Every once in a while you get a chance to see some of the reward for your labors and it is truly a great gift from God. This week I experienced one of those “Paydays” and I want to share it with you. Below is a blog from a young lady that graduated from our student ministry program. Here name is Sarah and she just returned from a 6-month teaching stint in India. Her friend Hannah just left for Uganda and Sarah had the privilege of helping Hannah pack the night before she left. Following her final goodbyes to her friend, she wrote the following blog and it’s rich. Keep in mind, these are 20-21 year old young ladies who love God, and whose passion for Him puts many of us to shame. I hope you will be challenged by her words AND reminded to keep serving God where ever He has placed you. The paydays are great, but you don’t get them if you quit before work is done!
Time to Go
I’m too awake to sleep. I just spent the last four hours packing for a four-month adventure. The carefully-made packing list was checked at least three times, items had to be removed to bring the weight down to 50 pounds, and the bags were zipped up with the knowledge that they would be opened next across the ocean.
However, this time, the packing and planning were not for me. My dear friend Hannah is leaving today (considering that it’s past midnight) for a four month adventure in Uganda. She’ll be taking university classes, living with a local family, and serving in the community. I couldn’t be more thrilled for her.
Hannah and I have been friends for eight years now, beginning as timid middle school students at Bethany Baptist Church. I won’t go into the story of our friendship here because it would practically be a novel and I would probably bawl the whole way through. But in short, God has blessed us with an amazing friendship, united not only by our love for Him, but also by the heart for the world and the gospel that has the power to transform lives.
Five years ago, Hannah and I were finally old enough to go on Bethany’s annual missions trip to Tecate, Mexico. We were excited at a caliber only teenage girls can experience and reveled in every step of preparation. The trip was amazing and only increased our desire to continue going on more missions trips. We were blessed to be able to go on quite a few together throughout high school, and God used these experiences to mold our hearts and deepen our passion for sharing the good news of the gospel in cross-cultural settings.
We both took a step of faith to major in missions (Intercultural Studies) in college and are seeking God’s will for our lives, with the willingness to serve Him full time overseas one day.
Last June, Hannah came over and once again we looked over my packing list together to make sure I wasn’t missing anything important. She stayed at my house late into the night, helping me to pack all my things tightly into corners and crevices of my big blue suitcase. She slipped encouraging notes in between my clothes and sent me off to India with prayer and lots of love. Tonight, I did the same for her.
It kills me that we’re spending so much of this school year so far away, but it absolutely thrills me to see where God is taking us in this season of our lives. In fact, a number of my “missions trip buddies” have embarked on adventures this year. Melody went to Israel last summer and will be leaving for a semester in Ireland in less than a month. Jessica is with her family who are serving as full-time missionaries in Mexico. Jarren is spending a year in Israel, and a number of other friends are thinking and praying about opportunities in the near future.
It’s just amazing to see how God has worked in the lives of our little group of church kids, trying to learn what it means to serve God with our lives. Missions trips to Mexico opened our eyes to the poverty and need outside our country. Missions trips to inner-city Philadelphia opened our eyes to the poverty and need in our own country. And missions trips to Salem opened our eyes to the poverty and need in our very own hometown. Conferences like TLC and Dare2Share inspired and equipped us to live passionate lives of faith, surrender, and witness. In weekly Crosswalk and Sunday School, Pastor Joe and the other youth staff taught us what it looks like to live for Christ in every facet of our lives. I remember one series that challenged us to “Go anywhere and do anything for God.” PJ also taught us how to be missionaries in our daily lives of work and school, through the Unfourgettable Nights and apologetics classes. We received the teaching, saw it modeled, and were given opportunities to put it into practice.
And now, almost four years graduating from Crosswalk, I can see, at least in part, how God used that incredible training in my life, in Hannah’s life, and in the lives of so many of my friends. We’re starting to reach that time when we actually go out from Salem into the world for longer than a week or two, facing challenges and circumstances that are completely new to us. Still, we’re not walking into these adventures blind. God has been preparing us for years, teaching us to depend on Him in all things and go forth with a “spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline” (2 Timoty 1:7). I don’t know that any of us truly know how blessed we are to have had such amazing preparation and teaching.
So while I will miss Hannah each day over the next four months, I rejoice in this opportunity God has given her. I am confident that He will equip her for the work He has called her to and that He will use this experience in her life for good. I’m so grateful for Hannah and for all of my brothers and sisters in Christ who stand beside me in our passion for Christ and love for the world. We have experienced the power of the gospel and the need of the lost, and now it is time to go, knowing that God will be with us each step of the way, just as He has been throughout our lives.