Daughter of Love

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For you are all daughters of light and daughters of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness.

1 Thessalonians 5v5

I was once told by a dear friend that I would never get over the death of my mother, I would only get used to it.

My heart longs for just one more year (anything less would have never been enough) with her. My heart aches at the thoughts of what she has missed and what she will miss.

But we are not children of darkness. Jesus was the end of our darkness. He is the end of our pain and He is the end of our suffering. We are children of light. Jesus is the light at the end of our pain. He is the light of our salvation.

I am a daughter of love. I am a daughter of laughter and a daughter of joy. From my father, I am a daughter of delicious steaks and empathy for the hurting. From my mother, I am a daughter of red wine nights on the patio and compassion for the poor and unnoticed. From the Lord, I am a daughter of unimaginable loss and undeserved forgiveness.

I am a daughter of the light and I am blessed to be a daughter of my mom.

Hug your kids and your moms today, sweet friends.

Hard + Holy Things

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“The world has enough women who know how to do their hair. It needs women who know how to do hard and holy things.” – Ann Voskamp

I can’t tell you that I know what I am doing, but each morning, I wake up, (maybe) workout, down a mug of coffee and set my eyes on the His. Sometimes I’m zoned in and my gaze doesn’t detract from God’s. And other days – most days – the things of this world distract me and I am constantly refocusing my vision. But God is never changing, always there, looking at me with love and devotion.

Living this life of a Christ-follower isn’t easy, but it is oh so necessary and oh so holy. Girls, God wants to use us to make Heaven full, no matter the state of our hair. Refocus. Take a step. He is there.


You keep her in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because she trusts in you. Isaiah 26v3

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I don’t think anyone would describe me as “peaceful.” Even as a child, my parents had me tested for ADD. It turned out they were just raising a hyperactive daughter. #blessed

In Isaiah 26, the original Hebrew word for “stayed” is “sawmak” and it gives us a visual of propping something up. So in order to find perfect peace in God, it is essential that our minds are “propped up” by thoughts of our Heavenly Father. His Word is ripe with verses about setting our minds on Him. First and foremost, Jesus tells us to love the Lord our God with all of our minds (Matthew 22v37). And He tells us to set our minds on heavenly things (Colossians 3v2), for the end is destruction for those who set their minds on things of this world (Philippians 3v19).

Today I thought a lot about the future – what my life here in San Salvador will look like 6 months, even 5 years from now. Not having control over the future is what ultimately causes me the most uneasiness.

I do not think it is bad to plan and dream for the future, but those desires must be propped up on the will of God. I don’t know exactly how God’s plan for my life will unfold, but I can but I can extinguish that fear and experience perfect peace if I place my plans and dreams in the palms of God’s hands.

Believe me – I am the first to say this is easier said than done. But I also know that God has the power to transform our minds – even the mind of this Type A control freak (Romans 12v2). If a wild & crazy girl like me can find peace in the midst of a world of unknowns, even for just 7 minutes a day, I believe with all my soul that perfect peace is available to you as well. As we practice setting our minds on Christ, what was once a difficult task will one day become a habit and eventually a normal state of mind.

We cannot only occasionally encounter God – He must be what continuously sustains our minds.
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What is propping up your mind today?

It ain’t easy.

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Woah. This post was a truth bomb to my soul today. “Just because it’s God’s will for your life DOESN’T MEAN IT’S GOING TO BE EASY.” Woah.

I’ve been living in San Salvador for 5 months now. Holy cow. 5 months. Time has FLOWN! And I love living here. But I can agree with this post with every fiber of my being. I know that God has called me here, but it definitely has not been easy.

