“The purposes of God not only include specific plans but also very specific timing” (Shirer 92). My story proves just that.
Let’s rewind to my freshman year at Campbellsville University. One night I heard about the mission trips Baptist Campus Ministries were offering, and I was determined to go on one. Since Spanish had been a gift and passion of mine for a while, Mexico seemed like the obvious choice–not to mention that going to a Spanish-speaking country was on my bucket list. Well…my mom was not very happy when I said Mexico; it was too dangerous. Still, that wasn’t enough to stop me. I started to pray. Since I was praying for God to bless my own plans instead of praying for His will to be done, it is no surprise that every door to Mexico closed right in my face. Why would God not want me to go? What could be wrong about going to serve Him in Mexico? Why has He given me this love for Spanish yet isn’t letting me use it? All of these questions would be answered later.
Now fast-forward just a few months later to a normal day in the library. A guy walks up to me while I’m studying. I don’t think we had talked more than once at this point, so you can be sure I was freaked out when he handed me a brochure and said, “God told me to give this to you.” There’s no way I was able to hide my expression in that moment. Is this what a Christian college is like? These people are crazy. But, then I saw the pictures on the brochure. Hispanic children. This caught my attention. How did he know? What is this? Rico told me about Project Transformation, an amazing organization based out of Dallas, TX that serves children and young adults. I went back to my dorm and looked up more information about PT. The opportunity to work a children’s day camp that summer seemed perfect for me. I applied, got accepted, and while PT serves a variety of children across the area, of course I ended up working at the church where 72 of 75 children were Mexican. God showed me that I didn’t have to go to Mexico to serve Him that summer. He had me right where He wanted me.
While in Dallas, each intern was supposed to speak at a church that supported PT—tell them how their prayers and donations are impacting lives, that sort of thing. Well, the church I was supposed to speak at cancelled on me, so I went with another intern to another church. She felt a little uneasy about speaking in front of everyone, so I was happy to help and excited to share my PT stories. Although I thought I wasn’t supposed to be at this church, God knew better. After speaking, a man walked up to me and gave me his business card for Camino Global. Honestly, it was meaningless at the time, but a while later, I got curious and Googled it. After the moment with Rico in the library, I didn’t believe in coincidences.
Camino Global is a Christian organization that works in Spanish-speaking countries around the world. They do short-term and long-term missions. They do preaching, teaching, and so much more. I was sold! I asked for more information about opportunities in Guatemala and Honduras. After study abroad, this is what I would do! I started putting aside money right away. I had no doubt that God wanted me to do ministry with Camino Global. So, the next summer, I requested more information and had my heart set. BUT my plans crumbled. Mom desperately needed a knee-replacement, and she needed me to help out. I was not leaving the country. While I wanted to be there for Mom, I didn’t understand God’s timing. How could I feel this strongly about something and be told “no” again? It had already been two years since I got that business card in Dallas. So, I told God the same thing. I prayed, I questioned, I even doubted Him.
I finally realized that a “no” that summer didn’t mean a “no” forever. Maybe the “no” was really just “wait.” I could still do it! Once I regained my faith, my cousin got engaged. I was thrilled for her, but I anxiously waited to hear the chosen date, because I knew I couldn’t be across the world on her big day! Once Sarah and Nick decided on July 22nd, I looked online again for opportunities. Would the dates work? Could this really happen? Then, I saw it. SEVILLA. The very first trip that popped up was Sevilla- the city I had lived in, studied in, and fallen in love with. I had never seen this opportunity before. I don’t even think it had been offered in past summers. Ok, but just because it’s Sevilla doesn’t mean I can do it. It could be only for pastors or something else. Nope. The job description was teaching English to children. WHAT. If you know me at all, there could be nothing more perfect. Ok, but now the dates. I was shaking at this point. I clicked, and I read that the last day of the internship was July 20th. Literally just in time for the rehearsal dinner on the 21st and the wedding on the 22nd!
In that moment at my kitchen table, everything came full circle. God doesn’t ask us to wait unless He sees fit for us to wait. He said “no” to Mexico, Guatemala, and Honduras… because He knew about Sevilla! Why had I ever doubted Him? He is faithful again and again. I was accepted to the program and I start in just a couple weeks!
I hope you have been encouraged by my story. If you are waiting and praying for something, remember that He is faithful. If you desire His will, He won’t let you miss it. “The authority of His message will strike your inner man with such a blow that it will shake loose your old agenda and replace it with His new one” (Shirer 62).