Tuesday, March 8, 2011


I'm going to be honest. I have written and rewritten this post several times. I couldn't decide what angle to come from in writing about missions.  I also had no clue how to condense all of my thoughts and ideas, nor could I easily decide between what I wanted to keep in this post and what needed to be left out. This post turned out to be completely different from what I had originally planned. I don't claim to be some scholar or a "professional" Christian at that, but I hope and pray that you are encouraged by what you read.

My desire for missions has been a God given gift since as far back as I can remember- and probably even before that.  My hope of becoming a missionary began at the age of twelve when I saw my very first Compassion video about sponsoring a child in Africa. Since then, movements and organizations such as Invisible Children, TOMS, Feed The Children, and Operation Christmas Child have intensified that hope. Missionaries and their personal stories also contributed to my dream of being on the mission field one day. I was even able to experience a small taste of the "mission field" when I went on several mission trips with my youth group in high school, all of which were in the states. The mission field is where I desired to be, and I could not wait to get there.
When I began attending college in the fall of 2006, I was more annoyed than excited. I was excited about starting a new chapter in my life and officially being a college student, but I struggled deeply with trying to understand why in the world I needed to get a degree to go and share the gospel around the world. Why couldn't I just quit school and go be on the mission field? As far as I was concerned, my mission field was in Africa (though I didn't own a passport and had never been outside of the states- except for Mexico for a day on a cruise... but let's be honest... does that even count?).
While I believed my thinking at the time was justified and entirely understandable (after all, we know everything right after we graduate from high school), I realize now that God had different plans for my life, as well as some serious lessons for me to learn, and rightly so. Throughout my four years of college, God opened doors for me to do mission work right here in the United States, and for three out of the four summers, that mission work would be in my hometown of Pascagoula. The "mission field" I so longed for was right in front of me the whole time. I was just way too focused on what I saw to be the real mission field to acknowledge it. Thank goodness the Lord allowed my stubborn and ignorant, yet seriously passionate heart recognize this sooner than later.

Alot of what I have heard over the course of my life (and still hear) from people who are serious about missions is equivalent to this: Jesus said to "go and make disciples of all nations,"- the verb there being go. Therefore, if you don't go, then you are not a TRUE missionary... and maybe even Christian.

Here is what I know now after believing that same idea for so long: Not every Christian is called to live outside of the states in some remote location preaching the gospel. (If you are called to do that, however, and have chosen to ignore and even suppress the calling, I feel sorry for you.) Every Christian is, however, called to go and make disciples- wherever that may be. Whether here or there, it is our duty to support those who do stay and minister to people in their own cities, states, and countries. It is also our God-given job to support those who are in fact being called to the ends of the earth. To say one is wrong or one is right completely detracts from the entire purpose and unified calling now residing within those of us who have chosen (or 'were chosen for') the path of righteousness through Jesus Christ- the one and only way to redemption and an eternity in the presence of God, which is heaven. 

Why do we believe it takes traveling outside of the U.S. in the name of Jesus to be a true missionary? Is it because it seems like such a bigger sacrifice? Maybe it seems like much more of a commitment. Maybe it is a learned idea. Maybe the act is simply so foreign to the average American because most of us would not dare step foot outside of the states and risk our health, safety, comfort, loss or family... that is for the "missionaries."

Why also do we dishonor God's calling for those who are being led to travel outside of the blessed American walls by saying, "How can they turn their backs on the people HERE? What about the children HERE? There are people in need RIGHT HERE!" It is a confusing concept when you think about it logically. But let me ask you this... What are YOU doing to help the people RIGHT HERE?

Then, for the so-called "real" missionaries- and I tend to fall more toward this way of thinking- Why do we sit back and shame those who aren't being called to travel the world and preach the gospel? Yes, there are people who have and always will cling to their money, material possessions, credentials, professions, worldly pleasures, sinful desires, and selfishness till the end of time... never budging to take a glance at anyone in need around them- especially the whores, drunkards, lesbians, addicts (you name the addiction), homeless, sick, elderly, and lame. And if they do, it will be to mock them, gossip about them, shake their finger at them, stick their nose up at them, or recite some kind of smart remark like, "bless their heart." Jesus spoke of these people well when he referred to the last days, as did Paul. But let me ask you this... What about those who are meant to stay in the United States of America?  What about those who have been called to preach and live and be the gospel right here in our own corrupt society? How can we dishonor God's calling for them by shaming them for "staying behind" and being "so safe" and being so darn "close-minded"?

