It was my sophomore year of college, and I found myself stuck to the chair in a dark room while passionate worship music pumped through the speakers. My world had just been rocked and — unbeknownst to me radically altered.
“God does not bless you just to bless you,” the speaker said. “He blesses you to be a blessing to others. All throughout Scripture we see how God blesses people for the purpose of making HIS name great among the nations.”
As I left the conference and drove home through a snowstorm, I knew God was calling me to abandon my summer plans. Over the next few weeks I began the process of preparing for my very first short-term mission trip to Turkey. Of course, like any normal 20-year-old evangelical female, my heart was driving the entire application process. Passionate late night discussions with friends about “the lost” around the world were common. I cried when I watched missions videos. I just knew, I knew, I could make an impact. After all, God had called me to do this thing! He had shaken my world and my heart was being remolded for His purposes. As the time drew nearer for our five-week trip, I felt ready and prepared. Our church trained us well and our team even met weekly to pray and plan. It was time to go to Turkey to make a big difference for the kingdom.
As it turned out, I was actually a really terrible missionary. From the moment I landed in Turkey, I felt fairly comfortable and in awe of all the strange new sights and sounds. But I quickly learned that my heart could only take me so far. Of all the girls on the team, I was the only one who walked away from our five-week trip without a good, solid friendship with a Muslim girl. We spent most of our time at a university, helping English classes and building relationships outside of class. I truly loved the time connecting with the Muslim students at the university but found myself feeling drained from long conversations in broken English about everything from American culture to the Bible. “What is wrong with me?” I wondered. “Why are the other girls building these great relationships with the Turkish students, and I simply tag along?” “If my heart is so moved by the lost in Turkey, why doesn’t that translate into good missionary skills?”
So many of us wear our hearts on our sleeves. We make decisions and take action based on deep feelings that propel us. This is not bad! Rejoice in how God has made you! But I am here to offer both a warning and an encouragement for those of you who are like me and have paved your life’s course based on what your heart has told you to do.
You can have a deep love for the nations. You can desperately desire to see them saved. But that doesn’t mean you should be the person sent to the front line of church planting and evangelism. Maybe it does mean that, for some. I can’t help but wonder what God could do through us, though, if we realized what role God would have us play in reaching the lost we are so burdened for.
Since my “failed” missions trip to Turkey 13 years ago, I have learned that I am not truly a failure. If anything, my desire to see the nations saved has grown by leaps and bounds. However, I’ve learned that I am far more effective as a communicator and administrator. I’m deeply passionate about helping others catch God’s vision for what He is doing on a global scale. Talking with young people about their gifts and talents and how they can use those gifts and talents in another country energizes me. This is how I play a role in God’s mission to save the nations. It is important and it is valuable. It is not sexy — and you won’t read any autobiographies written about me — but I don’t care!
You have a role to play! Never in the history of mankind has God called someone to follow Him and then allowed him or her to sit on the sidelines of His mission. There is a reason God made you the way He did.
Are you good at explaining the Gospel in simple terms? Girl, get yourself into your community and start those spiritual conversations.
Are you gifted at hospitality? Invite international students into your home for an American meal. If you struggle with making good conversation, invite a friend from church who is good at it to come, too. Don’t feel bad that you aren’t a good conversationalist.
Are you administrative? Create a system for people at your church to help pick up international students from the airport when they arrive in the country to study at your local university.
How has God gifted you and how can you use it to share the gospel with people who need to hear it? We’d love to hear from you. May you be encouraged today by the unique ways God has created women all over the world to be a part of His mission!
Julie is ta Digital Marketing and Social Media Strategist for the ERLC. She is married to Jesse and they have 3 children, one of whom was born in Madrid, Spain during their time with the International Mission Board.
Every Sunday we share a few announcements for both Emmaus members and non-members. On Monday, we feature those announcements and at times, a few more. Read below to keep up-to-date on all things Emmaus!
CHILDREN’S VILLAGE | NOV 18th
Christmas on the River is THIS FRIDAY! Join us on November 18th from 6-9pm. We will have games, face painting, Santa, a photo booth, crafts and music – all for free! Please help spread the word that Emmaus is hosting this fun, free family event. Head to our Facebook page to share our post about it.
Calling All Teenagers, on January 27/28 we will be going to the Ready Conference at Midwestern College! Plan to join us!
The weekend will include:
– Incredible teaching by Jared Wilson, Owen Strachan, Trip Lee, and more
– A concert by rap/hip-hop artist Trip Lee
– Fun time hanging out with other Emmaus youth and those of other churches
– Event will begin with dinner out as a group on Friday night and end on Saturday afternoon with a fun Emmaus youth event.
– Total cost of event is $35.
Let Josh Hedger (email@example.com) know by Nov 21st if you plan to attend!
NEW SERMON SERIES
Beginning on Sunday, December 3rd, we will begin a Christmas series, Incarnation. We hope you will make every effort to join us each Sunday in December as we explore the folly, glory, and story of the incarnation of Jesus Christ.
