“Has God ever promised you something? Has God ever clearly led you?”
When twenty-nine-year-old Kristen H. of Fredericksburg, VA, gave God the opportunity to fill her heart with His desires, she didn’t dream it would involve living boldly and serving Him globally. God surprised Kristen with a mission-building journey. She spent a gap year as a volunteer with Mission Builders International, helping at YWAM locations and visiting missionary friends in Uganda, Swaziland, South Africa, Cambodia, New Zealand, Great Britain, Israel and Germany.
How did it all get started? Kristen says:
“A little over one year ago I was able to attend a retreat just a couple hours from where I live. You’re thinking I’m going to say that God slowly showed me something through the speakers that weekend, right? But no, God didn’t even wait for the retreat to officially start to speak to me.
“It happened that I was there a couple hours early, so I walked down to the pond, with my Bible in hand, and just sat before the Lord and quietly read and prayed. While I was sitting there, God clearly spoke to me through a few different verses in Psalm 20 and 21 and promised me that He would give me the desires of my heart. I asked God to do as He promised and grant me my heart’s desires, to make His desires mine and direct my steps. I didn’t know what those desires of my heart were and in what way God would fulfill that promise until almost a year to the day later.
“I do love to travel and, while I had a gap year in life and was seeking God for the direction I needed to take, I thought it would be great to take a little time and maybe plan a trip across the United States. But, as God continued to lead, I had no idea He would bring me to a place of traveling the world!
“I was praying and seeking Him on whether this mission trip was what He had for me and realized it was exactly where He was leading me. I’m not the girl who has always had a pull toward being on the mission field, but when I asked God to grant my heart’s desires and make His desires mine, He took me seriously. He created in me a desire I didn’t even realize I had: a desire to see His work advanced, a desire to serve His people, a desire to live boldly for Him.”
From teaching English and making jewelry to cooking meals and taking care of small children, from housekeeping and reception work to organizing in a café that employs marginalized women, Kristen served the YWAM campuses that hosted her and the people they reach out to. In the midst of serving, she also experienced the beauty of her host nations physically, culturally and historically.
“His ways and plans are so much better than ours,” Kristen says. “I had a big idea, He had a fantastic one!”
Kristen’s story may not be very different from one just waiting to unfold in your life. What are your heart’s desires, and where in the world might God be leading you? For fantastic possibilities, visit www.missionbuilder.org!
(To see more photos from Kristen’s journey, visit her blog at mymissionjourney.com.)
by Amy Lindstrom
I remember looking in my husband’s eyes as we sat across from one another at a local restaurant. I had called a meeting. I had a lot on my mind.
I was fighting my way through the sadness of an empty nest, looking for new meaning and purpose. I knew I needed more and I wanted to “finish well.” I had deep fear that my last productive decades would be spent going out for lunch with friends, sharing photos of grand babies, scrap-booking and reading an occasional book. It wouldn’t be enough.
“Give me a few more years,” Paul said. So I did. I waited a few more years, finding more meaning than I’d anticipated. I finished a master’s degree in Christian counseling ministry. I was involved in mentoring younger women and mothers, counseling, praying, leading small groups, teaching. Still, I knew there was more. I wasn’t sure exactly what it was going to look like or how it would happen, but my soul longed for adventure, depth, more of Jesus and a community of others that longed for the same things.
Finally, God intervened and some rearranging began to happen in our lives. Some was good, some was difficult. Paul submitted to the changes, remembering the agreement he made across the table that winter day.
It was time for an adventure with Jesus. Depth, growth, challenge, pain, revelation, surrender; all of these were part of the MBI Crossroads DTS we participated in during the spring of 2014. Not even two years ago! Amazing, considering all that has happened since then. It was as if the waters of labor broke and the real me was birthed from a struggle I didn’t understand at the time.
Like many of you, I knew there was more in me than the world would want me to believe; more than what I saw so many in my generation settling for. I knew all of the experiences, failures, pain, loving and sacrifice I’d lived through was training that made me fit for a work that was somehow holy.
