It was my freshman year of highschool, and I remember sitting in Bio 1, sick to my stomach and trying not to let the tears in my eyes escape. Two days earlier I had come back from a mission trip to the Dominican Republic. After making friends with ladies who raised six kids in a one room shack and playing with schoolgirls who walked five miles a day just to get an education, I was in intense disgust at the upper middle class American reality I had ungracefully reentered.
I didn’t know back then about culture shock or whiplash. I did know, however, that the short two weeks in that colorful, impoverished nation had touched my heart in a way that made snowy Pennsylvania with its Ugg Boot-wearing residents seem like the least satisfying place in the world.
Over the next weeks, my mom came to me and asked if I was okay multiple times. She knew I wasn’t happy, but something had happened in my heart that I didn’t have the words yet to explain. Looking back, I can say that God had met me and marked my heart with His love for the nations. Yet at the time I was confused, discontent, and desperate for someone, anyone, to understand what I was feeling.
I ended up spending the next few months crying myself to sleep and pouring my heart out to God, crying out for more. It seemed that God really was the only one who understood the transformation my heart was going through, which is fitting because He is the one who caused it. But during that moment in my life, I grew in relationship and deep trust with God, the one who sees, knows, and cares so deeply for me. I never felt a need to explain myself to Him. And I found a freedom in letting my heart fall in love with the world, the way He loves it.
Let me rewind a bit to give some context. In the late summer of 2014, I was 14 years old and had started my first job waitressing. I loved Jesus with all my heart, but I was a baby Christian and knew very little about the world outside of the United States, although I had always had this deep desire for something more, to do something meaningful and exciting with my life.
One day on my way to work, my dad had the Christian radio station on. A man was giving a testimony about his son becoming a missionary. I was only half listening, when out of nowhere the clearest thought of my entire life crossed my mind: “Faith, you are going to be a missionary.” I didn’t know at the time that God could speak to me, but I knew so completely that it had been God talking. I had the most intense peace and a crazy, excited feeling in the pit of my stomach.
I kept this experience to myself, but when an announcement came up at church to go on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic, I had that same feeling in my heart and my stomach, and I signed up. My parents weren’t so sure about me traveling out of the country without them, but after a lot of prayer and convincing, they finally said yes. The trip was in February and March of the following spring 2015.
The entire trip, from the plane ride there, to the long days in the sun, to every single prayer service and work project, transformed my life. I remember going to a school with hundreds of sweet little kiddos, all dressed in matching uniforms with big, brown, beautiful eyes. We did a VBS and spent hours playing with them. They crawled all over me, holding my hands and playing with my light colored hair like it was the craziest thing they had ever seen.
I had so much fun getting to know our translators, riding on the backs of motorcycles and singing with them, and learning phrases in Creole that I practiced in the villages. We did a lot of ministry in villages that were owned by plantations. The people there are families who have worked in the same fields for generations, living in the most desperate poverty, with up to 20 people living in one small room. They were paid much too little to ever find a better life for themselves. I was so heartbroken and cried every night in my bed, wanting to be able to do more and actually help.
The thing that God marked my heart with the most was the relationships I created with the women there, even though we didn’t speak the same language. Some of them were my age at the time, with two babies already. They would let me hold them as we walked and tried to talk and laugh together. The relationships God gave me there were pure, sweet, and genuine. They were something I had never experienced in my life in the U.S., and they were what my heart was crying out for. Worshipping, reading the Bible, and sharing simple meals together with these women, who had nothing to offer except friendship, I found the “more” that I had always longed for. "More" is nothing except deeply loving people and deeply loving God.
John 15:12 says, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” How extravagantly has Jesus loved us! And in that same way we are to love each other. I had never experienced this before, until that trip. And that is when I told God that I was all in, and I wanted everyone in the world to know Jesus, to love Him, and to love the world the way He loves it.
I felt like God was smiling and laughing at me, as I told Him this. It was as if He knew all along that I would want this, as if He made me for relationships and missions. It was as if He put that desire inside of me and was laughing like the good Father that He is as I began to discover it.
Through a really long story, with many drawn out details, God has fulfilled this desire of my heart. I did training schools with YWAM after I graduated high school, in 2018-2019, and I am currently on staff as a full time missionary. In the past 4 years, God has taken me to five different countries, as well as all over the United States, where I have made so many beautiful relationships and grown even deeper in love with Jesus than I ever imagined was possible.
I now live in a community of other missionaries who also love Jesus, love the nations, and love me. And every day I find myself thanking God for the way that He has transformed my heart and satisfied my desire for deep relationships.
Back in freshman Biology class, I was depressed and sad, completely unsure of what to do with the love and aching desire in my heart for more. But God is so kind and faithful, and when He puts a desire in your heart, He always fulfills it. It just takes stepping out and trusting Him and pursuing Jesus, on our part.
What are you passionate for? What are your big dreams? What is stopping you from going for it? And why not come do a DTS? You might just find what you’re looking for as you position yourself to come face to face with God and meet Him.
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