How it happened.
Updated: Jan 26, 2020
Last week marked one month since I returned from Uganda. It's wild to think that I've already been back for a quarter of the time that I was gone. #wut
I don't think I've ever shared why I became interested in missions in the first place. I only surrendered my life to Jesus in my freshman year of college, and so I'm sure it's confusing for people to understand how this shift came about so quickly, especially to those who knew me prior to university.
After coming to know the Lord in April 2016 and having knee surgery in June, I joined ministry teams with the Well, a non-denominational campus ministry at ETSU. For those of you who don't know, "ministry teams" is a group of about 60 students who help lead the ministry, whether through hospitality, leading small groups, or planning different outreach events.
In my sophomore year, I served on the hospitality team. My job included setting up and tearing down the sound equipment for our Wednesday night worship gatherings. This was the team with the least time commitment, which is what I felt I needed as a new believer in Christ.
When it came time to sign up for the next year, I found myself hungry. I wanted more. I wanted depth. I wanted God to break my heart for what broke His (although I will admit now that when I prayed that prayer, I had no idea what I was in for. #oof).
I was placed on a brand new team, the Go Team, my junior year. This team was, and still is, focused on local and global missions. The fall semester became the perfect storm in my heart, and was by far the most difficult semester I had ever walked through.
I was taking two International Relations courses in school, one of which being "International Law and Organizations." I had to watch documentaries about multiple genocides that occurred in Africa, where brother turned on brother for seemingly no reason at all. I watched documentaries on torture. I learned about regime change and war and conflict. I learned that no political system, not one, works the way that we expect it to. They all fail, in one way or another.
At the same time, I was on the Go Team, learning about people who have given their whole lives to make the gospel known to people all over the world. It seemed abundantly clear to me that political systems always fail, but God never does. What this world needs is Jesus. As all of this was happening, I remember telling the rest of Go Team that I felt a stirring in my heart, a stirring for missions.
That didn't make sense to me, because I had never been on a mission trip and barely understood the concept. But God was so, so faithful and gave me the opportunity to go on my first mission trip with the Well, to Texas where I helped with flood relief efforts. He used a terrible season to implant a passion for missions, a passion that ensures that my life will never be the same.
The following year, I was entrusted to
co-lead the Go Team. By this time, I was all in. I put my "yes" on the table before the Lord and simply asked Him, "What would you have me do, and where would you have me go?"
You probably know the rest of the story. He told me, in such a simple way, that Uganda was the place to be in the fall of 2019, and that He was going to go with me. The rest is history.
I could say a lot more about the process of going, what that looked like before I left, while I was gone, and now that I'm back. But for now, I will stop with this:
"Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying: Who should I send? Who will go for Us? I said: Here I am. Send me." -- Isaiah 6:8
Jesus, send me. Send me where You want me. That can be as far as Uganda, as different as China, as close as my apartment complex. Just use me as an instrument for Your glory. I am here, and I am willing.