October & November Prefield Update
Updated: Nov 23, 2018
These past 2 months have certainly been months where I have seen God's grace so clearly, and I hope I never forget.
God has been challenging me in the past month in the areas of thankfulness, prayer, and trust! I want to specifically cover these ways He has been challenging me in this update. I am so in awe of the ways in which God works and how He has and is changing my life.
First off is in the area of thankfulness! Over the past 4 years, I have kept a tradition of creating a new Spotify playlist on my birthday. This playlist will contain all songs that meant something to me or spoke to me in some way over that year. Then over my birthday week, I listen through the songs that meant something to me the year before. It really does tell a story! That's a pre-cursor to how God has been teaching me to be thankful.
I was thinking, "What do I want to call my 28 playlist?"
Then Bekah and Franci tag-teamed to throw me a surprise birthday party the day before my actual birthday. It was at one of my favorite coffee shops in Lynchburg that I've grown to love even more over the past year (The White Hart) and the guests were people from all across my life - my family, friends from ultimate, friends from youth ministry, friends from Thursday prayer. work friends, old roomies, etc. It was potentially my last birthday in the states which made me feel kind of heavy hearted, but as I walked into this party, 100% surprised, a thought came to my mind as I looked at this family God had given me. This is all His kindness.
I rediscovered a beautiful verse. "Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?" Romans 2:4. Whoa! His kindness leads us to repentance. His kindness draws us to His grace, His forgiveness, His fullness, Himself. Over the past year, thinking of leaving my home and so many people I love ("27 - The Leaving"), I had neglected His kindness in all of it. The reason why the sacrifice of leaving to go to South Brazil feels hard is because of His kindness in my life. I decided that this year, I wanted to seek out His kindness, His hand, His nearness in my daily life. His kindness towards me doesn't end. He draws me nearer still to Himself. I don't want to be hardhearted in my sin. I want to be soft to His mercy whatever that cost may be. I named my playlist "28 - His Kindness." That is what this year has been so far, in all of the hills and valleys.
Secondly is prayer. I have never been so aware of the reason and beauty of prayer as I have been in the past two months. I have had the pleasure of becoming part of a prayer group that meets every Thursday morning to pray over the same 4 topics for the past few months. God has used this time and these individuals to really grow my faith and trust in His ability to do anything.
This leads into something I've been praying about for the past year. God so beautifully answered my prayers in His timing, not mine. As I kneeled on the concrete floor with two of my teens before their baptism on 11/11/2018, I thanked God for bringing them from death to life. A year and God did this amazing thing that my soul may burst over. They both separately came to talk to me about how they had decided to follow Jesus and wanted to be baptized. I asked them a ton of questions and then cried because God had done an incredible, beautiful, merciful, kind, powerful thing! He'd saved my girls! He'd given them life abundantly in Christ alone!! I got to baptize them both, and I cried each time as I said "I now baptize you, my sister, in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit." My sisters, Aly and MerriMac.
It makes my tear up just writing about it. I am grateful for how God put these two in my life and how He used me as part of their story of His kindness drawing them to repentance. Really, what I'm most grateful for is how my God is mighty to save. We plant seeds and water the ground, but God produces the growth. Thank you, Jesus, for growing your salvation and redemption in the hearts of my girls. I'll never get over that. I'm undone.
(Photo Credit: Lynnea Kalinowski - thanks for these pictures!)
Last but not least is trust. I'm not going to lie, prefield is a lot of work! I have books to read, classes to take, training to do, discipleship and evangelism assignments, support to raise (monthly and one time). This is on top of my normal activities like work, school, youth ministry, relationships, and more. I have also been on a freeze where I have not had any new supporters for nearly 2 months. So I've been praying, asking God to show me my next steps, to provide people who would like to partner in sending me to Brazil, and what things in my life God wants me to step away from. I have answered prayers in both areas! It has been a process, but, as I mentioned before, God answers in His timing and also in ways we may not anticipate (or even want at times).
I will start with support raising and being at 55% for the past few months. In the past two weeks, I have had 6 conversations about partnership in sending me to Brazil. I am officially at 65% supported as of today! I am once again blown away by God's provision and kindness towards me. He uses little things like this to teach me to trust Him even when I don't understand or can't see what's ahead or how He will accomplish something.
