Tag Archives: missions

overseas.

I let the papers slide from my hand into the recycling bin and climbed onto my bed. Across the room I could still see the corner of the support letter papers I’d printed out, mocking me from the trash can. Pictures from previous trips lined the bottom of blank pages where I’d planned on writing heartfelt pleas for summer funding. If you didn’t want me overseas this summer, Lord, why not start with that? Why lead me to meeting after meeting, sorting through a dozen different opportunities and organizations, to find one that I was sure I sensed You moving in, only to have it all fall through?

I’ll spare you the details of my angered, and often one-sided, spats with the Lord and suffice it to say that those pleas of winter break 2015 led into what would become the transformative summer of 2016 – all without leaving Wheaton, Illinois.

You make me laugh, Jesus.

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A year ago, I couldn’t force my way overseas; I know because I tried. It was like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole – nothing fit, felt right, or worked out in the end. In typical, omniscient God fashion, He knew better. Little did I know that I needed both the refinement and redemption that would come from a summer working at World Relief in Wheaton. So, with initial begrudging, I let the Lord do what He wanted to do. I should’ve expected this, but as it turned out, the last year has been so clearly the Lord; way better than any plan I had tried to concoct for myself.

I could take you through the successive, crazy, it-has-to-be-the-Lord-because-otherwise-it-doesn’t-make-sense chain of events that has followed since the summer (but let’s be real, He’s been moving in those kinds of themes for a lot longer than the winter of 2015). I struggle to find a starting place and would you even believe me if I tried? Maybe later I’ll start writing down some of those individual stories. They aren’t necessarily grand or exciting, just lots of little moments and random connections that the Lord likes to break through in.

I’m looking at my calendar and three trips overseas sit in front of me – trips that I didn’t plan or go looking for. Trips that scream the name of Jesus and the continual call to simply trust what He’s doing. A trip to Europe with friends, better friends than my lonely and scared freshman year self could’ve dreamt up, exploring the countries where a missions organization that I’m considering works. A trip to the British Isles with family, an unexpected blessing that has opened the door to potentially meet missionaries working with refugees in a context that I’ve been praying about for awhile. And a vision trip, to a country in the Middle East, where I’ll get to experience what the Lord is doing in refugee camps up close, and tangibly discern further what He’s leading me into long term.

I say all of this for two reasons:

  1. because I would love your prayer as I go on these trips and take the next eight months to really press in, pray, and discern not only what the Lord is doing in the moment, but what He may be leading me into long term. It’s all the normal prayers for direction that anyone with an impending graduation date (although mine is a little extended because of a master’s program) needs, with a little extra tacked on because if He’s asking me to raise support and move halfway around the world, that can feel just a little daunting. (If you want a prayer card to tuck in your bible or stick on your fridge, let me know!)
  2. because every story, be it stories of the details or the overarching narrative of the past year, points directly back to the trustworthiness and faithfulness of Christ! I don’t know where you are at in terms of believing the Lord or what you need Him to do; I don’t know what He’s doing in your life or what situations of dependance He’s put you in (or perhaps you are running from). But I know this – He is more gracious, powerful, and wise than we often give Him credit for.

when do you become a cross-cultural worker?

Does it happen when you actually set foot in your new town or country? Is it when you raise support or when a missions agency agrees to take you on? Perhaps it is when you agree to live sacrificially and people associate your love for the Lord with what you do? Or does it happen when you make up your mind and resolve in your heart, that no matter the cost, you’ll follow the Lord wherever He leads, regardless of where that is or what it may look like?

I’ve felt “called” (whatever that even means) to ministry since I was little. While there were little dreams interspersed between my childhood, including becoming a cruise dancer or an actress, my journals and memories are full of “all I want to do is love Jesus and His people forever!” kind of remarks. I didn’t realize that might mean overseas until years later.

I caught a love for the nations when my grandparents took us on multiple trips overseas, but it wasn’t until my senior year of highschool, when I went to Asia, that I realized there was a deep-seated desire in me to serve cross-culturally. I just could’t shake this burden for people who didn’t know Jesus. After spending time with a missionary who had significant impact on my life, I returned to the states convinced of this illusive “call to missions.” The call hasn’t been without it’s ups and downs, questions, and clarifications, but one thing is sure: when the Lord says He goes before you, He does. However that ends up looking.

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At the end of the day, I’m still not sure what this “call to missions” is going to end up looking like. As I’ve started practically pursuing and talking with missions agencies, financial aid, and other incredible connections the Lord has put around me, I’ve been simultaneously amazed and overwhelmed at how prevalent His hand has been and will need to be in this process. If I end up overseas in a few years, it will be nothing short of a miracle, considering the things that would need to fall into place. Besides Jesus, who even knows what His plans are for the next season of my life?

Writing this is interesting because I feel like it’s the sort of thing people talk about when they are sure – when they’ve secured an agency, when they’ve raised support, or when they’ve decided on a team, country, or people group. I’m basically sure about nothing, other than that I can’t ignore the Holy Spirit’s prompting in my heart and the ways people, opportunities, and wise counsel has almost seem to drop into my lap these past few months. It’s kind of crazy, but then again, what part of life with the Lord isn’t a little crazy?

