I think I’ve mentioned this before but I live a charmed life. Seriously. But I don’t participate in “30 Days of Thanksgiving” or anything like that because history shows, if I commit to do something like that, I am less likely to do anything even slightly resembling my commitment. I will take pictures daily and be aware of beautiful, wonderful moments in my life…but the moment I sign up for “100 Happy Days” or whatever the flip it’s called…pft. Pictures? I have a camera?

I have been slowly becoming more aware of moments of thankfulness and more conscious of actually including God in those moments with quick prayer of thanks instead of fleeting thoughts of contentment. But recently I’ve found this dangerous irritating little voice whispering in the back of my head.

Me: “Gorgeous sunrise. Thank you for a beautiful start to this clear day. I love driving in clear weather.”

Dangerous whisper: “Yeah…but would you still have a thankful heart if there was a foot of snow on the ground and nothing but gray clouds overhead?”

Me: “I love my home so much. Thank you for providing this beautiful shelter and the opportunity to indulge in Thanksgiving cooking!”

Dangerous whisper: “What if you were spending Thanksgiving in a hospital? Or a homeless shelter? What would your attitude be like, your prayers sound like?”

This voice is dangerous because it’s prompting me to start adding a layer to my conversations with God. It’s causing me to start asking, not for more moments of contentment, but a heart and spirit that is prepared to be thankful and content in situations that aren’t beautiful, warm & cozy.

20151124_193906I am still incredibly grateful for the plethora of warm fuzzy moments that I’m experiencing. I mean seriously – this was my view while baking pies this week. A cat napping near a fireplace…it doesn’t get more warm & fuzzy than that. At the same time, I am aware that my comfort isn’t what is important…and it’s definitely not guaranteed. Would I still maintain a grateful heart and deep rooted joy even in the midst of hard times?

Getting to Know Wipe Every Tear a bit better

A friend texted me from Les Schwab yesterday. She found this article (link below) in a magazine called “Christian Living”…a magazine I didn’t even know existed. Anyway – I found it online (YAY Internet!) and shared it with Facebook yesterday. If you haven’t yet, please take a moment and read it for a better understanding of who I’m working with.

I don’t think I’ve ever really hidden my beliefs on here and obviously Kenny and D.A. don’t either (The same could be said for everyone on staff.) That being said – I also understand not everyone out there identifies the same. I, in no way, think that being a follower of Christ is a prerequisite to have a passion and heart for justice work, nor is it a prerequisite to DO justice work. One thing I really enjoy about working with Wipe Every Tear is the focus on caring for the girls, right here, right now, as they are. There is no pressure for them to “convert”. There are no stipulations. The focus is simply to provide and care for them, to show them respect and honor and love.
And yes, I am still in need of major funding. I’ll be sending out more details later on fun ways to get involved. But if you just have an urge to give right here and now, my PayPal address is OR you can give at general giving and put “Rhoni Wilkins Dec trip in the comments”)

Returning home

My husband has commented before that I live in two time zones. Half of my heart is here. The other half is in the Philippines. (If you have not read that story, you can start HERE.)

I have the opportunity to return at the end of this year with Wipe Every Tear & continue to assist with the work of providing freedom and hope to the precious girls trapped in slavery. It’s an amazing and overwhelming mission and it’s one that many people work tirelessly at both here and there. In fact, a miraculous movement has started. Teams have visited from the U.S. and encouraged girls to take a leap of faith and move into a safe house. And then those very same girls, the ones who just WEEKS and MONTHS before felt hopeless, those girls are returning to the sites of their enslavement to provide hope to friends still trapped.

I can’t speak for those that have gone before and since my initial trip. But I believe the difference for these girls is relationship. My team was able to spend time demonstrating love and friendship like some of these girls had never experienced before. We were able to show them what it looks like to be truly valued as a sister and friend, not as an object. We were able to guide them towards Jesus, simply by being with them. But even with the amazing technology we have today, long distance relationships are HARD. Facebook does not replace a real hug. Skype does not replace sitting shoulder to shoulder. And that’s why I’m going back. To hug my sisters. To encourage them. To look them in the eyes and say “Mahal kita” (I love you) and listen to them GIGGLE at my atrocious accent. I am going to strengthen those relationships so they can establish and strengthen relationships that will change more lives.  And here’s the really cool part. This mission doesn’t just change these girls’ lives. It changes the lives of an entire family line. We are affecting the course of history for generations to come.