A few of my more notable challenges:

  • Getting my temporary residency visa. It took almost 3 months, and if it took 2 days longer, I would have had to leave the country!
  • No transportation. I went from being an independent woman in the States who went where she wanted when she wanted, to a super-dependent woman who has to ask her friends to take her anytime she wants to leave the house.
  • Sharing the Gospel. I know, I know, I know. I’m a freaking missionary! And yet sharing the truth of God’s love and salvation remains one of the most difficult challenges for me. What if the person has questions I can’t answer? What if they say no to God’s gift of eternal life? What if I forget the Bible verses that prove everything Jesus said was true? What if…? And the list goes on.
  • Spanish. Ok, I’m sure I’m beginning to sound like a broken record with this one, but it’s a huge challenge to not be able to understand what is being said around me, to me, and about me. And I’m trying. Lord knows (literally!) that I’m trying. And even when I do try to speak Spanish with my bilingual friends, they eventually get frustrated with me and just give in and relent, “Ok…just speak English.” #cantwin

I haven’t questioned whether or not it is God’s will for my life for me to be here in San Salvador. But I have questioned if I’m doing it right. Am I serving enough? Am I learning Spanish fast enough? Am I even helping? Are people’s lives being made better because they know me? Or…Am I being lazy? Am I too old and stupid to become fluent in another language? Am I making more work for people to do instead of less?

Am I just a complete failure as a missionary?

And that, sweet friends, is the question and the accusation that sits heaviest and many days, rings most truthful in our hearts – what if we have failed? Whatever our calling – missionary, parent, student, youth leader – what if we worked so hard to identify God’s call on our life and chase it down, only to fail Him?

The Devil has placed a target on our hearts and he will use his weapon of accusation to end our career as believers and bearers of God’s goodness. Satan will use every tiny defeat and remind us daily of every one of our shortcomings in order to convince us that this work is better left for someone else; better left for someone stronger in her faith, someone more fluent in Spanish, someone better prepared.

But here’s the truth…

Here’s the good news…

There is nothing we can do to make God love us any more than He already does. No matter how many times I share the Gospel, no matter how much time you spend reading your Bible, and no amount of fancy-worded prayers will draw us closer to His heart, because we are already there. I don’t know how many people who love me would send their child to die for me, but God did. He did it for you and He’d do it again.

Look, God is quirky in the fact that He chooses to use people who are screwed up, have filthy pasts and to the human eye, seem completely incapable of doing anything right – let alone proclaiming the most important news in the world! But He does this for a reason. First of all, He wants to use us to show His life-changing powers. Hop on down to San Sal and buy me a mug of chai (I know I’m in the homeland of amazing coffee, but I can’t live without my chai!) and I will gladly share with you my sordid past. Not because I am proud of my decisions, but because I am proud that I can boast about a God who took a self-centered woman living for the physical pleasures of this world and turned her into a Jesus-centered (most days 😉) woman living for the pleasure of serving people whose only form of payment is their genuine affection.

Second of all, God uses people who know they are inadequate for their God-given calling. But in the awareness of their weakness, they are also aware of God’s strength in them. Yes, we can get some things done by our own power, but with God, all things, anything, everything is possible.

Do what you can and let God do what you can’t. By giving God access to the fractures of our strength – the fractures we are so ashamed of and do our best to hide from even those closest to us – we allow Him to step into those gaps and show His power.

Those Oh my goodness…I’m not sure how I finished that / accomplished that / overcame that…moments are sacred when you know the answer…because God.

Sweet friend, you do not disappoint Him and you have not failed Him.

In my moments of weakness, when I know I am completely incapable of the task at hand (sharing the Gospel with a new mom at our Children’s Center, or asking the pastor for advice in Spanish, or being okay with missing a night with friends because I couldn’t find a ride…), I must take a moment to invite God into my weakness. I cannot do this. Lord, I am unqualified! I need you here NOW.

It is at that moment when we admit our frailty that God will step in, grow us and change us. THAT is when we will experience our sacred “That was only God” moment.

My dear mentor Pam once told me over a glass (or two) of red wine, “Honey, international missions ain’t easy and it ain’t for wussies.” AMEN AMEN and AMEN! I am a wuss and I have experienced moments of failure…but if any of this was easy, why would we need God?

a song for you today: You Remain by Saints
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Though I have fallen, I will stand up;
though I sit in darkness,
the Lord will be my light.


