My Family

My Family

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Refugee Love


Wow, I have totally fallen in love with some amazing people here. Refugees have captured my heart. They all have a story, many of which are incredibly tragic, yet still they are so happy and grateful for their lives.



Recently we were over at a family from Sudan's house. Through a ministry call LifeCycles we were able to provide a bicyle for their 10 year old boy. Within minutes of being given a bike, he went and got his old broken bike and gave it to his friend who lives nearby. This broke my heart. What a concept. He had been blessed and without thinnking knew that it was his turn to pay it forward and bless someone else. If only the American church could think like this 10 year old Sudanese boy. How the world would be changed and God would get so much glory.


I am daily humbled by the lives and actions of refugee families. They weekly invite us into their homes, feed us and care for us despite having little to nothing to actually give. They remind me of the woman in the Bible who gives so little, yet gives all she had and is recognized by Jesus. Compared to the rich men who give so much, but keep so much as well.
I think it's so ironic that I came here to be a blessing to Refugees but ultimately they are the ones who teach me and show me what Love and sacrifice really mean.

Monday, 6 September 2010

In the Presence of my Enemies


Psalms 23:5 says " You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. I have heard this verse a thousand times but tonight I see this verse in a whole new light. I am reading Face to Face with God by Bill Johnson. He addresses this verse as though God is sayiing "Satan! My people love Me and I love them, and you're going to watch!! Such romance strikes terror in teh heart of the devil and his hosts. At this table of fellowship our relationship with God deepens and overflows into a life of victory in conflict with the powers of darkness.


This struck a chord with me in great ways. This past week we particpated in the Nehemiah City Tour. On this tour we first went to a Islamic Center and were taught the key values of Islam. The people there were incredibly hospitable to us. Despite the fact that they were celebrating the Holy month of Ramadan which means they were fasting, they still served us a helping of Baklava.

The next stop was the Hindu Temple. This temple is grand and elegantly crafted with 33,000 individual pieces imported from Turkey and India. On the outside it is incredibly beautiful, on the inside there is a dark spiritual war raging. We went during a service that was honoring the birthday of Lord Krishna ( a famous deity). There were several men, women and children bowing and lifting up their prayers to these deities. As I sat in the midst of them, I tried lifting my prayers up to Yahweh and I could feel the oppression and hindrances to my prayers. It was strong. The battle was raging!

The next day, my roomate and I returned back to the temple to claim authority over that place. We met a little 4 year old boy who could tell us everything we ever wanted to know about Hinduism. He showed us exactly how to pray, and named off all of the deities. It was heartbreaking as he told us he attends the temple every single day with his mother. We met his mother and she talked with us more about Hinduism.


Living in Houston and interacting with Muslims and Hindus on a day to day basis has opened my eyes. My relationship with God has got to go deeper. I desire to be so in love with my Lord that the darkness trembles as they watch the intimacy that we share. Please pray that the strongholds of the enemy will be broken down here in Houston and all over the world. I challenge you to see your relationship and intimacy with Christ as a weapon in itself.

Monday, 30 August 2010

Do you feel it?

Can you feel it?? The mountains are trembling....THe Spirit is moving! I truly feel the presence of the Lord and am confident that He is shaking up the earth and beginning a revival... I'd like to believe thats its all starting here in Houston, Texas. All i know is that God is doing small things that are leading to big things all around me....
Here is a brief update of whats happening around my neck of the woods.
We have had several opportunities over the past few weeks to help with Refugee Services of Texas. We have been able to set up apartments for refugees that are coming to the states straight from refugee camps. This includes building beds, setting up kitchens, stocking refrigerators, bathrooms, and bedrooms. Its a great way for us to help out where needed. The students have started a weekly Bible study for Bhutanese Youth. Pastor Abraham, the pastor of the Bhutanese church here, asked them to take over and lead and disciple the young people of his church. This is a very exciting ministry that has a lot of potential.
My roommates and I have been able to continue to develop relationships with many of our neighbors, including a family who are Ismaili Muslims from Pakistan. They attend mosque daily. I have a lot to learn from them and am excited to share Christ with them as well. Our downstairs Venezuelan neighbors invited us to a birthday party last week. It was a great way to build our relationship with them and share more about what we are doing here. I also got to practice my spanish for an entire evening.

On Saturday, I was able to reunite with some short term participants from my summer internships. It had been over 2 years since I had seen The Korean Prebysterian Church of Houston. They took me to a part of Chinatown and ordered me a plethora of authentic Korean food that was amazing. I learned more about Korean culture while making numerous mistakes. They were excited about what GFM is doing in the area, and hopefully we will be able to partner with them in outreach.

