Yesterday sitting in the cafe I got to meet this really cool girl, Sarah from the States, working with OMS doing a video about the ministry opportunities in Ecuador. As she shared her story with me about how God brought her to the place of doing missions (something she SWORE she would NEVER do), I thought about my own story.
I love my story because its mine. It's bizarre and I have done a lot of things that I told God that I would NEVER do. If you haven't heard my story, I think its about time that you hear it. (If you have, feel free to get a refresher or skip this blog... up to you :)).
My parents have been youth pastors since before I was born, so i think I was born being a 17 year old, or at least hanging around them. I became a Christian sitting on the toilet when I was 5 years old (long story... if you wanna know, you gotta ask) and I think the first person I ever shared Jesus with was a little girl on a beach in California when I was 6. That started a love for sharing Jesus with people (spurred on by my mother and her passion for sharing the gospel).
As I got a bit older, church became "the thing you do." I was the last one at church every Sunday because I had no choice. When I was 15 years old I went to visit my non-christian cousin. As we sat on the beach in New Jersey, we talked about life, love and eventually about God, she told me, "You don't have to do this." And I said, "Do what?" She responded with words that cut me to my core, "This Christian thing. It's your parents' religion, not yours."
From that moment on I realized it was time to make a choice, was this going to be my parents' religion or my relationship? I chose the later and began going on mission trips, investing into my friends and really living for Jesus. I think I was 17 when I first decided that I was going to be a missionary. My dad's intern, Kelly was a big drawing factor in all of this. She had given up the comfy life in Colorado to travel to the Philippines and be a missionary. 'This is what I want to do.' I thought.
As you will hear many times in my story, God had a different plan, but I was too stubborn to recognize it. So I thought at 18 I was going to head off to the Philippines, but then I thought better of it and decided to go to Moody Bible Institute to study missions. Everyone told me I was a shoe-in and as usual God had other plans. I ended up in Lagrange, Wyoming (population 350)at Frontier School of the Bible (population 100). A place I swore I would NEVER end up.
I was still dead set on doing missions and completely ANTI-youth. But as usual, God had different plans and I started working with a youth group in Chugwater, Wyo (population 200... or so). God used those kids to break my heart for youth and see that no matter how much I fight it, THAT was where I was supposed to be.
After that, I had the opportunity to go to Dallas and help out some good friends, Oscar and Jen with their youth at Prince of Peace. God continually reinforced my desire and I changed my major to youth ministry.
Through many tears, I gave over my hearts desire to do missions to the Lord. But thank God that his plans aren't mine because through the next 4 years I got the chance to take those kids to several different countries and expose them to missions. So I thought that was it... push my youth towards missions.
Again, that wasn't God's plan. Through a series of events, I was getting out of youth ministry and had no idea where to go next, so I made the logical choice and got a job at Starbucks. During this time the Lord worked in me through a type of cafe ministry... hang out and talk to people about Jesus. I LOVED it.
So I thought why not just make a job out of this?? I searched and searched but didn't find anything that fit what I wanted to do, so I gave up. I remember sitting in my friend's living room saying, "I don't think God has a plan for my life. I think he's just going to kill me and be done with it." (Yes, I can be a bit dramatic). Through tears I handed my dreams (again) to the Lord.
Not a week later my dad calls me and tells me that he found a ministry on the SIM website that I might be interested in. I thought to myself, 'Yeah right it won't be what I want.' But I agreed to look into it. In the job description it said, "Looking for someone with a heart for evangelism (check), experience with youth (check); we are a coffee shop outreach to university students (check check!!)." So last year I ended up here in Loja Ecuador working with University students and just loving people to Jesus.
Since then my job description has changed a bit and I am currently the manager of El Sendero. I never would have guessed God would have brought me to this place... not in a million years. But here I am, in the center of his will. And to be honest, I can't wait to see what's next. You know why? Because God's plans are not my plans and for that I am truly thankful!!!