I was first called to go to the Middle East when I was 9 or 10. I had been told of the masses that were living lives of fear and brokenness without ever hearing the Gospel and it wounded my heart. I could not stand the thought of them not knowing my Jesus, and I determined to tell them. For years that was a cry of my heart, that God would send me.
As I got older I started to forget that cry. In junior high my family and I went through some hard circumstances and I really began to wrestle with my faith for the first time (which led to a total transformation of my faith in which God completely reintroduced Himself to me, but that is a story for another time). At the same time I got involved in ministry with kids in a downtown after school program. I got distracted and caught up in my ministry in America and completely forgot about the call to the Middle East.
Recently God has been tugging on my heart to go to the Middle East again, and I have once again given my yes. I am finishing high school this year and going off to the Fredericksburg House of Prayer (also called The Prayer Furnace) to intern with their Missions And Prayer School (MAPS). It is a 2 year program at their house of prayer, and then there is 3 months in a Middle East House of Prayer. From there I want to be a witness for Christ in a specific country (there is a specific country in the Middle East I was called to, but for safety reasons I won't name it). I am laying my life down to love God in the Middle East. I am laying my dreams and my plans for my future aside to pick up my cross and follow Christ.
I tell a story of a young girl who heard a crazy call as a kid and said yes, and now as a teenager is acting on that yes in radical ways. The part of the story I don't tell, is I didn't really want to go for a long time. I tell the story of a kid that felt the call to go and said yes, which is true. But deep down I didn't really want to go, and secretly hoped God wouldn't actually end up sending me. I love my American life. I love my kids (I call the kids at the after school program "my kids"). I love my family. I love my city. I love my comfortable lifestyle. I love my dog. I have dreams here in America that if I go to the Middle East I leave behind. The idea of leaving all that behind and moving to minister in a foreign culture with huge difficulties, including crazy hard languages, was terrifying to me.
So what made the difference? How did I go from saying yes but secretly begging for a no, to completely on fire for the Middle East and desperate to go? Jesus and prayer. Jesus and prayer made the difference. Holy Spirit slowly started working on my heart even while I resisted. I relented enough to start praying 7 times a day for the Muslim people groups and I started asking God to send workers into the harvest. They were (are) short prayers, often 2 or 3 sentences and nothing super spiritual. But somehow in that my heart shifted. Where fear once ruled my faith started to grow and take hold. In this transformation one day I was sitting on our couch and I saw Jesus's face. I physically saw my Lord. He was grieved over the unreached people groups and it broke my heart. I realized I can no longer pray for the Muslim people and pray that God would send workers into the harvest and not first go myself. I realized that if my heart is not breaking for the things that break His heart, than I am not truly in love with Him. I now weep at the thought of my Beloved having died for a people group that does not know Him as their Beloved, and that bow their knee to another. I weep for the Islamic masses that do not know my Beloved, that do not know my Father. The people who live their lives in brokenness, never knowing a God that is good. That is Love. Never knowing the Truth. It's no longer a sacrifice to think about giving up everything to pursue God's heart for the Middle East. I realize the truth in the quote, "There is no shame in lovesickness."* What was once radical or a huge painful sacrifice is nothing. My heart is so shifted that to go and to even give up my life if it comes to that is not a sacrifice.
Some look at me and think I am crazy. Some question whether or not I have any idea what is going on right now in the Middle East (which despite our lack of a tv at home I do have actually an idea what is going on). Some think I am a radical super Christian. Some think I am signing up to be systematically executed. But in reality, I am just a lovesick teenager with a God who is in love with the Middle East. I'm not a super Christian. God's dreams were just bigger than mine, and when I gave Him my yes, He gave me His heart. And that is a trade I will make again a thousand and one times a day for every day of my life.
*Kim Hager, a The Prayer Furnace staff member.