Saturday, January 31, 2015

Missions- God's timing

Many of my friends are pondering if God is calling them to the mission field to serve for a year. There are always many questions and concerns when considering taking time off from college to go to a third world or second world country to preach the name of Jesus. 

Am I ready?
Am I called?
Am I qualified?
Is this the right time to go?

This is my story about God's perfect timing in calling me to the mission field. I pray it may encourage you and give you direction if you are unsure about when to serve.

During my freshman year in college when I was 19 years old I decided I wanted to go to the mission field.
I had waited to be a missionary for a long time and when I was younger, I had always heard that if I wanted to go in college, sophomore year was a great time to go. Funny though because as sophomore year approached, and I began to think about going, friends and family began to discourage me and tell me junior year or senior year were really the better years to go. I thought I would receive support from telling my friends and family that I wanted to serve but instead I received forceful opposition.

“You are too young.” “You need to take more classes at school.” “We don't have that kind of money.” “You are not mature enough” were all lies I heard and took to heart. Honestly it hurt. I was shocked and surprised, a little taken back. Did God not want me to go serve Him across the world? Did God want me to wait? Was God not big enough to take care of all their concerns about money, schooling, or me being unprepared? If God was calling me would He not provide?

I had this childlike wonder at the idea of being a missionary. Yes it may seem cliché but I truly wanted to save the children and make a sacrifice for Christ. Many of my friends asked me if I was afraid of disease or dying or getting raped. But I wasn't afraid of those things. The Holy Spirit blessed my heart with child like faith and perfect peace as I waited and hoped to follow God in this new adventure.

As I prayed and prayed more about going, I didn't hear God saying no. In fact, the more I prayed and read my Bible, the more my heart wanted to go. Sadly though, my friends and family didn’t seem to receive the same spirits of confirmation. They questioned whether my call was really from God.

Around the middle of my freshman year, my school hosted a convocation where different mission organizations came to recruit volunteers. I walked around and looked for orphanages I could help in but when I talked to the organizations with orphanages I didn’t feel a particular calling to any of them. I was interested in one organization at the convocation named AMOR Projects that was based in the Amazon River Basin in Peru although it was primarily a medical facility.

The medical part threw me off quite a bit because I hated doctors and wasn’t planning on doing anything medically related. I was terrified at the idea of giving people shots or pulling teeth. For some weird reason though, I felt God calling me to AMOR's organization.

After the convocation, I called my parents with excitement and asked them what they thought about me going as a missionary the following year. To my disappointment, they told me I should keep waiting and not go as a missionary until I was older. I was disappointing and conflicted because I didn't want to disobey my parents or go against their will, but I really wanted to go serve.

 I continued to wait and pray and as deadlines began to approach I decided to participate in the Daniel Fast with the intention of discovering if God really wanted me to go or not. I also did something I have never done before, I asked God for three signs- a fleece. I asked Him for a friend that would be going to the same location as me without me having to convince her, my parent’s approval, and a shooting star up in the dark blue clouds.

To my utter amazement God answered all three of my requests at different times leaving me with a heart of peace and full confidence that I should go serve Him in Peru. 

After asking my parents for multiple months, I called them one day and they said yes. Looking up into the stars, I saw not just one but three shooting stars fall high above me. And I met a friend on a short term mission trip to the Dominican Republic who told me she was going to Peru the following year. I was so amazed because I had never known that God could answer prayer so clearly before.

As I told my friends I was going to serve, I didn't get the answer i was expecting. My friends were kind but they weren't overly into it. They said they would miss me or that it would be good for me. They asked me if I was sure I was ready or if I was afraid.

Sometimes when God calls you to do something, people you love and trust the most won't always understand. It's hard at these times to continue to do what God is calling. But you have to trust God and you have to know that He is going to be your best friend that is with you even if everyone else leaves you.

I went to the mission field not knowing what to expect. After all, I was traveling to an organization in Peru that was medically focused and I was scared of the medical field. I had always wanted to work at an orphanage, but for some reason I didn't believe God was answering that part of the prayer. So I followed God to Peru and the best and hardest year of my life begun.

God showed me that through Him I could overcome my fears of the medical field. My friends back home never thought that I would be able to give shots or take blood sugar levels, but God gave me courage to do the things that I was most afraid of. He even helped me overcome my fear of snakes so that I could hold this huge boa constrictor- that was really a God thing for me and Him. 

God also showed me that He had a clear purpose for bringing me to Peru. When I got there, I realized that there was a swimming pool nearby and hundreds of Peruvian children who had never learned how to swim. I LOVE to swim and was able to start teaching classes to many kids living in the slums who would have never been able to learn. I got to balance out the medical stuff which made me very nervous at times with swimming (my favorite hobby) and I met beautiful kids with total faith as they trusted my lack of Spanish speaking abilities and followed me to the swimming pool. Around 100 kids learned how to swim that year.

God also surprised me by providing an orphanage that happened to need alot of help just thirty minutes away from our medical clinic. My friends and I were able to raise enough money to bring all the kids Christmas presents and tell them the Christmas story. We also started a program for their girls called the Sisterhood Project to teach the girls to  be women of God. I even got to live at the orphanage for three weeks which was a total dream come true! The kids there changed my life in so many ways.

I really fell in love with AMOR Projects, Peru, the orphans and kids, as well as the people I was working with. I learned so much from the AMOR leaders and the fellow missionaries. I was so encouraged by their majority and hard work ethics. Many of them were a few years older than me and pre-med students. A few of them were already nurses. They taught me so much.

As the year went on, I felt God calling me to commit to Him my entire life in service. I began to question physical therapy because of the practicality of the mission field. I really wanted to work at an orphanage and be able to take care of the kids and provide for their medical needs. I went back and forth a bajillion times with possible majors and minors and different possibilities. 

Finally God told me the career that I had most AVOIDED my entire life: Nursing. The thing I had never wanted to do: Christ said to do for Him. And after I stopped whining about it and making excuses and choosing different career possibilities.. it finally made sense why nursing would be so perfect to serve God in the mission field and in the hospitals in America even.

If I hadn't gone to Peru right after my freshman year in college (when all my friend and family had told me I was too young) I would have wasted more years in school. If I had gone to an orphanage where I had wanted to go, instead of going to a medical place where I was afraid, I would have never learned that taking care of others in their times of sickness is beautiful. Missions changed my life in so many ways and it changed my relationship with God.

If you are considering following God to the mission field, I encourage you to pray and to trust His timing. When He says go and where He says go- You follow Him- and He will bless your life and mess up your life and make it more beautiful for His glory.

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