saying yes

by holly j. clemente

missionary to mexico

As a kid, missionaries were my heroes. Their tales of adventure, stories of faith, and experiences of the supernatural realm and last-minute miracles made them seem larger than life to me. I certainly put them on a higher spiritual plane in my mind, somewhere between God himself and the great saints of the Bible.

Today, missionaries are still my heroes, but now that I am one myself I realize that none of us are extraordinary or more spiritual than anyone else. Being a missionary is more about being obedient enough to give up home and family and familiarity simply because you realize that God’s vision and mission are greater than your own. It’s about saying yes. Of course there is the initial yes, the big yes when you take that great step into the unknown and commit to serving the Lord in another culture or abroad, but there are also thousands of other yeses that must be said everyday. In the mundane, in the normal, in the difficult, and in the comfortable seasons are when the yeses sometimes matter the most.

I have been blessed to visit and be part of many churches that honor missionaries and feel privileged to give to and support missions work in local and foreign fields. It makes my heart happy to see my childhood and current heroes being honored and esteemed in this way. However, I feel that too often people from sending churches see missionaries the way I used to- as people who are far above the trials and temptations of everyday life, as people who are on their way to achieving well-deserved sainthood with their good, virtuous living and their great sacrifice.

The purpose of this blog series is to give you, the sending Church, a candid look at real missionaries and their true stories. As the stories unfold, you will share in the grief, the tough decisions, the heartache, and the passion of missionaries who are real people that have simply decided to say yes to God. At every twist and turn, you will see how God’s greatness and faithfulness is the common factor that sustains His servants and transforms the most difficult and dangerous situations into amazing revelations of His power and glory. As you read these stories, our hope is that you will realize that you also have what it takes to say yes to God’s mission. It is not only for those aspiring to sainthood, but it is for you. It is for the overwhelmed mom. The struggling student. The frustrated parent. The jealous sibling. The underachiever. The weakest of the weak. Because when it comes down to it, saying yes has nothing at all to do with you or your talents or your abilities or your current living situation. Its all about realizing how great God is and how worthy He and His mission are of your yes.

Holly Joy Clemente has always had a passion to see others get involved in the Great Commission. She prayed and dreamed of a way to use her writing to that end, and God gave her the vision for this blog. Her hope is that others will be encouraged and inspired to trust God and step out in faith when it comes to leaving comfort zones for the sake of the Gospel.

You can find out more about her writing at: https://www.facebook.com/hollyjclemente/

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from pity to peace: saying yes when it’s painful

by ej blohm

missionary to kenya

November, 2019.  Tears carved tiny streams down my cheeks as I stood at the kitchen sink, hands plunged into hot water.  My thoughts screamed out in anguish.  “I can’t DO this God!  How can I live so far from my babies?” my heart cried.  “God, how do I do this letting go thing?  How can I serve You here in Kenya when my young men need me in the States?  I can’t do this missionary life without them!” 

Minutes ticked by as I wrestled there at the sink.  My soapy hand whisked tears away as I continued washing dishes and kept on praying and pleading for God to help me make sense out of this new season of life.  We had just launched our oldest two sons in January 2019, leaving them in the U.S. (one in the workforce and one a freshman in college) while we returned to Kenya with our youngest two.  Our third son only had six more months with us before he too launched into the world of college and apartments.  Having three sons close together was hard in the early years, but OH so much harder now.  What a whirlwind year of change and transition for our family!  Only our youngest, age 12, remained at home.  And now, just weeks after returning to our place of ministry, I was not ok.  Pity slinked its sneaky way into my thoughts.

So I cried.

I thought about all the little things I was missing out on in their young adult lives.  Things like a surprise visit to take them to lunch on campus; a phone call without wondering if they were sleeping or in class due to time zone differences (Kenya is 8 hours ahead of them); popping a letter in the mail anytime I wanted to instead of coordinating with people crossing the Atlantic pond or waiting on international mail delivery; doing their laundry on the weekends or on breaks; and a host of other little things that suddenly I felt robbed of. 

Kids going off to college is not unusual by any means, and I knew I wasn’t the only mom who struggled.  In fact, there was a whole parent session at my second son’s university about parents letting go.  But what WAS unusual is that I live on another continent, a missionary in Africa, where an airplane flight is expensive and takes 18 hours or more.  This is the season of life when many missionary families leave the mission field.   I could understand why.  Yet we had barely begun our missionary journey, just passing the four year mark.  I felt my heart breaking into a million pieces as I stood there by the sink.  I felt alone in my grief.  Pity grows well in isolation.

So I cried.

Having to entrust the welfare of my boys into the hands of other people felt like a double edged sword:  relief that we had other people to entrust them to and grief that we weren’t available in the same way.  So.  Many.  Emotions.  Questions plagued me.  “Have I done enough to prepare them?  Would our homeschooling efforts pay off?  Will they be ok?  Will they make the right decisions?  Will they tell me if they aren’t ok?  When will we see them again?  Can we afford to bring them back to Kenya, and do they even want to come?” Tears fell again as I longed to have them all under my own roof one more time. 

But my roof is in Africa.  Their roof is not.  Our family of six was now split into two equal pieces – 3 here and 3 there.  Life as we had always known it was forever altered, forever changed.  There was no going back to what was before.  Grief hit hard in that moment in the kitchen.  Pity tends to dwell on what is lost.

So I cried.

I recognized this sudden change in our family.  Having three children leave the nest in one year’s time brought about sharp and overwhelming loss. I needed to identify and validate this loss in order to move forward.  Loss of the intense role of motherhood, loss of siblings for my youngest, loss of homeschooling high school that had been part of our routine for six years, loss of how we do life in our place of ministry, loss of seeing my sons on a regular basis, and even loss of protection as my three big teenagers provided a sense of security for me. 

So I cried. 

Paused in this daily task.  Wrestling.  Fighting for Truth.  My head knew I’d be going through all these lessons and losses no matter where we lived.  Parents have been doing this for ages.  But I hadn’t.  This was new for me.  The reality was that if we were in the States, the letting go process would have been more gradual and subtle.  Not so sudden and abrupt.  Pity slips easily down the depression road.

So I cried.

I dried my hands off, unsure of what to do.  God hadn’t answered my questions yet.  I picked up my phone, just needing someone to pray, understand and let me know that it was going to be ok. My husband wouldn’t be home for hours.  I slumped into a chair unable to even stand.  “God!  This is the hardest ‘Yes’ You have ever asked of me!  Give me Peace – give me strength,” I whispered.  “Show me why I’m here; why You want us here in Kenya.  Why are You asking this of me?”

In a moment of vulnerability, I sent off a quick text message to my teammate, also with kids in college.  “Missing my kids so much and the tears are just coming.  Can’t talk.  Just pray for my heart.”  I felt something release, just a little, by admitting to someone I was struggling.  Her short response back let me know she was praying and that I wasn’t alone.  Pity can’t stand up to prayer.

I wiped my tears.

My heart still ached for purpose.  By habit I clicked on Facebook, knowing that comfort would not come from that realm.  My heart would not be able to handle seeing smiling faces preparing for fall break activities and holidays.  Oh, how I was dreading those holidays without my boys for the very first time.  No, Facebook would NOT bring me comfort.  But for some reason, I clicked anyway. 

