Missions

Change

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” 

Jeremiah 29: 11-13

 

A ladder on the exterior of one of downtown Monroe's historic businesses.

A ladder on the exterior of one of downtown Monroe’s historic businesses.

Nobody likes change. Scratch that.

Nobody likes their plans getting upset. (Which leads to the whole…well, are they “your” plans or “God’s” plans? And his are bigger than yours, right?)

I have been drafting this post in my head for two weeks.

And even after two weeks of crafting the words in a different order, mulling over a creative metaphor, and generally just dragging my feet…I keep coming back to simplicity. News is best understood in its simplest form.

After living in Clarkston, on the outskirts of Atlanta, for one week as an intern with The Mission Society, I made the decision to go home.

I was so blessed and challenged by my one week in Clarkston. I learned about the culture and history of Burma from my host family and their church family. I learned about hospitality customs in Nepal from my next-door neighbors. I learned about how The Mission Society is investing in inner city Atlanta through John and Katheryn Heinz. And I witnessed Jesus moving in a community that has experienced more conflict, persecution, and change than any I have encountered before.

The refugees of Clarkston are so willing to share their stories with anyone who genuinely wishes to learn about their past, their home, their hearts. Whenever my family would return to the United States from living abroad for years, I often felt overlooked and unheard. You take away someone’s humanity when you disregard their story. It’s easy to look at a community of refugees and immigrants and list all of the problems. It’s hard to go sit in their living rooms, share a meal, and listen. I think listening is the key to the heart.

God is faithful and I learned more than I imagined I would. I am continuing to learn. Due to some miscommunications, along with some prodding from Jesus, I was convicted that my summer was not meant to be spent in Clarkston with the Mission Society.

I moved home three weeks ago. I spent my first week back looking for more opportunities in the city of Monroe, Georgia. My mother’s family is from Monroe. I grew up “doing furlough” in Monroe. My biggest fear for a long time would be that I would end up moving back to Monroe. And yet, here I am. But more importantly, God is here.

Through my parents’ church, I got connected to a local ministry called FISH (Faith in Serving Humanity). I was immediately attracted to their mission statement:

Because Jesus Christ calls His believers to be in service to the poor and needy among us, F.I.S.H. endeavors to respond to the needs of Walton County residents for food, shelter, utilities, clothing, medical care and transportation in verifiable situations.

The community at FISH is incredible. Their twelve staff members work with a crew of approximately 200 volunteers, who share the love of Jesus by loving members of their local community. There are times when statistics make everything seem hopeless. I have seen the hands-on love of the people at FISH restore dignity and love in the lives of hundreds of individuals here in my hometown. And I am beyond blessed to call myself part of this community.

So, in keeping this simple, funds I raised before this summer are now being transferred from The Mission Society to the FISH. The majority of the funds will go directly as a donation to the non-profit as they provide medical, dental, financial, and food services to the local community. A portion of the funds will be budgeted as my stipend.

I want to be transparent with those who have so generously prayed over my summer and given financially to the ministry God has led me to. Shoot me an email with questions about FISH, my summer, pretty much anything.

Change can be unnerving. But in change, I have found hope and joy through Jesus. And I am thrilled to continue sharing that life of hope.

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Learning to be a Learner

This past week I spent four days in Norcross, Georgia to complete my Greenlight internship training.

And it was INCREDIBLE.

While I could regale you with hilarious stories about the four of us who were there for training, I will hold back. Instead, I want to share three things I learned that stood out to me the most.

1. Be a learner

All four of us girls are going to live in cross-cultural environments for two months this summer. That’s an exciting prospect, as well as stress-inducing. Thailand and Peru might sound a bit more exotic, but Clarkston has been dubbed America’s Most Diverse Square Mile by Time Magazine. Point being, we will all be in places where we are unfamiliar with the culture. We were given the advice to approach this experience as a learner. We aren’t there to sell anything, we aren’t pushing agendas, we are simply there to learn.

