Think back to the first moment you realized Jesus was real, that first moment when you knew your life was changed forever. You were so full of passion, vision and focus. Everything about your life, both the good and the bad, suddenly made sense. And you wanted everyone to know that there is Someone who gives value and meaning to life.
For me this was right before college. I was sitting in a youth conference with 20,000 other young adults during the first worship set of the day. I remember feeling like my life had no direction, meaning or purpose. Though I had been taught my whole life a millions reasons HOW to love God, I never had truly understood WHY. But in that massive room of thousands of people, with music blaring so loud from stage and techno lights flashing, Jesus met me. Somehow all the noise and surroundings faded as two of my friends sat beside me and began to speak and pray. Somehow their words were so specific, so exact in their connection to my thoughts and heart and past. Jesus felt so real, like He was person sitting there with the three of us.I came into college after this experience just wanting everyone around me to know who Jesus truly was, that He was near and that He was good. I never thought of myself as a missionary though, I never wanted to move overseas or felt a "calling" to a specific people group or nation. I just knew I wanted to be wherever Jesus was and I did my best to follow Him even if it was hard. I held fast to the promise that He was good and that He had better dreams for me than even I had for myself. Sometimes that meant not getting to always do what I wanted to do. Sometimes it was really hard. I often had a bad attitude about it too. Like when I had to choose between going to the International House of Prayer (IHOP) or a local Christian university. I desperately wanted to go to IHOP, but Jesus kept saying to go to the university. I was so mad when I walked onto campus my freshman year. But I did it. And guess what? I met my future husband at that school.
Even as God continued to show me His ways were best I kept trying to do things my way at times. Like I wanted to start a prayer room at my university, but Jesus kindly nudged me (through my college pastor) to join my church's college ministry instead. I was super frustrated, but I did it. I ended up making life time friends there and understanding the value of discipleship and evangelism. When I first started dating my now husband, he told me right away that he had a heart for overseas missions and wanted to know if I was ok with it. I really was not. But I said yes...mostly because I felt like God was already saying this was the guy I would marry. It was a big scary yes. But Jesus began to expand in my heart from that moment on with a love for the nations of the earth.
My bigger moments though came after I was married and when I started having kids. I always dreamed of one day living in a beautiful old renovated farm house, with the white picket fence and five or six kids who I would teach at home. I would never move. I would go to the same church, have the same friends for decades. I would of course be very active in ministry at my church, give money to the poor and go on short-term mission trips. But God kept saying longterm missions, kindly, gently but persistently. Everything in my life kept pointing towards it. And as I had each of my kids, the anxiety begin to hit and the worry and fear. Was it possible to move overseas with kids? Was it possible to do full-time ministry with kids? Could we flourish and thrive in another culture as a family? What about finances and education? You hear all the horror stories of missionary kids that come back messed up and falling apart from overseas missions. Why would I want to put my kids through that?
A thousand doubts and questions surfaced. But as my heart expanded and grew passionate to see that nations of the world know this good God that I knew, all of my logic was telling me it couldn't be done. It was too great a risk. The "what ifs" poked at me like annoying little bugs that just wouldn't leave. But God didn't let up. And as my heart expanded, I began to also hear stories of missionary kids who did "thrive" who still loved God and who were going to the nations themselves. I began to hear stories of God's faithfulness and protection over missionary families as they walked in radical obedience to His voice. And a new "what if" began to permanently lodge itself against my heart. What if it could be done well? Maybe not easily, but well. What if we prepared well, trained well and transitioned well? What if we didn't rush, but also didn't wait? What if we chose radical faith, but also worked radically hard in partnership with God to prepare for a family to move overseas? What if my kids lives were richer, fuller, healthier and more full of meaning and purpose than they ever could have been just staying where we were in our Texas home town? What if we just said Yes and took God at His word that is He a good Father and kind King who provides for His kids in every way possible?
So we did it. We said yes. I said yes. We spent two years preparing for missions. We prayed, we obeyed, we trained, we fundraised and we sold everything and moved overseas. I'm not gonna lie, its not easy. Some days you are holding on to only the promise of God's goodness, even though everything else around you seems to be crashing in. On others days, you are blown away by the unnecessary abundance of His provision down to the tiniest detail, like shiplap walls in your house or apple trees in your backyard. But when I look back at what has happened in our family since the day we stepped onto a plane and left the U.S., it is all worth it, because He keeps showing He is a good God, who is close to our needs, but also nudging us to face our fears and just say yes. He keeps reminding me that my children are not my own, but they are His. And when I surrender them to Him, He is the best at teaching, loving and protecting them. I am convinced of His nearness, of His kindness and of His goodness. And I want my kids to know Him and I want the world to know Him as He is. A God who who can be trusted. A God who we can hear. A God who we can know. And a God who we can say yes to and joyfully follow in simple obedience!
If you feel like God is calling you to radically step out in faith and say Yes to Him, come do the Discipleship Training School that I did at YWAM Grimerud in Norway. This is a great overseas training location to experience missions and even launch into missions long term. Come join us!