to offer. It was a fun read that offered several nuggets of wisdom to ponder along the way. Dave does not get preachy. He just keeps it real. I like it!
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Quit the blame game and let the Lord lead the way
Does this ever happen: a player does not show up for all of the practices, doesn’t give his best effort, doesn’t learn the plays and blames the team and coaches for poor performance? Do people ever waste time at work, gossip, give less than their best, then get irate with their boss when penalized and/or corrected for their performance? How often do we want to enjoy the blessings of God without learning and trusting His ways, yet get annoyed, frustrated with and/or blame Him when we experience the consequences of ignoring what is best? Does this describe others that you know? Does this describe you?
There was a king of Israel that was guilty of this. He brought misery and hardship on himself and the nation of Israel because of it. Ahab and his wife Jezebel rejected God’s commands for Israel and incurred a 3 year famine (1 Kings 16:29-17:1). The famine was so severe that the king was faced with killing his own animals because there was not enough food and water to care for them. King Ahab knew he rejected God’s ways and was aware of his sin, but he never accepted responsibility for his actions or changed.
After 3 years of famine, God told his prophet Elijah to visit King Ahab and rain would return to the land of Israel. When Ahab finally saw the man of God, do you know what he did? Ahab did not repent, apologize or ask how he could change. Instead, he blamed Elijah for the famine (18:17)! Thankfully, God restored rain to the land, but Ahab still did not accept responsibility for his sin at that time. As you read about Ahab’s life, you will observe that he was hard to please, whined a lot and brought sorrow and pain to a lot of people.
It is always in our, and others’, best interest to trust God. Pride, our ego, wants us to believe we can reject wisdom, ignore the source of life, and make our own way. Sadly, this will come at the expense of others and our own well-being. We may not always see that immediately, or how it always happens, but it does. We bless ourselves and other when we learn from our mistakes, take responsibility for our actions and change. Don’t be the person that never learns and always blames others. God is willing to reveal where you have trusted the blame game more than Him. Ask God to show you the areas of your life where you resist His instruction. Praise God, He will lift you up from the valley of blindness and show you the way (James 4:10).
The greatest gift ever given is Jesus. I don’t know if it is possible to adequately express His enormous impact. Instead of using my words to try, I thought I would share others’ words about Jesus as recorded in scripture.
“And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins (Matt. 1:21, KJV).”
“You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end…’Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear!’ (Luke 1:31-33, 42 NIV).”
“Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord…’Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased’ (Luke 2:10-11, 14, NASB).”
“And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the leaders of Judah: because out of you will come a leader who will shepherd My people Israel (Matt. 2:6, HCSB).”
“When they saw the star, they were filled with joy! They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him (Matt. 2:10-11a, NLT).”
“Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel. (Luke 2:29-32, ESV).”
“For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders;
and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace for the throne of David and his kingdom. He will establish and uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time onward and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this (Isa. 9:6-7, NRSV).”
You are blessed.
In May, 2014, I heard John Crowder’s announcement that he and Dave Vaughan would lead a missions team to Bangkok. The “targets” were the ladyboys. The emphasis would be showing the love of Jesus to them, and I was interested in seeing this accomplished.
Due to your support, I was able to join this incredible mission in November. I never experienced a trip like this. Typically, local churches host a mission team, you hand out flyers for meetings and invitations for bible studies, and participate in those revivals and studies. That is not what happened in Bangkok.
We did not have a local church hosting the revival for the ladyboys. We did have a space reserved for a meeting, but that fell through on the first day! From my understanding they were not fans of the idea of hosting a revival with ladyboys in their building. Therefore, all the flyers that were printed were worthless. Since we were there to specifically contact ladyboys, we had to go where we knew they were — in red light districts (hence, we did not door knock with pamphlets and flyers).
I’ve been to some seedy places before, but never a red light district! Thank God the Spirit helped remove the comfort zones so we could focus on love. It took a while, but we eventually found places frequented by ladyboys. The language barrier was an issue, depending on how long a ladyboy worked in Bangkok. The longer a ladyboy sold her time, the better her English.