2. Everyone should be able to follow Jesus within their own culture and their own language. 

It’s sad to me that this seems like a radical statement. Christianity is generally given the face of the white North-American. This is hardly true. Christianity looks like this:

And this.

The term “Christian” has garnered a negative connotation over the centuries, from the Crusades to Jim Jones. If the message Jesus taught is true, everyone should be able to follow him without giving up their culture and their language. As the author Darrell Whiteman said, ‘”Jesus” is God spelled out in a language humans can understand’.

3. Prevenient Grace

God is already in Clarkston. I am not taking him there. I am going to find him there. In the midst of transition, fear, and unknowing, God is there. It seems to me Jesus always had a knack for showing up where he was least expected, and where he was most needed. I have no doubt he has already been working in the lives of those I am going to meet this summer. And I am so honored and thrilled to go with the purpose of learning and sharing their stories.

This post was a bit wordier than I like, but I felt so strongly that I should share what I have been learning recently. And this is just a portion.

What do you think? Have you ever had a cross-cultural experience? I’d love to know what you think about missions or cross-cultural work. Get the conversation started! You know you want to.

P.S. We had fun exploring Atlanta, too. Pardon the crappy phone quality. I think the quality of the subject makes up for it. ;)

Piedmont Park | Atlanta

Piedmont Park | Atlanta

Hotlanta

Hello!

I am back in beautiful, hot Georgia. After the craziness of finals week, I feel a lot like this.  So many papers were written that I am not entirely sure I even know how to properly construct a sentence anymore. All words sound the same right now.

But I survived! And I am pumped to start my internship next month. You have no idea how excited I am to get to know Atlanta and the people in Clarkston. As June approaches, I am rapidly checking off things on my to-do list.

Prep for Documentary – check.

Get camera and audio equipment – check.

Sunscreen – check.

Prayer – check.

This summer is going to stretch me and I am praying that as I learn about the different cultures around me, I will learn more about myself. Please continue to pray for me as I prepare for this summer of missions and service. Pray that I will build lasting, meaningful relationships. Pray that I will not lose sight of the vision I have for this documentary and that I will not grow discouraged when things do not go as planned.

And if any of y’all want to help a girl out, I am still in the process of raising financial support for my 2 month internship with Centerform. If you have a few dollars to spare, shoot me an email and ask me how you can support me this summer. At this time, I am also accepting any and all suggestions of restaurants/coffee shops/awesome places to visit.

This is getting real. I’ve definitely still got butterflies in my stomach but I am growing more and more excited as June gets closer.

Stay classy!

Oh, Hello There Blog World

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Hello!

As a newbie to this whole blogging thing, I feel a lot of pressure to write an incredibly clever, wisdom-filled post. But that’s not really my style. So bear with me.

I may not be clever, but I do have some incredibly exciting news. I am preparing to begin my newest adventure in one month. Life has taken me to some crazy places (most recently Russia) but this time I am journeying to Atlanta for the summer! I am STOKED.

I was born in Georgia but I’ve only spent about 4 years of my life there. And let’s be real, Georgia is a pretty cool state. And Atlanta is a pretty cool city. So the fact that I get to live there, intern there, and get involved in some awesome ministry opportunities there…that’s exciting stuff (It’s seriously making me really happy).

I’ll be interning with the Mission Society and Centerform while I live in Clarkston. If you don’t know anything about Clarkston, hold onto your seats. It’s a multi-cultural melting pot right in the heart of Georgia. I’ll be working with the local church and getting to know refugees, third culture kids, and lots of wonderful people.

All of this is really awesome and exciting. But I’m also nervous (like so many butterflies in my stomach right now), because I’ve never done anything like this before. So pray for me as I embark on a completely new kind of journey. I’ll be keeping you updated every step of the way.

Stay tuned, folks. It’s going to be a good one.