No Man’s Land 2: Pioneer Fear

Pioneering sounds like adventure. And these days it feels like every millennial has at one point had a clothing item, decor print-out, or Instagram description that says “Adventure Awaits” or “Wander Lust.” That might be a bit exaggerated, but it’s also a no judgement statement because I have both quotes hanging in my living room.  


A few nibbles of my journey

I was a shy, socially awkward 14-year-old when I saw a promo video for a mission trip my church youth group was taking to Jamaica. It captured my attention, and though I didn’t really like church at the time, I knew I had to go on this trip. In Jamaica, I encountered God and the spiritual world in a way I never had before, and I loved being around people and in a culture that was so different than my own, exotic and beautiful. Ever since then I’ve taken almost every opportunity I could to travel to the nations.

In 2011, I did an internship at Gateway House of Prayer and one of the reasons I did that internship was because God was speaking to me “it’s a narrow path that leads to life.” I had a lot of sin and compromise in my life at the time, and I knew God was telling me that I couldn’t keep living a double life. I couldn’t have the pleasures of sin and the fullness of life in Christ. If I was going to claim Jesus, I needed to let go of those compromises, lay aside my own ambitions, and be all in. I wanted to choose that narrow path but I didn’t know how, so I did the Gateway House of Prayer internship and ended up staying there for the next 6 years.  

During the internship there was an album I listened to all the time by Rick Pino. It caught my attention because the title was “The Narrow Road.” I listened to this album over and over, even though some of it felt weird to me because of it’s intensity. At the time I wasn’t very familiar with prophetic music, so I didn’t know that prophetic singing is what Rick Pino is known for. All I knew was I felt connected to the songs, and I felt like the words were being sung over me.

The two songs I listened to most on the album were “The Narrow Road,” and “Pioneer.” “The Narrow Road,” was the perfect song for the season I was in, as I was stepping through the narrow gate. It was a reminder of the choice I’d made to walk with Jesus, and to lay down my life and pick up his, everyday. Later that year I got my first tattoo as a reminder of this word from God, it simply says “Narrow is the path.” My blog is called Narrow Path Joys, because I hope to relay the joyous revelations Jesus has gifted me as I continue to walk with him on the narrow path.

The song “Pioneer” was also somewhat relatable in that season. Spending the required 10 hours in the prayer room every week felt like a new frontier to me. At the time I really didn’t know anyone that we doing that, so it seemed pretty radical. But on a deeper level, when I listened to “Pioneer” I just felt the sense of  “this is who I am.”

But honestly, I look at my life up until this point and I don’t see a lot of pioneering. I think that’s because I don’t like doing almost anything alone. I’ve travelled to over 18 nations, but I’ve rarely gone alone and when I have I don’t like it.

I’m an out of the box type of person, meaning I don’t fit most norms (no matter how hard I try). So sometimes I end up leading and/or simply doing life differently than the people around me, because…well because that’s how I’m wired I guess. But underneath my shows of strength and outward independence, what I most desire is to be deeply connected with people. Really I think that’s what we all want because God has wired us for deep connection, with himself and the people he’s made in his image. So feeling alone and unknown is like kryptonite for me, nothing will send me down a spiral of depression and hopelessness like the feeling that I am unknown.


A year before the Lord opened the door to the Middle East, he reminded me that I told him I would go anywhere he asked me to go. And then he showed me a piece of his heart concerning the terrible injustices happening to children in some of the hardest places on earth. I cried, actually I sobbed, and recommitted myself to going and loving those children with his love. When I did that I had to face some of the fears that had been holding me back. I had to face losing some of the most precious relationships in my life, especially my precious young nephews and niece. I had to face the fear of being single forever, and becoming that far out, old maid, missionary woman that wears weird pants. I had to face the fear of loneliness.


