Jesus tells us to go. He says right in the Bible to love everyone. It doesn’t matter their background, their race, what they believe, or even what country they are from. My favorite line to use is “people who love Jesus aren’t racist.” It’s so true. Because if you truly love Jesus you will have His heart and you will love like Him. Growing up I always asked God to give me His heart…I asked Him to let me love like He loves. I wanted to love His people.
This summer God took me to Greece. It was life changing. I went to love on kids. It wasn’t a hard trip, it actually was more of vacation for me. He took me to rest in Him. And that’s exactly what I did. He showed me I have a heart for kids-working with kids brings me so much Joy. But He showed me I have a heart for a part of the world and a people group that as an American I was raised to not like. He’s slowly revealing to me how these two things will come together.
The question I get and the comments that are said-“Alyssa, I don’t understand how you want to go back to Turkey. You weren’t even there for 24 hours. There’s so much violence. How could you fall in love with a place that you barley spent any time in?”
There is only one logical answer. JESUS.
So how did I fall in love with Turkey when I spent all my time in Greece? Well when God took me to Greece, He took me through the Istanbul airport. And He took me through it 3 days before the attack happened there his summer and 5 days after the attack happened. When I first heard there was an attack at the airport my first reaction was heart break. I never was afraid. I felt odd. Like should I be scared? Should I fear going back? I even asked someone. What I wanted was to go and hug and love those people. Tell them it’s okay, tell them about a HOPE I have. A Hope in a savior who has overcome the world(John 16:33). But what I heard from everyone around me was don’t go back, reroute your flight. It’s not safe. Don’t get me wrong-i understand to be wise in your decisions. I would never claim Jesus’ protection and then run across I-10 thinking I won’t get hit by a car. That is not wise. But I do believe He will call you places that my not be “safe” for the worlds standards but He will be with you. When walking back through the airport as we were leaving I heard Him say, love them. These are my people. Learn about them. And show them who I am. Love them. He showed me how beautiful they are. These people are just people. And He loves them the same as you and me. He placed these people on my heart to love.
I know it’s crazy that an attack on an airport when you weren’t even there can do so much to your life, but again the only explanation I have is JESUS. He wants us to love like He loves and He wants us to spread the gospel to everyone. Everyone is welcome at the table.
I was reminded at church yesterday that sometimes God calls us places that the people around us don’t understand and even though it’s hard to leave the people you love, but you don’t say no to God.
“Ask me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession.” Psalms 2:8
So I’m asking for the nations, and I’m asking you to ask with me.
Some of you know me. Some of you think you do. Some of you don’t. But either way, what you’re about to read is an important part of who I am.
A year ago, January 2016, I was fed up. I was defeated. I was in pain. I was lonely. I was miserable. And I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know where to go. I wanted community. I wanted friends. I wanted love. I wanted Jesus. And I mean really wanted Jesus. Not just this go to church on Sunday and fake that everything is okay.
I was teaching 6th grade Sunday school, and I was going to church. This I knew I needed. I knew I needed Jesus, but how do I get there?
I grew up in church. Going Sunday’s, Wednesday’s, and every event I could. I could tell you bible story after bible story. I may not know them like some people, but I knew them. Both my uncles are Baptist preachers. This was my life. It’s really all I knew.
But I was hurt by the church. I never felt accepted. I never felt like I had friends. Everyone had their “click” and I wasn’t apart of any of them.
“What was wrong with me? How could I be like them? Why am I so different? If no one talks to me, there has to be something wrong with me.” These are the lasts thoughts someone in a church should be thinking. And when I tried to talk about it to someone or ask someone about why this happens I got told everything was fine. Don’t worry. People like you.
I grew to hate church. The very place you should feel safe and accepted, I felt lonely, hurt, and rejected.
But I continued to go because I knew it’s where I needed to be. I needed community. I wasn’t really getting community because I was teaching 6th so I wasn’t meeting people, well not my age anyway.
And then one Sunday in February I decided to go to attend Sunday school instead of teaching. And God sat a lady next to me who let me be me. She listened to me and she didn’t tell me I was wrong for feeling the way I feel. She invited me to be apart of a discipleship group, and that group has forever changed me. For the first time I felt loved and accepted. These girls let me come in broken and they walked along side me. Their prayer for me, and my prayer for myself was that I would know God loved me. One day I received a text with Zephaniah 3:17, “The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”
And in that moment, God said, “Alyssa, I love you. I delight in you. You are who I created you to be.” And after all the years I finally believed He loved me. And I came to know who I am in Him. It’s been a journey-it didn’t happen over night. But once I started walking in that, He started shining through me. When you absolutely know you are loved, you’re whole life is different. I could keep telling you how my life is different…here’s a few:
-people became attracted to me, they wanted to be around me.
-I was asked out on a date for the first time (he might have been Turkish, but if you saw him-HELLO!😍😍 and no I didn’t go because I didn’t stay in Turkey. But still.)
-joy became easier to choose
-I started seeing Him in everything
-He started speaking to me, and I could hear Him
-He gave me His heart for His people and I could tell it wasn’t mine
Other than telling you who God is to me-He is a healer and He is good, I’m not sure how else to explain what happened. He is so good, and He loves you. You were created to live with God. You are loved. He wants you to accept His love. I wish everyone “got it” because when you do, life is so great.
I am not a writer. I have never liked writing. I have this problem where i have all these thoughts in my head but when I start writing I can’t get them out. But a couple months ago I had this great idea to start a blog. I semi looked into it then thought again. Then one day I was talking to my dad. I was telling him how all I want to do is travel the world and love people in the name of Jesus. He of course thought I was joking. But then he said you should start a blog, joking of course. But something in me said yes, start a blog. So here I am, my 2017 goal-to blog. Whether people read it or not this is my way of continuing listening and stepping out in faith to what the Lord has said to me.
2016 was one of the best years. I had an incredible journey and with that comes a story, but that will be for a later post. But I am going to take what the Lord showed me and bring it into this new year and continue walking in that. Some highlights of last year;
I begged God for a community and He gave me the best friends
I started living freely in Him
He took me to Greece to love on His people
I fell in love with the Middle East, come on have you ever eaten their food??!!
I moved out on my own (with two roomies)-and as scary as it was not sure how i would afford it, God has provided!
I became confident in myself