Tuesday 16 August 2016

Go, Be, Love - On a Mission

Over the next few weeks, I will be featuring stories from amazing individuals who are doing wonderful things for others. Their stories are stories of mudslides, hope, birth, witnessing a need and responding to it and their stories are part of what it means to be human. Some of these individuals have started organisations or they work in or with organisations who are setting the captives free! As a writer, I want to be the change I want to see and as much as I sometimes want to go and be that difference, I know I can be that difference right here.... by sharing the passionate stories of others. Jessica's story left me with tears, tears because missions is close to my heart, short term missions and I truly pray that her story and the work of Visiting Orphans, will perhaps stir your heart to, GO BE LOVE!

My story with Visiting Orphans actually begun when I was 9 years old. You see, it was at that age, when I felt the call to be a missionary. It was during a worship service one morning at my church when I heard God whisper to my heart “I am calling you to the Nations.” From that moment on I have felt a burning desire and passion to GO to the Nations! I begged my parents to let me go on my first trip when I was 12 but they told me I needed to wait until the ripe old age of 13. I was elated to go on my first International missions trip to Peru, when I was just 13 years old and I can truly say that my life has never been the same since! Since then I have had the honor of serving in missions in over 40 Nations throughout the world. In 2010 I married my amazing husband Chris (whom I met in an airport baggage claim on one of these missions’ trips) and together we have served in missions throughout the world since we got married. I am so thankful that God sent me a spouse who has the same heart as mine!

In 2012 my friend asked me to go on a missions trip to Kenya & Uganda with a missionary organization called, Visiting Orphans. This was a huge deal, as my husband and I were already committed to serving on a missions trip in Alaska for two months. We needed to raise a lot of funds if we were to go on both trips but I prayed about it and really felt God calling me to go. So I took a leap of faith and God radically provided the funds. I am so thankful that I stepped out and trusted God to provide for the trip to Kenya & Uganda! While on that trip my heart was truly transformed and my eyes were opened to the great need that existed in Africa. But my eyes were also opened to the great beauty that exists there as well. So many times missionaries go on trips with the single thought that they are going to “bless” the people they are reaching out to, which of course they do. Yet in the end, it is also the missionaries themselves who are blessed and their hearts and lives are radically transformed. 

I came home from that trip knowing I had to do something more and through the generous donations of family and friends, I was able to provide pillows, blankets, and mattresses to hundreds of children living in one of the orphanages in Kenya. That was a transformative life moment for me as I had the realization that if we all come together and do something, we can truly make a difference. Everyone can do something no matter how small and it’s those “small things” that make the biggest impact in the world. To this day, I still receive thank you letters from the children who received the new beds. Some had never had a pillow or blanket of their own before. Can you imagine that for a second? One girl told us that throughout her life, she  had only ever had a scarf to cover her body with. Let that really sink in for a second. Small things that add up = big changes and impact in the world in a world unimaginable.

Over the years I have learned that short term missions trips are so, so effective and powerful because it’s not just about the trip but about what happens AFTER the trip. So many people who choose the route of short term missions come home and go on to do things that leave a lasting impact. Whether it be fundraising for needs of the orphanages or ministries they worked with, becoming an advocate for a child, spreading the word about the needs they have seen, or even adopting a child that they met while on the trip! The list goes on and on! I would encourage you to see short term missions as a powerful tool that leaves a continual impact far in to the future of your own life, even after you have returned home!

In 2015 I connected with the Executive director of Visiting Orphans, Autumn Kerr via Facebook after I found out that she was moving to my hometown in Florida! We instantly hit it off and she told me that she would love for me to work with Visiting Orphans, but there were currently no positions open. I was obviously excited about the possibility but told myself to be cautiously excited as I knew there were no positions available. Just a couple months after meeting Autumn, a position at Visiting Orphans became available when one of their staff took a position to move full-time to Uganda! I could hardly believe it! It felt too good to be true that I would actually be on staff with an amazing organization that had such a profound impact on my life! I pictured God smiling and saying “See, my plans are always better and always way more exciting than you can even imagine!” Today I serve on staff at Visiting Orphans as a Missions Specialist. I coordinate several of the 15 countries that Visiting Orphans goes to and I also do administrative work such as process trip applications, manage donations, etc.! I feel like I pinch myself every day that I get to work for such an amazing and influential organization. I praise God for how He has directed my paths. His plans are always the best!

One of my favorite scriptures is Psalms 37:4 which says “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” God has given me the desire of my heart by giving me my “dream job” working in missions as my career! There is truly nothing better than being able to work doing something you are deeply passionate about.

Visiting Orphans just celebrated its 11th Birthday and we are extremely thankful for the impact that we have been able to have throughout the Nations. We have been so blessed with amazing team members and the best team leaders! It is only by partnering with passionate people who feel called to help us live out our mission which is to Go to the Nations, Be focused on relationships, and Love like Jesus, that we are able to keep doing what we do! I am so excited about several new trips we are launching this year! We are launching our first ever domestic mission trips and locations include Florida and Alaska! Domestic trips have been something very near and dear to my heart as throughout the years I have asked myself “What am I doing in my own nation?”

 You can find more details by checking out our website: www.visitingorphans.org. Click Missions Trips then click Where we go to see a list of upcoming trips! Thanks for helping us to GO. BE. LOVE.
Sharing at Unite 

1 comment:

  1. SO loved reading your story and how miraculous God is in all of His workings! Loved hearing how you got your position at Visiting Orphans, as well! What a testimony! Thanks for joining me at UNITE! Blessings, Jen