I figured the best way to start off a new blog is by sharing a portion of my testimony. I grew up in a Christian household and have been attending church/ been a believer for as long as I can remember, so this story isn’t about how I came to know Christ as my savior. Each persons testimony is different, and while I would love to share about my more recent experiences at Taylor University I have decided to go a little farther back and share about my four years during High School.
In 2006 I went on my first short-term mission (STM). I went with my youth group to Lake Charles, LA. This is post Hurricane Katrina, so we spent a week there helping aid families with some repairs and cleanup. It was a fantastic experience that I will never forget! During that trip we received a little cross key chain as a keepsake.* At the time I didn’t realize how significant this key chain would be in my life.
Jump ahead three years to 2009, the summer after I graduated from High School. During the previous two years I went on other STMs each summer. On this final trip with my youth group we went to Bogotá , Colombia. We would spend the week visiting schools and orphanages doing various VBS and language learning activities with the kids. Another great STM full of memories! However, I didn’t realize that God was planning on changing my life on this trip!
During one of our last couple days we went to visit an old church at the top Monserrate Mountain. After a cable car ride up the steep mountain we were greeted by a breathtaking view.
It wasn’t the view that changed my life, it was my time spent within the church. At the front of the church sat a sculpture titled “El Señor Caido” (The Fallen Lord). For the past couple of centuries, everyday people have offered their prayers to the shrine.**
I decided to do just that. I sat down in one of the pews and I took off that cross key chain that I had dangling off my little travel backpack. I didn’t pray for anything particular, I left my mind open, and God poured himself into my mind and heart. He began to playback the past four years of High School, and He showed me how I have hidden my faith from my friends and neighbors. I would get fired up to serve on these STM over the years, but when I was back at home or at school, I would hide my faith, almost be ashamed of it.
That cross key chain was a perfect symbol for the life I had been living. When I would go on a STM I would dig-out that key chain and attach it to my bag as symbol of pride of my faith. However when I would come back from my mission I would bury it within my desk drawer, and it sat untouched until the next mission experience.
As God played back the past four years of my life I felt ashamed, foolish, guilty. I was willing to go on this various missions, but was not willing to actually share my faith with anyone. Most of all I felt despair. And as I sat in that church pew with that cross key chain wrapped in my hand, I began to weep.
God didn’t stop there. Our ever-loving God would not let me walk away from that experience distraught. The words “He washed it white as snow…” continually played through my head.*** I finally came to the realization how Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross truly washed away my sins and the hope and joy I should experience now that I know that. Matthew 5:14-16 sums up what I learned nicely:
“You are the light of the world-like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives lights to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.”
From that moment I was determined to let my light shine for all to see. I would no longer hide my faith from the world. I would carry my cross with pride and I would share the joy I have received from God with everyone.
I’m going to stop here. I would love to give more details from each of my individual trips during High School, or share about my experiences through college, but there will be another time for that. I promise not all of my posts will be this long. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns please share them with me!
*The type of cross is a “Cross Crosslet.” It is a symbol for world evangelism of the Gospels. I now permanently carry that cross, tattooed on my right wrist. Of course I still have the key chain, and it still joins me on all of my travels!
** It’s not until now that I realize how significant it was that the main attraction to this church was a sculpture, and me, a future college graduate with a degree in sculpture, would sit below it awestruck by God’s grace and power.
*** Reading through my old journal from that trip, the words “He washed it white as snow…” were the only things I wrote down from the day’s events. I’ll admit, my old mission journals are pretty painful to read. Not my best writing.