July 19, 2017
Dear Resurrection family,
When I found out that the Global Mission Team decided to officially send me out as a Resurrection missionary, and I felt so honored, joyful, and grateful for their affirmation of my call to serve the Lord in the Middle East. While reflecting on all the ways that God shaped and directed my life these last few years, it is clear that Resurrection played an integral role in the discernment and confirmation of my next season of ministry. I want to testify to all the ways that Resurrection has equipped and apprenticed me for “such a time as this,” and to thank this church for the way that you have supported me in the past and continue to support me as I move ahead.
I started going to Resurrection fifteen years ago as a high school student, but was not truly involved until I joined Choir and the Communications Team after college. When the Internship program was launched several years ago, I was thrilled to receive training and discipleship from Fr. Trevor, my cohort leader, and from the pastoral staff at Resurrection. I grew so much over those two internship years, becoming involved in several different teams—including the then Nations Team—and stretching myself to grow in devotion to the Lord, in leadership, and in service.
The most impactful experiences that overlapped my internship were the prayer intensives. While in college in Chicago, I had become involved with a 24/7 prayer ministry, and was deeply impacted by the call to worship and pray with a community around the clock. When I heard that Resurrection wanted to champion the call to pray continuously in the form of these prayer intensives, my heart could barely contain itself! My beloved home church was embracing a ministry that was near and dear to me. I look back to Prayer40 and Prayer100 as times of accelerated spiritual growth, where the Lord saw the fasting of our time and our weaknesses, and he moved in strength and power! Especially during Prayer40, as I meditated on Matthew 9:36-38 and prayed that “the Lord of the harvest would send forth laborers,” and as I helped with the communication of the “Moved by Jesus” campaign, I began to see the profound connection between my call to pray and my call to labor in the harvest fields. There were many NightWatch prayer slots where I would go and just pray over the map in All Saints Chapel, with a sense that the Lord was calling me to go, but the questions of where and when remained.
Sandwiched between the two Prayer Intensives, I took the Transformation Intensive with Deacon Val. Because the Transformation Intensive is particularly helpful for those discerning a call, my intention was to use this time to seek the Lord about if, when, and where he would like me to serve as a missionary. Going through the Ignatian exercises and attending weekly spiritual direction helped ground me further in my dependence on the Lord and in hearing his voice.Though I did not get the “final word” during this time, I firmly believe that it was here God laid the groundwork for his call to the nations.
Soon after I completed the Transformation Intensive in spring of 2016, a good friend called and asked if I could join her on a short mission trip to Jordan. I was pretty indifferent to Jordan at the time, but I agreed to go. Nothing could have prepared me for my first foray into the Arab world. After several days of observing and absorbing, I arrived at a startling conclusion: I loved this place, and I loved these people. It seemed so sudden, so different from the ministry that I was currently in, so divergent from any work that I had done in the past, that I felt it must be the Holy Spirit loving these people through me. Every day during the two weeks that I spent in Jordan, I was overwhelmed by how the Lord was moving and drawing me into his Middle Eastern story. By the time I was on a plane back to O’Hare, I knew that I needed to seriously pursue specific answers—did I need to focus my prayers to intercede for this region, or did I need to go and live and work there?
For about a month I fasted and prayed, asking God to show me in a very clear way what he wanted me to do. Around the end of this month was Holy Week 2016. I walked through that week somewhat distractedly, not being able to fully enter in because of the questions that loomed so prominently in my mind and spirit. It wasn’t until the start of the Vigil where I had breakthrough. Bp. Stewart led the first ministry time, and had a word of knowledge that the Lord was commissioning new works in our congregation. As he called out these new ministries, Bp. Stewart mainly focused on local, compassion ministries such as working among the homeless or marginalized. I prayed that if God was commissioning me to a new ministry overseas, that Bp. Stewart would specifically address those who felt a new call to the Middle East to come up for prayer. Within a few seconds, Bp. Stewart called all those with a burden to minister to Jerusalem and the Middle East to come to the front for prayer. Stunned that my request had been so immediately and exactly answered, I walked to the front.