This trip we’re going to focus on outreach in the slums*. The poorest of the poor are the ones at risk. So we will focus there for a couple of reasons. One – it will be an educational trip for the Americans who have not experienced that environment and show them where many of these girls often come from. (I got to have this experience last year and it was AMAZING.) Secondly (but most importantly) – our Filipino sisters will be leading these outreaches. These are their people. It is their society and country that is affected. They will be able to use their freedom and strength to start making changes at the earliest points in this horrible poverty cycle. They will get to practice leading by leading us. And when we come back here, they will still be there. Changing lives.

I am so excited for this trip and the impact I know God is going to make through it. But I do need your help:

Prayer. I don’t put this first because it’s expected or to soften the request for money (because that’s next). My last trip brought into sharp relief that without prayer, everything else we do is…flimsy. You pray and crazy miraculous things happen. I’ve seen it. So – if you would like to be on my prayer team to receive specific requests and praises, let me know. Either comment here, Facebook me or email me (

Money. I’m trying to raise $3,500 $3,300 for trip expenses and plane tickets. There are a few options for this.

  1. Donations (of course!) Any amount is appreciated and I know God will use your sacrifice far beyond what we can imagine. There are a few options for donating:
  • Paypal** – funds can be sent with my email address:
  • You can donate directly at the Wipe Every Tear page. Choose “other” in the drop down menu and put “Rhoni Wilkins December trip”  in the comment section. This will be tax deductible for you. However, they will be charged a fee. (You can also mail a check made out to them with my name in the comment line.)
  • You can mail me a check directly (email me for my mailing address) or a check directly to Wipe Every Tear. If you mail a check directly to them, please put “Rhoni Wilkins December trip” in the notes line. This will also be tax deductible. (Though please keep in mind, I will need to purchase my plane ticket from my personal account so funds sent directly to Wipe Every Tear, while greatly appreciated, cannot be used towards that portion.)

2.  Hire me! Do you need pictures? A babysitter? Your lawn mowed? All money raised will go directly to fund this trip.

3. Tell your friends and family. Do you have a group that might be interested in hearing about my experience last year and plans for this year? Small group/Life group/Community group from church, dinner club, book club, Bunco group, beer drinking buddies…whatever…I would love to come talk to you. There are so many amazing stories to share that sometimes words on a screen cannot fully convey them.

Thank you for reading this far and for considering supporting this trip. I am happy to give you more details or answer questions either via email, comments or in person.

*I personally don’t like the word “slums”. There’s such a negative connotation for places where I have met the most remarkable people. However, Merriam-Webster website gives the definition of “an area of a city where poor people live and the buildings are in bad condition” or “a very untidy place”. The area(s) we will be visiting definitely fit the first definition. And they are very dirty and crowded and, well, untidy in general. But I have also seen some very tidy residences within those conditions.

**I’m not using GoFundMe or a similar site because of the fees involved. I know many people who have used them very effectively but I felt very strongly that it was not a responsible use of funds donated for this trip.


You should seriously consider this…

Remember how last year I went to the Philippines with Wipe Every Tear?

They’re taking another team back for the Second Annual Girls Getaway! There’s not much that motivates me to take the time to post in this space this semester…but this is worth the time to write. And read. And consider. Unless you’re male…this is a GIRLS getaway after all. Don’t get me wrong – men are definitely welcome on other trips. It’s amazing for them to demonstrate the love of Christ, to be the pure brothers and fathers that are needed. But for now, I’m talking to the women out there.