I scrolled through trivial posts quickly, and then my eye caught a picture from a missionary pilot friend, one of our own pilots from our mission agency AIM AIR.  My breath caught as I stopped scrolling to look at this photo.  My husband’s role as a mechanic specialist with AIM AIR didn’t capture photos like this.  I don’t often get to see the people our pilots fly.  I don’t often see what’s happening “out there” in the bush.  I lingered on this picture, drawn to the significance of what it represented.  The burning in my heart started to ease.  Pity loosens its grip with truthful Perspective.

Tears streamed again, but for a different reason. 

Photo credit: Elisha Stock, AIM AIR pilot

Boxes of Bibles sat in the hard-packed dirt beside a Cessna Caravan preparing to go to Central African Republic.  CAR, a country of constant turmoil and war, hardship and despair.  A place where many brave missionaries endeavor to share the Gospel.  Missionaries and nationals we support with aviation.  These Zande Bibles headed to refugee camps spoke to my aching heart.  Suddenly, my spiritual eyes were able to see beyond the physical realm – beyond my personal grief and sense of loss.  Oh, Jesus!  I am part of something so much bigger than myself.  We bring the Word of God to dark places – this is why! 

This is why we are here, this is why I said “yes” to begin with: to bring Light and Hope to those who have never heard, to those who have never had the Bible in their own language before (can you even imagine?), to be feet on the ground – this African ground.  It was as if God was asking me again, “EJ, will you say yes?  Will you trust Me with your children?  Will you continue to do what I’ve called you to do?”

Holy Spirit was not harsh or demanding.  He was gentle.  Kind.  Compassionate even.  As if He knew exactly what He was asking.  With that simple photo, His peace descended upon my aching heart like a blanket.  Pity succumbs to Peace.

So I cried as I surrendered my grief.

“I say yes.  Give me grace for this journey,” I prayed.  Tears of release replaced the tears of grief and anguish.  The words of my own children came back to my memory.  “Mom,” son #3’s voice trembled with emotion as we were able to leave him on a strange campus, “Mom, I KNOW this is where God wants me to be.  It’s ok.”  My 2nd son’s arm wrapped around me as he said with a grin, “Mom, I’ve got bragging rights on you guys!”  And my oldest, who assured us that his place was there in the U.S., turned to his youngest brother and admonished, “Watch out for Mom.”  Somehow, knowing that this missionary life went way beyond my own self changed my perspective.

Don’t get me wrong.  I still miss my kids!  Some days are harder than others.  But I choose not to give in to pity anymore.  In that moment, the bigger picture enveloped me and God’s eternal perspective swept in to remind me of His purpose.  It gave me another opportunity to say yes to God and His Kingdom work.  

Pity releases its hold when subjected to Truth.

Little did I know that the next opportunity was only a few months away when Kenya would close international travel due to Covid-19.  The wrestling match in my heart on that November day prepared me for what was to come, allowing me to say yes to staying in Kenya in a world gone crazy.  All six of us, each in our specific place, move forward in confidence knowing that we are exactly where we are supposed to be.  Peace always reigns over pity.

Phil and EJ Blohm live in Nairobi, Kenya, where Phil serves as a maintenance specialist with Africa Inland Mission’s aviation branch, AIM AIR. EJ is a diehard eclectic homeschooler (3 graduates now!) and loves to come alongside other moms in their homeschooling journey.  She serves on the leadership team of a multicultural homeschool co-op in Nairobi.

Email them at mail@blohmflyingnews.commail
Follow them on their website www.blohmflyingnews.com
Join their Facebook group (ask for an invite!): Blohms in Africa
Find out more about AIM: www.aimint.org/us and AIM AIR: www.aimair.or

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a daily yes

by bethany godoy

missionary to belize

I grew up as a missionary kid, and if you’ve been following along with the stories you may have read my mom’s story (click here to read Jadine Fritzler’s story) There was never a moment I didn’t know about Jesus. And to be honest, I’ve always had a burning desire to show others Christ’s love. I imagined I’d grow up and be a missionary myself. I imagined myself rescuing children and doing great and amazing things for Jesus, even dangerous things. I had high hopes and dreams for the missionary life I wanted to lead.

When I was eleven years old my parents and I moved to Belize. I spent the most pivotal time of my adolescence in Belize and it became my home. I went to a Belizean high school where I was the only foreigner, and ended up marrying my high school sweetheart at age 18.

Before my husband and I got married we decided that we wanted to start young. And by that we meant life, ministry, and marriage. I remember the conversation so clearly. We said we had a lot to do in this life and we’d better start now. Before marriage we had dance/drama groups at church we were heavily involved with, worship teams and children’s ministry. When we got married we started having people live with us. We both strongly desired to do ministry and do it full-time. So we did what all people interested in doing full-time missionary work do- we talked to teams who came down to Belize and had gotten to know us, sent out emails to churches that knew me as a missionary kid, now reintroducing myself to them as a missionary. We usually were met with enthusiasm from people we spoke to in person. We were encouraged by them and usually a received a kind sentiment from them along the lines of, “God will provide.” Emails were ignored, or received almost an amused response with statements like, “You are so young!” or, “Once you have more experience…” I felt crushed and defeated. This is what I had always felt called to do: love people with with the love of Jesus. I wanted to be supported in this. I wanted the provision to be able to do this. And then a day came when we said, “If this is what we’re meant to do, we will do it.”

Looking back I am so thankful for the road blocks and what we felt was rejection. I thought that there was only one way to go about ministry. And God taught me the long and hard way that we are all called to minister, just as we are and with whatever we have. We are all missionaries. We don’t all have ministries in our name, or non-profit organizations, but we all have a call, and if we don’t realize this, than the sphere we are in is going to miss kingdom opportunities.

The year my husband and I got married, we had 5 people live with us and had our first baby. We survived off the income from personal training that my husband was just starting to do, my small dance salary, and prayers. I cannot count amount of times we ran out of food and saw a literal miracle or had someone just bring us food or fill our gas tank. The next year, we began feeling the weight. The weight of lack, the struggle. We were now youth leaders at a small church and barely making it, and our son was almost one. We decided that we needed to focus on us. We needed time to help ourselves before we helped others. So we attempted to move to the U.S.A.

Culture shock, depression, fumbling around trying to figure out how to go about simple tasks were just a few of the things that we encountered there. I got a job cleaning at the hospital, my husband stayed home with our son. We got an apartment. We furnished it. We got a car. We should have been happy. But we weren’t. I remember asking my husband, “When do you remember feeling the most alive?” We both had the same answer: when we were working with youth in Belize. After only four months in the U.S. we moved back to Belize, and took over the youth group that we had previously been working with.

Before long, the church that the youth group was a part of closed. We decided we wanted to continue working with the youth in our village. I started teaching dance in the village. We became a licensed foster family. In the last three years, we’ve had nine foster kids pass through our home. One passed away in his sleep while in our home. One went to prison after living with us. We’ve had four youth group kids live with us for different periods of times as well. We had another baby and my husband opened his own personal training studio.

Saying yes isn’t a one-time thing. It’s a daily thing. I feel like I’ve aged so much over the last year. When you say yes to God, you open yourself up to being broken. And yet here I am, feeling like I’m just at the beginning of my yes. I’m 25 years old. My family could have been in a better place financially if we had decided to take care of ourselves first. My heart wouldn’t be as bruised if we hadn’t said yes. But I’d say yes all over again… to being broken for what breaks God’s heart.

