Every year, hundreds of Colorado Christian University students go on short-term mission trips. In the 15 years since the CCU2theWorld initiative started, students have gone on more than 200 trips to 51 countries.
Last fall, I was stoked to have the opportunity to go serve Jesus somewhere around the world with my friends. I believe it is always God’s will for His children to fulfill Matthew 28:18-20: “Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
I completed the CCU2theWorld application on the first day it was available. In the application, I shared my heart for helping God’s children physically and spiritually and chose my top three trip destinations: Scotland, Fiji, and Poland.
Then I waited. I knew it would be several weeks before I heard if I was accepted or where I would be going. October passed, November rolled around. Just before Thanksgiving break, one of my roommates came home bubbling about being accepted to the India trip. I was ecstatic for her and felt sure I would be hearing which trip they wanted me to go on in the next few days.
Weeks passed. I still hadn’t heard a single word – not even an email to tell me I’d been rejected from the program. I was frustrated. I stopped thinking about it. If you went to college, you know how crazy life is in this season. I got busy with papers and exams and regular everyday things.
Then I heard some of my friends talking about how the CCU2theWorld application server had been down for the first few days of applications, and they had just realized the problem. Here was my answer! CCU2theWorld hadn’t even received my application! Of course, I should go talk to them and re-submit my app!
Except I didn’t. To this day I can’t give you a logical reason why I didn’t. I felt the Spirit of God staying my heart. I didn’t understand why. It seemed to be counterintuitive to everything I knew about God’s will. Why on earth wouldn’t He want me to serve Him on a short-term mission trip? But I just couldn’t find peace about trying again, so I decided to trust God. I let it go.
“Many are the plans in a person’s heart,
but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” Proverbs 19:21
In December, one of my Communications professors shared info on Facebook about a Samaritan’s Purse internship. I didn’t read it. A few days later, I got an email from the CCU employment office about a Samaritan’s Purse internship. I deleted it. I was busy taking finals and finishing projects before Christmas break.
The day before I went home for break, I got another email, this time from the English department. The subject said, “Samaritan’s Purse Internship.” I realized maybe I should look into this Samaritan’s Purse thing that kept coming up everywhere. I opened the email.
One night over break I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t get the possibility of the Samaritan’s Purse internship off my mind. God often speaks to me when I am relaxed and undistracted at night. He showed me that he had been throwing Samaritan’s Purse in my path over and over again. It took me three times to notice.
The next morning, I sent an email to the CCU employment office and told them I wanted to apply for the Samaritan’s Purse internship. Back in Denver through January, February, and March, I filled out the Samaritan’s Purse application, polished my resume, completed phone interviews, attended personal interviews, and networked connections.
I didn’t hear anything for weeks. I didn’t think I would be accepted out of a pool of 900 of the best young Christian applicants. But God knew. On April 1st, I got a call. Samaritan’s Purse had sent my internship application to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and the Billy Graham Library. They wanted me to come intern as a writer with them.
I wanted to ask if they knew it was April Fool’s Day… But it was real. I left New Mexico at the end of May and flew to Charlotte, North Carolina, where I had the most incredible summer of my life. God worked in ways I can’t even describe. He blessed me immeasurably beyond my wildest imagination.
I have shared some of the specifics of my summer at the Billy Graham Library in I Saw God like the Book of Acts Yesterday, The Problem with Adventures, and The Prayer that is Changing My Life (the names are links even thought they’re not blue). If you haven’t read these, I promise the stories will bless you, encourage you, and bring you to wonder at God’s work.
If I had been accepted for a CCU2theWorld trip, I might never have applied to Samaritan’s Purse. If I had applied and been accepted to both, I would have been committed to a CCU2theWorld team and then had to pull out. Or, I would have stuck with CCU2theWorld and never gone to North Carolina.
God knew exactly what He was doing when He sent my CCU2theWorld application flying out into the abyss of cyberspace. He knew exactly what He was doing when He kept throwing Samaritan’s Purse at me. He knew exactly what He was doing when He took me to the Billy Graham Library.
“In their hearts humans plan their course,
but the Lord establishes their steps.” Proverbs 16:9
God did want me to fulfill the Great Commission, but not through CCU2theWorld. Even though I didn’t understand why, or what God was up to, I had to trust Him. In the end, all I had to do was gaze into His face as He grasped my hand and pulled me along.
Now, as I face life after college in a few months, I do not fear because I know He’s still grasping my hand. I do not worry because I have peace as I focus on His face. I do not doubt because I have faith in His wonder.
Let Him take your hand today. He loves you. He keeps you. He gently guides you. But the best part is, nothing else matters because you are living in the light of His countenance.