As a teen, I wanted little to do with God. Responding to a call on my life? That would never happen. I had plans. I had goals. I thought I knew the direction of my future. God was writing my story even though I hadn’t relinquished control of the pen.
Missionaries always fascinated me, but taking on their burden was never a priority. That concept was nonexistent. When I released control to God in 2006, He began cultivating a burden deep within me. I vividly remember standing in the arena during NAYC 2011, listening to a presentation about Apostolic Youth Corps. As I heard testimony after testimony, I caught a glimpse of God’s plan for my future. In that moment, I knew an AYC trip was on my horizon.
You can say I officially started walking this missions path in 2012. Having never been outside of the United States, I decided to jump in with both feet and head to Africa–the place that stole my heart. I will never forget the sight of Mt. Kilimanjaro as we flew into Tanzania. Catching a glimpse of a fellow AYCer making a return trip, I couldn’t understand the silent tears flowing down her cheeks. She saw a country in desperate need of the gospel. It only took ten days to grip my heart. As we taxied off the runway headed back “home,” I was the one with tears streaming down my face, the thought of leaving too much to bear. Home had taken on a new meaning in those ten days.
As deeply as the African people touched me, God led me to the Dominican in 2013. There I learned some of the toughest lessons of my life. Through unimaginable tragedy, God taught me strength. He instilled courage like I had never known. For the first time, I truly understood what it meant to have peace that passes all understanding.
Over the next year, I continued seeking God’s will. Even though my heart was firmly planted in foreign soil, I continued making myself available in my local church. After much prayer and counsel, Next Steps felt like the perfect opportunity to further my missions journey. I questioned how I would fare being gone from my family for an extended period of time. The two month Next Step trip seemed to be the perfect proving ground.
On May 31, 2015, I stepped onto a plane and deeper into the will of God. Headed for Guam, our team of young adults eagerly anticipated what God had in store. Those two months profoundly affected my soul and my future.
The first three weeks of training felt like a Bible school crash-course. The information was priceless. Every session was jam-packed with tidbits of knowledge and wisdom we stored in our brains and notes for future reference. I gleaned invaluable understanding about missions, and about ministry as a whole. And what a privilege to sit with real-life heroes of the faith, being taught and discipled while on the mission field!
Opportunities arose each day to minister alongside the local churches. Putting our learning into action allowed God to birth a deeper desire in me to see souls born into His kingdom. He renewed the burden in my heart and confirmed His will in my life.
Through all three short-term trips, I’ve come to realize how amazing this call of missions is. He has entrusted me with this burden and daily equips me with the necessary tools. When we sacrifice our comfort, allowing God to take us outside our self-imposed security, He shows us things we would never see on our own. In that place of vulnerability, God equips us with the necessary tools to carry the burden He has placed within us.
In August 2016, I will once again plant my feet on foreign soil for a six month AIM term in Ghana, West Africa. Because I have given God complete control over the navigation of this journey, He continues to lead me to places beyond my wildest dreams.