Six days before the application was due, I had decided not to go to Go Now Mission’s Discovery Weekend. Since I am graduating at the end of the semester and plan to become a teacher, I wanted to spend my last truly free summer with my family. Still recovering from a family tragedy, I felt that we needed to be together more than ever and that this would be my opportunity to share the love of God with them.
Five days before the application was due, I changed my mind. After a good talk with my BSM director, I finished the application and the interview, submitted my references, and prepared for the coming weekend with—I’ll admit—a partially open mind.
When I walked through the doors of First Baptist Church in Midlothian that Friday afternoon, I had my plan already in mind. I would go on a trip close to home, one that was inexpensive and convenient for me. In my mind, the only discovery I would be making was finding a way to go on the trip I had my mind set on. By Sunday morning, less than two days later, I had discovered so much more.
‘God calls us to people, not places’
Throughout Discovery Weekend, I discovered my plan was a lot more than a little faulty. I heard a phrase that was constantly repeated over the next few days: “God calls us to people, not places.” This phrase greatly impacted me and many of other students who attended. One of my group members and new friend Cayla Greer told me: “I learned I am called to a people and not to a place, which had changed my viewpoint and has helped me learn exactly who I am called to. I have learned more about myself and become more aware of my spiritual gifting, passions and callings.” God calls us to go where we are needed most, where our gifts and passions are strong. It may not be where we expected or planned, but God knows that we will do great work there.
During the weekend, different missions had tables set up, and we were encouraged to walk around and talk with the missionaries that have served in them. We are challenged not only to go to the tables with the missions we are interested in, but all of them.
I found myself walking up to missions I had only glanced at in the booklet. I found myself talking with the missionaries there, hearing their stories and what God had done in their lives and in the lives of those they served. I found myself drawn to places miles and miles away from my hometown, but to a people that I have felt called to serve. By the end of the night, my plan had been greatly revised by God himself.
At the end of Matthew, Christ tells his followers to go and make disciples of all nations, not the most inexpensive ones and not the most convenient ones. As his disciples, we are called to serve all of God’s people. As his disciples, we must fully surrender ourselves to God’s plan for us and know that wherever we are sent, we are needed.
Nervous but willing
I discovered I was not alone in my nervousness. For that weekend, we were put into different small groups with students from different schools. I was placed with five complete strangers who became like family by the end of the weekend. Each of us had a different personality, different goals and different aspirations, but because of our mutual love for God and the Holy Spirit’s presence inside of us, we clicked.
A group member and new friend of mine, Jessica Gamino, said it best: “I learned that even if you don’t grow up in a Christian home, you can still be called to God. It’s okay to be different and not fit in to the Christian circle because you can still find him. During the whole trip, I felt like the odd one out, but it’s OK. God wants me to be different. God gave us different hearts for a purpose, and I believe that purpose is to bring us together, as many as we can. We’re meant to be disciples, his children.”
Over the next few days, I found that we all had worries over where God would place us, but we all had a willingness and eagerness to obey. No matter where we are in our spiritual walk with Christ, we are all fit to share the gospel and to go to the ends of the Earth to spread it.
I discovered that in God’s eyes, I am so much more than what I think and believe. On the first day of Discovery Weekend, we were told to ask ourselves what our identity in Christ was. We were told to ask God what his name for us was. At first, all that would come to me was my name, Madison. I am a young woman, worried about her future career and worried that I wasn’t worthy in the eyes of my God.
Now, I believe I have found the answer. As I was praying to God throughout the weekend, wondering where I would go and how I would get there, a word popped into my head. Teacher. God has given me the gifts, the love and passion, and the confidence, however much I believe I don’t have it, to teach others. God is, and has been, calling me to teach youth and children. With that thought in mind, I put three missions that work with youth and children as my three preferences, with my planned mission, one I had been fully confident in going to, nowhere to be seen.
Last week, I discovered I will be serving in Phoenix, Ariz., working with youth and sharing the love of the Lord with them. By putting my trust in the Lord, and leaving the planning to him, I have been put exactly where I am needed.
Madison Chavez, a student at Sam Houston State University, will serve with Go Now Missions in Phoenix, Ariz.