Meet the Author
My name is Mallory Phillips and I am a third-grade teacher at a Christian school in North Carolina, the founder and primary writer for The Esther Project Ministries, and the author of two Christian Living books called Anthem. and Jubilee. I am passionate about sharing the gospel on a global scale as well as within the walls of my classroom! I have served in two different countries in South America and several places in Southeast Asia, in which I served as a teacher and children's ministry volunteer. I am thankful for a God who gives meaning to each and every one of our lives and it is the greatest joy as a teacher and ministry leader to instill that in the hearts and minds of God's children. 
My Story
I didn’t always want to be a teacher or ministry leader. In fact, when I was younger, I was not the biggest fan of ankle-biter children. It wasn’t until I went on a mission trip to El Salvador when God truly wrecked my heart for the orphans and vulnerable children and stirred within me a fiery passion for ministry and teaching. It was a hard reality! A hard slap in the face. My desires, my motives, and my actions were all about me me me. I sat before my Lord, with the door tightly shut, asking Him why in the world He had led me there, to El Salvador.

Lying in my arms was a tattered orphan child, a lonely child who called me “Mama” just after a few short minutes. “Mama” means forever—not just for a moment. Day after day, poverty takes the lives of many. Hungry, fly-covered children of God calling for a “Mama” who will never come home. I couldn’t understand their pain, but I could love them and enter in. Isn’t that what He commands of us even when it is painfully hard? I looked upon God with anger in my heart and for the first time, I saw before me a God who was not rainbows and butterflies, but a God of suffering, a God of pain. Even in my realization, I was blown away by His grace; that He would bring me to that very moment to see His fierce compassion and love in such a visual, tangible way. I held her tightly in my arms—and I knew, deep in my bones, that I was right where I was supposed to be. On that dusty floor, I wrestled with God—more than I ever had before. 

Genesis 32:
“That night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two female servants and his eleven sons and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. After he had sent them across the stream, he sent over all his possessions. So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. Then the man said, ‘Let me go, for it is daybreak.’

But Jacob replied, ‘I will not let you go unless you bless me.’ The man asked him, ‘What is your name?’ ‘Jacob,’ he answered. Then the man said, ‘Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.’ Jacob said, ‘Please tell me your name.’ But he replied, ‘Why do you ask my name?’ Then he blessed him there. So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.” The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel, and he was limping because of his hip. Therefore to this day the Israelites do not eat the tendon attached to the socket of the hip, because the socket of Jacob’s hip was touched near the tendon.”

I think of how we may not physically wrestle with God, but we wrestle with Him over our fleshly desires and motives. I am Jacob… and I am hoping you are, too. He left a mark on me… a compassion that was no longer surface level. Redemption is here, Sister. These children are not a statistic; they are the people I had come to adore. They never complained or asked God for more, but rather praised Him for providing what little they had. At the end of the day, when my strength had failed me several times before, I wanted to be loved by them, to feel used by God, and to hear His voice in the middle of the chaos. 
Let me tell you… loving hurts sometimes, but I was right where I needed to be. “But Mallory, don’t you know that I am good?”

There was a reason for that chain-breaking stand-still moment. He planted a seed of hope within the vulnerable and He planted the seed of hope within me, too. I looked around and saw these little ones playing in the dusty roads, the older girls dancing along as they selflessly cared for the others, and stray animals begging for the food of children who couldn’t afford to give. My heart was broken for these people, and so was His. You see, my friends, the Kingdom is for us to build. It was by God’s grace that He had led me there… and it was by His grace that He kept me in that season. 

Fast forward several years—I was pursuing a bachelor’s degree in elementary education, playing intramural sports, hanging out with friends till the wee hours of the night, leading events around campus, etc. Living the dream! Except one thing—Inside my soul was a mess. I felt lost in a world of constant transition and chaos with no direction in hand. I am sure that you have felt this, too. But even then, His joy was my hopeful song. Over time, my soul began to sing again. My heart began to listen and my feet began to run with God again. Oh Sister, I pray that you have the courage to run with Him as far as He will carry you. I pray that you have the courage to just come. To just show up.

Come to the God who bears your deep scars and knows the searing pain of your heart. Come to the God who sat at the table with sinners like you and I for hours and hours and hours on end. Come to the God who fearlessly looked prostitutes and burdened women straight in the eyes and told the others to lay down their stones. Come to the God who stands at the well ready to fill our empty pots with the living water. Come to the God who was intentional when He created you. A God who calls us to a life of radical ministry. A God who calls us to get out of the boat. Are you going to step out on the crashing waves? Or are you going to stay in the boat?
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