Little did I know it then, but I think God was planting seeds. He does that sort of thing. I was about 8 or 9 years old when I first heard her name. Naomi. She had come to our church to talk about her life as a missionary. It felt odd. Foreign. A different world that I couldn’t imagine relating to or living in.
She seemed old, and far away, but somehow I could sense this woman was a saint and I felt drawn to her. I was both strangely curious and yet terrified that someday God would call me to Africa.
In that church, missions were not emphasized, so this time with Naomi was even more foreign than it should have been. I had so little exposure to God’s heart for the world.
As the years went by, God still planted seeds. A hunger to learn French in high school. A mission trip to Egypt in college. Studying a semester abroad and finding a sense of adventure in me. Studying Greek, and loving it, in seminary.
Little did I know when I planned a birthday party for my son with an international theme, that the nations were being birthed in my heart. He was just in kindergarten then. Before long, he will graduate from high school. And all that time God was planting.
God has brought me to serve in orphanages in Ecuador, China, Haiti, and Mexico. I’ve attempted phrases of Spanish, Mandarin, Creole, and French.
Sometimes when I go to a country, all of my languages and phrases surface with incredible life. I dream and I pray in foreign languages, just bit by bit. I only know phrases, but they bridge me to relationships and hearts and ultimately nations. One heart at a time.
I am in awe of Him, how He unfolds visions and dreams over a lifetime. God grew this heart for the world, for the nations. When we lived in Wilmore, the Bible Study I went to was vibrant with missionaries on furlough, different languages to hear the scriptures, different countries to hold up in prayer.
I didn’t know when we prayed for our neighbors’ adoption from China that we were fertile ground for more seeds. About five years later, God called us to adopt from China too, and now the nations feel ever present in our home. Kingdom fruit.
I’m about to embark on a Conversational Chinese class at a community college next week. In preparation, I read an e-book called How To Learn A Foreign Language. Suddenly it all clicked. I had inklings of how God had a purpose behind my dreams, but this book seemed to solidify them for me. Here is a quote…
This whole process is as much about THEM as it is about you. There are people waiting to come into contact with you whom you will never have a chance of having meaningful communication with unless you invest this time and effort in learning their language. In doing so, you are honoring their culture and declaring that you have something to learn from them.
That is a vision God has put on my heart. To enter into a nation, build a bridge to the hurting, and honor the creation of humanity that God so loves. Because He has reached this orphaned heart, I want to go to the ends of the earth to show others the value and worth of being loved by God.
Not forgotten. Seen. Heard. Understood.
If God translates that to COSA’s here in my own world, or to orphans in every nation, the calling is the same. Build bridges. Reach hurting hearts.
All of this takes a stretch. Out of our comfort zones. Out of busyness or apathy or familiarity. It takes a seed of wonder… curiosity… a spark of adventure to go where God leads. Allowing God to open our hearts to connect with someone else.
It begins with the seed. Being open to what God is planting in you. Search your own heart. Are you being stirred? Do you have fertile ground for the Master Gardener to cultivate some incredible dreams in you?