Please note, that we will NOT have our regular services on Christmas day to allow our pastors, staff and families time to be with their extended families.
Emmaus is looking for 1-2 summer interns to serve in our partnership in northeast Italy for approximately 8 weeks in summer 2017. These people will join interns from our partner church, Freshwater Bolivar, in Italy to work with the International Mission Board and local believers in reaching our city with the gospel.
The approximate cost is $3,500. If you are interested in this opportunity, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
“Church, don’t forget that Jesus is coming back. We share in his death and we share in his resurrection.”
Did you miss the sermon last week? Ronni Kurtz spoke on Philippians 3:1-11. Listen to it on iTunes or on our website.
It is my privilege to share this story on the Emmaus Blog. Jason and Abi Westman, an Emmaus family, will soon be welcoming a boy into their family through adoption. They have been seeking the Lord’s will on this for a few years now and very shortly, it will become a reality. I share my interview with them here and hope God will speak through their example of faithful obedience.
Hey, Westmans! I heard the good news about your adoption. What a huge change for your family! Can you tell me what lead you to first consider adoption?
Abi and I have been on this journey of grace. We have always thought one day we would adopt, but it always seemed really far off in the future . . . a “someday” thing.
Over the last year and a half, we felt this incredible burden for the children of the world. The Lord began to grow that burden until we couldn’t ignore it anymore. We started this process not having an idea what we were doing or what it would take. Through every step, the Lord has been so faithful in providing friends and family who have already walked this journey to offer advice and to hold us up in prayer. We have been so empowered by the prayer of the saints.
We also feel that our heavenly Father has adopted us by paying the price by his own son. In Ephesians 1:3-6 it says,
“3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.”
We were predestined for adoption through Jesus. So, through our own adoption into his family, we came to understand that we were to adopt. It is the love that the Father has for us that we knew we were called to adopt. We also felt the calling to bring the mission field into our own home. How could we be willing to go evangelize the world but be unwilling to open the doors of our house and invite an orphan into our home and say, “Come with me to Jesus.” We know that we are not the ones who save but we are called to be the who give the words of life to those who will not hear it unless we set it in front of them.
I guess you already answered my next question then. Where there any other passages of scripture or sermons that influenced you to adopt?
Ephesians 1:5, James 1:27 and Matthew 28:19-20 have all been helpful to us.
For us it is less individual verses but the call to evangelize and live life as if you are on mission. So, it lead us to live life as if we are on mission and how better can we do that then bringing a lost child into our home?
That is such a good word of exhortation to obey, Jason and Abi. Thank you for pushing us to remember that! So are there any fears you’re experiencing about adopting an older child?
There are always fears when it comes to bringing children into the home.We face the fear of continuing to care for our other son, the fear of change, the fear of the unknown, the fear of safety . . . The enemy excels at whispering fears and “what ifs” into our ears! We serve the One who has already won, so we have the freedom to lay all of these fears, daily at the foot of the cross.
Ok I know there are others at Emmaus who are considering adoption. What advice would you give to them?
Be ready for the Lord to show you how broken you are, in ways that you can’t even imagine! But then be ready for Him to take the brokenness and turn it into Glory for Himself. As a family, we are more in love with the Alpha and Omega now than we ever have been.
As for advice? Begin now a disciplined life of prayer, when we are weak He is strong. During this we have felt a heaviness on our hearts both with the child we are bringing home and the ones we didn’t. But we believe that in laying each child at the cross and seeking the wisdom of God; he will continue to be gracious and pour abundant wisdom on us!
So we want to help you. Tell us how Emmaus can support you.
Prayer! Please appeal to the creator of the universe in whose image we were created. It has been a tiring road and it has only begun. We are just about to start the most difficult leg of the journey. So we desire your prayers above all else. Not only pray for us but tell us you are praying for us and in what ways you have been praying. The encouragement of the knowledge of the saints bowing before the throne on our behalf is vital to our journey.
Financially, we need to raise a little bit of money to finalize the adoption happening soon. We are doing a t-shirt fundraiser and if you’d like to buy one of our adoption t-shirts you can do that here. All of the funds will go to directly to us so we can bring home our new son!
Finally, be understanding. Our family will be going through change and our new child will more than likely not act like a typical child of his age. Have patience with him and us as we adjust. We desire for our new child to bond with each of you in your own special way, but it will come slowly. We may not be available or around as much during the transition period but we still desire your encouragement. We desire your community. We desire the love the of the body. Please remind us of the Gospel, remind us of why we were lead to adopt. We need you all to build us up into our mutual head which is Christ.
If you are interested in helping Abi and Jason out financially, you are more than welcome to give directly to them. Please contact me and I can get you their contact info: email@example.com.
Did you miss the sermon last week? Glen Higgins, one of our pastoral residents, spoke on Philippians 3:1-11. Listen to it on iTunes or on our website.