The day after the Lord started speaking to me about serving in the Middle East, before I had told anyone, a dear friend gave me a prophetic word for my birthday. He said he kept hearing “Pioneer! Pioneer! Pioneer!” and then with the adjective “driven.” “Driven Pioneer!” He also saw that I was about to cross a skinny one-person bridge and in a childlike way I was fearful to do so. This word touched my heart deeply as it so accurately described my situation. The Lord shouting destiny over me, “Pioneer! Pioneer! Driven Pioneer!” encouraging me to step out on the narrow bridge, and me feeling a bit fearful to do so. Not paralyzed with fear, but nervous like a young child is when they want to slide down the slide or go across the monkey bars, but they hold back a little. Meanwhile their parent is there coaxing them with affirmation and a loving smiling, promising that they will catch them. This word strengthened my determination to say yes to the Lord, and to go even if that meant going alone. I realized he was promising that his presence would be my provision.

The Lord is so good, and I’m thankful that I’m not moving to the Middle East completely alone. In fact he’s given me such an amazing gift, he’s sending my best friend, Melanie, along with me. I’ll also be joining a small but mighty team that has already been working in this conflict zone for the past few months. Still, the work I’m will be joining is very much in the pioneer phase. There’s so much need, and very few hands.

I believe that very soon there will be a large wave of lovers of Jesus going to the Middle East, and to every other hard place. I believe that because there is more prayer happening around the world than ever before in history. And like Samuel Zwemer said, “The history of missions is the history of answered prayer.” That said, there’s this window of time right now where we know that’s going to happening, but we aren’t yet seeing it. I believe this is the time for the pioneers. Those of us who jump in now, before the wave, and go to these hard places. In weakness, but in faith, we say yes we will go even if that means going alone, at least for now.


I believe that pioneering is part of the redemption of a generation that is infatuated with travel and adventure. We call it wanderlust, but maybe it’s the Lord calling us to the harvest fields. We say “adventure awaits,” but do we realize the very definition of adventure is to risk or participate in a potentially hazardous activity? Yet pioneering is not just adventuring. It’s not risk for the sake of risk or thrill. Pioneering has purpose. It’s forging those lightly trodden, dimly lit paths because the people along, and at the end, of those paths need the light you’re carrying. And because there are people who will come after you that will be able to run farther and faster because you went first. Pioneering is a call to count the cost, to face the possibility of being misunderstood, because not many people have travelled the path you’re embarking on.

I have big dreams. I’ve been told those dreams aren’t based in reality. But I’m ok with that, because revival and reformation has never fit into the current system. God’s ways are higher than ours, and his promises force us into faith and to stop faking it. I dream of the day when every follower of Christ is taking seriously the call to make disciples of all nations. When the 3 billion people in unreached nations see an army of Jesus ambassadors heading their way. An army carrying within them the light of the world, bearing the name of Jesus, on a mission to set every captive free.

No Man’s Land 1: Comfort Less


There are areas of my life where I try to be honest with myself. I like Starbucks and I spend too much money there. I like napping on my couch and youtube. I like snacking by myself…on my couch…while watching youtube. These are things I find comfort in.

I enjoy comfortable settings. Though I myself am not great at interior decorating, I really appreciate when people create beautiful and peaceful spaces inside their homes. I notice and it makes me feel happy, more at home, and again…comfortable.

The people I most like to spend time with are people that know me really well. And people I can relate to on a deep level or have similar interests and passions. It’s easy to converse when I feel understood.  


I guess what I’m saying is I value comfort. I know the conditions that bring me that feeling of happiness and contentment, and whether I’m always aware of it or not I find myself spending a good portion of my life pursuing that feeling.

But comfort and contentment doesn’t equal fulfillment. I’ve found it’s easy to be happy and enjoy life, while at the same time feeling hollow inside. And equally so it’s possible to feel deeply fulfilled, yet carry a mixed bag of emotions and struggles that definitely aren’t comfortable.

