If you would have asked me after my senior year of high school if I thought I’d be where I’m at today, I probably would have responded no way. It’s not that I didn’t have a desire to serve God, it’s just that I never imagined it would be on this path. It’s really awesome to look back at my life and see how God has guided it. My mom traveled for work when I was a child and she’d always return with stories and new words she learned from each country she visited. I loved hearing them all and seeing her pictures. Whenever missionaries visited our church when I was in middle and high school, I wanted to be there to hear their stories. God used so many of their stories to teach me just how big He is and how he works all around the world.
After my freshman year at college, I had the privilege to go on a missions trip to the Philippines. For the first time my eyes were opened to poverty, to physical and spiritual poverty, and my eyes were open to how God had allowed me to be his follower and how I had no other choice but to share that with other people. A year later an urban missions guy from Chicago, Linc Washington, spoke at a chapel at Grace College and he challenged us to begin praying about whether or not we’d be willing to live our lives out in an urban area. I began praying and praying and praying. The following year, Brian and I started dating and we both desired to work in urban ministry, somewhere, someday. The following year we got married and Brian and I made a commitment to move into some city the following year.
God led us to Philadelphia to work along side Urban Hope Training Center. We lived there for almost 5 years. I taught in the Philadelphia school system and saw up-close the poverty…..educationally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Those were some stressful and emotionally tumultuous times. I didn’t know how to make sense of this life, because it was so different than the life I grew up with. I struggled to make sense of the cultural differences and struggled to make sense of just how rich I was, and I mean rich in every sense of the word….monetarily and educationally and having a spiritual heritage…I was rich. I carried around a superiority and didn’t quite know or understand how to reconcile how God wanted me to love the impoverished. He broke down barriers in my heart, but there were still so many more to be busted down.
We bought a house and started our family and had every intention of living in Philadelphia for many more years, but then the summer of 2004 God led us to pray and fast with a group of friends from college. We sought God together about his Will for our lives as a community. Most of you know the story, and if you don’t please check out our blog for the full story. But, he led us away, from people we loved and people who were so special and a part of our spiritual family. And here we are today, in Argentina, with the Elledge’s and Dunlevy’s and church-planting amongst the urban poor.
It has not been an easy two years, communicating in another language is very difficult, and very humbling, yet at the same time it is absolutely AMAZING to see God at work in people’s lives in spite of the langugage difference. And everyday God is breaking down more barriers in my heart and each day he is helping me to see a little bit more clearly how His heart is with the poor and how He loves them. I will never be able to understand the life of those who live in the villas de miseria (shanty-towns), but God wants me to love them and share Him with them.
This path isn’t what I envisioned for my life, but it is EVERYTHING God imagined and I am so thankful to have the privilege of following Him.
Some verses God keeps drawing me back to and breaking down more barriers in my heart: