God continues to raise up laborers to go into the harvest where the Gospel has scarcely been.
I grew up in church and loved Jesus with everything. As I transitioned from high school to college, I found that there were parts of my walk with the Lord that weren’t completely surrendered to Him. One of those things being the plans for the rest of my life. Through a discipleship relationship that I found in Chi Alpha, I was challenged to first give my future plans to the Lord and then, to actually ask God what he would have me do with my life after college.
While I was on the journey to seek the answers, I committed to go on an overseas mission trip to Mozambique, Africa! I felt God pulling on my heart and really burdening me for those people. For the first time in my entire life, I spent an entire month of my life in another country, serving people, and telling them about a man named Jesus who had transformed my own life. Throughout that time, I could see that the Lord was giving me a different perspective on this mission to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19). That scripture became the very thing making me question what I was going to do with my future.
It was the end of our month-long trip and I just had a simple conversation with God. Through the tears in my eyes, and the burden I felt deep in my heart, I told God something very simple and it was this: “I don’t think that I could ever be satisfied with doing anything else with my life unless it is this” (meaning world missions). It seems like a simple statement but it was as if I was making a commitment to the Lord to live missionally.
I don’t think that I could ever be satisfied with doing anything else with my life unless it is this.Julie
Fast forward to later that year, I was at the World Missions Summit where God continued to burden my heart. I had the opportunity to meet many missionaries serving in Africa and it confirmed to me that I would give my life to missions. I committed to give a year and pray about a lifetime.
I was raised in church my whole life. My parents are great people who love the Lord and raised me that way. I grew up learning all of the stories in Sunday School and experienced God from a young age.
Through my school years, my relationship with God was really my foundation for life. I loved God and spent time in His Word and in talking with Him frequently and consistently.
I went to college at Arkansas Tech University. Arriving on campus, I was looking for a campus ministry to be involved in. At one of the Student Engagement Fairs I ran into some Chi Alpha people. They reeled me in! I started going to the discipleship groups and the worship gatherings each week.
It was here in Chi Alpha that my relationship with God took off. At first I didn’t really enjoy being in XA because I felt like the leaders were challenging me, but in reality, it was my pride beating against the truth of scripture. Specifically, the passage in Matthew 28:16-20 about going and making disciples. I had been taught about witnessing, but never took personal ownership of sharing the gospel and making disciples myself. This passage of scripture challenged how serious I was in my relationship with God.
In my junior year of college I stepped down from a leadership position in Chi Alpha because I thought that it was too much for me to do. Then about a month later I went on a spring break trip to Atlanta and things changed. Just seeing people who didn’t have much of anything living in joy because of the God they served made me realize that I had been living for other things along with living for God. So, at that point, I began to feel God leading me to a life of ministry though I wasn’t sure what that looked like. After the trip, I apologized to our XA director because I realized the mistake I had made stepping away from leading and thankfully he was super gracious with me.
A couple of months after that, I went on a mission trip to Africa. On this trip I realized Africa was where God was wanting me to go. There was no audible voice or anything like that, but as I prayed and asked God what He would have me do with my life, this was where I was continually lead to and felt a great peace.
Julie and I started dating after this trip and the rest of our story comes together.
Where it comes together-
Soon after this, we graduated from college. We got married while working using our new college degrees.
I had felt that God was calling us to do the Chi Alpha Internship (CMIT). That led me to apply for the internship, quit my job, and begin support raising as a missionary. After much deliberation and prayer from John, he also quit his job and committed to do the internship.
At the end of the internship, we had the opportunity to go to Mozambique for the last three months. We spent some time talking and praying through it, but honestly we knew we needed to go.
We had both felt a burden to share the gospel specifically in Africa so when the opportunity arose, we said YES!
Throughout our three months in Mozambique, we saw God do some really awesome things. It felt so natural being there. It felt like HOME!
We saw firsthand the need that is in that country specifically but we also learned that there are countless countries within the continent of Africa in need of the gospel.
We had imagined that since we felt a deep burden and calling to Africa that we would return back to Africa quickly upon the completion of the three months. God had a different plan and we’re so thankful for that.
We imagined…we would return back to Africa quickly…God had a different plan and we’re so thankful for that.
One day, John received a very detailed vision from the Lord and we felt as if the interpretation of this vision was that we would be under a protective covering (perhaps the U.S. or a specific Chi Alpha) that God would use to provide a team for us to join with and lead to a new place to plant the seed of the gospel where it hasn’t been in Africa.
Shortly after this, the University of Tennessee kept coming up. This was very random and we now realize that it was clearly from the Lord. One day, I prayed a prayer similar to this: “Lord, if the University of Tennessee is in your plans for us, then will you have the directors of the Chi Alpha there reach out to us?” I didn’t share this prayer with John I just prayed to the Lord and left it up to Him.
This was a bold prayer for me and where it gets exciting.
Not even an hour later, John informed me that the director of UTK Chi Alpha sent him a message asking if we would consider joining their staff team. I knew that was God!
Fast forward to the present, where we have been serving at the University of Tennessee Chi Alpha on the staff team for nearly 3 years. We have seen God do incredible and miraculous things and this season has been full of growth for us.
We are now preparing to transition in preparation for moving to Africa. Throughout this entire process, God has been faithful to us. God has called us to be a part of His mission with Him and He has called you too!
John and Julie’s names have been changed.
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