So, here I am. I look back on thirteen kids who have passed through my home, my own two children, about a hundred dance students and multiple youth kids who have come through our youth group. Numbers sound impressive, but to be honest, I don’t see much of what I’ve done. Not much visible “fruit”. Saying yes doesn’t mean you’ll see the end result. I’m in the planting season of my yes.

Today, I want to encourage you- it takes one yes. A simple yes. It doesn’t have to be moving to a different country. It can be delivering food to your neighbor who’s husband got laid off. It can be volunteering at your local pregnancy center. It can look like picking up groceries for your elderly neighbor amidst this covid nightmare. Don’t compare your yes to anyone else’s. But know that one yes will lead to another- and every day after that, you will have a choice. You can choose to be broken for what breaks God’s heart, and when you do, He will come through for you. There is one thing I know for sure, and God has proved it to me time and time again: “Make taking care of others your business and God will make taking care of you His.” – Clifton Nobles

read bethany’s mom’s story here…

Bethany Godoy was raised as a missionary kid. At the age of 11, she moved to Belize with her family, and still lives in Belize 13 years later with her husband Kaylon, and children (both boys, ages 5 And 2.) Bethany started 150:4 Dance (Psalm 150:4 Praise him with your dancing!) four years ago to make dance available to girls in the village. She and her husband also have a youth ministry in their village, 4:12 Youth (1 Timothy 4:12 Do not let anyone look down on you for being young, but set an example..) and their family is a licensed foster home.

If you want to read more of Bethany’s writing, check out her personal blog at: https://crossculturemama.com/

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he gives rest

by holly j. clemente

When I started this blog, I was so excited about sharing others’ stories, particularly missionary stories, with a larger audience. I couldn’t wait to begin, and my hope was that the posts would encourage others to view missions in a different light- the true light that shows how unqualified and weak we all are, yet how much God can use that weakness for his glory when we surrender it to Him. I never counted on the fact that these stories would challenge me in more ways than one to say yes all over again.

Especially now. During this new time of social distancing, this unprecedented quarantine and lockdown, we have all had to give up a lot. Being with family. Dealing with crisis in community. Jobs, school, graduations, birthday parties, and the basic freedoms to leave our homes when we want to. It hasn’t looked the same for all of us, but without a doubt we have all been affected in some way.

I initially dove into the quarantine, resolved to face it with a good attitude. I didn’t think too far ahead and just took everything a day at a time. Because we homeschool, we were able to continue normal classes with our kids, and that helped to keep a rhythm and some sort of schedule at home. Facebook kept me connected to the rest of the world, and I saw so many people talking about binge-watching Netflix, reading some good books, trying new recipes. I saw so many posts aimed at inspiring others to use this extra time at home to take extra classes or learn a new skill. I saw encouragement about asking God about His plan for me during this time. It all sounded great. I am all about making the most of time, and my brain cheered these ideas on as I spent a few dreamy moments wondering how I could wisely use all the extra time I had been suddenly given.

Then I crash-landed on reality. Somehow quarantine, with no outside activities or places to go, made my life busier than before. I was falling into bed exhausted every single night with chores still unfinished, and I felt like I was failing miserably. There was no extra time to read or watch Netflix. There wasn’t even a moment available to take another class or learn anything new. For goodness sake, I didn’t even have time to write or work on my blog. But I heard God speak to me the now familiar message. Just say yes.

Say yes??? I thought I was saying yes. In fact, I felt like there were so many more things that I was supposed to be saying yes to, yet I was already being stretched to my limits. I am saying yes, God. I can’t say yes to any more things. Though I think that God understands my feelings with so much compassion, I can’t help but suspect that there was a gentle bit of mirth present, maybe even a friendly chuckle, when he nudged the next thought into my heart. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” I memorized that verse from Matthew 11:28-30 when I was just a kid. I have cited it often, but it only took a few weeks of a socially distanced lifestyle to crowd it out. God’s message to me was clear.

I said the verses to myself, and as I breathed out, I opened myself up to what God wanted to speak to me. In an instant it became glaringly clear that saying yes to God isn’t about saying yes to everything. It’s not about doing more or being more. It’s actually about being less and simply responding to whatever God has in store. And what God asks doesn’t put a heavy burden on us. His burden is light. And he wants our yes so that He can give us rest.

Say yes to peace, and no to fear. God’s peace is so big that it surpasses my circumstances and limited understanding. Fill me, Lord.

Say yes to patience, and no to frustration. Patience is waiting on the Lord to do his will in his timing… in my husband, in my children, in my own heart. When I get frustrated, it’s because I am trying to take control of the situation, and it’s not working out the way that I’d hoped. Lord, I surrender my will to you.

Say yes to finding my identity in Him, and no to my insecurities. It’s not about me and my failures or shortcomings. It’s about being His. I am his child. I am right where He has placed me, doing what He has laid out for me. His strength is made perfect in my weakness. I am yours, Lord.

Say yes to being still, and no to constant motion. Many good activities can distract me from THE ONE thing. Him. My relationship with Him. Spending time in His presence. I will shut out distractions that make me feel like I should be doing more. Make me still, Lord. Quiet my heart before you.

Say yes to engaging intentionally, and no to distractions. It’s not necessarily about more time, it’s about using the time I have to focus on building real relationships. With God. With my husband and my kids. Not focusing on the checklist, but focusing on sincerely opening my heart with those in my life. Fill me with your love, Lord, until it flows out of me.

Say yes to fulfilling my mission, and no to feeling overwhelmed. The great thing about this is when my mission is aligned to God’s mission, He does all of the heavy lifting. I become less and He becomes more. He is the one who saves, heals, restores, and reaches the lost. And I am overwhelmed with gratitude that He has called us to participate with Him. I say yes, God. Once more, I say yes to you.

Read a psalm for quarantine…

Holly Joy Clemente has always had a passion to see others get involved in the Great Commission. She prayed and dreamed of a way to use her writing to that end, and God gave her the vision for this blog. Her hope is that others will be encouraged and inspired to trust God and step out in faith when it comes to leaving comfort zones for the sake of the Gospel.

You can find out more about her writing at: https://www.facebook.com/hollyjclemente/

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the invitation

a quarantine psalm

by holly j. clemente

Preface: My pastor often says, “The loudest voice is not always the true voice.” I was reflecting on that thought as I went to bed last night and thinking once again how true it is. The loudest voices in my head are often the ones that magnify the difficulties that I am facing and simultaneously put a limit on the absolute truth of God’s power in any given situation. As I was drifting off to sleep, I was consciously silencing these voices in favor of the still, small voice that was sweetly surrounding me. It was the middle of the night when this song rang through my soul, another invitation to say yes to God.

The storm is strong, the waves are high

Its hard to breathe, to find true rest.

There is constant commotion and loud noise

that comes at me from every side.

The fear can overwhelm, the helplessness is real

but when I take time to quiet myself

and to ignore the voices that lie

Your presence invades

and once again, takes me by surprise.

It is in the hardest of places

that I find I can fully depend on You

just as I was created to.

