Today, Victoria speaks to us about how fasting and prayer take us deeper, her work in helping human trafficking victims, the visit to a historic prison that changed her life, and some wise words about marriage and keeping romance alive.
Inspiring biblical passage of the moment: Currently, I am reading through the books of Ezra and Nehemiah. The Lord is teaching me quite a bit about the role of fasting and prayer in the life of the believer. I would consider myself a prayerful person, but I feel like the Lord is calling me to a deeper understanding about the role of fasting in petitioning God. Ezra 8:21-23 speaks to this and states:
“There, by the Ahava Canal, I proclaimed a fast, so that we might humble ourselves before our God and ask him for a safe journey for us and our children, with all our possessions. I was ashamed to ask the king for soldiers and horsemen to protect us from enemies on the road, because we had told the king, ‘The gracious hand of our God is on everyone who looks to him, but his great anger is against all who forsake him.’ So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and he answered our prayer.”
Last week, I personally fasted for a situation in my life where I was needing breakthrough, and I saw God answer my prayers just two days after the one day fast ended. This experience has been quite impactful.
Spiritual growth focus at the moment: Currently, my husband and I are moving across the country so that I can work with a non-profit agency that is serving survivors of sex trafficking. This opportunity is such a blessing, but it also comes with a lot of uncertainty that is coupled with a desire for direction from the Lord. I have been seeking the Lord about housing, a job for my husband, and many other decisions that come along with this transition. As I have been praying and seeking, the Lord lead me to a passage in Habbakuk
2:3-4 which states:
“”For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.
‘Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him, but the righteous shall live by his faith.’’’
Often times, when the Lord gives us a promise for our future or calls us into a new season, it can be hard to trust Him with all of the unknowns. We long for answers and for certainty in all aspects of our lives. However, the Lord was reminding me that I do not need to have the answers and that “the righteous shall live by faith.” Faith is the assurance of things hoped for and the certainty of things unknown (Heb 11:1). We will never know all of the details or intricacies of life, but we will always be called to have faith and trust in God.
“We will never know all of the details or intricacies of life, but we will always be called to have faith and trust in God.”
Profession: Social worker (MSW) that serves survivors of human trafficking
A one sentence bio of yourself: Victoria J. is a pastor’s wife and social worker who is passionate about seeing individuals set free from human trafficking and spiritual bondage.
When did you first encounter God and how did you encounter Him? I grew up in a Christian home, but rebelled against the faith for various reasons.
By high school, I was a professing atheist that wanted nothing to do with religion.
This all changed when I was 18 years old. That year, I took to trip a Rome and visited the Mamertine Prison where it is believed that both Paul and Peter were imprisoned before their martyrdom. This is also thought to be the prison where Paul wrote the letter to Timothy. When I stepped into the prison cell, I was overwhelmed as I stood in the dark and ominous hole in the ground that contained a bubbling spring, which would regularly drown the prisoners without warning.
Legend has it that the apostles were preaching the gospel and baptizing other prisoners in this water that could have led them to their very death. When I heard these stories and stood in this dungeon, I had the repetitive thought that, “nobody dies for a lie.” I realized that these circumstances were so dire that the disciples had to be ardently convinced that Christ was the messiah and savior of the world. It was there that I accepted Jesus as my personal Savior and I have been a follower of Jesus ever since.
“Legend has it that the apostles were preaching the gospel and baptizing other prisoners in this water that could have led them to their very death. When I heard these stories and stood in this dungeon, I had the repetitive thought that, ‘nobody dies for a lie.'”
What has helped you grow spiritually in this season? I find the most spiritual growth by reading the Bible and spending personal time with Jesus. Don’t get me wrong, having a church community is valuable and important, but it should never be a substitute for one on one time with God.
Listening to a sermon and serving at church once a week is simply not enough to sustain a meaningful faith and it will leave the believer feeling dry and empty. I have found that my most meaningful revelations come in those intimate moments alone with Jesus.
Just read/currently reading (and what has it taught you?): In the Bible, I have recently read Ezra, Nehemiah, and Hosea. It has been teaching me about prayer, fasting, and the unconditional love that God extends to His people. For professional growth, I have been reading about therapy modalities, such as DBT, TFCBT, and EMDR as well as different approaches to dealing with complex trauma. I am currently looking for a new book for personal growth, but have recently read Unashamed by Christine Cane. It taught me how to recognize the feelings and labels associated with shame and how to walk in freedom in Christ.
Top three essentials: My top three essentials are a journaling Bible, coffee, and mascara. With those three things in hand, I feel like I can conquer anything.
