New Places

The Australian sun rises early! I sit up and twist my blinds open, rubbing my eyes as I slowly awake.  I shut off my alarm, hoping that it hasn’t woken my roommate up. I grab my Bible from the nightstand and head outside to our front steps where the sun bathes me in warmth as I read.

“Whenever you turn to the right or to the left, you will hear a voice behind you that says, “This is the way, walk in it.” Isaiah 30:21

Even before coming to Australia, I sensed that God wanted to do “A new thing.” So I’ve been reading through Isaiah and I’ve drawn into the newness of who God is to me as a Father, a redeemer and friend to me. 

“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?” Is. 43:19

The Discipleship Training School has been underway for nearly a month! It’s hard to describe how it felt to go to the airport and get to finally meet all of these people that I’ve been praying for from before I even knew their names. It’s been fun to not only put names to their faces but get to know them as individuals and watch as the personality of the school develops and evolves.

With the phrase, “I’m doing a new thing” I had the hunch that even though I care so deeply about Australia and its beautiful people, it was likely that I would not lead the mission outreach there. Not this time. 

Last week, our school leaders approached each of the staff members individually and asked to pray about a specific country where would like for us to lead a team of young people on a missions’ outreach.

The night before they told me the location, I was praying and asking God to prepare me for the place that I would be going. I had a flashback to a conversation that I had with a friend a year earlier, when I was choosing where to go on my outreach for DTS. We weren’t supposed to talk among ourselves about the two locations that we had written on a piece of paper and given to our school leader but this friend was just being cheeky and said, ”I bet you chose Asia!” Hoping that my reaction give it away. I played along and said, “How did you know?” In reality, I had chosen to stay in Australia even though I have such a heart for overseas missions. 

Isn’t it funny how God works? Last year, I would’ve been thrilled to go overseas to do missions but felt strongly that I should stay here in Australia. This year, I would’ve been thrilled to stay in Australia but God wanted me to go overseas. 

For a day and a half, I heard that phrase running over and over through my head, “I bet you chose Asia.” The next day when my leaders called me into the office and revealed the location that they wanted me to pray about, I wasn’t surprised when it was indeed an Asian country.

God had already been preparing me to go there by highlighting to me how you can underline the “A-S-I-A” in “AUSTRALIA” to spell, “Asia.”

I had never felt particularly called to Asia before but one thing that I’ve felt God putting on my heart is a flexibility to go wherever He calls me, even if it’s a place that I don’t feel particularly drawn to. I’ll admit, it took some praying and research for me to gain a heart for this nation. I was willing to go, I just needed some time to think about it. I took a day to pray about the location and felt so much peace.

I came back to the leaders to give them my answer. “Yes, I’ll go there!” But they said, “Hey, can we talk for a minute?” “Sure?” I said, not sure what they might say. 

They sat me down and said, “Plans have deteriorated for us to go on outreach to the country that we originally asked you to pray about. Would I consider this other Asian country instead?” I sat there, shocked by the news. They connected me with some people and resources that gave me more understanding of the situation and the dangers that they were trying to protect me and my co-leader and potentially our team from by closing down the first option and asking us to pray about a second option. 

I needed some time to process, so I went on a walk through my beautiful neighborhood to pray about it. This news didn’t disrupt my peace; I still had peace to move forward. I just needed time to let the changes settle over me.  

As I walked, it was like I suddenly had an “Aha” moment with God and understood  more fully why He had highlighted “Asia” to me. It helped me to shift my “yes” from the first location to the second since it was still within Asia. So I told them, “I’ll go!” 

Last night, we planned a really fun family night as a school, giving the music and dance students the opportunity to perform for the rest of us. It was loud and hilarious and everything that a “Music, Art + Dance” night should be. 

Then we amped up the suspense of finding out outreach locations by theming the rest of the evening around the TV show, “The Bachelor.” All 10 of us staff that are leading outreaches to six different locations came forward and were given an envelope with names inside. Then one by one, we’d open our envelope and invite that person forward to “Accept” the outreach location, along with a chocolate.

Even as staff, we had no idea who was going to be on our team until we were announcing their names into the microphone. Then at the very end, we called each team up onto stage and announced where they were going! Do you want to know where I’m going?

I’m going to Kuching, Malaysia! 

Me and my co-leader, Nathan, will be leaving in early February for eight weeks and taking eight students with us. We will be working closely with one pastor in particular who will connect us with opportunities to teach English, lead kids and youth ministry and go to remote villages to spread the gospel. We’re really excited to see what God is going to do through all of us in this new place, where none of us have been before.

Pray for me if you think of it, the next few months are going to to be really busy as I sort out logistics and prepare our team for going overseas to Malaysia!

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