And in that place of complete dependence

You invite me

to a place that is harder, yet so much richer than before.

You reveal more of your love for me

and take me deeper into knowing You.

You pursue me

though at times I am afraid, you draw me closer every day

until I can see that your glory

is much greater than the chaos.

There is no room for fear in your perfect love.

This is truth:

I am safe, I am secure.

You are my refuge,

my name is found and known in You.

No power on earth can shake You,

You have conquered even death.

You are perfect in all your ways

and I know that wherever You lead me…

there’s no place I would rather be.

God, invite me

I want to go deeper, even if its harder.

Knowing you and your heart

is beyond worth every loss.

I will pursue You

because at the end of every day,

only your mission remains

to reach others with your love.

My soul will sing your praises,

now, for a moment, in the dark

until forevermore in the light.

Read more…

Holly Joy Clemente has always had a passion to see others get involved in the Great Commission. She prayed and dreamed of a way to use her writing to that end, and God gave her the vision for this blog. Her hope is that others will be encouraged and inspired to trust God and step out in faith when it comes to leaving comfort zones for the sake of the Gospel.

You can find out more about her writing at: https://www.facebook.com/hollyjclemente/

See Full Bio…

romance vs. reality- part 2

by rachel rebekah witt

missionary to mexico

continued from part 1

After one month in Mexico, talk of marriage had begun. Still, I had yet another decision to make.  If I were to actually marry this guy, I would have to be willing to take trips into remote villages in the mountains, to minister to the Indian tribes. This meant that I would have to be okay with no electricity, no showers, and no bathrooms. I would have to eat strange food, and fly in a small plane. I figured the toilets and food in China had prepared me a bit for this- but he wouldn’t marry if he wasn’t sure I could hack it! I am thankful that God and my now-husband gave me the opportunity to say yes or no to how I would be serving the indigenous of Mexico.  It allowed me to fully embrace it. It allowed me to fully be a part of what I was saying yes to. I took that first flight in that small plane and simply fell in love. I fell in love with everything God was laying out before me: Mexico, the mountains, the indigenous people, and the man who I would soon marry.

In the months before the wedding, God began challenging me to really give up everything for Him. Back home I had my very first car, a Camaro. It was an old one, but still… I had a car! Very unexpectedly, I felt that God told me to give my car to a girl a few years younger than I. I asked my dad about it, and he said that would be okay. I talked it over with my fiancé, and he never questioned it either. Before I knew it, it was a done deal, and I was handing my car over to someone else.

Soon after I found myself getting married in Mexico, followed by a big wedding in Houston, and that very same week, moving to Mexico for good. I had given away my Camaro, and although my fiancé had a Volkswagen Beetle in Mexico, he could not get it to run. So there we were, just married and starting this great journey, and we didn’t even have a vehicle! We assumed we would have to ride a bus from Houston all the way to Durango, Mexico after the wedding, but that didn’t bother us. We were young, in love, and just excited to serve God!

The week of our wedding in Houston, my fiancé asked my brother if he could borrow his truck to do some wedding-related errands. My brother loaned him the truck, and my fiancé left on his errands, but on his way back to the house, the tailgate of the truck fell off and got really scratched up (talk about not impressing your soon to be brother in law!)  My brother looked really serious and asked, “What are you going to do about your truck?” That caught my fiancé off guard. He replied that he would see what he could do about it, but my brother responded, “No. I mean, what are you going to do about YOUR truck?” We were both so confused, then he said, “It’s yours! I’m giving y’all my truck.” And so it was. Our wedding photos have that truck in them, complete with the beat up tailgate, tied on by ropes and all!  After the wedding, we filled that truck up with every single gift people had given us, and it was incredible!  How had we ever thought the we would be able to take all this stuff with us on the bus? It would’ve never worked! 

We drove that loaded up truck to the border and just as we were about to cross, the clutch went out. Thank goodness my father-in-law had taught my husband how to drive without a clutch. He nursed that thing for 8 more hours, all the way to Durango. There we were, two young kids, no money to our name, but God was just beginning to teach us about giving in so many ways. When we arrived home, my new husband felt God tell him to give his Volkswagen to a specific person, along with the money that would be needed to get it fixed.  He called the guy that he wanted to give the car to, and when that guy showed up at our house for the car, which before that moment wouldn’t even start, he was able to drive the car away that same day!  We had the truck that was given to us the week of our wedding, and at the time, it was enough. After a few years and several transmission changes, we felt led to give it to a Tepehuan pastor in the mountains. That same truck is still serving him all these many years later! We have given away more vehicles since then, ready to just ride buses if necessary, and somehow God has always surprised us with another, better vehicle when we weren’t expecting it.

Although I loved my new life, the truth is that my first few years were very hard.  And again, I cried a lot.  Here I was in a new country, a new culture, and a new language.  We lived out in the country, about 30 minutes from the city.  In the early years, I had no phone, no internet, no way to communicate unless I went into town. And at that time I wasn’t driving myself around either, so I didn’t feel as independent, and it was very different for me after living in the city in Houston.  I felt alone, and that feeling was so much deeper because I wasn’t yet able to communicate in Spanish.  That really hard time for me lasted about four years. In those four years, I also gave birth to my first three children.  All four of my kids were born by c-section in a private hospital that had about four rooms in it. I actually liked how homey it felt, and I loved my doctor, but those first few times I had to have my mother-in-law there, translating everything for me.  Everything at the hospital was very simple. There weren’t any machines hooked up to me, or anything like that. And when it was time for my oldest daughter to be born, I had no idea that I was supposed to arrive at the hospital with EVERYTHING that we would need. I showed up with my little hospital bag with stuff for the baby and me to go home in, but as the doctors were about to take me into surgery, they were asking for diapers, blankets, clothes, the works.  We were 45 minutes from home, with no way to rush back before the baby’s birth, so my mother-in-law saved the day by running to the store for all the necessary items, while my husband and I were in the delivery room.

There are so many things that contribute to culture shock and frustrations those first years in a new country.  The hardest for me was definitely wanting to get to the point of feeling I could communicate well in Spanish.  I wanted so badly to be able to explain my feelings to friends and have deep conversation.  But the beauty of hardships is that most times, they bring the greatest reward.  When I started making relationships with the Tepehuan Indian ladies in the mountains, they began to accept me like they never had accepted others before.  God gave me an idea to teach them to bake in Dutch ovens, and this gave us a way to connect together.  As that ministry grew for me, I asked one of my Tepehuan friends what the ladies thought about what I was doing with them.  She told me that the other ladies were talking about me, and I wondered if that was a bad thing. So, I asked her what they were saying, and she replied, “They are saying that you aren’t like an American, and you aren’t like a Mexican!” Oh my goodness, that was the biggest compliment I had ever heard! You see, as a missionary, when you move to a country that is not your own, you never fit in fully anywhere again. Yet it was because of that, that these ladies accepted me.  Because I was different, like they are different. Because my level of Spanish was poor, like their level of Spanish was poor.  My weaknesses turned out to be my greatest strengths, which in turn allowed these indigenous women, who in their own culture have very little worth, to be able to open up to me. And through my relationship with them, they were able to finally see that they have value and worth in Christ, just like I do.

