In jr. high, my faith first became my own and I chose to follow Jesus, not just go to church or do what I thought was right (though, I did continue to do those things too.) It was also in jr. high, that I was challenged to start reading the Bible on my own. Read it daily, think about what you read, write down some thoughts and then live out what I was learning. I always excelled when given an assignment, this was no exception. The goal was measurable, achievable, and I was held accountable. There was a small blank for number of days in a row, that I filled in every day for almost a year before I missed one, and that was only because I went to an amusement park and didn’t get home until the next day. I didn’t stop then though, I was hooked on reading the Bible and getting to know God and His ways. I can’t imagine how I would’ve survived as a teen without that. It is through God’s word that I came to truly believe in Jesus as my Savior and Lord.
I was discipled by ladies in the church, who taught me how to study God’s Word and patiently answered my questions and asked me hard questions about choices I was making. In high school, I went on trips to various places in the US and abroad to serve and sing and share the gospel. These things were growing in me a desire to travel the world and live any and everywhere, serving and living for Jesus, so that others might know Him too. One of the trips that I did was a mock-missionary camp. We went to the jungle and lived a rustic existence far from modern civilization. At JAARS, Jungle Aviation And Radio Service, a support branch of Wycliffe Bible Translators, I learned about the great need for people to go and translate the Bible into thousands of languages that did not have the Bible in a language that they could read or understand. They might not even have a written alphabet at all. This was very interesting to me, someone who took all the language classes offered at her high school (include computer ones!) I came home from this trip sweaty and stinky, but excited about the mission field.
As I was deciding where to go to college and what to do with the rest of my life, I attended a huge missions conference, Urbana, and was challenged and encouraged by so many options and ways to share the good news of Jesus around the world. Also, the great need, especially in the 10/40 window, was impressed upon me. It was here, that I first got hold of a book that I’ve used ever since, Operation World. This is a book that details the nations and needs for prayer around the world. Now, I get a daily email reminding me to pray. At Urbana, I connected with some folks at Wycliffe again and also with some other missions agencies. I felt pretty certain that God was calling me into full-time missions, but needed to get educated first. So, I started applying to colleges and intended to study something international. I applied for received a scholarship from our church for students who would go into missions after university.
When my first international course of study, business, was a complete failure for me, I transferred to the University of Michigan to pursue a degree in Linguistics (Language Science). I became involved with the campus ministry now known as Cru. Through this ministry, I was discipled and learned to disciple others. When I studied abroad in the south of France, I met two girls who were doing a year internship with Cru and we partnered together in ministry there. I traveled with them and several others to Tunisia where we prayed and met with staff at the universities in Tunis. During my time in France and at U of M, God taught me to love and teach women and children, especially those of Muslim background, to study His word and to know Him through the Bible. It was also during the time in France, away from my long-time boyfriend and best friend, Brian, that we grew certain we wanted to get married.
As we spent our senior year of college, engaged to be married, we had a lot of talks about our future together. The couple who mentored us made us hash out a lot of our dreams and expectations before we got married. So, it was discussed that, at some time in the not too distant future, we would go into full-time missions overseas, or at least we were willing to go.