Last week, David and Dan went to a training put on by the Keystone Project. Its a group dedicated to a movment of disciple making. Because of this, I was put in charge of Missionary Training School. Somehow they trusted me to teach on Spiritual Gifts and abilities. It was fun to watch the students dive into the Word and seek God on their specific callings and holy discontents. It was a great week for God to reaffirm His calling on my life to be right where I am working with refugees and unreached people groups.

Personally, this week has been crazy. My faith is being tested for sure. We had a rash outbreak in our apartment where 3 out of the 4 of us girls have had a horrible rash that has spread all over. We have gone to the doctor but noone could officially diagonose us. We each got a shot and are on meds for a week. Please pray for healing over all of us!! I have also found out that my car is having problems and will need fixed asap. God has been good and is faithfully providing. Please pray for continued financial support.

I am so overwhelmed with the goodness of God. As I look around me and meet people who have no idea that there is a God who desires a personal relationship with them, I realize what a miracle it truly is to commune with Jehovah. How often do we revel in the fact that we can come to the throne of ALmighty God under the Blood of the Lamb? I could write about this for hours, but I will bring it this update to a close.
Thank you for your prayers and support!
Until the Whole World hears...

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Here we go again


Missionary Training School has begun! Its been a busy two weeks as our students came in from all over the nation, and some directly from other nations such as India and Costa Rica. Its been neat for me as staff to watch the students begin to learn, grow and experience the same things I did not even one year ago. MTS changed my life in outrageous ways, I am confident it will do the same for these students.

THe girls and I decided we were going to get ot know our neighbors by baking cookies and deliveing them with notes of encouragement to each door in our building. Through this we met 2 Pakistani families who are Muslims, a Hispanic couple, and a couple white girls who are teachers and very interested in refugee ministry. It was awesome to be able to connect with our neighbors and shock them with good ole fashion kindness. We have been able to continue dialogue and nearly friendship with our Pakistani Muslim neighbors. They have a 16year old daughter who we are excited to befriend and love!

I am beginning to realize more and more how unusual it is for the Christian church to reach out and help the nations. I spent some time in a Vitenamese bakery and talked to a lady who worked there and all she could help but ask me 12 times, " Why you so nice????" My friendliness was confusing and rare as an American. As I attend different churches and ask them what they are doing to reach the nations for Christ, I get blank stares or discouraging words. One pastor straight out told us that its absolutely impossible to reach people of other cultures. We just need to pay indigenous poeople to do it all. Today I went to class that wasted 1 hour teaching on how the AntiChrist will be Muslim. This teaching reinforced every stereotype and fear tactic for Islam that there is, and preached a message of hatred and enmity. What is wrong CHURCH!!! What are we doing??? God's heart is for the nations. He says he will give us the nations for our inheiritance if we ask. We should be the first ones welcoming new refugees to the States, the first ones to go next door and give cookies to our Muslim neighbors, the first ones to reach out to the Bhutanes and help English. Where is the LOVE??? I challenge you to go outside your comfort zone today and talk to someone who is different than you and then learn from that person!

This week we are heading out to Freedom Camp in Galveston for a 3 day fast. Please pray for me and our students as we will be seeking the Lord and going deeper with HIm. Pray for God to reveal Himself and His holiness to us.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Open Doors

Wow, as I write this I realize that i have been in the Houston area for over 3 weeks! I cant believe how quickly the time is passing here. Our first week here God opened up doors immediately. We went to Sugar Land Family Church and the people there were incredibly friendly and welcoming. We were able to connect with the youth and worship leaders of the church and share with them our heart and vision for the City of Houston/Sugar Land and for the 10/ 40 Window. We are excited to continue working them and mobilizing them into missions along side of us.
We were able to visit the YMCA international and go through their training orientation. Through this were able to see much more of the diversity not just in clients but also in staffing and volunteers. The YMCA offers refugee services such as ESL, Human Trafficking counseling, Teen and kids camps, refugee resettlement and orientation. We are looking into possibly partnering with them in the future. We were also able to see an area of town with a ton of diversity and ethnic foods as well. This is a great place for us to hang around and make relationships. There is a mosque that is right in the middle of a shopping strip. Also I have learned more about the Human trafficking that occurs here. There are several nail salons around that used to traffic women into slavery. Houston is largest Sex Trafficking hub in the United States. Please pray against this horrible stronghold in this city and all over the world!

