Today, May speaks to us about Graceful Sentiments, Thrive Fellowship, taking the initiative to start, and encountering God.
Tell us a bit about how you grew up and your childhood: I was born to a Pakistani dad and a Thai mom, in Bangkok, Thailand. I was raised in Islam; went to Sunday school and learned Arabic since I was 7 years old. Though our family could be considered religious, I could never find a true connection with God, at the time.
Inspiring biblical passage of the moment: Matthew 11:19, the very last portion – “But wisdom is proved right by her deeds.”
Spiritual growth focus at the moment: My growth for the year is focused on two “R”s; “relationship” and “rest”.
Profession: I currently work in Real Estate full-time, for a homebuilder.
Tell us about Thrive Fellowship: Thrive Fellowship was founded for the purpose of connecting and creating Christ-filled fellowship, along with cultivating an environment of growth through scripture. We have a virtual community which is fostered through a FB group. We hold weekly Bible Studies via Zoom and we post devotionals in English, Hungarian, German, and Tagalog via our site. Additionally, we also have a global group chat for women, focused on building upon faith-based friendships and support.
If you wrote a memoir, what would the title be? “As She Starts”
When did you first encounter God and how did you encounter Him? After getting out of an emotionally and physically abusive relationship in my early college years, I fell into a depression for seven months. During that time, I would cry myself to sleep every night and spend each waking moment in tears. I could not see the light at the end of the tunnel, but one night, I fell asleep and dreamt of purple and green lights. With the lights came the feeling of joy, a feeling that I have not felt in a long time. I woke up and could not make sense of the event, as I knew I was waking up to the same sad reality. My best friends at the time, knew I aligned with Islam, but invited me to college youth group, to see if it would help. I decided to give it a shot and went to youth group with them. Upon entering the church, the stage lights were purple and green, and in that moment, I knew this was it. That day, I got on my knees, and proclaimed Jesus as my Savior.
How would you describe Jesus? He is my voice of reason, my comfort, my joy, my best friend. He is home.
How has your relationship with Him changed you? “Damaged” was the best way to describe my character, reactions, and how I chose to exist. I chose to live in hurt because it was comfortable and was all that I knew. With growing up in a broken home, one filled with so much abuse, I clung on to relationships that paralleled my childhood. I was defensive; both in action and reaction. Growing into adulthood, my choices never changed because I did not prioritize healing. As I came to know Christ, He showed me what family truly meant. He showed me how to heal, how to choose myself, how to love, and how to not choose the same patterns. He showed me how to grow through pain, how to persevere, and how to choose a healthy life.
“I chose to live in hurt because it was comfortable and was all that I knew.”
What has been the darkest time in your life, and how did you see God in it? My darkest time would definitely be after I got out of an emotionally & physically abusive relationship in college. I did not know how to start again & to continue; I felt extremely hurt & extremely betrayed. I was suffering through severe depression & PTSD. Through Christ, I was able to fully heal.
What has helped you grow spiritually in this season? In a season like the one that we live in now, the best lesson that Christ has taught me is to just start. There is never going to be a perfect time to go on that missions trip or to start a new ministry; we just have to simply begin. He gave me the courage to start Thrive Fellowship and to co-launch Graceful Sentiments during COVID; it was extremely scary and nervous, but I decided to follow His direction and set fear aside.
“In a season like the one that we live in now, the best lesson that Christ has taught me is to just start.”
Just read/currently reading (and what has it taught you?): I am currently studying reading Job & Psalms. It has taught me the importance of acknowledging our humanity, while choosing to live in His grace.
Top three essentials: My Bible makes all top 3.
How did God speak to you recently? He shared with me a note on rest; He said, “You try to find rest in many things, when you should be trying to find rest in me.” This was after me running on fumes, on my busy schedule. Practicing intentional rest has now become such a staple in my life.
Hobby: Reading, gardening, and baking.
Top three practical tips for staying spiritually strong:
Align with His word daily.
Talk to Him, always.
Pause on the noise to exist in the quiet (it’s the best way to hear Him speak).
Favorite person in scripture?
Paul, as his feisty teachings absolutely pump me up!
What do you want people to learn about God when they look at you? As colorful of a past as I might have had, I am not projected by it. As unqualified as I might seem, I will always choose to start.
How do you engage with your community? I teach about 10 one-on-one Bible Studies throughout the week and two group studies. I lead our women’s group chat, engage faithfully in our social media platforms to spread love, and I write the devotionals for Thrive Fellowship. I currently volunteer with multiple organizations and co-founded Graceful Sentiments, an organization created to ensure that women in the US (hopefully we can expand globally), has access to feminine products.
Favorite holiday? Forever, Christmas.
A goal you have? To spread His love and shine His light, whatever that may look like and at whatever capacity.
Question you will ask when you get to heaven? I would like to interview Moses; he has always been number one of my list! I need to understand how he maneuvered and lead, always such a curiosity of mine.
Thing you want to raise awareness about: There are people that need help – everywhere. I would like to inspire people to choose what has been put on their heart and run with it. Take action, today.
What does your morning routine consist of? Quiet time reading with Christ and declarations for the day.
What is on your nightstand? My 20 pairs of eyeglasses!
Define Christianity in a sentence: His love paved way for it all.
For more May:
Thrive Fellowship: thrivefellowship.info
Graceful Sentiments FB Page: https://www.facebook.com/GracefulSentiments
Thrive Fellowship FB Community: https://www.facebook.com/groups/966584323850807
Until next time, keep witnessing!