I started having a heart for Missions while I was in college doing ministry with MK’s (Missionary’s kids) and attending Missions prayer meetings at my campus church. Due to different circumstances I never had a chance to go on Missions during college and felt God tug at my heart to go on this trip to Over the Rhine. As I was preparing to go, God placed a verse on my mind and heart – “today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts…” (Hebrews 3:7-8a & Psalm 95: 7-8). I wasn’t sure why that particular verse stuck with me, but I made it my prayer going into OTR – that God would speak to me, that I would listen, and He would soften my heart.
As we drove into OTR, I could already sense that God was going to rock me during this trip whether I was ready for it or not. The first portion of the trip, School of Evangelism, was like a mini retreat for us, the missionaries. We would hear from the word, worship corporately, and go out in small groups to do cold street evangelism to the people of OTR. As we went out to declare the truth of the gospel to the community, I had such an overwhelming sense of privilege to be able to tell people the good news of Jesus. I am so unqualified and inadequate, but God gave me, a broken sinner, the gift of salvation – how could I not shout and declare His goodness! In those couple days, God spoke to me by reminding me just how much He loves His people – how he longs for ALL to know Him and return to Him. I was convicted of how little I treasured my salvation – it is a gift from God not based on anything I did or didn’t do, but only because of His great love and grace (Ephesians 2: 8-9). His love never runs out and His grace is so deep and wide- He is enough and sufficient not only for me, but for anyone and everyone who would put their trust in Him. As I talked with and prayed for people of the community, God showed me MY desperate need for the gospel – unless I cling to the truth every single day of my life I can’t declare this truth to others.
After the School of Evangelism ended, we began to prepare for the Children’s summer camp portion of the trip. Each morning we would scramble to get ready in one bathroom shared by 15+ ladies and head over to the church to meet with God before starting the day with the kids. Initially, morning devotional was difficult for me because I’m one of those people who need 7+ hours of sleep to function and I’m always hungry so these factors were a daily battle! The first day or two were rough but somehow I started finding the 1.5 hours with God to be too short. It was during these precious times with God in the morning that He spoke most clearly to me. In the quietness I wrestled with all my heart to draw near to Him – those mornings changed my life more than anything else I experienced on this trip to OTR. I was blown away by this newfound hunger and I knew it had been God who answered my prayer – Everyday He speaks to us in His word and everyday our hearts can be softened to have faith in Jesus. As I’ve been reflecting and sharing with people about this trip, I find myself loving God’s word more and more and in return knowing Him more and falling in love with Him all over again. I’m SO thankful God allowed me to go on this trip to taste and see His goodness again. He is a God who not only answers the prayers of His children, but He showers us with grace and mercy beyond what we could even ask for! My prayer is that I will tap into this unending, never failing, always satisfying resource of grace every morning – please pray for and with me!