✝ Want to know more about how Satan targets us and how we can fight him off? Check out this great series from Pastor Chad at Rock City Church: Angel of Light

Firestorm

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Our world is an interesting place. Especially when it comes to how we create memories. These days, many people think everything is worth preserving in a photograph. Just spend one day out in the world and you’ll see people taking photos (on their phones, no less! I never imagined THAT would be a thing!) of their fancy coffee, their dogs, their shoes, and of course, themselv…ies (get it? Selfies? See what I did there??)

Everything is worth remembering! And don’t get me wrong, I’m on board with this trend! Photography is very important to me! I studied it all four years of high school and even have a college degree in photography! Take just one glance at my Instagram feed (go ahead…enjoy yourself 😉), and you’ll see that I think even the routine, ordinary parts of my life are not only worth remembering but worth sharing with the world.

Today, August 18th, 2016, would have been my mother’s 68th birthday. Five years ago, exhausted from fighting and knowing that on the other side of the war was an eternal, painless life with Jesus, cancer overtook her.

I sat in my bed in San Salvador this morning, searching my computer for the best photo of Mom to memorialize her influence on my life. As I sifted through files of photos of her, I came to a heartbreaking realization – there will be no more photos of my mother. As her birthday and anniversary of her death pass each year, I will eventually be forced to use the same photos year after year.

And what about the memories from moments that weren’t documented with a photo? I grew up in a time when you only took photos for really important events – birthdays, weddings, Backstreet Boys concerts, etc. One of my greatest fears is that I will forget all those precious moments; that they will be scattered to the wind as time passes and my age begins to consume my memories.

There really is no “This sucks, BUT…!” conclusion here. As each year passes and new memories press up next to the old, I simply pray that God will spark memories of Mom in my mind when I least expect them. Perhaps the sound of the ocean will remind me of hours spent hunting for shark’s teeth in Florida. Or the Beach Boys popping up on my music playlist will remind me of sleeping in her convertible while she drove us to Lake Erie. Or the sight of a baby will remind me of how her eyes just sparkled when she got to take a newborn in her arms.

I know that I am not the only one who is blessed enough to have memories of Lois Elaine tucked in their minds somewhere. Please, if you would, share with me one or two of your favorite memories of my mom. through our shared recollections, we will never forget the love she brought to our lives.

Oh, and take all the photos, for they might just be the spark to a firestorm of memories.

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Christmas, around 2006

The Perfect Beach Day

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And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name. Acts 22v16

I think today was my best day yet in San Salvador. Usually, the last day of a mission team’s week is spent at the beach, enjoying each other’s company and relaxing after a long week of hard work. But today was different. Today, the church filled a school bus with children and adults from Guayabo, a village on the side of a volcano where our first and largest Children’s center sits, and drove them to the beach to be baptized.

For most of the children, today was their first time at the ocean! Any beach is my absolute favorite place on earth, so to share in the childlike joy of the waves crashing into your chest and the sand squishing between your toes, well that, dear friends, would have been enough to sustain my happiness for weeks. But because God is working in all the nooks and crannies of His creation, I got to witness the joy of six people (three kids!) dropping their sins at the foot of Jesus’ cross and walking away drenched in salvation.

As soon as the baptisms ended, what had been a gray and cloudy morning became a bright, sunshiny day! It was truly as if God parted the heavens to let us know that He and His angels were rejoicing with us. (Luke 15v10)

After the baptisms, I walked the beach with some missionaries and played in the pool with the kids. Although I still believe wholeheartedly that God created me for Youth Ministry, there’s just something about a child yelling my name and entrusting me to carry them to the deep end of the pool that makes me wonder if God might just have something extra planned for me here.

Jesus tells us to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Today, I began to believe that I might just be able to obey that command (as long as they’re always beach baptisms 😉😎).

