I am so excited today to bring you the first in a series I am calling, Missionary of the Month. When I first became a Christian I didn't really understand why people would become missionaries. We didn't support our first missionary until about 3 years ago when friends of ours in our couples small group felt the call to become missionaries in Zambia, Africa. Watching them walk through hardships to obey what God had placed on their heart really moved us to become more aware of our own calling as well as supporting others in what God has called them to. Not everyone is called to international missions but we are all called to something in this life. I wrote a devotion on that recently, you can read it here.
Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.
Matthew 9:37 NIV
I am excited to introduce you to Azlyn today who embodies the verse above. I first met Azlyn several years ago when she and I were both much younger ;). We have served alongside one another on praise team and she is just an amazing woman of God with many talents that she uses for God daily. When she shares stories about her work with orphans, my heart is so stirred. Stirred to tears. She is doing mighty work for His kingdom so I am excited to introduce you to my first Missionary of the Month. Enough of my talking, I'll let Azlyn take it from here.
What does being a missionary mean to you?
I believe that being a missionary means being sensitive to the Holy Spirit's guiding and responding to whatever He leads us to do. That could be in Iowa or Africa or anywhere in between!
How did you come to know Jesus as your savior?
I started attending church when I was about 8 years old and said the "sinner's prayer" several times, without fully understanding what it meant to be a follower of Jesus. I was bullied in elementary and middle school, my parents both had issues with drinking, and were on the cusp of divorce by the time I was about 14. Though I believed in God and knew a lot about Him, I was honestly angry for the things He had allowed me to go through. In 2007 I signed up for a mission trip to Australia with my youth group, simply because I wanted to go to Australia! Little did I know, God would completely change my heart on that trip. On July 5, 2007, I committed my life to following after Jesus in a mountain park, by myself. The Holy Spirit convicted and encouraged me - He had been pursuing me for so long and I had resisted up until that very moment. I surrendered all that I had to Him and committed to following Him for the rest of my life.
How did you become interested in missions?
I have been somewhat interested in missions ever since taking my first international trip to Australia in 2007, but never fully felt the call to go until March of 2015. At that point, I had just gotten back from a 2-month-long trip to Zambia and witnessed firsthand that widows, orphans, and people with disabilities are tragically maltreated in the Majority World. Though the USA still has problems in this realm as well, I noticed that it is significantly worse outside of the Western World and felt the urgency to GO! It has been a whirlwind of events ever since then. :)
Have you been on any missions trips in the past?
Yep, I've been to Australia, Mexico, Jamaica, Zambia, Ivory Coast, Central African Republic (twice), and will be going to Togo in December!
What missions organization do you work with, how did you get involved with them and why did you choose them?
I am working with Converge (used to be Baptist General Conference), who is based out of Orlando. Converge is a church planting movement committed to starting and strengthening churches worldwide - one of their churches is Prairie Lakes Church in Cedar Falls, which is where I attended when I went to college. Since they are affiliated with Converge, my pastor encouraged me to look into their International Ministries Program back in 2015. I got appointed as a missionary with Converge last October. I love Converge's passion to reach the least-reached peoples of the world with the good news of the Gospel.
Where will be going? I will be serving in Togo, West Africa.
Who will you serve?
I get to work alongside church planters to serve widows, orphans, and the disabled in communities where churches will be planted.
What will your daily life look like? **to the best of your knowledge**?
Our church planting team already has 2 established church plants and 2 more plants are in the pipeline, hopefully to launch in the next couple of years. My job will be to go out into these 2 new communities to build relationships with local people and to find every widow, orphan, and disabled person in those communities (oftentimes these people - especially the disabled - are hidden away because they are considered a burden or even a curse to their families. It will take some time to find these individuals). Once they are found and accounted for, I will assess their strengths and immediate needs, empower local Christian leaders to incorporate these groups into their churches, and then send out leaders to reach even more communities and vulnerable people. All of this will be saturated in the Gospel message - I hope to introduce every one I meet to the restorative love of Jesus Christ.
Will you be with any other missionaries?
Currently, we have a team of 10 committed people serving in the same area of Togo. I will not necessarily be working right beside them, but we will be living in the same community and will meet regularly.
What you most excited about?
I am definitely most excited about meeting the voiceless populations and showing them love that they may never have received before. I can't wait for them to realize that they are sons and daughters of the KING and that they are worthy of His love.
What obstacles have you faced/will face as a missionary?
Being a single woman makes this whole missionary thing a little bit tougher, because I really don't have another human (I do have God, though) to lean on and to delegate responsibilities to. So I am essentially doing all the work with fundraising and such. I consider it joy, though, because I know God has called me at this time for a reason!
What would you like prayer for?
Currently, I would love prayer throughout this process of support raising. It has already been a refining and humbling season for me! Please also pray for the voiceless people in the world. They need way more prayers than I do!
How can someone support you?
I would SO appreciate any support you can offer, in order that I may get one step closer to serving the vulnerable over in Togo. You can give online or send checks made out to Converge (with account 206356 in the memo) to 2002 S. Arlington Heights Rd, Arlington Heights, IL 60005. If you have prayer requests or would like to contact me personally, my e-mail is email@example.com.
I have heard her story several times and just reading it over again, I am moved to tears to see her heart for these people that society has cast aside but whom our God LOVES. If you feel moved, I Encourage you to get on Azlyn's email list or even prayerfully consider financially supporting her through a one time gift or recurring monthly gift. May her story encourage you to ponder these questions today: Do you know Jesus as your savior? What is the Lord calling me to?
If you don't know Jesus as your savior, please email me or leave a comment. I would love to talk to you about how today can be the day you become His.
Azlyn's information will be located on the sidebar of my blog all month, as you see her picture, please pray for her. She is currently working hard to be fully funded so she can get out into the mission field God has called her to.
Labels: Faith, God, missionary, orphans