I would, Lord, but I'm too scared." This is what I would tell God every spring during Missions Conference week at Multnomah Bible College. All students were required to attend the plenary sessions and an array of workshops. I acted like conference was great when really there was this secret battle happening within me. I felt bad that I wasn't open to missions, but when I pictured myself in some faraway place... it freaked me out. I didn't ever say "no," because I was afraid that then, God would turn my no into a yes. Kind of like that old song by Scott Wesley Brown, "Please Don't Send Me to Africa." It's a funny song where he's telling the Lord how wrong he is for the job. By the end of the song, he's yelling, "okay, okay! I'll go!!"
Now, let's fast forward - two and a half years out of college... two and a half years since I've felt pressured to have that conversation with God. This fall, I moved from the Portland area to Olympia to... I don't even know exactly why I moved. I had previously been holding down 5 part-time jobs and needed a break to re-cooperate.
It's been four months and I'm still praying and asking the Lord to show me what's in store for my future. At this point, life looks a lot different than I thought it would. I'm 25 and not very established. I've tried lots of things, but haven't found my dream job. I've met awesome people, but haven't found the love of my life. The list goes on... This fall, I've been asking the Lord to reveal to me what it is I'm made for. I'm a passionate person - I figured I would eventually find that one thing that I say, "yep, this is what I have to do for the rest of my life!" I have friends who feel this way about teaching. My sister Suzanne feels this passionate about writing. I want my passion! I want to know what it is so that I can start doing it. In the middle of October, I was extremely discouraged. I was beginning to think that God didn't have something like that for me. Instead, I was just supposed to find ways to share Jesus to others in the things I'm already doing - no radical occupation shift. *sigh* I was bummed.
On October 22nd, I went to an event that changed my life! I was invited by my friend Beth to go see a children's choir from Africa perform at a local church. From the minute those precious children danced down the aisles and onto the stage with sincere smiles and joyful hearts, I was on the edge of my seat. I couldn't stop smiling. Tears of joy were flooding down my cheeks. I kept my hand on my heart in fear that it might just leap right out of my chest! I can hardly describe the emotions I felt. My heart felt SO full. I knew immediately that THIS is what the Lord has made me for... for Africa! Though I felt a peace that I had craved to experience for so long, I was also shocked. Me? Africa? Really?
At the intermission I reached over and grabbed Beth's knee. Through water-logged eyes I stared at her and said, "I don't know what's going on, but I think I need to pray about going to Africa." Beth, who has gone to Africa herself, was so thrilled. I was just shocked that those words had just come out of my mouth. The director of the Mwamba Children's Choir began to speak about how the choir was touring the USA to raise money. Their ministry is looking to purchase land near Kampala, Uganda to eventually build a school. Then, he looked right at me, pointed and said, "and you're going to be there some day, aren't you?" I leaned back in my seat... looked behind me to see who he was actually talked to, and then he said it again, "No, you. You're going to be there, aren't you?" I was floored! If nothing else, it was God's way of confirming the thoughts and emotions I was already dealing with that night.
I loved these kids so much, I went to another concert a few days later and had the opportunity to meet some of them. I don't know details yet, but I do know that I was made to love, pray, and hopefully be with children in Africa someday. Most of the time I wish I could just take off and go there tomorrow, but I know the timing for that isn't right now. So, I'll settle with praying for the children I had the pleasure of meeting and for their ministry in Uganda. For the land that they have now purchased and for the funds to be available for building a school soon.
I now know why I was supposed to move to Olympia. Just when I was feeling so unsettled and without a purpose in life, I found these precious kids and an exciting adventure in my future!