Isaiah 6:8

And then I heard the voice of the Lord say, "Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?" I spoke up. "I'll go. Send me!"

~ Isaiah 6:8



Sunday, February 19, 2012

How did I get here? by Brooke Cashion

How the HECK did I get here? Growing up in a very small rural town where everyone knows everyone’s “people”, gets married early, has children, and never moves away, you couldn’t have paid me enough money to predict my current life. Instead of hanging on to familiarity, I am now living in Charlotte, NC. There are millions of faces that I do not know and don’t know who their “people” are. I am 25 years old and single. My roommates and I don’t even have time for a dog (even though there have been many occasions where we have had to stop ourselves from going to the animal shelter just to “look”…yeah right). Again, how the HECK did I get here?

Since graduating college in 2009 from UNC-Chapel Hill (GO HEELS!), I have been on a serious mission to find my identity. Over my 25 years, I have placed it in various things such as academic success, musical talent, being a girlfriend, being thin enough, being an excellent teacher. I was convinced these things would bring me the life I wanted and thought I deserved. I would find happiness in a life that other people continued to search for. And then I would play it off to others like it was something that just fell into my hands. In reality, there was an incredible dark side to my efforts. I was selfish in my desires and wanted people to look at me a certain way. I sought to control every situation I was in, believing that I had the better way and knew what was best for myself. It was Brooke’s world and everyone else was just living in it. As you may have already guessed, it eventually blew up in my face.

Over the last 2 ½ years, the Lord has aggressively convicted my heart and forced me to tear down my protective walls that I built with my own two hands. I was stripped of the things that I thought defined me, which meant a wild goose chase began. Who am I? How do people view me? What is my passion in life? Where do I look for my sustenance? The experience has been extremely humbling, to say the least. However, in this waiting period, I have found life. True life. A life that brings me pure joy, even when I am hurting. A life that is centered around Christ and His desire to love and protect His children. In your mid-20’s, it is obnoxiously easy to go with the flow and feel like you don’t have an impact or influence on your environment around you. What real change can you make? Can’t I just wait until my 30’s? That is when everyone gets their life together and starts settling down, right? This way of living no longer suited me and caused restlessness in my soul. I know that the Lord has given me the desire and gift of nurturing little ones and being that representation of His love and compassion. I want His children to feel that unconditional love from adults and have a safe place to run to. Isn’t that what we desire and find in Christ? I do and have!

In John 10:1-5, we see a portrayal of Jesus as the Shepherd who provides guidance and direction for the lost. He steps up to lead those who are seeking. I now ask myself, “Am I going to step up and make the first move, just like Christ did? Am I going to place my identity in Him and Him alone, allowing him to merely work through me?” Understanding that this life and this trip is not about myself and my capabilities takes so much pressure off. All I have to do is be willing to relinquish control of all I thought was best and be His vessel. I cannot WAIT to see what He has planned for this trip and for His children in Burundi!

So again, how the heck did I get here? Christ. And I am so joyful I am here.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Consider it Pure Joy by Jordyn Saunders

“I’ll be quite honest. When I found out I had to write a blog for
Burundi, I was not a happy camper. I don’t like to write. I’m not a
good writer. I have nothing to write about, but…you know now that
I’m going to contradict everything I just said. I found something to
write about. My dream, my everything was taken from me in one swoop.
And in these past two weeks I have changed. My faith has strengthened
and I am not the woman I was.

Here is the background:
When I was 16 I wanted to be a nurse. That’s all. I have a heart and a
passion to serve others and knew that being an RN was exactly the
perfect job for me. During my undergraduate time at UNC-Chapel Hill I
was not accepted to nursing school. That weekend my pastor, JD Greear,
spoke the first message that I ever felt spoken directly to me. He
talked about giving everything to God and that included college
students and their majors. Well done. That definitely wounded my ego;
the message was heard loud and clear. I reapplied, thinking God had
His own timing, but again I was shot down. To most people the next few
years of my life were well-spent, traveling and learning. I studied
abroad in Quito, Ecuador and after graduation moved to Madrid, Spain
to teach English as a foreign language. As I told people more and more
that I wouldn’t change anything about it, I thought that I would
actually start to believe it myself. Sure I trusted in God’s will for
my life, but I was trying to make the most of whatever I had.