Last year, God put together an amazing team and then proceeded to blow our minds with what He was doing. We called ourselves “the Dream Team”. And we were. I love the women from my team and if one of them were to text and say “I need to talk to you but can only meet at 3am.”…guess where I’d be at 3am. We were exactly what was needed for that trip, for those girls. We originally prayed for 50 girls to go with us and I was SO VERY NERVOUS. I mean, what if no one showed up? What if only a handful came? We had been talking about how big our God is. How He could overcome and make this impossible idea possible. What if…He didn’t? And then I realized, He doesn’t need me to defend Him. If only one showed up for the trip, then one life was touched and it was a success. HE was in control. HE had a plan. Our plans didn’t matter, only our obedience.

God showed up and did amazing things. You can read all about it in my posts about the trip. But YOUR trip – the one you’re considering for this year – it will be nothing like ours. And it will be everything like ours. God will put together another Dream Team. It will be completely different than the group that went last year. But it will be a group of women carefully assembled specifically for what He wants to accomplish. When we left in 2014, there was one safe house of wonderful girls. Now there are three houses full of vibrant, diverse girls. You will have the opportunity to meet them – and girls not yet in the houses – and develop relationships that will look nothing like the relationships I have…and yet will be filled with just as much love. You will watch in amazement as God works miracles, miracles He has designed specifically for you & your team to experience. You will cry and wonder what the bleepity bleep you are doing halfway around the world in the infernal heat and humidity. You will stand in the quiet moment, awe struck. You will witness despair and pain…and hope and joy.

I don’t know the details. Only God does. But I can tell you with complete confidence that if you even have an inkling that you might want to go, you should absolutely pray about this. I made the decision not to go this year. It was not a decision made lightly and involved many tears. The trip coincides with my son’s high school graduation and family events. And my wonderful son encouraged me to go, stating that he would understand me missing his commencement. But no. We have fought for twelve years for that day. Blood, sweat and tears…and yet he was born into privilege. There has been very little doubt that he would finish school. He has the opportunity to do ANYTHING he wants. Many of the girls you will meet in the Philippines don’t know what that’s like. They can’t even comprehend it. You will have the opportunity to give them that hope, to change not only their lives but entire generations…an entire family line. Think about that for a moment. By touching one life, you can be the instrument God uses to revolutionize generations to come.

Consider this. Call me, text me, email me, chat me, comment here. Let’s get together. Ask your questions. Listen to my stories if you want (how long do you have….?) Let me pray for you to have clarity if this is the right decision. But don’t, do NOT shrug it off.

Philippine Trip – May 29

(Previous posts are here here here and here)

It’s interesting trying to reconstruct the trip. I vividly remember events but can’t always recall immediately what day it happened. I did not journal as regularly or in as much detail as I should have. While there, I couldn’t imagine that any of it would fade, would feel any less vivid. But it does. Thankfully I posted pretty regularly to a private Facebook group. Between that and my journal, it’s all starting to come back to me.

After the amazing first night, it was easy to bounce out of bed with the super early rising sun. I was eager to see team members from other groups and hear their stories. After breakfast and debriefing, an unscheduled day loomed, open for us to process our first night and recover. I wandered for awhile, bouncing from one already well formed group to another. As the high from the night before ebbed away, I began to doubt my place on the team. I wondered if I had made a mistake in signing up, if I was just dead weight. I could clearly see the gifts shining from my team members and the connections they were forming with each other and I felt increasingly lonely, isolated and useless. I wanted to go home so I messaged a good friend in Boise even though I knew she was  asleep then went back to my room to listen to worship music & try to journal. (“Dear God – I don’t want to do this anymore. This hurts. I’m uncomfortable. For all the amazing stories last night & the obvious cover you had over us, I still feel lost & discouraged and well, yeah. Lost. I am surrounded by these amazing women with amazing gifts and I…I’m just…me. With nothing to offer.”) It didn’t help much at all. One of our worship leaders was holding a worship/prayer session in her room before dinner so I found a spot to sit on one of the beds for the last half hour and at least felt like I could go to dinner without sucking the life out of everyone around me. I put on my happy, team player face and joined everyone to celebrate a birthday

