Time for a life update! And since I seem to communicate best through stories, I figured I’d start with one:
Back in high school, I had signed up to go on a missions trip to Mexico with my youth group. Our team was so excited: we had mostly been on trips in our own city of Grand Rapids, and were looking forward to finally serving somewhere else.
However, due to unforeseen circumstances, our trip to Mexico was canceled, and we were stuck back in Grand Rapids for yet another week of missions.
But God did something extraordinary on that trip: He broke our hearts and helped us to fall in love with our own city, especially an underdeveloped area on the Northeast side. He connected us with a school in that neighborhood, where we ran an after-school Bible club for the next two years, building relationships with the same kids week after week.
God also introduced us to the Bridge Street House of Prayer: a group of 20-somethings who were intentionally living in an impoverished area of the city, with the intention of reaching their neighbors with the love of Jesus. That
blew my mind. What a beautiful way to live out your faith: to root yourself in a one place for a long time, choosing to love and invest in broken people who desperately need Him!
Ever since that trip, Grand Rapids has felt like… home. And that idea of intentionally living in a broken neighborhood has been stuck in the back of my mind, never more than a daydream… but never gone.
Last Fall, as I prepared to go to a discipleship school in Tijuana with YWAM, people kept warning me, “Watch out, you might never come back!” or “You’ll have dreams for your life going in, but God’s going to change all of those!”
But, honestly, I didn’t want Him to. Even in Mexico, my heart was still back in Grand Rapids. And I was afraid to give my dreams to God, because of the chance He’d say, “No,” and force me to have new dreams.
Instead, God did something extraordinary: rather than giving me new dreams, He breathed new life into dreams I’d already had. He reminded me that He had given me dreams of living in an impoverished neighborhood for a reason, and that He was even more excited about my dreams than I was.
While in Mexico, several of my school staff brought up a YWAM secondary school called the Community Development School, located at the same campus in Tijuana, and it intrigued me: the school is designed to teach you how to enter a community in a healthy way, and how to empower people to create lasting transformation in their own communities. During the week, students take classes on topics like: a biblical understanding of poverty, working alongside the local church, and strategies for cross cultural ministry, and then they practically apply those principles in a local community in Tijuana.
As I heard more and more about the school, the more it just sounded… right. It fit with everything that I ultimately wanted to start doing in Grand Rapids. Which didn’t make any sense, to be honest: why would I go all of the way to Mexico just how to learn how to minister effectively in my own city?
But as I prayed about it, I felt like God asked me, “Are you willing to give up 3 more months in your city, 3 more months of being back with your community, in order to be better equipped to plant yourself there long-term?”
So, I’ve decided to do the Community Development School! It begins April 5, and runs through the end of June. It’s bittersweet to leave so soon after just getting home, but I’m so excited for all of the ways that God is going to equip me and continue to teach me over the next 3 months.
If you’re willing, I’d love to invite you to partner with me as I head into this next phase of learning. The school costs $2,700, and I’m hoping to raise that entire amount before heading out to Tijuana. If you're willing, you can give online here.
Far more than financial support, I would love your prayers throughout the next 3 months. I’m going to be sending out email updates, so please let me know if you’d like me to add to those!