I finished high school practically scared of my own shadow. Certain sources which shall remain nameless, had convinced me I was incapable, unworthy, and that my future plans should follow the path of least resistance. All other roads were fraught with potential for disaster, failure with the accompanying shame and condemnation. I was just a backwards Mennonite girl from a poor family–not terribly smart or brave and I certainly wasn’t much to look at. So I got a full-time job and lived a day to day existence while my expectations for the coming years lived somewhere in a nebulous cloud of uncertainty.
But God of the mustard seed. Underneath the layers of fear and doubt, roots began to grow in my spirit. God took my love of writing and storytelling and nudged me to take more training in that area. In my late twenties he led me through encouragement from a counselor and I applied for a Voluntary Service position with what was then the Eastern Mennonite Board of Missions and Charities (Now Eastern Mennonite Missions) My fifteen month assignment was one of the best experiences of my adult life as I served as a secretary for an EMBMC church plant near Boston, MA and a clerk at a Christian bookstore in the city itself.
More than twenty years after that initial foray into adventure, I have lived and/or ministered in nearly a dozen different nations including the U.S.
I traveled alone internationally for the first time to the South Pacific to my first training school with Youth With a Mission (YWAM). My six months away included six weeks of missions in the Philippines. During those six weeks, my team and I dined with a Filipino governor and rode a jeepney across the dusty mountains to minister for a week in a village with no running water and sporadic electricity. A number of us became ill after about five days so we had to cut our time short. The trip back by speedboat along the rugged, volcanic coastline was dramatic.
During other trips, I taught creative writing in India where the student body included a former member of a radical Hindu faction who’d converted to Christianity. He was a delightful young man who possessed the most tremendous sense of humor of anyone I’ve ever met.
I’ve ministered to orphans in Bogota, Columbia and visited the poverty plagued northern section of the city. During our time there, guerrilla rebels blew up a health club a few miles from where we were staying. Fifty people were killed.
In Haiti, my team and I did spiritual warfare at a known voodoo sight, almost ran out of gas in the desert, and led a group of prisoners in singing, “I have decided to follow Jesus.”
In the Dominican Republic I visited a leprosy community and ventured into a drug-infested ghetto in Jamaica with my team to bring the light of Christ in the midst of darkness.
In Barbados, my two coworkers and I were the only white cast members in a production performed by the top Christian dance company in Barbados.
In the U.S., I slept in a van with my fellow missionaries in the middle of nowhere in Nevada when we had mechanical failure. And in Hollywood, we prayed and reached out to the entertainment community and assisted several of the Christian ministries that bring the light of Christ to the industry. For more see, http://hollywoodprayernetwork.org/, http://www.mastermediaintl.org/
Even during my current hiatus from missions, I graduated from and then helped facilitate YWAM’s three month School of Writing (formerly of Lindale, Texas) that has hosted many well-known authors as their teachers. Next year I plan on spending seven months at the YWAM base in Kona, Hawaii, the new home of the School of Writing, to once again staff it. While, there, I hope to “spy out the land,” for other ministry opportunities in media, mercy ministries, etc.
I praise God for peeling back the layers of doubt, lies and trepidation that covered over my latent talents, potential and boldness. It’s only his grace that can account for this. Fear has often been a controlling, even debilitating force in my life. But a greater power inside of me–the, “Greater is he who is in you than he who is in the world,” compels me on. Nelson Mandela once said, “The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”
In no way do I disparage those whose dreams look quite different than mine–the wife and mother whose goal is to see her children fear God and serve people. Or the father who wants to someday pass on his successful small business to the welcoming arms of his children. Having a spirit of adventure does not mean doing dangerous things or traveling the globe. It is everyday living life to the fullest where you are, doing what God has given you to do.
Perhaps you feel beaten down by past abuse or mistakes. You may believe the lies that you are worthless, hopeless, lost, and don’t deserve to dream. Maybe all you can manage is to just survive today. Having a dream, much less following it is a ludicrous, even terrifying idea. You might feel trapped by your circumstances–circumstances that may even be of your own making.
God is the key to release. When we come into right relationship with Him through his son, Jesus, and begin to walk with him, we can learn to hear his voice. By reading the scriptures, seeking godly counsel, and learning the truth about who we are as children of God, our Lord will show us how to live. If we dare to be bold, he will show us his dreams and plans for us and the steps needed to pursue them.
That doesn’t mean life will be easy. There is a very real enemy who takes great pleasure is opposing us every step of the way. But Jesus told us in John 16:33 that he has conquered the world for us and the apostle Paul tells us in Romans 8:37 that through Christ, we are more than conquerors.
God is glorified when we are fully alive in him, in the abundant life Christ came to give us. The world is waiting to receive from God through us. Living our days with passion, joy, gratitude and courage, handing back our talents and skills to the Lord for him to use in his kingdom, is one of the greatest acts of worship we can ever give our maker.