What a stunning time this is. I have been watching the news almost constantly the past three days or so, and it seems like the entire Middle East and Northern Africa is erupting like a volcano that has been gurgling beneath the surface for quite some time. The news is even telling of other places in the world where demonstrations are breaking out for various reasons. There is so much hostility and anger flying through the air. It is pretty unnerving. It is clear that in many ways, our world might never be the same no matter how much we want to bury our heads in the sand and pretend like everything is fine and dandy.
I can’t believe that I am moving to Peru in five days. This past year has been full of change. Last August I moved to Nashville, began grad school, a new job, and an internship. After the first semester, I stepped down from school and started praying about what God might want me to do, but believing that it would probably be in Nashville. In February, God started awakening my calling to missions again, and I was frustrated by this because I loved Nashville and the people I knew there. I thought that maybe it was simply a reminder that God had called me there someday. In March God proved me wrong and made His calling so strong that I could not deny it. Through a twisted series of events, I was introduced to Extreme Nazarene Ministries in April and began the application process. I interviewed for the position in late June. I was offered the position and I accepted. That decision began the insane past two and a half months that I have lived through.
In July I quit my job and began fundraising the $37,000 I would need in order to go. August 1stI began the trek to Nebraska. My family took what was left of my belongings there and I spent time in Kansas and North Dakota before ending up in Nebraska in the middle of the month. In the past four weeks I have spoken at several churches, youth groups, and even a school. I have been meeting with many people, each for the last time for a long time. It has been an emotional rollercoaster and in many ways physically and spiritually exhausting. There is a battle going on, just like in any situation when one is obedient to God. Satan has used about every tactic I can think of so far to deter and discourage. However, he knows that he has lost not only this battle but the ultimate battle with his destiny. My decision to serve Christ faithfully and joyfully is final.
Here I am now with only five more jam packed days before I leave the States. I only have $1,400 left to raise. It is nerve-wracking to still not be fully-funded, but when I look at the $35,600 that God has already brought in just in the last two and a half months, it is not hard to see that God’s hand is in this endeavor and I know that He will not let me fall now. Today my cousin is getting married in Iowa and we are traveling to be there. It is hard to believe that there are only two of us cousins left who have not actually settled down with someone. We are no longer the little kids we used to be, all jumbled up on Grandma and Grandpa’s bed upstairs watching A Christmas Story play over and over and over every year. We no longer take our places around the kids’ table in the kitchen pouring pepper in each other’s punch. Now we sit at the adult table where everyone has to repeat everything they say because half of us are hard of hearing. So many changes in life. Some may say these changes are good, some might say they are bad. To me, they are neither; they are just the way things are.
Even though we might accept change as inevitable, it does not necessarily mean that it is easy to face. How comforting it is, however, that amidst a world that is turning upside down and plans and relationships that are under constant transition, we serve a God that was the same yesterday as He is today and will be forever. He is our rock and fortress that is not shaken, though all that we know might be falling down around us. I take comfort in that right now, because literally nothing in my life is staying the same but Him. I can depend on Him to come through because His Word is solid and His love is unfailing. Everything changes…but Him.
It is this truth that gives me the courage to take this next step with Him. I know that God is already in Peru and Ecuador and at work in the hearts of people there. I know that He is also with me every step of the way, strengthening me to do the work that He has called me to do. He will always be there, every morning and every evening when I pour out my heart to Him. It is not a burden to spend time with Him every day in His Word and in prayer; rather, it is a relief. I know that He will provide everything that I need in every way during these times, as He always has in the past. His faithfulness is what is holding me together and calling me forward.
It is also this truth that gives me the passion to take this next step with Him. His love for all those in the world has never changed. He is desperate that all might know Him and know His love and peace and hope. Looking at the world amidst the riots and demonstrations, there is anything but love and peace and hope. Sharing the good news about God’s love and sacrifice is not about going on a conquest but it is bringing a healing balm to a wounded people. This is true because our conquest is not in order to defeat but to bring life. In talking about my work fight human trafficking with a store clerk yesterday, I made the statement, “The world is not a safe place, so we who have hope staying in safe places simply does not make sense.” It is scary leaving the United States as the world is erupting in war and violence. However, it is proof even more that time is drawing short and the need for God’s hope is so much greater. We must take the light to the darkness. Just like God sent His only Son into a hostile world that ultimately killed Him, God sends out His lambs among wolves. Just like God came to meet us where we were, we will go to meet the world where they are. We have the example of love from Christ, and for His children, there is no other way to live.
These are exciting days like this world has never seen. Just as violence and fear are reaching a crisis point, God is preparing to do a mighty work unseen until now. I am beyond excited for all that means. I am excited to be challenged and changed. Even more than that, I am excited to see what God will do in the coming days, both in South America and in the rest of the world. He is calling His people out. Do you hear His voice? Be obedient! God’s message is not one of hatred and violence, but of love and hope. He does not desire destruction, but rather restoration. People have so twisted their idea of who He is and in turn are destroying each other. Over the years I have known several Muslims, and I love them dearly. Although they are not all violent, the religion to me still remains a mystery no matter how much I learn about its teachings. I don’t care what anyone says: we do not serve the same God. The true God does not look like chaos, violence, and fear. The true God, though powerful, humbled Himself to come as a baby and die on a wooden cross at the hands of men, not because He couldn’t have saved Himself; but because He chose instead to save us. There is no other God in any other religion who has done this. This is the God that I serve.
The world is changing right now, but this is the message that we bring to the world: there is still hope! Trust in God! Jesus died to defeat the chains of sin and death so that we could have hope both in this life and in the life to come! There is no reason to fear! The safest place to be is in the center of His will, and His will is that all would come to know Him. God has called me to South America. For me, that place is the center of His will. Where is the center of His will for you? Life is uncertain. This world is in chaos. Everything changes…but God.