Fast forward to December 2009 and I was accepted to Mercy School of
Nursing. I was overjoyed and realized that God’s plan was for me to be
an RN. He gave me the passion and now He was making it apparent to me.

The next 20 months of my life were some of the most difficult
balancing school, clinicals, babysitting, tutoring and student
government. I was so thankful to the Lord for providing me a job
before graduation and getting me through the end of school. In January
I passed my NCLEX (boards) and was ready to fulfill my dream!
Now let me tell you that I set my date for boards on December 20, 2011
and also set my employee health meeting. I knew exactly where to be,
when, and what would happen. What I didn’t know was that my life was
about to be forever changed. I tested positive for the use of an
illegal substance I’ve never once seen or touched in my life. False
positive. Anyone and everyone who has ever known me knows that I would
never do something like this to harm my body, my career, or anyone
else that I may come in contact with. It was my tea. Tea from Ecuador
that causes a false positive. The evidence is extensive. The proof is
there. I await a final decision.

Less than a week of learning this our pastor, David Chadwick, spoke
about Great Faith. Now this is the second message spoken directly to
me. There are three faces of “Great” Faith: the expectant, miraculous
faith; the fog of faith; and a thoughtful faith. If I have ever seen
fog around me this must be it. This fog of faith is a wind that blows
out of nowhere, but what it should do is that it should strengthen our
faith, provide a more thoughtful faith. It is “a faith of the mind
that goes deep with roots.” I must admit that my roots are growing
right now.

I have never seen the body of Christ more around me then they are
right now. I think of Psalm 22 when it says “But you my God, do not be
far off. For trouble is near and there is none to help.” Yes, trouble
is near but I am so grateful to know that I am not alone. I know this
trial does not come from the Lord. It is spiritual warfare. Spiritual
Warfare is a game I played on the computer as a child, never fully
understanding how real it is…until now. The Lord is with me. He has
also sent his children, my brothers and sisters, around me during this
time. See I serve a Great God and he can turn all things for the good
of those who love, honor, and obey Him. I pray for his glory to shine
through all of this.

My life verse is James 1:2-4.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you face trials of many kinds.
For you know the testing of your faith develops perseverance.
Perseverance must finish it’s course so that you may be mature and
complete, not lacking anything.

I challenge myself to be joyful. I already know that the Lord, my
Savior, is going to work this out to bring glory to His name. It’s not
about my name or my reputation being tarnished but it is about His
name. He is my reputation and it’s His name I take when I call myself
a Christian, a Christ-follower.

It seems that many people on this Burundi Team are facing challenges
and hardships that are not of this world. It is due to obedience.
Obedience to the Creator, to his mighty plan, and obedience to follow
Him to the ends of the earth. All this time I thought my calling was
to be an RN, but now I realize it is to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus
Christ. To share of his great love for us, that as we are all sinners,
missing the mark of perfection, He is the example of what perfection
looks like. He, being perfect, died a painful death to save me from
what I deserve: the justice of Hell. For him I declare to live my
life! Whether my name is cleared or not. My story may not have a happy
ending but it is not about me. It never has been. The greater story is
that of Christ, the happy ending that he rose from the dead and
continues to save me, to forgive me day after day.

Now you know the struggle so close to my heart. My deepest wordly
desire is gone. But I have a greater and much deeper desire, it is
rooted in my faith in the Lord Most High. His love for me has freed me
from an eternal punishment so I live this life for Him with the goal
to share the story of His love to all who listen. It isn’t an easy
journey but it is what I’ve chosen. I know He will always carry me.”