When we finally finished dinner, we formed small groups to visit the bars. We did not necessarily end up the same as the previous night but I had Melissa as a leader and Kaylee was with us again. We added two other girls and started walking towards the main strip with another group. As we navigated the dark, trash filled sidewalks, I found myself walking alone and becoming swamped with negativity & doubt. Suddenly a woman from the other group, Anjel, appeared beside me. I absolutely adored her (still do) but we had not spent much time together on the trip. She was part of the small group that left ahead of us and they were pretty tightly bonded. Regardless, she showed up at my side and said “God put you on my heart during worship. He said to tell you that you are unstoppable. You are a vital part of this team. We need Mama Rhoni & so do the girls. You’re here for a reason.” I had told no one on that side of the globe the thoughts & feelings I was battling. And yet God used her to speak EXACTLY what I needed to hear, at exactly the right moment. We walked a little further together, me sobbing-ly telling her what I had dealt with all day* until her group leader stopped at this little hole in the wall bar, several blocks off the main strip and announced she felt like we needed to go in. All 8 (10?) of us piled in. I think there were more of us than girls working. There were definitely more of us than customers and we crowded the place. But lo and behold, on stage stood one of the girls the long term missionaries had met and had been trying to find since. They reconnected while the rest of us drank mango juice and learned how to request the check Filipino style.

Our groups went our separate ways after that. We went to a night club and danced with some girls before going to the second largest club on the strip. Somehow we ended up with 5-7 girls clustered around us, talking and laughing. There were some heartbreaking moments of conversation (“What do you do for fun?” Girl – “Well. Sometimes work is fun. My friends are here. But mostly I don’t like it. Some other bars are boring though.”) (After talking about Wipe Every Tear and the opportunity to go to school, the question “What would you like to study?” was met with a blank look and shrugs…they had never even considered it. Why bother?) Somehow we all ended up hand in hand with a girl, being pulled downstairs…and then up on stage, center of the bar, to dance with them. It happened so quickly but as my new friend tugged me up the stage stairs, grinning with a honestly joyful smile, I felt a moment of trepidation. Surely the manger and/or owner wouldn’t allow this? We were about to be kicked out and the girls punished. Would there be consequences for us? But we danced. And we slipped invitation cards to other girls. And we whispered hope and options to them as we clumsily moved about the stage, giving them the chance to dance – not for the pleasure of someone else – but for pure fun.

Nothing happened.  We did not gyrate. We did not dance in any way that could be considered suggestive. We were all hyper aware of that. But the customers either ignored us…or cheered. The manager watched us but did not intervene. The waitresses actually lit up and laughed. We only stayed onstage that one song and left the bar soon after, a trail of invitations to the Getaway in our wake. We stood outside for a moment, soaking in what had just happened. Melissa summed it up with a stunned “Well. That was a first.”

I honestly can’t remember if we went elsewhere after that. I messaged my husband when we got back “Home from the bars. Danced on stage.” and found it incredibly humorous. And then I slept, hard, until the sun rose again, incredibly early.

*We quickly learned if one of us was struggling, someone else in the group was having the exact same doubts, fears and negativity. We learned we suffered most when we started comparing our gifts and purposes with those who seemed…MORE (usually EVERYONE ELSE ON THE TEAM) and when we compared our experiences with those of others (“She had more of an impact/touched more hearts/etc etc…) The lies were insidious and I am thankful for a team that was willing to be open and vulnerable to combat them. Twenty plus girls worked together for two weeks and there was absolutely zero interpersonal drama that I know of.


Blessing or curse

I’ve read (skimmed if we’re being honest) a couple of different articles lately touching on this idea that we American Christians are “blessed” with our material abundance and/or how easily that phrase rolls off our tongue.

“Oh I’m doing well. God has really blessed us lately with our new car/house/promotion/health/insert latest toy”.