It definitely has not been an easy journey. Homesickness, culture shock, and learning a new language have all played a part in the difficulty. Giving birth to four kids in Mexico had both its highlights and difficulties. Even to this day, after 15 years of being in Mexico, there are so many things that are humbling, because it is a given that embarrassing things happen when you live in a culture which is not your own. However, knowing that God gives me choices every single day of my life brings me comfort and courage to continue on. Saying yes to God is really deciding to continue to say yes over and over. It is the continual “yeses” in the midst of the difficulties and challenges of life that end up making it worth it all.

read part 1 of rachel’s story

Rachel Rebekah Witt is a missionary in Durango, Mexico alongside her husband Jerry, and their four children. Raised in the city of Houston, she never knew her future would be living in a ranch town in Mexico. Her favorite food is breakfast and a cup of coffee makes everything more enjoyable. She loves traveling with her family, but is equally fulfilled in the daily life of being a homemaker, cooking for her husband, doing homeschool with her kids, and serving in many ways in the church they pastor. Their ministry in Durango and in the mountains with the indigenous tribes is fueled by two things: their heart to serve those who have been forgotten by society or the church, and their love for teaching young ministers who are serving in the kingdom.

You can find more information about Rachel’s ministry on Facebook and Instagram at: Witt Missions

See Full Bio…

romance vs. reality- part 1

by rachel rebekah witt

missionary to mexico

I can’t say that I can pinpoint exactly when I felt God calling me to a foreign mission field. Sometime during my high school and college days, there was a desire birthed in me that began as a small interest in other countries and cultures… and then suddenly in a turbo moment, a desire to do missions work hit me. During my time at Bible college, I had the wonderful opportunity to go spend time with my great-grandmother as she was coming to the end of her life on earth. There was a binder in her living room that held the book that had recently been completed about her life as a missionary, but it had not been published yet. As I stayed in her house with her, I sat and read for hours about her adventures of traveling all over the world with her husband and eleven children. It all seemed romantic and exciting, and I found myself wanting to do something that drastic for God. I began pouring myself into reading about the lives of missionaries; what they sacrificed, and how they changed nations.

I started taking short-term missions trips across the border into Mexico with church groups, but when I was 22 years old, I was suddenly offered the opportunity to serve on my own for 2 months in China. This was it! I knew the exciting journey of foreign missions was finally beginning for me! I had never had a desire to go to China before, but my upcoming trip and the mission I would have there, unexpectedly began to dominate my thoughts every second of every day. I watched the movie, “The Inn of Sixth Happiness”, the story of Gladys Aylward, a missionary to China in the early 1900’s, over and over and over. I was looking at missions as a romantic undertaking, and I couldn’t wait for my own adventure to begin!

And then, I arrived in China… after 20 hours of flying, a few days in Hong Kong, and 20 hours crossing China by train, the reality of my situation hit me. The romance of it all disappeared. I realized I was so far away from home! I cried, and I cried some more.  Everything was so different, and although I loved learning about the culture, living with the orphans, and going to teach English, I felt like a failure because it was all so hard on me emotionally. The difficulty took me by surprise. I certainly hadn’t expected it to be so hard, and I hadn’t expected to feel so out of my element. The reality was that I was doing missions, but I didn’t “feel” like I was doing anything grand. I had pictured missionaries living everyday with great excitement, feeling like they were changing the world, but to me, this just felt like real life- with the added difficulties of not knowing the language or being familiar with the culture.

My dad knew I was struggling and in order to encourage me, sent me some transcripts of letters my great-grandfather had written years earlier while traveling to China by ship. I already knew some of the stories of his missionary adventures, but I was shocked to discover that he had cried, too! He confessed to having such a hard time that he found himself not even wanting to go anymore! He wrote that his wife (my great-grandmother) crawled up into his bed with him on the ship just to comfort him. It got me thinking… and then I studied some passages about the apostle Paul in the Bible. As I read about the hard time he had and the struggles he had to go through, the romantic idea that I had carried with me to China of what it would be like to be a missionary crumbled down. And it was the best thing that could have happened to me! Out of my comfort zone and out of necessity, God became more real to me than ever before. The desire to have a close relationship with Him became greater than the desire to live out my romantic ideas of an exciting missionary life.  During my time in China, I learned invaluable truths about my relationship with God that still affect my life to this day.  From that point in my life, I began to say yes to God simply out of my love for Him, not because I wanted what I had imagined to be a romantic and exciting missionary life. Saying yes to God became a natural response, in the big decisions as well as in the small, everyday decisions.

Shortly after I returned home from China, a missionary our church had supported for over 40 years visited. She was another one of the many missionaries that I admired so much. She invited me to come help her with her work in Durango, Mexico. I had just turned 23 and was still single. I felt like this was the next step for me, so I told my dad without hesitation, “I think this is what I’m supposed to do next.” He wasn’t very surprised, but at the same time asked me to keep my trip to two months because he was afraid that if I stayed longer, I might get emotionally involved with someone there. He was very serious, but I kind of laughed it off, thinking it was very unlikely. I agreed to the plan, and before I knew it, I was on a plane headed to Mexico.

I was so excited for this next adventure… but guess what happened? I cried again! I was so excited to be there, but my emotions got the best of me. I had thought that I would be better prepared for this trip after my experience in China, but it was so hard, all over again. It took some time, but I stuck it out, and finally after the first few weeks, I felt I was settling in. I remember telling my dad over the phone, “This is the first place I can see myself actually living in.”  I can’t deny that part of that feeling came from the fact that I was already forming a close friendship with the missionary’s grandson, and it was all messing with the fact that I now knew that missionary life wasn’t all about romance and adventure! But while I was really loving the country and culture of Mexico, I had thoughts like, why Mexico? It didn’t sound as exciting to me, or as romantic, as other, far-off countries. But as I spent more time in Mexico and more time with the grandson, I recognized that it was God who was speaking to my heart about the future.

Things weren’t playing out as I had imagined them in my head. Missions lost its romanticism, and reality settled in, but I saw more and more how God would just impress something to me, and I had the choice to say “yes” or “no”. I began to realize that no person’s call or life in Christ is more exciting or impressive than the other. It is simply about being willing, paying attention, saying yes, and being faithful. And I was finally ready to give up my romantic perceptions of the missionary life, and say yes to God in every moment of daily life.

to be continued…

read part 2 of rachel’s story

More missionary stories

Rachel Rebekah Witt is a missionary in Durango, Mexico alongside her husband Jerry, and their four children. Raised in the city of Houston, she never knew her future would be living in a ranch town in Mexico. Her favorite food is breakfast and a cup of coffee makes everything more enjoyable. She loves traveling with her family, but is equally fulfilled in the daily life of being a homemaker, cooking for her husband, doing homeschool with her kids, and serving in many ways in the church they pastor. Their ministry in Durango and in the mountains with the indigenous tribes is fueled by two things: their heart to serve those who have been forgotten by society or the church, and their love for teaching young ministers who are serving in the kingdom.

You can find more information about Rachel’s ministry on Facebook and Instagram at: Witt Missions

See Full Bio…

the real treasure

by holly j. clemente

“Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” I would bet that you’ve heard this verse from Psalm 37 in a sermon before. I would even guess that you might have it highlighted in your Bible or saved on your phone. It’s a verse that is commonly cited as a reminder of God’s goodness, a comforting sticky-note that marks God’s promises to give us the best of a hope and a future. Unfortunately I think that when we hear this verse, we tend to zero in on the last part. We rush through the command in order to get to the promise. We bypass our part in the equation and demand that God follow through on His end. And in doing that, we miss out on the real treasure.