~ ~ ~

This fall I’m moving to a conflict zone in the Middle East. I’ll be working as a nurse in a new clinic that is being established for local and displaced people (due to security reasons I’m not able to say where exactly I will be, but feel free to ask me in private or message me). I’m telling you about my addiction to comfort, so you know that I’m no different than you. My desire for comfort and intensity of love for my couch may even be stronger than yours. I’m also telling you this because it was one of the first realizations God had to awaken me to before my eyes could see the door He was opening to this place and people that his heart is broken for.

Like I said, I try to be self aware, and forthcoming about (*some of) my weaknesses. Because consciousness is the first step towards moving myself out of hypocrisy, where my stated values don’t align with my actions. But self-awareness only gets me so far, especially when a subconscious value is so deeply rooted inside me. I mean the kind of deeply rooted where I was making life decisions through the lens of comfort without even thinking about.

I enjoy adventure and spontaneity. Actually I need those things to really thrive. I’m also a passionate person, so I speak with intensity about injustice and the truths I believe God has shown me. So people, including myself at times, could look at my life and think I’m wired for taking risks and I’m totally unafraid to go wherever God would call me.


But I have been afraid, nervous about completely jumping in. My fears don’t have to do with death, but loneliness and unknowns. I’ve felt God beckoning me to “the hard places” for a long time. My heart trembling and overtaken with grief when I see the extreme suffering that is happening, specifically to children, all over the world. But I’ve looked away, pretending like I didn’t see Jesus motioning me to follow him.


The love story in Song of Solomon resembles my journey. In SOS 2:8-17 the bride’s Beloved comes to her and invites her to come away with him. He tells her now is the right time, it’s harvest time. He reminds her of their love and his desire for her to be with him. Though she loves him, she tells him to go on without her.

“Until the day breathes and the shadows flee,  Turn, my beloved, be like a gazelle or a young stag on the cleft mountains.”

After this scene, the bride goes through a process with her beloved, one filled with trial and pain. But at the end of the story the bride is the one beckoning her Beloved to the fields. Her desires and her actions now fully match his. And she proclaims that she wishes all could see her love for him.

I’m not yet at the place where the bride is at the end of the story, but I’m hopeful that this is path Jesus has me on. And more than that I’m encouraged because I know my Beloved’s desire is for me and every step of the way his leadership is full of love. He sees me. He looks at my heart, sees my desire to live fully with Him, but also sees the barriers to me doing that, and He knows how to perfectly and gently remove those barriers. All in love.

If we love Jesus, we are all on this journey. He’s beckoning us, he’s beckoning you, to come with him to the fields. The battle fields, the harvest fields, he wants you to come and join him there. We are his chosen bride, we are dark (full of sin/compromise) but he sees past that, to our potential, and says we are lovely (SOS 1:5).

No Father would give his pride and joy, his perfect son, to be married to an unworthy bride, to be joined with a woman who didn’t love him in the same way he loves her, and who didn’t value or want the same things he does. Yet God the Father is willing to give Jesus, the most humble and righteous man, to us in marriage. We who are lovers of self, and pursuers of comfort and pleasure. But he’s also committed to making us worthy of Jesus. We can not make ourselves worthy of him. But we can take Jesus’ hand and go with him to the mountain of myrrh, the place of death. We can choose to trust his leadership and believe the best about him in times of trial and pain, because this is what he does for us.

Sometimes you can have both fulfillment and comfort. But you have to decide which are you committed to. I think God wants us to be happy. He’s a God of joy, but He has this all encompassing plan in the works, so the whole world can live in that place of joy and it’s a battle to get there. Will we join him? Will we trade our pleasure now for the reward of never ending joy in the age to come? We’re all invited to the battlefield with him. Maybe it’s Syria, South Sudan, Iraq, Chicago, the Red-light district, or so many other places that are in need of the perfect love, justice and mercy of Jesus. He wants us there, we aren’t some damsel in distress bride. We are his chosen battle companion.

One final thought

There is so much injustice and suffering happening right now in the Middle East and North Africa. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and paralyzed because there is so much need and you don’t know where you are “called,” I’m inviting you to come with me. Seriously, contact me and I can help get you connected. The time for lone heroes of the faith being sent out to nations alone, never to return, was amazing and inspiring; but now is the time for a nameless, faceless generation of lovers to arise and storm the gates of hell together.


