God’s Presence Isn’t Bound to Geographic Locations
In the summer of 2019, I had the privilege to serve as a NEXT intern in Central Europe. Throughout the duration of my time overseas, the Lord changed my heart entirely and opened my eyes to the vastness of his grace, mercy, and love that transcends cultural and geographic boundaries.
While overseas, I saw churches that looked nothing like the traditional churches scattered throughout America. Old Jewish ballrooms and living rooms became sanctuaries of worship. Coffee tables and subway cars became spaces for discipleship. The Lord’s presence was not bound to a geographic location but was instead being poured out like a drink offering for the thirsty and downtrodden.
God etched the names and stories of those kind enough to share life with me onto my heart. After three months, I came home with a heart filled to the brim with conflicting emotions. Even though I saw the Lord calling back to himself those who bore his image, I also saw brokenness and heartache that I could not imagine. I met friends who thought that believing in Jesus was a waste of time and a sign of weakness. I sat with friends who wept after recalling their traumatic voyages as refugees fleeing their countries. Sitting with Jesus that summer meant understanding more intimately the Messiah who is well acquainted with grief (Isaiah 53:5) — whose ministry brings good news to the poor and binds up the brokenhearted (Isaiah 61:1-3).
While God was opening my eyes to the love he had for those around me, he also began to open my own eyes to the depth of his rich love for me. For the first time in my life, I began to see God as a loving Father, who so desperately wants relationship with his children. He showed me that he had designed me specifically and perfectly for his purpose in my life. All I had to do was receive that love and trust him to take me where he led.
Needless to say, coming home with a mixed bag of emotions led to an interesting reentry process. Reverse culture shock hit harder than I could have anticipated, but the friends and mentors I had made from my time overseas helped soften the blow. During the reentry process, I was offered a position as a student campus mobilizer with Global Partners. Knowing that this would give me an opportunity to encourage other students to accept God’s invitation to see some of the work he is doing across the world, and perhaps secretly hoping God would help me process the work he had been doing in me over the summer, I graciously accepted the offer.
As a student campus mobilizer, I had the opportunity to act as a bridge between students interested in serving God cross-culturally and the opportunities that existed through Global Partners that put those desires into action. The position allowed me to sit with people who courageously asked the question, “What if?” What if God was calling them to go to the unreached peoples of the world? What if God wanted all they had for cross-cultural service? What if God was ready to reveal himself to them in miraculous ways and to use them as a vessel of his grace and peace? It was a sweet privilege to listen to and walk alongside those who wanted to reflect God’s love in this hurting, hungry world.
The Lord changed my heart entirely and opened my eyes to the vastness of his grace, mercy, and love that transcends cultural and geographic boundaries.
As we were entering the season of preparing to send out the NEXT 2020 interns, the coronavirus pandemic brought our human plans to a crashing halt. NEXT interns and students interested in serving cross-culturally were barred from traveling. Students were sent home to finish out their semesters online. I was privileged to continue to meet with members of the Global Partners mobilization team virtually as we held onto hope that the Lord was going to use this for his kingdom’s expansion.
I spent the next five months living a college graduate’s worst nightmare: living in their parents’ basement, but the Lord used this time to refine my trust in his steadfastness even in the darkest of nights. After what seemed like 40 years of wandering in the wilderness, God opened a door for me to work at The Bridge Community Church in Logansport, Indiana, where I would be helping in their church, coffee shop, and legal office. Remembering my overseas friends who had to jump through a myriad of hoops in order to file for asylum filled me with excitement at the chance to serve the immigrant community that has been forced to do a similar dance in order to create a new life in the United States.
Though I still have much to learn, it is clear to me that Jesus’ work of redemption and salvation is taking place as fervently here in America as it is overseas. God is reconciling lives back to him and using human means of justice to do so. I am honored to play even a small part.