I find so much peace from this verse and the promise it holds—keep moving, always pursuing the Lord, and He is the one that directs our steps. It releases this pressure I put on myself to try and figure out my future plans because it actually is not about my plan at all. It is about pursuing Jesus, and He reveals the way for me to walk in.
This is how I came to Atlanta this past summer to intern with Encompass World Partners and participate in Engage 5 (an intensive training to equip missionaries with the tools for effective cross-cultural ministry). In 2013, when I was a senior in high school I felt God’s call to cross-cultural ministry. Ever since I have been pursuing this call and devoting my summers in between school years to gaining experience and knowledge. Before I went to Engage 5, many asked me if I would be going to Peru (where I interned the previous summer) after I graduated from college or if Engage 5 would help me determine where I would go. I would just laugh and always respond with, “Not at all. If anything, Engage 5 will open up the whole world to me.”
While in Atlanta, mornings were devoted to classroom times at the office where I and nine others learned various tools and skills about life as a missionary. The afternoons were dedicated to practicing the tools we had learned through various organizations we partnered with in the Atlanta area. To put it simply, we formed relationships with refugee families and met with them in their apartments. This required for us to take initiative and also to invite ourselves over to people’s apartments which, in our American culture, can be quite uncomfortable. It is not the case with many of the cultures from which many refugees come. Most of them are more hospitable and find it a great honor to have American guests.
I met people from Afghanistan, Nepal, Congo, and various other countries. After a couple of visits, I was able to hear part of their stories and how they came to the United States. We talked about their home culture, how they liked or disliked the United States, and about faith. The experience was completely eye-opening as these people shared their stories after only a short time of knowing them. There was one family in particular that Jen Daniels and I became very close with. There are three children and the mom is expecting another. They are from Afghanistan and had just come to the United States in February after fleeing for their safety. We met with the mother almost every week to visit, but my favorite memory, one I will always cherish, is taking the two older children swimming for the first time. They had never been in the water before so at first, they were nervous, but very soon they were jumping off the edge into our arms, laughing, and smiling.
While all that I learned and experienced was good, there was something much more profound occurring internally in my heart. The two main transformations in my heart through my internship were:
1. The “where” I go is not as important as the “who” I go with.
Of the ten Engage 5ers, I was the youngest as a senior in college and also the only one who did not know to which country I’m heading for cross-cultural ministry. I was never concerned that I did not know exactly where I was going, but it was at the forefront of my thoughts. Before Engage 5, I thought about a Spanish-speaking country since I speak the language. I was curious as to which one, and my emphasis was always on the location.
Through Engage 5, my eyes were opened to see that I had focused on the wrong thing. Instead of the destination, my focus should be on the team God is raising up for me. Who will go with me? Who else is God sending? I need to be prayerful about who my teammates will be so that as a team we can have success even through the difficulties on the field.
2. Active waiting through preparation is a necessary step before going out.
For some reason, I thought that once I graduate from college in the spring of 2017, I would go out to the mission field directly. As if all I needed was a plane ticket purchased. Now I realize how ridiculous that is. I am a very driven person who doesn’t like to sit still, and I am always on the go to the next thing. Engage 5 showed me I was skipping over a step. Preparation. Preparation is hard but absolutely vital to success on the mission field. It requires submission and ultimate trust to yield to the pruning hands of the Creator to be ready for life on the field. It is the waiting season that may seem unfruitful, tiresome, or at times utterly pointless, but it’s in those moments the Lord reveals the heart’s true affections to follow him. And again I’m reminded that he’s worthy of my trust in all things.
Written by Kylie (an Engage 5 Participant)
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