For years, I have wanted to go on mission trips. It has been my heart’s desire since probably 2006 or 7. At our old church, the pastor preached on the topic and asked individuals to come up from for individual prayer if he or she felt like God was calling him or her to the mission field. One teenaged girl went forward and that was it. I felt the itch to go forward but something he said during his sermon rang so loudly in my ears:
If you aren’t doing things to serve people in your daily routine, how can you expect God to call you out into larger mission fields?
I have chewed on that for years and years. Basically what he was saying fell in line with Luke 16:10 which reads, “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.” I began to pray about how God wanted me to respond to that message and he put on my heart to start a homeless ministry. Listen, the town I live in is itty bitty. The only thing to do on a Friday night for teens is to meet up at one of two places. No not the movie theater…that would be nice to have here in town. Guess again. The teen club? *Giggles to self* Oh you were serious? Nope. Try again. The local family fun center? Ok you are way off track so I will just tell you. They tend to park at the one grocery store we have off of the main drag or at Wal-Mart which is at the end of the main drag! Pretty exciting huh? We basically have a Wal-mart, fast food chains, and gas stations here, that’s about it. Oh and about a billion banks and payday loan establishments. Before I get too off track, I’m telling you this to try to paint a picture for you. All I could keep thinking was, “God, there are NO homeless people here. How is this going to work?” Week after week I would see magazine articles about the needs of homeless men and women. I would hear a broadcast on the radio about the increase of homelessness in the United States. Sermons would have little nods to homelessness. I finally threw up my hands and said,”OK ok OK ok ok OK! I get it, God!” There was no doubt in my mind that he was calling me to this sort of ministry, but a town my size didn’t need a soup kitchen, nor a homeless shelter. Through weeks of prayer and consideration, I started “Packs of Love” which was a backpack ministry where I would put daily essentials in a bookbag which I’d keep in my car on the off chance I would see someone in need. Do you know it was less than a month before I got my first chance to share God and a backpack with a man along the interstate? God opened my eyes and I began to see homeless folks all over this tiny town. I outreached in the mall area of downtown DC and in parts of Kansas also. God was amazing to provide for my needs and the needs of the recipients during my time in that ministry.
Next he called me to adult industry ministry. Yea I know, crazy right? To this day, I actively volunteer with The Pink Cross Foundation and a couple other smaller non-profits. I went from serving those directly around me to serving actresses primarily, in the adult film industry primarily in the San Fernando Valley in California by way of handmade gifts. Pink Cross has a few branches in other countries now, too. I, and a group of women, knit/crochet/sew various items for outreach love tokens. For a short time, I was asked to provide a point of contact for a select group of women who had made the decision to get out of the industry and just needed an ear to listen. There have been seasons where I have felt like I needed to take a step back from this ministry but overall, I have never felt called away from serving this industry.
All the while the need/desire to serve in foreign missions loomed over my heart. I have prayed that when I’m ready and the conditions were right, that God will prepare a way for me to join the work he is doing around the globe, no just by way of gifts, but by way of personal contact with those in need of feeling/seeing/hearing of His love. My husband, in the past, didn’t feel the calling to missions of any kind. Knowing that going out on my own without my husband’s support to do something like international missions would surely cause me to fail miserably, I waited patiently for God to speak to his and my heart at the same time.
A short few weeks ago, my husband was asked by work to “bid” his vacation time for the coming year. He phoned me during the day and asked if I had an opinion on days I wanted him to ask for. Without putting too much excitement or expectation into it, I casually mentioned that it would be neat if he could get the week of one of the mission trips our church was planning for off. I don’t think as long as I live I will ever forget what he said to me in response:
“Yea, I thought about doing that. Which one would you want to go on the most?”
*shakes her head from side to side as if to take a double take* Excuse me, what did you say?? Who am I talking to again? This can’t possibly be my husband on the other end. I kept myself from smiling or expressing too much excitement because, to be honest, I wasn’t sure if he was being serious at first. We discussed the pros and cons to each of the trips and came to a decision that he would bid his time for the week of the Haiti/Dominican Republic mission trip. He was nervous about the financial aspect of both of us going on a trip, not to mention the task of finding a home for our three children during that week, but stated that if God wanted us to go, he would see to it that the time request would go through. When he went back to work the next shift, he got a text message confirming that he was granted the requested vacation time!
I haven’t been able to put into words just exactly how I felt at that moment. The best I can say is that I was completely overwhelmed by God. I was smiling/laughing, crying uncontrollably, excited, not wanting to get too excited because of course, this couldn’t possibly be happening after so many years of praying for it to happen, could it? At times over the last couple weeks I have almost felt like I was on the outside looking into our situation, almost 3rd person. It just didn’t feel real! My husband made a couple of calls to see if he could get childcare situated and once that was done (THANKS PENNY!!), we started talking about how we would pay for the trip!
Let me back up and emphasis one thing really quick. I don’t want you to miss this part. For years I had asked God to show me when it was the right time to do international missions. I have asked Him to confirm with me that it is His prompting by having it come through my husband. I haven’t mentioned ANYTHING to Josh after the first time I brought it up to him years and years ago when he shot down my request without a thought. I have prayed and tried my best to be obedient in the local missions until that time came. One year ago in September we joined a church here locally. Six months or so before that we visited this same church nearly every week and sought council from them, but from the very day we joined my husband has been on the steady change in an incredible direction. He isn’t perfect (thank goodness because he would have left me a long time ago if he were) but this man has been completely transformed by the love and investment our church has given him through Christ. He is being challenged to become the man God created him to be: A leader, father, provider, husband… He is a completely different man than he was a year ago. His life has a plumb line now…a measuring rod if you will. He is measuring his life and actions against what he knows the Word to say and trying his best to fall in line with it. Truly, being able to go on missions is amazing, fantastic, exciting, unbelievable. But the best gift I have received in this waiting period has been the gift of a transformed man to walk beside every day of my life from here on out. As I am writing this, I am overwhelmed and brought to tears that, not only am I able to report that I have been blessed with the opportunity to go on a mission trip, but that my best friend has asked me to be by his side when he goes on his first mission trip. His timing really is best. My obedience yielded a bigger blessing that I EVER would have received otherwise.
From here on out, I will be reporting on our journey to Haiti/Dominican Republic. More to come very soon! I’d love to hear your supportive and encouraging comments.