Corrie Ten Boom’s Letter to the Western Church

I’m posting this on my blog because I wanted to post it without any extra commentary on what’s she’s saying. This letter, written in 1974, is powerful, and if anyone can say these things it’s Corrie Ten Boom. For anyone unfamiliar with her story, Corrie Ten Boom is a Holocaust survivor. She was a Dutch Christian who, along with her family, helped many Jews escape the Holocaust during World War II. She was sent to a concentration camp because of her help to the Jewish people, and her sister died there. Some of her story is shared in the letter below.

I recently traveled to the Middle East, and since arriving back I feel especially burdened with the distance the American church has to the sufferings of our brothers and sisters, in many (if not most) parts of the world. This letter has only become more relevant since the time it was written. So I encourage you to read it, it’s significant.


“The world is deathly ill. It is dying. The Great Physician has already signed the death certificate. Yet there is still a great work for Christians to do. They are to be streams of living water, channels of mercy to those who are still in the world. It is possible for them to do this because they are overcomers. Christians are ambassadors for Christ. They are representatives from Heaven to this dying world. And because of our presence here, things will change.

My sister, Betsy, and I were in the Nazi concentration camp at Ravensbruck because we committed the crime of loving Jews. Seven hundred of us from Holland, France, Russia, Poland and Belgium were herded into a room built for two hundred. As far as I knew, Betsy and I were the only two representatives of Heaven in that room.

We may have been the Lord’s only representatives in that place of hatred, yet because of our presence there, things changed. Jesus said, “In the world you shall have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” We too, are to be overcomers – bringing the light of Jesus into a world filled with darkness and hate.

Sometimes I get frightened as I read the Bible, and as I look in this world and see all of the tribulation and persecution promised by the Bible coming true. Now I can tell you, though, if you too are afraid, that I have just read the last pages. I can now come to shouting “Hallelujah! Hallelujah!” for I have found where it is written that Jesus said,

“He that overcometh shall inherit all things:
and I will be His God,
and he shall be My son.”

This is the future and hope of this world. Not that the world will survive – but that we shall be overcomers in the midst of a dying world. Betsy and I, in the concentration camp, prayed that God would heal Betsy who was so weak and sick.
“Yes, the Lord will heal me,” Betsy said with confidence. She died the next day and I could not understand it. They laid her thin body on the concrete floor along with all the other corpses of the women who died that day.

It was hard for me to understand, to believe that God had a purpose for all that. Yet because of Betsy’s death, today I am traveling all over the world telling people about Jesus.

There are some among us teaching there will be no tribulation, that the Christians will be able to escape all this. These are the false teachers that Jesus was warning us to expect in the latter days. Most of them have little knowledge of what is already going on across the world. I have been in countries where the saints are already suffering terrible persecution.

In China, the Christians were told, “Don’t worry, before the tribulation comes you will be translated – raptured.” Then came a terrible persecution. Millions of Christians were tortured to death. Later I heard a Bishop from China say, sadly,

“We have failed.
We should have made the people strong for persecution,
rather than telling them Jesus would come first.
Tell the people how to be strong in times of persecution,
how to stand when the tribulation comes,
to stand and not faint.”

I feel I have a divine mandate to go and tell the people of this world that it is possible to be strong in the Lord Jesus Christ. We are in training for the tribulation, but more than sixty percent of the Body of Christ across the world has already entered into the tribulation. There is no way to escape it.

We are next.

Since I have already gone through prison for Jesus’ sake, and since I met the Bishop in China, now every time I read a good Bible text I think, “Hey, I can use that in the time of tribulation.” Then I write it down and learn it by heart.

When I was in the concentration camp, a camp where only twenty percent of the women came out alive, we tried to cheer each other up by saying, “Nothing could be any worse than today.” But we would find the next day was even worse. During this time a Bible verse that I had committed to memory gave me great hope and joy.

