Thoughts from Holly….
Who is our mission field? And how does a family get started being a “family on mission”? Well, here’s a portion of our story….
About 9 or so years ago on a cold December night, I finished reading the book “Kisses from Katie.” (If you haven’t read it, go grab a copy soon!) It is about a young lady who graduates high school and travels to Uganda to temporarily offer mission support. She ends up staying in Uganda and adopting, as a single lady, many, many Ugandan girls in need of a home. I think of her as the modern day Mother Teresa.
Anyway, I went to sleep that night praying that my husband, Kevin, would magically wake up and say “Let’s move to Uganda!!” You see, I wanted to serve radically, like Katie in Uganda was serving. I wasn’t sure what that looked like, but I knew I had a heart for mission work, a heart for the suffering, and a strong desire to share the love of Christ with others. My family wasn’t quite on board yet. I had three very small children and a husband who hadn’t quite developed his missionary heart just yet. But I prayed so fervently and I truly had faith that something was going to change soon.
God is amazing. When we often pray for others to change, He directs us to our own shortcomings. So instead of God changing Kevin’s heart, like I prayed, God woke me up in the middle of that night and radically changed mine.
It was around 3am. I woke up and felt the presence of the Lord so strongly. It wasn’t audible, but the voice of God spoke to my heart. He told me, “Get up and go for a run.” Like Sarah in the Old Testament, my initial reaction was to laugh and argue.
“Haha, Run? Did I hear you correctly, God? I am not a runner (I am now but wasn’t at the time). Plus, it’s the middle of the night. I can’t possibly be hearing you correctly!”
“Go for a run, Holly.”
“Um, God, but Kev might wake up and not know where I am and I am pretty sure he won’t like me running in the dark. Isn’t that unsafe??”
“Holly, go for a run.”
Reluctantly, I climbed out of bed (My first act of faith), called for our large black dog to get ready to run. I wasn’t about to go outside in the middle of the night all by myself. I am from East Baltimore, I know the kinds of things that can happen to ladies running outside by themselves in the dark. You see, I was full of fear at this point, but God stopped me in my tracks and spoke to my heart, “Holly, if the God of the Universe has invited you to go on a run with Him, don’t you also think that He is capable of protecting you against any real or imaginary enemies?”
Ok, I guess the dog stays home. (Second act of faith).
I grabbed some sneakers and headed to the end of my driveway to embark on this ludicrous journey God was sending me on. (I was a little wavering at this point in my faith).
I turned right from the end of my driveway and started jogging down our street. As soon as I made the third act of faith, and actually started to jog (and OBEY God’s command), God did something AMAZING!
It was as if I had previously been blind, but now I could see. God spoke to my heart as I jogged through our neighborhood. He would say things like…
“You know this house, that’s where the one widow lives. She is lonely. And look to your right, that couple who smiles at the mailbox is actually on the brink of divorce. They are hurting.”
As I jogged some of the streets, God pointed these sorts of comments out to me. “Look over there, remember you overheard other neighbor’s mention that the husband is dying of cancer. They are struggling with hopelessness.” And, “Remember those friends at that house, they are on the verge of foreclosure.”
Don’t worry, Neighbors, God didn’t reveal everyone’s deep dark secrets to me, but He did enlighten me about a few handful of people who were in desperate need of prayer.
And then, He spoke these words to me…… “Holly, look around. THIS. IS. YOUR. UGANDA! I have placed you and your family in this neighborhood at this particular time because This Is Your Mission Field!”
I started to jog home, fully enlightened with the thought that God was accurate. I didn’t need to go halfway around the world to radically love others. I had hurting, broken, hopeless, struggling, sad, lonely people all around me who also needed love, hope and encouragement.
God also told me how Kevin and I were to begin radically loving our neighbors. I will leave the details out for now because they don’t particularly matter and I would prefer they remain anonymous. I will simply call it our ‘neighborly mission’. I ran home.
Notice I am no longer jogging but running! I ran in the house, ran up the stairs and jumped on the bed. I woke Kevin up. (Thank you, Jesus, that I am married to THE MOST patient man alive.) I then recounted everything God had said to me, everything he showed me and what our next steps were to be in our “neighborly mission.” Kevin was 100% on board and we followed through with the details the very next day.
But that was just the start of putting our faith into action. This whole experience taught our family that our mission field is wherever God places us. Yes, a few years later, we were blessed to begin going to Guatemala on a regular basis and sharing the love of Jesus there. BUT, the mission field begins at home.
I would love to say that ‘everywhere’ we go, we view it through God’s eyes, but the reality is we don’t. We aren’t God, but humans. But those times when we earnestly pray to bless others, when we pray for God to put others into our paths who need a word of encouragement or an act of generosity, He is always faithful.
That cold December night sparked in me a love for my neighbors, a love for running, a love for mission mindedness and a love for stepping out in faith to share God’s love with those around me. It was also when we, as a family, realized who our mission field really is.
So, who has God placed in your path lately? And how can you show them the love of Jesus?