A year ago today we met for the first time in Atlanta, all expectant for what was to come but also very unaware. No one can possibly know what nine months serving in five different countries and three different continents might hold. Though our nine months have come to an end, the work, love, relationships and stories live on.
I passionately believe in the power of remembering. The Lord told me this is important (that should be enough reason, right?) and as I progress through the book of Deuteronomy, I cannot go a paragraph without Him reminding His people to “remember.”
After my first 11 month World Race journey, I went through several months of figuring out what my new “normal” was. There was no going back, life just wasn’t going to be the same anymore. As I was gaining my USA-land-legs back, there were many days and sometimes weeks that I forgot about all that the Lord had done in and through me. My circumstances, my emotions and my clouded thinking took over and I forgot. I forgot about the faces, the people I met; I forgot about the miracles, about God faithfully providing in every moment, nook and cranny.
But He doesn’t take us out of Egypt, walk us through the Red Sea and the desert for 40 years so that we forget and move on to the next thing. It’s a lifetime of remembering His faithfulness and His goodness, the promises He’s fulfilled and those yet to come. And when we forget, we miss out on a huge part of who God is and His heart. The Lord is always building upon His work. There is a solid foundation and He’s constructing one layer upon the next. I like to think of this as a tiered wedding cake. Mostly because I like cake. And weddings. But also, when you place the bride and groom figurines on top, they can’t possibly stand if the below layers and primary foundation aren’t well established.
Three years ago I would have never believed I would choose, or was qualified to serve alongside, living with and discipling 30+ 18-21 year olds (and say I would love it). That would not have been true in 2014, but it is certainly true now! Only because I continue to remember what He has done, who He says I am, the promises He’s made me and that He continues to work good in my life for His glory.
So, to celebrate our one-year anniversary of Gap G’s launch into the mission field, I want to remember with you. I’ve been rereading my gratitude journal, letters, prayers and my World Race Bible (I’m an avid note taker). It is a powerful thing to document the Lord’s work and our growth. Below are just a few of the stories written down by my precious Gap G family, their encounters with God, head to heart revelations and miracles that ensued over the past year. And the Lord isn’t done yet. Though they are no longer on the World Race, though I am no longer their squad leader, He continues to work through their obedience and faithfulness, love and boldness to bring hearts to His daily.
There is power in sharing stories, testimonies and experiences. My hope is that these stories will encourage you to do the same with the community, body and church family you have surrounding you. First, to remember God’s work and praise him! And second, to encourage one another. In my post-Gap G transition back to America (re-entry round #2) I have never been more encouraged and so joy-filled than when I’ve met with my friends, family and church for “story time” about my past several years of life and to hear about theirs as well.
So go get some milk and cookies. Snuggle up in a comfy chair or on your bed and get ready to read about some crazy Kingdom stories, the restoration of broken hearts and the salvation of souls that are sure to encourage you in your day.
You’re Invited to the Throne of Grace – Cali Castaneda
“…The amount of Him I had last year, or even 3 months ago no longer suffices or satisfies my soul. I’m in a place of such dependence of Him to sustain me and to be my source for everything I yearn to be and yearn to have…”
Quick to Listen, Slow to Speak – Matt Bauman
“…I would be lying if I said I wasn’t hesitant to show Antonio love, I would be lying if I said that I was totally confident entering his home, and I would be lying if I said I didn’t cast any judgement upon him during the time we spent with him…”
Choosing Growth in an Unstructured Culture – Max Scheffer
“…I can confidently say that the World Race would not have been much of a challenge at all if it were simply a nine month mission trip. It is, on the other hand, a nine month fast from a culture of comfort and dependence on instruction…”
The Weight of Words – Katherine Seratt
“…I have been convicted the last couple of weeks with how my words bring life… and they can bring death. By my choice of words, I am ultimately making the choice to bring life to someone by building them up, or choosing to bring them death by tearing them down. Hearing one of my squad leaders say this forced me to ask myself the question, “Kat, can you confidently say that you leave every conversation you have, having built that person up with life-bringing words?” No. No, I cannot. But I want to…”
Freedom – Emily Weeks
“…This night at the lake is an experience that is so hard to put into words. No matter what I would say about what happened and what we experienced during these few hours of being together in this simple little meeting room at an average hotel would not do it justice. Simply put, it was a night filled with prayer, intense spirit led prayer. Prayer that allowed the Holy Spirit to meet us each in a different place where we desperately needed him so that we could experience an incredible freedom that seemed so distant and unreachable…”
I Don’t Want to be Like Christ – Mallory Hrehor
“…In Africa, I’ve been learning that, honestly, I can never be good enough. I can never be “like Christ”, because I am a hot mess. No matter how hard I try, I will always find myself falling short of the standard. I also can’t get closer to God, because, like I said, I’ve got a whole host of issues, and no matter how hard I try I will never be good enough. I will always find myself failing, and frustrated at my lack of success. I realize now that I don’t have to live like that…”
A Global God – Max Scheffer
“…For the first couple years of my Christianity, I thought the gospel was centered around me – that Christ came that I might have peace, and that I myself could be set free – but I now see a different picture. I am but a small part of a body – a body that is to go out into the world and free the captives, proclaim sight to the blind, and set at liberty the oppressed. God came in the flesh, died and came to life again that not just my life could be resurrected; but the world, through the body of Christ, could have new life…”
What Happened When We Prayed – Brandon Klever
“…Remember how Ronny was so set on sharing the gospel with everyone that day? Well, in perfect timing, Both just began his hour-long break as we walked in the lobby. He told us that he really wanted to hang out with us since we had built a relationship with him. The minute Both told us he was on his break we knew this was the green light…”
Battle on the Bridge – Abby Nass
“…But the value and importance of prayers of intercession became so much more real. Stepping into the gap and pleading with the Lord on someone else’s behalf, standing up to engage in the spiritual battle constantly waging around us, isn’t something to be overlooked or brushed aside. Interceding for Ronny and Cindy in that moment was a way to release God’s power onto that bridge and into their words—prayers of intercession are invaluable…”
Relying on God – Emily Westbrook
“I was sitting talking to my friend/leader Allison a few nights ago and we were just reflecting on the race so far. I was talking about the amazing ministry I have had and the awesome ministry hosts I’ve gotten to serve in all the countries and the relationships I have with them. I was explaining how great it is that I’ve been put with such amazing people and how I’ve kept in contact with them and how I would love to go back and visit them and serve them more. Then Allison asked me a very thought provoking question.
Why is it so easy to build these deep relationships with people in other countries and other cultures vs. the people we’ve been in church and community with our whole lives?”
Glory to Glory – Brielle Becker
“…May we never settle into contentment of what He’s already done, no longer anticipating what He will do. May we never cut Him off short, claiming that “He’s already done so much.” Hallelujah, because He has. Hallelujah, because He will do infinitely more. Hallelujah, because there will be greater things than these. We serve a God that exists and works outside of time. The ending of one season is not at all and indication of a ceasing of His works and power. No, friends, He is on the move. Here, and now. He is just beginning. Rejoice for greater things are near. In front of us, not behind.”