In regards to my next steps and what to step away from, this process has been tough to say the least! I have already stepped away from two ministries that I love and still have too much on my plate. Then God brought up my job. At first, in my desire for security and to stay as far away from change as possible, I thought to myself, "God, I just don't think I heard you right. That doesn't make a whole lot of sense." But God led some friends to also ask me these tough questions around work. I prayed, and it was very clear that I needed to talk to my boss. So I talked to her letting her know what I was thinking. She is a pretty great boss and an even more amazing friend, so I knew she'd be honest with me about what this may mean for my future in my position. The short of this conversation is that there are options that would provide me with the time I need to accomplish my ABWE training and assignments so that I will be on track to go to South Brazil near the end of next summer. Nothing is confirmed or set in stone, but it's such an answered prayer to know there are options. God has shown me through this that He has a plan, and I can release my grip on security and comfort. He is in control of all things and is so very trustworthy!
Frequently Asked Questions:
I wanted to add this section because I have heard a good number of the same questions from different people throughout my time as a Prefielder. I figured that since that was happening, maybe I could help answer some questions by taking the time to answer some FAQs. Hopefully this is helpful and informative!
"When are you moving to Brazil?" I have given so many different answers on this over the past year! God has changed my plans a number of times. I've had people say, "Wait! I thought you'd moved to Brazil!" and then some who think I'm leaving in the next month. I will give you my best estimate at this point. It will be somewhere between the beginning of August and end of September of 2019. God has changed my plans before. He may change it again. For now, this is the time to move that I am looking at.
"What will your day to day ministry look like when you get to Brazil?" To this question, my honest answer is that it depends! I have the potential to join 1 of 4 different church plants, and I am not sure yet which one God has for me to be a part of. I know that my first year will be primarily focused on learning the language and better understanding the culture. These things will help me be more effective in ministry in South Brazil. During this time, I will serve with the various church plants in whatever capacity I am able, and we will pray as a team what exactly my role in ministry is and in which church plant area. Discipleship and evangelism will be a part of whatever direction I go, but God has not made me privy to the details of what that will look like. I'm just trusting Him one step at a time.
"What do you have to do to be able to go?" In order to go, there are a few things that I need to complete. I have monthly and one-time support to raise, am speaking at various churches, and have a lot of training and discipleship requirements I have to complete for ABWE. This along with my other normal life responsibilities like work, relationships, youth ministry, etc. It is all a gift, and there is definitely much left to do in order to go.
"How long will you be in Brazil?" In short, until God tells me He has something else in mind! 'Long-term missionary' means just that, a long-term commitment, and I believe that is exactly what God is calling me to in South Brazil. From what I understand so far, I will be serving in 4-5 year terms and then will have a time of furlough. Furlough can range in its length, and I'm not sure how long mine will be. Whether I am there for 5 years or for the rest of my life, I'm going to continue to follow God wherever He leads.
"Where are my monthly donations going if you haven't moved to Brazil yet?" Currently, monthly donations are going towards my Outfit & Passage which is the one-time cost that I need before I am able to move. I am at 40% supported in this area because of one time donations and partners who have begun their monthly support.
"Can I wait to give until you go to Brazil?" Yes! The reason I ask people to fill out a Support Commitment on ABWE's website if they plan to support me monthly is because this counts towards my percentages of what I have raised and have left to raise. This gives me a good understanding of how much monthly support I have and have left to raise as well as helps me meet goals so that I am able to attend trainings. Trainings are offered once or twice a year depending on which it is, so I am working hard to achieve support goals so that I can attend them.
I hope that this answers some questions that you may have now. Please feel free to ask anything if you'd like more insight on some of these questions or on others that you might have. Going to South Brazil would not be possible without the generosity, prayer, and support of the saints. Thank you for how you guys have encouraged and blessed me throughout the process of going to Brazil! God is glorified in that!
1) For God to provide partners in financial support to bring me to 100% by February. Also, that He would provide prayer partners who will pray for South Brazil, the people there who need Jesus, and me as I seek to make known the mysteries of the Gospel with boldness and grace.
2) For youth ministry and that God would draw more of our teens to Himself as they hear the Gospel week after week. My desire is that they would come to follow Christ and come to understand how He fits into each area of their lives.
3) For God to continue to guide my steps in all the changes and transitions that are coming soon.
Let me know how I can be praying for you and what God's doing in and around you!