As I kneeled for prayer, I questioned over and over in my heart, “Lord, do you want me to go? You want me to actually pack my bags and move?” Soon, Margie Fawcett placed her hand on my shoulder and started praying for me. As if in direct dialogue with my internal prayer, she said out loud, “Go! I will make you a fisher of men. Take only your cloak and your staff. You are coming back with stories.” Fr. Kevin, a few weeks later, further confirmed this word during Eucharist by telling me, “The Lord is taking your prayer ministry to the nations!” In his kindness, God had given me a direct, irrefutable, answer to so many of the questions that I had been asking. No longer was I questioning if I was supposed to be a global worker or where I was supposed to serve, but when do I need to leave and how will I get there?
These questions didn’t remain unanswered for long. Later that next week, I received an email announcement from one of my favorite missions organizations: Frontier Alliance International. They were starting a training for ministering in the Middle East—an “Emmaus Walk”— and were currently accepting applications for their Spring 2017 school. I presented this training opportunity to the Global Missions Team as a first step to answering the clear call that the Lord had communicated through the ministry of Resurrection.
Without reservation, I can say that this Emmaus Walk was absolutely what I needed to succeed in this next season. After three and a half months on the field, I returned to Wheaton and Resurrection ready to go back long-term to the Middle East, and more confident than ever that this is where the Lord has been leading me these last several years.
In August, I will return to Jordan to begin working with a Frontier Alliance International team. This team will be providing accountability and encouragement toward growing in intimacy with the Lord through worship, prayer, Bible study, etc., toward diligent acquisition of Arabic, and toward regular and intentional gospel engagement with those around us, including Syrian, Iraqi, and Yemini refugees. We believe this intentional gospel community that ministers to the Lord with regular prayer and worship will provide a rich context for the Holy Spirit to equip and send small teams out from our midst into other ripe fields in the region by the grace and for the glory of God.
Thank you, Resurrection, for walking with me on this pilgrimage. I am forever grateful for the way that you have heard the word of the Lord on my behalf, how you have called me to grow and not let me stay stagnant spiritually, and how you have supported me in the various stages of this journey. I am deeply humbled to be sent out by this church, and with God’s help, I hope to honor the trust that you have put in me.
Your thankful daughter in Christ,
May 29, 2017
Every family has its own birthday traditions. In my husband's family, you were allowed to eat sugary cereal and stay in your pajamas and play video games all day. In mine, we picked our favorite meal and cake and helped my mom cook them. Interestingly enough, the Church has her own birthday tradition. In it, her people wear red and eat bread and drink wine and celebrate baptisms. This tradition is called Pentecost, and it is our spiritual birthday.
The story of Pentecost is remarkable. The apostles and Jesus' followers are all gathered together to celebrate the Jewish feast of Shavuot, which celebrates Moses' descent from Mount Sinai with the Ten Commandments. Suddenly, the sound of a strong wind descends from heaven and they are each crowned with tongues of flame. Perhaps, having followed Jesus around and seen his miracles, this did not faze them too much. But then something happened that changed their lives–and ours–forever: they were filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. Before that moment they were individual followers of Jesus, but when the Holy Spirit descended, the Church as we know her was born.
I don't know about you, but I still get excited when my birthday rolls around. I begin anticipating days beforehand, and it saddens me when a close friend or family member forgets it. It stands to reason then that I should get excited when I know Pentecost is coming. With the coming of the Holy Spirit, the church body grew from a small group of Israelites to an international force. On this feast day we at Resurrection join in celebration with our fellow body members all over the world and rejoice that God has given us his Spirit and in doing so united us as one Body. Now there's a true cause for celebration.
Remember to wear red or another bright “fire" color like orange or yellow on Pentecost.