In the first year of my waiting for God to return to me my “Isaac,” I started thinking maybe the whole reason I needed to give up this relationship was because I needed to learn how to serve God fully on my own before I could be useful serving Him in a marriage. So I decided it was time for me to look into some missions opportunities. Now, this was a big deal to me because, when I was younger, for some reason I thought about missions a lot, but I always decided the Lord would never call me into the mission field because of my health. I simply assumed there would be no way I could survive a lifestyle of missions and keep up with the demands of my medical condition at the same time. I actually asked my aunt and uncle one time, when I was eight, if it was a sin that I wasn’t going to be a missionary. Very strange question for an eight year old to ask in my opinion, but I asked them specifically because they had been missionaries in Zaire for seven years. Their response to me was, “everyone is called to something different, but if you are called to missions and you don’t go, then that’s a sin”. I was ok with that answer because, again, my thinking was that my disease gave me a “get out of missions free” card. In fact, I hadn’t given it another thought. But the Lord has a funny way of moving us into places we never thought we’d go, and in 2004, at the age of 21 I went on my first mission trip with a ministry called CTI Music Ministries, and it changed the course of my life forever.
I was pleasantly surprised when the Lord led me to this particular ministry because it had to do with music. I had been under the impression that I was no longer allowed to be part of music, due to my tendency toward self-glorification, but the door seemed very clearly opened to me now. My audition to get into CTI was so vastly different form my experience with Disney World that there was no way I could deny the Spirit was at work in the situation. This time I sang with no practice, no notice even, and no mistakes. They accepted me into the program on the spot.
During my first ministry opportunity with CTI Music Ministries I had the chance to play concerts all over the country of Australia: in prisons, schools, churches, street corners, and the like, but more importantly I learned how to share my testimony from stage. The whole goal was to share our struggles and our sin and how God had worked in our lives despite (and sometimes through) those things, in hopes of relating to our audience and bringing hope where there may be none. It was incredibly freeing to be so vulnerable in front of thousands of people I didn’t know. Sharing my life like this was another way the Lord showed me how relevant my story is. People would come up to me after concerts and tell me their own story of how their father left them, or how they are sick or full of pride. They thanked me for being courageous enough to share because it encouraged them to seek out Christ and the work He may want to do in their own life.
Affects on Counseling
The hardest part of learning how to share my story was knowing that I needed to start sharing it with people I actually knew. It’s something I will probably always struggle with because it’s so humbling. I don’t want people to know I’m weak, or prideful, or hurt over my father abandoning me, but I tell people because it might help them not be ashamed of their own shortcomings. It will be the same in my counseling. If there is an appropriate time to share about myself and my experiences with the Lord I want to be a good steward of that opportunity, because it may be the thing that helps a client work through their own issues.