The day that completely changed the way I approach my convictions
January 6th, 2015
This past weekend, I drove to Barnesville GA to meet up with my church family I served with while attending Gordon state. We all hopped in the van and headed to Atlanta, as we were just 10 of 20,000+ people gathering together for the Passion 2015 conference. (Let me tell you... to see that many people gathered together in the name of Jesus... Man... Overwhelming!)
Let me tell you a little about what God has been laying on my heart!
My junior year of high-school, I traveled to Ethiopia Africa with Celebration Baptist Church. It was a medical mission trip, and it completely opened my eyes to what being a Christian is all about. Strangely though, and unlike most peoples' experience to a foreign country, I did not come back on a great hype to go back. (Possibly because I got sick, and literally almost puked my guts up for half a day. Maybe because we went ten days with no running water. Maybe because I was hungry and dirty and smelly and miserable... Or maybe all of the above.)
However, I did come back with open eyes to what God was doing in places other than the United States. I was not eager to return, but the faces engraved in my heart were never far from my mind.
Fast forward to June of 2014. I was attending a holiness camp that I have gone to my entire life (Suwannee Holiness Camp.) One of the speakers said something I will never forget that sounded much like this:
"If something is of God, it will turn into a conviction. If it is not of God, it will fade."
This was so simply, yet so life changing for me. Immediately God laid Africa on my heart again. I literally told Him "You are not calling me there Lord. I know you aren't. No way!" Though I realized the importance of the above quote, and I laid that calling into Jesus' hands.
Fast forward again to August of 2014. I had just moved up to Gordon State to play ball, and my new life was full of new desires and new surroundings. But the little subtle hints of Africa never let up. One that hit me hard was my invitation to submit a work application for a girls summer camp. My friend informed me that what made this camp so unique was its focus on missions. Guess which continent they are focusing on in 2015?! Africa!!!!
I felt certain that God wanted me there. Or, I at least justified the calling to actually go with the fact that this camp would be a wonderful place to be involved in learning and praying for Africa. If you haven't by now, you will soon realize that God doesn't always settle for justified decisions.
Anyway, after filling out the application, I did not feel at peace when the time came to turn it in. So I didn't. Then I decided I would look for other summer camps to work at. I began applications with other ministries as well, but I did not feel at peace when submitting any of them.
Finally, I was invited to apply for full time mission work in New Orleans, and I had total peace about that! Needless to say, that application is in the system.
Crazy turn right? Like, how do I go from Africa to pursuing New Orleans?!
WELL... This weekend I was getting very discouraged about my trip back to Ethiopia. I knew the calling to go back was a conviction, but I had no idea how it was ever going to happen. (We could save ourselves so much stress if we just lived like we believe God will always work out the details.) However, yesterday I got a message that I was not expecting so soon. My dear friend from Africa is getting married in October of 2015. She wants ME to be a bridesmaid! How wonderful, and what an honor!!!
God has totally worked out a time and place for me to return!
"For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." - Isaiah 55:9
I have worked with the homeless before. I have often given money and/or food to the homeless. I have been burned by fakes, and blessed by those in humble need.
These past few months, there has been a man walking up and down my street, pushing everything he owns in a plastic barrel. God has SINCERELY laid him on my heart... I mean, big time!
I have not stopped to speak with him out of respect for my father. I am a single woman, and I knew he would just about kill me if he knew I stopped alone to speak with a homeless man.
But after attending Passion this weekend, I decided that my convictions could not justifiably be set aside for fear of something that might not actually happen (ie: a homeless man being unsafe, me getting hurt, etc.)
Today as I was driving to go pick a friend up from school, I saw him right in front of my neighborhood. I KNEW God was telling my to stop. This time, I had an obligation on the other side of town and could not stop right away. So I asked God, "please keep him there until I get back, because if he is there, I will stop."
Sure enough, as my friend and I returned to this side of town, he was still sitting there. I parked my car, and we began walking his direction.
Let me tell you about this man!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
He used to be a drug addict. Used to sleep with hookers. Used to be an alcoholic, along with any other bad thing you can associate with such behavior. At the age of 28, he got radically saved. He picked up the Bible, and never laid it down.
He worked with some ministry teams, but no church ever supported him.
So he felt God leading him to be a street preacher.
He is now in his late 50's, and he has traveled to 44 states. The other states he cannot reach because he knows the cold weather will kill him. He preaches and teaches to anyone who will listen. He baptizes, though he realizes that is not what saves you.
He opened up his Bible, handed it to me, and told me to ask him ANYTHING from ANYWHERE in the Bible. He knows it better than the hands he has used his entire life. This man KNOW the Word of God (better than any pastor or professing minister I have ever met).
After almost two hours of conversation, he had not asked me for a single dime. I offered to buy him lunch, and he graciously accepted my offer. He set the two cans he had been heating on the grass in the sun all day aside for dinner instead of lunch. So my friend and I set out to get him some Moe's!
