From the time that I was a little girl and living in Guatemala, Central America, I wanted to be a missionary when I grew up. I devoured books about Amy Carmichael, Jim Elliot, Mother Theresa and drew up plans for my own orphanage and would imagine how I could live in different cultures and with only as many belongings as could fit into my suitcase.
After I moved back to the states and graduated high school, I started my own photography business and the dream of living overseas faded into the distance. I still took short-term missions trips; I went to Honduras, Jamaica, Africa and Greece to do short-term mission work. I loved it but I thought that it was just something to do to make me feel like I was doing something exciting with my life.
God has been slowly nudging me into more long-term missions and I’ve been pretty stubborn from the get-go. I really thought that I had a good plan for my life; grow my business, get married, go on occasional missions trips. But it didn’t turn out as planned. Business actually slumped, I didn’t get married and the occasional missions trips turned from week-long trips into five months, then six months and finally a 2-year commitment. While I realize that two years is still considered a “short term” commitment, it’s the longest I’ve ever spent overseas. People keep asking me what my plan is after these two years are up to which I usually laugh and say, “We’ll see.”
One thing I’ve learned throughout the past few years is that I can have a really good looking life-plan but then God changes my plans for the better.
During my summer in Greece working in a refugee camp, I realized that I always felt more fulfilled when I was overseas doing mission work than when I was back in the states. Although the ministry load was intense and it took so much out of me emotionally to be in Greece, I also felt like my life was so full and enriched by being there. I also realized that I had a deficit in my faith and seeing such depravity while I was there made me question things like never before.
That’s when I started pursuing going to YWAM (Youth With A Mission). I sensed my need for discipleship and a deeper understanding of what following Jesus meant. During my D.T.S. (Discipleship Training School) God spoke to me about coming back to Y.W.A.M. to serve and continue to grow and learn about missions and I resisted for months before admitting that not only was it what God wanted me to do but that I was willing and ready to take that step of faith.
Moving to Australia this year was a much harder decision than any of my previous decisions to do mission work overseas. First of all, because it felt more permanent. But also because I felt a shift in my heart as I said, “Yes.” Not only was I committing to two years in Australia but I was also opening my hands in surrender to what God has for my future in missions.
Following God is a beautiful thing but it does require surrender and sacrifice.