The Needle In The Haystack(s)

Y’all, I am completely baffled by myself, all the time.

A reoccurring theme in my life: saying “yes” to things that sound amazing, yet turn out to be not as glamorous as I anticipated.

Example: moving to Africa to launch a ministry on a college campus of 60,000 students with 7 teammates.  I imagined a vibrant ministry that was life-giving and passion overflowing with sunny days all the days, but there were days that were just horrible. Not “horrible” horrible, but more like funny and definitely not GLAMOROUS horrible.

QUE: sewage system problems where poop water overflows in the streets FOR MILES and we have to climb fences and on top of cars to avoid the flood of excrements ravaging the road.

I remember in those moments thinking (when poop water would spray on me by fast driving cars, or when I wasn’t paying attention and walked behind a horse-cart, you can figure out what happened…), “Oh my gosh. I signed myself up for this.” 

Sometimes, in different ways, I think that same thought here. Obviously, there’s not too many horse-carts or sewage issues where poop literally gets on my arm (I can’t even!), but there are some hardships here-especially in ministry.

I fought the Lord for a LONG while about moving to Detroit. I wanted simple. I wanted to stay stateside for two years, get married, move overseas, and serve Christ long-term in another country. You know, IN OBVIOUS TOTAL SURRENDER TO THE LORD… Detroit was not my plan. But God. Always but God.

God called me very specifically to Detroit to a very specific people: descendants of North Africa and the Middle East. After warming up to the idea of Detroit, I had some major visions and dreams about serving Christ in the city, helping be a part of the spiritual revitalization of the city and declaring to the city that God will rebuild you! I started to fall in love with Detroit before my first visit and even told my boss Dan, “I have the feels!” on my very first vision trip. One thing I was forgetting while basking in the puppy love stage and my feels:  the existence of hardship or opposition.

I dreamed of a vibrant ministry with NAME descendants that wanna follow Christ and reach others for Christ. That we would in 4-6 years be leading teams to the Middle East to share the gospel in countries like Iran, Afghanistan, Jordan and Iraq.

And to quote the great philosopher, Marshal Matthers (Eminem),

“Snap back to reality, oh there goes gravity!”-Lose Yourself

That’s not been my experience, so far. While most days of ministry are life-giving (and even a little glamorous-chai dates!), there are a few days where it feels like nothing is happening. There is yet to be a collective mass of women and men wanting to build a movement on campus or many students open to hearing about Jesus. We are far, FAR away from sending teams to the Middle East.  I just think, “LORD. WHAT WERE YOU THINKING? WAS THERE NO ONE ELSE WILLING WHO IS MORE CAPABLE THAN I AM?”

I told the lord today that it feels like I’m looking for one needle in four haystacks. Every day at WSU is filled with hours of surveying students/doing initiative evangelism to find one person who is open spiritually to meet and talk about Jesus.

As I was praying, I felt God challenging my plans, my vision and my timing. I was reminded that God is pursuing the masses. There is no shortage of Him working, so seeing this ministry’s chance of success as one in a million is FAITHLESS. The haystack is made up entirely of needles. He is a God who pursues!

“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

Every person I encounter is a person made in the image of God. Regardless of where they are  in their spiritual journey, they are spiritual beings on a spiritual journey! God might not in this season be calling me to raise up laborers to go to the nations with Hayat. He may be calling me to share with women the true GOSPEL, many women who have never fully heard the story of Christ. These are women from the nations that have come here. They are women who due to cultural restraints, may have never met a Christian who genuinely loves them and cares for them. I am called to steward the needle God has given me that day-and my only job is to continually point them to Christ in word and deed.

Maybe that big-picture vision I dream about is in God’s plan, but later. At the end of the day, I can praise God and remember why I do choose to submit to Christ’s leading in the not-so-glamorous: But God. He is rich in mercy. He is my hope. He is my joy. He is the giver of life and offers eternal life through His son Jesus.

I choose to follow because I know who is leading. I do not say yes to adventure or glamour, I say yes to obedience in the trenches and the joys because Jesus is worth it.

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