I came to the Lord a month before I turned twelve. When I was thirteen, I took my first mission trip to Mexico with my youth group. On the drive there, we stopped and stayed the night at Calvary Chapel Bible College (CCBC) in Murrieta. I told my mom that one day I wanted to go to that Bible College. Throughout the remaining years in high school, I took two additional mission trips to Mexico, one to San Francisco, and one to Wales and England. I loved being a part of missions, even if it was for a short time. I had a heart for the lost, I loved being a part of new cultures, people groups, languages, and cultural customs, and I loved engaging in conversations with the full-time missionaries on the field. Those mission trips were a huge part of my walk with the Lord, played a crucial role in equipping me for ministry and evangelism, and were a tool that God used to spark a desire in my heart. However, I never thought that being a full-time missionary was for me. I enjoyed short-term mission trips, but I often told people that I was a homebody; I didn’t think foreign missions was something I would ever do.
I did end up going to Calvary Chapel Bible College in Murrieta Fall of 2005 and Spring of 2006, immediately after finishing high school. I then attended CCBCE in Hungary fall of 2006 and Spring of 2007, graduating with an associate degree in Theology. I was then asked to intern at CCBCE, so I spent an additional 13 months in Hungary overseeing the housekeeping and AV ministries for the Bible College and Conference Center. I led two mission trips during my internship as well: one to Spain and one to Romania. During my time in Hungary, I also went on a mission trip to Kosovo and spent numerous weekends doing smaller outreaches in Hungary. I met countless missionaries during my two years at CCBCE and was able to experience and see what life on the mission field was truly like. God began stirring my heart.
At the end of my internship I knew that God was calling me home. Sad to say, I went kicking and screaming. I didn’t want to leave Hungary. I didn’t want to leave the mission field. I didn’t want to leave that ministry. And ultimately, I didn’t want to go back to America and live an American life with an American job in a house with a white picket fence. I didn’t want to go back to comfort and monotony. However, looking back at these ten and a half years that I’ve been home, I’m so glad that God knows better than I do. He used this time to prepare my heart for the mission field. To attempt to put into words all that the Lord has taught me this last decade would be impossible. However, the main idea comes from the lips of Jim Elliot: “Wherever you are be all there.” God began challenging me to be more purposeful with where He put me; to actively look for opportunities to share the gospel, to love people, and to bring Christ to a lost and dying world. My desire to go on the mission field was still present, but I began living as though I were already there. I started involving the church in more outreaches, I began sharing the gospel more with strangers and friends alike, I started attending mission conferences on a regular basis, and increased my reading of missionary biographies and missions-focused books.
Even though I became more invested in my own country and city, I still had a heart for foreign missions. I was asked by a friend from CCBCE to join her and her husband on the mission field in Kenya, but just didn’t feel like that was where the Lord was leading me. I was also asked by one of the pastors from CCBCE, who is now leading the Bible College in New Zealand, to join the ministry there; but again, I did not feel that was where God was calling me. However, two and a half years ago, I went to visit Landon and Rachel Rogers at their home in Bakersfield where they asked me to pray about joining them in Italy. At this request, my heart leapt. Yes. I wanted to go.
The next two years that followed were full of prayer and seeking the Lord. It wasn’t so much that I felt called to Italy, but that God was calling me out to preach the gospel abroad. When I met Craig Quam, the pastor of Calvary Chapel Montebelluna in Italy, one of the first things he said to me was: “So you have a heart for the Italians?” My response: “I have a heart for people.” Jesus is the same anywhere we go, and people are the same everywhere we go: they are all sinners in need of a Savior. There is currently a need in Italy, and I have the ability to meet that need in part. It isn’t so much that I feel called to a country, but rather, I am called to preach the gospel, wherever the Lord puts me. One of the main reasons I want to go to Italy is because I love the Rogers. My heart is knit with theirs. We have the same vision and heart for ministry, we love the Lord, we encourage one another regularly, and I know that they listen to the Lord above any other voice. I want to be joined with them in ministry because I want to support the work that they are doing.
The last 10 years was preparation for me. It was a time of learning to depend upon Jesus alone and to not place emphasis on the location, but rather upon Him and upon people who need to hear the message of salvation. “Wherever you are, be all there.” I have no doubt that Italy is where the Lord is leading me for this time. How long? I don’t know. But I want to be faithful to remain or to stay, however long the Lord asks. I’m ready to spend the rest of my life in Italy, but I’m also willing to pack up and go if He calls me to leave. Why? Because my heart isn’t attached to Italy, it’s attached to Jesus.
Judges 5:16 – 18 was a crucial passage in confirming God’s call to go to Italy. It may seem like an obscure passage to most, but God made it abundantly clear to me that He wanted me to go without reservation, letting go of the ease and comfort of home, being willing to risk my life for the sake of the gospel. I want to go out, even if it means hardship and difficulty because the lives of the lost are worth it; Jesus is worth it.
We as believers are called to fulfill the great commission: to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Matt 28:19). Some are called to go, and some are called to send; all are called to preach the gospel. I am called to go; I want to go.