My little loves, Gilma & Jose

 

Thank God No Matter What Happens

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

1 Thessalonians 5v16-18


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Since the first of the year, I have been recording my daily gratitudes. It’s a practice that helps me to be thankful to God even on the hardest days. It’s so easy to allow myself to think just because one thing did not go according to plan (and you KNOW I love my plans!), everything else has gone to crap too. But remembering the good in each day helps me to dispel that belief. One bad moment doesn‘t mean a whole bad day.

Today, I am grateful for a quiet bedroom and a cool, morning breeze coming through my window – it makes for the perfect place to read God’s Word and listen for His voice. 

What are you grateful for today?

Livin’ the Dream

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I spent almost 11 months working my butt off to make my dream of moving to San Salvador a reality. Five of those months were spent having meeting after meeting with friends, loved ones and even strangers inviting them to share in my dream and be a part of the imperative crew of people sending me to San Salvador. One of those months was spent at Missionary Training International, learning how to learn Spanish and how to adjust to a new culture (#DifferentIsntWrong). Another one of those months was spent grieving the loss of Plan A – moving to San Salvador on December 23, 2015. The following three months were spent making lemonade (“When life gives you lemons…”) and learning everything I could about Youth Ministry and being in leadership. And the last month was spent trying (and failing) not to cry when I said goodbye to my favorite people and figuring out how to fit nine years of adulthood into three, 70 lbs or less, suitcases.

This is the best I could do...
This is the best I could do…

And now Here I am, in San Salvador, literally living the dream. But this weird thing happened about a week after I got here – living the dream got HARD! I expected learning Spanish to be challenging, but it is one thing to know something will be difficult and it is a completely other thing to walk out that challenge and not give up.

I landed in San Salvador with what I would call “Kitchen Spanish.” Hola amigo! Que tal? Tengo treinta-un años! Donde estas mi pizza? But I figured what everyone told me was true – the best and fastest way to learn any language is by full immersion. And my Salvadoran friends have been super eager to assist in my full immersion program! But from Day One, that was the challenge – being fully immersed in a language I barely know. When I am one-on-one with my bilingual friends, our conversation is easy because we mostly speak in English. But add even one more person, and I feel like I’m living in my own telenovela! This is actually really beneficial though because a large part of learning a new language is simply listening.

But I can only listen for so long before trying to understand every word becomes not only exhausting but impossible. There is definitely a part of myself that has gotten lost in the language. I don’t feel like myself when I am in a group of people. I can’t share my opinion, spit out a funny one liner or contribute to the conversation topic (most likely, I have no clue what the topic of conversation actually is.)

I would guess that 98% of my life in San Salvador is spent in confusion. Just last week, I was in the car with Silvia (the wife of the family I am living with) after our work day at the Children’s Center. Just like every day, we drove to pick up her kids from school. When we got to school, she informed me that we would have to wait about an hour for her son, Victor Raul, to get tutoring. Fine! No hay problema! I can nap in the car! After about an hour, Silvia and I walked into the school to retrieve Victor. He walked back to the car with us, but we didn’t leave right away. Curious… A few minutes later, his teacher joined us in the car! Ooookaaaay….maybe they invited her over for dinner as a thank you! About 10 minutes later, we were in a neighborhood I didn’t recognize. Turns out, we were taking Victor’s teacher home because she lives only a few minutes from our house! This is just one of about 10 days that have included journeys and adventures I had no clue were about to happen!

My first chocobanano! An after-work adventure I DEFINITELY wasn't expecting!
My first chocobanano! An after-work adventure I DEFINITELY wasn’t expecting!

Not being able to participate in Spanish conversations with a group of people has also had the effect of making me feel really dumb. Thoughts run through my mind like I’m so stupid! I will never learn Spanish! Why can’t I do this?? I have a college degree AND a Master’s degree! I should be able to learn Spanish! It’s like the easiest language in the world! But possibly, and most crushing to my spirit, I feel like everyone around me thinks I’m an idiot too.

