I have been thinking about this a lot lately. I guess being in this time of my life where I figure out what is next. In solitude, I sit, cry, and pray asking God to direct me. In the silence, on the answer of wait echoes back. My aches for so many things. Human trafficking. Genocide. Perversion of sex. Refugee camps. Poverty. Truth…in all of these things and many more, all I want to do is share truth and love, even if only through action. But being here in Lakeland, I find it so hard to be me. I was not created to just serve coffee at Mitchell’s Coffeehouse, even though I do love it. I was not created to just hold doors open at the YMCA for my church Access on Sunday mornings. And I was surely not meant to be sitting here in this apartment in comfort and peace while the rest of this world rages in some form of war. No, this is not me.
Two years ago I went to Honduras for the fourth time. One night my friend Vicky and I were sitting on the rooftop just gazing upon the city. I began to weep on the balcony realizing that in the morning I would have to say goodbye, again, to the very place that first stirred my heart. Vicky, my dear friend, sat next to me realizing that truth as well. But I was stunned when she made note of another truth about me. She said “Mandy, you’re in your element when you’re here…when you’re doing something like this. When you’re getting sunburnt, dirty, and sweating out there. This is what you were created for. This is who you are.” Granted that is not an exact phrasing of what she said, but it gets my point across. What she said to me on that balcony has never left my memory. What she said was true.
I am fully alive and fully myself when I am doing what I know is what I was created for. I know that in my heart I am not doing everything I can here because here is not where I am meant to be, at least not for long. Even further, I am beginning to believe that where I am meant to be will be harder, more uncomfortable, and even more dangerous than anything I have experienced. Something inside of me is preparing me for what is to come. Maybe you won’t agree with me. Maybe you believe that God doesn’t put his followers in danger.
Last summer, a friend of mine- a missionary to the Middle East- make a comment I can never forget. She said “Don’t you dare pray for my safety. Never pray for my safety. Always my ministry.” I want to get to that point. I want to get to the place where literally everything in focus is what God leads me to. I do not want to face fear alone because of the strength and courage of Christ. I do not want to back down from anything for possibility of danger or even worse….death. I don’t know. I just believe, that deep down, this year and last- are preparing me for the years to follow. The hard years. I’ve been struggling financially. I’ve been injured and sick in more ways than ever before. I have never felt more alone than now. I have never been more discontent than now. I feel that all of this, everything I have been dealing with is preparing me for the coming years of hard ministry in foreign countries. Not countries where you can speak the name of Christ and be done with it. But countries that speaking the name of Christ gets your stoned or killed. Counties that bring threat of bombings. Countries that kidnap American women for sex trafficking. Countries that kill anyone that speaks truth in any way. These are the areas that I feel I will soon be approaching.
I need to get to that point where danger is never my focus. Safety is never my focus. My ministry must be, at all times, my priority, even if unto death.