God is Faithful

Shelby Russell
July 22, 2017

 Shelby Russell

I want to be honest. This summer has been hard. It’s hard to pour all that you have into a person and all you get is a head-nod and smile in return. It’s hard to see the people I love so much being bought like they’re nothing. It’s hard to come home feeling empty every single day. It’s hard to see very little fruit in a place that needs Christ so badly.

But God is still good.  He is still sovereign. He is still faithful. He is the one who fills me up again and again and again. No matter how much I want to see my friends come out of the bars, God wants that even more. No matter how broken I feel over the sin and depravity of this city, God is even more saddened. God loves these people more than I could ever imagine, and I have to trust Him. I have to trust that He can redeem even the worst of sinners. He redeems in impossible situations. I have to trust that His purpose is unstoppable. Even when I cannot see it, He is still good.

I want with all my heart to see my friends know the unending love the Father has for them. I want them to understand that they are priceless. I want them to find true freedom. But, if I don’t see it in three months, He is still good. He is still at work, too.

 Shelby Russell with friend

I get to teach some of my students every day and I look forward to seeing them every day. They make me laugh; they make learning Thai fun, and they challenge me in my faith. They ask me hard questions about the Bible. They make teaching English not so boring. I just love them so much and I love spending time with them. The students I pour into every day are unbelievers. My prayer is that they would crave more than the mundane “do good, get good” of the Buddhist religion. One student in particular is genuinely searching. She always brings up questions about Buddhism and Christianity. I hope that she will truly see what love is - that it’s not found in a relationship or in money or possessions, but that it’s found in Christ Jesus.

 Antique Cafe

God is also at work when we go on outreach to the bars. We have had the opportunity to take FOUR new friends out of the bar for a night! This is HUGE because every single day they work ridiculous hours to provide for themselves. They never get any time off. So we pay their bar fine, take them out for dinner, ice cream, or to go shopping or to the movies with them, so they can have a break from the madness of the red light districts. This is both exciting and tough. It’s exciting because we really get to know them on a deeper level without the loudness or distraction of a bar. We get to laugh with them and joke around with them. We get to hear their stories. We get to hear their hopes and dreams. We plan out how they can achieve those dreams and assure them that someone will walk alongside them. But it’s tough because we see them go right back into a place that has robbed them of hope. It’s tough because we offer them hope, yet they choose prostitution over that hope. It’s incredibly difficult to hear them tell us how they want to became a beautician or a teacher or a baker or an accountant or a business owner, yet they walk right back into a job that steals everything from them. That’s not okay. And it’s tough.

 Shelby Russell group

I think it’s kind of funny that God would use someone like me. Why would He use a shy and sheltered “goody-goody” girl from south Mississippi to go into the insanity of a red light district to become friends with prostitutes? That’s funny. That’s really funny! But, I love it. And even though it’s hard to see and hard to bear, I can’t imagine spending my summer doing anything else. The Lord has taught me more about His heart for the broken, His desire for justice, and His unending, never failing love. Maybe he had to take me WAY out of my comfort zone to show me.
 
“But this is a people plundered and looted, all of them trapped in pits or hidden away in prisons. They have become plunder, with no one to rescue them; they have been made loot, with no one to say, ‘Give them back!’” Isaiah 42:22

As followers of Christ, we are called to be those who will say, “Give them back!” We are called to stand in the gap for the broken. Christ’s heart is for the “plundered and looted,” and we must be obedient.

 Shelby Russell team

Join me in praying for my friends in the bars. Pray that they would want something more. Pray for hope. Pray for healing. Pray for our friends to come out of the bars. Continue praying for the exploited in this city. Pray for hope to be restored and lives to be redeemed. We just recently got a new student and we’re in the process of interviewing another new student. We are overjoyed! Continue to pray for them as we spend time with them each day. Friends and family, please lift up my new friends. Pray that they would want more than what they have. Pray that they would ask us those hard questions. Pray that Christ would be made known to them. Pray that I would be obedient.