My sister-in-law is our guest writer today. I can’t believe she trusted me enough to send this over and think that I wouldn’t mess with her. It took everything out of me but I didn’t. I love to tease her but when it comes down to it, I admire her love for Christ and adore her charm. Take to away Melissa.
Hello sweet friends!
As I am preparing to embark on a 2 year overseas-missionary adventure I have found myself sitting with people to invite them along on my journey. Without fail I talk about having dreams planted in my heart from a young age to be a missionary and later growing into my convictions as a teenager. Later as I went on short-term mission trips to Mexico and Romania, I knew that this was something I could see myself doing. I’ve always been the bleeding heart type and my decision to take the Gospel out of America was not rash or completely unexpected.
Fear got in the way of those dreams after I graduated high school. I spent years trying to do what my friends were doing, and trying to muster a desire for things I “should” want – a guy, marriage, babies, etc. Those are good things, don’t get me wrong, but God chose to wire me a bit differently. My desire to go has usually overshadowed everything else. At the same time, I was burdened with insecurities about my introvertedness and fear about the uncertainty that missionary life entails. After a particular year of really committing to a relationship and the idea of settling down, I found myself depressed and walking through the hardest season of life to date. I felt conflicted. It was so difficult to articulate that I couldn’t be tethered because of this innate feeling that I still had to “go.” I couldn’t give the poor guy a better reason to wait to get married besides this gut feeling that I needed to be free to do that. (Sidenote: totally learned a lesson there-“freedom” should probably not be something to yearn for in a relationship. End aside.) It was as if I had been digging my feet in like Jonah and running the opposite direction by refusing to go. I didn’t get swallowed by a fish, but all of the people and places I had been wrapping my identity in were completely stripped away.
Back at square one, I started off the next year by hearing a sassy lil Australian named Christine Caine speak about human trafficking at the Passion Conference. I was numbed by horrifying statistics and overwhelmed with the fact that 27 million people are being held captive in slavery- more than any other time in history! The faces of the precious people who had been rescued from oppression and now telling their stories so that others might be free, too, were seared into my brain and kept me awake at night. Instead of running away from such a horrific topic, I dove in and read all that I could. I prayed for them every day and told anyone who would listen. I read books like “7,” and “The Good News About Injustice,” finding that the Lord was doing work to carve out room in my heart for the joy that is found in being a voice for the voiceless.
It wasn’t until I later took The Perspectives on the World Christian Movement class that I received the much-needed biblical framework for God’s heart for missions. Taught by current and former missionaries, the class helped in showing the Bible as a cohesive unit rather than a series of unrelated stories. This starts in the Old Testament with the Lord consistently using the nation of Israel as His megaphone to rouse a deaf world and culminating in His sending of Jesus whose last words to His disciples were to go. Our God has always (rightfully,) been concerned about His name and fame reaching the world, accomplished by His people, with His power.
The artist formerly known as Saul gives the reason for going and sharing this way:
“I think that all things are worth nothing compared with the greatness of knowing Jesus. Because of him, I have lost all things, and now I know they are worthless trash. This allows me to have Christ.”
Jesus is the reward. Everything else is dim compared to the beauty and power of our God rescuing us. As believers we get to anchor ourselves in the faithful character of a God who never lets go. But there are still people who spend their days prostrating themselves and chanting prayers to little gods who will never hear them. They are teaching their children to worship idols who will not hear their cries and cannot deliver them from the darkness. They sacrifice their daughters to be temple prostitutes not because they reject what Jesus has to offer, but because no follower of Jesus has told them that they are free from that.
When two instructors from a ministry called Beautiful Feet came to Perspectives, there was something about their mission of reaching those that had never heard the Gospel that resonated with me. Upon further speaking with them and finding that they have a team working with victims of human trafficking, I saw the pieces come together as only God can do. After more research, I applied for their program and was accepted for training that will start in July!
People have asked me why I don’t just stay here and continue to pursue missions and justice in America. They have tried to dissuade me with horror stories about living overseas and have wondered if I have my head in the clouds and truly realize what I’d be getting myself into.
“There are human trafficking victims here in the States!”
“There are lost people here, too!”
And my favorite super encouraging words from my boss- “They’ll kill you! I watched a documentary about it.”
“Let me ask you something: Are you staying here? Yes? Great! Then you get to do work with all of those people you just mentioned who don’t know about Jesus! Because we are all called to live on mission. *drop mic* Ahler out.”
My other, less facetious response is that America already has plenty of workers. Easter Sunday volunteering with the 5 year olds made that very clear as they could tell me, in great detail, the story of Jesus’ resurrection. I rejoiced that those little honeys get to grow up in an environment where the story of Jesus is such a natural thing! But then I cried in my car for the people lighting candles and burning incense to gods that have no power to love them and most certainly didn’t create them or die for them.
I’ll admit that I’ve been tempted by some opportunities that would keep me here, but the truth that there are still so many that just haven’t heard spurs me on. I’m going because when we sing songs about Jesus being the “hope of nations,” I’m hyper aware that there still entire villages who do not have one follower of Jesus who has ventured to go and shine their light. They cannot hope in someone they’ve never heard of and they will not hear unless someone goes and tells them. Fears and insecurities didn’t stand a chance in light of the Living God who “hems me in, behind and before” (Ps. 149:5.) Now I find myself in place of being unattached, willing, and able to go! What a sweet season to live for Him in such an undistracted way.
So when I ask people for their support, I ask them not for myself, but because of His heart for all peoples, tribes, and tongues. I want to be doing what my God is doing. I want my heart to be aligned with His and the things He cares about. I want to rescue others because I have been rescued. I want to pursue justice because He is a God who will stand for nothing less. We have been given the power to destroy death and I will spend my days running toward the gates of Hell and freeing slaves because my God has the power to save.
Will you join me?
Melissa is currently preparing for cross-cultural missions through the Beautiful Feet Missionary Training Institute. After ten months of training, (half in Oklahoma City, half overseas,) she will embark on a 2 year journey to take the Gospel to unreached people groups. She has a passion for creativity, justice, and missions. You can read her blog here: http://www.ahoneybeeme.blogspot.com.
For more info on Beautiful Feet: http://www.beautifulfeet.us
For more info on Perspectives: http://www.perspectives.org