Stepping outside the box is sometimes very hard to do. I recently stepped outside the box and totally stepped out on faith in God. I was at a Seniors Conference in Tennessee in October of 2006 and the main emphasis of the evening service was missions. I enjoyed the music as I always do, but there was something very different about that night. The program started with a parade of flags from all the countries in the world. The first flags were from countries that had Southern Baptist missionaries there spreading the word of God. The second group were from countries that had not heard the gospel of Jesus Christ. As I watched these flags go by, I remember saying to myself we have a lot of work to do before Jesus comes again. My heart burned for these countries that had not heard the gospel.
The keynote speaker of the conference for that night was very vocal in telling us that we needed to go and tell these countries about the love of Jesus and spread the gospel to all the nations. His emphasis was that we were seniors and would be more apt to have the time and resources to go to other countries and tell others about Jesus. It was as though I could not sit still during his message that evening. He finished his message by giving a time of commitment. His call was for anyone willing to go for a week to one of these countries and to spread the gospel. He asked that anyone that would be willing to go to please stand up. I jumped up like a Johnny Jump-Up doll. As I stood there, I could not control the feelings that ran through my heart at that moment. I felt as though my heart were going to burst and there was an immediate feeling that God was all over me and it was a wonderful feeling. The next feeling I remember was asking myself, what have I done? My pastor and his wife were sitting next to me and knew what had happened to me. They were very happy and proud for me.
After I went home, I began to search the internet for missions trips to foreign countries that were for medical missions since I am a nurse. I found numerous ones and I applied to several. They were eager to go and as time went by, these trips did not make for various reasons. This went on for about four to five months. One day after I had spent some time looking for an opportunity to go, I just looked up and said, "God what do you want me to do?" I felt that I had made the right decision that night in Tennessee, but was having second thoughts about the whole thing. I gave up and stopped looking for a while.
One evening when I went on line to get my emails, I ran across an email from the Ukraine. I could not believe my eyes. I opened it and it was from a mission strategist there who had seen where I had applied for mission trips to foreign countries and they wondered if I would be interested in going to the Ukraine to serve. They were planning a Summit in Apex North Carolina where they and several other missions strategist would be there talking about the needs in that country. It just so happened that I had asked off for that week from work because it was going to be our church revival and I wanted to go. The meetings were going to be the same days as our revival. The only problem with that was that Apex was 41/2 hours away from where I lived. The meetings started at 8:00am and our revival started at 7:00pm. I knew in my heart that I needed to be there. Something was drawing me there and I knew that something was God.
I arrived the first morning and was met by the mission strategist that had sent me the email. I don't know how she knew who I was, but she did and she helped me register and go to my first meeting. While I was there I heard about all the needs in that country and my heart really began to burn and I wanted to go full time as a missionary. I met a lady who was a trip organizer for groups of people who wanted to go to the Ukraine to serve. She and her husband became friends with me and she told me that if I ever wanted to go on a trip to call them. She gave me her business card and I tucked it away in my wallet. They traveled many times during the year to the Ukraine and would love to have me join them.
While I was there, the mission strategists informed me that the church where we were meeting was planning a trip to the Ukraine and they needed a nurse to travel with them. This was very exciting and I immediately said yes, I would go. We kept in touch for a month or so after the meeting and then people began to drop out of that trip and it soon was obvious that we could not go. After this I did not know if I would ever get to go on a trip. I began to search the Internet again for more opportunities to serve. One day I remembered that my friends there had given me their business card and told me to call if I wanted to go on a trip. I gave her a call and she said that her church was going in October and that I would be more than welcome to come and go with them. I was so excited about this. We had our first meeting and I realized that I did not know these women and they did not know me and we were going away for 9 days to do a women's conference in Kherson, Ukraine. I had never done or participated in a women's conference before and did not know what I would do or say. The team leader passed out a book entitled "My Heart, Christ's Home" and told us to read it and to use that book to decide what we were going to speak on-when we were in the Ukraine. As I read that book, I kept on saying to myself, you are a nurse, what can you do there?
We had to have our rough draft of our message in by the next meeting. I prayed very hard to see what I was suppose to speak about. I felt led to do something medical and at the same time do something spiritual. I decided to speak about health issues and how to provide care for non emergent medical needs such as sprains, colds, fevers and so on. Then I would speak to the pain in the heart, but it was not a physical pain, it was a spiritual pain that came from not knowing Jesus as their Savior. I used the analogy of a butterfly going from the time it was in its cocoon until it made that slit and was finally able to make its way out as a beautiful perfect creature that soared through the skies.
While we were there, several of us sang in a trio and sang solos. Music has always been a passion of mine. My first degree in college was in music. This trip was not about what was my abilities, but to teach me that if I wholly leaned on God's direction, that I could be used of Him for His work and that He would provide me with the resources to use and at the right time. I must say that this was an awesome experience and that being in the absolute center of God's will for your life is an humbling but exciting experience, one that you will not soon forget.
Since that time, I have spent time in telling others about Jesus here in our own country and am making plans to go on another foreign missions trip. I have spent a great deal of time telling others about my trip to the Ukraine and what an awesome experience it was to be there and God lead you through all the aspects of that trip.
I once heard someone say that you really can't be a very good foreign missionary if you can't be a missionary here in your own country. That made an impression on my heart and has caused me to search my soul for the strength to always be about my Father's business, whether here or far away. I have since committed my life totally to doing His will. It does not matter that you are not in a specific place or time, just that you are in the absolute center of God's will for your life and that you are totally willing to do whatever He leads you to do.