Pastor Matt asked me to write about my experience this year with missions and what the future has in store. I said I would, but as I sit to write I don’t feel like I have the right words. I tend to lean towards writing about what I’m feeling as opposed to recording events. The problem is, if I write what I’ve been feeling, I don’t think anyone would want to read it because it would be filled with a lot of disappointment and question marks, especially looking at it from the current view. So, maybe I approach this as if none of you know who I am and what 2022 was supposed to have in store. Maybe I stray away from the feelings and try to write in a way that just tells the story.
My name is Sarah and I am 27 years old. Early this year I was living in an apartment in downtown Indian River, working at a local winery/brewery and also part time here at City on a Hill as the church administrator. I had worked previously in missions at a small ministry in Indiana where I led a missions training program for young adults. After 3 years of being back home, I was starting to feel God stirring missions in my heart again. I didn’t know what that was going to look like at all until God got my attention in a big way and I got in touch with a friend who has a ministry in Mozambique, Africa: The Dream Project (which most of you may know as a ministry that our church as supported globally for a few years now). Things seemed to be falling into place and I could see God so clearly working in my life. This friend currently lives in Hawaii and is near a large missions training base in Kailua-Kona, called YWAM (Youth With A Mission). We decided that the next step was for me to come to Hawaii and do some training and talk about the future.
Not sure when I could be coming back home, but also not sure what exactly was in store for where I was going; I laid it all down in obedience and trusted God. It just made sense. I was so confident in God’s call. I’ve never felt so loved and covered in prayer by every person in my life. This church is such a beautiful place, filled with such faithful and real followers of Christ. And I also saw the blessing of the entirety of the people God had put in my life over the past few years.
When I arrived in Hawaii things took a turn that I didn’t expect. I spent 1 month there, living in my friend's house. The clarity that I had felt leading up to this was quickly replaced by confusion and uncertainty. But even coming home had excitement attached because I came home with hope and plans that a trip to Mozambique would be in the very near future and I would also continue to work remotely on some administrative stuff for The Dream Project. I was able to return to my job at the winery/brewery when I returned and my parents welcomed me back into their home, while I now wait.
So, where’s the disappointment, Sarah? That all seems good. Maybe not what you expect, but still good.
Multiple attempts to make plans for a trip to Mozambique have been canceled. I have asked God to open and close doors where He is leading and they keep closing. All of the closed doors have been for different reasons and completely out of my control. So, now I’m kind of in the same place as before I left and not sure what God is doing.
I am nudged to look back at journal entries of times when I was confident in what God had in store. I shouldn’t be surprised that none of them say that it’s all going to be sunshine and roses. Most of my thoughts, even when things seemed great, involved a conscious understanding that I knew things would get hard. And it’s silly of me to think that I would know HOW they would be hard. It almost never ends up the way we think, especially when we try to predict how we’ll handle difficult seasons.
Mission work is hard, even just being a Christian in general is hard. It asks us to trust when we can’t see. It asks us to live in a way that goes against the world around us. It asks us to not try and make our own way, but to surrender. And the one that I struggle with the most is that it asks us to not live by our feelings. So, I may feel stuck and frustrated and unsure about the future, but that doesn’t mean that God isn’t still working. He has more than enough grace to cover my question marks. I may go to Africa this year, or in 10 years, but that doesn’t downplay all that God has done in my heart in the past year. And while I wait for that answer, I refuse to let missions be this specific thing that I thought it would be. I think being a missionary can mean so many different things. I’m asking God to show me how I can be a missionary wherever I am, again and again, in case I forget. Now, let’s see what He has in store for 2023!
Now maybe you can see why answering the question that Pastor Matt asked felt overwhelming and difficult to answer. I also hope that I answered in a way that gives glory to God no matter how I feel and no matter how much I don’t understand…because that’s the point, right?