I sat in church on a Sunday night in November 2011, mourning for an abandoned dream. After graduate school, I had left for Europe to spend the summer living and serving among people struggling to overcome drug addictions. When I left, I was completely ready to never come back. I had a heart for the world – for all the nations – and my view of “mission” was across borders. God’s Kingdom was exciting and advancing around the world!
Just not in Greenville, South Carolina. Having lived there through school, it was my last choice for my next destination. And yet, here I was, after my trip, working for a window manufacturing company as a Customer Service and Marketing Manager. I could’ve gone anywhere, and I was here. Stuck.
Sitting in church on that Sunday night, I remember watching Dispatches From the Front (a DVD series highlighting the lives of missionaries in difficult places) and listening to a message about the power of the Gospel and the need for “frontline” pioneers. Tears streamed down my face as I questioned God: “Why am I here?” I had heard His call for missionary “people of business.” Why was I stuck in South Carolina?
In the quiet years that followed, as I walked through times of tension, down a path that was unexpected (and to be honest, disappointing), I found that God had much to teach me. I was learning that the real fruit borne from a deep-rooted relationship with Him is faithfulness.
As I let go of my expectations, I found that mission was just as present in Greenville as it is in inner-city environments like Chicago (where I now live) and as it is in the underground churches of China. I also found that in order to be used for any greatness, it takes a long time and much space for preparing and training and testing.
Fast forward 5 years. Just a few months ago, I was able to go on a two-week trip to India to serve women trapped in sex slavery and then to China to smuggle Bibles across the border. From the moment I found out I would get to go, I have cried many tears of receiving and thankfulness. My abandoned desires have not been forgotten by the Great Giver.
For my broken dreams, I am thankful. Now I know that this work is all a God-gift. Not a self-creation.
Recommendations: Struggling with your own abandoned dreams? Here are a few resources that have kept Angela going through the years:
Shadow of the Almighty, by Elisabeth Elliot
Evidence Not Seen, by Darlene Deibler Rose
Dispatches From The Front: I Once Was Blind
Blessings – Laura Story
Blessed Assurance – Fanny Crosby