First Steps

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Lao Tzu

In January 2016, I worked in a cubical in a little office building in Wheaton, Illinois, assisting publishing ministry Oasis International with the massive Africa Study Bible project. I had no reason to think that my life was about to drastically change. When my good friend called and asked if I could join her on a short mission trip to Jordan, I thought, “Jordan? Hmm—never been there. I haven’t travelled in a while—maybe this is a somewhat isolated assignment that the Lord has for me.” So I took some time off work, packed my bags, and flew to Queen Alia International Airport just outside of Amman, Jordan.

Nothing could have prepared me for my first foray into the Arab world. The sights, the smells, the sounds were all a web of unfamiliar and novel. After several days of observing and absorbing, I arrived at a startling conclusion: I loved this place, and I loved these people. I began to question God: does this have deeper implications? Are you perhaps calling me long term to work in this region? It seemed so sudden, so different from the ministry that I was currently in, so divergent from any work that I had done in the past. Every day during the two weeks that I spent in Jordan, though, I was overwhelmed by how the Lord was moving and drawing me into his Middle Eastern story. By the time I was on a plane back to O’Hare, I knew that I needed to seriously pursue answers—did I need to focus my prayers to intercede for this region, or did I need to go and live and work there?

For about a month I fasted and prayed, asking God to show me in a very clear way if this is what he wanted me to do. Around the end of the month, I was at a church service. My pastor ministering to the congregation, calling out new ministries that the Lord was commissioning. The pastor was mainly focused on local, compassion ministries such as working among the homeless or marginalized. I prayed in my heart that if God was commissioning me to a new ministry in the Middle East, that my pastor would call all those who felt a new call to the Middle East to come up for prayer. Within a few seconds, he called all those with a burden to minister to Jerusalem and the Middle East to the front for prayer. Stunned that my prayer had been so immediately and exactly answered, I walked to the front in a daze.

As I kneeled for prayer, I repeated over and over in my heart, “Lord, do you want me to go? You want me to actually pack my bags and move?” Soon, a prayer minister placed her hand on my shoulder and started praying for me. As if in direct dialogue with my internal prayer, she said, “Go! I will make you a fisher of men. Take only your cloak and your staff. You are coming back with stories.”

And that is how the question to go was then replaced by, “How should I go? When should I go?”

God soon had answers for those questions, as well. It was obvious to me that I needed more training, more connections, and a community—but where to start? That week, I received a email announcement from one of my favorite missions organizations: Frontier Alliance International. They had first come onto my radar through their various documentaries, but now they were starting a school—an “Emmaus Walk”— and were currently accepting applications for the Spring 2017 school. I submitted my application with baited breath, praying all the while that if this is not where the Lord wanted me, that he would not let me be accepted.

Fast forward to February 2017, after several interviews, acceptance, and months of preparation, I was on a plane to Northern Cyprus to begin the Emmaus Walk with Frontier Alliance International—the first step.