In our current culture of instant gratification, I tell my child to wait and he starts bawling as if the world were coming to an end. Why? Because he equates waiting with no. This is so exasperating for me (any other parents raising their hands, saying “me too!”?), and I find myself reminding him- often- that having to wait does not mean that the answer is no. Most of the time, my response to wait is simply because I know that there is a better time coming, a more convenient moment, or even a more special occasion which will make the request fulfilled that much sweeter. So, I tell my son to wait. Even when he whines and cries about it, when the wait seems like FOREVER to his little toddler mind, I stand firm (well, most of the time anyway) knowing that if he waits, the end result will be better than what he is wanting right now. If only he could understand that I really want the best for him- that by telling him to wait, I am really looking out for him! I comfort myself with the knowledge that someday he will understand that it was all for his good. Though it seems like a long time to him now, I know that the wait will soon be over and his desire fulfilled.

And then, it hits me. All too often, the situation is the same with God and me. I have been just as guilty as the next person, finding myself in a snit like any 3 year-old and throwing a tantrum, demanding that God give me what I want when I want it. I plead with Him to give me the desire of my heart and forget all about delighting in Him. The hot heat of humiliation rolls over me as I realize I am putting my wants before what He wants for me, acting like my toddler son whose wants overshadow my knowledge in the given situation. In those moments, he certainly doesn’t value my opinion or appreciate my wisdom. He is not delighting in me, in my love for him, or in all of the thousands of sacrifices that I make for him on a daily basis. Doesn’t he know that I only have his best interests at heart? Can’t he see how much I love him?

Suddenly, my perspective changes. I take a deep breath and realize that in this scenario, I am the toddler and God is the wise, loving parent. His love makes him want to fulfill my desires, but He knows the right time. He sees the whole picture. The wait is really not as long as it might seem. And in the waiting, He wants to remind me that I am not without reward. While my desires may be good and God-pleasing, the real treasure is Him. Being with Him, spending time with Him, getting to know His heart and His desires. His sweet whisper washes over my soul, carrying away the toddler in me, and reminding me who He is.

Don’t you know I only have your best interests at heart?

Can’t you see how much I love you?

Say yes to Me. I am the blessing, the treasure, the only One who will never leave you longing for more.

Say yes to Me. Delight yourself in Me, and I will give you the desires of your heart. For as you say yes to Me, as you delight in Me, and in my love and wisdom, you will find that I am all you desire.

More posts…

Holly Joy Clemente has always had a passion to see others get involved in the Great Commission. She prayed and dreamed of a way to use her writing to that end, and God gave her the vision for this blog. Her hope is that others will be encouraged and inspired to trust God and step out in faith when it comes to leaving comfort zones for the sake of the Gospel.

You can find out more about her writing at: https://www.facebook.com/hollyjclemente/

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God is writing my story- part 3

by sandi youngren

missionary to ecuador

read part 1 of sandi’s story

read part 2 of sandi’s story

Since those long ago days in New Mexico, we have moved around (I would rather stay in one place all my life), became a worship leading duo (I would prefer to sit in the back of the church, and would never have pictured myself on stage), and had four children (I thought I only wanted one). We eventually bought another house in my beloved home town in Washington. Although the “ministry years” there held some unbelievably difficult situations, I was thrilled to be a full-time homemaker once more. The kids walked to school just a block away, I baked cookies, made my own bread, had a garden, canned for winter, hosted tea parties, and was part of a wonderful outreach group where my artistic side came alive. We were on staff at a large church, so I could breathe again. I didn’t feel that I was on display for open judgement and expectations. I found that cozy sweater again and it was so comforting and warm and familiar. Then the other shoe dropped. 

Stud Muffin was invited to investigate a position in Southern California. A lead Pastor position. My heart sank. I reluctantly went with him for the interview. S CA was pretty enough, the people seemed nice enough, and my husband was excited enough for both of us. He was ready to be the lead guy, the vision caster, the one to fulfill the envisioned calling. I remember being in that church one day, all alone for some reason. I was filled with fear, and even anger. I was once again arguing with God. Didn’t He see that I was NOT the person for this? Why didn’t my husband marry one of those girls like I had met along the way, that told me that all they ever wanted was to be a Pastor’s wife? (I was seriously shocked and horrified to think that any living human being would ever desire that life! It was like they were saying “All I ever wanted was to be shark fodder” and SMILING while they said it!). Why would he take us from family, friends, my beloved home state, my comfortable “coming-home party” sweater that I was finally able to slip into once more? 

God: “I am with you.” 

Me: “But…..”

God: “I am with you.”

Me: (After much resistance and arguing) “Yes, Lord.”

I went forward in a renewed trust that God was writing my story and that He was the Hero, not me. 

After several years there (and a whole lot of leaning into God’s grace) we went on our first missions excursions to visit Missionaries that our church supported. I immediately saw a fire alight in Stud Muffin that I hadn’t seen for many years. He came alive when hungry hearts gathered to hear God’s word. It was such a stark contrast from what we were used to in “the States.” Foreign countries were so appreciative for any gospel crumb that would fall their way from the feasting table. Then, I asked once again what was wrong when the hubs was unusually quiet one day. His answer made me swallow my heart. I wasn’t the naive 18-year-old this time. I was almost 40. The kids were nearly adults and I was looking forward to what the next stage of life would bring: weddings and eventual grandchildren- and of course I would be right there in the middle of it all!

“I can’t get away from this nagging feeling that we are supposed to move to another country. They have little materially, but they have so little spiritually as well. Do we want to stay where there is a church on nearly every corner, or do we want to be where (as a missionary had taken us to the top of a high peak and pointed around saying) ‘there is not a single church as far as your eyes can see.’ Should we stay here where there are thousands and thousands that share God’s word, or should we spend what remains of our life where most aren’t willing to go?” 

This began my Monumental Battle with God. It lasted for months. How could He ask this of me? Didn’t I already give enough? Hadn’t I done my part? Why couldn’t I just be “a normal person” in the church? My husband have “a normal job?” Then my familiar list came out. Then His familiar answer came forth.

God: “I am with you.” 

Me: “But…..”

God: “I am with you.”

And finally…

Me: “Yes, Lord.”

Let me clarify that this inner wrestling went on for months because my faithful “servant-leader” husband would never push me into a life change that I didn’t agree with. He believes that a true test of God’s will is our unity in it. We could have stayed put. But deep inside I knew I was wrong and he was right, I just didn’t want to bend my knee to the God who was writing my story.

The compact version is that we resigned from the church, our oldest kids moved on, we went through some stormy and painful hardships, sold everything we owned, and two years later we were living in Mexico with our youngest 12-year-old daughter. 

Again, month after month and year after year I had to confront my selfish heart and submit to what God knew was the best thing for my own growth and maturity. And with that comes much joy. This stubborn introvert opened her home to college students and lived in community for years. I reveled in the one-on-one discipleship that community- living provided. There’s nothing that beats the independent individualism out of North Americans like living in real community- in one house where there’s no escape and everyone knows your everything. The God of paradox: a comfy sweater-clinging introvert finding real joy while living with several others in one house- in a foreign country.