At first, the females on the team seemed to have an easier time starting conversations with the ladyboys. They were able to talk about hair, makeup, and things of that nature. For males to start talking about that stuff may have come off as flirting, thus trying to solicit the ladyboy’s “services”. Finally, I just asked one of them “What makes you beautiful”? After I heard the answers, I was able to talk more about Jesus and the gift of beauty He gives all of us. That was the approach with which I felt most comfortable and easiest to start engagement. I would ask about their families, growing up and their dreams. I adopted those talking points from my teammates.
I was able to visit Rahab Ministries on Wednesday. The building was spotted by my roommate, Jeremy Gilbert. When a woman wants to stop earning a living from prostitution, Rahab Ministries teaches them how to make jewelry and speak English. They also teach them basic computer skills. Sadly, this ministry is struggling financially. It seemed to assist heterosexual women who worked as prostitutes, not ladyboys. They were serving lunch when I visited, and it was a small facility, so I felt awkward asking the co-director, Chanaprai Wongkhampha, more questions about the ladyboys. She was very friendly, and the women seemed very happy to be there.
The week was spent trying to connect with the ladyboys by buying time so we could talk without them getting in trouble with their employers. A lot of the week was stumbling around just trying to do my best. It went better than I thought. My goal went from trying to get them “in a church” to just opening their minds to Jesus, the Creator of the Universe. I wanted them to know they were loved by a Man that cared about them regardless of their history and occupation. Jesus doesn’t have ulterior motives. Everything He does is out of love, and that is a relationship that was very foreign to the ladyboys I met. They were used to being used for their money and their bodies. Several that I met sent money to their families in rural areas. To keep their jobs they had to live a life being treated as an object. Hopefully you can appreciate how Jesus’s love would be a breath of fresh air for them to embrace!
If you are wondering how many ladyboys received Christ, I would like to partially quote my friend Jeremy’s response to that:
“I can’t count the number of people that have asked me if anyone received Christ on my mission trip. My answer to them is a resounding “Yes.” EVERY SINGLE soul I came in contact with received Christ…and, I’m serious about that. Not one soul rejected my smile, my offer to share a beer with them, my offer to pray with them, my prophecies, or any other display of love. Each person received the radiance of Christ in me which helped them to recognize Christ in themselves.
As far as an evangelical conversion to a set of clearly defined religious beliefs, with a water baptism, a new language of tongues, and a dedication of aherence to religious principles such as full time church attendance & daily Bible reading – well, I’m afraid we’ve allowed the semantics of the 2 words “receiving Christ” to become misconstrued if we think that’s the meaning.
Christ isn’t a Sam’s Club where you have to be a member displaying your proof of membership at the door before you can shop. He’s more like a Samaritan’s Purse that gives away items for free. As you begin coming back again & again for free items, you inevitably begin to become one that helps distribute the items as well.
You are the message!”
I had more conversations about Jesus with ladyboys than I ever did on other religious trips. It was incredible to see faces light up when they started to grasp there was a greater purpose for them than being used. The ladyboys would always be beautiful, but not because of their makeup and body modifications. They would always be adored because they were made by Jesus!
We also worshiped with Mark Amir, a brother that ministers to Pakistani refugees. Mark and his wife, Felicity, do a wonderful job helping Pakistani refugees. It was a joy to be with them. Mark went with us in the red light district the first evening. It is my prayer that he can create an environment that will be open and loving to the ladyboy community.
Was the trip worth it? Was it a success? Absolutely! We were able to reveal the person and love of Christ to a community that may not have heard about Him otherwise. How many people would rather talk about and condemn ladyboys than start a friendship and genuinely love them? It was a trip of a lifetime, and I am open to going back. It never gets old revealing Jesus to others.
Thank you for making this possible. Thank you for partnering with me to love and reveal Jesus to people that are accustomed to being used as objects. Also, you enabled me to meet a team of incredible people that loved everyone around them. The impact Jeremy, Joanna, Mi-So, Britney, Travis, Julie, Brandon, Clayton, Kristian, Jerome, Hannah, Caleb, Dave and John will never be forgotten. They taught me much about Jesus and the ability to reach far beyond what we thought possible because of the gospel. The time I had with them is priceless. I am eternally grateful for all you did to make this possible!
Grace and Peace,