Other Open doors we have been walked through have been awesome. We helped out last week with a VBS in a refugee resettlement apt complex. As we walked up to help we were surrounded by children from nations all over the world! It was a great opportunity to talk with the kids and have them teach me their languages and culture. I also walked around and was invited into a Bhutanese family's apt. They served me Tea and were so happy that someone had come to see them. They are confused and hurt by the American culture of being task oriented over relationship oriented. Later that week I brought 2 friends back to their apt to visit them again. We got to listen to their story of living in a Nepali refugee camp for 18 years before coming to the STates 5 months ago. They are a Hindu Family but they are more Hindu by culture and not religion. They are very open to the Bible and Christianity. I also met that same day a Christian Bhutanese women you helps translate the Bible and other teachings from missionaries here to her people. She has been in the states for 6 months and is so excited that she has the freedom to talk about Jesus whenever she wants!

I have so many stories about the things that God is doing and the ways the Holy Spirit is moving amongst us. II have complete reaffirmation that I am excactly where God has called me to be. I have no regrets and no doubts that God has amazing plans for me and for the people he calls me to minister to.
Ministry Requests
Please pray for discernment about ministry. There are hundreds of opportunities here, we need to be able to narrow it down to what the Holy Spirit is calling us to do.

Pray for Los Arcos (apt complex we worked in). There are several refugee families and children that heard the gospel presented this past week.
Please pray as my car has completely failed and now I am looking for a new affordable car to replace it!
Thanks for you prayers and listening to the Cry of My Heart!

Monday, 5 July 2010

The New Chapter Begins...

So I made it to Sugar Land, TX!! On Thursday July 1st Dan and I set out on the open highway and headed south to embark on the next adventure that God has called us to. We were very excited to be on the way to the life we had been praying about and anticipating for almost 6 months now. Our way there was filled with problems as my poor car was not used to driving such long distances in the heat, however God was good and kept it running all the way through. I also ended up losing my new cell phone at a rest area in Oklahoma. I believe that These things upon a few others were ways that the enemy was trying to attack and discourage us. I took this as a good sign, if the enemy is feeling threatened, God must have some amazing things ahead for us!
We made it to Ft Worth on Thurs night really late and stayed with my sister Jessica and her husband for 2 nights. It was great time to catch up and spend with my family, but by Saturday we were ready to get to our final destination and new home. We pulled into 5555 New Territory Blvd in SugarLand, Texas on Saturday afternoon. We had a great big welcoming committtee of former, present and future GFM'ers. It was ablessing to have them help us move in!

On Sunday, our friends and us decided to check out a church in the area called Sugar Land Family Church. They were extremely welcoming to us and connected us with nearly the entire church. I was also able to connect with the ESL program they have at their church. We will continue looking at churches in the area but God blessed us with a great start.

Today I was digging into the Word and God brought me to Jeremiah. Jer 1 :7 says " But the Lord said to me, Do not say I am only a youth for all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever i command you, you shall speak. Vs 9 goes on to say, Behold I have put MY words into Your mouth. THis was encouraging to me because so often I put the pressure on my self to accomplish the Lords ministry. He is constantly reminding me, He will accomplish His ministry with or without me, but if I decide to be a part of this work he will use me for his glory. It is HIS words that he will give to me. Jeremiah was young but God gave him powerful words to tell Israel. He didnt have to be classically trained or study for years, he just had to submit to the Spirit of God and realize its not his own doing. Paul says that "I must decrease so that He may increase". This was God's challenge to me this morning and now I hope you let it challenge you. Please continue to lift me up in prayer as God begins to open doors to reach those who have never heard of his saving grace!

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Restoration

You bring restoration
You bring restoration
You bring restoration
to my soul

You've taken my pain
called me by a new name
You've taken my shame
and in it's place, you give me joy

You take my mourning and turn it into dancing
You take my weeping and turn into laughing
You take my mourning and turn it into dancing
You take my sadness and turn it into joy

This song has taken on brand new meaning for me this week. This week I was given the priviledge to be a part of seeing life transformation. I cannot tell you all the details, but it is too good not to share anything. This week I responded to a general GMAIL survey. I made all my answers about Jesus and how important he is in my life. I didnt think much of it, but through this a got an amazing response from someone who had read it. Through a series of emails and questions, I was able to share the love of Christ with this person and for the first time in their life they now understand what unconditional love is! Halelujah, I have a new sister in Christ. God is so good. This woman had a past where she had never known love, neveer experienced faith, and never understood that she was beautiful in the eyes of her creator. In just a few short days, God has brought restoration and joy to her broken life. Through this I have once agian been reminded of what redemption truly is. Being a Christian for the majority of my life, I tend to take my salvation for granted. God forgive me for that. There is nothing like seeing a new creation in Christ become alive and excited for His sake. It brings restoration to my soul!
My Beloved is Beautiful, he is dazzling in excellence!

