Bethsaida Portalatin, "Woman of Grace & Fire"

Miss Dosso: What is Agenda: Love?

Bethsaida: I was reading “Irresistible Revolution” & I went to see a Hillsong’s documentary called “I Heart Revolution”. I saw the Human Trafficking Screening. All these things together was like an awakening! Joel Houston said “Christians have so many things on the To-Do List but our agenda should be to love God & love others”. That’s so true! There are so many things we want to get done, so many things we want to do for ourselves that are selfish, but Jesus tell us in Matthew 22 “that the two greatest commandments are to love the Lord, your God with all your heart, mind, and soul & love your neighbor as yourself”. Not just by saying love, but acting love, because God’s love acted. So, I always want my agenda to be love. To love God and others the way that he loves us with an action. That’s where Agenda: Love came. I was too busy loving myself for way too long.

Miss Dosso: Let’s talk about your childhood experiences.

Bethsaida: I was basically born in the pew of Brooklyn Tabernacle. I have been there my entire life! When I was five years old, I remember saying a prayer with my [Sunday school] teacher to invite Jesus into my heart. Because I have such a horrible memory & can remember that day so vividly & perfectly, I know there was something special about that moment. I was in love with God, full of joy & peace. I was also in a children's singing group, called The Joy singers…
Early Days

Miss Dosso: Oh, you’re a Singer?

Bethsaida: Yes, I was in the youth choir for like maybe a year only because when I was fourteen in high school I started to backslide. I stopped going to Church.  When I was eighteen, I was at a club & saw people drugged up & drunk when something inside of me said “you don’t belong here”. I knew it was God yet I wasn’t fully ready to surrender. During that summer, I went to Florida; my uncle is a Pastor there. He preached a sermon about Moses not having a lot but God called him & whatever Moses had, he gave to God & God used him & worked through him.  I remember thinking “God, I screwed up so much these last four years but whatever I have left I’ll give it to you & if you could take that then work through me”. That’s where I surrendered. When I came back to New York, I started going to Christ Tabernacle more regularly. Long story short, I wanted to believe in God but he wasn’t real to me yet so I said “God make yourself real to me, I can’t just follow something just because! Prove yourself to me!” And He did. He showed me that he loved me. At nineteen years old, I was like "God I want to live my life as a thank you for your love to me". And I have been serving him since then, almost ten years now.

Miss Dosso: What was the hardest experience you’ve been through? What experience has God used to shape & mold you?

Bethsaida: I had a huge insecurity issue. I don’t even know where that came from because I was raised with a Mom & Dad who loved God and me. I didn’t always get along with my Dad; I actually hated him for a couple of years during my rebellious days…

Miss Dosso: Don’t we all have those… (chuckles)

Bethsaida: Right? I wanted to do my own thing and my Dad was very strict, he was a cop. I look back now and understand him, during that season, much better. God also did a miracle with our relationship. He restored it, & healed it..that could be a whole other interview itself. So anyways, I had parents who loved me, so I don’t even know where this insecurity issue came from.  I always felt insecure with any guy I was with. The funny thing is it didn’t happen until I started serving the Lord again...

Miss Dosso: Ha!

Bethsaida: I was fine when I was in the world. Like “You don’t want me, I'll get another one!” But when I came back to serving the Lord, I was in a relationship that was like a world wind Christian relationship & I thought it was God but I was really wrong, it wasn’t. I was a new believer so I thought I heard from God.  That was really hard to deal with; I didn’t understand it.  God really used that situation to break me & to get to the root of my heart issue. Was I going to be bitter? Or is this going to make me humble & contrite before him? I guess it's what God used to begin to shape and mold me, because I used to always compare myself to other girls & feel less than. When I got on the World Race, I really started to learn who I was. I found my confidence by learning who I am in Christ.

Miss Dosso: Who are you?

Bethsaida: I am His Daughter. I am a princess! I am unique. I am not like anyone else & God has a plan for me, & what God has given to me no one can take away. I don’t have to be shy; I can speak with confidence & with boldness because His Spirit lives inside of me! I don’t have to compare or impress anyone or get anyone’s attention because it is all for Him & I already have His attention. He’s enamored by me. So, I really felt like the World Race helped me with the guy/insecurity issue.

Miss Dosso: The Bklyn Lotus’ motto is “Define Who You Are & Own it!” Have you found your definition? How has God taught you about who you are while on this Christian walk? Define Authenticity & what it means to you.