Holy is defined as: consecrated to God; set apart for the service of God. I knew the coming decades of my life were to be set apart in a way that was different from those now past. Motherhood and teaching had been services that were sacred in their own particular ways. But, I knew something was waiting that was different.
Looking back at the past 24 months, I find it amazing to see what the Lord has done with the days and weeks and months now in my rearview mirror. I’m blessed to have seen many of my life-long dreams reach their fullness. Some I had even protected from utterance in my prayers. There have been times when I was filled with doubt and painfully stretched, but the adventure I began in my Crossroads DTS has become a whirlwind of adventure, growth and delightful surprises.
Last January, I traveled to Mazatlan, Mexico, where I was a mission builder for 10 days. I went there in a desperate attempt to remind myself that God was working on a plan, ordering my steps, and there was something else to come after my CDTS. I went with small expectations, not knowing what would happen, just willing to serve in a warm and beautiful place. What happened was immeasurably more than all I asked or imagined (Ephesians 3:20). I worked in hospitality and housekeeping, something I knew a little about. But the Lord gave me grace and favor, opening doors so I could also use my education and experience to lead a time of intercession and minister to staff and students through prayer, counseling and teaching. Those younger than me sought my wisdom, knowledge and friendship. They welcomed me as a valuable blessing to their community. This was the encouragement I needed to expand my YWAM training in order to use my experience in counseling ministry to bless YWAMers.
In April of 2015, I attended a secondary school in Kona, Hawaii: Foundations of Counseling Ministry. This has opened further doors for me to use my master’s degree in YWAM. I completed three months of outreach over the fall and winter, ministering in Scandinavia and campuses in my home state of Wisconsin. Paul and I traveled to Mazatlan, Mexico, again where I taught, ministered, counseled and participated in local outreach. He assisted with campus projects and helped build a house with Homes of Hope. In future months, I will continue teaching, counseling and ministering to those who long to expand the kingdom but are hindered by the pain and wounds of life.
This is what I have learned since my adventure with YWAM began:
- Although the Y in YWAM stands for youth, the younger generation is hungry for the wisdom and experience that my generation has to give. Having lacked a God-like love as children, many still crave the care and nurture of those older than themselves; spiritual mothers and fathers to accept, mentor and cheer. God is a God of the generations. He desires to join the generations together in bonds of love and unity. Yes, they really want us, need us, and we are still part of the story!
- There is a real community available to us; a big family that loves us as we are and welcomes the chance to do life with us. There is a belonging that is unique to the Body of Christ, where we are able to transcend differences in cultures, colors, languages, age and gender. Yes, there is a community where we can belong!
- God is challenging my generation to surrender the selfishness of a retirement focused on pleasure; to use the blessings of our age and resources to benefit the kingdom. Yes, we really have much more to give than we realize!
- It is never too late to heal, find purpose, dream dreams, discover what else is inside of us. God has never stopped dreaming dreams for us and he has not forgotten the things he has whispered into our hearts, the promises he has made. Yes, he is faithful to finish what he started in each of us (Philippians 1:6)!
- God knows us. He knows exactly what we bring to his kingdom and the best place to set us. He knows every detail of our joys, talents, knowledge, and if we follow, he will place us exactly where we can most brightly shine for him. That may be behind a bulldozer, in a kitchen, playing with orphans, painting a sign or praying with the brokenhearted. He alone knows where we fit and the time of our arrival. Yes, we can trust him!
Be encouraged today! The Father is not finished with me or you. Perhaps, like myself, you can find YOUR place with YWAM and MBI. Perhaps you, too, will begin with a Crossroads Discipleship Training School. God may have another road for you to travel. But I am certain that however the Father chooses to do it, there is still meaningful purpose and growth awaiting you. Change and adventure are both exhilarating and terrifying at times. But to me, the alternative is even more frightening. God is good, trustworthy and faithful. Lean into ALL that he has for you.