I’ve noticed a trend in my relationship with God over the last few months. When I feel attached to something, He boldly asks me to give it away. It’s a simple question from him, not a demand. I do get attached to some things, little things, like this red hat. This is a hat that I designed and on the front of it are the words “rooted in mercy” It’s been a great reminder to me of the mercy of God and where I always want my feet planted, in His mercy. I have a ton of these hats, but for some reason this red one found it’s way onto my favorite shelf and molded perfectly to my head!
Recently I was blessed to go on a mission trip with my ministry school. We went to North Carolina, to the city of Asheville. Asheville is known for it’s New Age ways, witches and wizards. Every day of this trip had an element that was life changing for me. You know, big stuff that takes days to think through, ponder, pray about, and process. The first full day there we worked with a church called the Dream Center. We broke up into teams and went to the projects neighborhood. For me, it was like going back in time to when I was a child and lived in a similar environment. The beauty of it though was meeting all the lovely people. Little children that greeted us at the door and jumped for joy when they saw the new beds we brought them. Young parents with grateful hearts. But, mostly, one couple stood out to me and made my heart beat with love, A young man and woman sitting on their porch allowed us to come to them and visit. We chatted and we asked them about God. Both of them were very open to hearing more about our Saviour. I noticed letters taped on their door and inside their house. Words like grace, love, hope and faith. I asked her about them and she said her auntie had pasted them up on her wall, She said she talked to God but didn’t feel she could go back to church right now. She then said that she had written a song about God, and everyone in the room cheered. She found her song and she sang it to the group. I love how we went to minister to them, yet in the end she ministered to us! It was beautiful and exciting!
The next day is my hat story. It felt a little chilly so I wore my red hat and sweatshirt. We headed to the local shelter/recover center to participate in giving away jeans and minister to the homeless. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it didn’t take long for me to be blown away! We received a tour of the shelter/recovery center and my heart was touched by how so many people need a home. They are welcomed in to this place and given love, shelter, hope. Those with addictions are given the opportunity to get clean and go through a recovery program, They learn about God. Mothers with children are given beds and toys to play with, I admire the courage of the people that are here and their desire to have a better life. I admire their grit. After the tour we went outside to give away jeans and to visit those that came for food and for jeans. I wasn’t exactly sure where to start so stood back a little and prayed. Holy Spirit settled my heart and I just watched for a little bit. Then, I noticed an older lady sitting off to the side eating her food, there was something compelling about her and I knew I was suppose to sit by her. So, I walked over and asked her if I could have a seat, she kindly said yes. I asked her about her story and she began to tell me her struggles, pain, fears, and doubts. I listened, and found that in her desperateness she was begging God for mercy. She kept looking at my hat. Through out her story I could hear Holy Spirit urging me to hand over my hat! Near the end of her story, she commented on my hat and said she wondered if God really did have mercy, I then asked her if she’d like to have my red hat, and she did. This moment felt phenomenal to me. She reached out for my gift and in that moment she began to cry. She said “you have mercy and you know God!” “Yes,”I said. That was it. She got up to leave and I went back to watching. But my heart was full. In that time with her God was showing me that His mercy truly is rooted deep within me and because of that I can give and will give whatever he asks me to give—even my favorite things! I know it may all sound pretty simple, but to me it was a profound moment of tenderness. It was an encounter with God for both of us.
The mission trip continued to delight me everyday. My last favorite encounter was with a woman on the streets reading tarot cards to whoever wanted it, My team leader encouraged me to follow my heart and go talk to her, so I did. We visited for awhile, commenting on each others hair, sharing stories from the past, fashion, and yes, God. I didn’t pray with her, but in that time with her I believed God was working through me in a way that would change her life. It was gentle and subtle with a strong connection of interest and love. I left her feeling a new love for evangelism, and a freedom to engage with anyone in my path because of the goodness of God.
There were many more encounters that were divine appointments, and I loved each one of them. I want to comment on the team of men and women that ministered alongside me. Wow! So many blessings wrapped up in these lovely people. I went into this adventure feeling unsure. I didn’t really know the people I’d be with and I wasn’t so sure it would be enjoyable to me. I stayed in a house with 35 people, and after being there for a couple days I could see that I had entered into a house of joy, fun, peace, encouragement and integrity. This is unlike anything I’ve experienced before from a large group of church people!! Besides all of that, there was no pressure, shame, criticism, or distrust. Everyone there was all in for Jesus and for each other! The group leaders were down to earth, personable, loving, and best of all, they were REAL. And, ya all know how I feel about REAL. They were Rooted in Jesus, Empowered by the Spirit, Authentic in their struggles and joys, and Loved!
So, that’s my mission trip story, and I love it. I know I haven’t shared as much in posts as I once did. And, I still want to tell you all about our Hawaii vacation too. It was AMAZING. But, I’ll hold off on that a little bit longer. May you each be blessed by the richness of God and walk in His love today.5