“I’ve never been on a missions trip.” “It’s too much money; I cannot afford it.” “Who would want to give money for me to go?” “I don’t want to disappoint them!” So many doubts raged against my desire once I heard and felt God’s call/nudge for me to join the group going to Chicago. But then came the reassurances from friends, my family, and God’s still, small voice, saying “If God has called you to go, He will provide…” and He did… in abundance! He taught me that truth: if it is His will, He will bring it to pass in my (your) life. (Proverbs 3:5)
Going on the trip… I felt a strong urgency, not only to pray, but that God would preserve and give me a servant’s heart to step out wherever the need or opportunity. I also wanted to have and practice having intentional spiritual conversations and have the courage to reach out to strangers to share with or show God’s love to them. God does answer our prayers and made that continually evident. “Call upon Me in the day of trouble: I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.” (Psalm 50:15) Saturday morning, when we received our “marching orders”on all that had to be done in preparing, creating, setting up, etc. caused panic and the sense of being overwhelmed and pulled in many directions inside of me. All of a sudden, I felt drawn to ask Emma and Beth, two precious COSC women who happened to be there, to pray with me for this endeavor and I confessed my feelings to them. Not only did God’s peace come over me, but a bond was established between the three of us. Those prayers were later answered that afternoon as Bella and I laboriously discussed groupie assignments with the pre-registrations, check-in procedures, and record-keeping. It felt like a huge mountain that she and I were climbing together, but through the struggle, I learned better how to communicate, share in this task, but even more so: to trust in [Bella’s] ability to take the lead and follow her suggestions. I learned how to empower her in successfully handling these tasks. As a result, I was blessed to get to know this special and dear young lady more than just as one who came regularly to youth group.
God gave me opportunities to talk: with a former homeless man, two women on the subway train to/from downtown Chicago, a mother and a grandmother from the neighborhood while VBS was taking place. He broke my heart as I saw beyond the exterior of individuals into the inside where their lost, hurting souls were crying out for love and acceptance. A couple conversations were on a deeper level, a few were simply friendly conversations, but all were with individuals I was drawn to; for whom to specifically pray, and I can still see their faces… Through Pastor Lito (Pastor Paul Guimary), their youth pastor (Josh) and Pastor Tony, I learned how easy it is to slide into a spiritual conversation, whether or not it ends with the person acknowledging their need for a Savior and coming under Jesus Christ’s authority as their Lord. I am eager to continue looking for these opportunities. 🙂
It’s one thing to talk about God’s power with His strength being given to us and made perfect in our weakness; however, when it happened personally, it took on a much deeper meaning. We were getting pretty tired by Thursday and on Friday afternoon, but we were not done with VBS. I was close to tears from exhaustion with all that I had been doing and was bunchy (with no one around, thankfully!). It was for both of these times that God spoke to me the night and morning prior, as well as when it hit me: “‘Not by might, not by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord.” (Zechariah 4:6) And,“I can do all things through Christ, Which gives me strength.” (Phil 4:13b). As I cried out to Him softly for help, He turned my focus off myself and onto the team goal of helping others and getting the task done. I love helping others and I have learned earlier this summer that our tests and trials come from within our strengths. I had been telling the youth to keep pushing through their tiredness and here I was in the same boat! I realized that I could not (cannot) rely on my efforts, strength, and abilities, but on the Holy Spirit.
As a follower of Jesus, having a prayerful and submissive heart to God are vital. I experienced that when I was and am in this position. This posture also brings an awareness to what God is doing (opportunities); responding to His invitation results in realizing that THAT is when life is becomes exciting, rewarding, and has meaning. 🙂
Thank you to everyone who supported us through prayers and your financial gifts. Thank you to the parents who supported allowing their children to be a part of the team for each person was a valuable member of the team, whom I enjoyed getting to know beyond youth group on Wednesdays, I am eagerly looking forward to the next opportunity, Lord willing. 🙂 May God abundantly bless each of you!
Sincerely in Christ,
Youth Leader and Mother