“If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye;
for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you;
on their part evil is spoken of,
but on your part He is glorified.”
(I Peter 3:14)

I found myself saying, “Hallelujah!
Because I am suffering, Jesus is glorified!”

In America, the churches sing, “Let the congregation escape tribulation”, but in China and Africa the tribulation has already arrived. This last year alone more than two hundred thousand Christians were martyred in Africa. Now things like that never get into the newspapers because they cause bad political relations. But I know. I have been there. We need to think about that when we sit down in our nice houses with our nice clothes to eat our steak dinners. Many, many members of the Body of Christ are being tortured to death at this very moment, yet we continue right on as though we are all going to escape the tribulation.

Several years ago I was in Africa in a nation where a new government had come into power. The first night I was there some of the Christians were commanded to come to the police station to register. When they arrived they were arrested and that same night they were executed. The next day the same thing happened with other Christians. The third day it was the same. All the Christians in the district were being systematically murdered.

The fourth day I was to speak in a little church. The people came, but they were filled with fear and tension. All during the service they were looking at each other, their eyes asking, “Will this one I am sitting beside be the next one killed? Will I be the next one?”

The room was hot and stuffy with insects that came through the screenless windows and swirled around the naked bulbs over the bare wooden benches. I told them a story out of my childhood.

“When I was a little girl, ” I said, “I went to my father and said,
“Daddy, I am afraid that I will never be strong enough to be a martyr for Jesus Christ.”
“Tell me,” said Father,
“When you take a train trip to Amsterdam,
when do I give you the money for the ticket?
Three weeks before?”

“No, Daddy, you give me the money for the ticket just before we get on the train.”

“That is right,” my father said, “and so it is with God’s strength.
Our Father in Heaven knows when you will need the strength to be a martyr for Jesus Christ.
He will supply all you need – just in time…”

My African friends were nodding and smiling.
Suddenly a spirit of joy descended upon that church and the people began singing,

“In the sweet, by and by, we shall meet on that beautiful shore.”

Later that week, half the congregation of that church was executed.
I heard later that the other half was killed some months ago.
But I must tell you something. I was so happy that the Lord used me to encourage these people, for unlike many of their leaders, I had the word of God. I had been to the Bible and discovered that Jesus said He had not only overcome the world, but to all those who remained faithful to the end, He would give a crown of life.

How can we get ready for the persecution?

First we need to feed on the Word of God, digest it, make it a part of our being. This will mean disciplined Bible study each day as we not only memorize long passages of scripture, but put the principles to work in our lives.

Next we need to develop a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Not just the Jesus of yesterday, the Jesus of History,
but the life-changing Jesus of today who is still alive
and sitting at the right hand of God.

We must be filled with the Holy Spirit. This is no optional command of the Bible, it is absolutely necessary. Those earthly disciples could never have stood up under the persecution of the Jews and Romans had they not waited for Pentecost. Each of us needs our own personal Pentecost, the baptism of the Holy Spirit. We will never be able to stand in the tribulation without it.

In the coming persecution we must be ready to help each other and encourage each other. But we must not wait until the tribulation comes before starting. The fruit of the Spirit should be the dominant force of every Christian’s life.

Many are fearful of the coming tribulation, they want to run. I, too, am a little bit afraid when I think that after all my eighty years, including the horrible Nazi concentration camp, that I might have to go through the tribulation also.
But then I read the Bible and I am glad.

When I am weak, then I shall be strong, the Bible says. Betsy and I were prisoners for the Lord, we were so weak, but we got power because the Holy Spirit was on us. That mighty inner strengthening of the Holy Spirit helped us through. No, you will not be strong in yourself when the tribulation comes. Rather, you will be strong in the power of Him who will not forsake you. For seventy-six years I have known the Lord Jesus and not once has He ever left me, or let me down.

“Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him”, (Job 13:15)
for I know that to all who overcome,
He shall give the crown of life.
– Corrie Ten Boom – 1974