I never intended to be a missionary. I never wanted to live overseas full time. I never desired to be thousands of miles and time zones from all things comfortable and familiar. And I never predicted I would be a single special needs mom by 21. That was never the plan for my life. But I’ve learned, sometimes willingly, sometimes kicking and screaming, that when you say yes to Jesus you are giving up your life. You are saying yes to shattering the comfortable life you envisioned, and allowing Him to replace it with a life of chasing after His heart. It is better, always better, than anything you could have ever created yourself.
My intentional walk with Jesus started when I was 19. It began in a tiny one-room house, with a tin roof and crumbling brick walls, in Ghana, West Africa. Cradled in my arms was a four day old baby girl wrapped in a white cloth. She had been abandoned the night before at the bus station in the village I worked in. Round button nose, plump pursed lips, big brown eyes. We decided to name her Blessing.
Watching her chest rise and fall, I felt the weight of darkness and sin on my shoulders. She was now an orphan. Blessing was earthly motherless and fatherless. I was Heavenly Fatherless. I had grown up in a faith-filled family but didn’t know Jesus beyond a religion. Jesus as a relationship was a radical new idea to me. And while staring at this child that the world called hopeless and in despair, I was moved to call her beautiful, to declare a bright and prosperous future over her, for she was royalty in the Father’s eyes. And suddenly I didn’t want to be comfortable. I wanted to be broken. I asked God to break my heart for what breaks His.
And Jesus did just that. A year later, at 20, I moved indefinitely to Ghana to begin ministry alongside a local nonprofit organization working with vulnerable children. A year after, I founded my own ministry working with special needs children. That same year, I became a momma via adoption to my Ellie Grace who has special needs.
It’s been nearly four years since that day with Blessing in the dimly lit but Spirit-filled house. The journey has led through the darkest and longest valleys and the highest brightest mountain tops. I never want to glamorize the missionary life or ever be put on a pedestal. It has been really hard…heartbreaking yet beautiful. Trauma-filled yet redemptive. Broken yet joyful.
I thought my life would be college, marriage, career, kids. Instead it has been missionary, college (while living overseas), ministry, motherhood. And now, looking back on it all, I would never write a sentence of my life differently, because the pencil is in the Master Author’s hand, and He writes the best stories.
May we all live lives sprinting after the heart of the Father. May we never be comfortable. And may we always purposefully choose His plans over our own.