If you’ve spent any time with me at all, you know there are lots of things I love: musical theater, teaching, writing, laughing, food (minus the meat), adventure, traveling, etc. This may come as a shock to some of you, but there was a time when I didn’t see myself as a teacher or a writer, I ate hamburgers (gag), and I had no desire whatsoever to ever leave the comfort of the United States. Ever.
Hooo-mama can you even imagine?! I look back at that girl, and I barely recognize her. And I know that if someone had told me when I was 21 that in ten years I would be a vegetarian teacher/writer who has to leave the country once a year to stay sane, I would never have bought it. Ever.
But that is who I’ve become, and I must say, I rather enjoy it, not because I think I’m particularly nifty or original, but because I feel like this is who I’m supposed to be. This is who I was made to be. And if I was made to be this kind of person, there has to be some purpose in it and for it.
What I’ve been learning lately is that if God created me with a plan in mind, then every part of me is part of me for a reason. So what may seem to most people like a pointless and insatiable wanderlust is actually a pretty incredible gift. I don’t understand why most people DON’T want to wander around Europe with a JanSport; most people don’t understand why I do. Nobody’s right or wrong. We’re just made differently for different purposes, and y’all, that’s GOOD as long as we’re each fulfilling our given roles.
Here’s how I’m planning on fulfilling mine this summer.
From June 17-26, God-willing I’ll be going to Milan, Italy with a team of folks from my church here in Raleigh (Vintage21). We’ll be partnering with World Team and their team of church planters already in Milan to offer life and hope to a place that is in surprisingly great despair.
In northern Italy, although about 80% of the people would claim to be Catholic, only about 3% of them attend church regularly and even fewer actually know Jesus personally. Rather, the dominant gods are materialism and fashion, and I was shocked to learn that the Satanic church in northern Italy makes regular sacrifices, both animal and human. It’s ironic, then, don’t you think, that the evangelical church is often mistrusted and viewed as a cult.
That’s where we come in.
The purpose of our 10-day trip is fourfold:
- We will allow God to work and move in us personally, not going with the idea that we will change Italy in a week, but that God will use Italy to change us.
- We will pray like crazy for the people of Milan (and northern Italy) who have never encountered the risen Christ, who don’t know that there is freedom for them in Him, who are longing for a God big enough to fulfill their needs and faithful to never let them down.
- We will conduct English conversation seminars with youth and/or young adults in an effort to build relationships with people and show them that evangelical Christians aren’t necessarily crazy or dangerous. We will also make Jesus known by working to clean up parks and local buildings, thus building the witness and credibility of the missionaries who live/work full-time in Milan. Our hope is that this will assist the churches and church planters there in their evangelistic efforts even after we leave.
- And we will encourage local Christians in Milan with lots of prayer, helping hands, and hugs.
Y’all, I am straight up jumping out of my skin with excitement, but I can’t get there without some help. I need about $3000 to be able to go. I need about half of it by May 1 and the other half by June 1.
I’m not going to ask the whole internet to give me money (mostly because many of you who read Onward Hoe! are complete strangers, and that would just be weird and off-putting), but if you would like to partner with me in taking hope to northern Italy, please email me for instructions on how you can help. We all have our roles to fulfill. I am grateful to have mine pretty well figured out. Now it’s your turn.