Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Testimony Time from the Casteels!

Good Day Friends!

Thank you for all of your prayers and support for my family and I during the last six months. We are forever grateful to all of you. We are back home in North Carolina. We are happy to be with family but miss the friends we made on the journey. The Lord truly blessed us in so many ways. He blessed us with the finances to do this, incredible friendships, unbelievable experiences and a stronger relationship with Him. Through our obedience, He proved Himself supernaturally faithful.

First of all, our kids were amazing on this journey. Shiloh did things that we were never expecting. She never met a stranger. She told everyone that she talked to that Jesus loved them. She made friends with the homeless. She saw people how Jesus sees them. There was no difference from one to the next. In Amsterdam, she had us make a sign for her that said "Jesus loves you no matter what!" She came up with this all by herself. She walk around the busiest part of Amsterdam with this sign in hand. People were impacted by this. She even prayed for Muslim men that day. People were amazed by the authority that Shi walked in as she carried this bold sign. Shannon and I were inspired to walk in more boldness because of what Shiloh did on this outreach.

Our team saw the Lord do some incredible things while we were in France and Amsterdam. While in France, we saw our friend François Picaud give his life to the Lord. It was amazing to see his desire to serve the Lord. He felt the presence of the Lord so strong and could not pass the chance. I, Blake, was able to spend a lot of time with him in friendship and in discipleship. I loved spending time with this 17 year old kid. The Lord gave us words for Francois and a true love for him. We know that he has a true conviction to serve Jesus and to be an example of Jesus in his school. We are continuing to pray for Francois.

We also spent time with a Gypsy family once a week. We played games with the kids. I taught Darius, who is the 14 year old son, how to throw a football and play a drum. Shannon did all of the young girls hair. It was as if they had never felt so beautiful. They were so grateful to Shannon for doing their hair. We found out just this week that this entire family gave there lives to Jesus. It started with the father of the family getting saved and then the wife and children followed. It was such great news for us because we love them all so much. They are now plugged into a Romanian Church and are doing very well.

Then came Amsterdam. We encountered it all. We saw true hope for a city to be changed. Shannon and I
made incredible friendships in this city. We worked with YWAM ministries located in the red light district. The guys from our team and I helped with a ministry called Chap. They focused on the men in the red light district addicted to sex. I talked with men from all over the world. We experienced cold shoulders and men truly searching. It was amazing to see these mens responces. A pimp that worked a nearby alley told one of us that he was inspired by what we are doing. That is huge. He makes his living by these women selling themselves and he told us that what we were doing inspired him. The Lord is good.

The team and I were able to help a former prostitute paint, lay hardwood floors and move into her new apartment. She was awesome. Her name is Alexis. She was set free, 4 years ago, from prostitution. She is so awesome. She is from the Dominican Republic and was told 8 years ago that there was work for women in Amsterdam. She weant to Amsterdam and became trapped in prostitution. She had a young son to take care of and knew no way out. Then Jesus met her through a wonderful woman named Edna. Edna has given her life to love these women in the red light district. Alexis now lives a life for the Lord. She is such a loving, generous women. She was one of the highlights of our whole outreach!

One of our favorite moments was our time with Angy and Yhanothon. They are traveling musicians. He plays the Hangdrum and she dances while he plays. Angy is a Christian and Yhonathon is not. Shannon and I prayed for them on the street in Amsterdam and as soon as we finished praying i knew the Lord wanted them to eat with us.We were able to have them over for dinner. Yhonathon is from Israel so I knew good relationship would be best built with him at the table. We are still praying for Yhonathons salvation but Angy was incredibly encouraged by us that night. They were unable to play on the streets that night so we asked him to play for us. When he and Angy were done, our team walked to him and gave him money. We gave him over 70 euro. I knew that we were Jesus to Yhonathon and Angy that night. Please continue to pray for them as they are about to step into marriage.

These are some of the more impacting moments that we were a part of while on outreach. We are so grateful to the Lord, our families and our friends for the support we received to experience these things. We know that lives were changed including ours. We believe that this outreach is going to have long term effects in France and Amsterdam.

We are currently working and are praying for what the Lord has for us next. Please continue to pray and agree with us in this transition season. We want to do what the Lord has for us to do, no matter what it is. We long to be completely obedient to the calling on our families lives.

Thank You all again!

Blake, Shannon, Shiloh and Arrow