I have attended church my entire life. I grew up in Sunday school, bible school and church camp. I do not recall a time I did not believe in Jesus.
At age eleven I became baptized but mainly because everyone else in my class decided to do so not because of a true commitment to Christ. In college I attended a retreat where I asked Jesus into my life but not completely into my heart. Yes I prayed every once in a while, attended church and occasionally read my bible.
Is this really what being a follower of Christ means?
Eleven years after that retreat ten other people and I drove down to Mississippi and helped Habitat for Humanity build a house. I’m not sure what made me sign up for this trip except the fact that I always wanted to go on a mission trip. I questioned the decision because I had never built anything before but my pastor seemed excited for my going so I did. I do feel like I contributed a little and did enjoy myself. My church talked about heading out of the country next time. I really hesitated about this one because I had planned never to go out of the continental U.S.
However in 2008 I attended a mission conference when I sensed God strongly say I needed to go on this next trip. I questioned this quite a bit until the moment of departure. Nevertheless in the summer of 2009 fifteen people and I flew to Managua, Nicaragua to help build a preschool.
My job consisted of carrying buckets up a hill and digging in the dirt. This does not sound like much but my world changed completely.
On the second night in the village we were all sitting together sharing how we saw God at work that day. When it was my turn I got out the words I needed to share and then began to cry uncontrollably.
I literally felt God slap me upside the head as if to say, “You say you are a Christian, but where is the evidence? Prove it!!!”
I could not explain to those present what exactly was going on. I know now that God ripped my heart to shreds and put it back together in a brand new way. My entire perspective on everything changed. I began to be more aware of the needs around me and around the world. The desire to help overwhelms me at times.
There are many times where God has placed a specific person or family on my heart that I must pray for long and hard or possibly contact in some way. Sometimes I am concerned about how a person may respond but I have learned not to question a prompting from God.
God also began placing me in situations that have always made me feel uncomfortable such as speaking in front of my church. I knew he was training me for something but I had no idea what.
I began to become restless and unsatisfied with my life.
In April 2012 I met a missionary Ruth Fox at a women’s retreat. She spoke about the school in Thailand where she had been the principal for a while. After hearing that I have a teaching degree she said that I should come and teach in Thailand. This got my mind stirring. To make a long story short in August of 2012 I boarded a plane headed to Thailand. I am now a first grade teacher at the Chiang Rai International Christian School.
I have the chance to mold young lives and most importantly teach them about Jesus. What an amazing ride this has been so far. I am surrounded by the neatest group of Christians I have ever met. Yes there are ups and downs but I know God led me here to touch lives for Christ and have mine touched in return. I never dreamed in a million years that I would be half way around the world teaching and continuing to grow in my faith.
Through all of this I have learned that when God says go, listen. Great things are in store.
I met Jamie last year. She was in my BSF (Bible study fellowship) group. One day we went to Panera’s to eat lunch. She told how she felt like God had a plan for her to go to Thailand. I sat there looking at her and thinking, “I’m witnessing the birth of something wonderful here. Obedience despite the unknown. What faith!” Jamie left her comfy cozy couch in the states and took a leap of faith into the unknown. She currently lives and works in Chiang Rai, Thailand.
Jamie, I’m so glad you decided to go! God asked you to give up something good, so He could give you something better.
How many of you would be willing to go to a foreign place to be a missionary? Jamie recognized that call and she did something about it…..she obeyed in spite of the unknown. She was brave and answered the call to go and serve. Did she regret that choice? Sure doesn’t sound like it. When I think of Jamie, I think of the song, “Trust and obey.”
How about you? What is God calling you to do? Forgive someone who has hurt you in the past? Take on a new position at church? Change jobs? Obedience to the Father can be very challenging when you don’t know all the details…the what if’s. The Old hymn “Trust and Obey” was written by John Henry Sammis in 1887. The third verse goes like this:
Not a burden we bear,
Not a sorrow we share,
But our toil He doth richly repay;
Not a grief or a loss,
Not a frown or a cross,
But is blest if we trust and obey.
Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.
So, what is keeping you from being Obedient?
Thank you Jamie for telling your story!