Sometimes I think we do a great job of looking back and talking about the Lord’s faithfulness, but it’s often easy to forget reflection in the moment. I think it’s dangerous to think that I’m limited to sharing my life only when there are answers and conclusion paragraphs. This was some of my tension when I wrote 22 drafts; it might be easier to talk about becoming a missionary when things are more assured. What if I don’t end up overseas – do I look like a failure or an unfaithful follower? Like I can’t really hear or discern the Lord’s will for my life? I’m not even sure of what I’m learning or seeing in this season, so how am I supposed to write about that?

The thing is – people don’t just end up where they often pick their story up at. When I tell my story of coming to Wheaton, it’s a summary of how the Lord led me to that decision – the past-looking reflection doesn’t include all the nights of questions, tears, arguments with others, excitement about other schools, and pro/con sheets. There’s questions, tears, feelings, roadblocks, and diverted paths that pave the way to anywhere we end up. We aren’t always as excited to talk about these, often because they don’t feel helpful or important in the moment. But they are, because they remind us that the journey doesn’t always make sense or radiant a brilliant clarity. That doesn’t mean the Lord is any less present or that it’s any less significant.

All of that said, looking into becoming a missionary is an overwhelming process, with the reality of the fact that the door could shut at so many stages of the process. Recognizing that there’s a high chance that I’ll find myself wrestling with disappointment, unanswered prayers, and unmet expectations at multiple points in the journey. Yet there is also the reality that if this is what the Lord has, that going overseas won’t just be a dream anymore. It won’t just be “oh yeah I’ve always loved the nations; there’s some general regions that I have a heart for;” it will be a specific place, city, people, and team. It will be my real, tangible, day-to-day life. A life halfway across the world from everything and everyone I’ve ever known. Inevitably included in that life are nights of loneliness, missing family, seeing friend’s get married and have kids via Skype and pictures, and living a reality that many do not have a context for.

This season of praying, pursuing, and talking with lots of people about what my life could look like after I graduate with my masters, is full of wrestling, reflection, questions, and excitements. It’s meant meeting with lots of people, reading encouraging books, spending lots of time with my Bible, journal, and Jesus. Everyday feels like a new surrender – of my desires, my expectations, and my dreams – while simultaneously acknowledging more of how I was created, where my heart thrives, and places I feel the Holy Spirit moving. It’s exciting, it’s overwhelming, and ultimately, it’s just another stone of remembrance on this dusty path that I’m walking with my sweet Jesus.

The Gift of Hope

I’ve written here about hope before. It’s been kind of a theme this past year and a half. But when I started realizing the necessity of hope in ministry and just life in general, little did I know of how big the Lord’s vision for it could be. This isn’t just about my hope in the Lord. This isn’t just about my family’s trust in the Lord’s provision. This is about the eternal Hope for the nations!

I’m sick of Dad’s job. I’m sick of Dad’s complaints about it. I am sick of Dad’s workload. Jesus, You have to have a better job for him. You have to have a job that glorifies You.” September 5, 2010

Little did I know how He’d answer that prayer I desperately journaled a little over 4 years ago.

I can’t pinpoint where this work of the Lord in my family began because I don’t know that it even had a “start.” I do know that something shifted in my heart when He made it clear that He wanted me at Wheaton.

Wheaton never made sense. It’s far. It’s cold. I didn’t know anyone who was here or had ever been here, outside of Billy Graham and the guys from End of the Spear. But most of all, it never made (and still really doesn’t) sense financially. The Lord’s direction in telling me to go to Wheaton was so clear that I sent in the deposit before we got financial aid information back. I knew He would provide.

So when our need-based aid came back a little dry, I inquired of the Lord. Why would you tell me to go to Wheaton and then not provide? Loans don’t make sense if you want me on the mission field, Lord. You get that right? I love how He lets us come to Him with such honesty. And I love His answers even more.

Faith, hope, and love are eternal. My degree from Wheaton isn’t. My finances aren’t. The Lord is using Wheaton to cultivate things in me that are going to last long beyond my Wheaton education. He is giving me a gift in teaching me how to trust Him as my provider. I prayed for stories of His power. . .I guess I just forgot that meant being put in a place of desperation for Him. The ways the Lord has grown my faith in His faithfulness and hope in His provision at and through Wheaton has been more of a blessing than I could’ve ever imagined. From finances to my freshman year roommate, Jesus has clearly had His hand in growing me and drawing me closer to His heart every step of the way.

Little did I know that He was doing this same work in my family.

I’ll never forget wandering up and down the sidewalk in front of Fischer lawn, soaking up the still warm air last October, listening to my parents on the other end of the phone. They tried to explain to me how my dad had lost his job, through a series of crazy events that I still don’t understand. It was too crazy not to be the Lord. It’s what I’d been praying for years – that Jesus would lead my dad out of his corporate workplace into the Kingdom work that I knew the Lord had gifted him for. I just didn’t anticipate it feeling the way it did that day. And the months afterward.