Even so, not by my own strength, but by the strength of God, every day, I wake up and tell the family “Buenos días!” During the week, I go to the Children’s Center and ask my new friend, Kevin, “Ya comes? No? Quieres huevos? Siiiii! Y cuántos tortillas? Café con azúcar??” And some days, I even help with math homework! (math AND Spanish?? Si se puede! Yes, we can!) And with God’s Holy Spirit within me, I am learning. Words that escaped my memory, no matter how many times someone told me, are finally sticking. Thanks to the patience of my friends, their willingness to speak slowly, (and hand gestures) I am understanding way more than I can speak.

Girl Talk
Girl Talk

I am also appreciating this season of listening. In the States, I am so quick to speak and slow to listen. I try really hard to empathize with what people share with me, but many times, how I can relate, and how I feel about their problem and what I am going to say next are the thoughts running through my mind as people open up their hearts to me. So perhaps God has purposely placed me in this challenge as a way to teach me to listen to understand, not to listen and respond.

I also recently found a Spanish teacher! Sarah is one of Victor Raul’s teachers at school, and she was eager to help me learn! We had our first lesson last weekend and it went really well! I am finally learning the alphabet, I learned that English “-tion” words are “-ción” words in Spanish, and I began reading the classic, El Gato con Botas (Puss in Boots)! Sarah is super friendly and willing to help however she can. Just today she messaged me reminding me she is only a text away if I have any questions “sobre español!”

My most important lesson in language learning isn’t that “perrito” is a completely different word from “pedito” (the tongue-roll on those R’s is suuuper important), or that although mostly harmless in English, “estúpido” is really pretty offensive in San Salvador. The most important thing I can learn and must remember is that God has called me to this place and He will give me the tools and abilities to bring glory to His Kingdom. He IS going to use me here. In Spanish. And you know how I know? Because Satan is working overtime to convince me He won’t.

There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears.

Philippians 1v6 The Message

This is why I want to learn Spanish. Two days ago, two sweet girls, Lorena and Claudia, called on the name of Christ and trusted Him with their lives! And now what? These girls need someone to walk beside them as they begin to figure out just what it means to walk with Jesus. I believe God has called me to be that person someday soon.

 

This is why I want to learn Spanish. Two days ago, two sweet girls, Lorena and Claudia, called on the name of Christ and trusted Him with their lives! And now what? These girls need someone to walk beside them as they begin to figure out just what it means to walk with Jesus. I believe God has called me to be that person someday soon.

Live Your Mission

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Whether you’re a coffee barista or youth pastor, new to your faith or have been walking with Jesus for years, in Columbus or San Salvador, our mission as Christians is to prepare people’s hearts for the message of the Gospel. Three months ago, I was unable to see that my extra time stateside was actually a gift – a gift to live life alongside some of my favorite people in the world and help mold their hearts to look like Jesus’. Living my mission doesn’t only mean serving the people of San Salvador. Serving my mission means serving God’s people and sharing the Good News of Jesus’ resurrection wherever I am, whatever I am doing.

Salvadorans have more physical needs than the Youth of Rock City, but we all have a huge, gaping hole in our hearts that only Jesus can fill – it’s a need for the revitalizing presence of God.

My mission field is wherever my feet are planted, and these days, God has me growing and blooming with some of the most beautiful people I know.

Love is Red 2016 // God Winks

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Love is Red 2016

I look out and see black worshipping next to white, worshipping next to Mexican, next to Hispanic, next to Native American, and the only color that matters is red because that’s the blood of Jesus!

John Gray, Love is Red 2016 speaker

I realize that the normal person would probably grit their teeth and prepare for teenage drama and eye rolls when confronted with the thought of a church auditorium filled with literally thousands of middle and high school students. I, on the other hand, throw on my new Rock City Youth tee, pull out my favorite pair of Converse shoes and post to Instagram that even packing has me #RedBullexcited for the weekend.

