Last spring I was reading through the book of Hebrews with the girls that I was discipling. When we got to chapter 11, the faith chapter, I asked the girls "What in your life is requiring you to really step out and live by faith right now?" After asking that question and having that conversation a few times, I asked myself the same thing. I knew that what I was doing - raising support and working in full-time ministry - required faith. I certainly didn't believe I was doing all of those things in my own power, but I also didn't feel like I was stepping out and trusting the Lord for much. I realized that I had to a place where I was comfortable and safe. And I didn't like that. So I began praying that the Lord would stretch me and show me how he wanted to trust in him more. I prayed that for months.
Then one day last summer I checked my mailbox and had a newsletter from CMF, which wasn't unusual. I had two friends that I was supporting at the time who were serving with CMF in Spain, so I received mail from CMF often. I opened it up and was flipping through it when I saw a picture of a friend that I went to Milligan with. I remember thinking "Hey, I know her! She's in the CMF newsletter; that's kinda cool." The article was about a new Globalscope campus ministry they were starting in Scotland, and Meredith was apart of that team. It all sounded really neat, and since Meredith lives in Johnson City I messaged her and asked if she wanted to catch up. I was excited for her and wanted to hear more about what she would be doing. That was the extent of my intentions for that meeting.
So we got coffee and she told me all about Scotland, the team she would be working with, and what they were hoping the ministry there where would be like. Meredith had also spent a year in Indonesia with CMF and she told me all about that and what her experience working with CMF was like. And the more she talked the more interested I became. When we left I knew I wanted to learn more. So that night I got online and read everything available about Globalscope. I asked myself the hypothetical question, "If I wanted to go do something like this, where would I want to go?" A few of the Globalscope ministries are in South American countries, and I just know that my heart isn't there. There was Germany, Thailand, and Uruguay, but I didn't really want to have to learn another language. That left England. It wasn't just that that was the only one left; I really did feel that I could like it there. It was probably naive or even shallow, because I had never been to Europe, let alone England, and most of what I knew about it was from the media, but something just felt right. I really felt like I could see myself there, and I filled out a basic, preliminary application.
A week or so later someone emailed me, thanked me for my interest in Globalscope, and asked if I wanted to talk with her to learn more, which I did. So I talked with a lady named Shannon for a while one day. Everything she told me about serving with CMF and the ministry in England sounded appealing and like something I would enjoy. So then I had a conversation with the director of Globalscope to learn more about the nitty-gritty and logistics of things. I was still interested after that conversation so I set up a time to Skype with the team leader in England. We Skyped for about an hour, and the more we talked and the more I learned about the ministry there, called Canvas, and life in Birmingham, the more excited I became. By the time we were done talking I knew that this was something that I seriously wanted to pray about and consider doing. Thankfully there was very little pressure from CMF. They said they would go ahead and send me the application, but to just take my time praying about it and filling out the application.
The large application packet arrived right at the start of the school year and I knew it would have to wait until we got through the first few weeks of ministry here. So I tucked it away in my bookshelf and honestly forgot all about it at times. In mid September I pulled it back out, read over everything again, and just didn't know anymore. I spent about a month praying about and really not knowing what to do. It still sounded like an incredible opportunity, but now I was in the swing of things with The Well, and I loved The Well! That's what made that time so hard. I wanted to go, but I didn't want to leave. I would spend a weekend thinking all about it and would feel pretty certain that I would apply, and then I would have an incredible night of small group on Sunday night and would think, "I can't leave this!" I was so torn!
I was continuing to pray for guidance, and in October began to hear the Lord speaking to me very clearly. The first, and probably most affirming, thing that helped me see that this might be right next-step for me was the way my dad responded when I told my family I was thinking about moving. We were all home one weekend and I just told them everything I've said up to this point here. When I was finished talking it seemed like no one spoke for the longest time, and then my dad started to. Now I knew my parents weren't going to tell me no, but I was expecting my dad to say something to the effect of, "Let's look into it, and think about and pray about it." But he didn't. Instead he said, "Well, I think you need to go and do it." I was shocked; this was not my father, he just doesn't say things like that. He went on to say that recently during his own personal time with the Lord he felt that the Lord was preparing him for the fact that He had bigger plans for me. Coming from my dad, that was huge, and something that I could just not deny.