The articles both made me nod emphatically in agreement and squirm uncomfortably in my chair. Because I’ve done that. And I didn’t just do that before I went to the Philippines where, upon arrival, my eyes were opened & all deceptively pretty but false theology was burned away in  a flash of enlightenment. (Where is my sarcasm font?)

It’s easy for me to denounce false theology when it’s being preached by some big shot. Not to pick on the “prosperity gospel” (but to pick on the “prosperity gospel”), I cringe when I hear the idea that financial/material abundance is the will of God, that there is some sort of quid pro quo  between us and God. We have faith & He spoils us with the latest gadgets or more square footage or excellent health insurance.  I denounce it vehemently. God doesn’t promise earthly comfort. He promises a relationship with and transformation through Him. Amen and hallelujah.

And then. Then I sit in my big fluffy ridiculously comfortable chair sipping on my freshly brewed coffee with just the right amount of creamer, wrapped in my warm blanket in the middle of the summer because the central air in my crazy big, clean and sturdy house has made me chilly. I sit there with my cat purring on my lap and I look around and think about my refrigerator full of food and my reliable, emissions tested vehicle full of gas. And I thank God for all the blessings He has bestowed upon me and my family. We serve in our church. We tithe. We pray and attend our Lifegroup. We have checked the boxes of  “good Christians”. And this insidious idea that God is rewarding us for our good deeds slithers in and takes root.

In the Philippines I met a woman who lived under a tarp next to a bridge with her sore covered, naked children. And the next day I watched this woman show up at church, like she does weekly, with her kids in their ill fitting Sunday best….clothes we wouldn’t even donate to Goodwill. She was excited because we were the same age and we were both mothers. We come from polar opposite lives but we could connect. We talked about kids and parenting…and our faith in God. Her relationship is deep and sustaining and vibrant. She is impoverished materially and abundantly rich spiritually. Her very life should be all the proof I need to eliminate that sneaky idea that living comfortably is proof of God’s favor. Why me and not her (or any of the hundreds of thousands around the world like her)? And yet. Just last week I found myself snuggled in my chair thanking God for all His blessings. And perhaps I was a bit smug because OBVIOUSLY we’re doing something right. When suddenly Joseph (yes, of the  techni multicolored coat) came to mind. Specifically him telling his brothers “What you meant evil, God has used for good…”

Okay. So this is a leap but take it with me. I haven’t had anyone plot to murder me lately. (At least I don’t think so.) I haven’t been sold into slavery. Nothing  bad or evil has happened to me in a long time (or arguably…ever). But sitting there I began to wonder…what if all this abundance and comfort isn’t a gift from God. What if it is a distraction from Satan? What if I’m not blessed…but cursed? The idea shook me. What do I DO with that? Because  (again with the honesty) I’m not going to sell my family into poverty. I’m not going to look my children in the eyes and say “I’m sorry but you have to go hungry now. And sleep on the street. Oh…and forget about being clean or having medical care. But you’ll have God!!!” My husband and I DO have the opportunity to provide for our family and I don’t think that’s intrinsically bad. There’s a responsibility that comes with the opportunity though. (With great power comes…oh never mind). And that’s where Joseph comes in. So…maybe Satan IS trying to distract me. Maybe this comfort WAS meant to curse me by weakening my relationship with God. But God can use all….this.  But here’s what I didn’t get from the other articles (see above – skimming said articles) – it doesn’t end with the realization that our American wealth does NOT equate blessing. It doesn’t even end with the idea that the goodies might actually be meant for evil. It all BEGINS with the realization that God can use everything we have for His purposes. “What you meant for evil, God used for good.” But recognition without action is nothing. After all, everyone in the parable of the Good Samaritan RECOGNIZED there was a man lying in the road dying. But they didn’t take action to help. (Well look at me with all my Biblical illustrations tonight. I can check that “good Christian blogger” box now).

I don’t want you to feel guilty for being materially wealthy. I went down that path so you don’t have to.  God doesn’t deal in guilt trips. Guilt immobilizes, it doesn’t result in transformative action. Conviction is more God’s bag.  If guilt immobilizes, conviction motivates. But I wasn’t convicted about my possessions. I was convicted about how I SEE my possessions.