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

What Lies Ahead....


Buenas Tardes Amigos! I am writing this blog update to share with you what has been happening in my life and what is to come. As most of you know I have been in Oaxaca for the last 7 months of so studying missions. This was the most incredible experience of my life which I am so very grateful for. Through this experience God fueled my passion for missions and reaffirmed to me that this is my calling. In Ephesians 4, it tells us to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called. I have been called to a life of missions, and I cannot imagine doing anything else.
This leads me to WHAT is next for Ashley Ballard. God has laid it on my heart to go on staff as a full time missionary with Global Frontier Missions (the same organization I have been with in Mexico). Our vision is for the unreached people groups of the world. There are still 1.4 billion people in this world who have never heard the gospel of Jesus Christ. Our desire to see these people come to the knowledge of the saving grace of Jesus. However the majority of these peoples are located in the 10/40 window. The 10/40 window stretches from North Africa to Eastern Asia (China) and is very hostile to the gospel.
This leads me to WHERE I am going, Houston, Texas. This may sound crazy at first, but let me give you some facts on the Houston area. Houston is one of the most diverse cities in the world. It has over 315 people groups represented with over 215 languages spoken. There are 120, 000 Hindus, 100 Muslim mosques and several Buddhists there. It has the highest population of Nigerians in the United States. Houston is home to thousands of refugees from countries such as Bhutan and Burma.
Our vision to reach immigrants and refugees with the gospel of Jesus CHrist in the Houston area. Many of these people will return to their countries at some point. It is much easier for them to take the gospel back to their native peoples than it is for an American missionary. We are excited about this gift that the Lord has given us and do not plan to take it for granted.
We will also be holding our Missionary Training School beginning in August. Houston is a great training ground for those that have a call to reach the unreached in the 10/40 window.
My role will be using English as a Second Language as a tool for ministering to immigrants and refugees. ESL is a great way to establish relationships and get involved in the international community.
I am fully responsible for raising100% of my support while serving with GFM. It will be a full time missionary position. Please pray about partnering with me in fulfilling the great commission and supporting me financially. I am looking for people who can support on a monthly basis. I believe our God is faith and will provide as He guides. Please pray for my financial needs to be met. I will leave on July 1 for Houston.
If you are interested in supporting me or getting together to talk more about my ministry, please feel free to email me at ashleyeballard@gmail.com or call me @ 309-242-0114.
Thank you and God Bless!

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Jesus is coming! How does that make you feel?

Last night a friend of mine brought up how she felt selfish but she truly didn't want Jesus to return. She wanted to live her life, get married, have kids, and grow old before she went to Heaven. The idea of Christ returning invoked emotions of fear and anxiety more so than comfort or excitement. Her honesty surprised me at first, but then I realized how common this way of thinking is for the majority of Christians in America. I know I grew up with this same attitude. Why is this true? I pondered this for awhile and this is what I came up with.
The majority of American Christians live comfortable unsacrificial lives. We love the luxury and easyness that comes along with our faith. I believe that many Americans view their Christianity as more of a fire insurance. It really is only good for them as a "get out of Hell free card". They may live the traditional Christian life and take the family to church on Sunday, but their faith is pretty much on reserve for when they die or to some as just a moral code to live by. If we were truly IN LOVE with our God for who HE is instead of what he offers, i believe our perspectives would change.

It was interesting that she brought this up as I am in the middle of my Bridegroom fast. The purpose of this fast is gain a deeper longing and mourning for the Lord to return. It is based off Mark 2:19-20, Rev 19:7-8 and 22:17. In these verses the Church, the bride of Christ which is us, is readying herself and saying "Come Jesus". I realized a few months back, how that was not the cry of my heart. Since then I am continuously asking myself if I am yearning for the return of my Savior. 2 Peter 3:11-18 talks about waiting for and "hastening" the coming of the day of God. Imagine waiting for your wedding day. It can't come any sooner. You dream about and pray for it to come quickly. What would happen if thats how we viewed the return of our Bridegroom and the Marriage Supper of the Lamb?

So what does your Christianity really mean to you? Is it a crutch to lean upon in desperate times? Is it a fire insurance? Is it a religious tradition that you just practice? Is it a moral code to live by? OR is it a deep, intimate, passionate, consuming, nothing else matters, He is all I want, ALL I need, LOVESICK relationship between you and your Bridegroom, your beloved Savior?
Regardless of how you view it, JESUS is coming back. Its going to happen. As Misty Edwards would say, I can hear the rhythym of the LION OF THE TRIBE JUDAH! People get ready, Jesus is coming!