I am wildly, passionately, fabulously, and at the risk of all else in love with a Risen King of grace unfathomable and love unalterable. He has set me on a journey that I would love to invite you along on...
You might have noticed from the last post that when I left Sweden in November, it seemingly was not going to be a long absense :) Those of you who have come along with me on the journey into world missions in Europe that God set me on at 18 (well, from the day I was born, really!) will remember what a worrisome mystery the whole concept of "what comes after college" has been all the 3 years I spent studying my degree in Theology and Mission. O Leah of Little Faith-- Did you really think worrying about it would get you there any faster?? I cannot tell you how wonderfully pleased I am to be able to write this post for you!!! Are you sensing any excitement here? :) (Perhaps the uncontrollable over-use of smileys gives it away! :))
I have a place in the world :)
In my final year of college I did a mission placement with a non-profit in Gothenburg, Sweden-- Rescue Mission Ministries-- and more recently was back at the end of my summer to spend a few more months working with and learning from my missionary friends who run this organisation. This has been all-around on-the-job training in every aspect of running a ministry in post-modern, secular Europe! And, naturally, all-around, on-the-job refining of my faith, as the Vine nurtures one of His branches... Everything from office work, to pricing and displaying and working behind the counter at the ministry's Secondhand shop, to working in the church in nearly every role (the more uncomfortable it was, the better, apparently!), but most especially, investing in people, building relationships, and magnifying Christ. As is the way He works-- as I'm forever discovering-- I'm convinced as much as He used me there, I came away far more blessed and more of a whole, God-glorifying person through the work! I have discovered that the more I surrender to serving others, the more I get to see of His heart... And I am addicted to that heart :)
They've asked me back, longer term, and God confirms this next step again and again and again. Thus far I've lived with my missionary friends, and stayed with various friends in the church at various times. But for quite some time God has been birthing in me a vision for a flat (or, to speak American, an apartment) to live in with another young woman whom God's at work in from my Rescue Mission Church. We envision it as being God's space in a spiritually dark country, and hope to expand what Rescue Mission is already all about-- reaching out in Christ-- to the international student community in Gothenburg, and anyone else drawn by Christ. Gothenburg is a bustling port city-- with the largest harbour and the largest University in all of Scandinavia-- and the international presence in Gothenburg is huge; making up nearly 20% of the city's population. I discovered while BEING an international student and living with international students in England, that I love working with internationals! And there is such room for ministry in this realm as we, as internationals, are so vulnerable and can feel so lost in a culture which is not our own and with everything so unfamiliar. Team that with being a student, in that phase of life which is an especially seeking one, and you might find hearts open to the gospel of Christ in ways that others aren't. My calling from His heart is to pour my life out to love people to that Christ.
So, FINALLY armed with a much prayed for specific vision for ministry, a missionary couple with a ministry organisation willing to invest in me and train me up as a younger missionary, a church community awaiting me, and a heart more keen and ready to follow Him in faith than perhaps ever before, I take steps to move to Gothenburg, Sweden and dig into life there pursuing and proclaiming Him with this ministry...
But I can't do it without you.
You've probably all heard at one time or another the mandate of "The Great Commission"-- Go into all the world and make disciples in His name. But chances are most of us haven't been given a specific call to leave our home countries and home cultures to live for Him. As He has been confirming over and over again in my passion for and experience of Europe, I have this call and this specific grace for cross-cultural ministry. But I cannot be enabled to do what He has made me for without the help of you doing what He has made you for.
Realizing I was reaching this stage of the journey into full-time mission work, I initially panicked at the thought of having to ask people to support me!! Most Christians I know are already supporting many ministries and missionaries and I instantly think, why in the world would they want to support ME?! But God breaks in with, "Leah, this is MY business, this is MY work. You can trust ME to provide through MY people for MY work..." And so I can calculate the costs and feel it's all impossible as much as I like, but in the end He expects me to follow Him in faith, do my part, and watch Him work. So, I don't know how often I'll make my needs known to all of you and how often I'll only tell my Abba, but I am earnestly praying for some monthly supporters to join me in serving Him in this corner of the globe. I'm new at this, but I know instinctively I will need prayer warriors, I will need financial partners, and I will need help with the practicalities of serving overseas on this end (some kind of administration and guidance on financial issues, insurance, taxes, etc!). Really, I'll need friends, who have a passion to serve as much as I do, but who need to be enabled to do it from Stateside!
"In God's family some are primarily senders/givers while others are primarily goers/receivers. Each is equal in His family. For you to be able to do what God asks of you as a goer/receiver, others need to do what God asks of them as senders/givers. It's how God funds His family business."-- Myles Wilson, Funding the Family BusinessGod has challenged me so very much over these intense years of study and these intense months of working with Rescue Mission to give from what He has, not from what I think I have. Because I was pretty sure I had nothing of value to give to His work. He has been painstakingly teaching me to draw from all that He is, to fill whatever I am, to do whatever He places before me. As you read this post, I pray that you too will be compelled to give from what He has, not from what you think you have, in whatever way He stirs you to be involved! Join me in making the whole focus of your life to use everything He has given you in the best way you can to ensure that people hear, see, and feel this extravagant, life-changing love of God...
The Life-Changing Love of God
I have already watched in wonder as He has changed lives through Rescue Mission Ministries. In my first month there back in Jan/Feb, I had the privilege of getting to know and eventually to pray with a muslim man as he committed his and his family's life to Christ. In my last few months there, I have had the joy of seeing them firmly rooted in the body of Christ and growing!! And it all started with them wandering into the Secondhand to find some things for their flat :)
Some of my favourite (if I'm allowed to have them!) growing relationships have been with Romanians who've immigrated to Sweden (which, I suppose, is no coincidence since God planted a piece of my heart in Romania after falling in love with my gypsy babies those months in Bucharest!). The Lord has swung open some doors in my friends' hearts even in just the past few months and I've watched and prayed and loved with joy as we've worked together, played together, prayed and praised and grown in Him together!
His grace is still setting people free as they take in and believe that Christ has made the way through His death for us to stand in the presence of God; even holy and blameless and without a single fault in His grace-filled eyes (Col. 1:22). His love is still transforming lives and minds and hopes and dreams and He's calling each of us to be a part of it, to stand firm in believing this truth and proclaiming this truth to anyone who will believe the Good news (Col. 1:23).
Stand with me in Europe. Stand with me in Sweden. You've heard it said that we are the only Jesus some will ever see. In Europe it's estimated that only 1.1% of the population are active followers of Christ. God's love and longing for these people so caught up in their self-serving lives, so fed up with religion but so aching for relationship, is vast and He's pouring it into me to overflowing! Pour it out with me...
His (and yours) home for the holidays in the good ol' USA,
Get in touch!
"By His divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life." -- 2 Peter 1:3