I’ve Already Begun

Like it or not I’ve already started my internship. My friend Tristan reminded me of that a couple of days ago. I was sitting with him and my friend Hudson at a coffee shop table, freaking out over  what is about to happen with my life over the next four months, and he reminded me that God has already started me on this incredible journey.

For all you who don’t know yet, to finish up my education and move towards graduation, I get to go on an internship. There are a couple of rules: 1) It has to be abroad or I have to cross some cultural barrier. 2) It should be about 6 weeks long. 3) This internship needs to be a part of an organization that is focused on engaging people with the Gospel and furthering the Kingdom of God. It is such an amazing opportunity to get to go on this kind of trip for my education. I have friends going to East Asia, to North Africa, to Latin America, and Jacob Klever is going alongside me to Brussels Belgium. All my friends are going to be a part of amazing organizations making a difference in the lives of people all over the world. One of my friends has the opportunity to fight against sex trafficking in L.A. and I am amazed by the courage she has. For me and Jacob, we will primarily be engaging with the refugee population in Brussels, alongside loving on the homeless community and doing outreach throughout the city. I don’t know a whole lot more than that, but tomorrow night I’ll be able to speak with one of the trip leaders, so I’ll let you know if there are any more details!

I want to use this opportunity, this blog that your reading, to really be honest, and honestly I have no clue what I’m doing right now. I have felt a tremendous amount of fear and anxiety these last few weeks, and it has caused me to loose sight of what this trip is about. I recently found out that I will be staying at Biola another full semester (that pushes graduation to Spring of 2018), and I have been panicking trying to figure out finances and my new class schedule. The anxiety I feel has been immobilizing. I’m doing my best to figure things out, but on top of fundraising for Brussels, I am almost completely at a loss. In the middle of all this, I was reminded of Philippians 4:6-7:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 

I’ve never had any reason to question this verse, but in that moment I couldn’t believe that I could just stop being anxious. Honestly, just turn it off. Since then, I’ve come across Job 38-41 where God admonishes Job by illustrating how completely in control he is over everything, and Matthew  where Jesus reminds the crowds that God is the one who clothes the grass of the field. If God pays so much attention to his creation, then how much more will he provide for us, his children. I have been encouraged by so many people that God has got my back in this (Jacob and Chad thank you for sitting with me and listening to me panic!), and it took all them and Tristan to finally get that into my head. As I’m sitting in my own anxiety Tristan tells me,

“Your on a roller coaster. It’s scary and terrifying, but your calm and you have peace. You have peace because even though you can’t see where your going, you are strapped in and you know there are tracks ahead of you.”

He is right. God has a path laid out for me and even though I’m walking it blindfolded, I know God is leading me somewhere good.

“’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’” -Jeremiah 29:11

This is like beginner stuff, right? I totally should know this, yet I have to be reminded of it again.

So where am I now? Well, practically I am going to walk out in faith with a contingency plan in mind as well. I’m going to pursue Brussels with all I’ve got; I don’t see any point in backing out. However, with finances and grades and everything, I also am preparing to stay in L.A. I am currently seeking out an internship with Voice of the Refugees, and organization provides services to immigrant refugees in Orange County and the suburbs of L.A., and I absolutely love what they are doing. If all else fails, then I will stay where I am. If God wants me here, then I trust that he will shut the door to Brussels. My goal is to use this internship opportunity to serve. If I will be best used by God in Brussels, then I’ll go! If L.A. is where God will use me most effectively, then by all means I want to stay! Whatever happens, I know that I am already on my internship. I am learning to really trust God and seek him out. I would appreciate your prayers and encouragement! It has been an intense journey already, and I haven’t even left yet.

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Preparing for the Call

I experienced a lot of doubt this week concerning what God’s purpose is in preparing me for these next couple months. I absolutely love what God is doing in the nations. I have heard story after story of how God is engaging with those who don’t know his son, and it’s inspiring! Hearing stories of people meeting the love of Jesus for the first time brings me to tears and for those of you who know me well, that’s a difficult thing to do. I want to see what the Holy Spirit is doing in the nations, and I suppose that is what my problem is. Not that I want to experience missions first hand, but I am afraid of missing out on God if I don’t go. This week has been a battle with the fear that if I don’t step out in faith this summer and try to go to Brussels, I am never going to have the courage to do so again. What a stupid lie!! Honestly, I’ve already stepped out in faith! I’m incredibly invested in this trip, emotionally and financially, and I’ve put actions to my words. I really do want to go to Belgium! I have been believing that God is going to work a miracle in the next week, and I still believe he has the power to do it!

It’s not my own faith that’s troubling me, it’s that I don’t know if I hear the voice of God well. This has always been a touchy subject for me, because I remember distinct moments in my childhood where I was encouraged to hear the Holy Spirit, and “failing” to do so. I’ve come a long way from those feelings of intense disappointment and doubt, but it’s still a major insecurity in my life. It manifests itself in comparison amongst some of my friends. They are amazing people who are stepping out in faith because God has called them to lay down their summers for the sake of the Gospel. They each have amazing stories of how God has spoken to them in crazy ways, and it is really impressive to hear how they listen to the Holy Spirit! God speaks and they obey. I don’t have one of those stories. The decision for me to go to Brussels was one made blind, and it has been a frustrating journey, trying to hear God speak and him keeping silent. I’d tried to stay positive and have “faith”, but it was too much for me to deal with and I fell some depression for a couple days.

I came to the point where I realized I had come to the end of all I could do, and I decided that the only option was to turn to God and fully lean on him. Matthew 6:25-34 has been on my mind a lot,

Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more about food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they…

…Therefore, do not be anxious, saying ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

It took a while for this to sink in. My team was encouraged by the leaders to do this exercise where we drew two concentric circles, one large and one smaller inside it. The outside was God’s responsibility, and the smaller is mine. The goal was to write in the large circle what God promises in any given passage, and the smaller is our responsibility/response to him. In this section of Matthew 6, God promises to provide for physical provision, and my response is to a). not worry, b). seek the kingdom of God, and c). seek righteousness. It’s crazy how simple it is! If I am seeking the Kingdom of God, if I am always looking to make Earth more like Heaven, then God will provide for me to do so. If I can make the biggest impact in Brussels, he will provide the funds to do so, yet if I can best serve anywhere else God will redirect me.

I am a volunteer! Isaiah 6:8 “Here I am! Send me!” There is a crazy powerful song by Lindy Conant called Isaiah 6 and as I was listening to it this morning I realized how much this verse resonates with me. I have a lot of hope for this summer because I know that God’s call leads to amazing things. I’ve already answered that call, and I’m ready to step out in whatever he has for me. Whether that be in Belgium, or in L.A., I really don’t care either way. He is writing a beautiful story that history will remember for eternity, who am I to try to write the small bit about me? I hear the voice of God! I’ve heard him since he first started speaking to my heart about his Mission as a kid, and I’ve just now in these last few years rediscovered his voice. Maybe he won’t speak to me in the way he does to others, maybe I need to spend more time listening; all I know is I have heard enough to have my heart persuaded that he is going to use me over this summer no matter where I am, and my responsibility is to search after his kingdom and righteousness.

Where does that leave me now?? My heart is in God’s work in Brussels, so I will pursue it until the last day of fundraising (May 5th)! I believe God can work powerfully, and I’m incredibly encouraged in how he has been working in my heart. I am at 29% right now, so I’ve made some good progress! Thank you to all of you who have partnered with me financially! I still have a long ways to go, but if 100 people give $50 I’ll be fully funded with some to spare! I am so excited to be a part of what God is doing, and I can’t wait to share it with you!