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Wednesday Night // t-minus 14 hours and counting // @rockcityouth ➵ @lirconf

Love is Red (LIR) is a Youth and Young Adult conference in Canton, Ohio with the vision of “developing leaders and inspiring students to know God and to make Him known.” One of the greatest parts about this particular conference is that they host breakout sessions not only for students, but for leaders as well! It is purposely designed each year to run Thursday-Saturday because the organizers knew from the beginning that Youth Pastors and Leaders are at church on Sunday! This way, students get to miss a day of school and leaders can be back for church on Sunday! [side note: It is a fact that most Rock City Youth students, although glad to be out of school for a day, were actually pretty concerned about missing a day of classes! World changers, man.]

In three short days, we experienced 6 world-renown preachers and spent hours worshipping God alongside our peers, led by some of the biggest names in worship music, Elevation Worship and Jesus Culture!

Thank you Jesus / Just as I am I come / Hallelujah / Oh what amazing love
Thank you Jesus / Just as I am I come / Hallelujah / Oh what amazing love

I could spend this entire post trying to impart to you every motivational sound bite from all 6 preachers, but I have a feeling that I wouldn’t be quite as inspirational as they were in the moment. Instead, I want to highlight a few shining moments from the weekend and share with you how God spoke to me.

Two phrases that I am folding up and tucking in my heart forever from Love is Red are

If you want to see God do amazing things in your ministry, you must hold tight to obedience – Noah Nickel

and

Souls are at stake here. – John Gray

Anyone that knows me knows that I do not take kindly to hearing the word “No.” (Future husband – consider yourself warned.) Growing up, I was used to getting my way pretty much all the time and if I didn’t get my way at first, I had this INSANE power to exhaust my parents with my debate skills to the point that they would rather just give in than argue for one more minute about why, for example, taking my mom’s shiny, red convertible to the drive-in movie just wasn’t a good idea.

Well, God knows my weaknesses and He knows that I need to learn how to hear “No.” The mission field is ripe with “No.”

  • “No, I am not interested in hearing about your ‘best friend’ Jesus.”
  • “No, the church doesn’t have enough money to provide for that family’s need.”
  • “No, it’s not a good day to go to the beach today.” (Is it bad that that No is the hardest to accept? Just kidding. Really!)

Over the past 3 months, God has put me in Obedience Bootcamp. I am asking for things and God is saying “No.”

  • “No, you can’t go to San Salvador…yet.”
  • “No, you can’t live in your house OR your dad’s house.”
  • “No, you can’t be in a dating relationship right now.”

What I am learning is that God says No for a reason. He does not say No just to taunt me or be mean to me. God says No because He can see the future. He is already in the future. I know that I must be obedient to God if I want to move to San Salvador and be a part of what He is doing there.

Souls are at stake. Wow. First of all, let me say that I fully understand and believe that God does NOT need me to save a person’s soul. God may choose to use me, but He does not need me. God is in the business of soul-saving, not me. With that being said, I do not want to stand in front of Jesus on judgment day and have to say, “Father, I am sorry that I did tell ________ about you because I was busy ________ (being disobedient).” I know that there are people in this world that God wants to use me to reach. There are people that will identify with my story and finally understand that if God has mercy and forgiveness for me, He’s got it for them too. There are people that will trust me with their story and trust me when I tell them just how much Jesus loves them – enough to die on a cross in order to erase their sin from God’s memory.

Is there anything worth risking missing the opportunity to be used by God and a part of His salvation plan? Absolutely not, if it means being disobedient to a God that I trust with my life now and for the rest of my days.

Hands up / Heart open
Hands up / Heart open

Of course, Love is Red wasn’t just for me. Love is Red was for each individual person there. Love is Red was for:

  • Jin, our OSU bus driver who randomly picked our assignment for the weekend and ended up coming into the conference and rededicating his life to Jesus!

PRAISE BREAK!!!!

  • Pastor Amanda, who was picked out of an audience of thousands and told by Pastor John Gray that she would see “supernatural increase” in her house in the next 30 days!

PRAISE BREAK!!!!

  • The EIGHT Rock City Youth students who boldly walked to the stage when people called into ministry were requested down front!

PRAISE BREAK!!!!

