A common question people ask me is when did I know that God had called me to Sweden. The first time I heard this question, I wanted to say, I’ll let you know when He does. As I look back on the path I have been on, it has been amazing to see how God has lead me. The reality from my perspective was that there were simple daily choices that just made sense. None of these choices came with neon lights saying God is calling you to go to Sweden and reach the unreached people groups 🙂
So what did happen?
I remember the season of deciding to follow Jesus during my college days. I can remember situations that taught me there I was not above falling with any types of sin. Learning how to read the Bible and hear God’s voice. Deepening a relationship with Jesus verses just an activity list of do’s and don’ts.
As I had the opportunity to teach public high school students algebra and geometry, we started a youth group by accident. While the Holy Spirit was stripping me of masks dealing with internal healing, He taught me how to live life with those far from Him. Perspectives was a course I got to take that opened my eyes to the reality of the mission of God from Adam and the burden that we are still not done began to grow. It was during these years I realized the amount of times it talked about Jesus’ return in the New Testament and a burden for the bride of Christ increased. I felt like the Spirit showing me how we were not ready for His return. I began to journal the desire to Know Him more and make Him known.
I began to look into the opportunities to study the Bible more in depth. Through a contact through a friend I learned about Columbia International University. Reading their website and their logo, there was no question that God was already at work orchestrating this path. Everything just made sense. I had no plans to go, I thought I would just take a class. Then the financial aid office called me and told me they would give me a scholarship if I came as a full time student. I hadn’t even applied for financial aid yet. Six weeks later, my car was packed and I was driving to Columbia, SC for the first time.
This wasn’t my plan. This wasn’t my calling. It was just what made sense as He led me. I can remember starting to come to Riverbend. I can remember the day I heard Robbie preach on the Great Commission. Sure I had heard that before and I was all about it. But Robbie said something specific that the Spirit engraved on my heart. Let us not be about contributing to the Great Commission. Let’s be about finishing it. That brought a new focus and intentionality. I mean that is our ultimate purpose. It was also at Riverbend, where Acts 1.8 was talked about as part of our DNA. Living out the gospel locally, regionally and globally. As I got to know more about the culture of this network of churches, I witnessed men and women who simply loved Jesus and wanted to live on purpose with a heart after God’s own. I made the choice to want this for my life as well. As a body of believers we can see how God is using us locally in Lexington, SC, locally on USC’s campus, locally in the refugee, immigrant and international student ministries, locally through the pre-school and well you know better than me all that God is doing in and through you. Regionally, the work at Allendale, the work through LINC projects and our network of churches in the southeast . And then globally. We have an incredible privilege serving with many missionaries all over the globe. I am excited and humbled at getting to be a global piece of Riverbend.
In 2008 after I had just gotten hired to work with college students through Riverbend, I sat across Robbie’s desk and he said, “We have just gotten back from Sweden and have decided to commit to a 5 year partnership. One of the key aspects of the church planting vision is to help establish and equip a college ministry. Why don’t you take a team there next summer? And wouldn’t it be great if after 5 years, we could put boots on the ground there?!” For the next three years, I had travelled to Luleå 7 different times. The five different teams that I brought, I was always thinking who would God raise up to send here long term. There were many possibilities.
October 2011, I was leaving a prayer meeting with the Luleå students and as I walked my heart was just broken for the need and the spiritual need that existed there. I was talking to God and said, “You are doing so much here it is hard to not get to part of it.” God answered, “You can go if you want.” I said, “really?” He said, “Yes.” Is was an opportunity to say yes I will go. Nothing forced or manipulated. It is just what made sense.
Fast forwarding to now. I have just moved to Stockholm. Never thought I would live here. Never desired to live. This is just where the path has lead. There is no question in my mind it is where I need to be for right now. With the 160,000 refugees currently seeking asylum in this country, the face of Sweden has changed and this is the window of opportunity we have right now, today, to make a difference in reaching the hardest to reach people groups who have become my neighbors. There are over 100 nationalities in this area. The local high school started their learning swedish as a second language to students age 16-20…150 students showed up from the middle east. We had 40,000 afghani boys between the ages of 14-16 show up in the last eight months with no family.
I have not received my calling to work with muslim ministry. I have not received my calling to work refugees. I have not received my calling to work bi-vocationally. I am simply living out being a disciple and making disciples where He has put me. It is just what makes sense.
Sweden continues to get to be part of the globally vision from Acts 1.8 and now that meaning has gone to a whole new level. Not only do we get to take part in seeing God reawaken Europe, we get to love, serve and equip immigrants with the gospel to take back to their villages where we may never get to walk. We truly are living out a global vision to finish the Great Commission.
Yes God, have your way with me. You know how to best display your glory through me. I trust you to guide my steps. And let’s get this mission checked off!