After we returned to him, he talked more of God's Word. I asked him of some physical needs, which included these:
New wheels for his cart (Tractor Supply Co)
New tarps (because his have holes, and this Tallahassee rain destroyed much of his stuff these past few weeks)
Sleeping gear (I do believe he said that)
And that's about it. He didn't ask for money. He didn't ask for anything!!!
He chose to preach the Word of God, and because no one funded him in his early years, he now lives homeless, but still praises God for EVERYTHING!
The most amazing thing I have ever done was finally give into my conviction and speak with this man.
A Widower in Chick-Fil-A
After an amazing afternoon with my friend and Chris, I met my buddy at Chick-Fil-A to get his kids fed and then off to evening activities. While they were playing on the playground, an older man (in his 70's) spoke up in regards to me not having a ring. (This always makes me laugh, though it is very common!)
I responded with something regarding love towards the kids, and he responded with something encouraging me to love them every single day.
My response is usually "Life is too short and eternity is too long not to."
After a brief exchange, I shifted tables and began to talk to this man. He informed me that he lost his daughter when she was in her 40's, his first wife literally just a couple months after, and his second wife of 12 years just this past year.
He teared up speaking about it! But throughout the whole entire conversation, he encouraged me to love the Lord, seek Him always, and always look for people who are alone and in need of love.
After shaking his hand multiple times, I turned for just a second to grab something off the table, and when I turned around to say goodbye one last time, the man was gone...
Not like outside gone (I checked). Not like bathroom gone (there was not enough time for that). Not like getting a refill gone (he wasn't there)!
Though I do not believe this man was an angel, I do believe we come across them all the time. I sure hope to keep my eyes open when that happens, just as God opened my eyes today.
"Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it." - Hebrews 13:2
I cannot describe to you the overwhelming sense of GOD I had today.
Two men, both strangers, completely changed my entire life within the span of just two hours.
May your eyes be opened as well to the life God really calls us to. Not the American Church dream we all like to think we are pleasing God by living in. Let us WAKE UP to the reality of the physical and spiritual needs of everyone around us. Let us get out of our comfort zones and be Christ's hands and feet.
Needless to say, the way I approach my convictions will forever change after today.
Just a month or so ago, my mom told me that her dear friends son needed a kidney transplant. He was sick growing up, but had been doing well. He was in his last semester of music school in college, and he got really sick.
He came home to the doctors, and he was then put on dialysis 3x a week.
Immediately, I knew I wanted to donate mine.
I thought "God, you gave me two, so I will absolutely give mine away!"
I was set on that even before I started any research.
Some people were happy when I began to share my intentions, and others were absolutely in disbelief that I made such an "impulsive" decision. As you can imagine, those who were in disbelief were not too happy.
But not once did I question it. After much reasoning, those who were not a fan slowly started to view it from my eyes.
I texted his mom, and then he texted me back that evening.
It was the first of many conversations I know we will soon exchange.
I have stored more prayers up for him that he will ever know.
I desperately hope that the two of us are compatible. Should we not be, then I plan to cross donate. Meaning I give to a stranger in his honor, so that a stranger will give to him in return. They call this a chain!
Either way, I know the two of us have quite a journey ahead, and I am sooooo anxiously excited to see what God is going to do through it.
Here are a few statistics regarding organ donation. Most of us have the power to give life.
Why aren't we?
- As of August 31, 2012:
- There are currently 115,193 people waiting for lifesaving organ transplants in the U.S.
- Of these, 93,148 await kidney transplants.
- Last year, 16,812 kidney transplants took place in the U.S. Of these, 11,043 kidney transplants came from deceased donors and 5,769 came from living donors....
- On average:
- Nearly 3,000 new patients are added to the kidney waiting list each month.
- 13 people die each day while waiting for a life-saving transplant
- Every 10 minutes someone is added to the transplant list
- Last year, 4,903 patients died while waiting for a kidney transplant.
I have come to realize that God is always going to have His way with those who love Him. No matter what plans I make, He always changes them, and He always uses it for His glory. I have no idea how this kidney adventure is going to pan out. I have no idea where I will be this summer. I have no idea what my trip to Africa will look like, or how God is going to get me there. I have no idea what all God is going to do with what He taught me today when I stopped to speak to Chris, but I know that his story will not be forgotten. I have no idea what is in store for my future, but I do know this:
God has my hand. God holds time in His hands. God knows my heart. He breathed life into my lungs. The world has no hold on me. God created me from the dirt, and nothing I have on this earth is going with me when I die anyway. Satan will do everything in his power to keep me from seeking the one true King. The battle has already been won, and Satan has no authority over me. Jesus Christ Himself will guide my every step. He took my place and promised me eternity by His side, so I never have to fear death or what tomorrow brings.
God is good all the time, and all the time God is good.
"His timing is perfect, and He never forsakes."
I thank Him for all He is doing in my life.
What is He asking you to do?!
With a lot of Jesus love,