Life goes on….just when I got used to Mexico, we moved to Ecuador. We have been here for 16 years now. It’s also been a bumpy road for me, but filled with pockets of joy. We are growing older and looking forward to shifting our home base to Chicago, where all four of our kids and all seven of our grandkids now reside (after 20 long years, my original thought of “being there in the middle of it all” just might happen). We’ll continue “ministry” by serving in both countries.

Instead of dreaming for that cozy sweater that wraps me in “coming home” comfort, I now live with a sharpened awareness of God’s ways. He is still writing my story, and He is still the Hero of it, not me. He has formed me into a person that I would have marveled at when I was young. Not because she’s such a role model, or for her strength or bravery. I marvel because He has known exactly how to make me into a gentler woman who tells HIS story with joyful appreciation. An introverted and stumbling woman that somehow gets to participate in all that He is capable of doing, all that He is wondrously accomplishing, and all that He is writing in this life… for His glory, not mine. 

There’s not much arguing going on between me and God these days. He has reshaped and remolded me in the most wonderful ways. That is why now I am not as reluctant to say “Yes.” His perfect work has gradually transformed this Moses-Gideon-Jonah person into someone a bit closer to an Isaiah. And the only way that could ever happen was for Him to require more of me than I ever thought I could give, then place me in a front row seat (strapped in so that I couldn’t run) to watch Him provide everything I need, and to witness His supplying more than I ever thought HE could give. 

God: “I am with you.” 

Me: “Yes.”

God: “I am with you.”

Me: “Yes, Lord. No arguments here.”

“For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.” Luke 9:24

read part 1 of sandi’s story

read part 2 of sandi’s story

Sandi Youngren is CoFounder of Compassion Connection, a missions organization based in Ecuador. She travels and speaks at women’s conferences or gatherings and owns a cottage industry that supports help to women escaping sex trafficking. She also encourages women through her YouTube channel “The Truth Booth.” She says that her most treasured time is spent with her kids and grandkids, and she hopes for more of that in the future.

You can follow Sandi here: YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/c/TheTruthBooth IG: sandiyoungren also trth_booth

See Full Bio…

God is writing my story- part 2

by sandi youngren

missionary to ecuador

Let’s take a quick look at others like me, in the Bible, holding their stunned heads and very reluctantly giving in to the stitches and that bandage ripping, while the Patient Doctor held our hands and coached us through it. 


A baby is born when male babies were outlawed for the growing Hebrew race who were in captivity. Through miraculous events this male baby is saved from death and successfully hidden among reeds in the river. A true life Princess sees and pities the baby and takes him home and raises him as her own. He grows into a man. The strong Prince (Moses) sees an Egyptian beating a fellow Hebrew and murders the Egyptian. The next day, he tries to make peace between two Hebrew brothers and finds out they know he has murdered. Then he runs. Like a scared rabbit into the deep recesses of the desert, far away from the angry Pharaoh, the distrusting kinsmen, and I imagine, two brokenhearted mothers. When he is far from the maddening crowds, he marries and seems to be happily adjusted to the life of a simple and unhindered shepherd. 

This is when God chooses to reveal Himself to Moses – many long and comfortable years later.

God: “Come, and I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.”

Can you imagine Moses’ astonishment, fear, and possibly even anger? Well, I certainly can. I have Moses’ blood in my veins. I, like Moses, have said many things to God besides “Yes.”

Moses: “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?”

God: “I will be with you…”

Moses: “They will ask me the name of who sent me. What shall I say to them?” 

God: “I AM WHO I AM.” 

Then God gives a very full and thundering whole paragraph-long explanation of who He is and what He is about to do and how He will do it. 

Moses: “But, they will not believe me, or listen to me….” 

(Ohhhhhh, Moses.)

God then begins to show Moses miracles that prove who He is and He bolsters Moses’ faith. 

Did you get that? Moses was faithless. 

He seems fairly content with his story ending in the desert with a wife and kids and a job. It was safe. It was most likely a comfy sweater that he had no intention of removing. 

If you don’t already know the rest of the story, go and read it in the book of Exodus. God frees His people. He uses reluctant Moses to do so. God is the hero of the story, not Moses. 


Once again, God’s people are oppressed. The Bible says that they “did evil in the sight of the Lord, and the Lord gave them into the hand of Midian.” The Midianites made their life miserable and kept them from prospering in any way. 

After seven years of this, God shows up to Gideon.

The account is a long one; I will shorthand it so that you see the picture, and get the point.

An Angel of the Lord: “The Lord is with you…”

Gideon: “If the Lord is with us, then why has He let this happen? But now the Lord has forsaken us…”

Angel of the Lord, who is now referred to as GOD: “Go…do I not send you?”

Gideon: “How can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Menasseh, and I am the least of my father’s house.”

God: “But I will be with you, and you will strike the Midianites as one man.”

Gideon: “Can you show me a sign that it is you that speak?” 

(Ohhhhhh, Gideon.)

If you don’t know the rest of the story, go read it in the book of Judges, starting in chapter 6. The next few chapters chronicle the constant stumbling and doubt of God’s chosen vessel, Gideon. God’s voice was true and reliable, and Gideon witnessed God’s faithful miracles in the process of setting His people free once again. God is the Hero of the story, not Gideon. 

And then there’s JONAH. I think you have seen enough flannel graphs to know the story. 

God: “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it.”


Yep, a big fat blank. He must be even more introverted and insecure than I am, because the Bible doesn’t even record a word of response to God. Instead, it describes what Jonah did.

But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish, away from the presence of the Lord.

He fled. He packed it up and got some money together and thought he could outrun the call of God. Read the full story in the book of Jonah, but spoiler alert! God shows Himself faithful and Jonah ends up in the belly of a great fish, where he finally submits and prays:

Those who cling to worthless idols

    turn away from God’s love for them.

But I, with shouts of grateful praise,

    will sacrifice to you.

What I have vowed I will make good.

    I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the Lord.’

Only then…

the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.

Jonah then obeys God, and goes to Nineveh. God is the Hero of the story, not Jonah. 

I hope you are sensing a pattern here. This is my life. I wish I could say that I have given the willing “YES” to God when He has asked me to follow Him. I wish I could say that I haven’t resisted, argued, questioned, fled, complained, or at times wanted to die because it is so hard. But that’s not my story. 

Why did I end up saying “YES?” Because my good and loving God demonstrated His patience and His faithfulness….despite my utter lack of both. 

I have tried to escape and keep my comfy sweater on.

I have listed all my very convincing UNqualifications.

I have doubted, and faithlessly asked for signs.

I have run away and tried to bury myself in a sea of hiding. 

God has pursued my weak heart and reminded me again and again that I am not the hero of my story. He is. 