How did God speak to you recently? Part of my job involves working night shifts, where I watch over the survivors of human trafficking in order to ensure their physical and emotional safety. Being awake for 8 hours has been a challenge, but the other morning the Lord brought the word “watchman” to my mind. He also led me to Psalm 134: 1 which states,
“Praise the Lord, all you servants of the Lord, you who serve at night in the Temple of the Lord.”
It is so easy to look at the trivial tasks of our jobs, or our lives and think we are not making a difference. It felt so good to be encouraged by the Lord who made me feel seen and known when He brought up my night shifts.
Hobby: My hobbies include barre, photography, writing, fashion, and all things involving food. I love that I can put all of these passions together in my Christian lifestyle blog.
Top three practical tips for staying spiritually strong:
1. Spend personal time with God;
2. Seek to fall in love with Jesus;
3. Have healthy friends that hold you accountable and help you grow.
Favorite person in scripture? I have always loved Esther. She is a strong woman of God that risks her life in order to purse her calling. It also contains one of my favorite pieces of scripture: “Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?” I love knowing that God has a divine purpose and calling on our lives. In order to achieve our callings we have to be willing to take risks and live a life of courage.
What do you want people to learn about God when they look at you? When people look at me, I want them to see the Jesus that embraces children, has compassion on the prostitute, feeds the hungry, clothes the naked, and dines with sinners. I want my life to point people to the Jesus who unconditionally loves radically saves, and wholly transforms.
Favorite season? I love the summer season! My perfect day is sitting by the beach with a picnic basket, a bouquet of flowers, a book in one hand, and my other hand resting in my husband’s palm.
Favorite holiday? I am going to be very basic and go with Christmas! There is nothing quite like hot cocoa, matching Christmas pajamas, and the smell of a fresh Christmas tree. I love being near to the ones I love, celebrating Jesus, and being generous with my friends and family.
A dream you have? Since I was 19, I had a dream to work with survivors of human trafficking. After 6 years of waiting, the Lord brought that dream to fruition. I am so blessed and thankful that God placed this desire in my heart, provided for the education I needed to accomplish this goal, and opened up the doors that allow me to operate in my calling. This process has taught me quite a bit about waiting on God’s timing and the need for preparation in order to fulfill God’s call on our lives.
I mean Jesus waited 30 years to do 3 years of ministry, so who am I to think that I can just jump into my calling?
“Jesus waited 30 years to do 3 years of ministry, so who am I to think that I can just jump into my calling?”
A special tradition you and your family engage in or keep: My husband and I have a tradition of having a weekly date night and going on a vacation every year for our anniversary. I truly believe that the grass is green wherever you water it. It is so easy to look at others’ marriages on social media and think that they have it all together. We see the images that others portray, but we do not see the times that they invested in one another, humbled themselves, walked in forgiveness, and chose love over bitterness. Our deep love for each other comes out of intentionally pursuing each other every single week. Romance is something that is kindled and cannot be sustained without adequate attention.
“It is so easy to look at others’ marriages on social media and think that they have it all together. We see the images that others portray, but we do not see the times that they invested in one another, humbled themselves, walked in forgiveness, and chose love over bitterness.”
Question you will ask when you get to heaven? I do not know that I have any questions. I do have this image of cooking a meal with Jesus in a beautiful home and having a picnic with him in a field of flowers. I just want to spend time with my Savior and Friend.
Thing you want to raise awareness about: I am passionate about raising awareness about human trafficking. According to the International Labour Organization, a specialized agency of the United Nations, there are over 40 million people in modern day slavery. That means that 5 people in every 1,000 people in the world are slaves.
Furthermore, 1 in 4 victims of human trafficking are children. This issue effects women and girls at incredibly high rates, with 99% of sex trafficking victims being women and 58% of labor trafficking victims being victims. For more information on human trafficking, click here.
What do you usually do before 9 a.m.?Typically, I am already at work by 8 a.m. So, before 9 a.m. I wake up, my husband
makes me a latte and scrambled eggs, and I get ready for work. When I get ready, I usually pray and listen to worship music, and at night, I do my Bible study.
What is on your nightstand? On my nightstand, I have my journaling Bible, a wooden cross that was given to me by Canon Andrew White the Vicar of Baghdad, and a bowl of popcorn with Peanut M&M’s.
Define Christianity in a sentence: Christianity is a personal relationship with Jesus Christ that overflows into an outpouring of love for one’s neighbor and community.
For more Victoria:
Until next time, keep witnessing!