Soooo GREAT. We’re all convicted. Now what.

Well  my action step is daily communication with God. It’s checking in. It’s recognizing, every day, that I am abundantly spoiled. And asking Him what He wants me to do with that. How does He want to use this big house? How does He want to use my physical health, energy and the abilities that provides? Some days – most days – I don’t get a clear answer. Or an answer at all. That doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy it. I just want to live in the awareness that everything I enjoy belongs to God. I don’t want to keep falling into the trap of complacency and believing that I’m “good enough” because I have (more than) enough. And I never EVER want to insult my beautiful brothers and sisters worldwide by uttering the words “I’m blessed because I have….<insert material wealth>” I’m blessed for the same reason they are. I’m blessed because I can have a relationship with Jesus.

Chocolate Rain Down Like Manna

I spent two weeks in the Philippines recently. In fact I’ve only been back in the US a week and a half. I’ve been home almost as long as I was over there. I cannot begin to tell you how surreal that is. I will be posting about that trip over the next little bit.

One day at lunch a team member started praying aloud and passionately in her southern Baptist church lady voice “Oh dear Lord. You are unchanging! You are the same today as yesterday! You made manna rain down from the heavens for the Israelites and You can make chocolate rain down on us now. Please dear Lord!….” We all laughed and went on with our meal. Within a couple of hours, another team member (who was NOT at lunch with us) walked into our room with a bag of chocolate, handed it to her and said “I was in town and thought of you…” At which point I looked at her and said “YOU ARE PRAYING FOR EVERYTHING ALL THE TIME!!! ALWAYS!!”

The incident led to a serious discussion though. God IS unchanging. He IS capable of raining down chocolate on the spoiled Americans just as He is capable of raining down manna on the starving people in the world. So why doesn’t He? Why doesn’t He just…take care of it? Our conclusion might be a bit obvious to you. You may have had similar conversations. Matthew West has a song with the same message. The Israelites of the Old Testament didn’t have the Church. “Christians” didn’t exist. God HAS created the means to provide in this day and age. He created us.

I tell you that anecdote for a reason. Our trip to the Philippines had a very distinct and unique purpose. We invited girls that were trafficked into the sex trade to go on a “Girls Getaway” with us. We paid for everything. All they had to do is show up. Imagine telling girls that have been tricked, lied to and used that they are being given an all expense paid vacation to the beach with no strings attached. Imagine telling them they just have to get on a bus with people they don’t know early one morning when they get off work. Imagine how impossible this trip was. But God had a plan in mind. And twenty six girls showed up. We spent a week loving on them. We talked and swam and hiked. We played games and danced and sang. We ate together and painted our nails. And we told them they had an option. We told them about the Wipe Every Tear safe houses and the opportunity to go to school.

As of a couple of days ago, sixteen of those girls were in the care of Wipe Every Tear. Sixteen girls starting school. Sixteen girls with hope and embarking on a new life. Sixteen precious lives changing now and countless generations in the future.

That number is…unbelievably amazing. This just doesn’t happen in the world of “rescue and restoration”. But it did happen. I was there. I hugged them and held their hands. I talked with them and when they were tired from trying to keep up with our super fast American English, I sat next to them quietly. They aren’t unbelievable numbers, they are my sisters.

But in order for this future and hope to continue, these girls need sponsors. There are people doing the hard work “on the ground”. But they can’t finance everything too. That’s where we come in. Could God perform a miracle and shower down the funds? Yep. He could. He did. He created you. And me. And He placed us in the super privileged lives we have now. We can help sponsor a girl for $35/month. Thirty five dollars for a live renewed. Of course I’ll give you a link (clicky clicky). But please, feel free to ask me any questions. I’ll be sharing stories and pictures from the trip but this was too important to not mention from the beginning.

Filipino sisters singing a song about friendship to us our last night together. (Photo credit: Kenny Sacht)

Filipino sisters singing a song about friendship to us our last night together. (Photo credit: Kenny Sacht)