June 18th, 10:25PM
The email subject line said simply,
She had my attention.
Her father, Vernon Brewer, founded World Help in 1991. Since then he has been used by God in amazing ways, around the globe.
Their office is in Forest, just a hop, skip and jump from here, and [DISCLOSURE] I’ve been privileged to do some consulting work for them over the years.
Each time I’m with Vernon or Noel, I’m in awe of how God uses them and the great folks with whom they work. Vernon’s personal mission statement is hand lettered in the World Help lobby:
“Every day I try to live my life in such a way that I accomplish at least one thing that will outlive me and last for eternity.” – Vernon Brewer, President/CEO, World Help
Noel’s book, Awake, launched a few months ago. I took it to the pool in the early days of summer; read and underlined words on page after page. I wanted to do something significant. I even checked the website for upcoming trips.
Just a few weeks later, I received the above mentioned email from. She invited me to go to Guatemala in October, at their expense. They wanted me to be part of a group of people who would see first-hand the difficult lives children like Kevin lead. I would see the hand of God at work. And afterward, if I were so inclined, I could help tell the story of Operation Baby Rescue, Noel’s newest initiative to do a world of good, one person at a time.
Humbled. Grateful. Fearful.
A few days later we met for coffee and I took copious notes. As I drove along the Expressway, I recounted the conversation to Peter.
“You have to go,” he said. “Clearly, God is up to something.”
I didn’t have to give her a definite answer until the first of August. I continued to pray about it though I was sure I would say yes.
The only *small* glitch was that the trip was scheduled for the same exact time as the 2012 Aglow National Conference. I’m in my third year as a member of the Board for Lynchburg Day Aglow but I haven’t been able to attend the other two conferences because of commitments with The High Calling.
Advice from a Baptist Student Union seminar I attended about summer missions kept coming back to me, “Don’t ask why you should go. Ask why you shouldn’t go.”
I told my fellow Aglow board members I was going to Guatemala. They were disappointed I wasn’t going to conference. Sharon encouraged me to pray.
I told two other friends (Lisa and MaryLynn) who were excited about my opportunity to go Guatemala.
No matter how I looked at it, I didn’t have peace.
My Aglow friend Rindy has been to Guatemala twice. In fact, she just returned a couple of weeks ago from her most recent trip. When I mentioned the opportunity to her and the conflicting date, she simply said she would pray for me to hear God’s voice, then added,
“The safest place to be is in the center of God’s will.”
Last week I had lunch with Laura and Sarah and asked them to help me process kairos, using the LifeShape circle (based on the 3DM discipleship model). I fully expected them to be supportive of Guatemala, having no particular bias towards Aglow.
Laura discerned my passion for Aglow. Sarah suggested I might “get” something at the conference that would equip me for further ministry here, in Lynchburg. In my Oikos. Hmmm.
Maybe in an effort to sway their opinions, I explained that one was paid for, the other would be at our expense. I said things were tense around the issue of money in our house lately. Sarah, an investment broker, suggested I might benefit from the sacrifice.
Earlier this week I talked to Christine. She gave me two words, “Seek” and “Serve,” then admonished me to turn to the Word for confirmation. The next day, the verse of the day on my Bible app said,
“Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.”
– Matthew 6:33, The Message
You may know it from a different version:
“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” Matthew 6:33, NJKV
The pieces of the puzzle were starting to take shape. On Monday I wrote about Arise and Abide and how, for months, God had been speaking those words to me, then confirming them later through emails I received from Aglow.
August 1st was two days away and I still didn’t have an answer. I was still hesitant and without peace. I’m often paralyzed for fear of making “the wrong” decision.
Yesterday morning when Peter and I prayed, he said,
“Cheryl, you have to do what you need to do. You hear God.”
That was the most significant feedback, especially given the financial conversations we’ve had lately. I haven’t exactly been the best steward and the enemy was turning up the intimidation factor.
How could I explain turning down a gracious offer to serve, in exchange for a ticket to seek, at our expense?
But God was doing a work in my heart and in Peter’s. He was speaking, through His Spirit, through friends and through the Word. I was (finally) listening.
I talked with Noel this afternoon and told her all that I believe God has been speaking to me. And that I believe I’m supposed to go to the Aglow conference.
She was gracious, affirmed me in hearing God and following His voice, then assured me there would be other opportunities. She understood and is excited to see what God is up to.
It’s counter intuitive that I should turn down an opportunity to serve God, in a place like Guatemala that is barren, yet ripe with opportunity. Serving alongside people I love and respect.
But sometimes, saying yes means saying no to something really amazing. To make way for something else, really amazing.
Have any idea what the theme for the Aglow 2012 Conference is?
Oh, and guess what else? Yesterday afternoon we got a check in the mail for an overpayment to a doctor’s office. It covers the amount of the conference and most meals. But more importantly, it’s very much a reminder that God provides. I can’t wait to see how God provides for hotel and airfare!
For your light has come!
And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you.
– Isaiah 60:1
What about you?
What are you doing in October? And have you said “yes” or “no” to something recently? And would you pray for Noel and for her ministry in Guatemala? Would you consider sharing the story of Operation Baby Rescue on your Facebook page or blog? I’d be grateful!