Watching God work over the past year had been absolutely amazing. I have seen His sovereignty, guidance, and provision, and He has shown me how much I need Him in every part of my life. As many of you know, I have thought for several years that God wants me in missions. However, a lot of individuals do not know how I became interested in missions, and today I would like to share with you some of the situations and individuals that God used to develop my desire for missions.
Growing up in a Christian family and a Baptist church, supporting missionaries was something I always knew was important, but I did not give much serious thought to the possibility of ever being one. However, when I was in middle school and high school, I started to feel more of a burden for individuals when missionaries presented at church or camp. I remember one time when a missionary couple came to youth group on a Wednesday night and told us teens about their ministry in an Islamic country. I remember thinking about how this couple was willing to give up their own comforts and risk their lives while sharing the gospel to the Muslims, and I thought about how I should be willing to go as well. God placed on me a burden that night, and after that time, I began to seriously consider the possibility of God wanting me to go into foreign missions and share the gospel with unbelievers. I had no idea as to how or where God would lead me, but I wanted to be willing to go.
Through my high school year, God showed me how much I enjoyed working with children, and He gave me a desire to work in orphan care missions. My parents, youth leaders, and other godly individuals encouraged me to continue serving God with my life and follow His leading. In the summer of 2015, I went to Sr. High Camp at Iowa Regular Baptist Camp, and Pastor John Leonard, missionary to Brasil, was one of the main speakers. In the afternoons he would hold sessions about the importance of missions, what it is, and how it works. He emphasized the importance of taking a foreign mission trip as one of the first steps in knowing if God wanted one in the mission field, and throughout the week I became more eager than ever to go somewhere to see if missions was what God wanted for my life. One year ago today, God opened that door.
Exactly one year ago today, it was Sunday, December 6th, and the morning started out like a typical Sunday. The house was abuzz with activity as my family and I prepared to leave for Sunday School. I had my plans for the day, but little did I know that would be the day in which I would begin to embark on an adventure that I would never forget. John Leonard’s brother Jim and his wife Julie were visiting our church on that particular Sunday, and the Leonard’s presented their ministry and how God was working in Northeast Brasil. As I was driving home after orchestra practice that night, I thought about the possibility of taking a trip to Brasil. When I mentioned the idea to my parents, my mom told me that she had been thinking the same thing. When I texted my brother Joshua that same night about what he thought of coming with me, he said that he had been considering returning to Brasil and possibly just received the answer he needed. 12 months, 27 journal entries, many prayers, and tons of emails, Facebook messages, Whatsapp messages, texts, and blog posts later, I look back on the past year and see it as one packed with opportunities, excitement, memories, tears, laughter, and, most importantly, God’s work and sovereignty.
Today, I still think that God may want me in foreign missions, and I am striving to follow his leading. I am currently taking college classes at North Iowa Area Community College, and I plan on transferring to Faith Baptist Bible College next fall, where I plan on finishing my degree in Elementary Education. I am in the Elementary Education program with hopes of using the knowledge and skills in ministry and everyday life, and if God continues to direct me into foreign missions, I plan on going into full time missions after I graduate. I am so excited to see what God has planned for me over the next several years, and I am looking forward to seeing much more of God’s guidance, sovereignty, grace, and provision.
This summer of 2016 is a summer that I will always cherish and be thankful for. Not a day goes by that I do not think of memories made or individuals who I grew to love as my own family in the place that felt like another home to me. It seems that almost every little thing reminds me of something or someone in Brasil. However, while it is not wrong to think about my time in Brasil, it is wrong to dwell on it so much that it distracts me from the here and now, from my relationships with my family and friends in the U.S., and from serving the Lord to the fullest and sharing the gospel to those I see every day at college.
God does not use individuals to share the gospel and serve “only in Brasil,” or “only when you feel like it.” A friend (who also took a foreign mission trip this summer) and I were talking last weekend, and she reminded me of the importance of not just always living in our experiences of the summer or always looking forward to what God has for us in the future, but also channeling our thoughts to the here and now and striving to serve God and others as much as we can and in every situation. God calls each and every one of us to live for the Lord and share Christ in every area of our lives and in every country, state, city, or neighborhood we live in. So, while I still keep touch with friends in Brasil, and while I hope to return someday soon and serve there, I want to be open for whatever and wherever God wants me, and I pray that God will use me for His glory every single day and wherever I am.