You are worth believing in.

you are worth believing in My dear girls and guys,

I had the unending honor of spending the evening with some of you last night. You never fail to amaze me.

Night of Prayer was last night and in all honesty, the prep for it was quite frantic feeling. But girls, and guys, as soon as our evening together began, I was flushed with this deep sense of awe. As Jake led us into worship with two intimate songs, you all gathered and sang songs of praise to our Father. And what a magnificent sight you each are! Whether you decide to sing or simply sit is up to you and I love watching you.

We then moved into a time of prayer stations, as you may very well recall. Things like writing our favorite verses on a poster board, planting seeds in soil, praying for people in our life who don't know the freedom-life Christ offers, writing out how He sees us.. and many more. Oh my soul, you kids.

prayer stations at youth group

As you may also remember, I had the complete privilege of taking over the foot washing station. I was really looking forward to this, but what I did not anticipate was the deep emotion that would actually overtake me as a whole. I was not prepared for Jesus to dig even deeper wells of love for you within my very soul. It began with my first contestant, Brenden. I could not help but tell him of Loren and my deep and real love for him. That we ache to reveal Jesus to him and that we are here on this earth to serve him as long as we are in this city. Have you ever experienced your eyes burning, trying to not open the floodgates of tear drops? That is what was happening every 2 seconds. I was ready to unleash Multnomah Falls upon your feet. As each of you allowed me to wash your beautiful feet, my heart exploded with joy and honor. I felt as though I was in the seat of honor. You may not even realize the depths of thanksgiving I experienced. It could have been selfish, the amount of joy I was being overtaken with. As each of you came, spent a moment with me at this station, and left to the next, I prayed for you. I prayed for your now, for your current life and for your future. I asked Jesus to love you so radically (which He already does) that you have no other choice but to fall madly in love with Him.

foot washing station

My kids, that are not kids and are not even mine, I believe in you. I care for you. I believe in each of you in very individual ways. My heart seems to be hallowed out and filled with love for you.

It hit me, as it usually does, that my heart for you does not even compare to Christ's love for you. That the only reason and the only way I am able to see you with these eyes is because of Jesus Himself. That His heart and His love for you is much deeper, much wider, much more. His love is sacrificial, selfless, saving, and offers freedom. This freedom-life He offers doesn't promise to be painless, but He promises to be with us IN the pain. And that is where the peace and joy is found, while we are broken, while we ache, while we cry ourselves to sleep. Because He is there and He defines us and He places an identity of Beautiful Belovedness on us.

I love you, students. But He loves you greater. His love for you surpasses anything any human could attempt to muster.

Your hearts and prayers are inspiring.

prayers

I pray that your day is well, while you are not at school. I pray that you spend time with Him in the quiet. Praying, reading, falling madly in love with Him because He is madly in love with you. Just as you are: imperfect and beautiful.

It is an honor to be in your life. You are so worth believing in.

With all of the love this human can currently muster, with the help of Jesus, your servant leader,

Natalie Brenner

Human Trafficking. & Our Students.

Let's be inspired Human Trafficking is the second-largest and fastest growing criminal industry in the world.

Last night {during ccEngage: A Jesus Youth Group} we had the honor and privilege of learning more about human trafficking and exactly what we can do about it. Liz, the House Director of House of Engedi and the Executive Director of Hope 82, brought us a DVD curriculum that she made a few years back geared towards 13-18 years of age. {I will be trained in presenting this soon, if any surrounding groups would like this presentation!}.

This DVD highlighted two young girls from Oregon who were victims of human trafficking: sexual exploitation. Bought. Forced into sexual slavery. Sold. Devalued. Dehumanized. Beat. Broken. Lied to. Used. Taken advantage of. Stripped of their identity and worth. It was hard to watch and listen to their stories. It was uncomfortable for our students. Even for our leaders. It was heart wrenching, tear jerking, and angering. But it's real. Relevant. Happening. And it's not okay.

We have the honor of being in some amazing lives. The parents of these students let us into the hearts of their kids. I don't take that privilege lightly. We get to teach and lead them, but also learn so much from them. It is a jewel in my crown, this calling is.

We are not talking about these injustices to scar and horrify our kids, reminding them of our broken world. They have enough of that. No, we are talking about these very real topics because of a few reasons: 1. Jesus. It's always about Jesus. "Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows." Isaiah 1:17

2. The average age of getting caught in Sex Slavery is 12-14. 12 years old. 12. Many are younger. Many are older. But 12-14 is the average age.

3. Our youth students are on the front line and can live with an awareness to prevent their friends and peers from falling into this trap. They see and hear way more than we do as adults. They would notice a sudden change in expensive jewelry or clothing or if a peer went missing every lunch break or if they have an older boyfriend they don't talk about much. We are outsiders when it comes to Middle and High School. I may be real young, but I am no longer in the walls of a school, therefore I don't have nearly as much power and influence as I once did.  But they do. If we can reveal to them the reality of the power and influence that THEY have, they will change this world. They will aid in rescuing their peers from getting trapped in this injustice.

I am going to let you in on a little bit of what was said from the mouths of 11-18 year olds:

The boys lead the inquiries, asking how they can help. The first response she gave was maintenance on two houses: mowing the lawn. One of our 8th graders said, "But I mean, how many men do you really need to mow the lawn? What else can we do?" I cried. What a heart.

Liz explained that these girls have formed an extremely skewed view of men and need healthy males around to show them what a real man should be like. Simply playing board games, revealing that they don't want anything from the girl. The simplicity of a board game. Teaching classes on cooking, laundry, tutoring; simple tasks and chores that we learn during the ages of 12-20 that these girls haven't had the opportunity to learn.

"It's impossible to protect all girls from guys like I was, because that's what we do. We eat, drink, and sleep, thinking of ways to trick young girls into doing what we want them to do." -Ex Pimp

The girls were excited to hear that Liz loves to throw parties and celebrate everything. That meant she needed party supplies, cookies, etc. They were jumping up and down, asking if we can do youth group there and invite the girls, if we can bring cookies and cake whenever. To see them asking to help in any ways possible was moving. The tears I shed were many. I was inspired. Are you inspired?

One more thing. These students prayed for the men and women who are the buyers and abusers. They prayed for their hearts, that they would be hit so hard with the love of Jesus Christ that they have no other choice but to fall on their knees and beg God for mercy. That they would walk in freedom as well.

>>An ongoing need will be toilet paper and laundry detergent pods. We will always be collecting those and I will take them to the house once a month or so.

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If you have any desire to get ahold of the power-point and video curriculum, please contact me. If you can support House of Engedi monthly or one time, click HERE.

We are seeing alot of awareness about this. But let's also take action. Let's not just feel bad and angry, but DO. Fight. Defend. "Don't let the sun go down on your anger;" aka: do something, don't forget.

I am moved beyond words that these middle and high schoolers want to DO something and are going to DO  something about this. We all have a part to play. Ask Jesus what your part is.

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Acts 7:24 "Seeing one of them suffer wrong, he defended him, and avenged him who was oppressed."

Isaiah 56:1 "This is what the LORD says: "Maintain justice and do what is right, for my salvation is close at hand and my righteousness will soon be revealed."

Romans 8:21 "the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God's children in glorious freedom from death and decay." Yes, yes we do.

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