Tuesday, July 3, 2007

If I Am a Vessel

The following is a scholarship essay I wrote to Christian Community Credit Union, which is right down the street from my college in California. I am posting this so that those reading my blog may pray with me that God will provide all of the money for school in California. Also, I think writing this essay was a helpful trip through time for me, reminding me of God's sovereignty and faithfulness.

The following testimonies tell the story of how my ministry giftings of friendship, joy, faithfulness, teaching, worship, and prayer have influenced the direction of my life by taking me from a place of simple moral living to a place of active ministry wherever I am. As UN Ambassador Dag Hammarskj√∂ld wrote in his diary, “I am the vessel. The draught is God’s. And God is the thirsty one.” I like to think of my life, the sum of my talents, time, and resources, as a drink offering poured out for my Father in heaven. I know that God has called me into full-time ministry. For this reason, I am asking CCCU to assist me in receiving further training for my future of ministry by financially supporting my decision to attend LIFE Pacific Bible College this September. I hope that you, reader, will be blessed by a stirring of excitement in your spirit for how God is calling you and I to do spend our lives on bringing the peace, joy, and righteousness of the Kingdom to the earth.

The story of my first missions trip isn’t about how I fundraised throughout Spring in order to go to Costa Rica with Teen Mania over the Summer. Rather, my mother and I had planned to tour East Asia together since I was in the seventh grade. We embarked upon a 17-day blazing tour of China the summer before my senior year in high school. I did not set out for a real missions trip experience, but the missions part happened spontaneously. After a few days in China, I ended up on a boat on the Yangtze River for a five day cruise. I made my first Chinese friend on that boat ride; her English name was Shirley. For several hours each day, I told her about America, and she told me about tea. I told her about Jesus on the last day of the cruise and gave her my Bible. Shirley only sent me two e-mails after the trip before we lost touch, but I still pray that she kept my Bible and knows Jesus now.

I returned from China to finish my last year of high school with the hope of attending a LIFE Pacific Bible College to learn about being an English-teaching missionary to China, but the timing was not right for Bible college since I could not afford to go to school so far away from Colorado. I stayed in my home town and applied to the local college, and God blessed me with a full-ride scholarship. In 2004, I was abundantly blessed with a large amount of leftover, yes its true, scholarship money of which I had no need. I asked God how I should use it. The next day, I bumped into a friend that told me about a mission trip to East Asia that summer. Right then, God said “go.” I went to East Asia and spent two months teaching English and sharing the gospel through friendship evangelism. I feel as though the blessing of the decision to spend the money on missions, it’s all God’s anyway, is multiplying even now since I still receive e-mails from my students I taught that summer.

After the missions trip to East Asia, I continued my studies at Mesa State College. I am a strong student because I work hard and steward my time to reflect the value I place upon honoring God in everything I do. I graduated this Spring as a Summa Cum Laude with a degree BA in English Literature, a degree that can get me back to China to teach English, but I know that I learned more about how to use my talents right here and now. I maintain a strong bent towards overseas missions, a heart that loves people has no borders, but I have gained a vision for ministry right here in the United States. My generation has quickly slipped out of the minds and hands of the church today. I long to rejuvenate the Church for my generation and for God’s glory.

I feel I used the last four years at my public college to learn about living a missional lifestyle wherever I am. I have been involved in several fun campus ministries, but I found the most exciting witness happens spontaneously, like my first missions trip, while in the classroom, cafeteria, library, or while taking day-old pastries from my workplace and delivering them to my poor and hungry college friends. Attending a public college confronted me with the challenges of evangelizing in a secular environment and proved a difficult but wonderful training ground. I used my time on campus to be a student of the lost, learning how they view the world. Much of my learning took place in the college dorms.

Ironically, I never actually lived in the dorms, but my friends did. I spent almost as much time at the dorms as I did my own house. Campus Crusade would invade the dorms with a “trash” and “cookie” ministry once a month. We would knock on students’ doors and offer to take their trash out for them. Similarly we would knock on doors, pass out cookies, and invite the students to an outdoor event, usually something like paintball, capture the flag, or sledding. I enjoyed these times because we became servants to those in the dorms, but what I enjoyed most were the times I spent serving with my good friend Wendy.

Over the course of two years, Wendy was a Resident Assistant and a Resident Director. Both positions entailed looking after fellow dorm students, enforcing rules, and being a listening ear. I loved helping Wendy do her job. She and I would host tea parties and movie nights. A few times we went around cleaning residents’ bathrooms. And most often, Wendy and I would stay awake late into the night, walking the dorm halls and praying over each room. She fought on the front lines, and I was there beside her for those two years. Last summer, Wendy decided to leave Grand Junction to attend a Christian leadership training school called 24-7. I believe so much in the call God has placed on her life, so I did my best to help her fundraise for 24-7. I threw a two-day yard sale and was able to help raise over $500 for her. My relationship with Wendy is just one example of several meaningful relationships I built while in college. The way I used my time and talents during college to bless others was through building committed and healthy friendships. God is relational, and he works in community, in between brothers and sisters in Christ – we are the Church after all.

I live missionally in the world, but I also believe that the Church is still the Bride of Christ and therefore His number one partner in changing the world with the redemptive gospel message. I have spent many hours mentoring the youth of my church, praying, teaching, and participating on the worship team. Even this summer I am going with my church to Honduras to visit the orphanage and school we financially support. Once there I will teach crafts to the children, lead worship in Spanish and English, and help instruct a group of teachers in understanding the “Spirit-filled life” and the “prophetic.” I am excited about this opportunity to finally use all of the Spanish I studied in high school and college to teach and encourage my Honduran brothers and sisters in Christ.

This year the long story of my desire to be trained for ministry is coming full-circle. In March of 2006, I began asking God what I was to do after college. Three days later, I received an e-mail from LIFE Pacific Bible College that reopened my pursuit of formal ministry training. I stand firm in the belief that I should not take out loans to pay for this second round of college, but I know that God has called me to a time of ministry training at LIFE. Proverbs 22:7 says that the “borrower is slave to the lender.” I know debt limits my ability to follow God anywhere in ministry. I believe that a scholarship from CCCU will enable me to run towards the calling God has placed upon my life to minister through missions, worship, teaching, and prayer to the joy-less in the church community and in the world. I appreciate the scholarship committee’s consideration of my testimony. God is good. His will be done.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

It's Summertime

I don’t know. Over the past two or three weeks I have not been able to make up my mind, but tonight I straightened my thoughts out enough to say, “I don’t know.” You see, I sent out a thank you letter to all of my friends and family that blessed me with a graduation card and/or gift. In the letter (you may view it below under “Upward and Onward”) I state that I feel confident that Life Bible College is the place for me in the fall.

I have been working full-time at Starbucks and doing multiple part-time jobs in order to save lots of money this summer. So far so good. Except, all the working and no sleeping I am doing is affecting my health. No, I am not hospital-sick, but I do need to rest which means not working as much which means less money which means more trust from me. I have to trust that if God wants me to be in California in the fall, He’s going to make it happen regardless of whether I clock 50 hours of work a week.

That being said, my brother and I had an amazing talk tonight within which we discussed the benefit of not setting your goals/plans too high. This sounds contrary and suspicious, doesn’t it? When I bother to make plans by saying:

“God, either I go to California

or

“I stay in Grand Junction.”

The thing is, that limits God to two choices when neither might be the choice.

So I realized how limited my view is and how big God’s views are. I would prefer neither choice if God has something better. I can’t force California to happen. It’s time to rest a little. It’s summertime after all.