Woman of Grace & Fire
Bethsaida: Growing up in church puts a lot of pressure on you because you have to be perfect; the “Good Christian Girl” meanwhile, all hell is breaking loose in your life & you can’t show it because that means you are weak. I felt like I had to be a perfect person to give God a good name. But I started to realize authenticity is being who He created you to be, through the filter of the Holy Spirit. Being real, being vulnerable in the fact that I’m not walking in my own strength. I do not want people to look at me & be like “oh, look at this amazing woman”. It’s not me, I’m not that amazing! Put that on record! (chuckles) Praise God that I have a perfect Savior that I can cling to!  He is my King and He is helping me and molding me. I’m not who I used to be, and I’m going to press on to obtain everything He attained me for.  With my flaws hanging out, because I’m not going to hide them. Because of that good girl facade, my friends growing up would say “You’re so good; I could never be like you”. I wanted to tell them "No, it’s not me, it’s Jesus". I want to be real, authentic, and transparent with people so that they can say "yeah she’s not perfect but there’s something different about her". I’m not the Savior. I’m not the perfect One, but I can point you to Him. I can tell you how He’s transformed my life; I am not the same person I used to be.

Miss Dosso: When did you become exposed to human trafficking?
Bethsaida: In 2004, I was interning when I saw this magazine that was sort of glorifying an issue where you can buy Filipino girls & I just couldn’t believe it! I saw this article & my heart broke for these girls. I said “God I want to go tell these girls about who you are, your true love!" Five years later; I got a Facebook invitation for a screening on human trafficking. That’s when I got exposed to the issue. I remember thinking "God what is going on?" I couldn’t fathom that women & children were being enslaved, tortured, abused and beat. I said "God where has your Church been?" What have we been so consumed with that we haven’t been fighting for these people? We haven’t been seeking justice for them? God, what have I been consumed with? I was consumed with myself. I saw this article & my heart broke for these girls. I said “God I want to go tell these girls about who you are, your true love!” Five years later; I got a Facebook invitation for a screening on human trafficking. That’s when I got exposed to the issue. I wanted to see this horrible injustice firsthand because I’m a visual/hands-on learner and God knows that. 

Miss Dosso: (chuckles) Me too!

Bethsaida: Yeah, so I googled missions trip and human trafficking and The World Race came up. I was drawn to it, because it was different countries and I didn’t know if I was called to a country, or how or when, but I said “God if it’s your will, then you’re going to have to provide the monies”. Very simple prayer and He did. He provided all the money before I even left.  I did that for 11 months, went to 11 different countries and I came back the end of this May. On the World Race, I knew God was still calling me to human trafficking so I was thinking about interning in the states, but in Thailand, He really called me to an organization there.

Miss Dosso: Paint us a picture of what your average day of being a missionary is like. How was time spent?

Bethsaida: The World Race is such a whirl wind that it varied. Sometimes, we can’t shower because we don’t have any showers so you just get ready.

Miss Dosso: Wow…

World Race: Haiti
Bethsaida: If we were living with the ministry, I just poured into it & made time for them. During the nighttime, I like to read my word; it’s better for me because in the morning I’m still not even awake. So, basically I just live with them and pour into them. Honestly it’s a mindset, I don’t really like the term missionary because I feel like it limits people. I really believe that once you’re a believer you’re a missionary. It’s a mindset. A missionary is to serve & to Go!

Miss Dosso: So, we’re all are missionaries if were believers?

Bethsaida: I truly believe that with all my heart. It’s really about being a servant. I never thought I would be overseas, but I just wanted to serve. It’s a lifestyle. I think that’s the problem with Christianity, is that we compartmentalize so many things like work, church, school, missions…It all should be intertwined! It’s one spirit, one body, and if God created us to be ourselves filtered through the Holy Spirit then we are going to be ourselves in work, in school, in church, wherever we go! New York City is one of the biggest mission fields ever. Eight million people just in our city alone! Believers need to have this mindset of a mission’s mindset, to go out, and not be me-minded, but be mission-minded. A lot of us are me-minded. It’s all about me. "What am I going to wear?" "What am I going to eat?" "What am I going to do today?" We rarely ever consider the needs of God, and of others. We are being disobedient; Jesus tells us to love God & love others as ourselves. I would say that one thing that changed my life while on the The World Race was being in tune with God’s Spirit. God is always speaking, but we are not always listening. Even when I am here [in the States] I ask God "Give me divine appointments. Speak to me. If I see someone & you have a word for that person because you love them, show me what I can say to them". But this is what we do when we get on the subway [puts on imaginary headphones] iPod in, book out…

Miss Dosso: [raises hand] Guilty!
Bethsaida: The subway is the best mission field! People from all walks of life are probably on that subway system. So why aren’t we being more mission-minded? Maybe, only putting one earplug on & leaving the other one open, available to hear. I learned that it’s about availability & being led by the Spirit. The word of God tells us, in Galatians, to keep in step with the Spirit of God, but a lot of us are not because we are too consumed with me. Our agendas are just about us. So, a typical day for a missionary? A mission-minded person would say “God work through me today, how can I be Your mouthpiece today? 

~Stay tuned for Part Deux next week~