And over the next several weeks there continued to be things that spoke to me and I knew the Lord was answering my prayers for clarity. One Friday night in October I opened up my Explicit Gospel workbook to prepare for teaching the lesson that Sunday, and of all the lessons, which one was mine to lead? The one about heralding the Gospel. Of course. One of the first things Matt Chandler said in the video was was, "Paul doesn't ask Timothy if he has the gift of evangelism, he tells him to do the work of an evangelist." This really hit me hard. One of the things I was nervous about with Canvas was having to share about my faith with unbelievers. That probably sounds weird coming from someone who is pursuing missions. But I spent most of time in ministry with students who were believers, and going deeper with them. I was more comfortable with that than "evangelistic" conversations. It was a challenge, to know that we are called to that, but it was also comforting in a way. It was like there was freedom in knowing I was called to do something, regardless of whether or not it was my strongest gift. I might not think I'm great at it, but I can be obedient. Another thing from that lesson that encouraged me to go was the line, "God is wisdom, and God is power, and that's how men are saved. Our job is simply to herald [the Gospel]." Again, God is just asking me to be obedient, the rest is up to him.
As soon as the fall semester was over, we had to find another Bible study to do with our students in the spring. We were thinking about doing the Radical study by David Platt, and in order to quickly do a preview of the study, each staff member got a copy of one week's lesson that we were supposed to work on over the break. So in early December I sat down to work on my week's lesson. And what was it about? Going and preaching the gospel and being a disciple maker. I knew the Lord was telling me something and when the video started, it didn't take long before I was crying. So many things were hitting home, and I almost felt like I was hearing "Go. Go. Go. Go. Go." The two main points from that lesson that really spoke to me were, "The essence of being a disciple is being a disciple maker," and "We are the children of God and we are not in a position to express opinions, we are in a position to obey orders."
Those were just a few of the main ways that I heard the Lord speaking to me, but they were definitely not the only ones. Wednesday night messages at The Well, conversations with friends, and time in the Word all helped me decide that I was going to do it. Or at least apply . So over the Christmas break I worked on the application, which was quite intense. I had to take three different psychological evaluations, and by the time I was done with those, I was pretty sure I was crazy! I mailed off the huge application in January, and then a few weeks later I had two Skype interviews. On February 8th the selection committee at CMF reviewed all of my application and the results of my interviews, and then the following week they called me and told me they wanted me to join the Globalscope team. I was soooo excited!
|The morning I sent off my application!|
I told the rest of our staff right away, and some close friends that weren't really connected to The Well, but that was it for a while. I wanted to be able to tell all of our ministry team students at one time, so they wouldn't be finding out through the grapevine, and the opportunity to do that wouldn't present itself for a while. So I ended up having to keep this whole thing a secret for almost two months! It was so hard to just act normal and not give it away, but I managed. The week before I was going to tell all of the students at once, I did talk with a few of the girls I am closest to and told them. Those were really fun conversations and resulted in squeals, tears, and a few "shut up!"s. The students were all sad to see me go, but really excited as well, which was so encouraging!
The rest of the semester proceeded as normal as far as The Well goes, and then about a month ago everything changed. I got rid of a bunch of stuff, I had my last day at the office, I packed up almost all of the rest my stuff and sent it off to my parents, I moved out of my apartment, moved in with another family, started a new job...it has been crazy to say the least. And overwhelming and scary and stressful. But this is all a part of the journey and I am learning a lot! Early tomorrow morning I head to Indianapolis for Launch, which is Globalscope orientation. I am really excited to finally meet some of the people from the CMF office that have been helping me through this process, and I'll get to meet one of the girls that I'll be serving with in England next year! I can't wait to share more with you next week!