Hearing it all second hand, I wrestled through the idea that my family was secure in the Lord but also without an income. I knew my parents were both being brought to new spiritual depths but I could also hear them struggling with some of the practical aspects of losing a job, seeking the will of the Lord, and reaching out to others. And I was 11 hours away. At a school that was just sucking away more money than I cared to think about.

I don’t know that I realized until a few months later (probably around when I did the blog post on the necessity of hope) how vital hope was, for me and my family. I never doubted that the Lord would uphold us. That He was leading us. Though I may have let worry slip in on occasion, I never gave into the doubts that my family was truly alright. That Wheaton will somehow get paid for. That all the closed doors with jobs was really the hand of the Lord. The gift of hope sustained us.

And then, so did Hope Products. Though at first it was just the dream of Hope Products.

The whole thing is crazy. My mom’s unused degree in international marketing, my parent’s prayers to do sustainable ministry together, the connections through our church and other crazy outlets. I think Hope Products is one of those dreams that Lord put into my parents hearts a long time ago that they never even realized was there. It wasn’t what they expected or pictured, but then again, no one anticipated that I’d be at a college in Illinois and my dad would lose a job that he’s had since as long as I can remember. I love it when Jesus just does His thing and blows our minds.

And Hope Products is continually surpassing our wildest expectations.

Seriously, I can’t even get into all the too-crazy-to-be-coincidence things that have happened in the past year. Connections, relationships, provision, answered prayers. It’s been amazing. Hard. Challenging. Testing. Stretching. At times, downright uncomfortable, especially for my parents. But so filled with Jesus.

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So, it’s with incredible gratitude and excitement that I introduce you to Hope Products International.

Go peruse the site to see the products and read what it’s all about (if you want to see some of the fruits of my labor from the summer, you can watch the vision video here). In short, it’s just the really exciting beginning of what the Lord is doing in a lot of people’s lives. He’s connecting people to each other and to the nations through this new business called Hope Products. We would love for you to join us on this crazy adventure in following Jesus. We don’t know where He’s going, we certainly didn’t expect Hope Products to be a stop along the way; yet, it is and now I can’t imagine the past few years looking any different.

Also, I’m a little biased, but you should totally buy something too. Or lots of things. And tell your friends! Also, feel free to ask me about it! I kind of like sharing the stories of Jesus, the exciting ones and the hard ones.

We serve an incredible God. We are loved by an amazing Savior.

And we are carriers of His hope. How can we not share that with the world?

Pre-recorded Blogging for Asia

I’m writing this from my warm, GA-residence bed knowing that while you are reading this, I’m in southeast Asia.

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I just wanted to let you know that all is (probably) going amazingly well (although, writing this, I’m not actually there yet, so I can’t say for sure). I wanted to remind you to keep praying fervently for us and the kids. I want to personally thank you for the prayers you have piled up on our behalf before the Lord. Words can’t adequately express my gratitude. You are doing more than you know.

Before I left for Asia (man, it’s so weird writing from the future. Or the past. Whatever. I’m so confused), there were two very clear verses that I felt pertained specifically to this trip.

The first, is Exodus 33:17-23:

“The Lord said to Moses, “I will also do this thing of which you have spoken; for you have found favor in My sight and I have known you by name.”

Then Moses said, “I pray You, show me Your glory!”

And He said, “ I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the name of the Lord before you; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show compassion on whom I will show compassion.”

But He said, “You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!”

Then the Lord said, “Behold, there is a place by Me, and you shall stand there on the rock; and it will come about, while My glory is passing by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock and cover you with My hand until I have passed by. Then I will take My hand away and you shall see My back, but My face shall not be seen.”” NASB

The prayer of Moses here has been my prayer for this trip and for southeast Asia as a whole. I pray that the Lord would show us His glory. That He alone would be glorified; that we’d see Him in everything from our worship, to our prayers, to our service, to our fellowship. That just like Moses, we would get even just a glimpse of the depth, and breadth, and height, and width of the glory, holiness, sovereignty, and love of the Lord.

The second verse is Ephesians 1:17-19:

“. . .that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might. . .”

I actually woke up one morning before we left with this verse on my mind, although I couldn’t put my finger on why I was thinking about it (*cough* Holy Spirit) or even where it was in Scripture (thank you Google).

First, it talks about God being the Father of glory, which is the same theme echoed in Exodus 33. I hunger to see His glory and see His glory revealed to the nations, specifically India. I also hunger for His spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him. For myself. For our team. For the kids. For India. For southeast Asia. For the world. For you.

That the eyes of our heart. . .

Can we just take a minute and sit with that language? That we wouldn’t just know it in our minds, or see it with our eyes, or even just feel it with our hearts, but that the vision of our hearts would be aware and opened to His calling, riches of His glory, inheritance of the saints, and the greatness of His power.

Calling. Glory. Inheritance. Power.

Yes.

Yes and Amen.

Thank you for your prayers! Keep them coming! I can’t wait to tell you all about the glory of the Lord in India when I get back. Hopefully, I won’t be the same.

Love you all!