Back in Clovis, New Mexico (now 43 long years ago) I began to realize what saying “YES” was going to mean for me. A year or two after that “confession of calling,” we were released from the Air Force and went straight into full-time ministry. By that time I was 8 months pregnant with our first baby. We had purchased a cute little house and I had spent hours in the baby room painting, decorating, dreaming, and preparing for the little bundle to arrive. As we were about to transition, it became clear that we could not keep that house because our salary level dropped significantly to become “Youth and Music” minister in our church. I was devastated. We moved into a one-room sort-of-bachelor-pad at the church and he took on his first role of “Ministry.” Overnight, my life went from private to public. From hidden to seen. From not worth judging to meticulous judgement. My slightly hippie and “Jesus Freedom” faith was suddenly being attacked from all sides by a system that I didn’t understand, didn’t fit into, and did not agree with. “YES” meant sacrifice, spiritual growth, dependence on God, and a maturity that was far beyond my 20 years. It was right there that God began the deep and wonderful work in me that continued on through a life of my own calling: a commitment to a husband that was most definitely “called” to “The Ministry.”

I have said “Yes” because each and every painful step of the way has also been filled with a joy that perhaps few get to experience in their lives. It comes after hand to hand combat with God – the doubting, the complaining, the questioning, the fear, the bold suggestion that He find someone else who is more equipped, more outgoing, more talented, more “fit” for the task. It is the unexplained joyful confidence that comes when the God of paradox turns his gentle yet burning eyes upon you:

God: “I am with you.” 

Me: “But…..”

God: “I am with you.”

Me: “I can’t do it! Let me tell you why…”

God: “I am with you.”

(Ohhhhhh, Sandi!)

I am like Moses, and Gideon, and Jonah. My life seems to rotate round and round again to the same conversation. God requires. I resist. God persists. I run, hide, rebel, doubt, question, pity myself, and point to others. God pursues. God provides faith. I humbly say “Yes” to the Hero of my story.

to be continued…

read part 1 of sandi’s story

Sandi Youngren is CoFounder of Compassion Connection, a missions organization based in Ecuador. She travels and speaks at women’s conferences or gatherings and owns a cottage industry that supports help to women escaping sex trafficking. She also encourages women through her YouTube channel “The Truth Booth.” She says that her most treasured time is spent with her kids and grandkids, and she hopes for more of that in the future.

You can follow Sandi here: YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/c/TheTruthBooth IG: sandiyoungren also trth_booth

See Full Bio…

God is writing my story- part 1

by sandi youngren

missionary to ecuador

I would like to tell you a story of a young girl who heard a distinct call of God at a very young age. Although ignorant of what it would mean, she was eager to answer, and excited to see how God would use her. She was trusting of His sovereign plan, and much like Isaiah in the Old Testament, she responded with, “Here am I Lord, send ME!” 

But that particular story is someone else’s to tell. My story does not even remotely resemble Isaiah’s. My story resembles the biblical personages that are reluctant to trust God and His perfectly executed plans. I’m in line with those that believe their immense logic will somehow thwart the sovereign plan of God as He sees His momentary folly, and sets His eyes on someone else. My story resembles that of Moses, Gideon, Jonah, and a whole list of others found in our Bible. Those daring to wrestle with Almighty GOD. Boldly arguing with the Creator of the Universe, the One who magnificently laid out the events of the gospel from Garden, to Golgotha, to Game Over. 

Yep, that’s me. Not just once, but many times over. 

It is still a provocative testimony, although it might be more difficult to listen to. My story doesn’t let us continue on our chosen path of life with a satisfying sigh, knowing that if God wants something of you, He will ask politely and you can contemplate the answer… and if you don’t feel the positive response “send ME!” then it must be for someone else, and NOT for you. 

I was a shy and unnoticed young person. Most people could not remember my name in the eight-person line up of my siblings. I liked it that way. I was contentedly lost in my own fantasy world of elves and make-believe, spending long hours delightfully hidden in hollowed out tree stumps or thickets of long grass… alone. God must have chuckled creating this extreme introvert and placing her in a family of ten loud Italians. Don’t get me wrong, I am plenty capable of being loud and even obnoxious when my passionate opinions spill out, but I was and always will be the most content when quietly enjoying life in near solitude. 

My teen years were spent like most people’s: trying to fit in, but never accomplishing it. I was meandering down that high school path, trying mostly to stay out of the way. It was the 70’s, on the tail end of the hippie movement, which also produced the “Jesus People” movement. I was radically and wonderfully saved from a life of quiet rebellion when I was 15, in an amazing wave of God’s grace in our high school. I met my Swedish Stud Muffin at 16 and was married by 18. I know, I know, “GASP!” (No, I was not pregnant.) He had been away in the Air Force and we were just going to DIE if we didn’t get married on his first leave. I then moved from the Emerald City (where all rainbows and yellow brick roads lead to: Seattle, Washington) to the most desolate and forlorn place I had ever seen in my life (where I am quite sure all Armageddon and Life On Mars movies lead to: Clovis, New Mexico). But I was with my best friend and now life partner, so I forged ahead. Even though the weather (sunny and hot every day), the people (who knew that Southerners really DO talk with “Green Acres” accents?), and the church (not only very prejudiced, but very legalistic…we’re not in “Jesus People” mode anymore) were completely foreign to me, I enjoyed being a homemaker and living a life that fed my insecurities and introverted nature by letting me go unnoticed, and giving me my first breath of free-spirited independence. Oh, how I devoured that air. “Free-Spirited Independence” fit me like a perfectly worn and cozy sweater I never knew existed, but once discovered, was a coming home party that I never wanted to take off.

That lasted for about one, very short and glorious year. 

One day we came home from church and Stud Muffin was unusually quiet and somber. I probed and got an answer that really meant nothing to me at the time. 

“I never told you this, but as a child, I just knew I was called ‘Into Ministry.’ As a teenager, I rebelled and walked away from it, and hadn’t thought about ‘The Call’ until now. I just know that I am supposed to be ‘In Ministry,’ and I can’t deny it.”

Oh, what a sweet and adoringly submissive wife I was at that moment. I spoke only words of support and encouragement and “how can I help?” Looking back at my very young and naive self, I can now laugh (yet for many years I pitied, defended, and cried for her). That innocent and oblivious young girl had no idea what her adored husband was talking about. I was raised Catholic. I went to Catholic School. The only vocational “Ministry” people I knew about were Priests and Nuns. They went about their “calling” alone, and it was a personal decision followed by themselves. There were no spouses involved. So, what did this deep revelation have to do with me? Oh, you poor, little, uninformed innocent.

All too soon I was to find out what it meant for ME. I was about to have that warm and cozy sweater ripped off like the bandage that went over my stitches when I was hit on the head with a baseball bat as a child (there was much blood involved, and a patient doctor who held my hand and coached me through it). This confession of my beloved’s was about to set up an ongoing baseball bat hit to the head in my REAL LIFE (where there was also much blood involved, and a Patient Doctor who held my hand and coached me through it).

I was embarking on a journey that would teach me to say “Yes” out of a deep trust in God. But the journey was going to be a very long and very arduous one.

to be continued…

read part 2 of sandi’s story

Sandi Youngren is CoFounder of Compassion Connection, a missions organization based in Ecuador. She travels and speaks at women’s conferences or gatherings and owns a cottage industry that supports help to women escaping sex trafficking. She also encourages women through her YouTube channel “The Truth Booth.” She says that her most treasured time is spent with her kids and grandkids, and she hopes for more of that in the future.

You can follow Sandi here: YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/c/TheTruthBooth IG: sandiyoungren also trth_booth

See Full Bio…

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