Story Behind the Picture: Wales
The summer after my freshman year of high school I went to a youth camp with my church. Little did I know those five days would change my life forever. Fast-forward almost seven years later and I am fulfilling one of the many things God has called me to do. Let's start at the beginning though. I was all packed up and ready to go to camp with some of my best friends. I had been going to this church with them for a little over a year and after a few other trips I was excited to go to the mountains of Georgia and spend a week with them. Throughout the week God was working in my life. Then one night, all of the sudden I heard a very clear message from Him saying "Megan prepare yourself now, because I am sending you to Wales to work with the youth there."
After hearing this I told my student pastor at the time, Ryan, and he said he would be praying for me and he asked why Wales? I said I didn't know, but I knew God's voice. The school year started and I continued to seek God's direction in my life as I prepared to be on the leadership team for the youth group at home. Before I knew it the next summer came around and it was time for camp again.
This year was different. There were new people in the youth group, and camp was at a new place, but the message God had told me was still screaming in my head. Every summer at camp there was always a missionary video about someone who served outside of the United States. At the end of the week students would give money for these missionaries and their families to continue their ministry. Well if I thought the summer before was crazy then this summer was going to blow my mind. The missionary video was about Wales. A coincidence? I think not. Brett was the girl in Wales and she talked about the Christians life in Wales and how we could help. God continued to speak to me the rest of the week and said that I would be in Wales just like Brett.
If you don't know anything about Christianity in Wales, I'm not surprised, most people don't. But here's what happens. Most of the people there are willing to at least listen to what you have to say, but they are very deliberate and thoughtful about a decision like this. For many students it can take many months or even years of relational conversations to fully accept what someone is saying about Christ as true, and choose to follow Christ. Also, you must know that the party scene among the youth in Wales is quite large. There are parks where teenagers and young people, even what Americans would consider elementary school students are going out and getting drunk every night.
That being said, the next year at camp was a little harder to hear God's voice about Wales. I knew He wanted me to go, or so I thought. I had waited all week to hear His voice and I did throughout the week, but none of the messages were about Wales. I began to doubt whether He really wanted me to go at all, and if I had made everything up in my head.
I made it through the school year and I had finally graduated from Orange Park High School when it was time to go to my final year at camp. I told God before the week had begun that if He really wanted me to go to Wales then He needed to make it blatantly obvious. Well obvious was an understatement for the week. I get off the bus and get sorted into my team for the week and get to meet my leader. In that moment I knew I was going to Wales, I didn't know when, for how long, or how I was going to get there but I was going. My leader had introduced himself like this, "Hey guys, I'm Marcus and I'm from WALES!" As if I needed any more validation that I was going to Wales. So the week went on and Marcus and I go to talk a lot about Wales and what it's like and I learned so much from him. Also, that week I got to tell one of the staff members, Kevin who was moving to Wales at the end of the summer that I believed God had called me to go to Wales on a mission trip. He said he would be praying for me and asked a lot of the same questions my youth pastor did a few summers earlier.
That week I had circled a verse in my Bible from Romans and dated it 7-20-2010. The verse says "I urge you brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me. Pray that I may be rescued from the unbelievers in Judea and that my service in Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints there, so that by God's will I may come to you with joy and together with you be refreshed. The God of peace be with you all. Amen." -Romans 15:30
Two years later after starting college God told me it was time to apply to go be an intern with Kevin, his wife Amanda and their two kids in Wales. I applied and God showed up again. On June 26, 2012 I got the call I had been waiting for saying I was going to be the Wales intern for the Summer of 2013.
Immediately after I hung up the phone, I started reading my Bible and came across another verse in Romans which would become the verse I would plan the whole trip around. "How then, can they call the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, 'How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news.'" - Romans 10:14-15
After a year of waiting and praying and raising money I am finally able to look back and see God's provision through all of this. I know that God is going to do great things while I am serving in Wales. I also know that God is going to bless those who are praying for me and have been praying for me the past seven years.
I don't know very much about a lot of stuff , but the one thing I will stand firm on is that God is the great provider of all things and if you rely on Him and do things in His timing everything works out. Blessings upon blessings have been poured out this past year for me, from financials to people I don't know wanting to hear about my trip and what God has been doing in my life.
I leave for Wales on Friday the 5th of July and return to the United States on August 1st. It seems like a long time to be away from family and friends, but I know when I get home the time I spent in Wales wouldn't have been enough. God is about to rock my small world and make me see the huge God-sized story He has planned out.