  • The hotel room full of Rock City Middle School boys who, without being told to, prayed over their friend who felt called into ministry!

When God said No to my big, bold prayer to move to San Salvador in December 2015, He wasn’t saying No to hurt me. He was saying No to things I had planned because He knew that the things HE had planned were so much greater.

Olivia Shank’s first response to my departure delay was, “This means you get to go to Love is Red, right?!” Thank God she was right.

"Day 2 of #LIRConf is in the books and OH EM GEE - these moments are now memories that we will keep and return to often for the REST of our LIVES. God winked at Rock City Youth tonight and has given us a peek into what is to come: the best." -Pastor Amanda
“Day 2 of #LIRConf is in the books and OH EM GEE – these moments are now memories that we will keep and return to often for the REST of our LIVES. God winked at Rock City Youth tonight and has given us a peek into what is to come: the best.” -Pastor Amanda

Click HERE to catch a glimpse of our Love is Red experience and HERE to watch recordings of every worship session and every speaker!

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My eager expectation and hope is that I will not be ashamed about anything, but that now as always, with all boldness, Christ will be highly honored in my body, whether by life or by death.

Philippians 1v20

The book of Philippians is frequently referred to as “The Book of Joy.” This comes off a little counterintuitive because this “book” is actually a letter written by Paul to the people of Philippi while he is in prison. Prison! Paul’s imprisonment required that he be chained to a Roman guard for most of his stay. I can assure you that if I were 1) in prison and 2) chained to a super scary guard, I would be a lot less than joyful. Yet, here’s Paul, making the best of a crappy situation and sharing the gospel with the men he sees on a daily basis.

I can’t relate to Paul in the prison bit (thank you God!), but I can relate to him in the feeling of not being where I want to be. Paul would have much rather been in Philippi helping the people there spread the Good News of Jesus’ resurrection. But, he’s stuck in jail. I would much rather be in San Salvador sharing the Good News of Jesus, but I’m stuck in Ohio. And here’s where Paul and I really differ: Paul is unabashedly courageous in sharing the gospel with those he is with in prison. He writes that the gospel “has become known throughout the whole imperial guard…”¹ Sure, a Roman prison was not where he thought he would be preaching the gospel, but it’s where God put him for the moment.

Sharing the gospel has recently become something I reserved for the mission field of San Salvador. Thoughts fill my head shouting,

  • People won’t judge you in San Salvador! You’re a missionary! You’re supposed to preach the gospel!
  • So many people in San Salvador haven’t heard the true gospel, so they won’t be able to argue with you about it!
  • You’ll have some time before you start sharing the gospel because you won’t be fluent in Spanish yet, so you’ll have time to prepare yourself!

While some of these things may be true, none of them exempt me from sharing the gospel right where I am, in Columbus, Ohio. So often I am actually ashamed of sharing the gospel because I am afraid of what people might think of me, what stereotypes they might label me with and that I might not be able to argue logic with faith. But then I think of the story in the book of Mark² in which four men carry their paralyzed friend on a mat to the home where Jesus was teaching. Realizing there were too many people to get in the front door, they carried this man onto the roof, dug a hole in the roof and gently lowered him down, in front of Jesus’ feet. I am seriously summarizing what happened here, but the point is that they went to serious trouble to get their friend to Jesus. They saw that it would not be easy, but carried on anyways. They knew he had to get to Jesus. These guys did all that, and I’m scared to simply tell some of my closest friends about Jesus and how he saved my life?

And I call myself a missionary…

Paul’s words have become my heartfelt plea before God: Do not allow me to be ashamed about anything, but with boldness, allow my words, my LIFE be honoring to You, Lord! There is no condemnation³, no disapproval from You! Shame comes directly from the pit of Hell and the evil one uses it to pull me away from You. But because Your grace covers my shame, I will not be ashamed. I will not be embarrassed. Rather, I will be convicted, and in this conviction, praise Your Holy Name and share Your Holy Word.


¹ Philippians 1v13

² Mark 2v1-4

³ Romans 8v1