Dark Forces and Where They’ll Take Me (with Voice Over)

Hi, friends. I recently bought a new microphone. An actual microphone. Believe it or not, the voice overs I’d done on my videos for 9 years were all done through a 10-year-old Logitech C310 webcam! So, to test out the new sound, I’ve recorded an audio version of this long post through the new mic. You can listen along if you like.

Enjoy the new format. My story. My voice.

Here and Now

In 2017 when I was in Korea for my second tour, I did a video talking about the previous 2+ years of my life. A tumultuous ride it had been. Ever since that time I’ve had my own personal ups and downs with regards to expat life as a teacher.

Every individual who takes the hiatus highway eventually reaches a point where they realize the honeymoon’s over. Honeymoons have varying durations depending on the person. Still, life as an expat does eventually lose its sparkliness and we’re all left needing to decide how much longer we’ll be on the ride.

Two factors generally prolong the time an expat stays overseas. The first is marriage to a local of the host country.

The second is looking for either higher paying jobs within the country they want to live or the highest paying job possible, regardless of where they have to live.

In my case, I was very close to the edge of throwing in my teaching towel and heading back home for good before things transpired with the school I’m currently working for in China. The pay was the highest I’d ever received in teaching since starting, and also the highest I’d ever seen through any recruiting site.

The school I’m at is a startup located in Dongguan, a city between Guangzhou and Shenzhen, about two hours outside of Hong Kong. I had never even considered coming to China to teach. I wanted to visit once but I didn’t. Not for any personal reasons, but early on in my teaching life I attempted to visit China and I found that travel visas for Americans were far more expensive than for other countries. Little personal jab against ‘Muricans? Possibly. After finding that out, I never considered visiting again.

Then along came this school. A startup that was desperate to find teachers. Desperate because of the horrible location and because it was a startup. Being a startup means there were no processes in place and no streamlined day to day handling of things. Directions and procedures were being created off the cuff, so most of the teachers’ lives were hectic and stressful.

So, they paid more.

So, I took the job.

Let me tell you – it’s been a stress and anxiety ride from the moment my feet hit the ground. I used to jokingly say to some of the older teachers that our survival tactics should be based in our focusing on a song that a 90s hip-hop group called Bone Thugs in Harmony sang. It’s called “1st of tha Month”. We would get paid on the 10th (when we finally started getting paid regularly). So, I would tell them that we need to just focus on the “10th of the month” and let everything else just be as it may. Just make it to the 10th each month and hit the reset button.

That’s what I signed up for though. That’s why I came to China.

Why did I sign up for this? Because there’s a bigger picture.

I’m old enough to know that if you really want something in life, you need to put together a plan and execute it. I’m also old enough to know that even with the perfect plan and relentless hutzpah, God can take your little plan, crumble it up, and chuck it into the waste basket for 3.

Trust me, I’ve lived both scenarios.

I Must Decrease So He Can Increase

But my heart tells me that there’s a movement I want to be a part of at some point before I die. Something that is not about me. It’s not even really about “we”. It’s about Ephesians 6:12.

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”

Or, as I said it in my 2017 video, “dark forces.”

Back around 2014-2015 I came across a CNN documentary called Every Day in Cambodia. It highlighted the sex trafficking issue in Cambodia, but more specifically underage girls who are sold for their medically confirmed virginity.

There was a Christian NGO spotlighted in the documentary called Agape International Missions. They are on the forefront of the effort to rescue, rehabilitate, and reintegrate these girls. I knew that I wanted to be a part of their effort after watching the documentary. In fact, I’ve been donating to them since watching the documentary. Maybe you can consider the same. The founder, Don Brewster, is one of my personal heroes.

There are many facets to their operation including a SWAT team that works with the police to uncover brothels, underage labor, forced marriages, etc. There is also a full-fledged Kun Khmer facility (Cambodia’s Muay Thai boxing equivalent) that ministers to former drug addicts, dealers, and also the pimps that would sell the underage girls to foreign tourists. It provides camaraderie and spiritual support to young men who feel like they don’t have other options when, in fact, they do.

They have also created a manufacturing facility for the rescued girls to produce goods to sell through the AIM shop. This provides training, income, and stability that will help prevent the possibility of being trafficked again. Or, in the first place.

AIM also built a 1,500 student capacity school. This is one of the best, if not the best, counters to trafficking. Give the kids an education and it improves their position in life. It gives them a better ticket to the game, so to speak. If the young person has options and know-how, they will not fall into prostitution, can provide for their families, and lift someone up later who needs a hand. The school targets these at-risk kids.

AIM also has a vocational training program that focuses on tourism-related skills. Tourism being possibly Cambodia’s biggest industry.