It is seriously time that we take a different view when it comes to missions. No, I haven't read some awesome book about this topic. No, I haven't sat under a popular speaker's preaching. No, I haven't listened to a legit podcast discussing everything that's been said here- (and no, I don't care to do any of those things either).
I simply, but intensely, believe that we, the children of God through faith in Christ, need to recognize and then cling to the truth that wherever we are... THAT is our mission field. In our homes. At our schools. At our workplaces. At our churches. In the grocery store. At the seriously long red light. In Haiti. In Yemen. In Sweden...wherever we are... we are missionaries. And as God leads us from place to place with each passing season of our lives... we serve Him and the people around us wholeheartedly. Let's not look at what is ahead and neglect where we are now. Where we are now, that is our mission field.

Having said all of that, I ask that you please pray for me. Pray that as I spend my last 2 and a half months teaching at BDS, I would serve my students/fellow teachers/parents well. Pray that I don't get side tracked by the next step in my life. Pray that I would serve my roommate well these last few months I am here with her. Pray that when I move home with my parents for the summer, that I would serve them, my family members, and those I come into contact with well. Then, as I transition from here to Haiti in August, pray that I would serve those children and the Haitian people well- not looking back, wishing, and missing.

You made it to the end. Thanks for reading.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Who am I?

This post is to give you some background information on who I am. It will be long and wordy, as I am not the best person to make my words short and sweet, but I hope you take the time to read all of it. I believe that through this particular post, the others that follow will be clearer.
First, the "not-so-important" facts:
  • My name is Laura
  • I am 23 years old
  • I was born and raised in Pascagoula, MS.
  • I graduated from Mississippi College in 2010 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Education (Endorsements in Elementary Education K-6th, Social Studies 7th-12th, and English 7th-12th)
  • I have 2 brothers and 2 sisters- all who are married with beautiful children (7 nieces and nephews total)
  • I am currently the 2nd Grade Teacher at Benedict Day School.
  • I have two amazing parents (Kenny and Debbie) and a set of irreplaceable grandparents (Mawmaw and Pawpaw)
Now, here is the information I really want you to know.  I'll start with the beginning.
I was 8 years old when I was saved. By "saved" I mean I realized I was a sinner, I verbally confessed my sinfulness to God, and I knew that I needed His son Jesus to rescue me from myself and then lead my life. I can't say that I knew exactly who Jesus was at the time, but I was aware that I was lost without Him. I also knew I was bound to an eternity in hell without His saving grace.  
To give you some additional background information, trying to be short and sweet here, I did not grow up going to church regularly and learning all of your traditional bible stories. We went to church on and off, and wound up staying on the "off" side for a long time. Then when I was twelve, my sister and I began going to Arlington Heights Baptist Church. Not long after that, my parents and grandparents began doing the same. 
Moving on. It wasn't until I was twelve years old that I began understanding that my salvation through Jesus was a relationship with Him. A man, Nathan, came to speak to our youth group one night. After talking with him for a little while and asking him very serious questions about the Christian walk, he explained to me that my walk with the Lord is done by faith (Romans 1: 17, Habakkuk 2:4, Galatians 3:11, Hebrews 10:38). He also explained that my faith is not based on my emotions, something I am still learning even now. 
Since then, my walk with the Lord has been anything but perfect. I went through the whole "party" scene in high school. I've been in some dumb dating relationships. I have some real scars and baggage that I allow to hinder me more often than I'd care to admit. I've attempted denying God and His plans for my life. I've chosen sin over Jesus and lies over truth. I've struggled with loving those God has called me to love. I've even hated those who have done me wrong. I've also battled the desire to cling to hatred for my fellow "Christian" brothers and sisters. When I was 19, I started to really question why I believed what I "believed." I even decided to write about it in a note on my facebook page. Even now, I have to consciously check myself. Do I believe this (whatever it may be) because God said it in His word and/or revealed it to me through His Holy Spirit? Or am I claiming this to be true because some awesome Christian speaker/preacher said it? 
Anyways, all that to say this: I know beyond any inkling of doubt that God has sovereignly chosen me to walk in His path that He laid out for me, even before I was born. Looking back now, I can see that His hand has been over every inch of my life. Every wrong decision I have made has been redirected by Him for good. When I am weak, He is strong. When I fall, He picks me up- sometimes later than sooner. When I doubt, He pulls me along- always faithful, never changing. When I fail Him, He corrects my steps- sometimes after He allows me to suffer the consequences of my decisions first. God knows me better than I could ever know myself. On my emotional days, during my crazy mood swings, in my time of need, when I am on my "best" behavior, when I allow fear to take over, the days I don't shower and look like anything but the prettiest human being to ever walk the face of the earth, and even when I have put on the full armor of God and am walking with Him step-by-step, His love is constant.
I am a sinner saved by grace. I want my life to count. I refuse to waste what I am on worldly success and dreams. What I desire more than anything is this: at the end of my life, I want to know that I did everything humanly possible to serve the Lord and serve Him well. When I look back on my life, I want to see that I was a catalyst in God's ultimate plan.