One of the fondest memories I have of my mother is when she would gather the four of us around a large globe of the world; the bright spherical kind generally found in middle school classrooms. Together we would spin it faster and faster until one of us pointed out our finger, jammed it down with emphasis and excitement and stop it on some faraway land. We would then pray for the country in which we had found ourselves; we would pray for the orphans, the widows, the hungry and the needy. My mother was never entirely sure where our next meal was coming from but she made sure we knew there were less fortunate than we, and that we should wear our knees out praying for them. When I was 11 I’ll never forget the missionaries coming to church; the globe now stretched out flat, a map of the world staring back at me as I sat by myself in the back row of blue cushioned pews. The missionaries were talking about whatever we would do unto the least of these…we would do unto Jesus. I remember my zealous, too tall, and dangerously skinny self, wanting to jump out of my seat and save the world, but my reasonable, older than years self, thinking; Sarah, you are the least of these. You get by through the benevolence of others. You are more often than not a charity project yourself. How on earth could you help? It was then that I started searching for ways to impact people; be it through smiling at my elderly customers as I delivered their newspapers, or insisting on taking my friends lunch-trays up to the trashline or passing out cold cups of water in the sweltering heat.
Jesus taught me that it isn't money or power that changes the world; it is His love.
At 15 I experienced my first missions trip; working in a whitewashed stone orphanage in Montego Bay, Jamaica. The Mennonite women who had given up their families to run this haphazard collection of joyful faces worked tirelessly in the unforgiving sun, not taking a thought to abandon their long dresses and covered hair. I admired them as much as I admired the stark contrast between my own porcelain skin against the midnight skin of the tiny children I held and sang to. The last day I remember staring out the window of the bus as we pulled away, but from the glare of the sun it was my own reflection that stared back at me. I followed the tear that ran down my cheek as I prayed the inhabitants inside that little orphanage would hear the call of Jesus saying; “Let the little children come to me.” I go often as a little child to my Father, even as a 24 year old woman I cling to the promise that He is a father to the fatherless and that in His presence I can whisper, Abba. I must continually trust that He will guide my steps with His holy wisdom in ways so much more beautiful than an earthly father could have. It was His hands that guided me to Johnson Bible College, though for years I stubbornly refuted His request. Speech was definitely in my top five favorite classes at Johnson, not only was Professor Ketchen a gem of a teacher but I excelled in speech, and anticipated the delivering of my crafted words in Winston Churchill style. But the most powerful speech from that year was one not my own. Kristin Rickels had spent her summer in Kenya; slide after slide, picture after picture flashed brightly behind her as she spoke, and as she told her stories, I cried. Not the unattractive boohooing, but those singular quiet tears that slip down your face when you’re grieving from a deeper place inside you. I couldn’t help but notice that in a single second the photo had captured all of their depravity and all of their joy. Ever since then I have felt called to go on missions trips to Africa and India, in fact on my To- Do List, number 10 stated very clearly: "Go on Missions Trip to Africa or India." I wanted with all my heart to work in an aids clinic in Africa, and a school in India; both places that very dear women from Johnson Bible College have already carried a bright light. Yet every endeavor I pursued only led to a closed door, missed opportunities and unanswered yearnings. However, in early 2012 I will be able to cross number 10 off the list, but only because I’ve changed it to say, “Go on an overseas missions trip” and I hope my fellow bucket-listers will grant me that liberty. Right now the door is wide open to serve the people of Cambodia. Never in my dreams (obviously) did I desire to go to the Far East, never did I expect to be communicating with missionaries in Phnom Penh, and picking up a travel book filled with foreign concepts and glossy pictures of waterfalls and elephants. God has this habit of changing the desires of my heart to match His plans. Yet in His defense, isn’t this exactly what I pray for?
Here’s the game plan; meet my friend Genevieve! Gen has been one of my best friends since high school, she’s funny, she’s Irish, and has a super cute niece named Lily. Gen has worked in Cambodia and will be living in Cambodia for possibly the next two years. She works with a company that promotes clean water and sanitation, while at the same time providing economic infrastructure to Cambodian locals. She’s my in to the country, and my more than likely place to stay! Which is another cool part to the adventure. Gen is staying in the dorms of a local college and in exchange is teaching English to Cambodian women. So part 1 of my mission is to join her in the incredible experience of sharing the words I love so much with women whose culture and language I know absolutely nothing about! If that wasn’t challenging enough, the main part of my mission is full of its own heartbreaking challenges. Right now the goal for me is to work in a village outside the capital. It is a village known as “The Pedophile Capital of the World”. There, 99 percent of the children are at risk of being sold into sex slavery. How devastating that our world could be so advanced and full of such beauty and in the same heartbeat, the same click of time so depraved and filled with such a horrifying sin. The purpose of this blog post is to ask for your prayers and hundreds of them! Prayer that the doors would continue to be opened, that my time and purpose would be solidified, that the funds would be made available to go, for the relationships that will be built with the Cambodian college students, prayers that I may have many opportunities to share the Gospel and bring them the Living Water, pray for Genevieve as she spends much more time than I will over there away from family, prayer that I would be given the tools and the knowledge on how I could ever possibly make an impact for these kids, prayers for those children, for a hedge of protection around them and their futures. Charles Spurgeon once said “ We don’t pray for the important things, prayer IS the important thing” I thank you in advance for your prayers as I head towards crossing this off my bucket list. Of all my frail, little dreams this one certainly holds a special weight, its more than something to accomplish, it is something that is part of the very core of who I am and the woman God has called me to be.
Here I am Lord, send me.
"He is no fool who gives up what he can not keep, to gain that, which he will never lose" -Jim Elliot.