In short, AIM is an organization that has been on my heart for years and my hope is that I will have the means to be a part of their effort someday. I just need the means to get there (outside of devoting long, arduous hours to an international school). Whether it be through creating online content, or other investments back home, I want to move into this type of effort in my future.

If that ultimately doesn’t come to pass for one reason or another, and God knows the plans that He has for my life, I have an F-4 visa in South Korea. This is a special visa for “overseas Koreans”, direct relatives of Korean-born parents. It allows the visa holder to essentially live as a citizen of the country, give or take a few things. It’s kind of like in lieu of citizenship. So, if my mother had never let go of her Korean citizenship, I would likely be able to become a citizen of South Korea because of her. Instead, I get the F-4.

With this visa I can go live in Korea without a sponsor. No school, no company, no nothing. I can just show up and be, like, “bring me my dwaeji guk bap!”

I can buy a home, start a business – just live there. That provides me many options should I decide to close the show in Korea. Although on the surface this sounds like a great and romantic idea to you Korea fans, my purpose would be to go in the direction of what I described above in Cambodia. Korea has many orphanages, for example, and I find myself drawn to being a part of supporting them as well.

Again, having the means to do it right is the key. In addition to hopefully having stream(s) of income from investments, I can also go to Korea and teach on my own. That’s one of the beauties of the F-4. In Korea there is a type of academy called a gong bu bang, or study room. These are mini hagwons setup in a teacher’s home that are run like a business. So, if I have a 2 or 3 bedroom apartment or condo, 1 or 2 of those bedrooms can be allotted for academic instruction.

This is an idea that has floated around in my head for a few years. It does sound great, doesn’t it? It does. It is.

However, getting enough students to sustain yourself is another thing. Building up a clientele is a process and being able to support yourself during the buildup time is a challenge. And it can be risky. Hence, the need for other income streams.

These types of ideas would allow me to branch off and be part of outreaches like orphanages and homeless ministries. Other kinds of dark forces.

While I am a dreamer, I do hope to have the option to do these things someday. While anyone can go and be part of ministries like these at any time, I feel I would be able to take part if I had the right, secure circumstances to do them with peace of mind.

Why Not Go Home and Do These Things?

I’m sure a question that arises in some minds is, “why can’t you do these things back home? There are similar things happening right in our backyard.”

That is a valid question and one that I hope all would-be missionaries would consider before taking off to another country.

But that’s the thing. My life is an uncommon one. It is definitely unique. My backyard is outside my home country now. At times I feel more connected to my host countries than I do with the USA. It’s odd, but that is what has become of my life. The needs that are closest to me are here under my nose. East Asia – Korea, Japan. South East Asia – Cambodia, Philippines, Thailand.

To go back home and set up roots would be difficult and the USA is very far away from me now.

Life is special in this way. What we think we want or need isn’t always the right thing. We force it sometimes, and it still doesn’t work out.

I envision myself doing these types of things someday, but it’s entirely possible that God has me doing something else and I haven’t picked up on the scent yet.

It’s hard to believe I’m nearing the end of my ninth year as an expat having left for Korea in August of 2011. My life has now become this traveling, wandering concoction of new experiences and thought.

Opportunities to serve in a capacity greater than the desires in our restrictive minds are everywhere.

The Lord said to Satan in the book of Job, “where have you come from?”

Satan responded, “from roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.”

Dark forces are in every corner of the world. Like weeds they continue to popup as there is one who is tirelessly committed to planting the seeds.

I don’t know where the weed is that I will yank up someday, but I pray for clarity and circumstances that will allow me to get there. I hold onto the hope that there is a greater plan for this trip that I’ve been on all these years.


  1. May God keep you ever near Him so that whatever you do, wherever you are you’ll be on mission and someday will find that the journey was God’s plan. May God give you His dreams. Thank you for sharing the heart of Christ in this encouraging post!

    • Thank you for the great encouragement. I think part of the journey is in the waiting process. It’s hard to wait, but when the vision is clear, it makes it all the more rewarding.

  2. Thank you for this post! Please keep sharing about God’s promptings and work in your life. It’s both encouraging and sobering to hear about how God works for us and uses us, sometimes despite our best laid plans. Really appreciate hearing about your journey

    • Thank you, Phil. This coming school year I plan to share more on my thoughts and what’s happening in my life rather than just my travel outings and judo. These are also my own diaries, and I look forward to looking back at them someday to see where God had taken me.

  3. Avatar Nicole Wrage says:

    I resonate with your wanderings and wanting to pull weeds. Thank you for sharing…both the words and the audio!

    • Thank you, Nicole. I’m always glad to hear when I’ve struck a chord with others. I enjoyed this new format and I plan on doing more like it in the future.

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